a.m. May 12, 1983, the phone rang.
right out of college, living in San Francisco, wanting to be an
actress but mostly being a waitress. I was just preparing to open
in the show Lucky Lindy at the Eureka theatre, an irreverent
look at the life of Charles Lindbergh. All the characters in his
life were played by just two actors. Lindbergh himself was portrayed
by different sized toy airplanes. The Atlantic Ocean was a large
aquarium center stage. I played Lindbergh's mother, his first flight
instructor, his wife and Herman Goering, among others. The other
half of the cast was Drew, a string bean of a man, an older established
San Francisco actor. We each played about 20 different characters.
been rehearsing in a cold, cavernous warehouse space at Fort Mason
for six weeks. All the critics were set to come opening night, Thursday,
May 12. We had a preview the night before, that my very opinionated
friends Bob and Jane had come to. They loved me, but they weren't
so sure about the play.
went out for a beer after the show to a dark, woody North Beach
pub. I had just started seeing a young southern artist. He had a
great drawl and even wore a cowboy hat. He was more smitten with
me than I with him. I tended to like it that way -- safer. I was
in high spirits; the preview had gone well, but not too well, leaving
room for a spectacular opening night. I had planned out the relaxing
next day already -- lay in bed late, maybe go to the place on 24th
street where you could rent a hot tub for an hour. It had a deck
surrounded by lattice and jasmine, just right for a little reading,
relaxing. Then at around two, go over all my lines, go through every
character, all the blocking, take a short nap, and then head to
the theatre. I was ready for anything.
finished our beers, and I took the cowboy home with me. I had a
railroad flat apartment on the third floor of this old Victorian.
The best part was the kitchen, big and airy, with a door out to
a rickety porch that looked out over the whole Mission district.
The cowboy and I made love. He was a ferocious lover, couldn't get
enough of me, he said. I made him feel 16 again. Good thing he didn't
make me feel 16, he wouldn't have been there. I didn't like cowboys
a.m., May 12. The phone rang.
up from a dream where I was riding a horse. Must have been all that
sex. The phone was ringing in the dream -- while I was riding the
horse on a cliff. Then I realized -- there are no phones on this
horse. So I woke myself up and there I was in bed with the cowboy.
The fog had rolled in, as it always did. You could almost feel the
weight of the moist air pushing against the tall curved window.
The phone kept ringing. Cowboy didn't budge. Men sleep better than
women I think. It takes me a good six months before I can sleep
well next to someone. And since most of my relationships don't last
that long, I don't get a lot of sleep. But he was snoring away.
I got up -- naked, pulled on a t-shirt that was balled up on the
floor, and made my way slowly down the moldy smelling hallway to
the living room.
the phone. It was my brother -- very odd for him to call me at all,
and to call at two in the morning even odder. He asked me if I was
alone. I thought that was nosey. He called to ask if I was sleeping
around? I told him no. Then he told me I should sit down. What a
cliché. Something hard to hear must be coming next. I said
okay, even though I didn't sit. He wasn't going to call me at two
in the morning and boss me around. Then the flash came -- maybe
my father had another heart attack. He had one years before, and
god knows he still ate pastrami and slept around with younger women.
brother's voice was calm.
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