Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Man in the Mirror, The Boy Back Then

I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror this morning and thought, “Who is this guy?” Stubbly, bald head, goatee and moustache, big and beefy. I often wonder – if someone were to come up to me, like that “filmmaker” in the Paris Metro back in 1988, (more on him later) and said, “Excuse me, but would you care to see a photograph of yourself, thirty years from now?”

First of all, I wonder if my 25-year-old self would have said yes. And then, if I did get up the courage to agree to see such a thing, and he handed me that particular photo of the man I saw in the mirror today, what would I say? “Yes, that looks like me, I suppose.” Or maybe, “Holy shit, I look like my dad.”

Perhaps I’d say, “Do I become a professional wrestler?” More likely, I’d have said, “Get the fuck outta here!”

So let me tell the story of the guy on the Paris Metro. Susan and I were on the train, trying our best, I’m sure, not to look like tourists but likely looking very touristy, just the same. A man approached us, probably in his 40’s, with long, stringy hair that he wore pulled back in a pony tail. I remember thinking he looked a little like Bono in the "With or Without You" video. “Parlez-vouz anglais?” he asked. When we answered “oui,” he turned his attention to me, speaking English, with some undetermined European accent that drew out his “s” sounds, giving him a snakelike quality.

“Excussse me,” he said, “but are you an actor by any chance-ssss?”

Before I could form a response, Sue’s eyes widened . “Oh yes! He’s been in a bunch of student films, and he’s done some English-language theatre in Madrid where we live.”

“Well,” he went on, “I don’t know how long you’re in Parissss, but I’m shooting a film you’d be jussssst perfect for.”

“Really?” Susan said, nudging me excitedly. “What’s it called?”

“’Angel’ssssss Poissssson’,” he smiled.

The shooting schedule didn’t work out, but I was obviously flattered to have been approached in this way, albeit a little on the, well, creepy side. I’d like to believe I avoided being cast in a really bad porno movie, rather than the possibility that I may have missed out on my Big Break.

I did look it up on IMDB, and there is no such title listed, so I guess I dodged a bullet.


  1. i'd had this (day)dream too when i turned forty of having a beer with my twenty year old self in one of those dives i used to hang out in while i was "on the road" in places like Carlsbad, Escondido or the "jarhead strip" in Oceanside outside of Camp Pendleton, letting that punk take his measure of me with questions i'm sure i'd only answer with ambiguity riddles non sequiturs & questions of my own. i can't imagine what my twenty year old self's emotional reaction would've been to a Twilight Zone moment like meeting a two decades older self; guess that depends mostly on my/his state of sobriety (or not) at the time ...

    anyway, Dan, i'm sure -- if i look back which i usually don't -- there's a few bullets i somehow dodged too. those recollections -- realizations -- are still good for a self-deprecating chuckle now and then. well, i'll be on the look out for "Angel's Poison" just in case your missed bullet turns up. ;-)

  2. Glad to know I'm not alone in these musings. I'd imagine it's a pretty common thing to wonder about.