I've been pretty bad about updating my posts on this here blog. I could offer the reasons of being out of town, being very busy, and even being sick. But those aren't really reasons are they? They're excuses.
So enough of that. I'll try to settle on a more constant schedule. I can't promise weekends, but I"ll make sure to set a few minutes each day to reflect on things and if you want to read about them, great! If not, well, that's okay too. After all, this is really for me, and you're more than welcome to peak in from every now and then.
Sometimes the most obscure memories come back to me at the strangest of times. Usually in my car driving and listening to music, or late at night, also listening to music.
Today it happened when I was driving. I had the radio tuned to the XM station that I thought might have some New Wave music, but it didn't. What I did hear, however, was a song that took me back to one of my very first jobs in film.
I was working on location, very much by chance, on a film with a very large budget. The truth is I had some experience working production, but what the crew didn't know, was the production work under my belt consisted of friends' school projects, or an odd acting gig here or there, again, on school projects mostly.
That didn't matter much to the production. Here they were, in Jackson, Mississippi and anyone with even a little bit of production experience was hired.
Being with this production was fun. No real responsibility, just a job to do, and an easy one at that. And for the time, that was perfect for me. I was also in a relationship that I couldn't define. A relationship that actually defied definition. But there I was and in it I was.
There were a great many things I hadn't come to terms with in my somewhat young life. Things I hadn't dealt with and things I had known but pretended I didn't. Then, one day, as if out of the blue, I struck up a conversation with someone on the crew.
I actually don't remember who started the conversation, but I think it was me. The very strange thing about this whole incident, however, is that it wasn't with someone who was a contemporary of mine on set. It was with a big mucky muck.
So mucky was this muck that he was rarely spoken to, and when he was, even by his assistant, he was referred to by his last name; as in Mr. Soandso. He, in turn, referred to his assistant as Ms. Soandso.
Of course, the two were the topic of many a conversation. He, and she by association, were considered a bit too highbrow for the rest of us crew. But I never saw that. Instead I saw was a team of two, a team who worked expertly together, in a very demanding job, on a very demanding production, very far away from home.
The conversation was a simple one really, just talking about how beautiful the countryside was and how new it was, for me, to be plopped down in the middle of it, making a movie, and learning a little about the people and the area I might never have seen otherwise.
The conversation was brief. But I got a little charge out of it. There was something about my new friend that seemed different from others I had met. I really couldn't put my finger on it, but there was something intriguing about him.
I hadn't told anyone that we had spoken. It wasn't as if it were a secret, because it clearly wasn't. But it was so interesting to have spent a few minutes talking with someone that everyone else thought wouldn't give anyone the time of day.
I went about my work, and the next day, our paths crossed again, and we said hello, and chatted for a moment. Talk seemed effortless and I lamented that there wasn't a lot to do in Jackson Mississippi on a weeknight which it was, even though it was Friday. On location, a work week is six days. He laughed and said it wasn't as bleak as I had thought.
For me, the real truth was I was smarting over being alone that night. The other half of my non-defined-relationship, was going out on the town and I would be left on my own.
So I did something I thought I wouldn't never do. In fact, I was sure it would snow in Hell before I would ever do such a thing. But such a thing I did; I asked the mucky muck if he would like to have dinner.
To my surprise he said yes. He knew of a very nice restaurant out near a lake and that dinner would be fine. Then he asked where I was staying, I told him, and it turned out I was very near the restaurant, so we would simply meet there.
I can't say I was giddy, but I was excited at having made a new friend. And I'm not exactly sure why, but I got the feeling this new friend had an insight to things I didn't even know existed.
I got dressed in what was a very quiet house. Wasn't sure what to wear, as I never am. But picked something that I thought would be casual, but not too casual.
The restaurant wasn't just near a lake, it was on the lake. And it couldn't have been a more beautiful setting. I walked in, and immediately I saw a hand rise from a table near a window.
I smiled, waved back and headed over. He stood up as only a gentleman would and asked if I would like some wine. I said yes, having never really been a fan of wine, but being desperate in not making a scene by asking for a coke.
While I was old enough to drink, I was really just barely old enough. And was usually carded.
I wasn't carded in this restaurant.
For those who know me well, there are several things I don't do often. One is attend parties. I'm just not much of a party guy. And, honestly, I think it's because I get a little self conscious. The other thing I rarely do, almost never do, in fact, is have dinner with acquaintances. Same thing I'm sure. I just know I'm going to spill my drink, drop food in my lap, or laugh at a joke with a huge piece of spinach in my teeth.
But I felt none of that anxiety this evening. And while I think the obvious conclusion to jump to is that there were ulterior motives on one or both of our parts, honestly, nothing could have been further from the truth.
In fact, after the wine was poured he asked how the rest of my day had been. I told him. And he smiled. Then he asked me why I had asked him to dinner. And my quick reply was asking him why he said yes.
Then he said something fairly extraordinary. He said he agreed to dinner because he got the feeling I was looking for answers to questions I was afraid to ask. Well, as you can imagine, my jaw dropped. I don't think I was aware of it at the time, but that is exactly what I wanted.
For one very nice, quiet evening. I had someone I could open up to. Someone I could talk about the feelings I had that I couldn't bring myself to even utter before. And these questions and comments were directed at someone I didn't know, and in a few weeks or a couple of months, would probably never see again.
We talked of my relationship, of trying to sort things out when you barely know what it is that needs sorting. And we talked of his relationship back home, and how any relationship takes work. And that at my age, there's going to be a lot of mistakes, but if I were lucky, I'd learn from them.
Then I told him that he and his assistant were the talk of the production. He smiled and said he knew, which surprised me. He went on to explain that any production on location is a small family. That people may talk, people may have short term relationships, or people may fight. And while everyone tries to keep secrets, like almost any family, people just know without being told.
He laughed when I said that some even thought he and his assistant were having an affair, apparently he hadn't heard that one.
For a young man still exploring who he was, it was a memorable evening. The company was perfect, the view was great and the food excellent. When the bill came I went for it and was politely chided. He picked it up and took out a credit card.
"But it was me who asked you out," I said.
"Yes, but I make far more than you do," he replied with absolutely no hint of ego. He was just being honest as he had been the entire evening.
As we walked out to our respective cars, he thanked me for a wonderful evening and I did the same. He told me things would be fine, that I should worry less, and enjoy more and I agreed. But who knew that it would take some time before I could actually heed his advice.
If the crew ever talked about our dinner, I didn't hear about it. In a matter of just a short few days, I was offered a different position with the production, one with actual responsibility and one that directly lead me to the path I'm on now. I don't think he had anything to do with that. But now that I reflect on that evening, maybe I shouldn't be so sure.
So many years have passed since that evening, that I could have forgotten all about it. It's strange that it came back to me today. But I'm happy it did.
And while we never had the chance to say goodbye when the production ended, I didn't feel as if I needed to. We said more in one evening than I had with almost anyone else on that production.
It was a memorable night, one I'm glad I haven't forgotten.