There is a saying in the theater that ‘eleven o’clock always comes’. It means that no matter how ghastly the show is going, how many props are broken or missing, how many actors drop their lines, including cues, how much of the lighting system doesn’t go on as planned – it will all stop within the next few hours. This is small comfort if you are the one on stage when all of the above happens, as it does from time to time, but at least you know that there is an end and that someone will probably clap, the lights will finally go down and you can console yourself with fellow cast members or just yourself and a glass of something that clinks.
I don’t know precisely when this filtered down to my daily life. Possibly it is merely a function of age, the great ‘shit happens’ drug where things that drove me crazy in my youth are now relegated to minor annoyances: traffic, missed calls, snags in my metaphorical stockings. I began to think that the Bard’s title “All’s Well That Ends Well” could be shortened to “All’s Well that Ends”, with little ill effect. This has lent me a curious fortitude and even, impossibly, a little patience. I knew that Donald Trump would someday not be President. Of course, I hoped it would be very soon but anytime between right this second and the end of the millennium was reassuring. Similarly, I believe that COVID 19 will someday be just another thing to be inoculated against, like pneumonia or the flu.
Other things, however, seem to have long, almost eternal legs. Writers Block, for one thing, is like a stinking hairy ape of a houseguest who announces after several millenia that he has nowhere else to go and nothing else to do except to sit his fat behind on your imagination and dig in with tenacity of tooth decay.
Fortitude and patience aside, some things do not retreat when the curtain comes down. There is an impossible to name angst that haunts me – regret, fear, ambivalence, resentment, uncertainty, feelings of doom and of danger.
I would like to say good bye forever to those haunting monsters that attack me in the middle of the night when I am at my stupidest and most frail. Some people call them their “demons” but I don’t want to own them. They have already moved in, I don’t see a need to renew their lease until infinity. What I want to tell them is this: Eleven o’clock always comes, including for me. And wherever this body is moving next, there will be no more room for you in the wings.