Recommended Reading

He had a smooth voice, like whiskey and smoke. Damn, if it wasn't sexy.

I was in Spoonbill & Sugartown, a bookstore in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when I saw Keanu Reeves. He was standing to my right. He looked dapper. Faded blue jeans. Worn boots. Blue velvety-looking jacket. Beard. Fedora. Dapper, man.

Nine months before, I'd read an interview with Keanu in some men's magazine that had taken place in a bookstore in LA. In the article, he'd recommended a book, The Elementary Particles, by Michel Houellebecq, which I'd picked up and read. It was amazing. It was brutal. I turned to Keanu and told him that I'd read the book because he'd recommended it.

"Brutal," he said. "Right?"

He had a smooth voice, like whiskey and smoke. Damn, if it wasn't sexy. And that's when things got weird for me. Using that word, brutal, made him seem like me, only better dressed, better looking, and seemingly better read. I couldn't come up with anything to say in response to his 'brutal' and I started to sweat a little. My mind started racing as he recommended another book that was sitting there in front of us on the shelf, then started giving me a synopsis as I stood there with pings going off in the inner space of my mind, trying to figure out something to say. I started to think how strange it was that the last book that I'd read was recommended by him in an interview in a bookstore, and that we were now standing together in a bookstore, and that I was taking an interviewing class at NYU, and that if I were going to be a fucking interviewer I should be able to hold a conversation with an actor whom I had something in common with - reading.

Instead, I stood there like a jackass, silently nodding. And as he walked away, it felt like my future was on the line. I had to be able to make conversation. My ability to become a writer seemed to depend on it.

I walked over and made some inane comment that left him no room for a response, then walked off, embarrassed and humbled, exiled to the other corner of the store. But the store is small, and not long after he was browsing at the table where I stood. I made another attempt. I wouldn't go down without a fight. I could be a writer. I could be interesting. I could rise above my grueling manual-labor lifestyle. I could make fucking conversation - like an interviewer.

He allowed me to ramble on for ten to fifteen seconds trying to put words together that formed coherent thoughts. But it was useless, and as I was cursing my life, my girlfriend came to my rescue, pulling me away. When Keanu was out of earshot she said: "You know, I think he was someone. Wow, what a voice. Right? And you followed him around the store like a little bunny rabbit. Didn't you?"


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