I OWE A DEBT TO CORNELIUS CRANE CHASE. In fact, every guy who has ever over-attempted to be, well, hero-like, owes Mr. Chase for teaching us to not take ourselves too seriously.
If you’ve ever tried to plan an epic family vacation that turned into a disaster; Cornelius taught us to laugh it off.
If you’ve ever attempted to orchestrate a family Christmas that Norman Rockwell would return from the dead to paint, only to have it turn bad faster than an under-cooked turkey; take heart. C.C. Chase showed us that the effort was worth it.
No doubt about it. Cornelius Crane “Chevy” Chase has been an important role model for me and all of us Men Of A Certain Age.
It’s 7:38 on a Friday night. I’m sitting at a new desk typing this post. The desk was made for us by my Amazing-Missus’ twin brother. It is fashioned from four cast iron legs from an old drill press. It is amazing and so are my Bro-In-Law's welding and creative skills.
I feel, as I’m sitting here at the new desk, listening to Simon and Garfunkel through my Grado Labs headphones, a new burst of creativity. I feel like I could write the next great American novel.
But wait. Images of Chevy Chase in his film “Funny Farm” run through my mind. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen “Funny Farm”!?
Chevy plays a sports writer in NYC. He and his wife move to an idyllic little farm in Redbud, Vermont, where he’s finally going to write that novel he’s been outlining in his head for years.
In true Chevy Chase style, the story turns to hilarious disaster. And I’m reminded to keep things in perspective.
When our oldest son was in pre-school, thirty some years ago, his teacher called his mother aside and whispered, “Do you mind if I ask what your husband does for a living?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Well, today we were sitting in a circle and each child was sharing what their daddy does for a living. When it was Corey’s turn, he started crying and said, ‘Don’t ever ask me that again.’”
It wasn’t that I was a drug-dealer or human trafficker per se. It’s just that he didn’t know how to explain exactly what I did for a living. In fact, I had a hard time explaining it myself. At that time I was what they call a youth ministry consultant. See what I mean?
Also, at that time I was an aspiring writer. I had majored in journalism at the University of Tulsa. I really wanted to be the next J.D. Salinger.
But it’s hard to tell people you’re a writer. It’s one of those jobs that will make your kid cry and say: don’t ever ask me what my daddy does. It’s not like farmer, mechanic, teacher, race car driver, rodeo clown, fireman, you get it.
How do you even know when you’re a writer?
Chuck Sambuchino in Writer’s Digest magazine: “The truth, and you know it down deep, is that it’s not the published book that makes you a writer. You’re a writer because of the things you notice in the world, and the joy you feel stringing the right words together so they sound like music. You’re a writer because you can imagine something in such detail that it comes to life. You’re a writer because you’re obsessed with making your ideas clearer, tighter, fiercer. You’re a writer because you have every reason to stop (it takes too much time, pays too little, and the rejection hurts too terribly), but you can’t do it. It’s not that you love to write so much as you need to write.”
If Chuck is right, I’m going to say it out loud: I’m a writer (at least as an avocation).
After all, I do now have a really cool writing desk. Maybe someday there will be a picture of it on Wikipedia along with an article about some guy known as Pops that wrote a beloved novel called, “That Gone Girl Killed The Mockingbird”.
And then I hear Chevy Chase as “Andy Farmer”, his character in “Funny Farm” say, “As a novelist I turned out to be a pretty good sportswriter.”