Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why I'm Not An Action Hero

Frank Black--"Headache (live)" (mp3)
Frank Black--"Calistan (live)" (mp3)

Okay, so I will grant Jack Bauer the freedom not to have to eat, go to the bathroom, or sleep during a 24-hour period, but what about a good, old-fashioned headache?

Today was one of those experiences where I get about as close as I'm going to get to being an action hero. My daughter calls and says that a neighbor has called and warned her that there has been a car parked in front of our house for over half an hour.

We've had a number of break-ins in the neighborhood recently, including one yesterday morning where they kicked in the back door and took the tv and a bunch of other stuff.

So, when my daughter calls, I'm headed out of my office as fast as I can, running up the stairs to my car, huffing and puffing as I drive down the hill off campus, and then I start to think. Who is in front of my house and why?

I know I'm going to have to confront him when I get there, and I start to think about what to say. Everything from "Sir, can I help you?" to "Yo, motherfucker!"

And as I race home, the adrenalin begins to rush through me, my heart beating quickly, the superhuman, Reader's Digest strength coursing through me in case I have to rip the door off of a burning car or anything.

Like Jack Bauer, I am going to rescue my daughter.

When I get near the front of my house, I see the guy, see his car, a non-descript blue Buick or something. His window is down. He's sitting there with his eyes closed.

"Sir, can I help you?" I ask. He does not respond.

"Sir?"

He looks at me. "Oh," he says, as it's now clear he's been looking down at his cell phone, not sleeping, "I'm an insurance agent. I'm just making some calls."

"Well," I say, "You've been here for over half an hour. You're scaring my daughter." I motion towards my house.

"Oh, sorry," he says. "I'll move along." And though I pull into the driveway, he continues to sit there and finish up a call. When I get out of the car, he pulls aways slowly.

And that's it. The big showdown. I go into the house and talk to my daughter, explain to her who he was, and tell her I have to go back to work. She nods and continues with her homework.

But on the way back, all of the unused adrenalin hanging around, my head starts to pound from stress, anticipation, and relief. And soon I've got one hell of a headache.

So what must it be like for a guy like Jack Bauer, who is tortured, wounded, comes back from death, decides to let people he knows die, stops nuclear terrorists, overcomes heroin addiction and more, all in a days's work? I think he must get crazy headaches. I think that he must have a pounding in his brain almost all of the time. Maybe that's why he talks in a husky whisper, why he has that look on his face, why he seems so unhappy, like the whole world is against and doesn't appreciate what he's done for it.

Oh, right, I forgot. The whole world does seem to be unappreciative and against him. No wonder he has a headache. No wonder I'm not an action hero.

Frank Black, aka Black Francis of the Pixies, has had a stellar solo career. These songs come from his cd, The Black Sessions--Live in Paris.

1 comment:

Daytimerush said...

So funny! I used to be a huge fan of 24---never missed an episode. But, it got old that Jack never smiled. (probably 'cause he has a constant headache, like you said)
I like a man that smiles.