Tuesday, July 28, 2009

THE SHADOW KNOWS

The scary voice croaked -- "What evil lurks in the hearts of men ... Ha ha ha ha ... "

It was terrifying. It implied danger --an enemy hiding in my room, ready to destroy me. I listened to this popular radio drama regularly, nibbling peas from the pea pods. (See my April 16th post "Green Olives.") The Shadow was a spooky hero, who knew who was bad and evil .

Shivering, I wondered if the Shadow knew I'd stolen an extra olive out of the olive jar, and I'd "borrowed" my sister's "Aggie" -- lost it in the backyard bushes. As the show ended, I'd croak with it --"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit ... the shadow knows."

... Evil lurks in the heart ... Bitter fruit ... Even now I sometimes sing-song the words when something unpleasant happens -- someone who's been nice is suddenly rude, or a friend suddenly becomes an enemy.

My friend R was a few years older than I, and someone I counted on. We liked the same music, the same choreography, and when I needed to hire dancers, her experience was better than mine. I responded to looks (tall male dancers, shapely, not too skinny, pretty females), while R responded to technique.

R often advised me about personal things . "Wear more makeup, Em. Spray your hair -- loose ends age you, Em. Don't be buddy-buddy with the kids in rehearsal, Em." I'd nod, but her ideas about grooming and handling employees were wrong for me.

(Even now, I miss her, as a friend and coworker, though she hurt me by putting her "growing older" fears in my mind .)

Just before JC and I moved back to New York from Malibu, I phoned R. I had a project I'd been hugging in my mind, thinking of doing. Jabbering, about the old days, I thanked R for nagging me to do less balletic steps in my Vivaldi solo, and mentioned "Shattering Panes."

"I'm thinking about directing my play, R -- doing a showcase or a staged reading with you as my assistant."

R seized the moment -- jab slash! Right off the bat mentioned a similar play that had bombed, and money -- the union rules that made my showcase idea impossible financially -- and went on about 'inexperienced' directors.' Wow! She thoroughly killed my optimistic, confident playwright's sense that this was the right time for me to try out my play in New York.

I didn't do it. In fact, I couldn't go back to thinking positively about PANES till last year.

Anyway, it got me thinking about other projects, and I went onto other things. But the incident resonates. It changed me -- makes me avoid reunions with dancers who've worked for me, and other former employees.

Does evil lurk in theirs hearts? Is it lurking in mine? Or is it a fact of life, that people you've been buddy-buddy with when you were the boss, have resentments, negative feelings about what you've shared, that they need to express.

I'm not sure why R turned against me. But I'm careful about show-biz hugs and kisses. I avoid the personal chit chat that makes an employee also a friend.

I try to keep my distance.

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