I have been reading Dickens. You know, Chuck Dickens? And true to form, Chuck starts many, if not all, novels with a wild card of sorts. We’re introduced to characters, location and situation that will, in the next chapter, disappear and travel a different road while new characters, location and situation, usually in a new timeframe, will come down a new road, until those roads eventually converge. This paragraph was a wild card.
In 1959 my family moved again. There had been so many of these moves, always in the quest of promotion and more money, that my sister and I were expected to adjust. 1959 was a bad year to be uprooted. We were too old to take it comfortably; relationships from former rootings were not so easily upped.
The first day in our new home, a too small, too low, too generic, too boring, brick ranch house, I went out on my bike. Another little girl brought her bike out. We had a theatrical improv bike moment in the middle of the street until we both laughed, at the same time, and she became my best friend Pam.
Her family laughed, mine didn’t too much. I chose to be at her house rather than mine, a pattern that would follow with all my friends. But Pam and I were that sort of Dickensian friendship, destined to come and go, cross, double cross paths, eventually traveling divergent roads.
I just found Pam on Facebook.
The first thing she said was that she remembered my ‘obsession’ with Robert Morse every time she watched Mad Men. This is an old friend who knows my young sillinesses. But it’s true. In 1965 Robert Morse made a film, The Loved One, and I thought he was adorable. Then I found out he was a Broadway wunderkind for his leading role in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. There was a song, the show stopper, “I Believe In You”, that his character sang in the corporate men’s room, looking at himself in the mirror.
How amazing if we could all wake up each day and look at ourselves in the mirror and sing those words instead of saying “Oh my God, what the hell happened? Ugh! Look at me – how can I be seen in public!”
I challenge us to look in the mirror and say these words: “I see the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth; Yet, with the slam, bang, tang reminiscent of gin and vermouth.”
Now that’s an affirmation to start the day with: I believe in you – (to the face in the mirror) – I believe in you!
I found out my friend Pam is unemployed, so we travel the same road once more. All I can offer is a song, sung by someone who refuses to listen to the naysayers. J. Pierpont Finch is definitely a “glass half full” kind of person.
And not to dismiss our Bobby’s journey, which hasn’t been a smooth one, though he won another Tony for Tru in 1990. Others believed in him when he was given his role on Mad Men, particularly since, in doing the calculations, he will soon be 80 years old.
In 1979 I left New York to spend a summer performing in a Tom Stoppard play in Chapel Hill, NC. Out of nowhere I found Pam tending bar in a local pub. We did silly things and had some great laughs. I returned to New York swearing to keep in touch with her.
One evening that autumn I bolted from an Opera in the Park performance where friends feigned artistic snobbery in a crowd so huge the singers were overwhelmed by the melee. As I walked up Central Park West, who did I see coming in my direction, wearing a yellow crew neck sweater, gray slacks and still with all that hair? Robert Morse. I planted my feet and gushed, “Oh my God, I love you! I love your work!” He took my hand and shook it and said “Thank you so much!” Still adorable, if a bit wider in girth.
I draw no conclusions. It’s all a wild card.
I believe in you; I believe in you!