137. Fame

I’ve decided that I’m going to be famous after I’m dead, so I am being careful now that I don’t leave incriminating evidence behind that will besmirch my future fame. I don’t want some bitter friend or acquaintance to write a book or a magazine article about me and endanger my legacy. I’m leaving bigger tips at restaurants and trying to return phone calls promptly. I’m NOT going to massage parlors or off track betting either. (I never did go, just in case you were wondering.) I’m paying all my debts so that I leave no one in the lurch to complain about my financial recklessness. No Bernie Madoff scams with my name. No Burnietto Special is gonna go down on my watch! I’ve begun apologizing to total strangers just in case they become acquaintances or friends of friends later on. Frankly, it’s exhausting to go through the staging of proactive Teflon Fame. I feel like I’m washing my coffee cup while I’m still drinking out of it. “Oh. To Life, To Life, L’chiam.”  (Uh, just a random outburst of song.) Oh, floss and gargle too. More deodorant. Hair gel. “Camera One… Cue Forrest Gump…”

“Hahh, Ahhmm not Joel Osteen, but Ahhd like ya’ll to treat me like ya’ll would Joel. Ahhhmm just as humble as ahh Odor Eater shoe insert. Ahh, Ahh just love babies and puppies and Jahzuss. Ahh go to three churches a week and Ahhh always sit in the last pew, cuz Ahhhhmmm a humble man. Ahh eat the heels of bread loaves and shrimp heads. It aint much, Ahh know, but Ahh don’t want to be no bother to nobody. If Jahzuss come back today and thowed a picnic, Ahhd give’m Mahh bread heels and shrimp heads soes we could make a big ole gumbo an feed them Beatitudes on the hillsahhd. Ahh always lahked thur music.”

Hopefully a full press Forrest Gump would not insult anyone and thus prevent my reputation from further exposure to myself. This fame pursuit is quite complex.

Going back through one’s life taking a fearless inventory of wrongdoing sounds like a story ripped right out of the AA Big Book. It is. How can I rewrite the past? I can’t. It’s that simple. Nor can I kill off all the witnesses to my past. Only ruthless dictators can afford to exercise this option. Kim YOUNG Fool in North Korea, for example, simply has folks incinerated for hiccupping in his presence. ( I am exaggerating here, I think. Not sure if I have the name right either.) I’ve heard that he sends folks with ADD to concentration camps. Is that even possible?  [Note: no Bernie Madoff and no Korean dictator tactics in my fearless inventory.] Now mass hypnosis is a thought I’ve considered, one huge magic trick where my life story is hypnotically replaced with, with um, a perfect guy’s life, only I can’t think of anyone who is or was perfect.

In fact, when I think harder about famous folks, I find that a lot of them were arrested and/or spent time in jail, like Nelson Mandela, John McCain, Martin Luther King, Keith Richards, Charles Manson, Napoleon, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, Socrates, and Galileo. So I wondered if maybe some time in jail for a crime I did not commit would help me pre-habilitate my reputation as a hero of the people. But what crime? Something wretched or treasonous? Then I’d need the trial of the century to build my support base. A sensational murder case would do it, along the lines of O.J. or Tot Mom or Phil Specter. But I have to be found guilty and then exonerated posthumously. I’d have to do hard time in a cage and die in exile. Man! I need a Byzantine novelist to work out that script!

Ahh!! Why didn’t I think of this earlier. Forrest Gump was a made up guy who was woven into real historical film footage so seamlessly that he seamlessly seemed real also. So, I wonder if Robert Zemeckis could weave me into some Kim Young Kool meets Jackie Chan martial arts footage. I would not cost him a cent if he could make a comprehensive film of my life that had me come out majestic and heroic. If he needed Tom Hanks to stand in for me, okay. Maybe this is what John Edwards had in mind when he had that lady filmmaker follow him around.

“Oh Fame! Why dost thou plague me?” Shakespeare never said that, because he was not proactive about his image. If he’d been clairvoyant like me, he’d have gotten a hair comb over and lost the pie crust collars. But no, he bought into his quick sand Elizabethanness, and now he sits like an old palm print memorialized in concrete that was poured back in 1600. But his loss is my gain. I will purge my photo history of all bad haircut pictures, flannel shirt poses, moustaches in search of meaning, and the one where my infant daughter is gumming a cold beer as I tip an open one to my mustachioed lip. Gone like Soviet history. Hmmmm.

Do I really want a Soviet photo-shopped biography? For my story to be believable I will have to keep some warts and freckles. “Oh Fame! Why dost thou plague me so?” (I like saying that. I feel like Hamlet for a moment.) Some scars and nicks add character to a fully lived life. On the Antiques Road Show the furniture maître de says “there is a lovely patina that’s so desirable”. Maybe I can keep a fungal toenail or my imperfectly placed bicuspids as proof of my provenance. And maybe I should allow my biographers to include a story or two of my self absorption. Hush, blogkins. It must be done.

Living like this is wiping me out. Maybe I should just live a clean life from here on and leave it to my agent to make me famous. Only problem is, I have no agent. Phewwww. WWJD? Get some Gospel writers. My accountant Bill. Joel the lawyer from the coffee shop. My tenant the good doctor Cinda upstairs. And then a reformed Pharisee who is harsh with women? No, it’s too much. I just want to scream,

“I’m gonna live forever, Baby remember my name. FAME.”


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