Drooling on the Pillow

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Big Sky Soap Opera 

Remember how I mentioned around a month ago that, regardless of how much I complain and despair, I really consider myself a lucky guy? Consider this:

I've told a few stories about the couple summers I spent doing one week stock in Montana. One summer I played Noah in a show called Two By Two. It's a Richard Rogers musical and surely his thinnest effort. But it is Richard Rogers and there are some nice songs in it and Danny Kaye hamboned his way through it on Broadway.

It's not really the kind of show you want to hand to a bunch of inexperienced twenty-three year olds, but, in the tradition of the theatre, it all came together on opening night. We killed.

Afterwards we went to the Tiki Bar in downtown Helena and got outside a few tropical beverages. Right about there things started getting a little hazy.

I do know that I took my girlfriend's Porsche and did some doughnuts on the lawn directly in front of the Montana Statehouse. Then I saw a long line of recently planted saplings and ran them down. And when I saw the twinkly lights in my rear-view mirror I remember thinking, "This isn't a problem. I'm driving a Porsche." They caught me about a minute later when I ran up on a curb and knocked over a mailbox.

Drunken driving (obviously), destruction of public property, resisting arrest. All by myself I had comprehensively harshed a very mellow night.

I spent the night in the tank. In the morning I found that my girlfriend had flown a lawyer up from Missoula to help me face the judge. I was so miserable that I was hoping for a good old fashioned hanging judge to teach me a lesson, but the lawyer slapped that out of me. He told me I should expect thirty days in the county lockup and a sizable fine plus restitution. The show would have to close. I was about to be a very unpopular guy in a very small city.

I cleaned up as best as I could and I marched in next to this $3,000 suit and stood before the glowering judge. Mean looking bastard. While the charges were read he just stared at me and then, instead of saying "How do you plead?" he made this funny little smile and said "You were in that show last night, weren't you?"

"Uh, yeah."

Well, turns out the Mrs. really liked it and they talked about it all night long and I look different without the beard and how do you remember all the words and am I going to be in Charlie Brown? It was twenty minutes before we got to the charges. Everything dismissed except some sort of reckless driving charge with a $300 fine.

The lawyer looked at me, shook his head, turned around and left without a word. The girlfriend passed along the word later that the DUI was expunged. Which wasn't really true because twenty years later it turned up in a FBI background required for foreign adoption. That caused some anxious moments.

Just a few words about why the lawyer's heart didn't really appear to be in his work for me.

My girl friend, Anne, had a real boyfriend. I was her keeping-around boyfriend. Lived with her, messed around together. Her real boyfriend was the biggest road construction guy in Montana. It was his house, his Porsche and his lawyer. And Anne didn't really have what most people would call a job. Of course, her real boyfriend had an actual wife so he was perfectly fine with someone keeping her busy when he didn't need her.

And I wasn't the first designated hitter in that Porsche. When I arrived in Helena she was keeping time with Ken, the company director. When he had to go back to New York he asked me to keep an eye on her. Which I did. When he came back a few months later for a visit and realized the situation he almost killed me. Seriously. He missed me by inches. He was restrained and went back to New York and became a pretty successful producer and I kept thinking it would be a good idea if I didn't fall in love with Anne. But of course I did.
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