AN INAUSPICIOUS LANDING PLACE FOR A CROWE
AN INAUSPICIOUS LANDING PLACE FOR A CROWE
If you’ve been keeping up with my recent posts, you’ll know that I’ve been spending the past few weeks in a small town in upstate New York. I came to Round Lake partly for a refreshing reminder of the simple country life and partly for its proximity to Montreal, where I’ll soon be enjoying a series of gigs at the prestigious Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, July 23rd through the 25th.
In truth, I thought I’d be able to handle the distinctive shift in cultural tempo better than I have up to this point. After all, I was raised in a small town in central Missouri and somehow managed to survive all those years with relatively few emotional scars. But how easily did I forget the moral to that particular story! The fact is, I couldn’t wait to leave Missouri and once I did, there was no looking back. As a child, I remember watching “Saturday Night Live” reruns on the local NBC affiliate. When the credits rolled over the still photos of nighttime Manhattan, I grew nostalgic for a place I had never even visited. The way I saw it, there was a life happening somewhere in America--and it sure wasn’t in central Missouri.
At this stage, I’ve now lived in cities for so long that I fear I can only efficaciously love the rural life from a comfortable distance. I thought surely that my books would help me pass the time up here and, if not my books, then certainly my ability to have entire conversations with myself as multiple characters should count for some form of entertainment. But that line of thinking was soon exposed as mere folly. When the chapters are finished or the voices have simmered down for the evening, there’s an unshakable and disturbing silence that seems to almost smother the landscape up here with a panoramic stranglehold.
Don’t get me wrong. My heart will always be one with the Salt of the Earth. They are the community from which my personality was hewn. And, as father once said, (in a rare burst of sober parenting): “Son, don’t forget where you came from.” No dad. I won’t. Perhaps that’s why I’m here now. To remind myself of that authenticating lesson. And maybe to allow myself to accept some personal limitations when it comes to geography. I am not a country boy anymore. And it may even be said that I never was.
So on that note of acceptance, following Montreal, I’ll definitely be returning to a city. Which city? It depends on what happens in Montreal. If I get the sense that the entertainment industry is actually willing to work with me, I’ll most likely return to Jersey City and continue to slug it out in the East. If not, I will follow the clarion call of my heart and return to the city that gave me everything when I came to it with absolutely nothing--San Francisco.
But now, for the immediate future, I must continue to bide my time in Round Lake where there is little more to do than. . .well. . .bide time. Perhaps that’s unfair of me. After all, it is possible to own and shoot a gun here without having to be a member of an ethnic gang. That’s a definite plus. And when it rains, the slugs come out and put on a little show in the gravel.
There’s also a local library about half the size of a duplex apartment that seems to contain more books-on-tape than books themselves. Upstairs there’s a single table off in the corner with a folded up piece of Xerox paper taped to it which bears the words: “Laptop Friendly Table”. I spend quite a lot of time at that table. In fact, I’m here right now, polishing up this little story.
I never see anybody else at this table. In fact, most of the time, I never see anybody in this library at all except for the staff. For example, in a room around the corner there’s a fat woman in an elephant print dress (I don’t get it--if you’re fat, why would you wear elephants on your body?). I think she’s the library director or something. She spends a lot of her time on the phone, talking about upcoming board meetings and giggling like an impaled munchkin. I can handle her okay when she’s not making phone calls--which is extremely rare. Seriously, can you imagine being in a library and having to shush the staff?
Nevertheless, I can usually get quite a lot of writing done up here. Except for one day last week when the aforementioned woman in the elephant print dress timidly approached me to say, “You’re welcome to stay up here. . .”
“Thank you,” I responded as I continued updating my Facebook status.
“. . .but we’re going to have about twelve children and their parents up here at three for a face-painting class!”
I turned my head to offer her a blank stare, “What are you talking about?”
“It’s part of our summer activities program for the children!” she giggled, as if she had just uttered a Swiftian witticism, “So you’re welcome to stay, but it might get a little loud!”
I cleared my throat and thought of the scene in The Shining where Shelly Duvall interrupts Jack Nicholson at his typewriter to talk about the weather. “You gotta be kidding me. Isn’t there a children’s section downstairs?”
“Well, there’s one up here, too!” she giggled again. “That whole section over there is a children’s section!”
“So basically, seventy-five percent of this library is devoted to children?”
“Pretty much!” she squealed once more with another inexplicable giggle. Is she laughing at herself? Or me? What the fuck is so funny? “Again, you’re welcome to stay. It just may get a little loud!”
“Well, I’m going to stay,” I said adamantly, turning back to my computer.
Ten minutes later the entire top floor was crawling with screaming children playing fast and loose with open containers of tempera paint as their pedestrian mothers looked on approvingly. I closed my laptop, sheathed it in my shoulder bag, and with a quiet dignity, descended the stairs and left the library with little fanfare.
It was an honorable surrender.
THE CROWE HAS LANDED
THE CROWE HAS LANDED
Out of commission, I retired on a bench in front of the library and lit a cigarette, watching with disgust as minivans continued to pull up in front of the roundabout, side doors opening to dispense even more children to take part in the upstairs siege. Incredulously, the mothers would then park, get out, and walk up to the library to join their children inside-each of them saying “hello” to me with a banal grin as they passed. Why couldn’t the whole family get out at once? There’s ample parking at the Round Lake Library. Is it really worth letting the kids off at the roundabout if you’re only saving them fifteen seconds of face-painting time?
And why were they saying hello to me anyway? I’m creepy-looking. I’ve got long hair and I’m not from around these parts. Didn’t they notice I was smoking? I’m a bad egg. Now fuck off and let me enjoy my cigarette.
Presently, a teenage boy, probably seventeen, rode up on a maroon dirtbike. He looked a bit old for a face-painting class. Maybe he failed it in the spring semester and needed to take a summer course in order to pass. He put his bike in the rack and smiled at me before bounding up the concrete steps to fling open the screen door.
And with that, I was awarded a very brief reprieve from the unwanted salutations so I could focus on the fading resentment I was nursing over my recent ouster. “Fucking kids. Face painting bullshit.”
Soon I heard the slam of the screen door. The teenage boy from earlier bounded back down the concrete steps, removed his bike from the rack and began walking it towards the roundabout. Again, he smiled at me. In return, I offered him an expressionless nod.
He started to get on his bike and then stopped. “Did anybody ever tell you that you look like Russell Crowe?”
I burst into laughter, “Are you fucking kidding me?” My burning resentment was suddenly extinguished like the cigarette I had just flicked into a nearby puddle.
“Seriously,” he grinned, “You really do.”
“Well, that’s a new one. No, nobody’s ever told me that before. Are you talking about the same Russell Crowe that was in L.A. Confidential?”
“Oh, okay,” I said, trying to mask my disappointment. I guess there’s more than one Russell Crowe.
“He was the guy that was in Gladiator,” beamed the kid.
I laughed again. “Yeah. That’s the same guy. Wow. Not only do I look like Russell Crowe, but I look like the Gladiator Russell Crowe? I gotta tell you, I don’t believe you, but I appreciate it, man.”
“Seriously,” he said, “Especially with the pony tail. And when you were looking in that direction.”
“Well”, I smiled, “I’ll be sure to always wear a pony tail and only look in this direction. Thanks for the tip, man.”
“No problem!” he said as he hopped on his bike and rode away.
What a nice young man, I mused.
A NECESSARY RUMINATION ON THE INDIVIDUAL MALE AND THE COMMUNAL FEMALE AS REGARDS THE ECONOMY OF CELEBRITY COMPARISONS
A NECESSARY RUMINATION ON THE INDIVIDUAL MALE AND THE COMMUNAL FEMALE AS REGARDS THE ECONOMY OF CELEBRITY COMPARISONS
It is socially permissible for either a man or a woman to tell a man that he looks like somebody famous. But by and large, nobody can tell a woman that she looks like anybody at all. Obviously this is true if the famous person the woman is being compared to is ugly--as in, “Did anybody ever tell you that you look like Rosie O’Donnell?” or “Did anybody ever tell you that you look like Momma from Throw Momma From the Train?”. And especially if the famous person is a man--as in “Did anybody ever tell you that you look like Mr. Hooper from the old ‘Sesame Street’?” or “Did anybody ever tell you that you look like the British neighbor on ‘The Jeffersons’”?
But the same holds true even if the female celebrity is an attractive one. For seemingly inexplicable reasons, it just doesn’t seem appropriate to go up to a woman--no matter how much she may look like Scarlett Johansson, and ask her, “Did anybody every tell you that you look like Scarlett Johansson?“
I can imagine the indignant response to what most males would consider a hearty compliment. “I beg your pardon? Excuse me, but I am my own woman!”
The results could be even more disastrous if you’re a movie buff like myself and are attempting to tell a postmodern woman that she looks like a famous Hollywood starlet from the 30s and 40s--as, for example, the irreplaceable Myrna Loy.
“Who’s Myrna Loy?”
“Trust me, she was really attractive.”
“Yeah, she died.”
“Oh, thanks, I look like a dead person. That’s nice to know.”
“She was good-looking when she was alive!”
Perhaps the reason for this is because women actually do spend their entire lives perusing periodicals peddling products promising to make them look like Hollywood starlets. Therefore, when you tell a woman that she looks like somebody famous--even if that famous person is unquestionably conventionally attractive--it’s as if you’ve caught her in the middle of some secret game that only she and the rest of the double-X chromosome brigade know the rules to. “I don’t look anything at all like Natalie Portman!” she’ll protest self-righteously just before surreptitiously closing the cover to a magazine that was only previously open to a two-page perfumed spread on Natalie Portman’s favorite places to shop.
This explains why, when starry-eyed men in the initial stages of a relationship refer to their new girlfriend’s looks, the complete truth is always embedded within the vague wording of a “unique beauty”, an “indescribable attractiveness”. Indeed, there’s “something about her” that’s “so special”. She’s “gorgeous”, she’s “hot”, and she may even look “like a supermodel!” It’s only when (and if) they get to the personality that they dish out any specific qualities--”She even likes Lou Reed! And she’s a member of the NRA with her own .44 magnum!”
Meanwhile, any idiot could tell you that the overriding charm is that the girl looks a little bit like Kate Moss if you’re standing a few feet away and not listening to her talk.
Men, however, don’t care and, in many cases, gladly welcome comparisons. Unless, again, the comparison is unattractive. As in, “Did anybody ever tell you that you look like M. Emmett Walsh? Or Ned Beatty? Or the guy in the Elephant Man--not the doctor, but the other guy?”
All of this reminds me of a bit that I was working on the other day wherein the Elephant Man is the star of an 80s teen romance and his well-intentioned (but slightly devious) best friend is James Spader--doling out a slue of unhelpful romantic advice that sounds a lot like the mundane claptrap people still offer me.
THE ELEPHANT MAN FACTOR (A TRAGICOMIC DIGRESSION)
THE ELEPHANT MAN FACTOR (A TRAGICOMIC DIGRESSION)
JAMES SPADER: Elephant Man, listen. The main thing that chicks are attracted to is confidence. They’re actually not really that into looks. So if you want to get laid--and who doesn’t right?--it’s all in the way you carry yourself. You got to present yourself to the ladies in a way that says, “I’m the fuckin' Elephant Man and I’m the motherfuckin’ shit!” Trim up the hairs around that big tumor, splash on some of my Nivea aftershave, and just go right up to the best-looking chick you can find and say, “Hello there. I’m the Elephant Man. What’s your name, honey?” Remember, chicks can sense fear. So above all, be confident.
Later that night, the Elephant Man--wearing a new pair of Dockers, a pink Izod and a cashmere sweater tied casually around his neck, strolls up to a pretty young brunette at a Los Angeles bar.
ELEPHANT MAN: Hey baby. I’m the Elephant Man. I’m not a human. . .I’m an ANIMAL!
The girl screams for help at the top of her lungs before fainting, splitting her skull open in three places after hitting the floor For added comedic effect, she dies in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Later, back at the dorm room, James Spader is snorting lines off of Jamie Gertz’s stomach.
JAMES SPADER: Hey Elephant Man. How’d it go tonight?
ELEPHANT MAN: I made a girl scream. Then she fainted, hit her head on the floor and died. I think she was going to major in business affairs at UCLA.
JAMES SPADER: What did I tell you, Dumbo? Chicks can sense fear!
ELEPHANT MAN: Whatever. I’m going to go jack off now.
BATS IN THE BELFRY, TOYS IN THE ATTIC, AND CROWES IN THE CLOSET
BATS IN THE BELFRY, TOYS IN THE ATTIC, AND CROWES IN THE CLOSET
Well here we are. We’ve barely gotten started and we’re already lights years off-topic. How is it possible to go from Russell Crowe to the Elephant Man in one minor digression? To be sure, it’s quite a massive leap, because as we all know--and if you need official verification, there are any number of women’s magazines that can readily attest to this --Russell Crowe is a C.A.M. (Conventionally Attractive Male).
So if that’s the case, why was I being compared to him? It goes without saying that the comparison would have carried significantly more emotional weight had it come from a woman who looked like, say, Uma Thurman. Unfortunately, life is never that kind. It had to come from a 17-year old small-town teenage boy on a bicycle.
Though I could detect no trace of campiness in his accent, I nevertheless later suspected homosexuality as the chief culprit in this crime of careless comparison. Again, Round Lake, New York, is a very small town. In fact, “town” may not even be the appropriate word--seeing as how the residents (of which there are probably no more than two hundred) lovingly (and without sarcasm) refer to this quaint little hamlet as “The Village”. Though the moniker seems to bring an affectionate smile to their faces, it chillingly recalls to my mind one of the most brilliant TV shows ever produced: “The Prisoner” (a late 1960s series detailing the episodic adventures of one man’s struggle to retain his individuality amidst the idyllic setting of an island prison community; which the brainwashed inmates, as well their jailers, also lovingly refer to as “The Village”).
After the boy had left, I was still in literary exile, thanks to the influx of the face-painting tykes and their guardians. So I lit another cigarette and devoted my efforts to assembling a rudimentary theory as to why my countenance had elicited a favorable comparison to that of Russell Crowe's. And here, in basic syllogistic form, is what I came up with:
A) Round Lake is a small town.
B) The kid was a teenager.
C) Given the geographical milieu and his current age, combined with a theoretical homosexual orientation, he most likely wouldn’t be able (either for personal or societal reasons) to come completely roaring out of the closet--as a teenager might be able to in the gay-friendly hubs of San Francisco or New York City.
Like an airborne disease, word spreads mighty quickly in a small town. Aside from residencies, Round Lake consists essentially of one (1) convenience store, one (1) post office with a rustic exterior reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell background, and one (1) aforementioned two-floored library that specializes in children’s books, books for children, face-painting classes for children, and John Grisham thrillers on audiocassette.
Conversely, there is not to be found any LGBT centers or bookstores that promote “understanding” or “tolerance” of “those types”. And there most assuredly aren’t any late-night clubs on the other side of the forest with names like “Daddy’s Tongue”, “Deep Butts”, or “Spelunkin’”.
Therefore, I submit the possibility that the kid was simply “practicing” by performing a series of smaller gay-themed actions that would incrementally build in intensity, over a period of two to three years, until the arrival of that momentous day when he would announce before the village PTA meeting what would, at that point, have morphed into something unavoidably and flamingly evident: He was homosexual.
Stated differently, one could say that he was cautiously dipping his big toe into the kiddie pool of gayness, instead of doing a cannonball off the diving board--to avoid splashing the local environment with his scandalously queer wetness.
And as for me? What was my purpose? Elementary! I was merely playing a supporting role as the guinea pig for his latest brainchild: go up to a strange man who’s obviously not from around here and tell him that he looks like the hottest male celebrity you can think of.
Because, seriously, Russell fucking Crowe?
He could just as easily have said that I looked like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. After all, why necessarily settle on Russell Crowe? Just go down the list of People Magazine’s “Hottest Hollywood Hunks of All Time” and take your pick. And who knows? Perhaps that’s exactly how he approached this little exercise. I admit, I’m not entirely sure how People arranges those shameless lists, but if it’s done alphabetically, there would be strong enough evidence to support this notion given the fact that, going by surnames, “Crowe” would appear before “Cruise” or “Pitt”. Yet any supposition on my part is superfluous. For, in the end, it really doesn’t matter how he settled on Russell Crowe--as the only thing that I do have in common with every name on the list of “Hottest Hollywood Hunks” is that I don’t look like any of them!
The message was clear and it was queer: I don’t know you, drifter man. But I’m gay. Therefore, I’m going to tell you that you look like Russell Crowe, even though you don’t. And since we all know that Russell Crowe is cute, you can go ahead and infer from my comparison that I’m essentially saying that you’re cute. And with that, I’ve done my gay deed for the day. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to scoot my little hiney home in time to beat off before daddy calls me out to the garage to help him fix the catalytic converter on the Pontiac.
Poor kid. No outreach opportunities for a misunderstood youth in a mundane Mayberry like this.
ROUGHLY 200 MILES SOUTH AS THE CROWE FLIES
ROUGHLY 200 MILES SOUTH AS THE CROWE FLIES
However, on the heels of the homosexual hypothesis, I had a series of troubling thoughts: What if he isn’t gay? What if he’s actually straight and he’s decided to amuse himself by having a few laughs at the drifter man? What if instead of being an innocent budding homosexual waiting to blossom, he’s one of these no-good, small-town, juvenile delinquent thugs who get their kicks from egging houses, conning suckers into whitewashing fences, and telling long-haired strangers that they look like Russell Crowe?
Why, the little whippersnapper! Of all the nerve!
I flashed on an image of myself as a stern headmaster at a school for troubled boys, rising up and grabbing his ear, dragging him down a hall, past an auditorium, out the front door and straight onto the 87 freeway, going south for about 200 miles--all the way back down to lower Manhattan.
“Ouch! My ear!” he would moan, “Where are you taking me, mister?”
“You’ll see, young man. You’ll see soon enough where your thoughtless shenanigans have led you!”
Once we arrived in New York City, I’d march him straight into the trendiest club in Soho, approach a table filled with the most gorgeously shallow women I could find, and thrust him angrily into a chair.
“Now, buster brown,” I’d pedantically huff, “Tell them what you just told me!”
“I. . .I. . .I. . .” he’d stammer.
“Go on. . .”
After a few more seconds of relentless browbeating from me, he’d shrug his shoulders and sigh. “I told him that he looked like Russell Crowe.”
The gaggle of gorgeous girls would giggle. “Russell Crowe? Silly little boy! News flash! Boys don’t know what boys look like. Only girls do. And, as girls, we can tell you that he does not looking anything like Russell Crowe. At all. Not in the slightest. In any way, shape or form. Period. Full stop. End of story.”
“Thank you very much, ladies,” I would say, stifling my tears of disappointment for the higher purposes of elucidating an ethical axiom. “I hope you’ve learned your lesson, young man.”
“I have, sir,” he would say, “Never tell people who don’t look like Russell Crowe that they look like Russell Crowe.”
The learning moment would conclude, of course, with the girls admonishing us to leave the table before their boyfriends returned.
And yet, no sooner did this hypothesis dissolve than it was replaced by a very different one. It was an idea that wasn’t so much troubling as it was utterly bizarre. Yes, it was a very strange thought, indeed. I might even go so far as to say that it was the strangest thought that I have ever had in my entire life. . .and it was this:
What if he’s right?
What if I really do look like Russell Crowe?
NOW HERE’S SOMETHING TO CROWE ABOUT!
NOW HERE’S SOMETHING TO CROWE ABOUT!
By now, it has become an anthropological truism in our technological age that the first time most people hear their recorded voices being played back on a cassette, they often wonder out loud if they “really sound like that”. Bearing that tendency in mind, what if the same holds true for seeing one’s image in a mirror? What if the first thought we have when we see our reflection in the morning is not, “Oh, there I am again”, but: “Do I really look like that?”
Excluding anorexics, in most cases the answer is yes.
But what if, for me, the answer is no?
What if during all these years, while I’ve been painfully laboring under the misapprehension that I look like Will Franken, I’ve actually looked like Russell Crowe?
Unquestionably, were this true, it would provide some much-needed answers as to why I suffer such difficulty in the romantic arena. You see, I have often surmised in the still and silent hours before the dawn (when the rest of the world is sleeping and oblivious to my pain) that women are simply intimidated by my intense personality, my dazzling array of talents, or even my--if you’ll pardon the unavoidable reference--”brilliant mind”.
But how much more intimidated would they be if that brilliant mind was owned by someone who looks like Russell Crowe?
Yes! It all makes so much sense now!
The dainty and delicate does. . .the frightened and fearful fawns. . .those poor petite and precious pixies in my pristine presence! How scared they all must be of me!
No wonder I’m not getting any!
I have a brilliant mind AND I look like Russell Crowe!
I’m too good to be true!
Hmm. . .there’s something wrong with this picture. . .
. . .wait a second. . .
A PRAGMATIC CAVEAT
A PRAGMATIC CAVEAT
If the aforementioned were actually the case, how would that explain all the dates that I’ve been on that haven’t led to anything sexual? That is to say, if I really did look like Russell Crowe, wouldn’t the benefits be immediate and numerous? Especially if I’m sitting right across from the young lady at a candelight table for two at Taco Bell, simultaneously regaling her with my brilliance and beauty--personality and looks harmoniously working together in a two-pronged attack to yield a dampening effect on her grateful genitalia?
“You know, my darling, it really is quite fascinating how those Benedictine monks could have carved all those miniature diptychs armed with nothing but a crude stylus and the flickering light of a beeswax candle,” I might say, summarizing the magical memories of our moonlit moments in the parlance of the typically well-read Hollywood erudite, “I trust you had an enjoyable time at the traveling exhibit of the Ruins of Monte Cassino?”
“Yes. I certainly did,” she’d smile faintly, “Oh, look at the time. Ho-hum. Well, I better get home now so I can call you in the middle of the night and complain about this date and how I’ll never find the right man and how wonderful it is to have such a fascinating friend as you. By the way, thanks for the chicken burrito.”
“What?” I’d laugh nonchalantly in my sexiest Australian accent, “I don’t get a kiss?”
“I’m sorry. I never kiss on the fifteenth date.”
“One small thing before you leave, then.” At that precise moment, as I casually swirl the ice in my 44-ounce Mountain Dew, I'd unleash my ultra-powerful hidden weapon: “I’ll have you know, little missy, that I’ve recently been told by a very reliable small-town teenage boy on a bicycle, who may or may not be a closeted homosexual, that I happen to look like Russell Crowe.”
“Great. Maye you can get him to kiss you.”
Yes. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.
. . .wait a second. . .maybe I can get some better reception here. . .
CROWES TO THE LEFT OF ME, JOKERS TO THE RIGHT
CROWES TO THE LEFT OF ME, JOKERS TO THE RIGHT
Of course! It was all a simple question of positioning. If I’m aiming for success, I can’t be sitting across from the girl. How easily I allowed myself to overlook the words of the bicycle boy! True, he had emphatically told me that I looked like Russell Crowe. But when pressed on the issue, he had also added a very important detail; one that if forgotten might easily spell a romantic disaster of exactly the sort enumerated above. To wit:
Especially with the pony tail. . .looking in that direction. . .
Yes! The double keys to romantic fulfillment had already been revealed in their entirety! Pulled-back hair and a right-side profile! At all times I would have to be wearing a pony tail and either be walking or sitting at the girl’s left-hand side. Difficult, to be sure, but by no means impossible. For if I want it bad enough--and I definitely do--I must be willing to pursue it, regardless of any physical challenges such a pursuit may entail. You may call me mad, dear reader, but is there any amongst you who would deny that, if preventing a woman from seeing me from the front, from behind, or from her right-hand side is the admission price into her boudoir, that there couldn’t be an easier chore one might undertake in the hopes of cultivating such a promising harvest?
Not to mention that sitting across the table from a girl might render us symbolic combatants; almost as if we were . . .
(!). . .gladiators. . .(!)
Ugh. Not my idea of romantic, either.
But if I could just manage to reveal only my right-hand side and never, under any circumstances, remove my pony tail holder, then and only then, might a young lady finally ascertain the deepest layer of the Will Franken story: that I look like Russell Crowe when I wear a ponytail and am facing left!
How sweet a vision! She and I sharing a booth seat at Denny’s, absentmindedly tracing patterns with a fork in our shared half-eaten plate of biscuits and gravy--my playful banter simultaneously calling to mind the didgeridoo drones of Down Under coupled with the heroic humility of a handsome hunk on hiatus from the Hollywood hoopla.
“You know, my darling, it certainly is fascinating how those precursors to the pinball machines of the 1970s didn’t have any flippers and were actually used for gambling,” I would say, evoking her estrogen-laced emotion with an encapsulation of the evening’s events, “I trust you had an enjoyable time at the Museum of Vintage Arcade Games?”
“Oh, yes!” I can hear her excitedly exclaim, “How culturally stimulating it was to finally see, first-hand, the framed black-and-white publicity stills of NYC Mayor Fiorello La Guardia destroying a shipment of the machines with a fire ax under the pretense of preventing vice and immorality!”
“Old Fiorello,” I would say, somehow managing to apply an Australian accent to the Italian name, “What a character that one!”
“I’ve always been an Ed Koch girl myself,” she’d say.
“Old Eddie?” I’d grin, “Well if that ain’t the koala’s pajamas! If me mates back home knew I was on a date with a Kochette, I’d receive a right Mad-Maxxing. We’re in a group called Dinkin’s Dingos. Sort of an unofficial Down Under fan club for all of Guiliani’s predecessors.”
At this point, her eyes would light up like a pinball machine, “You are Australian! I knew it!”
“Aw, boomerang! Me accent must be showin’,” I’d say, casually popping a sprig of parsley in my mouth and pretending that it was intentional, “Mmm. You know, me mum used to always say it was the parsley that really gives the biscuits their gravy.”
Switching the mood ever so subtly, she’d whisper in my right ear, “Can I ask you something?”
“We used to be a penal colony.”
“No, it’s not about Australia. Look,” she’d say, placing a lily-white hand on my forearm, “I’m having a wonderful time tonight. I like you. I really do. I feel very drawn to you and I don’t exactly know why. But. . .the thing is. . .well. . .you haven’t made eye contact with me once this whole evening. Don’t you like me?”
I’d provide her a reassuring laugh, “Oh, I like you fine. You’re a right pretty Sheila, you are. I suppose my mind is just thinking about being back home with Breaker Morant and AC/DC and Men At Work and The Easybeats and kangaroos and Olivia Newton-John and Midnight Oil and Crocodile Dundee and. . .”
“Well, I’m relieved you don’t think I’m ugly. But can I ask you something else?”
“We fought alongside the British in the Boer Wars.”
“No, it’s not about Australian military history. Look,” she’d say, placing her other lily-white hand on my other forearm, “I really enjoy your company. I’m very attracted to you. But. . .the thing is. . .well. . .all night long, I’ve only seen the right side of your face. It’s almost like you don’t want me to see you from the front or from behind or from my right-hand side. Remember when you held the door open for me earlier? That was so sweet. But then you muscled up next to me so we could walk in together at the same time and we didn’t really fit and I tore up my dress and I scraped up my side and I got all bloody. What was that about? Don’t you want me to see the left side of your face?”
I’d giver her one-half of a broad, comforting smile, “Now there, Sheila, don’t you worry your pretty little head about the left side of my face. There’s nothing on that side that you can’t see on this one. Half a nose, half a mouth, and one eye.”
“Well. . .I don’t know. . .what if I wanted to. . .kiss you?”
“Let’s take it slow , Sheila,” I’d say, placing both of my forearms on top of both of her lily-white hands, “Why don’t you just kiss me on the right cheek for now until we get to know each other a little better?”
“Okay,” she’d say with a hint of sadness in her voice before zeroing in and planting a smacker on my right cheek that, despite its seeming innocence, nevertheless almost causes me to shoot a hot denim-smothered load, “You’re such a fascinating man. I can’t help feeling like you’re not telling me something.”
“All right, Sheila,” I’d sigh, squirming in my seat while consciously thinking about America’s obesity problem in the hopes of subduing my outrageous erection, “I didn’t want to tell you on our first date, but I suppose I better level with you. I was recently told by a very reliable small-town teenage bloke on a bicycle, who may or may not be a closeted poofter, that I happen to look like Russell Crowe. Especially when I’m wearing a pony tail and my head is turned to the left.”
At this point, the scales would fall from her eyes, the floodgates would open, and she’d squeal with girlish delight “That’s it! Yes! Of course! Why didn’t I see it until now? No wonder I’m ready to leave everything behind, start a family with you in the desert, and even kill for you!”
Not willing to leave good enough alone, here is where I’d shoot myself in the foot by providing some additional embellishment: “Actually, I work for Russell Crowe. I’m his double.”
“I do a few stunts. But mostly I raise his children when he’s off galavanting around the world, making movies and accepting awards. Just to make them think that their father still loves them.“
“You raise his children? What else do you do?”
“That’s about it. Well. . .I also. . .uh. . .er. . .I also. . .uh. . .pleasure his wife.”
“You pleasure his wife? You mean you fuck her?”
“I do a few fucks. But 'pleasure' is a pretty broad term. My job duties include anything from cunnilingus to light spanking to filming her in the process of attaching a strap-on dildo to a UNICEF volunteer.”
At this point in the fantasy, I can imagine my date shedding her delighted countenance. “I’m sorry. Raising another man’s children is one thing. But what kind of sicko pleasures another man’s wife?”
“Wait, wait, wait!” I’d shout in her direction as she flees the table with a persnickety huff, “You got it all wrong! It’s only to make her think that her husband still loves her! I’m helping people! I’m making a difference! I’m spreading love, you fucking cunt!”
No. Something is wrong with this picture as well.
. . .wait a second. . .damnit, I should have sprung for one of those converter boxes. . .
I AM CROWE! HEAR ME SQUAWK!
I AM CROWE! HEAR ME SQUAWK!
Yes! I see it all so clearly now! How could I have been so stupid?
Chicks absolutely hate when they find out a man is fucking somebody else’s wife!
On the other hand, they absolutely love when a man fucks around on his own wife. . .
Especially if it’s with them.
Therefore, to actualize my stated purpose of employing my uncanny resemblance to Russell Crowe in order to achieve global female domination, all that remains is to make one minor modification and I’m off to the races!
I’ll simply get rid of all the comparative language in reference to my appearance. No more watering down the message in the wishy-washy language of similes. It’s time to throw caution to the wind and--along with caution--the inessential phrase: “look like”.
No longer shall I say “I look like Russell Crowe.”
From this day forward, “I am Russell Crowe!”
(Of course, for the time being, just to play it safe, I’ll still continue wearing a ponytail and never let anybody see anything other than my right side)
The setting would have to be perfect. After a long night of painting the town red from the comfort of a cigarette-burned and coffee-stained couch, I’d take her by the hand and romantically drag her over to the other end of the couch that isn’t as dirty.
“You know, my darling, I find it fascinating that the bonus features were so thoroughly informative, speaking not only in reference to the filmmakers’ judicious use of CGI effects, but also as regards their armchair historical understanding of the scope of the Roman Empire,” I would say, speaking out of my ass in the hopes of getting a piece of hers, “I trust you had an enjoyable evening watching the DVD of Gladiator, including all of the special features, and then immediately re-watching the entire thing with accompanying audio commentary.”
A twitching of the eyelids, followed by an annoyed frown. “Huh? What do you want?”
Perhaps a light chuckle from me would both awaken her fully as well as belie my evident disgust at such contemptuous unconsciousness in the midst of my presumably overstimulating presence, “Why my dear, it appears that the sandman has made quick work of you this evening.”
“What are you talking about? Why are you so weird?”
”I trust you had an enjoyable evening watching the DVD of Gladiator, including all of the--”
“Not really. I came here to use your phone because I had a car accident, remember? Then you chloroformed me.”
“Ah yes,” I would smile toothily, “I can hear the pealing of the proverbial bell of remembrance, taking me back to those carefree days of six hours ago when life was young and your limbs were fully operational. By the way, I beg your forgiveness for the chloroform. But you see, my dear, I had no other means at my disposal of rendering you unconscious. Had I a mickey, I would gladly have slipped you one. But let us not pitch our tents in the sedentary soil of the past, for a far more resplendent castle now lowers its mighty drawbridge to us at this moment in time. So again I ask you, my darling--I trust you had an enjoyable evening watching the DVD of Gladiator, including all of the special features, and then immediately re-watching the entire thing with accompanying audio commentary?”
“Uh. . .yeah. . .sure, whatever. I had a very wonderful time. I can’t wait to do it again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to walk three miles back down the road so I can say goodbye to my dead boyfriend.”
“Yes,” I’d sigh deeply, “Perhaps it’s best that you do go, my sweet one. After all, I fear that Mrs. Crowe shall return before the hour’s end. Here, let me find your Hello Kitty purse--”
“Wait a second,” she’d say, “Mrs. Crowe? What do you mean?”
“Oh my,” I’d cast my eyes to the floor wistfully, all the while keeping my head resolutely turned to the left, “Have I allowed my tongue to become a large earthworm with epilepsy again? How it twitches and spews without regard for its owner’s privacy those things I would rather leave unsaid. You’ll forgive an old babbling fool like me, my angel. Now be off with you. I have kept you far too long from the daunting task of removing shards of windshield from your boyfriend’s carcass. Not to mention the additional burden I’ve now added to your already heavy workload of locating a neighbor’s telephone in order to report my diabolical activities to the local constabulary.”
“No,” she would insist, “I want to know. Please tell me. Who’s Mrs. Crowe?”
“Very well,” I’d say, taking her by the left hand and walking us sideways back to the couch. “You and I have known each other for six hours now, my little snapdragon--five hours and forty-five minutes of which you’ve been out like a light. So I suppose it’s time that you know the truth.”
“Go on. . .” I can hear her whispering in a steamy hiss, “. . .tell me. . .”
Using just the right dosage of faux inner turmoil, I’d clear my throat and begin, “You see, my little oyster, quite recently I was informed by a most knowledgeable yet countrified adolescent in the transport of a two-wheeled unmotorized motorcar--a likely lad who may or may not have been partial to certain sexual proclivities along the vast homosexual nexus--that. . .well. . .er. . .oh, pith and bother! How can I say this?”
“Go on. . .” she’d nod encouragingly while stroking my right thigh with her left hand.
“The lad told me that. . .he told me. . . oh, cobnabit and darnyall! I simply can’t find the words!”
“Tell me. . .”
“Let’s see. . .well. . .oh, dignation and forth-humbit! I’ve just got to come right out and say it!”
“Then say it. . .”
“Mrs. Crowe is my wife.”
She would lick her already moistened lips, “So that would mean you’re. . .?”
“Yes. I am Russell Crowe. I’m afraid I’ve misled you into thinking I was just some unimportant creep. Please don’t look at me. I’m so ashamed. You must utterly hate me.”
At this moment of revelation, she’d lean back on the couch and remove her jeans quicker than a wet snake on a Slip-n-Slide greased with Pennzoil. “Well, why didn’t you say you were Russell Crowe in the first place? Being Russell Crowe is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s so nice to meet you, Mr. Crowe. Could I trouble you to reach into my Hello Kitty purse and hand me my intrauterine device while I remove my bra and panties?”
“Certainly,” I’d say, passing from my hand to hers a contraceptive contraption vaguely resembling a Jew’s harp, “Didn’t Snoopy play one of these in the Charlie Brown cartoons?”
“It does look a little bit like that thing, doesn’t it, Mr. Crowe? This won’t take a second, Mr. Crowe. Please forgive me for not being prepared, Mr. Crowe. If I had known I was going to meet Russell Crowe, I would have had this in months beforehand. Oh, this darn thing has gotten so rusty. Please be patient, Mr. Crowe. I shouldn’t be long.”
“Oh, please,” I’d smile with a courteous, though anticipatory, chivalry, “Take your time. And don’t feel that you have to call me Mr. Crowe. You can just call me. . .I don’t know. . .Will.”
”You want me to call you Will?”
“Oh, yes, yes. I thought that you were saying. . .something else. Yes, that’s right. Call me Will. Yes. If you wouldn’t mind, that would be great.”
“Why, Mr. Crowe, that’s the name of my recently deceased boyfriend. Oh, why do they have to put so many pointy prongs on these things? I shouldn’t be too much longer, Mr. Crowe. I know this is extremely rude.”
"So Will is the name of your dead boyfriend?" I think twice about my recent suggestion, “Well, perhaps you should go back to calling me Mr. Crowe.”
“Certainly,” she smiles, while continuing to fidget with her grotesque anti-procreation device, “After all, Mr. Crowe is such a lovely name. Oh, this darn I.U.D. is driving me up a wall! What is wrong with this thing? Oh, I see. I always forget to release the safety catch. There. It shouldn’t be too much longer now, Mr. Crowe. I’m almost ready to receive you, Mr. Crowe. You’ve been so kind to put up with me so far, Mr. Crowe. So tell me, Mr. Crowe, what brings you to our little village of Round Lake?”
“Well,” I’d say, reciting an oft-rehearsed answer, “I’m actually filming a movie up here about this comedian who comes out to the country from the big city thinking he can adapt to the rural life for a couple of weeks until he heads to Montreal to do some gigs.”
“That sounds fascinating, Mr. Crowe! Wait a second. . .what the fuck am I doing wrong here? Oh, that’s right. The lever is supposed to fold out and go over the hinge. Okay. I’m sorry, Mr. Crowe. Please go on. it sounds like a very interesting film.”
“It will be. The guy’s very brilliant. So it’s a little bit like A Brilliant Mind.”
“Oh, Mr. Crowe I loved that movie! The character you played was so brilliant! Mr. Crowe, I hate to bother you again, but would you mind reaching in my purse once more and handing me the fold-out instructions for this thing? I am sooooo sorry, Mr. Crowe. I used to have the procedure memorized. Please go on describing your movie, Mr. Crowe. It sounds soooooo brilliant.”
As I hand her the directions, I continue describing a film that sounds new to her but all too familiar to me, “So the guy is brilliant, just like the Brilliant Mind guy. And he’s also a little bit crazy, just like the Brilliant Mind guy. But he’s also really lonely, cause every time he tries to meet a girl, they’re only interested in his brain, and how brilliant and crazy he is. Cause the guy actually doesn’t look anything like Russell Crowe. He looks more like people in the opening credits of a spaghetti western before the advent of wide-screen technology-- you know what I mean? All stretched out and lanky? Or maybe a little bit like Ichabod Crane; or maybe like the crescent moon with the sunglasses in those McDonald’s commercials from the 80s.”
“Mr. Crowe, that sounds like an amazing movie. I can’t wait to see it!” She writhes and kicks, knocking over a nearby lamp, “This fucking goddamn motherfucking intra-fucking-uterine device! I could have solved a Rubik’s cube and three Sudoku puzzles by now! You should be grateful you’re not a woman, Mr. Crowe. Please forgive me, Mr. Crowe, I know I can figure this out! So, Mr. Crowe, it sounds like you’ll be playing a physically unattractive man. Won’t that be a bit of a challenge for you, Mr. Crowe?”
“Yes. Well, we’ll be using lots of CGI special effects to make myself not as attractive as myself. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’ll probably win another award for being so brave. This role requires a lot of bravery. You see, I was brave enough when I played a brilliant mind in A Brilliant Mind, but I’m using twice the amount of bravery I normally bring to a role by playing a brilliant mind with an unattractive appearance in A Brilliant Mind With An Unattractive Appearance.”
“Wow, Mr. Crowe, I really love that title. Excuse me for a second, Mr. Crowe.” She starts walloping her vagina with both fists, “Fucking piece of shit asshole I.U.D. motherfucker! Get the fuck in there you Jew-harp looking hunk of Japanese contraception! Made in the USA, my ass! Get. . .in. . .my. . .pussy. . .you. . .fucking. . .intra. . .fucking. . .uterine. . .device. . .!”
Suddenly, she stops flagellating herself long enough to wipe the sweat from her brow and take a series of deep, calming breaths. After a few seconds of meditative silence, I can spy her from the corner of my right eye as she turns around to face me with the cutest little apologetic half-smile.
“I can’t believe how silly I am,” she giggles, “Where are my manners? You’re Russell Crowe. You can just pull out at the last minute and cum all over my face!”
Now there’s a pretty picture!
Hold it right there!
TAKING THE MICK OUT OF THE CROWE
TAKING THE MICK OUT OF THE CROWE
Well, it was a nice fantasy while it lasted. But I’m nobody’s fool. I know I don’t look like anything like Russell Crowe.
As regards the bizarre comparison, there was one other short-lived hypothesis I failed to mention earlier. Perhaps this town is so small that nobody here has ever seen a Russell Crowe movie. It’s remotely possible, for example, that the teenage boy on the bike might have gotten word from a distant cousin in the "new world" of a movie called Gladiator that starred somebody by the name of Russell Crowe--but having no direct visual evidence to verify that, he decided that if there was such a thing as a Russell Crowe, since he’s never seen me either, I might as well be it.
If had some extra cash, just for the hell of it, I’d like to buy a tunic and a sword and a pair of gladiator sandals and hang out in front of the library again. So the next time the kid pulls up on his bike, he’d ask:
“Did anybody ever tell you that you look like Kirk Douglas?”
“Wow,” I’d say, “You mean the same Kirk Douglas that was in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?”
“No. This was the Kirk Douglas that was in Spartacus.”
Obviously, this wasn’t the only time I’ve been likened to a celebrity. But it definitely is the most far-fetched. The first time I moved to New York, I was compared on three separate occasions, in three completely different neighborhoods, all within the same week--to Jimmy Stewart. I’m sure this had less to do with my looks and more to do with the fact that I was tall and suffering from an overly-polite hayseed naivete when it came to life in the big city. Still, at least that comparison had been somewhat in the ballpark. I would likewise accept the assertion that, at certain times, I also resemble Eric Idle.
There’s only been one physical comparison, however, that I ever thought was one hundred percent bona fide valid. And it was made by an old friend of mine back in Missouri named Daniel Whanger. It’s a comparison I haven’t thought about in awhile, but given that I’ve spent so much time fantasizing about how one might go about capitalizing on an invalid comparison, it might prove worthwhile to see if I can get any mileage of out of a celebrity that I actually do look like.
The next time I’m alone with an attractive young lady, I’ll start off by innocently asking, “Do you know who the most handsome male celebrity of all time is?”
“Sure,” she’ll say, “Russell Crowe.”
“No, no, no. I’m talking about a musician.”
“Oh, a musician? Let’s see. . .probably Eminem.”
“I said a musician.”
“Oh, a musician. I’m sorry, I thought you said a fuckfaced retard. Let’s see. Most handsome male celebrity of all time who’s a musician. . .hmm. . .Paul McCartney?”
“No, don’t be silly. Come on, think. It’s really obvious.”
“You’re not even trying. Think punk rock.”
“Oh, of course! Joey Ramone!”
“British punk rock.”
“Oh, British punk rock? Well, I would probably have to say Johnny Rotten.”
“Are you fucking crazy? Come on. The guy I’m talking about is a real dreamboat.”
“All right, then, Paul Cook!”
“Paul Cook? What kind of methadone program are you on, woman? Do you need a hint? He was in The Clash.”
“Oh, The Clash. That’s easy. Joe Strummer.”
“You’re just doing this to piss me off, aren’t you? Joe fucking Strummer?”
“What? He’s really cute.”
“Yeah, well, he’s fucking dead. Try again. I’m talking about a real hunk of a punk here. Total punk hunk.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t want you to say anything. You should already know the answer. The guy’s a total looker. Real handsome devil. Drives the ladies wild.”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t know the answer!”
“Who else was in The Clash, dumbass?”
“Why is this so important to you?”
“Answer the fucking question!!!”
“I don’t remember! Leave me alone!! Let go of my hair!!!”
“Think!! Use your fucking head before I put it through these cinder blocks!!! He went on to play in Big Audio Dynamite!!! The guy’s a total stud!!! Any girl would be a fucking moron not to think he’s the hottest male celebrity of all time!! Come on!!! Do I have to spell it out for you?”
“I know who you’re talking about, but I don’t know the name!! Please don’t hurt me!!”
“For fuck’s sake! His name is Mick. . .come on, think, woman! His name is Mick. . .”
“Mick Jones!! JONES! JONES! JONES! Is it sinking into your thick skull now? Mick fucking Jones!!”
”Okay. All right. Mick Jones. Woo-hoo. Big deal. What about him?”
“He’s the most attractive male celebrity of all time,” I say with a smirk.
She winces, “Ugh. You think so?”
“Yes I do. What’s the matter? You don’t?”
“I don’t know. . .I guess. . .well. . .I guess, he’s okay.”
“What did you say?”
“I said I guess he’s okay.”
“Say it one more time.”
“I said he’s okay.”
“I can’t hear you!”
“That’s what I thought you said,” At that precise moment, as I carefully fashion her a mini-carnation from the inside of a used cigarette filter, I'd unleash my ultra-powerful hidden weapon: “In that case, I think it's fair that you should know, little missy, that this Mick Jones that you’re so obviously in love with and can’t stop thinking about is none other than. . .
. . .yours truly!”