Almost Famous: Like a day-old doughnut

When I was 13, I worked in a doughnut shop. I wasn’t famous. One day a man walked in, placed his order and looked at me closely. “Are you Italian?” he asked. He looked middle-aged and wore a nice suit and was bold and confident, like he was used to getting his way.

“I’m half,” said I.

“How would you like to be in a movie I’m making about my life in New York City? I’m Italian, too, and I’m looking for an Italian kid to play me. Do you have any brothers?”

“Yeah, I’ve got three.”

His face lit up. “Three? That’s perfect. We may be able to use them, too.” He handed me his card—it had an Italian name on it.

Credit: Jaguar PS/Shutterstock.com

Discovered

“Give me your address, and I’ll come by tomorrow afternoon at two o’clock to talk with your parents about putting you in my movie.” When I prattled to my folks about it, they were skeptical. My mom said later that my Italian Dad wondered if he was a pervert and wanted me for a child sex ring.

I was thrilled—I was going to be famous. I told all my friends and could barely sleep that night. The next day it seemed like forever for the big, fateful meeting to come. I rode my bike up and down the street to pass the time and to get a jump on the guy’s arrival. Meeting time came and no big-shot movie guy. 15, 30 minutes … an hour—he never showed up. No call to apologize, nothing.

Discarded

I was crushed—I wasn’t going to be famous. My friends laughed it off and wanted to ride bikes. We called the guy names and thought he was a big jerk for getting a kid’s hopes up and then letting him down. I felt hurt about it for a couple of days—I wanted to be famous—I thought I was about to become the next Ralph Macchio.

I’d visualized being rich and famous and not having to work in a doughnut shop for two dollars an hour. Not that I had to work in the doughnut shop, but you know how a kid thinks. Everything’s in the here and now. I wanted to be somebody and my chance to make it big materialized in the form of a nice-suit-wearing, big-talking dude who didn’t show up or call to apologize. He whipped up a boy’s dreams and then let them grow cold and stale like a day-old doughnut.

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I’m not sure why being famous was such a draw for me then. Now, I’d rather be anonymously successful, so I can enjoy the freedom that comes with making good money without the headaches of the paparazzi and adoring fans and the pressure and fears that come with celebrity.

Mo’ famous, mo’ problems

Fame has the power to buy you the whole world, but often comes with fetters that rob you of freedom. And no amount of money or power or celebrity can buy happiness. The world is bursting with people who want to be famous. All they need do is heed the words of Elvis: “Who cares for fame and fortune? They’re only passin’ things.”

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Looking for paradise? Just imagine.

I pity those who have no interest in imagining worlds beyond our own. Who think hobbits and dwarves and wizards and magical forests and castles and kingdoms and princesses and courage and adventure and quests and elves and beauty are for nerds and misfits.

imagining

As wonderful as our world is—with its waterfalls and mountains and trees and caterpillars and caves and interesting people and cities and seas and reefs, there is something missing. Something magical the world once had, but has lost. This lost magic is what I long for.

Whispered secrets

If I were to wander into an ancient glade with sunlight trickling through leaves to warm a spot of clover upon to lie, I would listen to wind caresses in boughs and trilling leaves. If I could do this while breathing deeply of wood and earth, I might slumber and dream of whispered secrets of what was lost.

Narnia Woods, near the The Kilns, C.S. Lewis home, uber doofus 2004

It’s as if our world, having surrendered to imperfection, endures as a pale reflection of its creation. It became dark and wild and fierce, and paradise fled. The reflection is discernible, but the magic is found only through imagination. That is, until the end when the world is reborn and made young again, and the magic returns and abides forever.

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Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—the Intro

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As a Texan, my take on California is based, in part, on movies, music and murders—Dirty Harry, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Beach Boys, the Manson family and O.J. Simpson.

It’s a perception of palm trees, glitz, glamour, surf spray, blood red sandy sunsets, optimism, money and movie stars. All of which is funny because the little Sierra Nevada town to which I came and settled has none of these elements.

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All kinds of crazy

What it does have are chilly lakes, river and creeks, colossal ponderosa pines, boulder-strewn mountains, a rustic Old West main street, cabins, cottages, trailer homes, covert marijuana operations, county fairs and farmers’ markets, meth mouths and a ubiquitous hippy vibe.

Its denizens are a curious mixture of gun-toters, hunters and fishers, mellowed radicals, old-guardians and libertarians, cowboys and wine connoisseurs, big-city expatriates and small-town burn-outs. One can find equal numbers of 2nd Amendment activists and gun control enthusiasts, good ‘ol boy beer guzzlers and potheads. It’s a place where everyone can fit in—as long as they fit in within their own groups.

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And along comes the Texan, who talks like a Midwesterner and thinks like a Texan and laughs at the funny stuff going on all around him as he encounters big-government, big-idea California head-on and realizes he’s all the way in when he gets his driver’s license and marries a mountain girl. This new California life means higher taxes, better weather, more expensive gas, more personal freedom and less social responsibility.

My Cali now

This California is now my California. But I can still look at it my way: through the eyes and prejudices of a Texan. Big, bold, beautiful, bloated and kinda nutty—in good and bad ways. Cali Crazy is my take on California; and I’m sticking with it. Yeehaw, baby—let’s ride.

For more Cali Crazy Texan takes on the Golden State, here’s part one: Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 1—Suspicious minds