June 12, 2012
Turn left. Or turn right. One way leads west, the other east. Most of the time you don’t have that option. Your daily routine takes you in a certain direction, day in and day out, and you don’t deviate. Few of us do. Every morning you get in your car and drive to work, same route, left turn right turn left turn. It isn’t up to you to turn right when you should turn left.
Because if you did you’d end up going the wrong way and you’d be late for work.
But I’m talking metaphorically, not literally. I’m talking about spur-of-the-moment decisions, choices you didn’t even know you were making. Those are the types of decisions that make kings out of commoners, that make heroes out of chumps, that make winners out of the losers. And me? Because I made a spur of the moment decision I ended up on television talking about Alec Baldwin’s windmill.
I was on my lunch break. I hadn’t eaten yet. I’d taken a short trip to Toys R Us and had killed about a half hour looking at action figures. Take my word, there are more versions of Iron Man out there than you’d expect. There are a lot of strange toys out there, and especially odd were the Darth Vader socks. The worst part? They were too small.
Lunch hour half over, I was wondering what to eat as I drove out of the parking lot. This was the moment of decision. I was stopped at a red light waiting to leave the lot when I happened to look to my right. And there it was: Panera Bread.
“What the heck?” I thought. “That’s lunch.”
I know what you’re thinking. I really do. You are thinking “Panera Bread is really overrated. You should have gone somewhere else. The last time you were there the sandwich was just so-so and the soup mediocre.” Well you’re right but lunch was almost over and it was right there. So I turned right, out of the lane, and parked. And then it happened.
As soon as I got out of the car I heard a woman calling “Sir! Excuse me! Sir!”
Being a New Yorker I of course ignored her. There are two reasons for this. 1- I just wanted to get my lunch and go. 2- The last person to call me Sir was trying to swindle me out of a watch.
But I turned right and I saw a woman running- yes, literally running, from two aisles away and calling to me. Some thoughts went through my head. “Huh?” and “me?” and “is she in trouble?” and “she’s cute.” So I stopped. Does that make me a sexist pig? Nah, that makes me an average guy. Plus she was carrying a TV camera so there was a chance I was going to end up in a cereal commercial.
Never heard of it.
She said that she was from FIOS TV. That was news to me. Here in NYC FIOS is a cable provider that no one wants because their prices are nuts and they charge you penalties up the wazoo, like for going over the limit with your remote control. So FIOS TV? It just sounded sketchy but hey, life’s an adventure, and if a cute reporter for a possibly fake TV network wanted to ask me a question in the middle of a public parking lot in broad daylight, then hey, I’ll take the risk. Life is like that. Either man up or leave.
She very quickly told me that she wanted to ask me the Question of the Day. Perfect! That’s Cliché Sitcom Plot #43. Ralph Kramden got into hot water with Alice because of it, Archie Bunker looked like a (bigger) jerk because of it, and even the Monkees got into some hijinks because of it. And if there is one thing my life needs, it is more hijinks. I was totally up for it. As long as it didn’t take too long.
The question, she said, was “should Alec Baldwin be allowed to build a windmill?” Luckily she was not filming (the camera was pointed at the ground so I wasn’t being punk’d) because all I could think of to say was “ . ” I had weird images of Alec Baldwin building a windmill with wooden planks and hammer and nails while unicorns pranced about and a maiden with flowing locks leaned, improbably, out of the not-yet-built windmill. Alec himself was dressed in a sort of Dutch Hansel and Gretel outfit. I’m sure some psychiatrist out there is going to have a field day with that one but in the spirit of honestly, Dear Reader, I would never lie to you. (Warning: That statement might be a lie.)
Anyway, the (cute) reporter explained that Alec Baldwin owns a house in some town on Long Island (Which one? I dunno, I’m from Brooklyn and Long Island towns all sound alike, like they really really want to be in New England but have to settle for the east end of Queens. (That’s true geography folks. Maps don’t lie.) He wants to build a windmill but some local residents want to stop him. Before I could ask why they wanted to stop him, like he’s some comic book villain (and maybe he is, he sure has the hair for it), the camera was in my face.
Now I’m nobody’s fool (Saarah stop laughing at me) and I am savvy enough to know that I shouldn’t look into the camera, and the reporter was cute, but I couldn’t look at her either. She was wearing huge dark glasses through which I couldn’t see her eyes, if she had any, so my eyes sort of wandered around her glasses trying to find somewhere to fasten. They soon did: on the giant wine-stain birthmark on her forehead. Remember the one Gorbachev had? This one was worse.
Yep, she was Gorbachev-cute.
So I was staring at the big stain on her head when I suddenly felt all self-conscious about it (because maybe I was making her self-conscious and damn if I am nothing but noble and chivalrous) so I momentarily lost eye-lock with her stain and, briefly, turned and looked right into the camera. Instantly a voice in my head- I cannot swear to it, but it sounded a lot like Jay-Z- screamed “don’t look into the camera!” and I turned back to her sunglasses and finished my answer.
For the record, in response to “should Alec Baldwin be allowed to build a windmill?” I said “If it is on his property and he is breaking no laws or ordinances then he can do what he wants.” All that looking around at her stained head and the camera happened that fast. Then she asked my name, confirmed the spelling (“N-O-R-M D-E-P-L-U-M-E”) and rushed off.
Did I ask her when it would air? Did I ask her what channel it was on? Did I even ask her WTF happened to her head? Nah, never occurred to me. It took someone at work to ask me if I asked any of that or I still would not have thought to ask it. But in the end none of those questions mattered because I don’t have FIOS, no one at work has FIOS, no one I know has FIOS, so I’ll never see the interview anyway. When I got back to work I tried to google “FIOS question of the day” and got zero results so maybe it was all a practical joke, albeit a pretty sad and pathetic one. So for the second time in my life I was interviewed on cable TV and never saw myself on the news.
BTW, do I really think Alec Baldwin should be allowed to build a windmill? I don’t give a rat’s behind, he’s a spoiled Hollywood brat who’s going to do what he wants anyway. If it was up to me I’d stop him from building an outhouse, let alone a windmill, just on general principles. But I wouldn’t say that on television, even a fake channel like FIOS TV.
That reporter was cute, wine-stain or not.