This is not a tapeball

someone's gate
This is not my yard.

I keep thinking I’m not going to play tapeball. We play for just five or 10 minutes at the beginning of every rehearsal. At first, I always played along with the actors and director and stage manager. It’s a metaphor. Or an analogy. It’s a paper ball wadded up and wrapped with tape.

Everyone stands in a circle. Someone swats it into the air and someone else swats it back. We count with each swat, “One…Two…Three…Oh!” It falls and someone picks it up and started again, “One…Two…” The goal being to count together and breathe together and keep it aloft as long as possible.

Yesterday they got to 32 on the first try. I heard them from my office window, where I was finishing work. Yes we rehearse in my house, okay? It’s not at a big fancy theatre with a huge rehearsal space and a union-sanctioned breakroom. It’s the basement, with a piece of carpeting from Menards and the eight-foot folding table I bought for Thanksgiving as the props table. While it’s not as glamorous as I envision, when I envision myself as “the playwright,” there’s no commute and I can let the dog out during breaks.

I always say I don’t want to join because it makes the number go down. The more people, the more bodies reaching to swat the ball, the more variables, the more half-swats because someone else will probably get it, the more fallen tapeballs. It’s an analogy, or a metaphor. For teamwork, or creating a theatrical organism where you’re all working as one, aware of each other, filling in for each other while also trusting each other to do what they’re here to do, doing whatever it takes to keep the ball – the story? the experience? the show? – aloft.

But my swat at the tapeball is done. The script is written and in their hands, so I could just as well be in Venice if I had the money. Not really, because I’m still changing a few lines, which only become obvious after sitting in rehearsal and watching the actors and talking with Patrick and trying something slightly different. There keep being one or two more things that need cutting or clarifying. Sometimes it doesn’t even mean rewriting, but simply sharing some thought that was behind a line. Patrick changes a direction to an actor, who changes their interpretation, which triggers different reactions in the other actors, who shift the world right there on the Menards carpeting.

So I guess it’s appropriate for me to join in tapeball, even if the number goes down.

Sit and deliver

You are the reason candy bars cost two bucks.
You are the reason candy bars cost two bucks each.

Something is wrong with this chair. Lately stories won’t come to it. Lately all I think about are plays. Plays I’m writing, plays I’m directing, plays I’m reading, plays I’ve been watching. How they work and why they don’t work and what to do to make them work better.

Outside the window, a man is walking past in a suit with a red tie. Is it that warm? Yesterday at this time I looked out at snow on the roof. I tried to think of a story that had happened the day before. I wrote about watching Beth’s show open to a standing ovation. Yes it was probably a lot of friends, but they didn’t have to stand. Or did they? I love watching standing ovations from the back of the theatre. Some people shoot up immediately. Others follow quickly, like “Yes, yes, me too.”

Next are people who seem to realize everyone else is standing and they ought to as well. Once on their feet, they become part of a fleeting community celebrating performer and audience and the show they’ve created by being together.

There’s a final group, my favorite people to watch. Their immobile backs clearly state that they’re not going to get up just because everyone else is. They wait for spouses and friends to come to their senses and realize that sitting and clapping is praise enough for anyone.

Of that sensible group, a few inevitably peel off and get to their feet. They become, inflation-wise, part of the problem. The lonely few remain, hanging to their original measure of praise. And somehow they look suddenly like people who didn’t enjoy the show very much.

This is a chair that many have stuck to, especially on hot summer days. It’s leather, allegedly, but not thick durable leather. It’s mostly cracked and flaking, especially at the top, where shoulder blades dig in, and whence a ripping sound issues when you peel yourself or your tee-shirt away. There are of course people who can’t stand, or people whose limbs require that they take a while to do so. It’s silly to over-generalize. But that’s the story from the back of the theatre. And lately, theatre is all I seem to think about.


We are here to reflect bits of sky by the river where someone tossed us.
We are here to reflect bits of sky right by the river where someone tossed us.

I went to my new writing group. It was much different than my other writing group. We didn’t spend most of the time reading the play out loud. Everyone had already read it thoroughly enough to quote lines and express highly specific opinions on small moments that drive the drama one way or another. They weren’t shy about asking the playwright questions that they expect an immediate answer to. “Did you want us to think she was angry on page 52, or that she really didn’t give a shit?”

In my other group, we follow the Chicago Dramatists model. “The playwright is not here to explain or defend. You can ask questions but the playwright is not here to answer them. You are here to reflect your experience of the play back to the playwright.” I like that approach, but this felt so free. It was only a tiny bit of a bloodbath and nobody seemed to mind. There were also some nice Ikea dressers that the host’s wife had just put together. They looked like solid pine, and I was sad that we hadn’t sucked up and bought one last time we were at Ikea, instead of having another peculiarly Ikea-style non-argument. Clothes are everywhere in here. On the ottoman in front of me, on the radiator beside me, on the small shelving unit we’re pretending is as good as a dresser.

Afterward, I dropped off one playwright at the el and drove another home. The first talked about his writing method, which is somewhat elliptical and seems to result in plays that are hundreds of pages long which will get cut later, when the arc emerges. The other was exhausted after an 8-hour rehearsal for a play of hers that’s being produced by her alma mater. They are so serious about their work, the writers in this group. I feel like a recovering dilettante.

After I dropped them off, I turned on the radio for the last minutes of my drive. A scientist on NPR was talking about the thrill of discovery. The interviewer made some reference to William Blake — how what the scientist was describing sounded more like poetry than hard science. The scientist said something about how art is the highest science, or the highest science is art. He said that while working at the bench is necessarily careful and precise and painstaking, the moments before and after can be as expansive and poetic as any artist’s process.

He referred to the Malcolm Gladwell book about 10,000 hours. You have to put in 10,000 hours in order to become truly great at anything, and once you do that, it’s all kind of the same, up in that echelon. These young writers in my new group seem to be cramming in their hours as fast as they can, while I am hoping mine have accumulated behind me like Pigpen’s dustcloud. Kind of like I hope that on today’s dog walk I encounter a splendid antique dresser in an alley that has been preparing itself for our bedroom, slowly and methodically, in someone else’s lab.

Business as usual

trick or treaters
Out of candy, except for 6 fun-size Almond Joys in the sideboard.

“This street is dead,” I heard some boy shout last night, when we’d turned off the porch light and shut the shades and hung a sign saying, “Out of Candy.” I’d contemplated writing, “Sorry, Out of Candy,” but reasoned that we’d bought plenty and I didn’t owe anyone an apology. But also I didn’t want to get egged. I settled for adding an exclamation mark, like we too were stunned. “Out of Candy!”

I probably wouldn’t have heard the kid, our windows were fastened tight, but I was out with Django. She was both fascinated and terrified by the walking hordes of costumed marauders with their lit-up candy bags, unzipped backpacks, cavernous pillowcases, and crinkly grocery bags. Or was that me. Mostly older kids now, in the dark, trolling for houses that still had candy to hand out. The guy on the next block who’d set up with a laundry bin full of candy AND bloody Mary fixings for the grownups, was cleaned out and cleaning up. “No matter how much you buy, it’s never enough.” He wasn’t nearly as cheerful as he’d been on our early walk, and I learned he’d just seen two kids peeing on the side of his house.

“I told them, have a little respect for the neighborhood,” he said. But they shouted back something nasty and went the other way.

“How old were they?” I asked.

“Maybe early 20s.”

Django and I crossed the street to avoid an oncoming horde. “A doggie!” I heard a witch yell. We walked past the one house still open for business. “How do you still have candy,” I asked the couple standing at a table set up on their front walk.

“Starlight mints,” said the woman.

We came home through the back gate. Instead of running up the stairs, Django sniffed and listened to the night. I was glad Tashi and I changed our rehearsal to tomorrow, so she wouldn’t be walking to the train on All Hallows Eve. I need her safe for opening night. So instead, she’d called earlier and told me the whole show like a radio play, while Dave manned the candy station. I think in every show I ever work on, I want to do one rehearsal like that, audio only. It was strange and wonderful.

“This street is dead,” I heard the kid yell out front, and I decided it was time to get inside.

Your grand plan for yesterday

Music changing hands.

The weird thing about rehearsal every night and rewrites plus regular work every day is that when it’s over I feel like, What do I do now? Yesterday I woke up all headachy from celebrating the night before. The script is done. There are things that could be clearer, yes, but I don’t want to collapse the flower, press each petal under glass. I want some push and pull.

It’s like The Tell-Tale Heart, which Dave recites to me periodically as he memorizes it for a show. In a typical talkback, someone inevitably would ask Edgar Allan Poe, “Okay so is the old man his landlord? I assumed that, but I don’t know that I actually know that. Maybe he’s a relative, an uncle or something–”

“Okay, thanks for your comment–”

“Or if it’s the old man who is the lodger, and the narrator is actually the landlord, that would change the dynamic for me.” So, Edgar will have her pen and notebook on Monday. She will write down every comment. Then she will set it on the sideboard and forget it for a week or a month. Pick it up after Halloween and see what jumps out.

I’m already preparing myself for the let-down after the performances. It’s a double let-down. The event is past, and so there’s the classic post-vacation, post-party, post-partum funk. Then there’s also the disappointment I’ve felt before with the readings or the festivals I do, where I feel like I’ve written something good and the world was supposed to come knocking so they could produce it at Kennedy Center. When they don’t, I go through the typical artist’s hell, the flip-flopping between “I’m not good enough” and “how come nobody thinks I’m good enough,” a dog chasing its tail as these two meaningless extremes circle ‘round and ‘round.

But I’m prepared for that. Maybe I can sidestep it. And I have slightly different reasons for wanting this play out there. I’m angry about that boy. I know the play is not his story. I don’t know what his story was. But that just makes me angrier. At last, I feel the thing Fred Gaines talked about as his reason for writing plays. That it’s a social call. I still don’t exactly understand it or know if it will happen in that way again, but I wish Fred were still around so I could at least say, “I finally get it.”

Yesterday’s headache finally faded last night when we saw Chris Smither at Old Town. Fern and Frank called, last minute, to invite us. They had what is perhaps the best four-top at Old Town, table Z. It’s at the back, stage right, at the perfect sightline. The only one possibly better is right next to it—I meant to check but forgot. Perhaps it’s table Y? It has the advantage of being on the aisle, so there’s even more legroom.

Somehow I hadn’t appreciated Chris Smither before. I knew and liked a couple of his songs, but of course I’d never spent an evening with him. And to be sitting there with Fern, who is negotiating her sentence with such grace and wisdom and humor, it almost makes me jealous. No, it makes me feel I’ve got an example, a role model to follow if and when the C-bomb drops just when I’m planning a whole other set of adventures for myself and my best friend.

“What a kick in the teeth,” I remember her saying the first time we saw them after the diagnosis. I keep hearing that, as they navigate their choices and do things like treat friends to an evening of music. And now I have a whole new body of music to listen to and be inspired by.

Smither introduced one new song as “a classic blues progression that you’ve heard a thousand times. But I haven’t written one in a while, so…” That was the song that made me buy the album on iTunes this morning. There were easily a dozen that could have prompted the purchase, but this was the song I needed to hear again immediately.

It ain’t what I know that makes me blue
It’s what I thought I knew

After the concert, we waited for Fern and Frank to buy a CD and get it signed. I had on my new birthday boots and my new birthday coat and the felted wool fez I got in Dingle, back when we traveled instead of fixing up the house, and I felt the confidence of my matchiness. I saw Fern and Frank at the front of the line, talking to Smither, who had a big floppy grin on his face. What a great guy. I went up with my phone, a little late, as they started to move along for the next people in line. “Can I just get a picture?” I said, snapping away, secretly remembering the no-pictures announcement before the concert.

They all leaned in, and I got a nice shot to send my friends. “I love your hat,” said Smither. “It’s great, isn’t it?” I beamed, proud of myself for not blurting out, “I got it in Ireland!” My uncomfortable post-concert exchange with John Gorka a few months ago apparently taught me something. It’s so lovely to think that one is making progress.

Crowd controls

wildflower print
I keep thinking it says “be past forever.”

We went to a benefit last night and stayed longer than I’d planned; almost an hour. It wasn’t bad at all—a nice bar, live music, a good cause. It was a casual low-cost benefit to augment the theater’s more traditional pricey benefit. I talked to a couple of playwrights I like, and even met someone new. I had a snack. But still I watched the clock. Midway through a perfectly nice conversation I said to Dave, “We have to go.”

Next, we drove to Home Depot so Dave could order a 30-dollar storm window he’d seen advertised on their website. On the way, we stopped at CVS for Tylenol, and remembered all sorts of things we needed: Kleenex, conditioner, foaming hand soap. We ended up spending more time in there than at the benefit. Dave tried to talk me into a no-installation-needed screen door that came in a package the size of a hand towel. “Let’s get out here,” I said.

Up front, I waited at the counter for a clerk. Dave stood at a self-checkout counter and laughed at me. “Oh yeah,” I finally realized, “they don’t do that anymore.”

We checked ourselves out. Rather, we self-checked ourselves out. None of my items would scan. A clerk came over and demonstrated the proper technique. “I know how,” I wanted to say, “I’m just not doing that right now.” Instead of swishing each item across the scanner area, I was setting each item down. I was busy thinking about the benefit. Should we have stayed longer? Did I spoil Dave’s good time? Was I missing anything?

Dave finished scanning while the clerk looked on, smiling. I noticed that Dave no longer gets angry at self-checkout counters. Not long ago, he used to fume through the whole endeavor. And as soon as something went wrong, forget it. But four self-checkout registers and one clerk mean everyone can get out faster, even if everyone needs help. It’s crowd-sourcing for Kleenex.

When we got back in the car I said, “I wonder if we should go back.”

“Huh?” said Dave.

“To the benefit.”

“You want to go back?”

“No,” I admitted, “I just always feel, at events like that, like there were more people I should have talked to, more better things I should have said.”

“I was surprised at how many people I knew,” said Dave. We went into Home Depot, where Dave learned that the 30-dollar storm window advertised on the Home Depot website isn’t an item you can actually buy.

While he considered whether to order a different one, I headed to the faux metal tile display. I found a pattern I liked for the bar backsplash, and it looked easy to install. I brought it back to Dave, who had decided to do further storm window research. “I’m getting this,” I said loudly, because I knew in advance he would scorn a faux material.


“Yep. It’s exactly what I want. It looks weathered. It looks real.”

“Okay,” said Dave. “You don’t want to use real metal?”

“They don’t have real metal. What’s wrong with this?”

“It’s just…” Dave peered closely at the panel. “It’s strange how this aging effect repeats at the same point on each square.”

Suddenly all I could see was the same repeating smudge on every fake metal tile within the panel. Like playwrights on a banquette. I sighed, and returned it to the display. Dave pointed out the poorly executed backsplash in the display photo, where you can see gaps between the panels. “They didn’t even bother to line them up right,” he noted.

We left without buying anything, which doesn’t happen often at Home Depot. The regular checkout lanes were blocked, so we went through self-checkout.

[note: to learn more about the artwork, by Gwen Frostic, visit]

How to become the Weird People

Bumper sticker on a pickup I passed the other day
Everything has consequences.

In the play we’re doing for the Citizen’s Play Festival, there’s a cage, a dog crate large enough for an actor playing a 12-year-old boy. At first I assumed we wouldn’t use a real cage. After all, it’s just a staged reading. Even in a full production, a real cage would probably be too literal. The designer would come up with something better.

But as the director pointed out, with a 10-minute segment in a fest you need to communicate basic story elements quickly. The kid lives in a cage, it would be good to have a cage. One of the actors had one in his garage, so yesterday morning I drove over  to pick it up.

When I returned, I parked out front and carried first the metal base into the house. Dave was busy practicing, but Django came over and sniffed the base when I set it on the living room rug. I went back for the cage part and she followed me out. Down the block, a neighbor was playing ball with his kids. The cage was heavy and unwieldy. I set it down a few times on my way to the front door. Django laid down in the grass, far from the cage, watching my progress.

When I got to the front door, Dave came out and carried in the cage. I turned to call Django and saw the neighbor girl from down the block. “Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” I replied. “Come on, Django.” Django remained on the lawn, watching the crate move into the house.

“Is that a dog cage?” asked the girl.


“What’s it for?”

“It’s just a prop for a play we’re rehearsing here.”


This was the longest conversation we’d ever had. I added, “I think Django thinks it’s for her.”

The little girl and I looked at Django, who was now looking away from the front door. “That’s what my dad thought, too.”

“Come on, Django,” I called. “It’s gone now. It’s not for you.” Django came inside and the girl went back to her dad. I imagined her telling him, “It’s not for the dog, it’s for a play they’re practicing in their living room.” And I imagined one more weird thing about the weird couple being added to the rolls.

Night riding

two dogs playing
Equal status.

Yesterday I did the first night ride of the year on my bike. I battled my fear almost the whole time. Every time I heard a car coming up behind me I would briefly turn my head back, hoping that would help them notice me. I would hope the driver was the type of person who considered hitting me enough of a mistake or sin or inconvenience that they’d pass carefully by.

Faith had come over in the morning so Otto could play with Izzy. We watched the two dogs wrestle and I fed Django treats so she wouldn’t keep going over and breaking them up, which was amusing to me but not desirable when you’re trying to help your dog (Otto) recover from the loss of his pack leader so you set up play dates with dogs who actually play (Izzy, who’d been dropped off by Kismet on her way to work). Faith told me she  rides her bike everywhere from Spring through Fall. She gave me advice on good bike streets – Damen, Wilson, Leland – and said night riding is her favorite. “Especially in the Fall, when the streets are quiet and the leaves above you are turning color…” It sounds poetic, but then there are the cars.

It’s not that I think the car wants to hurt me, it’s just that it can. It’s about status. A bike object is low status because it can be so easily hurt by a car object . But I can’t think like that. I have to remember that both are controlled by humans, who are equal status. So I rode my bike to the first rehearsal for Boy Small. The director, Emmi Hilger, let me stow my bike on her inside back porch so I didn’t even need to use my lock.

At rehearsal, Emmi had the actors read the script once, then she led a discussion of it. She has an uncanny sense for knowing what to ask and when to say nothing and how to gently guide people into speaking freely. Then she had them read the script again, with all they’d learned or confirmed or discovered. It was humbling. Because I’m already working with Emmi and one of the actors (the amazing Chris Popio) on the WTA piece, I was comfortable speaking just as myself, not trying to be what I think a playwright is supposed to be (silent and enigmatic). By telling what I am seeing in my head, I can learn how much is on the page. And I can learn what else is there that I haven’t even seen, which helps me go forward. I feel like I’ve lucked out in both these pieces, to have actors who are both powerful and nuanced performers and so insightful and articulate about character and all the little moments that connect into a play.

Faith has given me a worksheet she uses in developing a play. It forces you to state things like conflict and premise. Things I often avoid or resent because I want to work in the dark. I don’t want to commit to definites because I’m afraid either I won’t fulfill them or in fulfilling them I’ll miss an opportunity for something better. But the questions stay with me. What is the question the play is asking? How does the central character change? If I can be clear on these they will free me to ride. My power is that if this play fails I can just write another one. Try again, fail again, fail better, as Beckett said.

After rehearsal I rode home. Ainslie is another good street at night. Lots of speed bumps but not many cars. I rode over the bridge at Lawrence behind a guy on his bike, carrying a grocery bag. The only time I actually felt scared was when I realized that I’d just spent the last few moments enjoying the quiet dark and cool air so much that I’d forgotten to worry about speed bumps and cars and ambushes. I tried to make up for it by worrying harder in the moments ahead.

One of those annoying dream posts

House up on jacks while new foundation is being poured
Eventually it will be a new foundation for an old house.

It was late at night and I was working in some office. I went across to the ladies room, pushed the door open, and thought, “It’s late and no one’s around. If I scream no one will hear me.” So I checked the stalls. First one, empty. Second one, empty. Third one, a guy was standing in there looking at me.

He was young and white-skinned. He quickly explained that he wasn’t an attacker, he just wanted to return this big ring of keys he’d found but didn’t know how. It made perfect sense, and we walked together down the hall to a party where my brother Rolando was. I was sure Rolando would be able to solve the key ring dilemma but he was busy just then, in a circle of people, so my new friend and I went to wait at one of the bar tables scattered nearby. Other guests were milling around. A woman friend was standing at our bar table and I introduced her to my new friend. He was so cute and she was so cute, they’d be perfect together. But when I started explaining how we’d met in the bathroom, I realized that my new friend kind of sounded like a psychopath. Then I realized that he could have been lying about wanting to return the keys and it was perfectly likely he’d been waiting to attack someone. It was suddenly awkward.

The basis for this dream seems obvious. Yesterday I was late for my playwriting class. I rang the buzzer at the building’s entrance, a woman answered, I said who I was, and she buzzed me in. From there it’s a short walk to the elevator which takes you up to the second floor, where the offices and classrooms are. They’re very careful about letting people into the building. They always call down and check who you are before they buzz you in. There’s a sign on the door that reads, “Please do not let anyone into the building behind you. Everyone must be buzzed in individually.” Except how do I tell that to the young dark-skinned man who followed me in, so closely I couldn’t have shut the door behind me without physically pushing him out?

I hoped he was headed somewhere other than the elevator. Nope, he followed me into the elevator. I pushed 2, and hoped he’d push a different button. Nope, he didn’t push a button. That worried me more. He was wearing a hat and he wasn’t smiling. I thought about making small talk, maybe about the great weather, but if he did have bad intentions he might take me for soft, so I held on to my late-for-class scowl. At floor 2, he followed me out of the elevator and into the theatre offices. What was this guy’s problem? He stopped at the front desk and I kept walking. If they wanted to yell at me for letting someone else into the building they’d have to catch me first. I snuck into class, which had already started, and forgot all about the guy. When I came out at break, he was sitting on a couch, sorting through headshots. I smiled tentatively at him, feeling like an idiot. He smiled slightly back.

So clearly my brain lodged those few moments of vague fear of a possible elevator attack and rearranged them, as it likes to do in dreams, into an incident involving a bathroom. But why did my brain switch the situation from being wrongly founded in fear to being wrongly founded in trust? And why did it change the color of the person’s skin from black to white? It’s moments like this that make me suspect my subconscious is either a lot wiser than the rest of me or a lot more devious.

One good lie

blurry crowd
What’s not to believe?

I got an email inviting me to audition for a show filled with lies. For the audition, I have to tell a three-minute lie, as outrageous as I like. How hard can that be? So I accepted and figured something would come to me. But now the audition is just days away and I’m starting to panic.

I’ve come up with two so far, one about a friend’s strange restaurant behavior and one about accidentally killing my piano teacher. Both sound good in my head, but when I start telling them out loud, I trail off. I lose my sense of purpose, which at least tells me something about why I like true stories, even when they’re not outrageous. They’re true, so they reveal something about something, even if I don’t always know exactly what the something is. But what does lying reveal? So far, I’ve lied only to hide things. But then again, a lie is just a fictional story and I’ve written those, so this shouldn’t be any different. But it is. I’m thinking about cancelling my audition, but I don’t want to chicken out.

Last night my brother Rolando came over. His friends have opened a hardware store, Matty K’s, and we were going there for a sort of gardening pep rally. Rolando came early to bring us gifts of dog food. Their dear old family dog passed away last month, so they had boxes of treats and bags of food which I coveted. My plan was to pass it on to Zoe’s new owner, because the Katharine Hepburn of Horner Park has also passed on, and Zoe was now living with one of the B’s.

There are two B’s, B-e and B-y. For months we’ve emailed each other to schedule Zoe’s walks. We’ve also tried to plan a dinner together, because the Hepburn sisters gave us checks to dine at Blackbird, as a Zoe thank you. We’ve tossed dates around and B-e even made reservations twice, but something always comes up. Yet when Miss Hepburn died, we found ourselves suddenly able to wrangle ourselves and husbands and bottles of beer and whisky for pizza at a local BYOB. It was soon enough after Miss Hepburn’s death that it didn’t feel real, and we had a boisterous time.

I planned to email B-e and tell her I had food to pass on for Zoe – it’s even her brand – but B-e had already emailed to say she’d brought Zoe back to live with Miss Hepburn’s sister. She convinced her that we didn’t mind continuing the walks, and Zoe is good company and good protection. So in a little while I’ll go over and pick her up for a walk. But first, I need my lie.

Last night, after Rolando parked the car and we had dinner, we walked over to Matty K’s. We passed a man dressed in a plumed page’s costume. He looked exactly like a royal chicken, with a plumed headpiece and puffy satin middle and tights. I wished I had my phone out, but he didn’t look like he would appreciate a picture. He was smoking a cigarette and adjusting his headpiece. We continued on to the store, where we had cookies and root beer and got fired up about gardening.

When we left, the royal chicken was still standing on Western, greeting people going into an event. If this were a lie, something outrageous would happen right here. But because it’s true, all I have is a blurry picture, because I grabbed my phone in time but didn’t stop to focus because I was afraid of getting yelled at. I don’t know if I’m cut out for lying, if I don’t even have the nerve to get a decent picture of an outrageous apparition placed right in my path like a golden egg.