Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"The Struggle Continues"

Last weekend, we attended a milestonish birthday party for a good (and kind and generous) writer friend named Lisa, who, after an extended period in the wilderness, had landed on a hit show, and was now, deservedly, doing well.

The party had an interesting dynamic to it. What I noticed was that the older guests (such as myself) arrived closer to the party’s announced starting time. During that eight to nine period, the gathering was friendly, and of a manageable size.

You could casually converse, move around freely, easily get to the food table. I felt comfortable there, or as comfortable as I can feel at a party, parties, on the Earl Pomerantz Continuum of Comfort, registering close to the borders of “Get me out of here!”

The party, early on, was surprisingly enjoyable.

A couple of hours later, I looked around, and it was a totally different party. Gradually and imperceptibly, it had transformed itself into a Happening. The once convivial backyard venue was now roaring, and overstuffed with revelers. You could barely move anymore. (A serious concern for a chronic claustrophobic.)

Aside from its size, it was also apparent that the burgeoning crowd had grown increasingly younger. The later it got, the younger the guests. By the time we were leaving, babies were being born in the driveway, fashionably dressed and ready to party.

A word about “young.” Despite my personal preference in this matter, people continue to be born. By the immutable rules defining age, anybody born after I was is automatically younger than me. This, without any effort or malice on their part, pushes me up the line.

I realize this – “this” meaning being born after me – is not something people do to spite me, or to remind me that, at least statistically, I’m closer to death than they are. I can’t blame them for doing that. Though I can’t help resenting them for the reminder.

My reaction, however, was not just to the age of these partygoers. Their arrival had brought a discernable difference to the evening’s tone.

The more elderly early arrivers were television writers (and their spouses), the majority of whom, including myself, were no longer working. A couple of graybeards were still plying their trade, though you could sense some defensiveness about where.

Then, this tsunami of youth thunders in. These, too, were primarily writers. The difference was that the young guys (and gals) had jobs. Good ones.

They seemed healthier, these people, and not just because of their age. They were bright-eyed and buzzing with energy. I picked up a snippet of conversation where this fresh-faced writer’s crowing, “My office is so amazing, when they were interviewing with my boss, they did it in my office instead of his.”

The guy could barely contain his exuberance. He was prancing with excitement. And that was just about his office.

They were definitely a different breed. Their haircuts seemed fresher, their wardrobe, more au courante. (I don’t want to know about their cars.) Lisa’s boss, formerly on the “shlubby” side, was now stylishly turned out, ready, at a moment’s notice, for the cover of GQ.

Wrahrr! (That’s a catty noise.)

I know. It’s disgusting. But that’s what happens. Old lions, involuntarily sent out to pasture – we’re not nice people. Having at least some measure of self-reflection (and blog space to fill), I stopped to ask myself, “What exactly is going on?”

This part is tricky. You can easily fool yourself. What are my current aspirations? Do I still want to do stuff, the stuff the Young Exciteds are doing? Or am I happily and gratefully out of the line of fire?

At the party, I heard myself tell a director, in response to his question about whether I still interested in working,

“I don’t want to be in a position where people say “No” to me ever again!”

But if an opportunity came up, would I jump at it? Or would I smile and say, “Pass.”

Maybe if it’s a consulting job on a show a couple of days a week. I still think I could do that. And make a positive contribution. But basically, what I’d said to the director felt fundamentally right.

There’s a parallel with the fact that I can’t visit Canada in the winter anymore. It’s simply too cold for my body. They say your blood gets thinner. I don’t know about that. Whatever the reason, certain conditions, which your body could formerly tolerate – you can’t handle them anymore.

I feel the same way about dealing with rejection. Though I never loved it, my system could absorb what was required, and after an appropriate Moping Period, let it go and get back in the game.

I don’t think I could do that anymore.

This blog is a blessing. I write every day, and I write what I want. Nobody says, ”Don’t do that”, except when I rewrite, me. But it’s not a business. It’s a technological gift to people who want to work but can no longer muster the energy to convince themselves they can sell.


I used to be those young writers. And someday, they’ll be me.

I hope they handle it better.
Three hundred posts. Whoo-hoo!


Joe said...

I guess I better hold off on sending you notes on your last London entry...

Long Time Listener said...


As a long time listener (reader?), I feel now is the appropriate time to point out that if you ever stop posting to this blog, the only reason I will accept is that they are nailing shut the coffin.

I'm sure I'm not the only 'lurker' that reads these every day without comment, carlessly getting on with our day after a genuinely funny, or heartwarming, start to the morning.

Long may it (and you) continue. For my sake, if nothing else :)

Anonymous said...

Well expressed and under-reported musings on the relentlessly ongoing changing of the guard. I definitely get where you're coming from. Have these young energetic well-coiffed workers improved the state of comedy as much as that of their bank balances? No way.

thevidiot said...

Keep on posting Earl, I love whatever you write. More London would be nice... that plays well to the American audience. Perhaps the lead character could have be a little more pro-active. Finally our research indicates that you should never use "Eh" in a sentence.

Simply love it! Change it.

Mark (with tongue firmly placed in cheek)

Unknown said...

Sounds like I got out of there just in the nick of time, although I regret missing the births of those ready-to-party infants.

Corinne said...

"The later it got, the younger the guests. By the time we were leaving, babies were being born in the driveway, fashionably dressed and ready to party."

That was brilliantly funny and kept me laughing through the day as I thought of it.

Willy B. Good said...

Great 300th Earl!

Nicole said...

I had the moment yesterday when I was telling a young writer about a job I had and she said, "oh, I LOVED that show in middle school!" And then I realized two things: 1. This was payback for all the times I'd said that to older writers. 2. I'm old.

Jess Kiley said...

So you're a buncha psychics, huh? Spinning the wheel of our demise. Not unappreciated, but totally transparent. Hey, trans-parent.

Earl, I love you, and yes, will you please be my scribe.

Karen said...

Earl! It's Karen Hall. A friend sent me a link to your blog without knowing that I'm an old friend and admirer. It's so good to read your voice again. And thank you for this post. I'm going to make my "non-pro" husband read it, because I'm really tired of trying to explain to him why I have to blog. It's like being able to replace all the blood they sucked out of you. Not exactly "wasting time." And I don't know about you, but it saves me a fortune in therapy!