Am I the only one who lies awake in the pre-dawn hours, fidgeting, worrying, tossing and turning? These days, I have more questions than answers and I’m upset more often than not. I’m …
Am I the only one who lies awake in the pre-dawn hours, fidgeting, worrying, tossing and turning? These days, I have more questions than answers and I’m upset more often than not. I’m worried about getting through another winter, about my health, about the state of our nation, blah, blah, blah… not to mention the elephant in the room: COVID-19.
I know, I know… so many of my concerns are completely out of my control—that, too, has me worried. As is often the case, the lyrics to an old song invade my sleepless nights: “Who am I anyway? Am I my resumé? That is a picture of a person I don’t know.” Those words, penned by Edward Kleban to accompany music composed by Marvin Hamlisch, were written for the 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “A Chorus Line” and have haunted me ever since. It goes without saying that I don’t know the answer.
There was a time when I thought I knew who I was, but now I’m not so sure. Clearly, I’m not the starry-eyed Broadway-bound hopeful that literally stepped off a bus in New York City in the mid-70s, ready to take on the world. I remember that guy, but do I know where he went? Did I enjoy some modicum of success with that endeavor? Good questions, I suppose, but there has been so much water under so many bridges since then that “it’s hard to see the forest for the trees,” as my mother was fond of saying.
Being in virtual lockdown for nearly nine months has taken its toll on all of us; I can now be heard while walking outdoors, conversing with my dog openly, unconcerned about what the neighbors might think. “Does everyone else feel like this?” I asked Dharma yesterday as she contemplated rolling in something disgusting that she had just unearthed. “Good question,” she seemed to reply, cocking her head in my general direction. “I wouldn’t do that, girl,” I shot back, reading her mind and wagging a finger, “unless you’re in the mood for a bath.”
Unscathed, she bounded ahead in search of another rotting corpse, tail wagging, glancing back every once in a while to make sure that I hadn’t lost my mind altogether. “Are you worried about me, too?” I asked as she scratched at a dead bug, hoping to bring it back to life. “Don’t eat that!” I yelled, knowing full well that she would. “Why do I bother?” I asked no one in particular, shaking my fist at the darkening sky. Good question.
Another song popped into my head as I nudged the Wonder Dog toward home. “My life’s a musical comedy, I’m singing every day. Each evening’s a performance, each noon a matinee.”
“I wonder what dredged that old tune up?” I asked aloud as she did her best to hide the dead bug in her mouth. “Oh, right… ‘A Chorus Line.’” The song in question is from a lesser-known musical that I had the distinction of performing in Off-Broadway called “I’ll Die if I Can’t Live Forever” about a bunch of young hopefuls seeking fame and fortune (while singing and dancing) on the “Great White Way.” Sound familiar? Good question.
Often referred to as “the poor man’s Chorus Line,” I played a kid named Jonathan (hmmm) and my solo was about as memorable (IMHO) as the rest of the show. “The plot is never boring, for there’s never a repeat. I play a different role for every person that I meet. There’s always lots of laughs, ‘cause brother you should see my friends,” I sang as if my life depended on it, “and every day I’m wondering just how the story ends.” Not exactly “Dance Ten, Looks Three,” but then again, what is? Nowadays that song, and the questions that arise, seem more apropos than ever before.
Where was I? Oh right… fidgeting, worrying, tossing and turning. Like many others, I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it, and I’m losing sleep over waiting for the “next shoe to drop” as you-know-who might say, were she here to witness the living nightmare that hangs over us all. How would Mom have handled the pandemic, the election and having to wear a mask for nine months? Good question.
For the answer to these and other questions, follow me (@jonathancharlesfox) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for your daily dose of neurosis. It might make you feel less alone. On second thought, follow the pup (@Dharmathewonderdog)—she’s the star of the show.
Fun Fact: Several months before “A Chorus Line” knocked the socks off Broadway with its concept of a group of dancers auditioning for a show, “I’ll Die If I Can’t Live Forever,” an intimate revue, used a somewhat similar idea showcasing six young hopefuls who were shown trying out for a revue. The highly praised result was done in a cabaret environment where drinks were served during the performance.