Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Most Poor Sons of Bitches Are Starving To Death!



I have been called crazy. It's true. Some have called me crazy while others have said I am eccentric. Rob Hale simply says "Stephen is such an artist..." That is what he said when I had Tom's signature tattoo'd to my right ankle, while all of Tom's friends were FA LIPPING out. That tattoo is not the only kind of thing I do or have done that could be called eccentric. When people get that quizical look on their face because they do not understand Rachel--not even the concept of her--I simply say "I embrace my eccentricities."

And that is exactly what it is with me. I am an eccentric. I am whimsical. I am madcap. That's what they called Auntie Mame, isn't it? The ads for the book, the play, the movie all called her madcap..or at least the piece, itself. Literature and life are littered with the loveable lunatics that cause people to smile and sigh, wistfully, as they remember a happier time, a hilarious moment or an adventure, long forgotten. I have listened to people talk about my great grandmother and her headstrong actions that earned her the reputation for being a spitfire. Her daughter, my estranged Aunt Maxine, always claimed to be my Auntie Mame..sadly, a self proclaimed title that she could never hope to live up to. It simply wasn't in her. It must be horrible to want to be madcap and simply be boring. I have known madcap, I have been eccentric, I have been called crazy--indeed, I may have been crazy.

I think about the times that Pat tells people that we are from the south, where we bring our crazies down into the family parlour and introduce them to guests. I also think about the times that he tells people I am a Filipino--that other asian races may be crazy but they hide it; the Filipinos are crazy and they know it and are PROUD of it!! So there is a lot of zaniness, craziness, ECCENTRICITY in my/our lives.

But what of the other crazies in the world? I hear stories from people about the crazies in their life, in their family. I read about those in the news who are off the tree branch. I have, certainly, read about them in books and watched them in movies. How difficult is it, do you think? To be eccentric, to know you are eccentric and that you are disconcerting to your family, your friends, your loved ones; and to be unable to change it. You see, there are any number of reasons why someone is an eccentric....it is personal and varies from person to person. The interesting thing I have noticed is this:

People love the eccentric when they are fun and entertaining. They hate them when they are trouble. It is at those times that they want them to take medication, to be committed, to change into someone, something, anything else that would cause less stress. Well, that's no burden at all, is it? We all love the eccentric while we can benefit from their antics but shun them when the antics become drama. Don't people realize the prison that the madcap live in and the deeper prison that their pressure to be normal places them, further, into? There are artists who have created extraordinary work while hearing schizophrenic voices, poets who have written lauded works while in the depths of depression, actors who turn in Oscar wining performances but who have their families and friends walking out on them because their personality, away from the artwork, is unbearable. The artists could, perhaps, take some kind of medication that would help ... drugs that would make the voices stop, the depression lighten, the drama end; the only problem is that the medications also make the magic stop.

So what do we want? Do we want the magic? Or do we want the peace and quiet?

It's not just artists, either. Consider two films of recent year that have been extremely popular: THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA YA SISTERHOOD and IN HER SHOES. In the first, Ashley Judd and Ellen Burstyn take turns playing the younger and older versions of Vivy, a free spirited woman who brought magic to the lives of her children--this is seen in flashbacks. The adventure she gave them shaped the whimsical nature of their personalities. Sadly, along with the magic came the tragic and there were beatings, abaondonments, abuses of all kinds, that scarred the children as they grew into adults. Would the daughter who became a writer (who declared that without her mother she would have nothing to write about) have been a succesful artist if that mother had not touched her life in such glorifying and horrifying ways? In the second film, sisters learn secrets about their chemically imbalanced mother, who took her life when they were very young. The older sister remembers more than the baby of the family but between what they remember and what they are told, it just turns out their mother was crazy. Whatever her brand of chemical imbalance was, she was troubled. She was one of those fun, adventurous, whimsical, eccentric mothers that made every day more exciting. She was, though, for the grown ups (and, at times, for the kids) difficult and emotional and what Pat and I call WORK. There was an option for the mother to be medicated but she refused and her husband thought it was best because they didn't want her to live a drugged up life. They recognized that the drugs would have altered her state. So where does the Edward Albee come in? Where is the delicate balance? How do you nurture the faerie, the elf, the unicorn and then ask it to live on the corner of Madison and 42nd street? Can it be done?

I do not know the answer.

I know that there are many alternatives in today's society, both medical and homeopathic, not to mention all the new agey, granola head things that people like I believe in. I know that our options are greater, now, than they were; and I am grateful that my family never drugged me up when I was a difficult, an eccentric, a crazy, an artistic child and teen. I was difficult. I was bad news. I was WORK. All of my childhood, my teens and my early twenties. Sometimes, I am still work. It doesn't happen often and, fortunately, the people who see it are limited to a rare few.

When I stopped drinking, a friend said "but you are so much fun at parties!" to which my friend, Larry Stillings, said "you don't have to be with him when he comes down." It was a tug of war. There were those who wanted the eccentric, at whatever cost. There were those who wanted the peace and quiet, at the risk of killing the eccentric.

I don't know what it is like for the other crazies out there, whether they be the crazies of the books or the movies or the ones that live and walk among us. I only know that I am grateful that I found the way to balance out the several different personalities that live within me, that I have Pat to ground me (and I know that he is glad to have me to show him the magic--he has told me).

Yes. As well as having been called eccentric and crazy, I have been called magical.

That's the one I like....

please note: the photo of Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame was taken from the internet but the photo of me with the Rachels was done by Derik Klein

2 Comments:

Blogger jungle dream pagoda said...

You are indeed magical,people are no fun without some quirk.

10:13 AM  
Blogger StephenMosher said...

Thank you my sweet.

I believe we are kindred spirits.

xoste

9:20 AM  

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