It is 1:21 in the morning. I am tired and have a plane to catch in the morning, so I should be sleeping. But because I have recently and semi-publicly pledged to no longer hide my light under a bushel—to use an expression I have never really understood but which has been tossed at me from time to time—here I am, trying to take seriously a pledge which was not seriously made.
I came down to this burg to do a job. Can you come down and do a job, the voice on the phone said. Ten days. That’s all.
Ok, I said.
You got someone you like to work with, the voice said.
Yeah. I work with the African.
Ok. You and the African. Ten days. Arrange your own flights. Find a hotel. Something quiet. Nearby. Nothing flashy. Send us a bill.
Now we’re done, a day early (which never happens) and I’m lying here looking back on the job and feeling like we acquitted ourselves professionally. Proudly, even. Needless to say, I’m unable to supply any details pertinent to the work due to industry standard agreements freely entered into and fully binding.
Or, as we like to say in the biz, I could tell you but then I’d have to bore you.
Anyway, job done, back to the hotel, veggie burger at the diner attached to the bowling alley and then to the room. #719. View of airport runway. Planes stacked up eight deep some nights, waiting to land. Tonight, there’s no waiting, no line. Everybody’s already here.
Can’t sleep so I look for a movie. For fifteen bucks I watch a flick on the screen bolted to the wall next to my bed. I’m on the bed. It’s over here next to me. Kinda odd, but ok. Turns out the awkward position of the TV is the best part of the whole experience. I did not sign an NDA around this piece of work, so I have no problem telling you that the film in question was “Inglorious Basterds.” I won’t say much because it isn’t worth much but it seems like a fair rule to impose on a film to ask that it be more fun to watch than it was to make. Not that all films need to be fun. But the relationship holds, I think.
Now and then you get a new look at some piece of language you’ve grown used to using. Seeing our chicken, Dr. Corday, get picked on by Chickie only to then turn around and pick on Dr. Benton suddenly made me re-understand the concept of pecking order. Likewise did the birds reteach me what it means to be brooding.
And tonight Mr. T. gave me a demo of what critics mean when they say someone’s film is “masturbatory.” They mean the fellow in question had more fun making it than you’re going to have watching it.
So, lights out but the porch light won’t dim. I am brooding on something. The movie? The job? The bowling alley veggie burger that is settling into the deepest recesses of my diverticuli? Dunno.
Sometimes I can just stop and say, “Ok, kid. What is it?” and the thing that’s bothering me will float right up to the top like my brain was a magic 8-ball of doubt. But tonight the oddest thing happened. I found myself thinking about these four people in my immediate family, three boys and a woman, and their faces floated up through the murk, one by one, and appeared there clearly for a moment before giving way to the next. In the fog before my sleep, it seemed to me that they were the ones sleeping, and I looked at them and wondered, idly, which I loved more. They each seemed so wonderful in their own ways that I quickly abandoned the task as impossible, at which point it was clear, even to someone as dim as me, that this was a laughably good situation to be in, that in the very more important and fundamental ways I was and continue to be blessed with the very best thing in life and that maybe, just maybe, this was my chance to learn that “don’t hide your light under a bushel,” was a fancy way of saying, “pull your head out of your ass and live.”
I’m on it.