My next book is a memory piece called Corn. It is inspired by but not entirely faithful to childhood recollections. Consequently, I’ve been living in the world of memories a little more often these days.
Today while heading to lunch “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” by Billy Joel flooded my Toyota 4x4, a ridiculously large rental barge. Suddenly I wasn’t there. I was in a 1990 black Chevy Cavalier with a sunroof & manual transmission heading to an important audition for the Comedy Warehouse – a Disney short form improv show I wanted to be in more than life. I was to meet with Mr. Ronnie Rodriguez, a warm man who changed my life more than once.
I wanted the job way too badly. I knew that would get in my way. Irrational desire often clouded my mind back then. I needed to block that bad habit. I quickly dove through my 1990s CDs looking for the right tunes. Enya? Too earnest. Mariah Carey? Style over substance. Billy Joel’s Storm Front? Perfect. Track two. “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.
The images hit me like a barrage. I couldn’t dwell on myself while thinking about Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray, South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio. Politics. Film. Communism. Closeted signers. Broadway. Gossip. Sports. Inspiration - reminders that the world was much bigger than my little life.
Mind was engaged. Inner rhymer on fire. The music was energetic. I was playing drums on the steering wheel. It got me all the way to I Drive and the Republic Plaza Office Building, where Disney auditions were then held. I parked my car and let the song finish before checking my watch.
I was about 10 minutes early, so I listened to the 4m 44s track 2 more times. Done. Time to move on. I took a few deep breaths, checked my 90s fabulous hair, adjusted the Dillard's clearance black silk shirt I bought for the audition, grabbed my glam headshot & resume, checked in with the proctor and got the job.
It’s very easy to see milestones as destiny. It’s easy to forget you had to earn what later feels like an inevitable part of your story. It’s not possible for me to picture my life without the opportunity Ronnie Rodriguez and Chris Oyen gave me. I cannot imagine not performing with Larry, Sheila, Christine, Mark, Layden, Steve, Mary, Krista, Budge and all the others that eventually joined the company. It had to begin somewhere. Today I was reminded.
It started in a 1990 Chevy I bought with my sister Emily’s help. It started while listening to a CD given to me by my boyfriend. I was wearing a shirt I bought shopping at the Florida Mall with Michele Ruth Greenwood, before I spoke at her wedding and she became Bettinger. It started before I met a beautiful southern girl in a tight blue dress named Krista. The laughter started with a song.
The fire been burning since the world’s been turning and it goes on and on and on and on.