Monday, May 24, 2010

'Roaring Virile Fire'

Last week, a 53-year-old computer sciene professor in China was sent to prison for organizing and participating in at least 18 orgies.

The professor, a member of swingers clubs that engaged in group sex and partner swapping, was charged with “crowd licentiousness,” which is probably more fun than being licentious all by yourself.

One of the things that struck me about this story—aside from the fact that he held these events in a two-room apartment that he shared with his Alzhemier's-afflicted mother—was the defendant’s online chat room handle: “Roaring Virile Fire.”

Now that's what I call a handle. I turned 53 today and I've decided that I’m going to adopt this nom de schwantz to mark this auspicious occasion. Since the original RVF is going to be busy for a while, I’m sure he won’t mind.

Usually I mark my birthday by spending the day moping and whining about how old I’m getting, how little I’ve accomplished, what the hell is wrong with me, etc.

But then I realized that I do this every day—not every birthday, but every single freaking day. So instead of whining, I'm going to celebrate my birth. I'm going to thank God I’m still here when plenty of people never reach this milestone.

When I was a junior in college, I was talking with a classmate about where I thought I would be in five years.

“Just make sure you’re above ground,” my friend said. Only now do I see that he was right on the money.

My sister and auntie kicked off the celebration a little early by taking me to the theater on Saturday where we saw Christopher Walken—talk about a roaring virile fire--starring in Martin McDonagh’s A Behanding in Spokane.

McDonagh is the singularly twisted individual who gave us, among other works, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Cripple of Inishmaan and the film In Bruges.

What a perfect match—McDonagh creates this bizarro violent universe and puts Walken at the center of it. The thing was off the hook: sharp dialogue, bondage, gunshots, incredibly foul language, and a stage strewn with severed human hands. You won't see that in Cats.

After the show we hung around outside the theater, hoping we’d catch sight of the big guy, but it didn’t happen. We did see the other cast members, though, and Jeff Goldblum, who had starred in an earlier McDonagh play, The Pillowman, came walking out of the stage door for some reason.

"Loved you in Buckeroo Banzai!" one theater-goer shouted as Goldblum and his companion walked down the block.

While I've seen him plenty of times on TV and in movies, I hadn’t seen Christopher Walken on stage since 1991—ye gods-when we caught him in Shakespeare in the Park playing Iago in Othello.

Walken wore a leather jacket for the performance and I sarcastically referred to him as Iago Dice Clay. The late Raul Julia portrayed Othello and he died three years later from complications from a 54 years old.

Closer to home, I learned last week that Jack Rundle, a Stroudsburg, Pa. detective I knew while I was a police reporter at The Pocono Record had died. I worked with Jack on a lot of stories and he was always straight with me. I hadn't spoken with him in years, but I was still shocked to learn that he was gone.

On a happier note, I walked into Trinity Church last Wednesday for the afternoon service and saw that Willy, one of the church regulars, had returned after a long absence.

Willy is a fixture at Trinity. When it comes time during mass to give the sign of peace, Willy makes a point of shaking hands with nearly half of the congregation. He makes everyone feel welcome. But a few months ago he stopped coming and I never could find out why.

Then on Wednesday, there he was, in his usual pew. I greeted him and he told me that he had suffered a stroke. I was amazed because Willy is a big, bulky guy and he appears to be a fairly young man. Seeing him back in the fold was an early birthday present for me.

During the sermon, Rev. Mark talked about making changes in our lives. He said if you can’t actually succeed in changing, then we should at least have that desire to change.

“If you can’t forgive someone,” he said, “then at least desire to forgive them. If you’re having trouble becoming a better person, then desire to improve.”

He got me thinking about the goals I have not reached, the big plans that have yet to happen. I wonder now if I really had the desire to attain these things or was I just paying them lip service.

How hard have I really worked to get something I want? How much did I believe in myself when I sit down to write—or am I burning up time thinking that writing is so hard, so few people ever succeed, and, of course, I'm so old?

It’s pretty obvious where this negative thinking has gotten me and while positive thinking is no guarantee of success, it's better than giving up before you even get started.

During the feast of the Epiphany in January, the staff at Trinity handed out business cards to each parishoner bearing a single word. Under the heading “A Gift for You,” the card encouraged to seek out “a-ha” moments connected to our special word.

My word turned out to be “light” and I couldn't be happier. I can sink into darkness very quickly without even noticing it, so a word that keeps me in the sunshine is just what I need.

Now it's time to celebrate. Throw another log on that roaring virile fire and be glad you're still above ground.


Calamity Jen said...

And don't forget to be thankful that you don't require a clamp on your roaring virileness.

Rob K said...

Oh, I am very thankful, Jen!! No clamps for me.