"She was daytime and I ther night", "State Sneck", Beach, Brigantine New Jersey, Community Theater, Durga, Lucien Percival Smith, Neil Diamond, Peggy and Phil Christian, Running, Stageworks Theatre, The Boys Next Door, Tom Griffin, Tom Griffin's The Boys Next Door
When Neil Diamond sang, “She was daytime and I the night,” he was most assuredly not speaking of my love and me. Give Durga a chance to sleep in and she’ll take it. Give her a day-off work and she’ll insist that sleeping in is de rigueur, give her a week at the beach and rising early becomes laughable, make it her birthday and, well, you get the point.
I slept in on the ninth. I neither rose nor shone until after four, a decidedly later hour than I typically manage to awaken. I got up, quit the master bedroom of the lovely house that her cousin Peggy had provided (With an address of 314 Something Street, Brigantine, New Jersey. Pi, baby, pi!) and began descending stairs from the second to ground floor before recalling that the house’s main living quarters are located high on the quarterdeck or whatever nautical term is apropos for a luxuriously spacious, three story, five bedroom, six bath, complete with elevator love nest we two were roughing it in for the week.
What’s the old saying? Life’s a beach and then you dive?
In any case, by the time my now a whole year older than I am amour managed to make-like-a-banana and peel herself from between the sheets she had already been fifty-nine years old for nearly half-a-day and my patience was depleted. “What happened to our early morning run?” asks I.
“We can still run,” says she.
“Hmm,” came my pithy rejoinder. We kitted up, headed east 100 yards to the beach, (See? Absolutely roughing it!) and began my version of a run, a pace that is best described as a slow, steady, slog. Durga, though 59, can easily maintain a ten-minute-mile pace while I struggle to keep my miles below 12. This disparity leaves both of us frustrated and to “entertain” my lovely I began to assume the character of Lucien Percival Smith, the profoundly mentally challenged man I will be portraying in a Stageworks production of The Boys Next Door in November.
Other than a single out-of-body, out-of-character, 129 word soliloquy Lucien tends to speak in three word, telegraphed sentences and my ability to demonstrate his nobility and loving kindness while simultaneously making it abundantly clear that my IQ is below 40 is a challenge with which I’m grappling in the week preceding commencement of rehearsal. Presentation of Lucien is critical and I must meld his unassuming posture, at rest facial flaccidity, right foot trailing left walk, arms at side run as well as his loud and unawares booming voice onto me. Like a tree we shall be grafted, and I damn well need to do so without portraying us as a stereotypical character to mock, scorn and feel superior to.
“Oh boy!” to steal a line from housemate Norman.
Lucien repeats himself quite a bit and some of the things I holler over and over as we jog down the mostly deserted beach for 29 minutes include, “Hard, hard, hard.” I disjointedly sing the first third of the Alphabet Song. My beloved, now a hundred feet ahead of me is treated to, “In the tub! In the tub! In the tub!” “Get the door! Get the door! Get the door!” “There he goes! There he goes! There he goes!” “I be not home! I be not home! I be not home!” My most oft repeated non sequitur, “We got no trees! We got no trees! We got no trees!” and the one that drove my wife crazy, “Ladies and men of the State Sneck,” because she had no idea that Sneck is what Lucien and I call the Senate. All of these I called out to her, sometimes “running” as Keith, sometimes as Lucien but my most heartbreaking line is the last line I deliver in view of the audience, “Jack be leaving us!” over and over, first as question, then realization and finally as a lament worthy of Armageddon.
We did intervals on the run back, alternating hard efforts with easy, and I envisioned what life would be like were I Lucien and not Keith, if everything was a mystery and beyond my power of comprehension.
I hope I do right by Lucien. He deserves it.