A throwback…..with numerous caveats…(tf)

Me and Stevens have been at this blog for a year now. Mostly, it’s me badgering him to write, and him telling me to leave him alone. But eventually he gets to it. Though he’s way too crotchety to admit it, I suspect he’s ok with my badgering, since he knows he should be writing more and spending less time as a TV star, and needs a bit of bother to kick-start himself. Not that he’s not a good TV star. It’s just that he’s a better writer.

We don’t really talk, me and Stevens. Our communication over the past year has largely consisted of insulting back and forth text messages. We used to meet periodically at the local bookstore until the local bookstore closed. I tried email a few times but he’s way too famous to check email. He made the mistake of giving me his cell phone number, so that sealed it. I don’t dare call him…..since he saves his voice for his TV spots. So texting is it. It’s amazing what you can gleam from a year’s worth of texting.

Assuming of course, he answers his messages. He usually does, unless he’s off somewhere being famous or lounging around his gated compound nursing one of his frequent colds. Most of the time I interrupt him while he’s reading. Since he’s gotten into the E-book craze he scours the internet for the ones they give away for free, and so devours “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, and Poe short stories over and over again….claiming that anything more topical “depresses” him (I think what depresses him is paying for books). The next time you see him and he seems a wee bit…..er….distant, keep in mind he probably spent half the night reading “The Cask of Amontillado”.

I try to broaden his horizons, but he doesn’t trust me because he’s so old. I’m not sure how old he is actually. I can remember hearing him on TV when I was about 8 years old, and I’m pretty old. His voice hasn’t changed a bit though. I saw him on TV last week wearing one of those corduroy jackets with the patches on the elbows that transcends time….so I’m not sure about the rest of him. Let’s just say that the man is a throwback with numerous caveats. An old-schooler who is suspicious of anyone under 60 years old. A man who longs for the good ‘ol days while writing his TV scripts on his new Ipad. A grizzled veteran TV journalist who still carries a notebook and stubby pencil in his shirt pocket but files his stories electronically.

He was also the first person to call me when my father passed away. At that time, I hadn’t heard from Stevens in years. It’s a gesture I’ve never forgotten….although he probably has. Which is why I like the guy so much despite the fact that the only thing we have in common is thinking Congress should all be thrown in jail. And a love of written words. That seems to be enough.

He won’t say anything bad about anybody (except me), no matter how much he knows I know that he hates their guts. The guy listens to disco music in his pick-up truck. When I go on and on about the power of rock and roll he’ll say things like, “why are they always screaming and using bad language?” I’ll tell him about my latest play and he’ll say, “I’ll come see it as long as you don’t use the f-word.”

He still hasn’t come to see any of my plays. The f$%&r.

But no matter. I actually tried to write one without “that word” (as he calls it…he’s ever so quaint) in it, and it was only 30 seconds long. Hardly an evening’s entertainment. He needs much more incentive to leave the bosom of his mansion. Like  judging a pie-baking contest in some backwater that only he and the people who live there have heard of. He gets to take the samples home, you see. Or serving as toast-master for this or that organization. He’s got a hard time saying no to anybody except me, and even I can wear him down if I’m persistent enough and time my texts to coincide with his early bedtime, when he’s always at his most vulnerable. He’s way too nice for his own good, which is why he’s so grumpy most of the time. That does make sense if you read it twice you know. It really does.

Last year he said he’d only keep up this blog for a year. I didn’t believe him then and I don’t believe him now. So here’s to another year of me badgering him, and him telling me to leave him alone, and then pulling up this URL and finding that Stevens has added yet more of his inimitable prose on whatever it is that catches his fancy. Or whatever it is I can flog out of him.

He’s an old softie really. He just pretends to be a misanthrope. At least in his texts.

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on December 6, 2011.

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