OK, why the title? Why call it, Benedick My Whole Life?
Beyond the play on words, the double-entendre, if you will, I have always loved Shakespeare’s character of Benedick from, “Much Ado About Nothing.” If I had to pick another play on words (pun intended), I would have gone for, “Green Eggs and Hamlet.”
Though I can relate to the Prince of Denmark in many ways, I think I am still closer in personality and character to Benedick. I like ‘guy’ things: sports, fighting, blood, guts, video games, dogs, women, drinking, cigars, football, war movies, action movies, sci-fi movies, and playing the hero. I am a red-blooded American male through and through. It’s just who I am. In our PC world, shouldn’t I get the same understanding and support as any other ‘protected’ class? I didn’t choose this life style. Like Lady Gaga sings, I was born this way.
Of course, I didn’t become like this over night, but the traits and the characteristics were always there. Some parts just took longer than others to reveal themselves. Initially, I was a very shy, repressed kid who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. Just when I was starting to figure things out, my family relocated to Atlanta in 1985. I was forced to start my life all over. New friends. New surroundings. And a totally new culture.
Still…if you have to live in the South, you can find far worse places than Atlanta. (BTW, it’s okay to say you live in Atlanta even if you are 50 miles away from the actual city. Everything here is so spread out that it’s just easier to say, “I live in Atlanta.”)
Two milestones mark my evolution from meek to outgoing: 1) My senior year in high school when I decided to stop being afraid to speak up; and, 2) My sophomore year in college when I discovered the stage. Both of these stories will make a wonderful blog post someday, but, sufficeth to say, I am who I am (thanks, Popeye) to those two events.
The great, big story leads to an event a few years ago when I was not only able to direct a production of, “Much Ado About Nothing,” but also was able to play the role of Benedick. I think, at this point in my life, that my have been the most satisfying time I have ever spent on stage. I had a chance to play across my real-life wife, Susan, and the cast was, without a doubt, the strongest cast I have had the pleasure of directing. I have loved every show I have ever done, but sometimes, you have to put a weaker or more novice actor in places and hope for the best. With “Much Ado,” I didn’t have a single weak performance anywhere. It was one of those magic moments in time that get tagged along with weddings, births, and first love.
With that said, Benedick is a solider, a plain-talker, and a confirmed bachelor. He says whatever is on his mind and loves to suck the marrow of life. Yet, for all his bravado and devil-may-care disposition, he has a huge capacity for love and honor. He will fight for his Beatrice with the same passion as he would in defending a friend or fighting on the field of battle. Once he has pledged his fealty to someone, it takes an awful lot of disappointment or agitation to shake it. And when he has come to believe that he is meant to be wed to Beatrice, nothing can shake him from his committment. He doesn’t care if he has to pick a fight, speak unkind truths, or write a love poem — whatever it takes to show his continued loyalty, he will do it. He can certainly be a dick, but underneath, he is the loyal hound you want when the storm is raging and the intruders are banging at the gate.
I feel I have many of these qualities. I have intense loyalty for people to whom I feel a bond and it takes a lot of failures on their part to shake it once formed. I can be brutally honest with people, a la Simon Cowell, yet have all the patience and compassion in the world for those who deserve it. I am strong-willed, conservative, and have an absolute lust for life! I want to make a difference. And I love my children and my wife completely.
Anyway…that’s basically where I am in life and it seems fit for the ‘About’ page. We’ll see how it (and I) evolve over time. For now, that’s who I am.
At least, in my own mind.