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کتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 37

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  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Bad Guy

In the 1980s, if you were a series regular, you were a good guy. Guest stars were either bad guys or victims. I was the bad guy on a CBS show called Airwolf, starring Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, and a helicopter. A helicopter! The helicopter saved the day in every show.

My character was a jilted lover who’d hijacked a sorority reunion aboard the Queen Mary. I was the head hijacker and I had a couple of henchmen. One of my victims was Alicia, played by Robin Dearden. I held her hostage at gunpoint. She smelled good! And she was pretty and funny, too.

But I had a girlfriend and Robin had a boyfriend, so dating was off the table. That turned out to be a good thing. There were no expectations. We could relax and flirt without the pressure of wondering what’s going to happen next. The call times aboard the Queen Mary were at the crack of dawn, so each long day we did a lot of carefree laughing and bonding.

One of my henchmen was taciturn and suspicious and explosively dangerous, and the actor took method acting to a whole other level. In one scene, he was supposed to push Robin against the helicopter. And rather than making the move appear forceful, he actually slammed her hard. He wrenched her finger and bopped her head. An on-set medic attended to her, and she was fine, more shaken than hurt. The guy was inappropriate in his aggression. (A year later Robin was in the supermarket and saw him, and she walked away from a full cart of groceries because she was so unnerved.) As bad as hurting her was, this guy showed no contrition. He was flippant in his response. He said something like, “My character is abusive.” That made me mad. Do you not realize you’re on a set? You’re acting. You have to have some boundaries. You have to look out for your fellow actors. When someone gets hurt on the set, it spoils everything. The fun you’re having, creating—if someone gets hurt, it all goes away. I was concerned about Robin. I tried to comfort her and make her laugh even though she was in pain, and I suppose that brought us closer. We exchanged phone numbers.

On March 7, 1986, I ran in the first Los Angeles Marathon. It was also my thirtieth birthday, and I threw a party at the merry-go-round on the Santa Monica pier. I invited Robin, but she had a prior commitment. She often says if she’d come to that birthday party we wouldn’t be married today. I don’t quite know why she thinks that, but I believe her.

The next time I saw her was a year later, in 1987. I was in Andy Goldberg’s comedy improv class, and she walked in one day. There was instant recognition and mutual happiness. We started getting on stage together once a week. One day, as class was starting, we kissed hello. Actors kiss hello and good-bye all the time, with no lasting consequences. But even for actors, there is an acceptable kiss duration. Any longer than that . . . something is afoot. That day, Robin and I lingered at each other’s lips. It was a millisecond too long, and we both felt it. We both swore later that neither of us had planned it. But we both felt it.

Still, I didn’t realize how much I liked Robin until I was watching Letterman one night with Javier. We’d become close friends since our Cover Up days, and he was now my roommate. He was also in my improv comedy class. During a commercial break, he said offhandedly, “I think I’m going to ask Robin out.”

“No!” I said. I was surprised at how strongly the word sprang out of me.

He was, too. He said, “Oh, did you ask her out?”

“Well, uh, no,” I said.

That was my impetus to get off my ass. Was I going to go through the Carolyn Kiesel experience again? Hell no.

One day after class we were talking and she found out that I’d never been to the Huntington Library, which was close by in Pasadena. It had a great art collection and beautiful botanical gardens. “You should go,” she said. “We should go.”

Did this constitute a date? I hoped maybe it did.

It was late spring 1987 in Los Angeles, so of course I was wearing white slacks and a short-sleeved shirt with a green floral pattern and mesh shoes. She wore almost the exact same outfit in reverse: a green and white skirt and a white shirt. It worked better on her. We laughed.

We had a beautiful day. Robin drove because I had never been to the Huntington Library before. She knew how to get there.

When she dropped me off, we sat in the car talking for a long time. Then I got out of the car and walked around to the driver’s side door and kissed Robin through the open window. I watched as she drove away, thinking: I hope I get to do that again.

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