Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Gimme a piece of that pie

I got my first job at age 15, at McDonald's, after fudging my age by a year on the application form. And I have worked every year of my life since then except for one summer when, after having fled one city and its complications for another and then realized on arrival I had no idea what to do with the rest of my life, I quit my dismal job, hauled my meager belongings into storage and took off for the wild west, accompanied at the last minute by a very good friend from college who had recently moved to NY and was going through some big transitions of her own.

We set out in my new, used Acura Integra, the back of which became our chuckwagon as we traveled from place to place, blissfully agenda-free, throwing our tent up wherever it struck us to do so from White Sands to Yosemite. A month and a half later, funds running low, we found ourselves headed back, ALL the way back, right back to exactly where we started. I returned, however, with some valuable direction: I went back to school, started freelancing to be my own boss and left some well worn baggage behind in the desert. That summer still ranks up there with the best times of my life. We were a year ahead of Thelma and Louise and a summer behind Dances with Wolves, the two films bookend that summer in my romanticized memory of it.

I don't when or if I'll ever get to take off on a wild chase like that again so it's been a vicarious pleasure over the last couple of weeks to watch The Long Way Round and The Long Way Down: the adventures of Ewan McGregor and his pal Charlie Boorham as they take 5 months to ride their motorbikes (that's Scottish for "motorcycle") around the world from London to NYC. Why do THEY get to do this? Because Ewan is a movie star and everything conceivable for such an undertaking: their BMW motorbikes, extensive and expensive tools, camping gear, office space, training, clothing, food, vehicles, crew including a medic, etc. was given to them for free on the premise they'd shoot the trip as a documentary. Night after night we have watched them wrestle their bikes through deep mud, sand, and floodwaters on every kind of road and off road as they continued their journey across border after border, seeing fantastic vistas and meeting every kind of folk along the way. They enjoyed their trip so much they decided to take 4 more months and do another: from Scotland to Cape Town (hence "Long Way Down." Now we are out of episodes and I feel almost as bad as I did, now going on 20 years ago, when we hit the coast of California and knew every mile from then on was one mile closer to home.

What has that got to do with Kevin Costner? I hadn't yet forgiven Ewan his trips: he's already had all the fun that comes with being a famous movie star and on top of that he gets to take these kick-ass trips of a lifetime! And then Monday night, up on stage at the Blue Note, is Dances with Wolves himself, playing Guitar Hero with a full band. Why? Because he's a movie star! It's starting to get to me.

I think we should seriously consider the redistribution of fun. When I grow up, I'm going to be a movie star. A male movie star. I'm going to have cake AND eat it! While my wife is at home with our kids.


Betty said...

First, may I just say that you are who I want to be when I grow up? Nary a time goes by when some sprout from that amazing brain and imagination of yours fails to make me laugh, cry or touch my heart. That said, I've forgotten the other thing I wanted to say, so I'll leave it at this. Love you and am so happy to know you.

Anonymous said...

oh man! i almost cried when i read "...redistribution of fun."!!!!!

nice post, allison!

allison said...

Betty, you made my day, no--week; actually, I'm going to have that comment bronzed. And same back at you.

Ben, you are probably the ONLY person who reads this blog to whom I have served a Big Mac.

harold said...

A - of course - ;-)