Try a Little Happiness
A very nice guy in the audience in Springfield, James Davis-Willard, wrote on his card “Are you a happier person now than you were ten years ago? You seem to be really happy the last few years.” Isn’t that sweet? Being me, I told him “only goes to show what senility can do for you,” but, in fact, that’s only partly true, and its still pre-senility. I am entitled to senior moments, now, and it’s a great way of saying you forgot something you really didn’t want to do and not getting an argument. Almost as good as wearing a selective hearing aid. But, beneath the planet of me, I guess I really am happier even though everything is getting worse, you know physical functions, career, popular music, men’s wear. I just don’t take it personally any more. I don’t really care, but I do. It’s a kind of Zen-like uncaring caring, that accepts the fact that the things that you can do something about are more than enough, thank you. I never hoisted the world, a la Atlas, on my back, but there was quite a bit of unclaimed baggage some of which I don’t even remember unclaiming. Marriage, for example, has never been my (2) cups of tea, and I always said my wife took to marriage like a duck to oil, and its true. Some people are better off mating, and going their separate ways. But then kids come along, and it’s a game changer. Terrific, love being a father, not much heavy lifting, set your own hours, work out of the home. Early attempt to be both father and mother to the girls quickly dissipated under the withering glare of she who has lovemotherearth for her email address, but that was for the best. Now, of course, the girls are teenagers, and, if there is nothing like a dame, there is really nothing like a teenage dame, and I say that with all due cowering respect. They bark at me, and wave me away. Unbelievable. I who did everything from wiping their poopy behinds to paying their tuition and everything in between. Well, OK, its not as hands on as it used to be—I try to be of use and not say anything analytical, and certainly refrain from any advice based on my own experience, because as the once-little Nora told me, “Dad, you’re not a girl, and you’re not NOW!” I don’t think she meant the organization for women.
So, really, in effect, I’ve been released from fathering, at least in the nose to the grindstone sense. OK. I miss playing with little Nora and little Ellie, but finger painting, making acorn people and claymation movies are probably not going to make a comeback. OK. Well. I know I’m on call, but that’s a hell of a lot better than working 12 hour shifts. Frees me up quite a bit. My show, for me, has always been the only two hours of my life I could control, and there’s still that, but it now, in effect, it is my life, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, as much as painting civil war miniatures or donning an engineer cap to run your HO gauge through tunnels you made yourself might be. Love it. I have a crush on my audience. Some of them feel the same way, but, at this point, its OK if it’s unrequited or requited just a little. When I first did radio from Dolly’s Fine Foods in Madison, my routine was basically my personal life, or lack of, and the many emotional reversals and amusing little failures endemic to twenty-somethings. A guy once called in and said, “You know, you mess up a lot, you really have a lot of neuroses, but its very entertaining—don’t ever change!” Ever see that movie where Jim Carrey beats up himself? Like that. It occurred to me that I needed to save some for myself, and also that a relationship with an audience is nothing you can come home to. These days, I enjoy nothing more than wading into a crowd (which, confidentially, is the exact opposite of my wading into myself personality type) who have taken the time and effort to pack a sometimes unwilling family into the Caravan and get up at 5 to drive all the way in from Bloomer on a Saturday morning. Nobody had ever done that for me before. Nothing has ever reaffirmed (or affirmed, to be truthful) my faith, maybe not in mankind, but in people, like talking with my audience, learning a little about them, maybe sharing a laugh. And that, in long, is why I feel pretty happy these days, and lucky.
And also what I told Mrs. Davis-Willard after the show (she was trying to explain what her husband was getting at, which was really cute, too) that I’m just happy to get up in the morning. “That’s what I’ll tell him!” she said.
Tags: Smilin' MikeBoth comments and pings are currently closed.