“I’ll be down to get you in a taxi, honey
You better be ready about half-past eight
Now dearie, don’t be late
I want to be there when the band starts playing.”
It is a very rare day that one enters into with the knowledge that what will transpire within the few short hours has the potential to, and most likely will, change the world and all its inhabitants for a long time to come.
Perhaps the troops awaiting the dawn in their LCVPs on the morning of June 6th knew it, or the highjackers leaving their hotel in Portland on the way to the airport on 9/11 did. But both of these events were shrouded in secrecy from the general public and known but to a few. The rest of us, caught in the middle of the buffeting storm suddenly swirling around us, struggled as the day progressed to catch up with and to begin to understand the full implications of what those days have come to mean. Today, November 3, 2020, is a rare bird indeed.
We are on this ride from the top and can now choose to follow it hour by hour, moment by moment, or just go about our daily business or pull the covers up and watch a Preston Sturges marathon. We have those choices and the awareness that out there something really big is happening. So, fasten your seat belts. (speaking of which, All About Eve might also be an excellent old movie choice.)
About this time, 11:00 am yesterday I found myself sitting, paralyzed, in Barbara’s father’s wingback chair in the living room. I wanted to be phone banking to Texas or South Carolina, but I found myself unable to move. So, to get myself started I decided to write to my friend Peter Kleinert in Berlin.
When Marvin Carlson was Damen’s guest last week on the final installment of our Color Between the Lines, now subtitled Good Trouble. He asked Marvin, “What’s a really good reason to travel?” (Let me add in that Marvin, whose most recent book is entitled Ten Thousand Nights: Highlights from 50 Years of Theatre-Going, has been everywhere and speaks I believe 8 languages, all in the pursuit of new experiences in the theatre) Marvin’s answer was of utmost simplicity yet loaded with a simplicity that can keep you thinking for a long time: “It’s so broadening. The new plays in new languages, new countries and people who hold knowledge and opinions, and new ways of going about doing things, of imagining new ideas.”
I can only add, “There are more things, Horatio.”
And so yesterday I put aside all the things I was already avoiding and, in the hopes of getting a little broadened, wrote an email to Peter. My email went in part:
“As you can imagine it is very tense in America today. Even though Biden seems to have a grosser lead, everyone is nervous. I want to be on the telephone urging people to vote, but I am sitting here half gelaehmt. I am still überrasch that anyone can support Trump. There was a story in the NY Times today about people in Michigan who go to his rallies and plan to vote for him because he makes them excited to be American again. For the rest of us, Trump makes us feel beschaemt. Wir, moechte sagen er ist nicht uns, but the next few days may tell us something different.”
At 4 am this morning Peter responded:
“You can believe it or don’t believe it – I wanted to write to you tonight. And now your email with so many excellent German sentences. Congratulations! If you can read Mother Courage in German, I am sure you can understand an email in German.
Wir sind hier auch alle sehr gespannt wie die Wahl ausgeht. In unserem public TV sehen wir jeden Abend mindestens eine Reportage aus USA. In Deutschland würde Biden 80% bekommen. Ich habe ja nur großartige Amerikaner kennengelernt wie Barbara und dich und Terry und all die anderen. Aber leider – und das zeigen sie uns im TV – gibt es auch viele andere, die eine Weltsicht haben, vor der man sich nur gruseln kann. Wie viele Länder sind die USA ein geteiltes Land. Ich fürchte Trump wird gewinnen. Ich hoffe ich habe nicht recht. ‘Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt’.”
The following (translation is, by Google not me)
“We’re all very excited to see how the election will turn out. Every evening we see at least one report from the USA on our public TV. In Germany, Biden would get 80%. I’ve only met great Americans like Barbara and you and Terry and all the others. But unfortunately – and they show us on TV – there are also many others who have a worldview that can only make you shudder. Like many countries, the US is a divided country. I fear Trump will win. I hope I am not right. ‘Hope dies last’.”
“When I’m writing all this, I don’t like it because I know it is more complex and complicated as I could write it. So, I’m crossing all my fingers for Biden.
USA – Get well – the sooner the better.
Ich freue mich, dass es Barbara gut geht und sie arbeiten kann. Lern weiter deutsch – du kannst es vielleicht brauchen.”
(translation) I am happy that Barbara is doing well and that she can work. Keep learning German – you may need it.
And I hope that Peter doesn’t mind that I shared his message. Normally I would ask his permission. But today, despite what he calls the gloominess, I am greatly comforted by his words’ I hope you are too.
“Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt.”
And this time the good guys and gals are going to win. And when we do, we can sing and dance at the celebration as we listen to Sophie Tucker playing on the Victrola:
Remember when we get there, honey
The two-steps I’m goin’ to have ’em all
Goin’ to dance out both my shoes
When they play the “Jelly Roll Blues”
Tomorrow night, at the Darktown Strutter’s Ball