When I was young, I hated being asked my age. I’d respond, “I’m as old as the mountains and as young as the human race…” I should’ve added, “and perpetually full of shit… Namaste.”
I don’t know how old I am. Sure, cut me in half, count my carbon monoxide rings and you’ll find I’m around 44 come February 2nd. But my daily attitude and humor are that of a sophisticated 20 year old. Even stranger, the pilot who sits smack in the middle of my brain – or in that plush, purple “third eye” barcalounger – sees how the mother-ship is falling apart little by little, but is completely untouched by it. He still pilots it like he did 20 years ago.
I bring this up because I watched myself on Criminal Minds last night and was struck by the sensation of seeing a stranger. “Who the hell is that adult?” I still feel like that perpetually skinny 19 year old with no ass and a big nose who slipped into Los Angeles in 1985. But, there I was in unforgiving HD, looking like a filled-out man battling middle-age softness.
The irony is that I’m now more cast-able than I was when I was at 19. Age adds a certain credibility and additional backstory (known as dark circles and wrinkles to you civilians). While many actresses in L.A. feel that ever-present industry pressure to remain frozen at 18 through a regimen of Botox, boob jobs and Ex-lax, we men benefit from deteriorating! In fact, if I gained 80 pounds and started smoking five packs a day I would get many more auditions (and also have a helluva voice for promos)! Yeah, baby… I’d work like crazy… And I’d probably be a diabetic with heart disease and lung cancer. Good career! Short life.
Part of what makes this guy on TV so different from the puppy who peed in the corner whenever his agent called is a much lighter load of insecurities. I believe they were converted into love-handles.
Then there are the reconnections that start popping up all over the place when you’re older. For instance, Dorian Frankel is a successful casting director in Los Angeles. I’d seen her name on countless labels when I’d be promoting one thing or another with postcards. A couple of weeks ago I had an audition for her (an NBC show called Parks and Recreation).
She came out of her office and we made eye contact and immediately recognized each other from… Something… In the audition room, we traded hypothesis (Theatre company? Improv group? Did we date?) until she figured it out: we had worked together in a phone sales room 22 years earlier! (Thank God I remembered her as a very nice and funny person whom I had warm feelings for! Otherwise, that audition would’ve been painful!)
The interesting thing about that experience was that she seemed the same, too! Or rather, her “pilot” did (though she hadn’t aged much, either). The outer mother-ship seems irrelevant to perception when you like it’s “pilot”. Which means… I must like myself? Of course! Hell, I have a blog!
Then, a few days ago, another person from my past sent me an email. Kathy Murphy! We met in my high school drama class and became instant friends… and I also pined after her for a few years (she was pretty and had a boyfriend – the main two criteria for my pre-emo masochism). Eventually I calmed down and we became close friends. One drunken night on her porch (sponsored by Bacardi) we made a pact that if we were both single when we were 64 (a la The Beatles) then we would get married.[audio:https://dcdouglas.com/videos/64.mp3]
Her email reminded me that 28 years have passed and now we’re just 20 years away from 64 come February 2nd (for me, February 4th for her)! I think her husband and kids are plotting an “accident” for me, as is my girlfriend!
So, to illustrate my mother-ship evolution, here is that skinny, pre-nose-job, ass-less kid at 17, starring in a Pink Floyd knock-off home movie, loosely directed by my arty sister. As an added bonus (for a few, at least), at the very end of it you’ll see my sister “auditioning” for Dr. Demento, followed by Kathy Murphy on the phone. (Hey! It’s a home movie – I don’t need no stinkin’ actor releases, girl!) 😉[FB 118588485442]
Truth be told, I like this mother-ship I have now more than that other one 27 years ago. It’s broken-in and feels more like me, even if I don’t recognize it on TV. And I have no plans to alter my behavior to match my carbon monoxide rings, either. I need to keep my bad puns, inappropriate humor and Berkeley attitude intact. They’re the qualities that helped plant the seeds for those reconnections with “friends of years past.”
… And, much more important than all those TV, film and voiceover gigs, are all the friends I collect in my memories – no matter where they reside on my timeline. I’ll always replay our stories in my mind way more often than Criminal Minds will repeat my episode in syndication.
Indeed, “I’m as old as the warning labels on cigarette packages and as young as the last memory I created… Oh, and yes, I’m still full of shit. Namaste.”