Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dancing In the Dark (Bruce Springsteen)

This has been a surreal week for me. Last night I got news my grandfather, Pop Pop, had emerged from death's door. The man was amazing. Twenty years ago he had a blood clot and was gonna die. He beat that. After that he had skin cancer and prostrate cancer. He beat that too. In that mix he also had some heart stuff. He beat that too. I think he survived World War II in Japan. A lot had happened. Then this morning I got news my grandfather passed away in his sleep. My grandmother, Nunni, a mercurial white haired woman who passed this spring, probably greeted him when he woke up in heaven. I got a call from my mother that things got so bad she begged my grandmother to come fetch my grandfather. Nunni answered.

The night before had been crazy. I had a mini meltdown when I received some disappointing news about a project pertaining to my book. I tried to tell myself that these weren't the people to help me. All week things had been hard. Another project had difficulties. Two weeks before were spent prepping for a network audition. I was sick and thought at one point I had some form of whatever. And then there is the usual he said she said bullshit of my line of work. I thought maybe I would get a break.

On the flipside, my Pop Pop is no longer in pain. He is happy and playing tennis. He is with his brothers and sisters who love him. He went out of this world knowing he was cared for and loved. He was ninety-five when he made his great exit. Fred Wallisch had six kids who grew up to be champion swimmers, coaches, teachers, lawyers, dentists, actors, and artists. His grandchildren were artists who had their work shown internationally, ballet dancers who danced with city ballet, professors, athletes currently prepping for Olympic trials, doctors, writers, and comedians. My Pop Pop lived to see me be on national TV and was the first to buy my book. He was so jealous when I got to go to the US Open because he was a huge tennis fan.

All day I have been in a weird limbo. While I know my Pop Pop is at peace I feel a weird sensation like it has been hard as hell to focus. This morning I delivered a singing chicken to the son of a Saudi Royal in Trump Towers. In a strange LSD like trip I ran across Sixth Avenue to get there and all along the way were these floats. Huge balloon floats. My beloved Pop Pop is dead and I am seeing huge balloon floats. Then I figured I would take some photos. People were pretty okay. Not bad. Plus my Pop Pop was someone who always looked at the bright side. The bright side was I found myself smack dab in the middle of the Macy's Day Parade. Who can be sad when you see an inflatable Papa Smurf?

The son of the Saudi Royal was not happy about seeing me, but his cousin tipped me $100. Makes up for having a death in the family I suppose. My brain felt like it was unraveling at a furious speed.

My second delivery was to Long Island. This was also kind of surreal. The family saw me as the cab was dropping me off and invited me in. I said I was a friend of Judy's, the contact. Anyway Judy wasnt there. I thought this was her house. It was almost two. Apparently people arrive late. I was supposed to call Judy first. Anyway I changed and the mother was nice but she wanted me the fuck out of her house. The rest of the family was warm and talked to me in the turkey costume, waiting for everyone else to show up. As I was waiting to sing, Judy arrived with some kids. The mother pulled Judy in the kitchen. There was something wrong. There was some yelling. WTF...Okay.

I sang and the family seemed to enjoy it, but there was this feeling in the room that was odd, and there was dead silence after I read the message. Finally I read the message. The mother angrily said, "Let me see it." She looked at it and ripped it up. "This is nonsense! Their nerve!" She screamed and stormed into the kitchen

The grandmother asked me kindly to pick it up as she reassembled the message. Clearly I had missed something. I apologized several times to the family who all assured me I was just doing my job and I had no way of knowing I walked into a land mine. They were quite nice, especially when they helped me out the back quietly as the mother was swearing her head off. What the hell had happened? This was a stunning strange dream. Grandpa was dead. I had run across the Macy's parade where a giant elf had greeted me. A Saudi Royal hates me forever for waking him, and his family tipped me generously. Oh and I accidentally poured salt on a festering wound for a bunch of strangers. All is costume.

The train ride home had me reevaluating my day as well as my life. What would be next? Did I know where I was going? Maybe it was time to move home. This had been a hellacious month that was just not getting any better. Just then I remembered when my grandfather found out I was performing comedy. He cut out a bunch of jokes from Reader's Digest and sent them to me. He also cut out his favorite Bob Hope jokes. A lot of family members tried to steer me away from the stage but Pop Pop always supported me and believed in me. The man was always telling funny stories. Always encouraging me.Always making someone laugh.

I found myself hoping maybe I could heal the familial pain these strangers felt. Because when you lose someone, it's too late.

I also found myself in a dark hole. Then I remembered the words of a veteran comedian who gave me a pep talk during another dark time in my life. A big black man, he said in a booming voice, "Sweetheart, when times get tough and you think you might never laugh again, you reach for God and you reach for the punchline."

So I did what I have always done during hard times. I took out a piece of paper and began to write. My Pop Pop lived as long as he did and conquered cancer all the times in a row for a reason. The man never let anything get him down. So as the jokes poured out of my veins, some may be gold some may be mold, I knew one thing was for sure. I wasn't just gonna be fine. When I was done climbing out of this dark hole there might be a new half hour set at the end.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

No comments:

Post a Comment