The Iceman Cometh, Goeth, Maybe Cometh Back
I spent a fair amount of time this morning trying to find a way to tell the story of one day in 1977, when I was 19 and a theater major, and we were raising money for our theater society by offering to use our stage makeup skills (assuming we’d taken the class and had the skills) to make up people for Halloween. I was part of this group; I got pretty good at werewolves after a while.
But one guy came in, wanting blackface. I think his costume was going to be sort of a Super Fly or Shaft or similar character that came out of blaxploitation films of the ‘70s. I dunno. It was 40 years ago. We had a discussion, the few of us working at that time (there didn’t seem to be faculty supervision as I recall). It was obviously problematic; I certainly didn’t need to be reminded of the history of minstrel shows and blackface.
Again, it was a long time ago. I think the decision was finally that it wasn’t really our call, this guy had paid his money, it wasn’t illegal...we were kids. It felt wrong but we had no one older and wiser around, so we went ahead and did it.
I didn’t feel bad, and I don’t remember any blowback or reaction. I just knew it was a bad choice, on this guy’s part and on ours for being complicit.
I think my original point was that, in regard to what’s happening in Virginia currently, these pictures didn’t come from a simpler, less woke time. People knew the history, knew blackface was offensive back when these college bros were getting dark and drunk.
But I don’t think that’s even the point. The point is that dumb, young, drunk white guys will be doing this shit forever. It’s possible a lot of them are, at this point, kind of nervous.
I don’t know how people write about current events. I read them; there’s plenty of good analysis, wonderful satire, great perspective. I can’t do it. Everything feels too unreal, or too real, haven’t decided. I pay careful attention but I rarely have words. My wife and I have long discussions, and sometimes with my son. That’s enough, I guess.
My wife got another day off yesterday, the roads just too dangerous all things considered. Our situation is trickier here with this kind of weather, as we’re normally so mild that our ground is much warmer than in snowier places. We get a ton of black ice this way, even without snow.
The main roads are fine now, and she went off to teach and then to church today, but she canceled tonight’s choir rehearsal (a chunk of our choir consists of single women in their 70s, who aren’t crazy about driving just at night, much less the rain, much less this mess, and the church’s furnace is having problems lately and it’s cold, really cold).
Yesterday we waited until the early afternoon, when it had warmed up a little, to take the car out and it was fine. We went to the pharmacy and then to our favorite Mexican restaurant, and when we left there was actually a little melting going on, just a little. That’s where we are right now. It warms up to about freezing, then dips back into the teens or lower overnight. This is black ice heaven.
So it’s just weird around here, and I’m not sure when we get back to something that looks like normal. Tomorrow is supposed to be almost normal in terms of temperature, but another big storm is heading our way Friday afternoon, with what looks to be an identical pattern except maybe more snow for downtown Seattle. For here, where we got a solid 8 inches, which will not come close to melting tomorrow, this might get interesting. Then more cold, possibly more snow—I can’t tell you how surprising this is to me. I was really expecting another mild winter, no snow at all. It’s been years since we’ve had this sort of situation.
It’s been two months, for me, just about. Headed off to Texas for a week, then home for the holidays, then off to Arizona for more adventures, then I got sick, then this weather. I’m having trouble nailing reality down, I think. It’s not disorientation as much as the feeling that a giant pause button has been pushed. I feel as though I’m waiting for something to crack out of the ice and be recognizable.
But other things? Maybe good riddance. I watched the entire Super Bowl, not having anything else to do, and it seemed just about right. I didn’t think it was a horrible game as much as one that never took off. I kept waiting. The audience numbers were way down, and as much as I’m sure the citizens of New Orleans will tell themselves this is due to the gravest injustice since the Crucifixion, I think the game is done. I keep reading stories about how smaller high schools can’t even field a team; kids aren’t playing.
Same with the Academy Awards. After the big brouhaha about Kevin Hart, they’re now promising no hosts, a much faster show, none of those dumb technical awards, and the ratings will still be down. I used to love those shows and I haven’t watched in years (well, once). People don’t watch TV in the same way, they certainly don’t watch movies in the same way, and things are just going to be different.
Except at my house, apparently. For the near future. Here, it’s cold and white, I’m not going to choir rehearsal, and I may not go anywhere for a while. Same ol’, same ol’.