Sunday, October 18, 2015
Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and Little Freaking Beasties
Like nuns, some epiphanies seem to come in pairs.
A week ago I learned something I hadn't known about a boyhood hero of mine. Many of you know him as Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Tarzan. Buster Crabbe (1908-1983) played those roles and many more. He was also won an Olympic gold medal for swimming in 1932. A man's man, Buster Crabbe walked the walk and swam the swim.
But he became a real hero to me when I saw a news clip of him, in his sixties--looking trim and remarkably fit--performing a perfectly graceful high dive. Hell, all the old men I knew then were fat and exhausted and beaten. Not Crabbe. During his senior swimming career Crabbe set 16 world and 35 national records. He kept swimming through his sixties, and in 1971 set a world record for men in his age group.
With a certain birthday approaching soon, I've had special cause to think of Crabbe. Maybe there's still time for me compete...at least in Tai Chi or Hot Yoga? Anyway, Googling, I was saddened and shocked to learn that Buster the Bold died of a heart attack at age 75 after tripping over a wastepaper basket at home.
Not broken bones or a concussion...a heart attack--as if from fright. Terror or shock from the loss of control? Done in by a Little Freaking Beastie?
We've just come to a fork in the road. Let's turn left.
A Little Freaking Beastie came for Reb MacRath the other day. The opening could not have been smaller: my usual Amazon locker site was booked, so I couldn't receive a DVD I couldn't wait to watch. Plan B: I had it sent to another site, one not too far from the first. A text message soon informed me that the DVD was there. Hooray! I mean, let's put this in proper perspective. This wasn't any DVD. This was I, The Jury, starring the great Armand Assante in his only outing as Mike Hammer. And I'd come to remember AA's performance as definitive.
But...The Little Freaking Beastie pounced! I could not find the address. In Seattle you can walk for blocks without find a building that's numbered. The DVD awaited at "800 5th Ave GARAGE", per my notice. I asked for help, finally, and was confidently sent three blocks south...in the wrong direction. I tried Googling 5th Ave GARAGE and 800 5th Ave GARAGE. Nothing. I tried Google Mapping the address, but the illustration unclear.
I tossed and turned all night, head pounding in a frightening way. Something terrible was happening. The great Armand Assante had been delivered to an address the Little Freaking Beastie was determined to keep me from finding.
Come morning, my anxiety soared. Not even Amazon, in a live Chat, could tell me precisely where Armand was hiding. I didn't want a replacement! I didn't want a refund! I wanted, and needed, the DVD NOW!!!
By lunch, I felt ready for either ER or Bedlam
I would never get the DVD because I wasn't meant to have it. The address didn't exist. And--
The phone rang at work. I was rescued by a call from a nutcase in Gig Harbor, haven of the toney rich. A guy with six cars on his account--3 BMWs, 1 Lex and 2 Cadillacs--went stark raving berserk because of a twenty-five cent error on his bill. He'd been in queue for 45 minutes and proceeded to raise hell for twenty more minutes over a twenty-five cent error that could be fixed in seconds.
Epiphany. I was talking to myself...or to an echo of myself in a rage over an address I couldn't find for my life. But, talking to this nut, I knew: I was only angry on the surface at the bad address...just as he was only angry on the surface at the missing quarter. I was angry because this bizarre mishap seemed to embody--well, many things. In fact, all the things that are beyond my absolute control: from book sales to age discimination.
Epiphany 2. I've roamed the world, often solo, and always found my way. I've moved from coast to coast 7 times--almost always with no job or apartment lined up. I've navigated emotional, physical and financial challenges. And yet a Little Freaking Beastie knew that the right way to bring me down was not with something huge...but something insultingly tiny.
I'd reached the point that you all know:
I began to act decisively, shifting into analytical mode:
1) Amazon's not insane. But it's capable of being unclear. Possibly I was reading their directive too literally: 800 5th Ave was clear. But should I really be looking for 5th Ave GARAGE?
2) I would not wuss out by calling a cab and paying somebody to help me.
3) I would--and did--succeed in finding a building obscurely numbered 800. It was a Bank of America, apparently nestled in a superstructure.
4) No GARAGE in sight at this 800 5th Ave. But wait...If B of A owned the entire superstructure--and, say, it spanned an entire block...then the number 800 would refer to the entire block, all sides.
5) Sooooo...800 5th Ave would refer to all sides of the building. And 800 5th Ave GARAGE wasn't the name of the parking lot but was, possibly, a garage servicing the whole city-block address.
6) In a 10-15 minute walk I could cover the other three sides of the block. I began on the south side and--
Voila. I spied the entrance to an underground garage and in thirty paces I saw the Amazon lockers.
I couldn't have been happier if I'd chanced on El Dorado.
What joy! I felt as proud and blissed-out as the day I first set foot in San Francisco after nearly 4 days on a bus, with $300 in my pocket, no job and nowhere to live. I went home with my party comfort food...set everything up lovingly...and sat down to savor a classic film that would be worth my bout with the Little Freaking Beastie.
Welllll...The food was fine. But the film that might have landed me in the emergency ward? It sucked. Assante was superb but the film was a mess. A bitchness of embarassments,
The moral of the story? I won't allow myself to forget the fool with the quarter or the other fool with his DVD. I'll set my sights on things that count, knowing and accepting that I can't control the outcomes....but that I can better my chances if I keep Little Freaking Beasties from dividing my focus and spirit.