4 May 1938 / New York City

I somehow allowed Susan Joy to drag me to another one of her ridiculous Players Room parties last night. What an abhorrent nightmare!


I fall for it every time. The prospect of spending an evening with members of the theatrical guild lures me again and again. My admiration for the true actor is no secret. Would that I could ditch everything, wrap myself in a thespian’s cloak, and join the ranks of the emoting. But my responsibilities are far too important to abandon. Even now I’m distracted by my upcoming trip to Burma, to the small village of Kamawak, where I agreed to help modernize their infrastructure. I’m tempted to just ship them my toilet and call it a day. But even with shortcuts, I’m too overburdened by this world to ever lose myself in the world of some alcoholic playwright. So when Susan invites me to one of her soirees, I go aflutter with anticipation: a chance to associate with the Knights of the Fourth Wall! Is tonight the night I finally meet Karl Malden of Golden Boy?

Sadly, no. The vast majority of people I met last night were producers whose only interest was in banging Susan. And the actors who were in attendance were of the sort… well… that I walked through the door only to be greeted by an actor blindly wearing a bucket on his head should have been the first clue the night would be a wash. “I’m feeling pale!” he exclaimed right before crashing violently into a column (with a little help from a shove, maybe).

I should have spun on my heels right then, but at that point, I still had hope. So I joined Susan, stepped over bucket-head’s limp heap and into the party. Immediately, Susan was ushered away by some slick producer named Harvey and I was left to my own devices.

I took the chance to seek out Karl Malden or at the very least some Karl Malden-like actor. My plan was clear: approach, and when I was within ear-shot, I’d start my modernized Shakespearian monologue, the one where I cleverly replaced Hamlet’s Gertrude with Hoover. He’d turn around, intrigued, and if I knew actors like I thought I did, would join with me in a mad improvisational set. Onlookers would cheer and applaud as we spurred each other onto greater heights, until we’d collapse in a fit of raucous laughter and sweat.

I scoured the place for the better part of ten minutes, shaking hand after hand of drips asking where Susan was hiding. Alas, the great Serb (or even just a Serbian-like actor) was nowhere to be found. Disappointment wrapped her black shawl around my expectations as I watched the party goers mix and mingle with the intelligence of tuxedoed cattle. I was going to take my leave, when suddenly there was a commotion in the center of the room.

There were excited whoops and squeals and a crowd was gathering, their attention drawn to something. Karl Malden? Did he show? And now he’s treating everyone to some scene craft? I thrust through the throng, all of my eager hopes displacing the blood in my heart.

But when I hook-armed the last man out of my way, all I found was what looked like some impromptu inter-sex Indian leg wrestling competition--men and women lying on the ground, locking legs, flipping each other over. I stood and stared in disbelief.

I came to this party to be enlightened by artists who cared for their craft, artists who existed only to serve their craft, who would be nothing without it. And instead I was watching idiots roll around on the floor like injured apes. Indian wrestling has its place, in a ring of earth prepared with Punjabi herbs, for instance, and as an honorable test of one’s strength and speed. And these boobs were making a mockery of it.

Suddenly, as if being channeled by Gama the Lion himself, I gave a hefty battle cry “Deen, Deen, Elahi!” and stepped forth swinging my arms as a quick warm up before letting loose a fury of flying mares, single and double leg throws, tiger-grabs and leg tears upon opponent after opponent. The crowd erupted in cheers, and fueled my thrashing, drove me to greater heights. Everything was a blur as I shoulder-rammed, bull-poked, and hen-grappled, until finally, there were no more takers, and I stood alone, raucously laughing and covered with sweat.

I caught the eye of Susan, who was laughing too. It wasn’t until later that she explained those weren’t cheers, but terrified screams, that they weren’t wrestling at all but playing some game called Panty Peek-a-Boo. Well, I doubt if I had known that I would have acted differently.

We left shortly after. As for Karl, I’m sure we’ll meet soon.