“Tell us, AO, why did you want to be a screenwriter?”
Well, that’s always a difficult question to answer. The Muse can come from any direction, on any given day, and have any number of different effects on any given visit. Sometimes, a burgeoning scribe is inspired by one who has gone before and made their mark.
I was sitting one sultry L.A. evening in my apartment with my lovely wife when someone rapped on my chamber door. It was my good friend, G (not his real name). G is a truly delicious human being. A large, middle-aged gay actor (you’ve seen him in everything from “Dallas” to a Mentos commercial to feature films, playing fathers of brides and axe-wielding maniacs). Full-spirited, ebullient Southeast Texas personality, an easy smile and, at least when he was cooking in his one-room apartment down the hall, always clad in a torn, ingredient-spattered T-shirt. This evening, however, G was dressed rather nicely (no holes in the shirt; relatively clean Bermuda shorts).
“AO!” he said (not my real name), “Come to my place, quick. There’s somebody you have to meet!
The urgency in his voice and the twinkle in his eye told me I was heading into another Misadventure in the Screen Trade, so I slipped on my loafers and hurried after him. Ushered into his tiny apartment, I was introduced to E (not his real name), a tanned, fit, 60 year old man with gleaming white teeth and a naked scalp that seemed to have been buffed to a high sheen. As E crushed my fingers in his iron grip, I couldn’t help but take notice of his rather awe-inspiring, and much younger, explosively red-haired wife – a well-cantilevered Force of Nature whose barely contained assets seemed to be attempting escape in several directions at once. I blinked and tried to keep my eyes in their sockets and my tongue back inside my teeth – and incidently, through the instant rutting haze, tried to remember where I had heard E’s name before.
We sat, G on a bar stool, beaming with pride, E coiled in an easy chair drinking heavily, and me and Madame Vesuvius (not her real name) perched on G’s narrow little bed, listening to E talk about his two Academy awards for screenwriting. Oh yes, I knew this man’s work: a tough Brooklyn thriller from the 50’s starring Richard Widmark and the incomparable Thelma Ritter; and a British historical epic from the 60’s starring O’Toole and Burton.
But it was hard to listen to The Man when His Woman was twitching beside me, three sheets to the wind, all inhibitions lost in the gale. When, after ten minutes of deploying all of her charms to “charm” E into a public indiscretion, she finally threw herself back and splayed those long legs into the air and cried, “Oh, E! Do me right now!” I excused myself and headed back out into a night that seemed much hotter than it had been short moments before.
“With the rich and famous,” I said to myself, listening to the city breathe around me, “always a little patience.” But I didn’t mean it. I wanted what E had. I wanted those Academy Awards on my mantle. I wanted those long legs in the passenger seat of my hot sports car. I wanted my actor friends to bring their neophyte screenwriter neighbors in to sit at my feet and listen to my tall tales. I wanted to tell my special stories, to skillfully reveal the few truths I know, to expand and enliven my chosen art – and then have a hell of a good time before sitting back down and trying again to fill that merciless white page. Bless her heart and her legs – she was a Muse after all.