Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dollarhyde, aka the Red Dragon, hastens, naked and tattooed, down a flight of stairs, his johnson wagging in every direction as if sketching an imaginary landscape. It’s like a character all its own in this scene, Fiennes’ member, with its own momentum and its own agenda (getting ready for the starving artist’s show in the lobby of the Marriott) and most likely its own spot in the end credits. I don’t know about the latter. I didn’t stay long enough to find out. There are some things you just don’t want to know about your friends, like the maximum circumference their penis can chart.
My friendship with Fiennes began the way most friendships begin, as a mere idea hatched in Jane Austen’s drawing room. “Take a turn about the room with me, my dear Margaret,” I said to my other friend who is not Ralph as I latched an arm around hers.
Read the rest at The Nervous Breakdown and take a gander at this photo a bartender in a Galway pub took of Margaret and me, plotting mischief, days from the “Ralph incident” and therefore still smiling:
Just like pretty much everyone, I was all over this guy in the late ‘80s. The machismo oozing like a held note on a soundtrack saxophone. The steely-eyed ruggedness. The deep wrinkles already etched into his forehead as if to say, hell yes, I’ve been chopping wood for three days with nothing but a butter knife. The sort of offbeat sense of humor that gets lesser men quietly ushered out the side doors of convenient stores and libraries with their arms around their cardboard mats and bagged whiskey.
“What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let’s get the flock out of here!” You know when Mel said it, it couldn’t have been funnier.
And don’t forget that lopsided smirk of the potentially deranged. And I mean deranged in a good way. Riggs deranged. Deranged like I’m-going-to-trick-this-suicidal-man-to-back-off-the-ledge-by-acting-crazier-than-he-is kind of brilliantly, methodically deranged. Oof! Color me Caramel Shimmer number 58 if these weren’t the good old days when Mel was a mixed bag of awesome and Lethal Weapon ruled. With my help.
Lethal Weapon I, then II, and by Bird on a Wire, I had grown spectacularly resplendent. I fluttered in the air of our collective importance, dusted his shoulders, nestled in his shirt collars, sheltered his eyes in a visor-like flip. They had wind machines on set just for me. Wind machines and Aquanet and a team on standby with all manner of hair pick. I was carefully crafted. Mel was carefully crafted. But then … you could see the cracks in the façade beginning to form. Well, if you were as close to the man as I was, anyway. I mean, didn’t you ever wonder why I’d begun to make my slow retreat after that? Maybe I was born in ’86, but I knew damn well what he was implying when he narrowed his gaze at the mirror and accused me of being Richard Lewisy.
So I left. Little by little. Sure, I could have peeled off all at once like an old band-aid from an ankle bone, but every time I’d resolved to be gone for good he’d lay it on thick with all the desperate primping and the Rogaine. I left like a shoplifter gathering courage in a Walmart dressing room – one stuffed pant leg after another until there was nothing left to skim past the detectors with on my final run but me and an egg-shaped wad of pantyhose. Piecemeal, baby, that’s how I did it. Home free. No second chances. No looking back. Then, just like pretty much everyone, I watched as cans of spray-on hair and collections of plugs tried to fill the void I’d made, as he refused to go the way of Bruce Willis and just embrace it, as the steely-eyed, rugged, deranged machismo of old began to sharpen itself into the steely-eyed, rugged, deranged machismo of grocery store tabloids.
This can’t be a coincidence, his nosedive into insane-with-anger territory and my withdrawal. I blame myself. I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, if only I’d stuck around, Mel and I could have kept it business in the front and party in the back and crazy locked away in the basement.
So, my latest at The Nervous Breakdown, If the Shoe Fits …, was inspired by two things: my surprisingly impulsive denial after a friend said to me, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were that into Star Trek” and then my daughter announcing the other day, “My mind is full of logic, like Spock,” while making the shape of a heart with both hands. I thought it’d be funny to discuss the ways in which Star Trek intersects with everyday life while at the same time trying to pretend it doesn’t. Hopefully I pulled it off, and if I didn’t you can just enjoy this photo I’ve titled “Damnit Jim!”:
New nonfiction story out this month, excerpted in ESPN the Magazine and appearing in full in Stymie Magazine:
I see myself in the glass first. Gestalt glints of eyes, nose, and chin. Sloping span of narrow shoulders. My body superimposed over the skirted baseball uniform Madonna wore in A League of Their Own. It squares across my reflection like a little emblem on my shirt. Madonna is a tiny person. I ask my husband Joe standing beside me, “Do you ever wonder why so many famous people are so little?” At Planet Hollywood once I’d put my hand against the impression of Arnold Swarzennegger’s hand, and my fingers had overran the length of his. I’d squinted in thought, feeling the grooves of the print against my palm as if tracking a little capuchin monkey. Still warm, maybe twenty minutes ahead, about six months old, just handled a radish – he went that way.
“Napoleon complex,” Joe says in hush befitting the dim lit passages of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
“The whole being-small-drives-them-to-be-larger-than-life thing.” I suck my teeth, shake my head. No, it’s a cliché – the Napoleon complex. It’s a running joke. There must be some other explanation I just can’t quite work out at the moment. I’m relieved, as I shuffle aside with the small crowd just a little further down the display, to find Gina Davis’ uniform would fit me perfectly. “Ooh!” I zero in on the Wonderboy bat from The Natural and take another big side step in its direction. My hand sprawls greedily across the glass. Read more in the Spring/Summer 2010 Issue Here
Out today on Monkeybicycle, Admit One, excerpted from my creative non-fiction work on all things movie-related, Girl on Film. I really should confess, though — I do have a movie buddy. I had to give birth to her to make this possible, but I do have one. Problem is, she drags me to things like The Tooth Fairy. Yeesh. About how many years, do you think, until she’s ready for Tarantino?