Thor has a hammer that whipped skulls clean off shoulders and had the visage of a testi-gargantuan that immediately lowered the appeal of any other male around him by a very discernible degree. And like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Captain America had steroids. Always helpful. Storm, arguably the best of the X-Men, could conjure lightning at will and really cause some destruction. And it turned out I was just like them. I too had a super power. It may not have the equivalent glory of, say, Sandman’s transitive fashion, but it held its own.
I had the uncanny ability to evade collisions like no other man before me.
This was first evidenced to me when I was fourteen and illegally driving a Vespa scooter around town. A good friend of mine was sitting in back of me, clutching my chest for dear life. The brakes were damn near shot to hell. We approached a four-way stop, with, ironically, four cars stopped. The Vespa’s brakes were steaming, slow to action. As two cars were moved forward (for it was there turns), me, the Vespa, and my terrified companion were hurdling towards them. I squeezed the brake pedals ever harder. The front one had no effect; the rear brake showed signs of effort, but little more. I had no option. I twisted the acceleration throttle. The Vespa swerved through the maze of metal and tire and the curses that were directed towards us. As victors do, we headed home to eat Hot Pockets in celebration of life. “We should have died” my companion remarked to me once the initial shock had worn off. I thought about that long and hard. But the outcome was clear to me. “No. It’s just my superpower,” I concluded. “We were fine all along.”
Thus, years later. It was one of those evenings. There was a perplexing influx of children seeing R-rated films. Why anyone bothered to pump them out continually was beyond me. The Corpulents were out that night, spilling their coke zeros. Like an unexpected tidal wave the rush of people late to their films overwhelmed our menopausal, and profusely sweating, ticket taker. She was knew. You could tell she hated life. Several sixty-some-odd-year-olds woman had their poodles on leashes, each properly adorned with unofficial service dog jackets. These small balls of fluff would often yap during the picture, sending disgruntled moviegoers my way, demanding refunds as if I was the one who could help them. I could not. I was only a seater, and this seemed to aggravate them to no end. Luckily, they were only a finger point away from leaving my vicinity and storming off to concierge.
The theater often hosted Q and A’s. A-lists only. That kind of scene. This was an exciting prospect for anyone looking to “make it” in this town while working this job. The mere mention of a celebrity presence was often enough to fuel a week of pages upon pages of writing, or, a continued pursuit of pro bono acting gigs for cheap short films, hoping that, one day, you’d be just like them: paraded around smelly, envious individuals who had more than a few questions for you. It didn’t help that the really famous acts that came to our theater were the most apathetic and characteristically limp. But, when sneaking away from work to catch their anecdotes, it was nonetheless energizing.
Tonight’s auteur was one of these been-around-forever, but finally-getting-recognition types. Admired, but not yet Scorsese. His new film was bound to change that. There was a flurry of ties and short dresses running about, flaunting guild and V.I.P. passes; meaning the film had already started, because you are (practically) mandated to be late to a film in Los Angeles. It’s the law.
It was my job to greet the audience as they exited the theater. I was unaware of the Q&A being held tonight. It was in theater one. I was at theater twelve. Rushing down to it, thinking I’d be late sorely late, I rushed through many bodies. None of them were happy about it. But this was my job and I’d do it dutifully.
As I approached theater one, no one was leaving just yet. I was not late. I did, however make someone else late. He was a familiar man with a British accent. Familiar, yet anomalous. This man had the great misfortune of crossing my path, like so many before him that evening. As I sprinted for the door, this man was exiting the bathroom, very much in a hurry. I tried to dodge him, but only ended up on my heels, skidding in front of him as to avoid a head on collision. He gracefully stopped, held out his hands and sighed when we became stalemated in movement. Shaking his head and lightly cursing under his breath (something to the tune of “fucking kid, shit” [most understandable!]), the man pranced around me and proceeded into theater one. I thought nothing more of it. That is until, like a fool, I stood outside theater one’s door for several minutes, wondering just when the picture would be out. The picture was Twelve Years A Slave. I took a peak and found the microphones were blaring out a British art-house intonation that I happened upon hearing just moments ago. Could it be? I thought. Like a cat on a mouse, I lurched across the exit wall, inside, and saw the man I had encountered, much to his chagrin, only moments before. He had a mic to his mouth and was talking on about the processing of filming the movie. He was, of course, the director. Terrible tingles of shame marched up my legs and knees. I had nearly faced a gifted director with my chest; my burgundy colored, sweaty, tofu-smelling, buttoned-up chest.
March 2nd of 2014.
That very man stood on the Oscar podium with a win for his film. Best Picture. I was pleased to see his expression was vastly different from that evening some months ago. He even jumped up and down, defying gravity as avidly as a child about to receive cotton candy at a fair. A jovial man. He deserved the win. He seemed to be a special presence; he was from the outside, and somehow infiltrated the system and found an audience. Despite our one foolish meeting, you could tell he was a winner, and worthy of such an award. Pedigree is earned.
And of course my mind then turned to wine. The story was recalled to me instantly –– for I better understand a wine when I can better place a human characteristic quality upon it. A wine with a personality, so to speak. There are few in my price range. But when there is one? We have one hell of a good time, and I cherish it all the more.
This is one of those wines.