You know all those ’70’s disaster type movies? The Irwin Allen years? The great long shot of the grand ship in the calm seas, the cameos of the B-movie actors as they lay out their hopes/dreams/issues: “This is just to make some bread. But after this, we’re off to Hollywood, man. And we’re gonna be the most successful macrame wearing-Helen Reddy cover band that town’s ever seen.” The close up of the white-haired, stoic captain/meteorologist/mayor as he reads but chooses to ignore the ice cap/tidal wave/earthquake/killer bee/Bermuda Triangle Devil Doll from Atlantis warning? You know what I’m talking about?
I am living one of those movies. It’s called my second book. And I have the urge daily to stand up in the Tea Lounge, sweaty and disheveled, and shout,
“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHO’S FLYING THIS PLANE?!!!”
The answer is: the stewardess. And the thing is, she’s not a pilot or even a co-pilot. No. Her thing is the distribution of snacks. (We’re going with a pre-9/11 airline landscape for this painfully extended analogy; hang with me…) She’s well-versed in the getting of salty edibles and fizzy drinks. Maybe even in rapping with the angry-but-virile-priest-from-the-inner-city-who-has-a-chip-on-his-shoulder-but-who-finds-his-faith-in-the-end-so-the-white-people-watching-the-movie-don’t-get-too-scared played by Erik Estrada at his teeth-gnashing best.
So the stewardess, see, she can sit there in her miniskirt and knee boots, nodding sympathetically, while giving him the old pep talk: “Please Father, there are 225 people on this plane who could use a bit of faith right now.”…she can whip out the guitar and keep the kidney patient from flatlining…she can even make coffee while pointing out the front and rear exits…but fly the plane? I don’t f**king think so.
See, I am that stewardess. (Some of my more astute readers may be way ahead of me on that confession.) And I. CANNOT. FLY. THIS. DAMN. PLANE. My research reading encompasses everything from lunatic asylums to the Templars to My Pretty Pony. (“Hmmm….it’s a pony and she’s pretty…but the my throws me. Is this a statement on gender politics? Is the pony somehow enslaved, objectified, while thinking herself free to frolic with other plastic toys? And why do I have the urge to use the special brush on her soft mane and put clippy things in it?”) I am overanalyzing my breakfast cereal.
I spent six hours huddled over my laptop (with the leg burns to prove it) today, and by the end, I swear to you all I wanted to do was give up writing and tighten lug nuts for a living. I just want to tell a friggin’ story. It shouldn’t be so hard. Maybe if I didn’t have a tendency to want to tell TWELVE stories in the same 500-page book, that might make it easier. The story hasn’t told me exactly what it’s about yet. Dammit.
Why do I feel the altitude dropping rapidly/the ship turning over/the ground opening up into a great sinkhole of “Oh Fuckdom”?
Doomed. Doomed, I tell you. Cut. Roll credits. Play theme song.
There’s got to be a morning after…