Friday, November 03, 2006

I’ve had a lot of fun this week, and I’m not gonna let Gene from work ruin it.

Monday, I attended a showcase entitled "All About Walken". Several actors -- men and women of different sizes and ethnicities -- each imitated the legendary Christopher Walken. They captured the mannerisms, odd pauses and inflections he uses to make even a simple sentence hysterical. (“More cowbell!”) It began with a punny rendition of “These Boots are Made for Walkin’”, and continued with scenes from all his great movies, including dueling Walkens doing monologues from True Romance and Pulp Fiction. They acted out scenes from movies he should’ve been in, like Fight Club and The Wizard of Oz and ended with a little spry Asian guy doing the dance from the “Weapon of Choice” video.

Of course, I loved it. I’ve admired Walken since I first saw The Deer Hunter, and he became a favorite of mine ever since The Dead Zone and Biloxi Blues -- two films that were unfortunately not featured in the showcase. But that’s because Christopher Walken keeps doing so much awesome stuff it’s hard to pick what’s best. He often makes otherwise mediocre films fun, and in the process attracts generations of new fans.

When I told Gene about the show, he had his own anecdotes about Christopher Walken. Back in his days as an actor, Gene had done a play with the man in Massachusetts. At first, the stories fit into the lovable quirkiness you’d expect: Walken stepping off stage during a performance, in full costume, to buy a sandwich from the local deli. The way he told Gene the Jew, who was playing a Mexican named Jorge, “You look like a Jorge.” But when Gene said that Walken became really erratic and blew off the entire performance because he had to deal with his coke problem, I was disappointed. He did drugs? Gene thought I was being naïve; why else did Walken act that way? I said I just thought he was crazy.

Then Tuesday was our office Halloween party -- attendance in costume was mandatory, but there was no room for guests. So I asked Gene what his pregnant wife was doing tonight -- going out as a knocked-up nun? He said nah, she wasn’t into the whole exhibitionism of Halloween. I’m not either, I said, but my girlfriend is. Adelphia was disappointed we couldn’t spend the holiday together and dress up as a couple. Frankly, I was relieved, but one idea of hers I thought might’ve been fun was to go as Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. I get a kick out of proof that wealth and white trash aren’t mutually exclusive. Gene just shrugged, barely interested, except in his own thoughts: “Well, you realize of course, the problem with that concept is that it’s hardly original. I’m sure you’ll find lots of people doing the exact same thing.”

Okay, well, good thing we weren’t. Whatever. Others’ opinions about outfits don’t irk me; I only bring this up because of what happened later that night.

At the office party, we were talking to the executive producer, admiring everyone’s costumes, and she mentioned a couple of her friends whose original dress-up plans fell through -- to go as Britney and K-Fed. Gene guffawed, saying, “Oh, that’s funny! What a great idea!”

What a kiss-ass. Right in front of me, within a half-hour of scoffing at my identical suggestion.

Okay, okay. Gene’s generally a great guy. So let’s put things in perspective a little: 1) it was a party atmosphere, so he was trying to be upbeat; 2) the woman who would've been Britney had two little kids everyone at work knows, and the tykes’ participation in the dysfunctional family might’ve upped the ante on the portrayal; 3) it’s simply good business sense to laugh at the boss’s joke; and 4) perhaps I should take it as a compliment that he’s honest with me -- when he says he likes my ideas he means it.

And maybe I just felt weird at the party. The editors put together a group costume and included me, to do “Deal or No Deal”. They would all be the hot ladies in matching dresses, holding the briefcases with different dollar amounts. I would be Howie Mandell. Yeah, we both shave our heads, so it was an obvious choice. The good thing is I didn’t have to look silly like all the guys in drag; I just grew in a soulpatch like Howie’s and donned a sports jacket. But the performance pressure was on me. I had to do all the talking, emceeing and spoofing the game show with inside jokes about our show. It went well, but afterwards, I still seemed wrong for the whole scene. Normally I’d be fine just wearing a blazer, but not so surrounded by Chewbaccas and Wonder Women and other cross-dressers. When everyone looks ridiculous but you, you’re the oddball. I felt like the school narc or the principal chaperoning the prom.

So it might’ve just been me; I cut Gene some slack and enjoyed the rest of the week. Wednesday night I took Adelphia out for a romantic delicious dinner at BLD, a restaurant Gene had suggested. His know-it-allism had redeemed itself.

Still, I’m wary. Thursday night I met a friend for drinks, at the newly-renovated Sofitel Hotel. I was pretty impressed with the place and had a good time, but I won’t mention it to Gene. Knowing him, he’d pontificate on how they used slave labor to rebuild the joint, or that all the money we’re spending on drinks goes to the hotel’s investment in drug cartels or something. He’d spoil the whole experience. But if one of the network executives had gone there too, Gene might say the Sofitel rocks, dude.

Perhaps I’m not prestigious enough to prevent him from pissing on my parade.


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