Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My 50 Cents


(This is another piece I did for my solo performer class at the People's Improv Theater. I'm turning 50 on Thursday so I thought I'd post this little number.)

I was born in Brooklyn in 1957, the same year the Dodgers moved out.

I'd like to think these two events are not related, but in my darker moments—which are pretty much all I have lately—I can’t help but wonder.

I mean, here I am, making my debut in the world, and the beloved Brooklyn Bums are packing their bags and hot tailing it for the West Coast. As my first grade teacher, Sister Mary Rocco Agonista used to say—what the fuck?

I have this image of Pee-Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and all those other baseball legends sneaking into Shore Road Hospital on a moonless night, peering into my crib and screaming, “holy shit, will you look at the mug on that little mongrel! That’s it, we’re moving to L.A.”

In case you’re slow on the arithmetic, or you’re just stupid, I’m turning 50 this year. Fifty goddamn, oh, no, Mother Machree, there must be some kind of freaking miscount years old. And I’m just a little cranky.

I keep doing the math, hands down my worst subject in school, and it still comes out the same: 1957-2007, 57-07—even I can’t screw that up. I’m half-a-century old, people, and the key word here is old.

There’s something terribly wrong about this: I’m not rich, I’m not famous; I’m not rolling around in the hay with smoking hot supermodels. What is this bullshit?

Not a single one of my shallow, pathetic, teen-age fantasies has come even remotely true. I haven’t painted my masterpiece; I don’t even know where the goddamn canvas is.

This is so bad that I actually appreciate my forties. The forties have a rugged, hard-drinking experienced manly feel to them—not that I fit the profile, of course, but it’s nice being in the same age bracket.

I used to read private eye novels when I was a teen-ager and all the heroes of those potboilers were tough-talking men in their forties. They were strong, fearless, and resourceful. And they got laid a lot more than I did.

People are always surprised when I tell them my age. They shake their heads and say, “wow, you don’t look 50!”

I always smile back and cheerfully say, “Blow me! What am I supposed to look like, dipshit, Grandma Moses?”

It’s not that I’m against maturity. It’s just that I’m not any good at it. I’m not a responsible citizen; I’m not a productive member of society.

I can’t give sound advice or make rational decisions. I don’t know how to operate half the appliances I own and by the time I do figure them out, they’re usually obsolete. Just like me.

Ghana Get You

If I were to go back to my old high school and address the graduating class, I’d looked out across that sea of eager, smiling youngsters, and say, “shit, I wish we could trade places.”

Then I would go beat the crap out my old geometry teacher. I never liked that bastard.

I read this article on the Internet about turning 50, which talked about the short term memory fading as we age, but wisdom, knowledge, and judgment improving.

Oh, sweet, I’ll be a genius, but I’ll be too senile to know it. I can split the atom and crap my diapers all at the same time. Remember, you’re not getting older, you’re getting crazier.

I was going to do a net search to see who else is turning 50 this year, but I quickly scrubbed that idea.

Jesus, that’s all I need: a list of people who’ve had the same amount of time on earth as I’ve had and whose accomplishments make me feel like I’ve been in coma for the last 5 decades.

Have I said “blow me” yet? My short term memory is fading so fast I don’t remember.

Now, I suppose I could take stock of my life and be thankful for what I have, for even making it to 50, when so many other people haven’t. But this one little item caught my eye and it’s gotten my withered old brain thinking.

The African nation of Ghana is also turning 50 this year. I don’t know a damn thing about the place, but I think it would be a very nice gesture on their part if they made me their king. Or president, premier, field marshal, grand marshal, Marshal Dillon, whatever they got, as long as it’s top dog, I’ll take it.

I won’t do anything drastic. Give me a spiffy uniform and chest full of K-Mart medals and I’ll do the ribbon-cuttings, march in parades and perform weddings. I’ll kiss babies, make speeches, shake hands and pose for pictures with the out-of-towners.

All I want in return is a nice condo, a stack of porn DVD’s, and lifetime supply of Viagra. Is that so much to ask?

You see, the truth is, I really need this gig. I’ve had all this time on the planet and I don’t have jack shit to show for it, so being made ruler of an entire country would go a long way in making me feel better.

But I want to assure the people of Ghana that I’m not just going to take up space in their country. Hell, no, I’ve got a plan, a big plan.

And I will devote all my energy into making it happen. I’ll work tirelessly, nights, weekends and holidays, and I don’t care if it takes me another 50 years, I will do everything in my power to bring the Dodgers to Ghana.

Play ball!

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