I really enjoyed meeting all of the authors at last years GRL. People who I thought were larger than life have since become friends. And as great as everyone was/is, a handful of authors and readers really “made” GRL for me in New Orleans. Near the very top is Barry Brennessel. Not knowing what to expect, and not having anything else to go on except having read his novel, Tinseltown, Barry had me charmed within the first 5 minutes of meeting him.
Here he is to share a little of himself and, in the process, charm the socks of you.
“Life Is Funny,” starring ? as Barry Brennessel
“Life Is Funny,” starring ? as Barry Brennessel
“Who would play you in the movie?”
It’s one of those fun questions you hear at a party, or you come across during a board game, or that a reporter asks a presidential candidate. “Who should be the star of Your Life Story?”
It is fun to imagine. Let’s say I paid my $44 admission fee, skipped the medium “buttered” popcorn at $25 a bucket, and settled into my seat to watch my life unfold on screen. And while I wait for the half-hour’s worth of previews to finish up, I grow increasingly nervous to see who they cast as…me. Could it be Johnny Depp, or maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt? No, no…wait—um, who’s the hottest, smartest, most charming actor today?
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Sure, there are moments when I wish I had the cool demeanor and worldliness of Sir Alec Guinness or the confidence and agility of Sean Connery in full James Bond mode. Or that instead of nervously standing in the corner at parties and searching for the nearest exit I could woo the crowd merely by peeking in the room, like George Clooney (or the second coming of Robert Redford: Brad Pitt.) Or that they’d call me one day to tell me that I’d won the Nobel Peace Prize, and I’d just become more beloved throughout the world than I was already.
Nope. Never going to happen.
To truly represent me in filmdom they’d have to cast Jim Carrey or Rowan Atkinson to reenact a string of what I like to call my biggest “D’oh” moments in life.
Winding back the clock (and I guess they’d have to find a child actor for this scene), I’ll never forget the time the entire family went out to dinner one Saturday eve. I was seated next to my grandfather, who was a little hard of hearing. The restaurant was busy, but it seemed that our waitress had disappeared forever. I suppose when you’re twelve years old, “forever” has a different dimension. At one point, I turned to my grandfather and said, “You could fall asleep in here, the service is so slow.” My grandfather leaned in closer and said, “What’s that?” So I raised my voice and said, again, “You could fall asleep in here, the service is so slow!” And then I turned to see the waitress standing directly behind me. Thankfully the six entrees on the huge tray she balanced in her arms didn’t “mysteriously” spill onto me.
Oh, those wonderful foot-in-mouth moments.
Fast forward a few years (and now we’ll have to cast a teenager). I was a newly licensed driver. Yay! And what better way to explore this freedom by…driving through a cemetery in Western New York in April. Yes indeed, all the mud, melting snow, and patches of ice. Brilliant. Add to that the fact I decided to amble the 1976 Ford LTD up a steep cemetery hill. Well, I made it half way, until the passenger side got stuck in mud while the driver’s side sat on a patch of ice. After several minutes of spinning tires, flying debris, and gear-shift changes that would horrify any mechanic, I managed to roll the car back down the hill, and into a section marker. Metal on metal on chrome sounds just…awful.
Oh, those wonderful out-of-your-control slapstick moments.
Skip ahead a few more years (and now we can finally cast an adult—more or less). I was at a writers’ conference, and the opening ceremony featured a highly entertaining reading by a special guest who threw in some performance art as well, so it had a very scene-from-Broadway feeling. It went over really well. Later, during a break, a woman came up to me and told me how wonderful she thought my writing was. I was shocked and flattered, but also confused, as at that stage of the game I’d published…a short story in a small press magazine. Still…I wondered: could she have been that touched by something I’d written? I thanked her, and described my inspiration for the story, and then asked her if she subscribed to the magazine. Her eyes grew inexplicably wide after every syllable I spoke. Just then, the Special Guest walked out into the lobby area, and the woman spotted him. She did a double-take, looking at him, back at me, then back at him. Her face reddened, and she scooted away. I turned to examine Special Guest, and realized we looked very similar. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: she thought I was the Special Guest! It was my turn for a beet-red face.
Oh, those wonderful you’re-not-who-they-think-you-are moments.
Of course all this is endless fodder for a writer. All the characters in my stories are trying to figure out their place in the world. And stumbling along the way. Don’t we all, though? Even the most dignified and assured have had moments where that wave of embarrassment has swept over them. It’s what makes us all relatable to each other. Don’t we feel a little closer to a celebrity or politician or learned thinker when they have an “oopsie” moment—just like us regular folks! —and are able to laugh at themselves? It humanizes them. (Some of them, anyway.) It’s like the moment when Toto draws back the curtain to reveal the real “Great and Powerful Oz.”
There will be plenty more forehead-slapping moments in my life. But, you know, that’s okay. It’s more story material for sure. And, really, when you’re able to have a good belly-laugh at your expense now and again, life just seems all the more fun, doesn’t it?
Oops, gotta run! The phone’s ringing. Caller ID says it’s… Bradley Cooper?!?
Oh, no, wait…sorry.
It says “Bill Collector.”
Barry Brennessel can be found here:
Barry is offering up a deeply discounted (a.k.a free!) e-book. Winner has the choice of: Tinseltown, Reunion, or his latest The Celestial. To enter, comment below with the name of the star who you think should play you in the movie!
Open until Saturday, October 13th at 11:59 pm (PST) Winner will be selected and notified on Sunday.
No camera today, but Congratulations Suze294 … you won!