“Hey, Lund..why don’t we ever see you out and about on the weekends anymore?”
Some of my old musician pals often ask me that question. Linda does too, for that matter and it’s true, we used to go out on Friday or Saturday nights quite frequently to hear live bands but lately I just haven’t felt much like it. I didn’t plan on becoming a recluse but, the truth is, since my retirement six years ago, it’s gotten tougher for me to live up to other people’s expectations. I’m fatter, grayer, wrinkleier and more thin-skinned than I used to be. People..even well-meaning people..can’t resist the urge and seem to delight in reminding me how much I’ve gone down-hill from my TV days. I’ve grown tired of smiling and reminding these clods that they probably don’t look like they did six years ago either. I know, I know…I should realize how lucky I am; how lots of folks in this world never had any time at all in the spotlight so just shaddap and quitchurbellyachen.
Saturday was our dear friend, Alona’s birthday. We usually take her out to dinner but this time she just wanted to mosey about downtown enjoying drinks outside and listening to music. Our first stop was at Stogies where a multi-talented old chum, Mike Hilson, was picking guitar on the patio with two other great players. The three of us were enjoying the music and the beautiful evening when a guy at the table next to us hollered, “Hey Doug..remember when we used to have sex together?” which brought loads of laughter from his table but left me furious with a burning desire to stand-up and try to punch his lights out before I ran out of breath or had a heart attack. I didn’t, of course, but I did comment on his crassness and within seconds he was in my face itchin’ for a fight. I invited him to take his best shot and then prepare to be sued for assault. Lord knows there were plenty of witnesses..many of whom probably wondered if there was any truth to his assinine comment. He eventually apologized explaining he was drunk. The sideshow was over but so was our pleasant night on the town.
These idiots are a small minority of people who we encounter in public. Most are kind and complementary when mentioning their memories of my years on Keloland. I used to be better in dealing with the others but lately…not so much.
My old colleague and friend, Steve Hemmingsen, is pretty happy to be out of the public eye too. I decided to give him a call last week to see if he was going to be home. It was such a nice day, I thought I’d point the Camaro North for his villa at Lake Hendricks. Well, it turns out he was just pulling into Sioux Falls to have lunch with a friend and do some shopping so I invited him over to the house where we spent three hours gabbing and laughing and holding back a tear or two at the memory of his only son, Stevie, who died nearly two years ago.
Steve is doing pretty well. Like me, he fights a never-ending battle of the bulge and takes a daily regimen of drugs for everything from high blood pressure to attitude adjustment. Unlike me, he needs one of those CPAP masks at night to keep from suffocating in his sleep. Oh, yeah, Steve also has prostate cancer but it’s apparently the Don Imus variety in which surgery isn’t immediately necessary..he just needs to have regular exams and meds to keep it in check. Given a choice, I think I’d rather have my prostate removed than face the thought of dropping trou in the doc’s office every few months for a “digital” review.
For some reason, I mentioned that I’ve been having a recurring mysterious dream over the past few years in which we were both back at work except when it came time to go on the set, I sometimes didn’t have a jacket..or a tie..or, occasionally no shirt or (forgive the image) no pants! In my dream (nightmare really) I am always running late..or don’t have a script or can’t read the teleprompter because it’s so far away.
Steve says, “You’re kidding. I’ve been having the exact same dream.(Nightmare) Oh, my god..what do you suppose it means? In all my years on the air I was never late for a newscast or without proper on-air attire.” “Neither was I.. But there were times when I’d forget a necktie and actually went behind the Captain 11 time converter and pawed through the boxes of ties that had been sent in for Dave Dedrick’s “Ugly Tie” contest on the weather show. I’d find one that wasn’t too revolting and wear it on the news.” I’ve never told that story before.
“We should write a book,” Steve said. “Yeah, I said.” But we never will. It was a good day of reminiscing; one we promised to repeat on a regular basis…but probably won’t.
In the meantime if there are any dream analyzers out there who can explain the puzzling parallel experiences of a couple of slumbering former anchormen we’d like to hear it. We could both use the rest.