I will be that old person screaming at the top of my lungs if this day turns into what Memorial Day has turned into: Some strange BBQ Pool Party with commercials running from September 2nd to the 9th of where I can find cheap Pepsi Throwback and grilled chickens in turkeys wrapped in bacon for the big 9/11 Celebration.
I'm actually honestly afraid of this. Drunk twenty three year old assholes who are currently three right now...going to some concert and doing 9/11 shots at some 9/11 memorial concert.
Because I will be the old person (in of course clothes way too young for me with friends whose back tats have slid down the back of their spines to roughly the crack of their asses) hating this awful turn of September 11 events.
We will sit there and scream for them to get off of our lawns because they are bothering us with remembering where we were when the first and then the second plane went in...and made all of us very fearful for years afterwards.
Pretty much what we are doing now. Except, we have not started to sag quite yet.
The sheer hopelessness of September 11 2001 was overwhelming for me. I was awakened by an actress who at the time was married to an actor friend. in New York. Keep in mind it was around 6ish in San Francisco. Keep in mind, I think at the time she thought I was sleeping with him:
Her: SHAUN! HAVE YOU HEARD FROM ASAF??
Me: (Still in bed half groggy) No! Why would he call me now?
Her: (a sort of calm hysteria) A plane just went into The Twin Towers.
I tell her he has not called (along with my half asleep question in my head: Why would he call me all the way in San Francisco before he would call his wife in New York if planes are flying into the towers?), and got off the phone to turn on the television. My husband is right behind me.
We see the first tower smoking and on fire. I stood there thinking "Oh my god. What a horrible accident. All those people on that plane"
That is when the second one came flying in.
"Holy shit. This is not happening. This is not an accident. New York is under attack."
Then we found out about the Pentagon attack. Then more news of the plane that crashed that was heading towards the White House.
Holy shit. *America is under attack* We are going to war.
I stood there. Helpless. I'm sure the same feeling washed upon millions of Americans with the attack at Pearl Harbor. The thing with that situation and 9/11: We now have the technology of watching all unfold in real time. The towers coming down. The people running for their lives. The thousands killed. Humans covered in soot. Right in front of our eyes on television.
When the second one went in, I stood in my apartment in Oakland. I was working for a legal accounting firm at the time in San Francisco. I was supposed to be at work at 8:30. I had to teach a class at BATS Improv that evening.
I stood there and cried. Helpless, I looked at Hans and said: I don't know if I should go to work or not.
But I did. I cried while I showered and put on clothes. I held Hans for a long time before I left. He told me he loved me. He told me "For the love of god, be safe"
I got on BART and headed to downtown San Francisco. No one had anything to say. People were just staring at each other.
I get off at the Embarcadero and there was a mass exodus happening out of San Francisco from people who did not live there. The word had gotten out that they were closing BART soon for security reasons. One of the people leaving was a company member from African American Shakespeare. We were doing The Tempest and he was heading back to the East Bay with the other throng of people heading into the tunnel:
Him: Hey Shaun!
Him: Think we will have rehearsal tomorrow?
I just sort of shrugged. The last thing I was thinking about was theater rehearsals. Matter of fact, I was just sort of numb. So, I shrugged. Walking away from the masses of people going into BART (like a lemming swimming the wrong way downstream) I headed to my office.
Apparently someone else was there before me and left a little note on the door saying the office was closed and the human resource person would get a hold of us. That was when the horrible thought occurred to me: The night before, the owner of the place (who I was his personal assistant) asked me to rebook his flight to Denver from Boston (he was doing legal for Big Dig) than the one I put him on. I was used to these last minute changes and did that. He also had the expendable funds to do these sorts of changes.
The flight I changed for him was American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to LAX. He did not wish to get up that early. I felt really sick to my stomach. I was just glad he made me change that flight.
I head downstairs. I grab some coffee. No one has anything to say. I head with my coffee to my favorite hangout: The cigar shop where I got my cigs.
The owners were all smoking cigars. The regulars were there. I walk in. People started to hug me. Someone handed me a cigar. The owner pulled out a very old bottle of scotch. Keep in mind, it is about 9 or so in the morning in San Francisco. They let me put the scotch in my coffee.
One person toasted to "Better Days" Another man (much more sarcastic), shrugged and toasted to "The End Of The World As We Know It"
Me: Do you feel fine?
Him. I feel fine (takes his scotch shot and slams it).
I head back on one of the last trains back to Oakland. The rest of the day was spent with Hans and I taking the bus to give blood, getting online to check to see if the New York Improv Community was safe... and watching the television.
...which had what it seemed like a horrifying loop of the planes going into the towers. From different angles. With different cameras. Low shot of planes going in. High apartment complex shots of planes going in. The towers coming down in every professional and amateur camera angle you could imagine. Dusty camera shots of running people.
I felt helpless. It was numbing.
Later in the day I called BATS and told them I was cancelling class. A small part of that was because BART was closed to get there. But the main reason?
I found nothing I could teach in improvisational comedy that day. Nothing was particularly that funny I could muster up to teach. Someone later said it would have been therapeutic for a class with laughter. Well. I'm old school. Me cancelling that class on September 11th meant one very important lesson in comedy that I still uphold:
Time + Tragedy = Comedy. I wasn't teaching drama therapy. If I did...I would have moved that class up to 10am that day.
The following week was just as surreal. People finding the dead. George Bush on a megaphone. Him saying he was going to get the people who did this. Me thinking we were about to find Bin Laden and have his head served on a platter.
Instead, years later we got a horrifying grainy picture of a man being hung that sort of had nothing to do with 9/11 in the wrong country.
Ten years later we finally got the guy who orchestrated this. In retrospect that was a huge sigh of relief with a splat of over zealous joy. Then...as our new Time Span of Memory allows us ten years later...back to politicians blaming earthquakes and hurricanes hitting New York as a sign from god that they are too liberal.
Today I got a call from a very old friend. I knew why he was calling. I did not pick up. My phone went to voice mail...which in turns takes the voice mail and sends it to me via email in a mp3.
And there he was. God love him. It was pretty damn dark, this voice mail. All about reflecting pools and the dead.
Nope. Still not that funny. Just sort of a shrug. Give it 20 years. It's going to be hilarious.
Wallmart 2-1 Doritos sale and Bud Light commercials twenty years from now. It's been ten years. We already have us waxing nostalgic on where we were.
We are twenty years away from The BBQ Pool Party. and 9/11 Tequila Shots. And, I don't feel fine. Just stay off my lawn when I'm sixty-four.
Causes Shaun Landry Supports
The Alzheimer's Foundation, NAACP, Breast Cancer Foundation, Gilda's Club.