I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Being John Malkovich

Considering that we didn’t have a map or a GPS, the fact that we only drove past the Japanese Garden once showed some fairly impressive navigational skills on my part, if I do say so myself. Well, that and the abundant and useful signs, plus more than usual good luck.

There’s a tram from the parking lot to the garden entrance, and while we were waiting for everyone to board, Jayne said to me, “Don’t you think that guy over there looks like John Malkovich?” He did, indeed, probably because it was John Malkovich – he said something to one of his companions as he was getting on the tram, and the voice was unmistakable. We both thought it was funny because, while we might have passed him on the street without even noticing in Manhattan, we weren’t expecting celebrity sightings at parks in Portland.

We went off in different directions soon after we arrived at the gardens, and I didn’t see him again, but I heard about him until we left. “Did you see John Malkovich?” “Yeah, that was John Malkovich.” “I talked to his assistant and…” “He’s probably here because…” “John Malkovich—“ “John Malkovich!” “JOHN MALKOVICH!”

Honestly, it made being John Malkovich – being anyone recognizable by a majority of the people you encounter – seem almost unbearable, even for someone a lot less self-conscious than I am. Anyone whose skin crawls at the thought of being scrutinized is not likely to think of acting as an attractive career choice, especially in the theatre. (I've been lucky enough to see Mr. Malkovich on stage several times; I still laugh every time I remember his delivery of the line, "Do you have any orange pekoe?" in Burn This.) But even so, to have people watching and pointing and photographing every time you go out to buy milk or go to the movies must be difficult to live with. Maybe you get used to it. Maybe you just have to learn to ignore it.

I do see the irony that I'm violating some tiny bit of his privacy as well by writing about it, even on an obscure blog he'll never see or know about, even though I'm not writing about anything more scandalous than a visit to a park.

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