Oh, you don’t?
It happens every time he watches Giant or Rebel Without a Cause. He walks around all day in a red windbreaker and mumbles lines from movies of the 1950s. On this day, I had about one nerve left and it was waiting for him to get on it. It was raining and we had been locked up with him for more than 48 hours. My wife had chased him out of the kitchen with a knife, so he escaped to where I was trying to read.
“Can I have some dirt too?”
“Why don’t you read a book?”
“You are the boss.”
“You know it too, don’t you?”
“C.W., you are not James Dean. He was an actor, and he is dead. You are an alien. Why don’t you come back to earth?”
“I’m rich, Big Dope,” he said. “I’m richer than all you sons of b…”
“Do you want to go outside in the rain and play? You have the whole farm.”
“Someday I might just put a fence around it,” he said. “and call it Little Reata.”
With that, the James Dean, or Jett Rink, or whatever, persona, left him and he sat. “Tell me,” he said, “what is thing your species has with actors?”
I looked up. “What thing?”
“The way you worship them and all.”
“What do you mean worship them?”
“You hang on their every word,” he said. “Even when they aren’t acting.”
“They are popular,” I said.
“Some of them are incredibly dumb, too,” he said, “when they aren’t on script. Have you ever heard one during a meeting or conversation in which a writer or reporter asks questions of a person from whom material is sought for a story?”
“They are about as good at interviews as political candidates,” I said, not knowing why I would choose to defend either politicians or actors.
“What about Mrs. Big Dope?”
This got my attention. “What about my wife, and don’t let her hear you call her that.”
“She worships them too.”
“Actors, at least one of them.”
“What makes you think that?”
“When you’re not here,” he said, “she puts a framed photograph of that actor ‘Matthew what’s his name’ on the counter while she cooks.”
“Maybe his picture makes her think of me.”
“And who does that picture of Big Bang’s Penny on your desktop remind you of?”
I changed the subject. “We just appreciate actors for their talent, that’s all.”
“So why does Mrs. Big Dope want us to become actors?”
This took me by surprise. “What makes you think she wants us to be actors?”
|Now this fellow would turn a straight|
man gay in a New York second. - C.W.
“How many times have I heard her tell you to try and act your age?”
“To act like you’ve got some (expletive deleted) sense?”
“To at least act like you care.”
“To act like an adult.”
“Well what about you?”
“Haven’t you heard her ask me to act like I fell off a space ship instead of a watermelon truck?”
“Oh yeah,” I said.
“But do you want to guess what the most confusing one is?”
“It’s when she tells you to stop acting like a damned alien.”
“Come on,” I said. “It’s quit raining. Let’s go ‘Jett RinkWalking’ around the farm. You like doing that. And if we’re lucky, a deer hunter won’t shoot us.”
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