the Goliard
March, 2003

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A Correspondence

[Communiqué Sequence]

Epistle Nine - Letter from James to Pedro

Pedro,

Went out for a beer (a beer? who am I kidding?) with the cast last night, along with a couple of actors from Los Angeles who were in town to do another show. One of them had been in the Broadway production of our show, so he had some interesting anecdotes and gave me some new material.

We were playing pool on one of two tables in the bar, the second of which was occupied by a rugby squad from Ottawa. At one point they came over and surrounded us as only a rugby team can and politely asked if they could party with us. After ascertaining that the cuts and abrasions all over their faces had occurred for sporting reasons we welcomed them gladly, especially after we found out that one of them had had to go to the hospital with a concussion earlier that day. It seemed like the least we could do.

In fact, I have a somewhat hazy memory of the concussion victim, once he found out we were actors, standing and declaiming pretty convincingly Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech from Julius Caesar.

Since one of our best pool players in the cast is a strikingly beautiful girl with long black hair and complicated tattoos on her lower back we soon attracted the attention of another group of guys in the bar who needed to assert their masculinity by beating her. Her name is E___. She and B___ were playing as a team against these two guys, not having much fun because the atmosphere had become so competitive. E____ plays better when her heart's in it.

The guys were doing all these great guy things. They would circle the table, casually eyeing various shots as if to say "I'm not trying to attract undue attention, but did you see how quickly I managed to eliminate all the lesser possibilities in favor of the ideal shot?" and then locating the appropriate place to hang their cigarettes half off the table. Once they had decided on a shot, they would take a little time to line it up and then break out of it to casually indicate a pocket, not that anybody was asking for that but just to show that they knew the bar rules and it was no big deal anyway. One interesting little variant of this was that whichever team member on the other side was playing the best would receive the benediction of being called by name and personally have the intended pocket indicated to them. It was oh so sporting with that vague undercurrent of cattiness.

I'm no particularly great pool player but I do have moments of inspiration, often when it's most necessary. When I took over for E___ in the fifth game or so and sunk maybe five balls in a row my first time shooting it nicely took the wind out of their sails. One of them came over at that point and started talking about cows and learning to play on a farm or in a barnyard or something. It seemed like gibberish to disguise the fact that he feared I might be a ringer who happened in from pool central. It was no use trying to convince him that I was just lucky and wanted very badly to do a little ego deflating. They did me the enormous courtesy of calling all the rest of their shots to me personally.

This was not honorable behavior on my part, and I was a little relieved when B___ scratched and lost the game for us, simply because I felt that I would otherwise have had to pay for my arrogance in a less pleasant way, like having a bar TV fall on my head. Losing was a minor inconvenience in comparison.

Today on the beach there was a confluence of events. The beginning of Mardi Gras and the beginning of Spring Break were very much in evidence, and you know how that can be in F___. Tonight we're headed back down there to see whatever girls and boys gone wild action there is to see.

Making the rounds. Beach, beach bar, party at the house, bar, do a couple shows, bar, beach. Very warm outside, humid, very relaxing weather, not much to get accomplished outside of eight shows a week. Occasionally someone's family will visit, occasionally a friend from out of town will drop by, tomorrow we travel a couple hours to see another show in another part of the state which is well-stocked with everyone's friends. It could easily get to be a habit, this life. Life itself could get to be a habit, which I guess is the point in some ways.

Do I mean that less pleasant lifestyles are not habit-forming? What could I mean by that? Maybe where life is harder, say in New York, one has to generate reasons for living because there is no habit formed. Living isn't rewarding enough to be habit-forming in those places. Maybe that's why New York seems so conducive to being productive and climates like this don't. I had the same sort of feeling when I lived in Tucson, actually. I projected films at night because it was much too hard to get inspired to do any sort of job during the day.

Now another day has passed, and another night of drunkenness and debauchery. The bar we chose to celebrate the beginning of Mardi Gras had a big dance floor and a deck overlooking the beach. Every so often they would stop the music and engage in some Fear Factorish hijinks. A few people were made to turn all of their clothes inside out inside a circular shower curtain, then the winners were made to eat worms in a shot of gin and then drink the gin, and then the two finalists, a guy and a girl, had to eat a huge heart, probably from a cow. The girl choked more of it down and won. I don't know what she won, a couple hundred bucks maybe, and a lifetime of nausea. She seemed sort of happy about it.

I could ask why people do this sort of thing, but this is not an issue to be resolved in the Goliard. This is something that we can only hope will be taken care of in the process of evolution.

Martini bar interior, recently opened. Enormous. Pool and games in the back, two piece band playing 80s covers in the front. Balcony upstairs. Sunken dance floor. Thursday night, 11:00. No customers. After only two weeks in business, the olive supply has apparently gone awry, forcing procurement at local supermarket at substandard quality levels. Even this stock runs out within two rounds.

A group of actors, perhaps seven in all, arrives after a show. The owner greets them outside, welcomes them with a brief description of the facilities and an invitation to make themselves at home.

As the olives begin to run out, another man appears at the bar wearing a T-shirt that says "Jesus was a Capricorn too." He loudly demands of nobody in particular the location of a gay dance club that someone gave him bad directions to. His hostility seems on the verge of overflowing onto the actors or the bartender. He says something about having shot someone and deserving free drinks as a result. He is by no means gay. The strikingly beautiful girl with long black hair and complicated tattoos on her lower back looks uncomfortable, because she believes herself to be a magnet for this kind of character. She makes a futile attempt to render herself invisible. Alligators doze in the swamps, and another night passes in F__.

James

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