The adventures of a New Jersey college professor with very strange friends, colleagues, and family members.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Kevin Spacey People

Part of me hopes that Kevin Spacey, wherever he is, will one day Google his own name and find this blog entry. As it is, I've made a promise to myself that, if I ever meet Kevin in person, I'll tell him the story I'm about to tell you.

Let me take you back in time to the summer of 2000. It was a very hard time for me; that was when my husband of six years decided to abandon me, leaving me alone and terrified. All I did that summer was sleep, take Xanax, and rent movies. Lots and lots of movies.

However, despite it being a crappy year for me, it was a very good year for Kevin Spacey; he was nominated for and won his second Academy Award for American Beauty. Prior to this, I had absolutely no opinion of the man. I thought he was an excellent actor, but that's about as far as it went. I certainly never meant to become involved in his personal life.

During that horrible summer, I also spent a lot of time on the internet, mostly in divorce support group forums. However one day I stumbled upon an American Beauty website, which linked directly to a Kevin Spacey tribute site. I was curious as to the content of this, so I went there.

The site was run (I later found out) by five middle-aged women that I eventually began to call, simply, The Kevin Spacey People. Two of them lived in Manhattan and were best friends and the "brains" of the operation. Their names were Alice and Susan. There was a third woman, Midge, who lived in Brooklyn and who practiced Wicca. A fourth woman, Charlotte, was from West Virginia, and the group was rounded out by Stella, who was from Chicago. These five women had a singular and very terrifying purpose--they were devoted to the cause of getting Kevin Spacey to have sex with them. All of them.

I was fascinated by this. For one thing, this was about the time that the rumors of Kevin's sexuality (or bisexuality, or homosexuality, or whatever) were flying about. Also, having just won the Oscar, Kevin was hot property (though his next movie was a complete piece of crap called Pay It Forward). This did not daunt the KS People. They were more determined than ever to get the poor man into bed.

Intrigued by this insanity, I infiltrated their group. I posted on their message board, pretending to also be a middle-aged woman in New York who was obsessed with Kevin. The fanatics welcomed me with open arms. Yes, I know this was deceitful and dishonest and manipulative, but I couldn't help myself. I was fascinated by the madness. And I was, you know, mentally unstable.

The first thing they did was send me (via regular mail) a copy of their collective erotic novel which featured Kevin and all five of them circumstances. They alternated writing chapters. Not only was the novel bad as a piece of literature, it wasn't even good erotica--some of the bizarre sexual exploits seemed, to me, to be physically impossible. I began to think of all the famous people I had come in contact with during my years in theatre, and tried to think of someone who might actually know Kevin, so I could warn him about these people.

Midge the witch, in the meantime, spent several hours each day casting spells to try to get Kevin to fall in love with them. There was much candle-lighting and incense-burning. To my knowledge, none of this helped.

For Christmas that year, they sent me a mouse pad with Kevin's picture on it. A few weeks later, they sent me a tote bag with a collage of pictures of Kevin on it.

I was also invited to participate in a bizarre form of cyber-sex, in which one person would pretend to be Kevin while the rest of them did...things with him/her. I never actually did this, but one of them was kind enough to actually e-mail me the transcript. It was just...horrible. I sent it on to my best friend Andrew just so he could see what kind of lunacy I had fallen into, and he confirmed my belief that 85% of the actions performed by "Kevin" were not possible for a mortal man.

At around this time, there was a very famous website (now defunct) devoted entirely to celebrities and their private lives. Kevin had his own thread (as did just about every other actor you could possibly think of), but for some reason it seemed that the majority of the posters there hated Kevin for being "closeted" and for "not just coming out and admitting he was gay." Naturally, I told the KS People about this, and they went to the forum immediately and completely lost their minds.

Alice, who was pretty much of a bully, lied completely and said that she ("and several other women she knew") had actually had sex with Kevin, and therefore he couldn't be gay. This brought enormous repercussions on the part of the forum regulators, who out-and-out called Alice on her lie and managed to get her banned from the website altogether.

And then it was time for the Kev-In.

The Kev-In (yes, they really called it that) was the brainchild of the two Manhattanites, who arranged an elaborate weekend in the spring of 2001 during which all of us would get together in Central Park and, well, I'm not sure what we were meant to do. Talk about Kevin, apparently. After the "meeting", we would then progress to lunch at the Tribeca Grill, and following that, we would actually go to Kevin's apartment and try to see him. Yeah, that'll work.

Sadly, I could not attend the Kev-In, of course, because they would then find out I was only using their bizarre obsession for my own amusement. I came up with some excuse and demanded to see pictures, which Midge was only too happy to provide.

The two out-of-state women actually flew to New York in order to attend the Kev-In. Alice and Susan created an enormous banner proclaiming "Kev-In 2001". Everyone had picket-type signs with huge pictures of Kevin from various movies. And there they sat, in Central Park, for several hours.

Then there were dozens of pictures of Kevin's apartment building in Tribeca. I have no idea how they managed to find it, but they seemed to know exactly which one of the windows was his. They marched determinedly into the lobby, pretending to be tax accountants and insisted they must see Mr. Spacey immediately. Not being an idiot, the guard on duty sent them away. I assume that he figured out that tax accountants probably wouldn't be carrying around gigantic signs with Kevin's picture on them.

Not to be thwarted, the KS People resorted to throwing rocks at his window, trying to get his attention, until the guard came outside and threatened to have them arrested.

The final straw came on 9/11. I was frantically worried about the New York based KS People, so I sent them an e-mail asking if they were all right. Several hours later, I received a group e-mail from Alice to all of the KS People saying: "What we really need to be concentrating on, here, is is all of this affecting Kevin?"

I gave up after that. But I know they're still out there, somewhere.

An interesting postscript to all of this is that in December of 2004, I actually saw Kevin Spacey, live, singing Bobby Darin songs in Atlantic City in order to promote Beyond The Sea. I had a front row seat, and at the end of his set, Kevin shook our hands. He seemed very nice.

I should have slipped him a note.

Next time: My friend Al!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Classroom Randomness

At the beginning of this term, my Department Chair called me in a panic. It seemed that one of our English professors had some sort of mysterious "emergency" and was unable to teach. My boss asked me if I could please pick up two remedial classes in addition to my usual course load.

Despite the fact that I teach electives and haven't taught a remedial class since graduate school, all I could see were dollar signs, so I said yes.

Here are a few highlights from the remedial classes so far. Keep in mind, we're only a third of the way into the term:

(after explaining verb tense)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

CHRIS: Is it true that dudes used to play the girls' roles in Shakespeare's plays?

(after explaining complete sentence form)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

SHONTAY: I like the guy who works at my Blockbuster. Should I ask him out?

(after explaining the correct use of the semicolon)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

SARAH: Do you know Johnny Depp?

(after explaining noun-verb agreement)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

JOE: Is that your real hair?

(after explaining commas)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

DOUG: Don't you think Drew Bledsoe sucks?

And then there were the following two incidents that happened just this week:

The class was reading aloud an essay in which Sigmund Freud was mentioned. The student who was reading mispronounced Freud's name as "Frood" (just like Bill and Ted!) I giggled and corrected him. Suddenly, another guy raised his hand and yelled out; "Who's Sigmund Freud?"

I opened my mouth to answer him, but before I could get anything out, another student (who is perpetually stoned) said; "I think he's that dude with the tigers."

At this point, the kid sitting next to him turned and said; "That's Sigfried and Roy, you dork!" And the class exploded in laughter.

In my second remedial class, we were reading an essay written by a man in the Ku Klux Klan. The essay was on "the problem of the black man." I explained to the class that when reading, you have to be very careful to know something about the author, as he/she might have a bias or prejudiced. "Can anyone think of another example?" I asked.

Jessica shot her hand in the air. "I'm afraid of midgets," she said.

I blinked. "Are you afraid they're going to get you somehow?" I asked.

"No, I just think they're freaky little half-people who don't deserve to live."

I asked; "Is this a debilitating fear?"

"Oh yeah," she said, nodding. "I've dropped classes and quit jobs because of midgets."

"Well," I said, amidst the weird looks the other students were giving her, "this doesn't sound like a prejudice as much as it does a phobia. I mean, you do think they should be given the same rights as average-sized people, don't you?"

"Oh, no," she said, "I don't think they have the right to be alive at all."

At this point, Steve, the guy who sits next to her, leaned in and said; "Dude...don't ever watch the Discovery Health Channel. It's like the all-midgets-all-the-time channel."

Jessica never came back to class again. I'm not sure what happened to her. Maybe the midgets got her.

And, to put icing on the cake, this morning one of my students burst into tears in the middle of class. When I asked her what was wrong, she sobbed that she had just broken up with her boyfriend and was now thinking of dropping out of college to join the Navy in order to "forget about him."

I am seriously considering applying for sabbatical.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Watch Out, James Bond!

In the mid-1990s, anti-stalking laws went into effect in New Jersey, making the punishment for stalking anything from a fine to several years in jail. Fortunately, for my friend Kim, these laws were as of yet unwritten in our senior year of college, otherwise she might be behind bars today.

It was the second semester of senior year, and thoughts of graduation danced in our heads. Kim was taking her last Secondary Education class (her goal was to become a high-school English teacher), and in the class was a quiet, unassuming guy named Frank.

Kim latched on to Frank immediately. He was exactly her type: short, Italian, and a little stupid. She began to talk about him all the time, and finally dragged me to the class so I could meet him and give my approval. He seemed nice, but…nothing special.

Kim continued to blather about how attractive he was (he wasn’t), how smart he was (he wasn’t), and how he would make a wonderful teacher one day (he wouldn’t). I figured this was harmless, and to be honest, I had my own problems to worry about; I was trying to get into graduate school.

It started to get weird one night when Kim showed up at my house wielding binoculars. “We’re going to spy on Frank,” she announced.

Bewildered, I got in the car and we headed for campus, where Frank had a late night class. We parked outside the building, and when the class let out, Kim aimed the binoculars at the front door. She spotted Frank and began squealing. Her beady little eyes followed Frank to his car (a 1987 black Mustang), and then she turned to me with a manic look. “Let’s follow him!”

What?” I asked, bewildered.

“Let’s follow him home!” she said. “I want to see where he lives!”

“Oh, Jesus.”

Poor, unsuspecting Frank rocketed down the Garden State Parkway, with Kim (and me) in close pursuit. After half an hour of this, he pulled off into a very affluent residential area and eventually pulled into a driveway. Kim idled down the street, and watched (with the binoculars) as Frank schlepped into his house.

"Well," I said, nonplussed, "at least he has money."

Kim stepped it up a notch after that. She found out that Frank worked as the night manager at a McDonald’s right off campus. Every night she would put me in the car and we would go to the McDonald’s, sit across the street in the parking lot of a bank, and stare at the drive-through window with the binoculars. (I could just imagine how this would look to the police). Kim kept up an endless narration of how cute he was, handing patrons their hamburgers and McNuggets, but never got up the gumption to actually go into the McDonald’s herself, even though she actually knew Frank legitimately.

And, of course, after he got off shift, we would follow him home again just to watch him walk into the house.

One day she came up to me wielding a camera, and asked me to take a picture of Frank, so she could frame it and keep it by her bed. I asked how the hell I was supposed to do that without him knowing it, and she said, “pretend you’re from the college newspaper.”

And so she tracked him to the Student Center where he was in line to buy some coffee, and I approached him, told him my lie, and asked if he would mind me taking his picture. He cooperated beautifully, and I got my shot. Kim was delirious, and said that she would name her first daughter after me. I felt slightly dirty.

One night, as we were sitting outside his house (I was doing homework, Kim was staring through the binoculars intently), we were terrified to see the front door open. “Duck!” Kim screamed, diving to the floor. I just held my book in front of my face.

It turned out to be only his father, putting out the garbage for the night. He dumped the garbage at the end of the driveway, not seeing us. He went back into the house.

Kim stared at the garbage with a strange, strange look in her eye.

“What are you thinking?” I asked, nervously.

“I’m going to go through his garbage,” she said, trance-like.

“Why?” I asked.

She looked at me as if I were stupid. “So I know what kind of food he likes, so I know what to cook him when we get married,” she said, soberly.

“You’re insane,” I said.

“I’m going to take the garbage home with me so I can examine it,” she said, and opened the door.

“Kim,” I said, “you are not bringing that garbage into this car. If you do, I’m getting out, knocking on the door, and telling him what’s been going on.” (This is one of the few times in my friendship with Kim that I was assertive).

I managed to talk her out of stealing the garbage, but I couldn’t persuade her to actually approach Frank and see if he might be interested in her.

During one class, Frank casually told Kim that he was going on vacation for a week at a seaside resort about an hour away from campus. On the day after Frank was scheduled to depart, Kim showed up at my house, insisting that we drive to the resort “to look for him.” I told her that we had no idea where Frank was staying, and there was no way we could ever locate him.

“It doesn’t matter,” she insisted. “We know what his car looks like. If we find his car and watch it long enough, he’ll eventually go to it. I am not missing my one chance to see Frank in a bathing suit.” And a long (and gross) monologue ensued about her speculation on Frank’s chest hair.

So off we went. We drove around the resort for hours…and hours…and hours. No sign of the Mustang, no sign of Frank. She finally admitted defeat, and to appease herself she drove to Frank’s house and we watched it for a while, hoping to at least see a member of his family.

Finally, she folded like a bad poker hand and asked me to tell Frank that she liked him Gently, of course. I was thrilled that the whole thing was almost over.

So, one night as Frank was leaving his late-night class, I accosted him in the parking lot (with Kim watching all this through the binoculars). I reintroduced myself and told him, calmly, that Kim was very interested in him. He seemed surprised, and told me that although he was very flattered, he already had a serious girlfriend. I wasn’t sure when he had the time to see this girlfriend, since Kim had accounted for all his nighttime hours. All he seemed to do was go to class, work at McDonald’s, and go home.

And so it finally ended. Frank went off to parts unknown after graduation. Frighteningly, Kim now has a position as a high-school teacher, and I sincerely hope that she has given away the binoculars.

Lock up your garbage, people.