i submitted another short story to NPR. i wasn’t one of the winners of their three minute fiction contest. this round involved writing an essay in the form of an answering machine message. i wrote one where i sing ‘happy birthday to you’ and ramble on john cusack’s answering machine. i thought the idea had a chance, but then i remembered that time warner actually owns the rights to the happy birthday to you song, and if it is sung commercially (like on NPR) someone’s gotta pay the royalties. anyway, here is my rejected story:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN CUSACK
Happy birthday to you
happy birthday to you
happy birthday John Cusack,
happy birthday to you…
John! Hi! This is Dave! I realize that you probably know ALOT of Daves, but none of them are me. I mean, there may be someone named “Dave” that you know that sort of looks like me, but nevermind that… we’ve never met, I’m leaving this message for you because:
We are basically the same age (you’re almost 3 weeks older than me), and even though we’ve lived different lives, there has to be a common bond between us… the same pop culture references (although i’ve heard that you’ve disassociated yourself with alot of 80s related material), similar teenage humiliations… stuff like… being bullied into pushing pennies along the floor with your nose, or getting hit in the head with a chalky eraser, stuff like that. If you haven’t figured it out, those examples are personal– not hypothetical… but seriously, there has to be something that connects us, other than the fact we were both born in 1966. You also seem like you would be a really cool guy to hang out with. i’ve actually had a couple of dreams where we are just sitting outside on a park bench, and hardly saying anything… not in an awkward silent way though… a car goes by and you look up, and I’m doing a crossword. And you know, even if I never hear from you, I can tell my friends that I left a message with JOHN FREAKIN’ CUSACK!
Hey, did you know that you share a birthday with Mel Brooks, Mary Stuart Masterson (she was even born the same year!) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) from the Karate Kid? Just in case you were wondering, I have seen most of your movies, and I’m pretty sure I would recognize you in public… but don’t worry, on the slim chance that I actually see you, I would give you a nod, and that would be it. Don’t worry about me getting weird (whispering to my friends, pointing at you, staring) because I would barely acknowledge you if I were to see you at the airport or something… very much the same way I ignored Rob Lowe when he was at Kansas City International that one time. He was wearing a ball cap and sunglasses, but it was him.
You know, I’m probably more confident about sharing all of this personal stuff with you because you’re NOT the first celebrity I’ve met… others include: Peter Maxx, Jim Brickman, Gordon Jump, Trent Harris, and Walter Stedman. OK, It feels like I’m rambling now… but honestly I feel closer to you when I ramble. I’m that weird guy who peppers his conversations with movie lines from your characters that seem to talk too long in a scene… like Martin Blank talking to his psychiatrist or Lloyd Dobler trying to impress Diane Court’s father. I don’t want to buy, sell, or process anything anymore than Lloyd does.
Well hey I better wrap this up, I had no idea your machine would let me talk this long… and it’s alright if you don’t want to hang out, or you’ve got enough friends, I understand… I’m leaving a message on Jeremy Piven’s answering machine right after this, just in case I don’t hear back from you. See ya.