“The Music Man,” Age Spots and Other Randomonium®
Presenting a potpourri of ponderables
By Ed Goldman
Welcome to Randomonium, my semi-regular presentation of multi-tasking topics. Please don’t confuse this with my other semi-regular omnibus column, Quibbles & Bits, which, as you can tell at a glance, is spelled quite differently.
Either way, be sure to adore me on Yelp! like me on Facebook and repost me on Twitter. But for God’s sake, don’t breathe a word about me to LinkedIn.
Let’s press on, as computer techs often tell me to do when I can’t get my Mac to start.
TROUBLE, BUT NOT IN RIVER CITY—I’d like to think the following letter was a result of the recent Broadway revival of “The Music Man”—but it was mainly inspired by my recent posting in this column of an email from my entire Kalamazoo, Michigan readership, Colleen McBride. She played Marian the Librarian opposite my Harold Hill (the Music Man himself) when we were high school seniors.
Whatever the reason, it prompted a wonderful response from longtime friend Steve Lerian. Steve recently retired after a 13-year run as director of the San Luis Obispo College of Liberal Arts. It presented regional, national, and international performing artists and companies with a $2.25M annual budget. Prior to that, he spent about 15 years as the director of the Washington-based Kirkland Performance Center. He’s also helmed theatre companies in Seattle and Tahoe. In short, this is a guy who knows all about show business. And I should point out that he and I used to walk to high school together singing Beatles songs at the top of our lungs. He writes:
“Your ‘Music Man’ anecdote brought back a slightly painful remembrance from those days. You may recall that, in addition to playing Mayor Shinn in the show, I was also your understudy for H Hill, a fairly simple task in normal circumstances. That is, until you dramatically came down with mono(nucleosis) a couple of weeks prior to opening, sending my life into utter chaos, trying to learn “Ya Got Trouble” and all the other myriad of songs and lines you had, in short order.
“Basically, I didn’t sleep for two weeks while freaking out, the Actor’s Nightmare scenario rapidly approaching.
“Then, of course, you made your triumphant return and I couldn’t decide if I was incredibly grateful or really pissed off because no one would ever know how much time and effort I wasted on preparing for the role. I’ve been quietly carrying that around for 50 years and figured, since you brought the show up, I’d share it with you.”
To which I can only say, “Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.”
SEE SPOT. SEE SPOT MULTIPLY—The question is, How do I know these are age spots, not freckles? The answer is, I’ve never had freckles in my life. Ergo, even a dollop of dermatological knowledge tells me I didn’t just develop these spots decades after my global debut.
Since I have a somewhat Mediterranean complexion—I’m referencing the people, not the sea, in which case my skin would have been aquamarine—I rarely got five-alarm sunburns, not even from spending 18 years of my young and dashing life haunting the beaches of Southern California.
And I do mean the beaches, not the ocean. I would have been what you’d call a “hodad” if I’d ever pretended to be a surfer. Hodads were guys who might have peroxided their hair and sprayed on a golden tan to look like modern sun gods but never actually tried to remain on a surfboard, much less climb onto one. Now, I did love to bodysurf but that required only my showing up with my body—oh, and getting accustomed to being dumped on my head by the occasional tidal wave.
Collect the dots
So, like, what’s the deal with these pigment pariahs? When I suggest to marketing clients that they connect the dots, are they going to demand I remove my shirt so they can access them?
This reminds me of an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke show, back when he was the young Dick Van Dyke. (He’s in his 90s now, bless him.) In it, Van Dyke’s character Rob Petrie falls asleep, shirt askew, on his sofa one weekend afternoon and his little boy Richie and some friends decide to take a ballpoint pen and connect the dots on Daddy’s back. They come up with a drawing of the Liberty Bell and, as they say, comical complications ensue.
FENS AND ENIGMAS—How many times have people you tried to reach for weeks finally responded and said, “Sorry, I’ve been swamped”?
And how many times have you used the same line to explain your delay in replying to people who reached out to you?
Why not up the game? Why not say we’ve been quick-sanded, tar-pitted, moored, marshed, mired, tsunamied or armageddoned? Heavy drama can sometimes disguise thin thinking. But enough about Congress.