That Guy

Sometimes you have a story that has so much ick attached to it you wonder if you can even tell the whole thing. And this is coming from a guy whose last blog post was about pretending to be Olivia Newton-John while rollerskating in his garage.

I’ve sat on this story for a good 24 hours. I went to work today and told no one because it’s really too embarrassing, but hey, maybe this will make you feel better about your life.

Last night, I went with my friend Vinod to a screening of Enough Said, the new Nicole Holofcener film starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini and Catherine Keener. It’s a wonderful, funny, sweet, heartbreaking film and I loved it every bit as much as I loved every other one of her movies. There was a Q & A with Nicole and Julia after the screening and for the life of me, I tried to think of a smart, cute question, but I couldn’t think of one, so I didn’t raise my hand.

Now I have a history of embarrassing myself with Nicole Holofcener, it’s been documented here. And I really wanted to present myself to her in a way that would exonerate myself of the crazy attached, not that she would remember (actually, she might remember). After the Q & A, a few people went to the front to shake hands with the women. Vinod wanted to meet Julia and he convinced me (’twas not hard) to go with him. There was one old guy in front of me who talked to her, no kidding, for 5 minutes about the movie Bell, Book and Candle. Finally, she politely dismissed him and then some guy interjected that they’d met before and they talked for 2 minutes and then a Russian lady told her that she should film something in Russia and then a tall Nigerian woman gave Nicole her headshot business card and then Nicole’s handler came and said she had to take her away. And the whole time I’d waited patiently to tell her that no one loved her movies more than I loved her movies, that we’d lived parallel lives, that she was my touchstone. And this is the super ick part, as she was being ushered away, I told her, in a voice somewhere between normal and bellow, “This is the second time I’ve seen it, I saw it on Wednesday.” Don’t worry, she didn’t hear me, there were too many others doing metaphorical pirouettes, trying to get her attention. Even my friend Vinod didn’t hear me because at that moment, he was getting the most amazing picture of him and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The only person who heard my awkward statement was me and I immediately became flushed. As Vinod and my friend Amy and I walked to our cars, I felt so sad, so embarrassed. I am that guy. I don’t have an ounce of cool in me. I actually wouldn’t have been able to ask a question because I don’t know how to modulate my voice when I’m talking to famous people. If I were being played in a movie by Zooey Deschanel, I’d get on your nerves a little, but you’d think, she’s just so cute I can’t help but love her, but when the me character is played by, well, me, it’s just not cute.

Anyway, that’s my story. I’d say it’s going to be the last time I embarrass myself like that, but clearly, I’m making it worse by telling you. And just so you know, I’m writing this stone cold sober, I won’t even be able to blame Sauvignon blanc or Ambien for this confession in the morning.

I do want to say, if you get a chance, go see Enough Said, it’s wonderful. And if you ever get the chance to meet Nicole Holofcener, please bring me along. I per-omise I won’t embarrass you!

The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me

When I was ten or twelve I’d put on little roller skating shows in my garage. I’d sing my favorite songs while I’d skate in a circle, pretending I was Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu. One such afternoon, my neighbor Mark, who was my age, pulled up on his dirt bike and asked me what song I was listening to. It so happened that, at this moment I was listening to and belting out and figure-eight-ing to The Magic Store from The Muppet Movie. So I told him. “Only fags listen to music like that,” he said and then rode off on his bike, proud of himself for obvious reasons.

I immediately turned off my music and took off my roller skates and went inside. My mom asked me what Mark wanted, I told her about our exchange and what he’d said to me. She asked what song I was listening to and I told her The Magic Store. She didn’t say anything but she gave me a look that compassionately said, “Well, that is sort of a colorful song.”

I loved The Magic Store. When not singing to it on roller skates, I’d sing it standing in front of the mirror, creating new choreography every time. It thrilled me, it understood me, it spoke to me and it inspired me. I did find a home at the magic store.

Today is Jim Henson’s birthday. Like many of my generation, he figured prominently to my youth. I started with Sesame Street as a wee boy, and then I remember watching The Muppet Show every Saturday night. I saw The Muppet Movie at least 10 times in the theatre and I don’t know how many more times I watched it on tv. I loved Kermit and Miss Piggy. I loved Ernie. I loved Fozzie. And Remember Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas?

I do know why I gravitated to the things that Jim Henson created. He understood the outsider, the person who couldn’t quite pass as normal. Back when I was 10 or 12, I thought there was such a thing as normal. Every once in a while, I’ll still stand in front of a mirror and launch into, “It starts when we’re kids…” And thankfully nothing anyone could ever say to me now would make me turn off my music and take off my roller skates and go inside.