Five First Date Questions

The following questions were asked on Myra Bellotti’s wonderful blog –I thought answering them was as good a way to spend a blog as any.  Post some answers yourself in the comments!

-At 8 years old I was very fat. Really, really fat. How fat was I? I was so fat I had to wear husky corduroy pants to my Catholic school that were a different shade of gray than the pants the REST of the boys in my school wore. We went to the uniform shop and they didn’t have anything remotely in my size, so my mother had to take me to that house of horrors for every porker, the department store. There I suffered the ignominy of trying to squeeze my spare tire and thunder thighs into pants that cut off the blood to the lower half of my body and needed to be cuffed up to my knees. Then I had to parade them for my mother’s approval, like some twisted contestant on America’s Next Fat Model. I also had chicken pox when I was 8, which was followed by a two week case of encephalitis that left me in a semi-coma. My neurologist had this big, Art Garfunkel-like afro. My father would try to cheer me up in the hospital by pretending to be Dr. Garfunkel and saying, “How many fingers do I have up” in a funny voice and putting his hand behind his head. Dr. Garfunkel came in to test me, held up three fingers and I was in hysterics. They took my father out of the room and started to explain to him that I was showing inappropriate reactions to stimuli before he spilled the beans about our secret mocking. I also fell in puppy love with Lisa Rast when I was 8. She was the daughter of a couple my parents went to Marriage Encounter with, before they got divorced. I sent her my first Valentine’s Day card when I was 11 or 12, a homemade deal that I walked two miles with to put in a remote mailbox so my parents wouldn’t ask any questions. Imagine my surprise when they came home from the Rast’s one night positively beaming over my artistic talents and craftsmanship that Lisa’s mother had shared with them! I should have just given up then.

-My first concert was Bruce Springsteen, August of 1985 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey when I was 16. It was at the height of his fist-pumping, headband-wearing, dancing with Courtney Cox heyday. I was about as big a fan of Billy Joel as a kid could be and took a lot of flak for it from the prepubescent ACDC/Billy Squire/Led Zep/Black Sabbath crew, A.K.A. guys with cool older brothers. I still held on to my fandom of Joel, but when I discovered Springsteen it was a whole different animal. He had the angry angst I think only a 15-16 pimply adolescent can completely connect with, combined with the reputation of playing joyful rock events into the wee hours of the morning. He was what every teen before and after Holden Caulfield was looking desperately for—something authentic. So when I piled into a car with a bunch of strangers who had sold me the ticket for $100 I could barely scrape together, I was looking for more than just a good show. I was looking for PROOF. Whatever it was, after three or so hours in a packed stadium looking at a video screen over a football field away, after getting up and dancing for the first time in my life, after betting all my money and hope on one longshot to come in, I found what I came for. Been a crazed fan ever since.

-My first girlfriend was Erika. I was 18. We were together for years and it did not end well.

-I have so many favorite movies it’s hard to pick one…so I won’t. The two straight up, frame for frame funniest movies I’ve ever seen are “The Producers” and “Monty Python & the Holy Grail”. I don’t think a day went by for about ten years in my teens and early twenties that I DIDN’T make a “Holy Grail” reference. From the Knights Who Say Ni, to the Black Knight’s “flesh wound”, to “I fart in your general direction”, to the air-speed velocity of a European sparrow, to the Holy Hand Grenade, to “that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide!” it is simply the most quotable movie ever made, and the absolute culmination of every brilliant, insane, irreverent, informed yet twisted idea to come out of the Python’s brains. If you want to have fun for about an hour, take a look at the quote page on IMDB: You can hear their voices as you’re reading it—hysterical. My personal favorite– Galahad: “Look, let me go back and face the peril.” Lancelot: “No, it’s too perilous!”

“The Producers”, I think, is just the perfect marriage of material (Mel Brooks) and actors (Zero Mostel and a very young Gene Wilder, with the funniest group of supporting players led by Dick Shawn). You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the look on Mostel’s face the morning after he seduces every rich old lady in New York City to raise money for his play, or Wilder getting upset and calling him “fat…fat…fatty.” There’s the bird-loving ex-Nazi playwright, the cross dressing director, the blonde bombshell Swedish receptionist who likes to dance, and the ultimate funny scene in movie history: Dick Shawn singing the groovy “Love Power”. “And I give my flower to the garbage man/ He stuffs my girl in the garbage can/ And I give it to the landlord when the rent comes round/ He throws it in a toilet and he flush it down/ It goes into the sewer with the yuck-a runnin’ through-a/ And it runs into the river that we drink/ Hey world you stink!” If you’ve never seen it go look at it right now—I’ll try not to say anything interesting while you’re gone (not too hard, I know): “THAT’S our Hitler!”

-What makes me the happiest: my children, when my wife is happy, rehearsing a show I’ve written, any combination of those three.

    • Kae
    • May 5th, 2011

    My favorite comedies are The Producers and The Seven Year Itch. Of course, I love the Python movies, too, but nothing beats The Producers with Zero Mostel and The Seven Year Itch (with a brilliant performance by Tom Ewell, and a great performance by Marilyn Monroe).

    I wish I’d seen The Producers on Broadway because I love Nathan Lane, but the tickets were too pricey. When I saw the movie based on the play, I was disappointed, but I’ll bet nothing can beat Nathan Lane on stage.

  1. Mary El and I saw the stage version–it was alright. Lane was surprisingly just OK. Actually it was the director’s assistant who stole the show. All the original music from the movie was great and pretty much everything that was written for the show was so-so. We laughed, but not as much as during the original movie (for a lot less money!)

    I don’t think I’ve caught all of “Seven Year Itch”, but “Some Like It Hot” is definitely in my top ten.

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