Monday, June 26, 2006
OPEN UP! POLICE!
On The View this morning, Barbara Walters posed what I thought was an interesting question: now that you’re older, do you have MORE close friends...or LESS? The consensus seemed to be that your circle of friends decreases as you age, and a couple of years ago, I would have agreed. I had my little circle of friends, my little circle of coworkers, my little circle of family, and my little circle of folks with whom I perform. Just a few little circles. But something happened in the spring of 2003 that changed all that.
Who would have thought that the brief appearance of one tall, slightly dorky guy on a reality TV show (I still maintain it’s not a talent competition) would have had such a profound and positive effect on my life? I’ve traveled to places I never expected to see -- the North Carolina State Fair, or any State Fair for that matter, where I ate deep-fried Twinkies? The Mall of America? Vegas, Tampa, Los Angeles? And I’ve attended at least 30 Clay concerts...who would ever have predicted that -- I, whose last concert previous to that had been Barry Manilow in 1976?
But more important than any of that is the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. So many I can’t even count them. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve joined a big, gregarious army. I’ll bet you singles out there can attest to this -- it’s very easy to just shut yourself up in your house, work on solitary projects (and my compendium of skits and other writings is a pretty good indication of how much time I’ve spent on that!), and only communicate sporadically with actual humans. This fandom has changed that -- I’m constantly getting calls to “go here,” “do that,” “see this.” (Well, okay...and “buy this,” too.) Never thought I’d be sharing confidences with folks from every area of North America, and even Europe and Asia. Never thought I’d be planning preconcert dinners for 60 people. Never thought I'd be balancing on a dumpster in back of an arena in Vegas trying to get a glimpse, through a chainlink fence, of a singer who was born the year I became legal.
So, thanks, Clay, for making me expand my horizons, and, too, for making me pry my ever-expanding backside out of the Pink Armchair and out into the world.
And now, a confession: a couple of years ago, I was suffering from depression. Pretty major stuff. Medication didn’t seem to be doing much, and there were many times that I had some very dark, self-destructive thoughts. Last night, I had a message from the There But for the Grace of God Department:
I was up in my condo working on a skit and heard sirens down on the street. Looked out the window and saw an ambulance with flashing lights and some police cars pull up, their brakes screeching. Didn’t think anything of it -- it’s the city, after all. Must be somebody else, I thought. My doorbell rang. Since I usually ignore it if I’m not expecting anyone (too many Jehovah’s Witnesses, aluminum siding salesmen, and survey takers), I did. The next thing I knew, I heard running footsteps on the stairs, and somebody was pounding on the condo door, yelling “OPEN UP! POLICE!”
Wow. I opened the door to find three cops, two of them women, all of them in riot gear with guns drawn. “Ma’am, we’re here about a domestic matter,” one of the women informed me, hard as nails. “Okay,” I said, mystified. “Did you call threatening to commit suicide?” she asked.
Double wow. “No,” I said. “Well, a woman called from this address,” insisted one of the other cops. “Can we come in and look around?” At that moment, I heard pounding on my BACK door. “Sure,” I said, and ran back to the kitchen. “OPEN UP! POLICE!” I heard again. I flung the door open--I was afraid they’d break it down--to find three more cops. Pretty soon, all six of them were combing through the place, looking for somebody with a razor blade or a gun. (Just a side note: personally, I’d use pills -- that other stuff is way too messy.)
After I managed to convince them I was not suicidal and didn’t live with anyone who was (unless my cats are holding out on me!), I suggested they might want to look up on the roof. They exchanged worried glances and fled.
This incident left me with a newfound respect for Chicago’s Finest -- up until now, I’m ashamed to say that my personal experience with them had mostly been limited to letting them cut in line at Dunkin’ Donuts.
I don’t know if they ever found anyone, or whether or not it was a crank call, but I realized that that could easily have been me, a few years ago. Now, I’m not saying that Clay saved my life or kept me from killing myself -- I’m not that much of a drama queen. But my life has been much richer and happier since he came along.
And I think there are many who could say the same.
Posted by Pink Armchair at 5:35 PM