Friday, February 4, 2011

Unearned Eccentricity

It’s okay—expected, even—for famous people to become eccentric. However, unfortunately for me and the world, I am not a famous person. A few people on the Internet know me from my Buffy work as, and I quote, “Hey, it’s Pat’s fookin’ hand!” I’m known by a group of theatergoers in the city as “that guy who writes the plays with the funny names (Jelly Pants, Shadow Freude vs. Captain Happy Socks, Lesbianism Isn’t Contagious, etc.).” And that’s about it, which is fine and expected. I haven’t been published and my plays reach a small, focused audience. Anyone who knows who I am outside of the aforementioned people is more than likely a stalker, killer, and/or practitioner of voodoo.

Point is, I’m not a household name. Not even a roomhold name. Hardly an I’m-standing-right-here-don’t-you-recognize-mehold name. I have no right to be eccentric. Haven’t earned it.

But yet…

I had a meeting with Dennis Allen, a fellow writer, yesterday. We met in the English department of Molloy College to discuss collaborating on a play. We threw ideas back and forth a bit, but for a while we didn’t seem to be making much progress. I came with some plot points prepared, but when it came to adding something new on top of what Dennis was brilliantly adding… I was failing.

I feel restricted, as if some sort of vice had fastened itself to my brain. My creativity was stifled. This oppressive force was trapping all of my ideas inside and I knew that, once I figured out what was causing this, the dam would break, letting out a flow of productivity.

Suddenly, I looked down, compelled by an invisible force. I saw the very source of constriction. My shoes. Yes. My shoes. They were, for some reason I can hardly begin to fathom, cutting my thought process.

…I should like to take these off, I thought.

I briefly surveyed the room, realized I didn’t care who saw, and removed my shoes. I felt as if the chains binding my brain (and, slightly more literally, my feet) had been removed. Drunk on the feeling of freedom, I stripped off my socks as well.

Dennis cocked an eyebrow, his lips slightly parted in confusion.

“I’m weird,” I told him, knowing it was true. This satisfied him, and we moved on. Little did he know that, for a wild moment, I imagined writing the rest of the piece completely nude. However, I still hold the hope of one day working as a professor at Molloy College, and I suspect that following the impulses of my maniacal id would lead to me damaging the psyche of the sweet, sweet secretary beyond repair. It would also likely damage my relationship with both Massey (a professor who was nearby) and Dennis, the former who has been too kind to me, and the latter who could a) quit this project and b) kick my would-be-naked ass.

The thought left my brain like a frightened bird. Woody Wood Pecker, to be specific. It seems like a mischievous WWP kind of thought.

As Dennis and I shot ideas back and forth, I found that being barefoot was indeed helpful. Endlessly so. The dam had been broken.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. I know how to open doors.

I wish that my writing wasn’t so conditional on my odd whims. I once wrote three of my best chapters in a beautiful woodsy area in New Hampshire, and I often picture myself back there, gazing out at the everlasting green, when I’m having a hard time writing. Besides actually finding the time to write and avoiding Facebook, I think I am going to let myself submit more often to these off-the-wall whims (excluding public nudity for legal and personal reasons; inside I am shy and modest creature). Most of the time, my odd impulses lead to great success. When I put on a play called H2-Zero, I was worried that the blithering idiot behind the marketing campaign (myself) had neglected to sufficiently spread the word about the play. “I know!” I cried. “I’ll put up ads with promises of food, live music, and parties… all blatant lies.” As I worked on these flyers, I had a last minute stoke of brilliance. I added: “COME AND MEET FAMED RAPPER LIL’ WAYNE” to the flyers.

Whim, followed. Results? A (slightly) bigger audience.

Shoes restricting my brain? Tosh! Take them off. Whim, followed. Results? More creativity, stranger atmosphere. Ideal, that.

Next time I write (optimistically tomorrow), I think I’ll do something… awfully strange. I just hope that one day I will actually deserve such eccentricity.