Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Charlie Chaplin!

This one goes out to all of the Charlie Chaplins in my life...

"That is when I was approached by a grown man pretending to be Charlie Chaplin.

Now, I guess it is some people’s dream to meet Charlie Chaplin, or just someone dressed as him. But even as a 10-year-old, I found Chaplin’s work to be pretty maudlin and cheap. He was no Buster Keaton, in any case. And as “Chaplin” approached, I considered saying so to his face.

But there was a problem. At this time in my life, I had very long hair. It was an affectation, and an awful one at that. But it was a better affectation, I would argue, than the affectation of dressing up as Charlie Chaplin, even if you are doing it for money.

But this wasn’t the problem. The problem was that because I was a small child without a beard or moustache, people routinely thought I was a girl. And this would lead to occasional embarrassing situations. Double takes as I entered the men’s room, for example, or being referred to as “Joan,” or being expected to kiss Charlie Chaplin on his white powdered cheek. All of these things happened, all of the time.

And so the moment came, after some predictable cane-and-bowler-hat shenanigans, that Charlie Chaplin sat next to me and indicated that he was ready for me to kiss him. For obvious reasons, his expectations were unspoken, just as mine were quite clear: I did not wish to kiss the fake Charlie Chaplin. But let’s just say that they didn’t call him the Little Tramp for nothing. He waited me out. It was clear that I was powerless. It was clear what was going to happen, and I let it happen."

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