Photos by Janicza Bravo.
I’m on pause. I have forever been and will always be on pause. That’s what this town is. A staller and a scatterer. You start off with a plan, and you get knocked and spun around till the point that you can’t even find where you live. It’s not the life I saw for myself. I thought the higher I rose in show business, the easier things would be. I thought a natural order of things would make itself clear to me.
The higher I climb, the shakier the steps. And then there’s the fall. The plummet into the abyss, and once you fall, you are forgotten forever. You disappear. You might as well have not made one flick. Not shook one hand. Not shtupped one actress. I don’t know how close I am to that fall. Maybe I’ll keep climbing. Maybe I’ll be on top till the day I die. But I see that bottom. I see that bottom making kissy-faces at me. Wanting me to run into its arms.
I had a whole plan. Where did it go? This place made it disappear, and what I have now is just a dark shadow of what could have been. It’s all a facocta garbage can. It’s gold tinsel thrown over a rancid pile of shit. It stinks and creeps into your brain like mustard gas.
This town’s just one big concentration camp! It’s sunny Auschwitz. But I am my own Nazi. I keep me here. Ambition. The sweet tastes of temptation are wasting me away. Spiritually emaciated. About to fall flat and just die. Why don’t I let myself go? Why can’t I leave? How much more do I need?
The shiksas, the houses, the cars, that’s all very nice. But that only adds to the meshuga. It’s like every perk reminds you of just how alone you really are. I don’t want to be alone. I’m married. Why don’t I make that a priority? Why don’t I spend more time with my child? Turn things around. No more cons. No more fights.
So many schmucks looking to swoop in and take everything. I fear everyone who takes the time to say hello to me. They could destroy me. They could take everything I’ve worked for and tear it up into little tiny pieces.
I had a plan. Solid plan. Easy. Straightforward.
But I had so many other plans. So many irons in the fire. The fire is hot here. A hot hell. Yes, I know it’s usually in the 70s, but I’m not talking about the weather. And why would any person from this town not talk about the weather? It’s one of the great aspects to this forsaken land. Or so they claim.
I have no sense of my own story. It’s all gone awry. That’s why I’m babbling like this. I don’t even know how I got in this headspace. I’m a very positive guy. I’ve just been punished for and by my life, right?
Actually, who am I kidding? That’s all a lie. I am maybe the best liar in the world.
I’m driving. I’m hitting all my spots to find meaning. Meaning to go home with. Meaning to wake up with. Meaning to love with.
None of it—my life, meaning, this town—has any structure whatsoever. I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do. I’m on pause and there’s no one to press play.
I really don’t know what to do. All I know is that I shouldn’t have said all this. I just shouldn’t have. It’s so wrong. So bizarrely wrong.
I’m sorry about this. I really am. This is not what you were expecting. But let’s face it: This hasn’t been a story. It’s more like I’m floating around some strange place.
But don’t worry about anything. So much is out of your control. I make decisions, but I don’t sneak out.
It’s all gone nowhere. Not that it started anywhere. No plans. Never again. No point. No destination.
What is this end, though? How did I get here? I have no idea. Just sprung up on me. Maybe I should leave this business. I think I should leave this business.
There is no end. Just as there was no beginning or middle.
I did a bunch of nothing.
This is the final installment of Combover, Brett Gelman’s novel about Hollywood, baldness, and the beauty of the Jewish tradition. You can read the previous 12 installments here.