rubbing elbows and heads with fame
Sometimes your weekend is filled with little things you don’t want to forget. This weekend was full of little bits of fame, cleverly disguised as a normal weekend. They seem like little stories that you remember to tell every once in a while, but for me, they were bigger than that. They were moments I didn’t want to forget.
They remind me of who I am, and who I want to be.
Saturday morning I was sleeping in since Eric had an audition. When I woke up I thought he was still at the rehearsal, so I started my Tae-Bo. Eric came in sweaty and dirty. He had been working on his car. “Come here! Come here, I have to show you something!” He was wiggling.
I was pretty sure I was about to meet Ricky Williams. His mother lives in the same apartment building as we do. Lived, I should say, as it was pretty obvious that she was moving over the weekend. I saw the moving truck outside when I woke up. We stepped outside on the steps and Eric was quietly moving over towards her apartment. “Look!” he whispered, pointing. “There it is.”
It was the Heisman Trophy. It was just sitting on the steps in front of her apartment. It was big and brown. It looked wooden, like an old bowling trophy, almost. I expected it to be really shiny and clean, but the brass or whatever they use to make the statue almost matches the wooden base. The shiniest part was the nameplate.
“That can’t be it. It’s just sitting there,” I said.
“I’m pretty sure that’s it,” Eric said.
Just then the moving guy walked out of the apartment, carrying a box. He looked at us. “No, that’s it,” he said. “Can you fucking believe it?”
We went into the house and cursed ourselves for not having a camera. I thought about pulling out my video camera, but then we realized how silly that would be to show off: “Hey guys, does everyone want to see the video we made of the Heisman Trophy on some steps?” Plus, it wasn’t ours, and we didn’t know Ricky’s mother well enough to let Eric hold the trophy over his head and strut around as he wanted to.
Instead we got ready to go to lunch. As we stepped out to leave we saw the Heisman on the bottom steps in front of our apartment, along with the Doak Walker awards and another crystally-looking award. There were five people at the bottom taking pictures, with Mrs. Williams sitting there, flashing the “hook em” sign and beaming.
“Can I touch it?” Eric asked.
“Of course you can,” she said.
We rubbed the head of the Heisman.
We lingered for a second, staring at the awards and watching the proudest mother in Austin. We decided that it was best if we just went to lunch. “Chuy will kill us if we don’t call him,” I said.
“She’s moving. Those awards are going in that truck in three seconds,” Eric replied, his face still beaming.
“She’s lucky we’re good people,” I said, “A lesser person would have swiped that thing when it was all alone on the steps.”
We touched the Heisman.
After lunch we went to the mall so that I could purchase a new swimsuit. My swimsuit no longer fits me, and it would fall off in the water. I took a deep breath, and tried to convince myself I was pretty and good and a good person and whatever, and headed into the swimsuit section. Eric went to go play in the train store.
The place was packed, and I was in a line holding ten different suits. I found a different section of the department store that was less crowded and started putting one suit on after another. I just don’t understand why they put such unflattering lights in dressing rooms. These people want to sell their clothes, don’t they? You’d think the dressing room would be the most lush place in the store. Full of chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne. Instead I get ugly florescents and old carpeting and smudgy mirrors.
I walk out of the dressing room twenty minutes later to the squinty-eyed glares of ten other women holding ten other swimsuits each and find Eric. I hold up five swimsuits.
Which one do you like best?
Uh… I don’t know.
Just pick one.
Well, I don’t know what they really look like. There’s all these straps and… where does that part go?
Jusssst piiiick onnnne.
Well, which one do you like best?
I hate all of them.
Do you need to keep looking?
I will hate all of them equally. I will not like any of them. I’d rather just have the one you like.
Do you want to go to another store?
There will never be a swimsuit ever that I will like, okay? No one wears a hockey jersey and shorts in a pool. That’s pretty much what I’m looking for in a swimsuit.
I guess I like this one.
How much is it?
They are all eighty dollars. The only one that isn’t is this one here with the daisies that I found in the junior’s section, and that’s fifty, but since you don’t like it, I’ll get this one.
I could like the daisies.
Forget it! I’m getting this one! Out of my way!
I’ve never bought a bikini before. I just kept thinking that Billy Blanks ™ would want it that way. He’d want me to get a new kind of swimsuit to show off my new kind of abs.
We got home and went swimming. (Eric liked my suit). We played Warball. This is a game I created in high school with an old boyfriend. It used to involve a ball and it was played sort of like water polo but with the full contact football rules in place. We don’t have a ball, so here are the rules of warball, in case you want to play it at your local (rather empty, preferably) pool.
for two to however many players
one water bottle, half-filled with water
one not-a-toy life preserver
swimsuit firmly tied around waist
object: get the water bottle inside the center of the life preserver before your opponent.
rules of play: to start, all players of game go to one side of the pool, facing away from the water. One person shouts, “One, Two, Three,” and then all players shout “Warball!” (this is a new rule added this weekend). As “Warball” is shouted, one person throws the life preserver, the other throws the water bottle over their heads. Another count to three and then it’s “Go.”
All players turn around and the game begins.
All players must swim in the deep end regardless of height. Shallow water is anybody’s game.
If your opponent is holding the water bottle you can pick up the life preserver and throw it to the other side of the pool, but you cannot hold it in the air for several seconds in a row. You must pick up and fling.
Once the bottle is thrown anybody can pick it up and attempt to “make a basket” or “slam dunk.”
You can take the water bottle from your opponent by any means necessary. Intentional drowning is frowned upon but not unheard of (Eric…).
Getting the water bottle into the life preserver awards one point.
First to five wins.
Alternate game: You must win by two.
Time outs are after baskets, and should be taken frequently.
Remember to keep your swimsuit securely fastened, or it may be lost in play.
During our game of warball (won by yours truly) our friends Chris and Beth arrived from San Antonio to see our show that night. Afterwards I had to do the Monks show at the Velveeta Room, so we walked down to the club. I walked in behind Mike Judge. I was a bit nervous, as our show was in half an hour.
“He’s got a scout here for the stand-ups,” someone told me. But perhaps he was also going to see our show while waiting for the stand-ups. I went back to the green room and found five wiggly Monks. “Mike Judge is here,” each one was whispering. He walked back towards us and was looking around. “Are you lost?” I asked him.
“I’m looking for a friend,” he said.
“Oh, do you want me to help you look for him? I could do that. I could call his name or go onstage and see where he is or get the mic and call him out or something. I could buy you a drink while you wait. Perhaps you could just read this while I go look for him. It’s my resume. And this is a copy of a play I wrote. I write pamie.com, if you happen to be on the internet. Hey, by the way, I can do a mean, Bobby Hill. Here, listen: ‘Dad? Am I allowed to say coxcomb? What about titmouse?’ Isn’t that funny? I think it is.”
That’s what my brain was telling me to do. Luckily I don’t always listen to my brain, and instead stood there with my stupid stare while I watched another comic offer to buy him a drink.
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
He saw our show, by the way, he kept coming in and out during it. I know this because to come in and out of the club you have to walk by the stage. I don’t know what he thought of the show. I don’t know what any of them thought, really, since the crowd was really quiet for the first ten minutes of the show.
So, maybe Mike Judge saw me perform, maybe not.
Sunday was another day of rehearsals and shows. Afterwards we went to get something to eat. We were all chatting about being loud in the section, since we were the only ones there, and the waiter says to Matt, “Well, I know you can shout.”
We look at Matt.
“What did you do?” I asked him.
“Nothing! I don’t know!”
“No,” the waiter said, grabbing a plate. “I’ve seen his act.”
“Oh, well, thank you,” Matt said, blushing and beaming.
There was a moment when everyone was quiet at the table. You could tell we were thinking about how nice it is to get recognized outside of the stage, to have someone remember you and recognize you. Everyone has their moments when someone says, “Hey, didn’t I see you at…” and you picture yourself giving autographs or whatever…
I was talking to someone last week and he found out I was a performer. “Let me ask you something,” he said. “Do you do it for the applause? I’m just wondering what makes someone want to do that much work for little or no pay.”
I think you do it for the applause to some extent. But mostly you do it for moments like Matt had last night. Someone took something home with them after being with you for a few minutes. Something you said or wrote or sang or played stayed in their heads longer than the drive home. They talked about you to someone, perhaps. They said your name or described what you did or maybe even stole your joke to make their significant other laugh. You left an impression.
Of course after two seconds of reflecting, the entire table did what we’re supposed to do in that situation: we teased Matt for the next thirty minutes.
“Look who’s getting a tip now.”
“I can feel his head swelling over here.”
“Now let’s pay that guy to come over here and say ‘Matt is cool.’”
“Did he leave his phone number in your nachos?”
So my weekend started with touching an object that represented fame and success that belonged to a person I’ve never met. I saw the effects of fame on family. I saw the beam of a proud mother with a son who has a household name. Then I met a celebrity and watched myself be unable to say anything or even behave like I normally would because I questioned my own worth in front of what should be a normal person. Is it because he has what I want? Is it because I think he’s better than I am? Is it because I don’t want him to think I’m a big dork? Then I end up sitting next to a local celebrity for the course of a meal. It’s the beginning of fame, when you can still tease a person and be buddies and not think about how it affects a career or an ego. The three stages of success, all presented to me in one weekend, as if to say, “Is this what you want? What level do you want it? Are you sure you want to keep doing this? It’s not going to stay the same.”
Do I still want to perform?
By the way, they’ve scientifically proven that too much light makes the baby go blind. I thought we’ve known that for years.