Sunday, 1 November 2009

I Used To Think I Was Cool Until I Met Keanu Reeves

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

I was standing in Spoonbill & Sugartown on Bedford Ave looking for a book with Marie when I saw him. He was standing to my right. I recognized him immediately. I did a double take to make sure. He looked dapper, yeah, dapper’s the word, understated, yet dapper. Faded blue jeans. Worn boots. Blue velvety looking jacket. Beard. Fedora. Dapper, man.

Nine months before I’d read an interview with him in some men’s magazine that'd taken place in a bookstore in LA. In the article he’d recommended a book, THE ELEMENTARY PARTICLES by Michel Houellebecq, which I'd picked up and read. It was amazing. It was crushing. It was fucking brutal.

I told him that I’d read the book because he’d recommended it. “Brutal” he said, “right?” Brutal, that was my word. That’s when things went weird for me. I don’t know what happened. I think I got star struck - yeah, fucking star struck. It’s never happened to me before. I’ve met a few celebrities, male and female, but most of them seemed to be full of themselves, seeming to want people to notice them. Maybe that’s what fucked me up about him – he didn’t seem to want to be noticed at all. Or maybe it was the fact that he used the word brutal. That made him seem like me, only better dressed, better looking, and as I found out, better read. I couldn’t come up with anything to say in response to his “brutal” and I started to sweat a little. He had a smooth voice - like whiskey and smoke. Damn if it wasn't sexy. And I was suddenly speechless. That rarely ever happens to me. I can talk to anyone about anything, anytime. What the fuck was wrong with me? My mind started racing as he recommended another book that was sitting there in front of us on the shelf, and started giving me a synopsis as I stood there with pings going off in the inner space of my mind, trying to figure out something to say. I started to think how strange it was that the last book that I’d read was recommended by him in an interview in a bookstore, and that we were now standing together in a bookstore, and that I was taking an interviewing class at NYU, and that if I were going to be a fucking interviewer I should be able to hold a conversation with an actor whom I had something in common with – reading. Instead I stood there like a jackass, silently nodding. And as he walked away it felt like my future was on the line. I HAD to be able to make conversation. My ability to become a writer seemed to depend on it. I picked up the book that he'd just recommended and scanned the back cover then walked over to where he was and made some inane comment that left him no room for a response. I walked off, embarrassed and humbled, exiled to the other corner of the store. But the store is small, and not long after he was browsing at the table near where I stood. I made another attempt. I wouldn’t go down without a fight. I could be a writer. I could be interesting. I could rise above my grueling manual labor lifestyle. I could make fucking conversation – like an interviewer. He hadn’t read the book I recommended. He was gracious. He allowed me to ramble on for ten to fifteen seconds trying to put words together that formed coherent thoughts. But it was hopeless. I couldn’t do it. Then he recommended another book. I’d heard of it, read a few articles about it and the author and I made another fearless attempt to use words. But it was useless. I was sweating, blushing, and cursing my life. Just then, sensing my distress from across the store, my girlfriend came to my rescue. She asked me if I was ready to go. He wandered off. When he was out of earshot, Marie said in her sweet French accent, “You know, I think he was someone. Wow, what a voice he had. Right? And you followed him around the store like a little bunny rabbit. Didn’t you?”


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