It's Love, By George!
23 Feb 2010 · by Brennan Storr · Be the first to comment!
There are certain discussions that every couple eventually has: Will we have babies? What inappropriate, trendy name will we give them? How many people have you been with? How many? I feel like I barely know you, I'm going to my mothers! These are often pivotal moments in a couple's history, determining in one languid moment of pillow talk whether he will produce a ring from a bedside drawer, or whether she will casually mention that if this month doesn't have thirty-two days she's missed a pill. In a recent moment of intimacy Nicky & I cautiously approached one of these questions, slowly and with great delicacy because it is through such thin ice as this that the walrus of discontent bursts through to devour the penguin of happiness. The question? If you could spend the night with one celebrity - who would it be?
Her choice didn't surprise me. My wife has had eyes for Keanu Reeves ever since his appearance in that hit film long celebrated by sci-fi fans, deaf leather fetishists & malcontented fat kids - The Matrix. Even I can't deny that he's the tall, darkly handsome type although his performances tend towards the mechanical. Once, in 2008, I saw him in person while he was filming scenes for The Day the Earth Stood Still at the Greyhound terminal in Vancouver and while my sister gushed about how "hot" Mr. Reeves was I was too distracted by how often his assistant needed to dart on-set and wind the heavy steel key in his back to notice. So her choice didn't surprise me, but mine surprised her. In fact, when I said "George Clooney" her eyes filled with apprehension, wondering, no doubt, if we were about to have another pivotal conversation, this one common to far fewer couples. When I realized that she was thinking back through our time together, trying to think of telltale clues that she'd missed ("Well, he DOES like wearing scarves") I thought I'd better explain myself.
I am a realist, always have been, sometimes to a fault; it's why I'm a lousy fiction writer and an even worse liar. That realistic nature is what made me say what I did rather than, "Anna Kendrick & Christine Hendricks. In a hot tub. I know you said "one" celebrity but they're on a journey of exploration together and their car broke down in front of my humble five-bedroom home overlooking the sea. It wouldn't be fair to invite one in and not the other. What kind of man do you think you married?" Because I know that even if I were to come across either of these young ladies I wouldn't be allowed close enough to break even the laxest court order before I was treated to the bracing zest of pepper spray, I instead chose to interpret the question as "Which celebrity would you most like to hang out with for a night?" If you can think of anyone better to spend a night on the town with than the dapper & erudite Mr. George then there's nothing I can do for you.
With matching Samsonite suitcases in tow we jet off to New York, flying commercial, but first-class so as not to catch any diseases floating around in steerage. Our base of operations is a suite of rooms at the Waldorf, where we slip the clerk a fifty to make sure that the rooms would have at least two trouser-presses. George calls the bellman "Jimmy", and of course that turns out to be his name; he asks how the wife & kids are, even though he's never met the man before. Jimmy does have family, they're well, and he marvels at how George just knows these things. It's the hair, I think. For a moment I wish I could trade my shiny, 'solar collector' pate for a perfectly coiffed head of psychic hair, but I know that with great hair comes great responsibility.
In the afternoon we sit in Grand Central Station, dressed in blazers & with our trousers expertly pressed, sipping espressos and looking terribly important. Every now and again he graciously assents to signing an autograph, sometimes even posing for a photo and always sending the starstruck fan on their way with a side-splitting bon mot that they'll try breathlessly to repeat to their friends but never get quite right. Even passersby uninterested in celebrity and its trappings find themselves walking past and saying, "My but those are smart blazers. And did you see the trousers? Creases like knives." All this time I look on, never cross with George for wasting time on the laity - after all, the man has paid for my espresso. Do you have any idea what those cost in New York?
Dinner at The Waverly, a quick flash of The Man's pearly whites being all we need to skip the line. We order off the menu, and laugh knowingly when the man at the next table in the off-the-rack suit uses the wrong fork to eat his salad. I'm just about to tuck into my steak when George stops me - gentry, he explains, always send the first plate back to the kitchen on principle; nobility change their mind about what they want after it comes back. The steaks return to the kitchen and we order plates of The Waverly's signature 'macaroni & cheese'. It's all a bit bewildering, I really wanted that steak, but I trust in George. That laugh, that detached confidence. Those pressed trousers. How could I not? Anna Kendrick indeed.
After dinner it's drinks at Bungalow 8, The Man putting Scott Baio to shame as he works the lovely ladies in the crowd. In order to curry favor with my friend several of them actually feign interest in what I have to say, and one or two even stop me from swallowing my tongue after I glance at the prices on the drinks menu; the rest of them try to steal my now vacant seat. George won't have any of that, though - it's Men's Night. Ever the gentleman, he instead charmingly directs them to the clutch of seats at the other side of the table and orders a round of Grey Goose martinis. These bring a flush to the ladies' faces and all feeling gay we agree to invite Kanye West over but to call him "Jay Z", and see how long he puts up with it. Dismayingly, as long as we're talking about him he doesn't seem to mind at all, so after two hours George & I make an artful exit and invite the more bubbly amongst the ladies back to our suite of rooms for drinks. They are overawed at the opulence on display, our matching silk pyjamas & trouser presses. A New York morning dawns on the conclusion of an epic game of Risk - the winner? Georgia.
My explanation finished I turned to Nicky, sure I'd explained away any doubts about my masculinity, but she'd fallen asleep. It hasn't come up since so I haven't had a chance to probe her thoughts on my flight of fancy although I have noticed she starts to nod off a little whenever someone says the word "trousers". One of these days I'll have to ask her what she has planned for the dashing Mr. Reeves. Maybe they'll go ice skating.