Not to mix metaphysical and cultural paradigms here.
We are born into a life we have no business pretending to understand, and, if we spend too much time pondering that, we either drive ourselves crazy or become paralyzed, frozen in the amber of our own, absurd ontological dialectic…
Like a deer, you can stare, transfixed, into the oncoming light of something you can’t decide is destiny or chaos or both… surrendering with the thought that, whatever it is, it’s probably bigger than you.
You try to go on vacation but work is always on the phone or emailing you. Where’s this? How do you do that? Where’s that eighty thousand you withdrew from the company account on Thursday?
Imagine how it is when you’re working for the boys upstairs. When the Big Boss is not only omniscient, but occasionally seems to get obsessed with details, it’s hard to really get away.
So you plow headfirst into vacation, ignore it when strangers around you get calls on their cells and, with looks of utter bewilderment, hold their phones out to you. Instead you order another round of doubles for the house and grab a passing barmaid.
Superhuman powers mean superhuman powers to annoy.
You can wear out your welcome even when your American Express card seems bottomless.
But the pretty dark eyed maid keeps sneaking back to your room and, on the day you absolutely, without question, must get back to work… the both of you take off through the desert… followed, only steps behind, by the shadowy operatives of He Who Usually Takes Not No for an Answer.
Last night I saw For Heaven’s Sake, one of those 40’s movies (actually 1950) featuring exceedingly human angels. Like Jack Benny in The Horn Blows at Midnight, Clifton Webb’s angel is a foul-up, to put it delicately.
Benny is sent to earth to sound the final trumpet blast that will signal the end of earth — a minor planet that’s been more trouble than it’s worth for far too long, according to Benny’s immediate heavenly superior — but he misses the beat (the horn has to sound at midnight, exactly) because he stops to save a pretty young suicide.
Webb’s assignment is far less epochal… he’s sent to arrange for the conception (hinted at by references to champagne and romantic music as precursors to the crux of the mission) of a young girl who has been waiting patiently for her childless, show biz couple prospective parents to make the move. (Strikingly, for the era — but subtly, nonetheless — it’s also hinted that the couple has been using birth control — of some form controlled by the wife — to wait for a convenient time to start the family. Although Bob Cummings as the Broadway producer prospective dad seems so thoroughly distracted that he barely seems to be aware of his wife as anything but the longtime leading lady of his plays…)
Anyhow, where was I?
Ah, yes, Clifton Webb’s angel assumes the role of a drawling Texas millionaire who can be enticed into bankrolling the couple’s next play — but the part takes over the angel actor and he quickly devolves into a big spending bon vivant, completely bollixing heaven’s plans for the little girl’s birth. In the end, it’s only her offer to return to heaven to salvage Webb’s angelic career that gets him to resynch with his angelic dharma and light a fire under the reluctant couple.
Anyhow, there’s a metaphor there, somewhere, that’s talking to me right now but I’ll be damned if I can explain it all, really.
The version of “Angel’s Vacation” below was recorded only an hour or two before Tuesday’s entirely different version.