We got an exuberant spontaneous invitation to a neighbor’s party for Saturday night, issued by someone who wasn’t the party-giver (I later learned), but it was a happy hoot anyway. I hope to conspire with others to make this a monthly neighborhood “do.”
In February 2007 we were pitching a birthday party for me, and needed to help guests find parking space beyond what we have ourselves. A new family had moved in across the road, immediately next to where I’d begged parking in the past. The young man who’d always said “Why sure!” was no longer there, and I was uncertain if anyone else had moved in yet, so I asked the people I could find. They said OK.
In a couple of days, I was on my hands and knees in our front yard pulling weeds, and here came a procession across the road, singing “Happy Birthday,” the dad and two fine young sons, holding handfuls of wildflowers and a balloon. I collapsed in grateful giggles. For the next few years, every time the dad saw me he’d holler “Happy Birthday!” They’ve fed our cats and we’ve given them plums and tomatoes, and I’ve watched in awe as their boys became tall young teens.
What happened in the other house across the road was not so happy. A family moved in whose aura was pretty dark, and the sheriff showed up a number of times. Finally, last year, they left, and another family moved in, and it was good that the dark cloud had evaporated. This was their party for neighbors and family and Waldorf School friends.
I wasn’t sure about the time or what to bring, so I went over and got introduced. The man looked at me, got a puzzled expression, and said, “You look familiar.” I told him that I was a performer, and he asked if I’d done something local recently. “Just closed three weeks of King Lear downtown.” “Oh, wow, we saw that last Friday and were blown away!” Take away the red nose and the stooge-wig and recognition is impaired, but he got it as soon as I fired off a line in the Fool Voice, and we loped into the house to surprise his wife.
The party was really great, the teens and parents and elders all ate hot dogs and sipped beverages and talked up a storm with people they’d never met before. Even the mosquitoes were benevolent. We’re ready to do it again.
A friend suggested that the only way to deal with the maddening absurdities of the present Administration is to ignore it, or at least its tweety-bird eructations. And truly, we may be wasting a lot of creative energy crafting ever-more-brilliant insults for our Commander-in-Chief. It’s a new literary genre. We surely live in interesting times, when a slug achieves mythic dimension. See, there I go…
Quite true that we should pay more attention to the actions of the man than to his haircut. No one has quite achieved the Shakespearean heights of insult—“a lily-livered action-taking glass-gazing superserviceable finickal rogue … and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch!” And giving someone the finger offers scant spiritual relief and undermines one’s own desire to be taken seriously. Still, as an actor, I’d have a hard time just focusing on the truth of my character’s inner life while ignoring the elephant squatting in the second row.
The human mind—mine anyway—acts like a vacuum. Its emptiness sucks in whatever’s available. So if I want to clear my head from toxic substances, I have to fill it with something of equal weight and equally loud. The first thing, upon waking, that entered my mind was a duck.
The challenge was that I know almost nothing about ducks. They have a bill, web feet; they float, fly and waddle. They come in different makes. That’s hardly enough to deflect my brain from focus on our vehement stagger toward war with North Korea.
Still, my odd wake-up may be a wake-up call. I need to know more about ducks. I skipped high school biology, but I might skim Wikipedia and then graduate to countless duck videos, and there’s likely a TED talk on ducks. There may be great healing power there. And if I need a mild shot of absurdity, there’s always Daffy and … omigod!