We all have them, turning points that, at the time, seem trivial, but end up taking us places we never expected.
The biggest for me was when I answered a classified ad for actors and joined a theater group where I met Jenny. That was nearly 30 years ago.
A few years later I was sitting in a hotel room in Cincinnati. I turned on the TV and caught the Maltese Falcon for the first time. I was 35 or 36 and had never read any of the greats. I had been taught, unintentionally in most cases, that mystery fiction wasn't worth my time, that I was better off reading Donald Barthelme and John Barth.
It took John Huston's Maltese Falcon to convince me that I was a bonehead. I figured (duh) that if I liked the movie that much, I'd like the book. And from Hammett I went to Chandler and McDonald and then to Dutch Leonard.
When I had the time and temperament to write a novel, it was my love of crime fiction that was my foundation.
Because this weekend, Jenny and I watched Gun Crazy. I had seen it before, years ago, but this was Jenny's inaugural ride with Bart and Annie Laurie. Man, I love this movie. (Jenny liked it, but doesn't have the same affection for it that I do.)
Originally titled Deadly Is the Female, the movie tanked on opening so they renamed it Gun Crazy, a title so great that it reminds me of Victor Gischler, the writer whose Shotgun Opera and GoGo Girls of the Apocalypse are the gold standard in great titles, in my opinion.
Carnovsky's movie career was interrupted for a decade or more by the blacklist. According to his Wikipedia bio, he was one of the actors named by Elia Kazan for being a commie and because a free country can't possibly have actors with unorthodox political views in its movies, Carnovsky was banned from the big screen.
I guess it made sense at the time.
I saw Morris Carnovsky on stage when I was in college. He played King Lear. I had never seen a Shakespeare play before. Not one. I had read them, never really appreciating their greatness. But when I saw the action and heard people speak the lines, the scales, as they say, fell from my eyes. I was in love, and that love continues. Given a choice between seeing Lear or Hamlet for the hundredth time, or seeing just about anything else, I'll go with Big Bill.
Small things. Answering a classified, watching a movie, seeing a play, these are the things that make unexpected changes in life. And I love that, how seemingly inconsequential things can shape your life in ways no one could have predicted.
Think about the small things in your life that changed everything. And if you want to go public with that one time in band camp, or the time you smuggled hash in from Turkey, I'd love to hear about.
Talk to me.