O Tempora! O Morales!

Dearest Rachel –

While I might have considered Macomb to have been a tiny little backwater town even before I met you, it had plenty of advantages for you that wouldn’t have existed in your average backwater little town. What with the university being the main ‘industry’ of the town, there were cultural opportunities availed to the residents that would be significantly greater than that of most places of a similar size. Indeed, because of its small size, such opportunities were affordable in a way that couldn’t be said of certain large cities that I might name that would have similar cultural events as a matter of course. And let’s not forget that, because of your parents’ positions within the university, both as professors and artists, you participated in far more of those events than the average resident, making them a part of your childhood.

When Jan and I went through the clutter in the basement, we discovered programs from various plays and performances that you and your folks attended for years on end. I think I remember them talking about having season tickets to the University theater, in particular, and the number of programs certainly bore that out. However, those memories belonged to you and them; I have no memory of being there, and therefore, no sentimental attachment to these pieces of paper. As a result, we got rid of most of those programs. I did make a point of keeping the one you had signed by Burl Ives, though, for what it’s worth.

And that’s the other thing about a university theater; not only do you have the performances by the theatrical department, but you have guest performances that would come in on a regular basis. Certain Broadway shows would come with the road cast. Various ‘names’ would perform on the college circuit. And while you may not have had the chance to see them all, you certainly had stories about the ones you did get to see.

One of the stories you would tell that I found particular amusing was when the comedian Gallagher came to town. He played to a packed house, even by the small standards of your town, and during the intermission, when you would usually seek out a bathroom, you found yourself navigating through a particularly difficult crush of humanity to get there and back in time. Somehow, throughout your hurried peregrinations, you found a clearing in the crowd, and made your way to it (hoping for faster passage either to the restroom or your seat – I forget which direction you were headed at the moment), only to find yourself face-to-face with the headliner at a table, either signing autographs or hawking merchandise (or maybe both – one has to multitask when one is famous, I suppose). You were so caught by surprise at running into him at that moment that you apparently quite forgot yourself, and broke into a face of complete shock, eyes wide and mouth agape, so much so that Gallagher himself noticed you, and proceeded to mimic your look of surprise at running into him as you had. It was a story you told many times thereafter, and no wonder – how often does one manage to unintentionally draw the attention of a famous person? And somehow, in all the encounters with ‘famous’ people thereafter, you seemed to be able to take the event so much more in stride, like the proverbial cat who could look at a king. Perhaps this one encounter conditioned you to.

Of course, not all the stories of this or that act coming to Macomb was so pleasant. One of the ones you weren’t attending was when the Lipizzaner stallions came to perform there; their visit was eventful, but not in the way anyone would have wanted it to be. It seems that, as they were walked from the stable to the arena (or vise versa), they passed through a greenhouse, or research garden, and some of the horses helped themselves to what was available to them as they passed by. And just as the saying goes that “all mushrooms are edible, although some only once,” some of the greens these animals decided to snack on were rather toxic; I want to say that at least three horses died from what they ate. I don’t even recall if there even was a performance because of what happened. These are the sort of things that get remembered, I suppose.

On the topic of unexpectedly family-unfriendly material and the shows your parents took you to, there was one in particular that seems to have stood out to you. For all that you learned to enjoy musical theater (although we were both amused to hear the concept of ‘being a fan of musical theater’ being code for a certain predilection in a Doctor Who episode many years later, set in the mid-thirties), there was one musical – A Chorus Line –that your folks seemed to have regretted taking you to, because the topics and language were for a much older viewer than you were at the time. Even the song that you so liked to quote to me was a little saltier than you would ever actually recite verbatim:

And until today, I’d never heard the song other than the way you recited it to me. Not only was the tune different than I expected, but I see why even your parents were embarrassed by the language; from the way you told the story, you weren’t even in high school at this point. This was not the sort of vocabulary – and elsewhere, these were not the sort of stories – they thought you were ready for. But what they knew of the show hadn’t prepared them for this.

Why did this stick with you for so long? Was it because the artistic ability your parents had essentially skipped over you? Was it that you were amused by the silliness of the whole concept of ‘method acting’ being skewered by Morales here? Or did you have teachers who, if they were to drop off the face of the earth, you would feel nothing about them – and feel bad about doing so?

It all seems so out of character for you.


I bring all this up because you might remember the woman who reached out to me about a week and a half ago over the new service I’ve signed up for. At the time, while I observed a few aspects of her personality that might make her a difficult match, I decided to see the connection through, even going so far as to consider asking to meet her downtown last Friday. Of course, other things intervened, and that became impossible. But we kept talking through it, until I made the mistake (?) of admitting that I would not have reached out myself to make the connection like she had. Long story short, we eventually agreed that we were wasting our time trying to talk to each other, she offered me some advice about raising Daniel, while, when she offered me the chance to give her some advice in turn, I simply demurred, claiming not to be smart enough to know what another person truly needs, especially given that I don’t even know what I need.

And I felt… nothing.

I never do about these sort of connections. There’s a momentary flash of “could this be the one?” but it’s immediately squashed by a reminder that the odds of that being the case being infinitesimally small, and that because of that, I can’t afford to get my hopes up.

So I don’t. And suddenly, I feel nothing… and I think the other person senses it, too.

Now, this shouldn’t be an impediment, in the final analysis. After all, your initial reaction to me wasn’t just of indifference, but outright irritation. As for myself, I had, quite literally, given up hope of finding anyone (while at the moment, I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t quite get myself to that point yet, for whatever reason – you’d think I would have so much more cause to surrender to the rest of my life being alone, given what little I still have to offer someone). And yet, somehow, we got past that, became friends, and ultimately, so much more. I’m hoping for lightning to strike again, but I’m not holding my breath.

And so, I send a smile or a short text to this or that person… but I can’t feel anything for any of them. There’s no sense in hoping one or another will even answer, let alone favorably. But I keep auditioning, in the hope of getting a part.

Anyway, that’s my two cents for today. I’ll talk to you later, honey, but until then, keep an eye on me, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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