Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Desperately Seeking Gracie

One of the more interesting side effects of being divorced, I've been noticing, is that I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about all the women in my past that I should have married instead.

I've had almost nine months to narrow down the numerous candidates and, just this morning, I arrived at my final decision. Here's who I should have married instead:

Her name is (was) Gracie Fields. She was one of the leading British stage comediennes of her day. Armed with only a gorgeous voice and bags of personality, Gracie reached the peak of her popularity in the late 1930s as Europe prepared once again for war.

True, she's not technically part of my past. But she is part of The Past; the larger, all-encompassing past to which my past--and your past as well--are inextricably enmeshed. So I consider her fair game. That is, if she'll still have me.

I had a chance to marry Gracie in early 1940. This was right after she'd split up with her first husband, Archie Pitt, a struggling music hall comedian. Yet before I made my move, she got married again; this time to that asshole film director Monty Banks.

The problem was I could never find the words to tell Gracie that I loved her. I couldn't even find myself. For in 1940, I did not exist.

Oh, sure, I might have existed as eternal ether, hovering outside and beyond linear time as a disembodied essence waiting to be given earthly form. But high-class tangible reality of the sort that Gracie inhabited? Well, I just wasn't really part of that scene.

By the time 1973 rolled around and I finally entered this limiting spatio-temporal reality which is only a mere illusion concealing the underlying divine force which permeates the cosmos and collapses all perceivable time into a single mystical point, Gracie was living in the Isle of Capri with her third husband and only six more years to live. It didn't matter, really. I still didn't have the words to tell her I loved her. Even though I now existed, all I could say in 1973 was "abble-baw-baw-guggle".

When Gracie passed away in 1979, I was only six Earth years old. In order to avoid dwelling on the cosmic misfortune which had prevented our marrying, I soon shifted my romantic intentions to one Miss April Knapp--the cute little girl from kindergarten whose hand had felt so warm and soft when we played "Red Rover" at recess.

I never forgot about Gracie, though. April might have had soft hands, perty hair, and was right there in front of me. But being only six years old herself, she hadn't yet developed anything slightly approaching the unrivaled charisma and beauty of our Gracie. For instance, no amount of after-school hand-holding and cheek-kissing would ever erase the timeless image of Gracie singing "Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye)" for the boys sailing off to smash Hitler's Reich. Gracie knew right from wrong, all right. And she knew how to make it sexy. There'll never be another girl like Gracie.

But Gracie's dead. And I'm here. Heartbroken, I kill my time in this limiting spatio-temporal reality as Gracie is now the one to hover above and beyond me as pure and timeless essence. At some point, I too shall leave my present form and experience formlessness once more among the eternal ether. Such is the never-ending cycle of birth and rebirth; the never-ending procession of opportunities fulfilled and opportunities squandered. O, my beloved Gracie, how much of our estrangement was dictated by the oppressive neutrality of cosmic fate?

What am I saying? I don't believe in fate.

I believe in choice. Just like Gracie did!

I have a choice. I can sit here and wallow in self-pity. Or I can go after the gal I should have married a long time ago!

I'm gonna get my gal Gracie!

I've got a plan to make it happen. It's not gonna be easy, but it can be done, by gum! And here's how:

I. I will die and become disembodied essence once more.

II. Thus, my existence will become paradoxically twofold at the point my existence ceases between:

a) The perceivable composite individual that did exist and now exists only as a point of reference in linear historical memory

b) the formless essence which remains after the crossover via physical expiration to cosmic timelessness.


III. If the disembodied essence of Gracie Fields has not been given a new physical form by the time of my death, the formless half of my now-dual existence will have achieved the objective of coexisting with Gracie in a state of formlessness. (No sex, but at least we'll be together in spirit)

I know exactly what you're thinking. Well, Will, that sounds all fine and dandy. But what about the possibility that by the time of your death, Gracie has been given a new physical form and your formless state will not be able to co-exist with her formless state seeing as how she will no longer exist in a state of formlessness?

No problem!

If I arrive in the eternal ether to find Gracie's formlessness has already been shaped into a new form, rather than engage myself in a long and mistake-prone search for whatever earthly form she might have taken, I will instead fix my cosmic sights on the older and easily recognizable form of Gracie Fields from the year 1940 (which exists as a fixed composite entity within the navigable framework of linear historical memory)--ed.

More importantly, 1940 is the year that Gracie left her first husband and married that asshole Monty Banks.

If I can time this mission just right and get to 1940 before Monty Banks comes a'wooing, I just might have a chance to rewrite a little romantic history.

But remember, this is all part of a larger question of form emerging out of formlessness. What form should I take? Going back to 1940 is only part of the equation. Who should I go back to 1940 as?

Easy. This guy. George Formby.

Formby was himself a major star of British music hall and cinema. In fact, you should look up some of his songs. Extremely fucking funny. Personally, I always thought it was a shame that he and Gracie never got married. They seemed such a perfect fit. True, he did have a wife. But I remember reading that it wasn't a particularly happy marriage. Perhaps this is my chance to do something good not only for myself, but for George Formby as well.

Besides, as George Formby, I will have insider access to a 1940 British music hall world, thus increasing the likelihood of a romantic backstage rendezvous with a 1940 Gracie Fields.

Okay. Recap. The mission again:

1. Commit suicide in order to return without form to the eternal ether.
2. See if a formless Gracie Fields is anywhere about.
3. If a formless Gracie Fields has already been given a new earthly form, I'll then recreate myself in the form of a 1940 George Formby in order to gain physical access to a 1940 Gracie Fields.

And most importantly,

4. When I finally come face to face with my beloved Gracie, try not to get nervous and, for heaven's sake, just be myself!

Very simple. Die. Take a look around. Get reborn if I have to.

Okay, I'm off to get the razor blades!

Wish me luck!

I know Gracie is!

Can't you hear her?

Well, then, click on the lyrics below and let's set sail!

"Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.
Cheerio. Here I go. On my way.

"Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.
Not a tear, but a cheer. Make it gay.

"Give me a smile I can keep all the while
In my heart while I'm away.

"Till we meet once again, you and I,
wish me luck as you wave me goodbye!"