“I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human for God’s sake.” ~ J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (Editor’s note: Pardon J. D.’s French!)
Time to admit the truth. Choosing authorship as a pastime or a passion or a means of making a living is fraught with frustrations such as: nary a kind word from fellow writers (notably, book fairs are unendurable marathons situated at isolated Hellish solitary confinement bridge tables lining dreary hallways — oh, and generally forget about even accidental fellowship with other columnists or any so-called journalist whatsoever); one upmanship; motor-minded compulsive brain waves and synapses constantly whirring and sizzling with possibly but probably not original concepts; controversy; bruised feelings; and getting pushed out of the way at this manic self-serving lingerie sale called life. Relatives may disown you; spouses rage about towers of paperwork and strange sleep patterns; children sometimes miss meals; pets receive less quality attention than usual; and lots of other peripheral humans ignore you completely…almost in a studied fashion…or once in a very blue moon mention that some Herculean effort of yours might have been “good“? Only (shrug) good?????? Huh? Most everybody craves recognition, so we might as well own it. That is why: farmers and athletes swagger; comedians insist “these are the jokes, folks”; self-promoting males wear ties and lapel pins; peroxided ladies squeeze into pencil thin jeans and knee-high boots; talking heads locate microphones; a lion’s share of nincompoops seek elective office; dictators dictate; bigots tout hate; and young terrorists terrorize as if their pants/panties are on fire.
Harboring these deep, deep thoughts plopped me into a scintillating conversation lately with Scottish actor and kindred spirit Alan Cumming who burst onto the Great White Way’s entertainment scene several seasons past portraying the seductively wicked leering emcee in the Kander and Ebb musical “Cabaret” and who now qualifies as a must-see Eli Gold starring on “The Good Wife” every Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m. on CBS. Author of rawly honest, hilarious, haunting books as well as being an exceptional singer, this fellow is one fantastic trip…and a clone of my recently deceased, Southern, animal-enthusiastic, free-spirited, smart enough to be a bachelor cousin Linder. Alan and I enjoyed a chat in Indianapolis of all places, land of “religious freedom“ notoriety as well as skittish gubernatorial refusals to provide sanctuary to Syrian refugee families. Hoosier governor Mike Pence will live forever (or until we happily forget about him — whichever comes first!) in infamy unfortunately. I am rather plucky and not easily intimidated, and I refused to honor the Columbia Club’s request that all fans, post-Alan musical concert, “move along” and “take no photographs”! Verboten! Emerging from the “Eloise” elevator — that elegant major perk and a guilty pleasure of the grand hotel (while surprisingly accompanied after hours by Alan’s pianist — who eerily resembled that “Fifty Shades of Grey” kid…what a ride!) — after I had ducked outdoors to smoke, I finessed my way over to the autograph-signing table and let my adoration hang completely out–and then some!
I gushed, “I fell hopelessly in love with you, Alan, in 1994 when you provided THE PERFECT inner-most voice-over for Black Beauty in that absolutely exquisite Warner Brothers film of the same title — which I sobbed all the way through from beginning to end!” (Every child must read that novel BTW…there would be peace on earth because writer Anna Sewell masterfully instructs any and all readers to treat each species humanely at every turn…the singular purpose of her perfect and one time literary effort…a sheer MASTERPIECE!) Mr. Cumming — who also introduces MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! entries on PBS and spoke of meeting, coincidentally, with “Black Beauty” director Caroline Thompson “next week” — rose from his folding chair to inquire if I might be a “horsewoman“? He peered down and asked, “Wearing jodhpurs”? Of course I am not one of those types. I firmly believe that equines never should have become slaves to mankind — never to be ridden with saddles nor bareback, never to pull carriages or stagecoaches or wagons, never to be brutalized in wars since the beginning of time, never raced or bet upon, never to be slaughtered for dog food. BORN FREE to run and frolic and simply be beautiful and gallop and prance and canter and trot, unstirrupped, unspurred, unbridled, unreined, unfettered, unleashed, unsat upon to their hearts’ content. Alan and I bonded like crazy in that dimly lit lobby in a rather pretentious but in truth provincial setting in clueless (lately inhospitable) Hoosierland. Indianapolis surely has been devoid of such fun and merriment since humorist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., left town! “And so it goes!”
“Hand me that camera now!” barked Alan Cumming as MISTER Sexton transformed sneakily into photographer Richard Avedon, rivalling the paparazzi…poised to snap a forbidden digital memory for posterity. Don obliged shakily. Alan hustled me down the ornate hall where we both paused beneath a vintage chandelier…the entertainer commanded me to “look up!” I did so…stunned yet star-struck. The dizzying result? Impish Me and impishAlan inextricably locked together in a SELFIE forever! I was so “ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!” Delightfully relieved that our batteries seemed in working order for this once in a lifetime photo-op moment (me side by side with Julianna Marguiles’ co-star/political adviser/nemesis), each of us in serious posing mode gazing skyward with one eyebrow raised, which Cumming and I have in common…can only arch one at a time (something about our mutual Scottish bloodlines)! Multi-talented Alan Cumming is also a director, so the results ain’t bad, and believe me, the photograph is now framed and hanging on my wall as well as prominently displayed in son Roy’s Michigan Law Firm office — as eye candy which surely must be inducing the wolverine barristers to do double-takes since the TV series is set weekly in the virtual land of legal eagles. So, you betcha I had persisted in connivingly competing for my opportunity to seek an audience with the quintessential movie/television/Broadway Renaissance (gentle)man…which led to his impressive graciousness…which resulted in this old broad’s undying LOVE and admiration until the end of time. Move over, both Vanessa Williams (Eli’s newest love interest on the boob tube’s series) and “Good Wife” Julianna. “Black Beauty” and I are now an item, as they say in show biz! Alan and I have a standing “date night” every Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m. weekly on CBS! Be still my heart…
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016…giddy-up!
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears. ~Arabian Proverb
A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open. ~Gerald Raferty
A thousand horse and none to ride! –
With flowing tail, and flying mane,
Wide nostrils never stretched by pain,
Mouths bloodless to the bit or rein,
And feet that iron never shod,
And flanks unscarred by spur or rod,
A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
Like waves that follow o’er the sea,
Came thickly thundering on,…
~Lord Byron, XVII, Mazeppa, 1818
“I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human for God’s sake.” ~ J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye