Craig Ferguson has no idea his silliness saved me and my kids from complete insanity. After my 2010 divorce, my two kids, my two hygienically challenged dogs and I, moved in with my elderly dad in western Pennsylvania for a few months until we could buy a house.
We all appreciated my dad letting us move in, but it was a hard time for us. The cute Tudor home we worked so hard on was sold, our family was fractured, our lives changed, and our dogs were on a pooping and peeing binge in the basement.
Our stay was supposed to be temporary, but, a tight mortgage market and a credit rating damaged by “he who shall remain nameless,” left us few choices. Even with a huge down payment, I couldn’t get a loan.
Then my dad got sick and I wanted to help him since he basically let us and our stinking dogs move in and rearrange his entire household without a complaint. So we stayed, I helped, and tried to figure out how to patch my life and career back together.
After I put my dad in his bed at night, my son, my daughter and I laid side-by-side on the creaky double bed in my daughter’s room, with the glow of the computer screen lighting up our faces. We watched as Craig Ferguson made us laugh until we cried with his white rabbit puppet, wise-cracking, gay robot, Secretariat man-horse galloping across the stage, bleeped profanities and other silliness. He was a little bit of the L.A. we missed terribly. We dreamed of sitting in Lesbian Row and letting him mock us.
Sometimes we’d stay up until 12:30 and watch his show on TV, but usually we watched it on the computer, huddled together on the bed. Craig’s silliness made the room we watched in — the same room I had as a teenager — with fake wood paneling and an overhead light with a square glass cover, seem warm and almost attractive.
After two years with dad, we moved back to L.A. in 2012. I was working, volunteering for the PTA, and figuring out how to make a living. Then last December, Craig stopped doing his show. I really regretted it never taking the time to see it.
Plus, I think Craig and I are going through similar phases in our lives. I’m a little sick of Hollywood right now. Maybe he is too. I think he’s worked hard at his craft and I wonder why they didn’t tap him to host the Oscars? They’re probably terrified the night would devolve into way too much fun. When I saw the video of him doing the song, “Keep Banging On,” on his last show, I know it had a message for both of us.
He’s not giving up. The words to the song are: “Keep banging on — banging on your drum – Keep banging on — and your day will come.” Those are not the words of a pansy quitter.
This is a man who left his home in Scotland, became a U.S. citizen, kicked alcoholism and drugs, nearly committed suicide, made it in Hollywood, wrote books, directed, acted, and created a hilarious late night show that was, hands down, funnier than anything on TV.
If someone as big as friggin’ Craig Ferguson had the guts to walk away from a network show after ten years, then surely I can muster the gumption to steer my own course.
So I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to see him at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula. I told myself I shouldn’t be spending the money and that it’s a long drive, but I knew seeing him would inspire me and maybe help lift me out of this stupid funk. My son was supposed to go, but couldn’t, so I frantically called a few friends and luckily, Penny could go.
Penny was so excited, she even shaved her legs. We drove three hours to the resort in rush hour traffic, then made our way to the theater. We pulled on the doors and they were closed. What the hell? we wondered. We asked someone in a uniform why the box office was closed.
She looked at our tickets and said, “Craig’s show was two nights ago. It was Sunday the 22nd.”
Oh God, I thought.
Who schedules a show on the night of the Academy Awards? This had to be a test. Satanic forces had to be at work. But I checked the tickets and it was true.
I didn’t know whether to cry, be sick, scream, or slap myself for being so stupid. I’d just lost 150 dollars I should have saved, wasted half a tank of gas and lost the last microscopic fiber of dignity I had. How could I have confused the dates? How could I have been such an idiot?
I almost cried, but Penny said she was happy just to get out of the house, sit in the car with smooth legs, and talk for the three hour drive down. Thank God. Anyone else would have strangled me lifeless with her purse strap.
If she was disappointed, she hid it and said, “No, it’s really OK. I’m just glad to see that someone else makes stupid mistakes too.” Then we just had to laugh.
I wasn’t leaving without dinner, so we had French Onion Soup with gobs of toasty, melted cheese on top and delicious beer battered fish sandwiches. Even without Craig, life does start looking up after a decent meal.
Against my better judgment, I am shedding that last nano fiber of dignity and sharing this. Penny said I should. If you’ve done an equally stupid thing, maybe this will make you feel better. Please write and tell me stupid or stupider things you’ve done, I am begging you! Do not leave me hanging people!
And Craig, I will see you one day. Keep banging on.
(After writing this, Craig tweeted that he’s starring in a new sitcom, “The King of 7B!)