Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lean on Me, George

A couple of weeks ago George Clooney flew me over to his villa in Laglio, Italy on beautiful Lake Como.  I've fielded a lot of late night sobbing, sniffling calls from George ever since he didn't win Best Actor for The Descendants Now, George owes me a lot because the only reason he got that People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive cover is because I turned it down.  We never talk about it, but sometimes when he looks at me out of the corner of his eye I can see the resentment smoldering.

Well, it turns out things were way worse than I had imagined when I got to the villa and found out how George had really been dealing with his Oscar disappointment.  It's bad.  During our phone chats I used to say any upbeat thing that came to mind when he whined about turning 50 or worried about the five pounds he couldn't lose or the Big Kahuna of his problems, the Oscar thing and his fear he'll never get nominated again.

"Look, George," I'd say. "At your age you can't expect to just change instantly and get the looks and confidence and charisma you want.  You've got to focus on what you have.  And that's a lot, buddy."

"You wouldn't lie to me?" he'd whisper hoarsely.  In the background I could always hear the Sesame Street CD he finds comforting.

"I'm not capable of that with you, George.   Maybe with Johnny or Brad because they're so needy."

Well, if you've seen the movie in question, you know it takes place in Hawaii, specifically beautiful Kauai island and the film has all kinds of Hawaiian authenticity and Hawaiian music and singing and quirky details about the culture.  George plays a sort of schlumpy badly-dressed and nerdy lawyer (boy, did all that eat up my cell phone minutes!) whose wife's in a coma and he has to deal with two bratty daughters and some real-estate thing that was really kind of boring. .

Okay, here goes:  George does okay in the role.  B+ but no better.  He has to look grief-stricken too often and it doesn't always ring true.   If only the director could have used some kind of time displacement equipment to snatch his close-ups from the period I saw him at the villa.  Things might have turned out different.

Oh, boy.  You know those little springy wiggly Hawaiian Hula Girl thingies you can mount on your dashboard or just stick to your desk and they jiggle and do their grass-skirty thing?  George had somehow got hold of thousands--literally thousands--of the little hula girls and had been spending all his time thinking up creative ways to destroy them, most involving combustion or dangerous weaponry of one sort or another.

Now a psychologist might say this was a perfectly fine way of using a thematic/symbolic method of dealing with his Hawaiian disappointment.  I thought it was a wee bit daft, but George is fragile and I had to go along with him.  Besides, the villa is beautiful and the wine and women were plentiful.  George's current squeeze was off doing some kind of shoot in Portugal, so he was entirely focused on blowing up and disintegrating mini hula girls.

We used lighter fluid, magnifying glasses to focus the sun and make them smoke (I warned him about the danger of the toxic plastic fumes, but he shot me such a foul look I clammed up), pistols, torches, slingshots, flaming arrows, and a terrifying sniper rifle--the real kind you blow up terrorist's heads with!--that I at first refused to fire, but George told me in icy tones that I wouldn't get any of his special pizza that night if I didn't hit at least three hula girls with the super weapon.  I managed, finally, after about 10 tries.   I think the problem was he didn't have the scope calibrated properly, but again I clammed up.

Well it turns out that George's special pizza is something he whips up himself, spinning the dough in a not terribly competent fashion and making corny jokes in a really fakey and borderline offensive Italian accent.  He insisted I call him "Luigi." He makes plain cheese and tomato sauce pizzas and then "decorates" them--that's how he sees it--with broccoli florets and red M&Ms.  He says it gives the pizza a "Christmas" feeling that reminds him of childhood.

I made another big mistake while I was choking down a slice and timidly asked him how he'd gotten all the hula girl toys.  He closed his eyes tight for a really long time.  His shoulders started shaking.   I tentatively reached out and touched his shoulder, and then he was bawling, head nearly bashing into a pizza pie.

"George, George . . ."  What else could I do?

He pulled himself together and said, "You know I still have contacts, people who will do me favors just because I'm Georgie and not fucking George "ER" Clooney!"

"I know that, Georgie."  We spent the rest of the evening watching old Italian movies like The Bicycle Thief and drinking red wine.  In the morning, I found a thank you note from George weighted to the marble kitchen table with a melted hula girl.

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