Emperor or Servant?


What do the neighbors think?

I wonder this almost every day, at the same hour of night, 10 pm. That’s when  I’m most likely to blast my song of the day. Or repeatedly analyze banal scenes of some filmed silliness. Or dance. Practice card tricks. My geek flag flies at full staff most 10 pm.s.

I could never figure out why. Even the worst days, both by emotional and physical measure, tend to pick up around 10 p.m. My nausea eases. My energy surges.

I’ve sought a professional’s medical opinion on this; she was as flummoxed as I,  though she did point out: “You do like to have your dogs as dance partners.”

That square dance and euphoria  still exist (especially to my new song, below), though I think I have an idea why. (Thanks for nothing, Dr. Quackenbush.)

It’s at that moment I’m most living like an Emperor in my world, not a Peasant.

How often do we confuse the two? Granted amazing dominion over our world (particularly if you are an adult American), only to choose a life of servitude? A job title that has become a definition? A bank balance that has galvanized into a vault of fears? A pleasure spiked to pain? A nurturer who has morphed to siphon, and hence Master?

What fuckery, this? Is it our primal need to serve? Religious history suggests every civilization creates a daddy issue. Or perhaps it’s our nature, to covet, to measure life by what we want, not have. And we have learned to want so much.

But consider the counter-argument for a moment: all that you do survey. How much is in your power. How much of your world that does bend to your will.

It doesn’t matter, the size kingdom. Whether you rent a 250-square foot efficiency in Tarzana or own a compound on Laurel Canyon, consider your empire. And the the living, loving subjects under your rule, from houseplant to house cat. Or the select list of people allowed access to your personal fortress. Or the rules of conduct and behavior within those walls. All ruled by you.

That reign could never be gauged in Facebook likes or reTweets. Yet they become measures up to which we must live. Even vote.


To some degree, we must be Servants. To our children. Our bodies. Our sanity. The cost of a pulse is to be indentured to that heartbeat. There’s nothing wrong with serving.

But aren’t We the true Masters to be served? As a newspaperman, I’ve covered beats from Detroit police to Hollywood film, and so a dizzying spectrum of kingdoms and rulers. To the last, they lived as Emperors in their worlds, not Servants.

And don’t we wish all could ascend their thrones? The abused to retaliate against abuser? The unhappy to insist on something else? The muted to turn chorus?

Well, 10 p.m. nears. Teddy and Esme are beat, having wilted in the 104 temperatures. But, as inhabitants of the Fortress of Scottitude, they know they must rise in a few hours for the nightly reverie. There will be music, dancing, intoxicants.

If the neighbors come by at the right hour, they may even see the dogs knighted.



Please like & share: