2 AM Thursday 12 July 2012 Nunhead Heights
My abuser smiled at me from the other side of Lower John Street.
I had seen his name on the guest list for my free show in Soho. His wife had made the reservation. Or was that his daughter?
I was going to send an email to her. “Are you with that guy or are you not with that guy? If you are with that guy, I will not let him into my show.”
But I didn’t send that email. It was close to show time so she probably wouldn’t be checking her email, and how could he have the nerve to show his face? It must be someone else, I hoped.
Near show time, there he was – 70ish, old and frail – the man who changed my life for the worse eight years ago. He was there with his 30ish young wife and her even younger sister – proximity to youth can make man look ancient. I tried to wave him away while scowling at him.
He must not have noticed. He walked across the street to the club door.
The shows leading up to Edinburgh are the most difficult. It’s when I realize I don’t have a new show and need to run through new bits. I did new material Tuesday and it was the worst first half I have had in, since, well, last week. I’m not doing that great to begin with.
I greet people outside the Source Below. If I don’t meet them before the show I assume they are thinking negative thoughts about me if I can’t see their faces once the show begins.
And to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, he walks into mine.” And like the movie, this was no coincidence.
Here was the man who made me believe that a father can sue a mother in this country and not be ruined by the outcome. “Just fill out the C1a form, ask for sole custody and you will get half. And we will help you.” Probably doesn’t sound like much to hate, but it was the worst advice I’ve ever gotten. The worst advice any father could get. And I didn’t get the support from him, either.
This man gave me hope where there was no hope – like the cancer cures that don’t cure cancer. What killed Steve Jobs, or so I heard. Years of battling with the mother of my children was the result and the pain that cause everyone.
What should I have done about him and his family?
Should I have told him to he couldn’t come in?
Or sucked it in and let him in? Let bygones be bygones the way The Queen shook the hand of a man who was probably involved in killing her beloved Louis Montbatten?
Or go the other way and pull a Vito Corleone, The Godfather, who returned to Italy to assassinate Don Ciccio, the local Godfather who had murdered Vito’s family? He cut him open even though Don Ciccio was a spent force.
I shook my abuser’s hand and let him in.
Had come solo maybe I would have had a word with him. I couldn’t embarrass him in front of his family. I just couldn’t.
I ignored him – or tried. And if you have seen me you know I never ignore anyone, or anything. I thought it was crowded enough that he wouldn’t be noticed. Sadly, a white-haired 70-plus-year-old man in a room of 20 and 30-somethings with two young East Asian women stands out. My ignoring him stood out.
It started okay, and then I crumbled. Slowly, the bitterness and the anger bubbled to the surface and enveloped my lovely audience. A full house and I didn’t make one friend. I made few enemies.
Everyone must has some story like this: Of someone you don’t want to see, ever, ever, again, showing up in your life. What do you do?
I used to say I would perform for a roomful of Hitlers, so happy was I to have an audience. Now I don’t think so. Well, I might be on stage in front of the Hitlers, but it wouldn’t be comedy. And that is what happened last night. It wasn’t a fun night for anyone.
On the way out, my abuser put a tener in my jug. At least I finally got something off the dude.
What you should do to see your children when your marriage breaks down – and good advice when any relationship crashes: Click here.
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Live in Soho “Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous”
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Two shows in 2012: No, YOU Shut up!