MY NAME IS LLOYD THAXTON - SO WHAT
It’s one of those cool rockin’rollin’ afternoons in the 60’s. This day’s episode of The Lloyd Thaxton Show is about to end. My teen-aged guests gather around as I start the standard sign-off, “The name of the show is The Lloyd Thaxton Show and my name is Lloyd Thaxton.” Right on cue everybody in the studio shouts, “SO WHAT!”
Fast-forward 30-something years to an elevator at NBC Television in Burbank, California. I’m on my way up to my “Fight Back! With David Horowitz” office. A man, who would most likely call himself a Baby Boomer, looks over at me and says, “You’re Lloyd Thaxton, right?” When I answer yes, he says, “How does it feel to be a has-been?”
Everyone in the elevator freezes. All eyes, that aren’t locked on the floor, embarrassingly turn to me. But it was all sighs and smiles when I quickly answer, “Better than being a never-been.” Comments from the packed elevator ranged from, “Boy, that was really telling him,” to “Are you really Lloyd Thaxton?” to “Who the hell is Lloyd Thaxton?”
True, it was a dumb question, however, it got me thinking. Was I really a “has-been?” And, if I was, how DID it feel? Never thought about it before, but here I was … thinking about it.
I had a popular TV show in the 60’s, but the show went off the air almost four decades ago (when you start counting in decades you know you’re in trouble). It was difficult for me to admit that some of the people in the elevator that day weren’t even born when the show was on the air. And what was worse, they looked old. So, by the strictest meaning of the word, I guess I am a has-been.
BUT, on the other hand, is that bad? Think about it. To be a “has-been” means you had to have been a “been” at some time in your life. And a “been” is what? A “been” is somebody who at one time, perhaps last week or even last year, was famous ... a celebrity… at least for a while anyway. More than 15 minutes, I would think. Is this better than being a never-been, as I so confidently answered in that elevator? Maybe that old fart asked the wrong question. It should have been, “What does it feel like to be a “BEEN?”
It’s just a matter of semantics. Let’s face it, I, at one time, was truly a popular “been.” Only a hermit wants to be a complete nobody. No one, at least no one I ever met, wants to go through life as a “never-been.”
The legendary comic Rodney Dangerfield’s tag line “I just don’t get no respect” sums it up. Everybody from the guy on the street with the sign, “I’ll work for food,” to the CEO of a large corporation wants a little respect. A little fame, if you will. At least “Fifteen minutes” worth as Andy Warhol put it.
Many of us have been “beens” at one time and should be proud of it. The employee of the week, the prom queen, the football hero, the high-school graduate, you are all “beens” and should hold your heads high. Celebrate your "been-ness" and be good examples for your peers.
Here’s how I look at it. I was damned lucky. I had much more than my 15 minutes of fame. And, to me, it was PERFECT. While it lasted it was wonderful, exciting and exhilarating. Who could ever imagine four decades later (there I go again, counting in decades), there would be fans still out there?
So Mousers, how DOES it feel to be a “BEEN?”
To be continued …