Most local folks in these parts live today while thankfully leaving behind or only looking forward from what used to be–running through their drinks while running in their places, silently cheering themselves on as they cross the finish line that means they never again have to live who they once were.
I used to own… I used to have… I used to be…
“Here’s what I want to say,” said one.
“Yeah, yeah. Just make sure you say this,” said another.
“I just can’t spell worth a damn, but I know what I want it to look like” said a friend as he furiously scribbled notes.
“What’s up?” I asked as I tossed a bucket of ice into my tiny bin.
“Gotta get a notice in the paper,” said the one who said he couldn’t spell.
“In ten minutes,” laughed the other.
“Maybe next week,” smiled the third.
“Well, um, maybe I can help a little,” I said, wondering why I had spoken up. “I used to do some writing and editing back in the day,” I said, wondering why I felt compelled to add even a shred more information.
“I mean, you know, in my former life,” I laughed, wondering why I had to excuse myself and my knowledge.
“You did what?” asked the one I know the best because we are of the same age, but whom I really know nothing about.
“I, uh, I used to be a writer and editor–but really small time, nothing big, nothing great,” I said, feeling extraordinarily uneasy. “So, maybe if you need a hand with whatever you’re doing, you know, maybe I can help?” God, shut up, I scolded myself.
One shoved the legal pad toward my side of the bar. The other laughed. The third looked to the smoky ceiling and mouthed a silent “thank you.”
I scanned the notes, seeing immediately that it was a notice for a local event to raise funds for a local need.
“Can you make it, I don’t know, better?” asked the one I knew as much as I did not.
“Well, how about a headline that reads…” I said, and jotted my own notes atop his.
In a few short minutes, with very few changes, the notice was written to everyone’s satisfaction. One produced a computer from a backpack, logged on to someone’s nearby wireless, and the newly typed notice made its way through the breezy airwaves to a local paper miles away. Deadline met.
“Awesome, RG, thanks!” said the one I really don’t know.
“I barely touched it,” I laughed. “You guys did all the work.”
Later that night I dreamt I was back in D.C. tending my locals bar that had, in the way that dreams contort reality, become a D.C. bar.
“Hey RG, phone call,” said my boss who never answers the phone in real life, but who answered all the calls in my dream.
“RG, ABC News here. We’d like to offer you a documentary producer’s position–for specials we have in mind that match your talent.”
“RG, phone call!” said my boss again.
“Like your style,” said the publisher. We see a book, a screenplay. We’ll up ABC’s offer. How soon can you be up here?”
Huh? What? Really?
And then I got lost in my city trying to find their offices, wondering whom I should pit against whom in negotiating a network salary vs. a screenplay advance, all as I signed a lease on a basement apartment that wouldn’t allow dogs, so I’d have to sneak them in, if only I could find a place to park so I could make the ABC interview in time–and should I tell them about the potential other deal? Because my great guy had to work a double and he didn’t know I was even in D.C. negotiating this unbelievable offer all because of a newspaper notice, except they said they knew all about my writing and I was the one, their one….
“RG, here it is!” smiled my customer a few days later.
“You made it look good,” said the other.
“Guess this was pretty easy for you,” said the third whom I will never know.
“Looks good, guys. You did all the work, though,” I said, scanning the one-paragraph blurb. “I just tweaked it a little.”
The one I wish I might someday know stared for half second, then held up his empty mug. Which I filled.
Someone wanted lunch. Another wanted a Beam and Coke. Three out-of-towners asked directions to places I didn’t know.
ABC. Screenplay contract. I laughed to myself. What crazy dreams I had, just the other day.