Monday, October 11, 2004

“We’re not little men, so we’re going away to be kings.”

The Movie: The Man Who Would Be King, 1975 (John Huston and Gladys Hill, screenwriters, from the story by Rudyard Kipling; John Huston, dir.)
Who says it: Michael Caine as Peachy Carnahan, adventurer, Freemason and former British soldier
The context: Peachy says this to Kipling (Christopher Plummer) before he and Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) go off to become kings in Kafiristan.
How to use it: A great parting line when you quit a crummy job, or when you set out on a journey.

Whatever strange enchantment kept me in Los Angeles seems to be broken at last. I crossed the L.A. County line last night around 6:30, and suddenly realized I'd been clenching my jaw so hard my teeth hurt.

Maybe it was one last celebrity sighting that broke the spell: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, at 9:30 Mass at Saint Monica's. I almost didn't go, but Gary said, "Uh -- maybe you should."

Saint Monica's must be one of the wealthiest parishes in the country, and I admit to being a spiritual snob about that kind of thing. It's a beautiful church, white and blue and gold, and the (contemporary) music at the 9:30 Mass is famous -- everyone involved seems to be a professional musician, and the sound quality is as good as a concert hall. It made me feel very, very cranky, especially when the parish treasurer stood up to give the church's annual financial report, and I heard that Saint Monica's surplus was more than my old parish's entire annual income.

So I was thinking that maybe I shouldn't have gone to church at all, or that I should have made the trip across town to my old parish. But the Mass is the Mass in a shack or a cathedral -- and the readings were all about gratitude, which seemed especially appropriate -- and then I saw the Governor and his wife in the Communion line, and I felt kind of blessed. I'm not sure what it says about me that my first thought when I saw them was, in fact, "Oh, it's the Governor," and not, "Hey, that's Arnold Schwarzenegger!"

Dizzy seemed a little anxious about packing the car, and was tense when we got on the highway -- understandable, considering our last experience on the highway -- but he had relaxed by the time we got to Barstow, and he's still asleep, which is unusual. Once he gets up, we'll be on our way to New Mexico, with a detour to the Grand Canyon.

I would say something about Barstow, but it wouldn't be anything kind. My friend Anna asked, "Who lives there?" and I said thoughtlessly, "Bikers and meth freaks." I'm sure this is not true, but Barstow does not present its best face to the transient visitor. At night it's a tangle of bright lights, cheap hotels, fast food restaurants and outlet stores; by day, it doesn't even have the pretty colored lights.

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