Too Damn Old

It’s hard to feel “too old” for anything. You are never really sure when the day passed, the day you became too old for something, but man when you are on the far side of it, you realize not that you are now too old, but that you have been too old for something for a *long time*.

I don’t know when it happened, but I can’t hang posters on my wall without framing them first. I have to have a boxsprings support for my bed. I can’t dye my hair any more. I don’t know when I got to be too old to wear mittens, but I have to have all my fingers available to me now in the winter.

As is my style, I’m going to tell two stories here. First is from a rehearsal where I was working with a group of kids back in ’91 or ’92. As we were singing a bunch of stupid little songs, some other kids came in the back of the room and sang some mocking noise and then ducked out. I ignored them. They did it again, and I did it again. Then I had the kids sing and I went to the back of the room and when the boys stuck their heads in, I pulled them in with me. “Do you guys like to sing?” “GET THE FUCK OFF ME!!!” “Nah, come on, do you guys like to sing?” “ARE YOU A FAG?” “These kids here, these kids who are singing? That’s ten bucks a song plus ten bucks an hour.”


“Yeah, that’s right. We sing about 12 or 14 hours a week and do maybe 30 or 35 songs. These 12 year olds are making almost 500 dollars a week…” “FUCK YOU! GEDOFF!”

They ripped out of my grasp and left. They didn’t come back. The kids started singing again, but they sucked now. “What’s wrong, you guys suck?” Megan finally admitted, “I keep thinking those boys are gonna come back.”

“Those kids won’t come back because it’s too much work,” I said, in a piece of elegance that I still hold on to on cold nights like tonight. “There are two ways of living. One way is to see how much you can accomplish, and the other is to see how much you can get away with. Those boys wanted to see if they could yell obscenities and not get caught, once they got caught they knew they couldn’t get away with it. You guys are here because you want to see how much you can accomplish.”

I swear I said that. When I get going, I’m fucking awesome.

Summer of ’96, I was producing As You Like It and I called a meeting of the entire staff and cast of the production. I knew these guys (God bless them, I still know most of them) and I knew that they were only half into making this play happen. I didn’t realize that some of my friends thought this would be a pep rally and brought banners and stuff to hold up when I used my catchphrases. I didn’t know it, but it didn’t surprize me when I learned about it later.

I sat down in front of this motley group and said, “I want to find out if we should pull out of this production.” No-one said anything. “Seriously, this is wrecking our summer, we should be having fun, the music isn’t ready, the money isn’t raised and none of us really wants to do it. I am suggesting that we just pull out of the time we asked for and have fun with our summer.”

Of course, pretty soon, even the most cynical 21 year old was on board and trying to convince *me* that this show could be awesome. I mean, it wasn’t, but of the things that never happened, raising money wasn’t one of them and I was able to pay people and, frankly, live in New York off the money for a month or two.

I’m getting to the point, just relax.

I realized today that I really may have outgrown my ability to inspire. The Gideon Three, as it were, prod each other in little ways, but honestly, we’re going to make plays anyway, all three of us are hell bent on crippling time-consuming obscurity and on expressing ourselves like so many feline anal glands, so we don’t really have to inspire one another. And these kids? They’re too much work for me. I just know there are people who are both talented and self-starters out there.

I mean, if I was twelve and I had a chance to make a couple hundred dollars before Christmas, even I would have done it. Especially if it meant being a musician. But, I think I’ve proven that I have survived and even thrived without anyone inspiring me for the first twenty or so years of my life.

All that to say, it occurs to me that I’m too old to make people do things they don’t want to do already. I can make people do them well if they are willing, or I can stand in awe and appreciation, but I can’t really change anyone’s mind.