Monday, October 12, 2009
I loved the television show The Man from Atlantis when I was a kid, but I don't remember much about it. All I recall is that Patrick Duffy played the eponymous man, that he had webbed fingers, and that he needed to get in the ocean every so often to survive. Also, in one episode, he was jonesin' for his saltwater fix, so he stuck his hand in a fish tank.
There was about a ten-year gap between the time I saw that episode and the first time I touched the ocean, but it's always struck me as applicable my own life. The night we arrived in California, my dad took us down to Laguna Beach and I ran into the surf with all my clothes on. It just made sense. Since then, whenever I'm down, saltwater therapy almost always revives me. I'm The Man from Atlantis with my hand in the fish tank.
Last Thursday night, I felt down. I don't know why. It'd been a good day. I'd done a ton of work and, hopefully, put the finishing touches on a new spec script. I'd just watched a great movie called Rocket Science. Yet, I just felt off. I figured it might be because I missed the kid.
I decided to go for a walk on the beach -- my saltwater fix. Once I got there, I stuck my hand in the surf. It felt good. I walked on the sand for a while. Around Avenue G, I stumbled on a couple screwing on the lifeguard tower. I've always thought that would be a fun thing to do, titillating maybe. It was anything but. The woman, whose loud moans alerted me of their fornication, was hidden behind the white, bobbing ass of the guy. It was primal and slightly gross, kind of like the time Bruce the Dog found a rotting marlin carcass at Malaga Cove about 10 seconds before I did. Primal and slightly gross.
I got home 30 minutes later, still unsettled but distracted enough to sleep.
This weekend, I had the kid. It was a Golden Ticket two days, much of which was spent biking on the Strand. At dusk on Sunday we came across a bikini photo shoot -- weirdly enough, at that same lifeguard tower I witnessed the humpers. Drawn to the allure of high fashion, my daughter asked me to watch the bikes as she strolled down to the shoreline to observe. After ten minutes, I trusted the bikes to fate and trudged down after her, where I had to negotiate my five-year-old away from a group of gorgeous, oiled-up Asian women in bikinis. In any -- ANY -- other circumstance, I would have killed to be there, but my Daddy side and my get-close-to-gorgeous-oiled-up-Asian-women-in-bikinis side aren't really overlapping yet, so I just felt kind of awkward, old and overdressed.
Once the kid had gone to bed that night, I sat down on the couch and, much to my surprise, felt down again. It surprised me. Usually, weekends like this with the kid are enough to yank me out of any blue state, but not this time.
As I re-read this post, I notice a sexual undercurrent. Who am I kidding, it's a damn sexual tidal wave, so it's logical to assume that my uneasiness might have something to do with loneliness. This isn't the case. It's just melancholy. I've had it my whole life.
I know three things about it. First, sometimes it gets too big for the hand in the fishbowl to fix. Second, the more I try to fight it, the bigger it gets. Third, it was an integral part of why my marriage fell apart.
And there's a fourth thing I suspect, but don't know for sure; it's never going to go away completely, so I better make damn sure that, from now on, everyone in my inner circle -- family, friends, lovers, wife -- is willing to accept it.
And while accepting it in myself doesn't exactly fill me with joy, it's still as liberating as a million hands in the fish tank.