January 11, 2019

My local Mexican joint

I didn’t write a lot during January. It was the month of viral illness so it was either work, rehearsal of lying in bed. I think this was my only long post of the month.

Long post night. Haven’t done one since I came back from Thailand just before New Years so I guess this counts as the first one of 2019. I’ll try to keep up the routine posting if I am traveling and, when I am home in the usual patterns, I’ll check in when I feel like it. Tonight, I am battling a nasty viral head cold which I have treated with Mexican food and a margarita. I don’t know if it will help the virus any, but I’m feeling better. Friday night Mexican was a tradition I started with Steve when we first moved to Birmingham. After I finished work on Friday, we would go to Cuco’s at Eastwood Plaza (both restaurant and shopping center long gone…) for Mexican and I would have a margarita. Steve did not drink so he had to settle for Diet Coke if he felt fat and regular Coke if he didn’t. We kept that up for several years until his health deteriorated to the point where getting out of the house was a chore.

It took me about a week to fully readjust to US time after the trip back from Thailand. I would be falling asleep midafternoon or sitting bolt upright and raring to go in the small hours of the morning for several days there and, New Years Day, I went to bed just after midnight and slept straight through until four in the afternoon. That really confused the internal clock. Now, however, I seem to be back on usual schedule and activity. The last few weeks have been somewhat quiescent. Next week is busy with final rehearsals and performances of Carmina Burana with the Alabama Symphony.

2018, a year that shall live in infamy or an annus horibilis in QEII speak, had one last piece of nastiness in store. My director, my theatrical colleague and my friend Jack Mann died late on New Years Eve from the cancer he had been battling all year. It wasn’t a huge surprise, it still hurt as I was looking forward to going into the theatrical woods with him again this spring with Man of La Mancha. Jack was part of Birmingham theater for sixty years and will be missed by all of us who are involved in this business we call show locally. If a bomb had gone off at his memorial service, there would have been no theater in Birmingham for the next couple of decades. Everyone was there.

I had lunch today with my travel agent. We’re making plans for this summer’s adventure (The Rhine/Danube river cruise) and I’m starting to sketch out some future journeys in my head. I’ve barely dipped in to Tommy’s life insurance funds which are bankrolling the travel so there are lots of possibilities. Any of you who might like to make travel plans, give me a holler. I’m thinking two major trips a year for at least the next five years.

As I haven’t been feeling the best and going home early, I had some time to download all of the long posts of the last year from Facebook and I started a blog site where they can all be archived while I decide what they might be becoming. I’m just beginning the job of editing and shaping so I’m not going to publish the link just yet. All in good time. I’ve named the blog after a phrase popularized by one of the seminal pop cultural figures of the late 70s and early 80s and was quite surprised that no one had yet named a blog that, at least not on Word Press…

I haven’t told a story for a while so here’s one that came to mind this week. I have no idea what brought it up. It’s from the mid 1980s when I was a medical student living in Seattle and actively involved in the Seattle theater scene. 25 year old me finished up all the work necessary to complete my MD degree somewhat early. I turned in the last project in mid-March with graduation slated for mid-June and my move to Sacramento for internship just after that. I had nearly three months of unstructured time. Something I would not see again for who knows how long. I did some traveling (common theme in my life) but was back in town by early April and so I threw myself into the theater world with abandon. I did all the set decorations and props for a big production of My Fair Lady. I directed a cabaret version of the Sondheim revue You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow. I helped out my various theater friends on their projects.

Sue Mitchell, one of my dear friends (girlfriend of my best friend Jan who was later murdered but that’s a story I’ve already told), was working at the time as the box office manager of Intiman Theater. Intiman was a company specializing in productions of classic rep – Shakespeare, Sheridan, Shaw and the like and it had a fairly large subscription base that had to be kept happy. I would go down one or two mornings a week to help Sue with the tickets. She had an assistant, a young drama student from the Cornish Institute – a gawky teenager with a Cro-Magnon forehead, deep set eyes, but great cheekbones who was not the swiftest so she was glad to have me help untangle some of the issues and make sure the mailings went out. Sue and I and young Brendan would sit there, getting the work done, telling the usual hopes and dreams of young theater people. Brendan’s plan was to finish his training and head to Los Angeles and hope to make it big. Sue and I wished him well but told ourselves – he’ll go and be back in six months…

I went off to Sacramento that summer, Brendan went to Los Angeles where he got himself cast in a Pauly Shore movie called Encino Man and turned himself into a movie star. I can say I knew Brendan Fraser when… And I no longer ever prognosticate on who will make it and who won’t. You never know.

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