With That Upturned Chin And That Grin Of Impetuous Youth

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!

9 thoughts on “With That Upturned Chin And That Grin Of Impetuous Youth”

  1. This was fun! Thanks for sharing the memories. A lot of synchronicity going on for you during those years.

    Loved the videos!

    I moved in 1959, too — to Germany by way of Idaho and France, all in the space of about six months and three schools. Fortunately, I ended up in the place I remember being the happiest I ever was in my childhood. For about 2.5 years and then we were on the move again.

    Nice to take a moment to remember those good times.

  2. Remember when we moved in next door? I didn’t adjust very well to the new town either. My family moved several times as yours did for the same reasons. Guess we shouldn’t fault our dads for wanting to do better for the family. Junior high is full of angst anyway & being the “new girl” didn’t sit too well with me. It’s hard to fit in with the different regional fashions, slang expressions, all the stuff teens think is so important. I remember hanging out with you & Pam. Then just as I was starting to feel like I fit somewhere we moved again, this time across town & I didn’t see you until a few yr. later in high school & drama class. Now I’ve found Pam on Facebook too. It’s funny how the two of you kept bumping into each other along life’s road. Small world. Enjoyed your blog.

  3. Well, I’m late saying this because I didn’t know till about 20 minutes ago that you had a blog.
    I adore Robert Morse, and three days ago when I heard him singing “I Believe In You” on the college radio station here my immediate thought was, “I should text Rebekah and tell her to get Ian to sing this song, he would be great for it, or it for him,…” but since I was driving I didn’t text, and then I forgot.
    Now after reading a bit of your blogwork I suspect Ian already knows this song, and has perhaps known it most of his life.

    Rock On!

    1. And update Leslie – our Robert Morse is nominated for an Emmy for Mad Men. A nice thing for an old man who’s still working.

  4. I remember driving home from Vincennes late one night with Rebekah and Rachel, and “How to Succeed…..” was on the car radio on NPR. We drove around a few extra towns on the way home, taking extra time to hear the whole thing because we didn’t have good radio reception in the house.

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