Last night I watched the film Tender Mercies for about the 43rd time and felt the same attachment to the character Mac Sledge as when I watched it the first time. And I still cry every time Gus McCrae dies in Lonesome Dove. It used to be Paul Newman. Then I had a brief fling with Daniel Day-Lewis (“I will return” from Last of the Mohicans) and I flirted with Johnny Depp—he’s the quirky sort that I like, but too young for me and a little too cute. The only man who can keep me forever is Robert Duvall, who played both Mac and Gus. He lives in rural Virginia, down the road from my best friend Toni. She sees him all the time in town, chats with him in the bookstore. Don’t think I haven’t considered moving there. Would Toni believe that I just wanted to be near her? But I’m not going off on a true confessions rampage about the man I love but can never have.
I found the VHS tape of Tender Mercies on sale a few years back in the previously viewed section of my local Blockbuster. Last night when loading it, I noticed an old sticker on the case that says BE KIND REWIND. And I wondered if there was some way I could insert myself into the old video player and rewind my life. Maybe attach a portal into my big toe, stick my toe in the machine, maneuver around so I could reach the controls, and hit rewind, sort of like a budget time machine. Come on—how hard can it be?
Rewind to pre-conception. I would be born a cowgirl in the western United States, maybe Colorado, in 1907. My family would be third generation ranchers who raised some of the most sought-after horses in the West. And I would have been the best horsewoman they ever saw, fearless and beautiful, riding throughout my life until I died peacefully in my sleep at 101.
Rewind to birth. I would have been born a dancer, limber with long strong legs, dancing almost before I walked. Throughout my childhood and into my teens, I would learn and grow and eventually work my way through the ranks to be the premier dancer on Broadway, and later a Tony-winning choreographer.
Rewind to age eight. I would have become a musician, learned to play guitar, banjo, and fiddle. By my teens, I would have been at the forefront of the resurgence of American roots music, would have played fiddle and banjo with the old timers in Appalachia, played blues guitar with Mississippi John Hurt and the Reverend Gary Davis, been at Woodstock in 1969, in New York with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, in San Francisco with Janis Joplin. Now I’m trying to catch up. I have heard all of these musicians, saw Dylan live in the early days in a small venue, but it could have been so much more. Imagine the stories I would have had!
Rewind to age eighteen. I would have studied architecture. I would have been in a trailblazer in efforts to build green, to save natural resources. And I also would have specialized in restoring historic homes. My own home, a historic house on a western-facing slope in the Shenandoah Valley, would be a model of simplicity and charm, with a perfect garden and a stunning view.
VHS is being phased out and, call me a pessimist, but I think my VHS-rigged life rewind machine isn’t going to work for me. I’m not going to be a cowgirl, dancer, musician, and/or architect. What I am going to do it work on acceptance, serenity in what life has dealt to me, no regrets. And if that doesn’t work, I’m doing to start searching for a more powerful rewind machine.
Newsflash: I have discovered that meatloaf is the secret to a man’s heart. Don’t mess it up by adding exotic things like mushrooms or green peppers. Real men don’t like mushrooms and green peppers. Look at this—it’s basically ground beef and catsup. Another requirement is that you serve it with mashed potatoes. Some think it even improves when eaten cold the next day. So, do you think Robert Duvall would have me if I showed up at his door with meatloaf?
Secret Meatloaf Recipe
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs beaten
½ cup chili sauce (or ketchup)
1 cup seasoned croutons (Caesar or something zesty)
4 slices bacon
Mix the ground beef, eggs, chili sauce, and croutons in a large bowl.
Shape the mixture into a loaf and place in a shallow roasting pan or loaf pan.
Top with slices of bacon.
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 60-75 minutes.
Remove from oven and let set for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Serves one for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.