Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Try to Remember the Kind of September...
September 11th, 2001 really sucked.
I mean, it was just a shitty, shitty day. You think of all the days you've had in your life and you've got, I'm sure, a few whoppers. Like the day your parents found your bong and the ounce of weed you'd just bought for spring break. Like the day you got fired from your job and then came home to find your husband boning the nanny. Like the day the doctor told you that you had herpes and advised you to contact anyone you might have had sex with recently to let them know they'd been exposed. Those days all sucked. But 9/11 sucked worse.
It sucked on so many levels as to defy all reason. It sucked on levels big: lives lost; a terrified populace; the skyline of a city forever changed; a man who'd been destined to be an unremarkable one-term president suddenly gaining political clout to launch a war, grant ridiculous tax breaks to the wealthy and shape the judiciary for decades to come. It sucked on levels small: people stuck for days in airports; annoying levels of bumper sticker-driven pseudo-patriotism; more bad country music on the radio. It sucked on all the levels in between.
It sucked in different ways for everybody. It sucked for me mainly because my girlfriend was in New York and I was on the other side of the continent and on the other side of an international border.
She'd been admitted to law school in White Plains. With her parents' help, we'd moved our stuff across the country in July, then she'd stayed there to start classes and I'd flown back to Seattle, where I was rehearsing a show for the Vancouver Fringe Festival. We were apart for, in total, about a month and a half. Not a good time. She was dealing with first-year law school classes and a dog who'd developed unexplained projectile diarrhea. I had it a lot easier, what with the lack of dog shit, but I was lonely and horny and miserable, too.
So, I make it through August and then it's time to take the show to Vancouver. This was a sketch comedy show. It was with the sketch troupe I'd founded with friends three years earlier and we'd been doing really strong work. We'd built a good reputation in Seattle, we were drawing decent crowds and getting good reviews and tightening up our stuff. And these were all great people. I love the people who were involved in this group and I loved spending time with them, which made the trip to Vancouver a great time, in spite of problems we had.
The problems were problems typical of any fringe festival. Our venue sucked. We were a trifle too lazy to really publicize our show as much as we should. We had lame time slots. Several people had their cars broken into. Some of us got bedbug bites from the not-quite-sanitary conditions of the hostel in which we were staying. But we had a great time anyway. My girlfriend flew to Vancouver to surprise me--still the best surprise I've ever received--and I was enjoying myself to no end.
Then I wake up one morning and, as I'm brushing my teeth in the hostel bathroom, a guy comes up to me wide-eyed and says, "Did you hear what happened to the World Trade Center?" Now, something like this is difficult to wrap one's head around under the best circumstances and I was hung over, so I was taken way, way aback. I got dressed as quickly as I could and I went to the hostel's common room, where I joined a huge crowd of strangers watching endless repetitions of the shot of the plane going into the second tower.
The first thing I tried to do was to get a hold of my girlfriend, which was completely impossible, because everyone in America who knew somebody in New York was trying to call them. So I got online on the hostel's coin-operated internet terminal and I found an e-mail telling me that she was okay. I got a whole lot of calls that day from family and friends who knew that we'd moved to the New York area. I made a lot of calls to my girlfriend and to everyone else I knew. (I wound up with a five hundred dollar phone bill from the experience, as I was calling on a cell phone that had international roaming charges being applied to it.)
Everyone in our group was shell-shocked. We dealt with it how most people, I assume, dealt with it: We got high and went to see American Pie II. We didn't really know what else to do. Half of our troupe had gone back to Seattle, because we had four days in between shows and not everyone could take the time off work. With the travel situation what it was, we didn't know if they'd even be able to get back up to Vancouver in time. And then there was our show. It was a sketch show set entirely in an airport. It had a sketch wherein a guy's ass is mistaken for George W. Bush and holds a press conference. And it ended with a group of terrorists blowing up the airport. So we weren't sure if people would be in the mood for what we were offering.
It was an awful couple of days, trying to decide what to do, worrying about our families in the States and whether or not more attacks were imminent. We sat in the hostel bar for hours and hours, our eyes glued to the television coverage as our president, looking drunk, staggered around the rubble and shouted platitudes from his bullhorn. In the end, we called it quits, a decision that sent shockwaves through the twos of people who gave a shit what we did. We loaded up our truck and limped back across the border.
After a few days, I flew back to New York and talked my girlfriend into marrying me, as I didn't want us to die in another attack and be eternally separated in the ether because we'd neglected to formalize things. In the years since, on the 11th, I try to take a moment to think of the people with whom I went through the days surrounding the attacks. I'm grateful to have had them there and I'm sorry that we had such a crusty turd of an ending to what had been one of the greatest collaborations of my life.
In the end, the only thing I can say about the attacks and what's happened since is this: Fuck George Bush.
What interests me about Katrina is the amount of people who are comparing her to 9-11. Both are tragedies. Katrina did a hell of a lot more damage, but 9-11 was done ON PURPOSE. I think that somehow evens them out. Course, that could just be my warped way of thinking...
*cheers*, man.Post a Comment
I , too, spent some time reminiscing over those days on Sunday, the Lost In Space pinball game, the shitty other productions at that fest...
I refuse to let the events of that day tarnish the experience of being in that troupe...