If you live in our fair city, you’ve seen Hollywood production crews on location sometimes around town. One recent morning, I’m sipping a triple espresso outside Sweet Lady Jane Café & Bakery when a guy – sunglasses dangling on vest – appears at my table saying:

“You’re in my shot.”

I see lights and a camera behind him. A black clapperboard chalked up with the word, “SiliQ”. His shot’s probably for one of those pharmaceutical commercials that seem to last for five minutes. A tall actress stands at the corner of 17th Street: fortyish, pale blue blouse and slacks. She’s about to stroll along Montana Avenue, playing one of the attractive people you see in the ads, living life to the fullest.

“Can you move?” asks the director.

“No thanks,” I reply.

“Huh?”

“I’m fine, really.”

“No … we’re filming here.”

There is no filming notification posted on my table. No blue sawhorses around, marking the crew’s territory. He says this will take fifteen minutes – tops. No problem, I say. I’ll just finish up my book (Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth – highly recommended!), overdue at our local library across the intersection.

“You’re not gonna move?”

“Can’t you just maybe move over a little, so I’m not in your shot?”

“You want me to re-set my entire crew.”

“What I want is for you to buy me a coffee.”

“Oh, come on!”

No, you come on, Doc Hollywood. I’m only here twenty-five years, but Santa Monicans know how this game gets played. I say (as the kids do today), “All. I’m. Asking. For. Is. Another. Espresso.” Preferably iced. He says flatly, “You’re really gonna do this.”

I sense frustration. Exasperation escalates. Familiar juices stirring up inside me – which happens sometimes on caffeine, or alcohol or drugs. So now I’m set to go off on the guy with, like, “Get the (bleep) out of my face, you (bleeping motherbleeper)!“ That’s when anger management class kicks in. And what we learned last night was: “Anything can happen.” Meaning: I get to decide – in the space between feeling the emotion and expressing it – how I respond. Our therapist Greg says, “Freedom is between.” His methods for your madness include: taking deep breaths; asking yourself what would be a better outcome than blowing my stack; and why mess with some person’s poor life? (Even if he is a jerk who could easily come across with a cup of coffee.)

I dial it down. “Keep it on the d” – which is what my girlfriend calls it. Meaning: be deliberate. Proceed with all deliberate speed. The director asks if I could maybe slump down in my seat because I’m just at the edge of his frame. Can do, boss! A tall woman in pale blue – with a new prescription for life – passes my table, strolling west along the avenue …

“Cut! Moving On!”

You know, it’s amazing how a work of art can affect you. (Holding a mirror up to one’s nature, etc.) Philip Roth’s antihero in Sabbath’s Theater – Sabbath – is a sixty-something, ornery loser, fighting everything he hates in the world. I just turned sixty-something, and owe seventy-five cents for an overdue book. I hand a buck across the counter to Kathy, one of the delightful SMPL Montana Branch librarians, and say: “Keep the change! I support your fine institution!” She smiles. Kathy lives here and knows me. She knows I am not to be messed with.

Hank Rosenfeld tries to “claim it, tame it, and aim it,” while helping elders with their memoirs at hankrosenfeld.com.

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