I work weekends, often, late, and every. It’s perfect for a guy like me, whose grasp of the calendar has always been tenuous anyway; weekends are days when more people are in the grocery store, mostly, that’s all. And I hear more power tools. That’s about it.
Twice a month these are 12-on, 12-off, separated by mediocre sleep and some bizarre behavior, most of it cognitive. Even a pretty cursory, 101-level study of human development demonstrates that as we get older, we do some things better and some things not as well, but mostly we slow down. This is good for writing poetry, not as good for engaging in witty conversation with an 18-year-old special needs kid who has a tendency to drill down into the intricacies of World of Warcraft and occasionally ask for feedback from Dad, who usually says, “Need coffee, man want coffee now” and only hours later starts to recall the details. I move in slow motion on the weekends.
Used to be, when I was younger, that I could work those kinds of shifts and still have energy to party on, hit the clubs, do The Hustle, vote for Jimmy Carter and then, belly full of beer and hepped up on goofballs, vandalize some parking meters and still give the middle finger to The Man. Those were the days, my friend.
I could be embellishing my youth a bit. Maybe I saw too many movies.
I still see and read, though; I can’t help it, glued to the computer as I am, two monitors, five virtual desktops — news has a way of leaking in. So yes, I know about Paul Newman.
I wrote a column yesterday about him, by the way. I was reading some reminiscences (try writing that word without caffeine. Try. Dare you) by others and felt sort of cheated; how come I didn’t have a chance encounter with the guy, run into him in an airport or cross paths in the way that a guy who spent some time on the far peripheries of show biz might still occasionally do? But no. That would have been nice, though.
And then I remembered my close call. And I wrote about it, like so:
In 1979, a friend and I managed to wrangle passes onto the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank. We wandered around, not having any luck at being accidentally discovered as the next Newman and Redford (for good reason), spent a few minutes watching busy people film an episode of â€œThe Dukes of Hazzard,â€ and then as we were leaving we saw the parking space.
It was in front of the looping building, where actors re-record dialogue that was muffled or otherwise needed fixing. There were two spaces in front with names prominently painted on them. One said â€œDustin Hoffmanâ€ and in it was parked an unremarkable Datsun 240Z.
And the other was â€œMr. Paul Newman,â€ and it had a Porsche. A Porsche that had a license plate decal that said, â€œIâ€™d Rather Be Racing.â€
Oh, you betcha that was his car.
We waited for a while, but he never came out. Still, I touched his Porsche once. Whole religions have been started on less interaction.
I miss a world that doesn’t have Paul Newman in it, and like a lot of things it never occurred to me that this would be so until it was too late.
(Screen grab taken from my very own purchased copy of “Butch Cassidy”)