Donning the Spike Lee Face
Apologies first to Dave K. and Lord Vader. I went to OC and didn't call. Instead I helped myself to a serving of the high-gloss world of Roger A. Hunt, which involved bars tucked into the corners of shopping centers, late-night bowls of edamame and ramen and occasionally black cowboy boots, but not, apparently, my expected birthday phone call, which I forgot to place upon returning to San Francisco.
For that, I also apologize to Roger A. Hunt. He gives me Springsteen in high-definition, and I don't even call. He must be wondering if he really turned 42 yesterday. Is it still a birthday if I don't call? Ask our old friend Phred. I haven't called him on his birthday since 1996.
Given that I've been in a lousy mood ("Cranky," S. Bullock) since November, I've decided that, rather than keep the mood locked inside, where it can fester and expand like the impact of a dum-dum bullet, I'm going to adopt a Spike Lee face. letting the entire world know that I am, like Spike, constantly lugging around ten thousand pounds of baggage and disgust.
Unlike Spike, I will reserve my heaviest baggage and disgust for myself.
Today was a fine time to debut my new Spike Lee face. Though it was Sunday, the traditional day of rest for my non-Jewish readers, I carried a Lee-esque smoldering anger throughout the entire day. Any request from Sandra Bullock or the homework-laden Jawa sent waves of quick anger through my post-Orange County misshapen frame.
I've been sporting a rerun of the 2000-2002 headache since returning home, which has done nothing to improve my mood. This headache, which basically wiped two years out of my life, and which I'm not even sure is an actual headache, comes, I think, from my neck, introducing itself via a series of weird pulsing waves through my head. It feels like there are fireworks shooting off inside my head. I wouldn't be surprised if one of these times, my head just explodes, Scanners-style, solving the headache problem but introducing a slate of new ones in its wake. Then, after the laser bolts die down, the weird, nausea-inducing pain arrives, making all light and sound the equivalent of small arms fire.
All of this is a long-winded excuse for anyone who came across me wearing my Spike Lee face today.
Spike Lee's face is liberating. Sandra Bullock's mantra is to "put on a happy face," so normally, I try to follow along, to better present us as a couple. How would people feel if they saw peppy S. Bullock dragging along a disgusted Spike Lee clone, Spike as a middle-aged Jewish guy?
We would find out.
I wore the face to the YMCA for our basketball game. Pre-game, I came face to Spike Lee face with the ironically named Brooke Shields, imposing coach of the blue team from two weeks ago. That particular farce had led to numerous parent complaints, then me calling the overmatched director of the YMCA Youth Basketball program, who then relayed the message to Brooke Shields. Expecting awkwardness, I walked past Brooke (and her powder blue polo shirt with "COACH" written in script across the front) following her team's laughable drubbing of yet another squad of patsies, flashing the Lee grimace at her. She said nothing. Lefty, she can handle. Spike Lee is another story.
My players seldom respond to my constant harping, yelling, pleading, cajoling. This game began in kind. Halfway through the first quarter, Bullock and I called time, yanked our team off the floor and tore into them (as much as we are allowed, given our community's undying commitment to self-esteem) for their lackluster play. They returned to the court a changed team.
Perhaps the Spike Lee face had something to do with this. When Spike is faced with a half-hearted film crew, does he turn the face onto them as if they are under-researched journalists or members of the obviously racist ruling class? How does the crew respond? Do they snap to attention, cranking out scenes in an efficient, professional manner?
Today's game also presented S. Bullock and I with a new challenge. Short two guards, we stuck the Jawa, normally an undersized forward, into the backcourt. He responded by playing swarming, energetic defense and dishing out passes with a frequency and zest never before displayed on-court, by him or, frankly, anyone on the team this season.
Given our shortage of guards, we had planned to play our two remaining guards three quarters each, filling in with the Jawa for the two remaining quarter slots. His play was so inspired, however, that not only did I have to briefly drop my Spike Lee face, but Bullock and I both agreed that he had earned an extra half-quarter of play.
But would this decision bring with it the whiff of nepotism? A few of our players were confused when we ran the Jawa out for the second half of the fourth quarter.
Personally, I was overjoyed to see our generally non-sporting Jawa show enthusiasm and agressiveness. Our well-adjusted players seldom display any kind of fierceness, no matter how many ways we think up to encourage them to. If it had been any other child, I would not have thought twice about giving him the extra floor time, but I was taught by my own father that when you are the coach you cannot appear in any way to be giving favor to your own child.
Fortunately, since our parents were across the gym, nobody heard Sandra Bullock turn to me --as the Jawa leapt into some guy's face, forcing a turnover -- and say, "He's so cute!"
Probably not what LeBron's mom thinks when she sees him on court, but it works in our world.
Tomorrow, I'm going to wear my Spike Lee face while I'm behind the wheel. No yelling and arm-waving for me. Just the patient suffering one feels while trying to navigate a world full of imbiciles. I have some errands to run. I'll wear the face then, too. People will find it intimidating. It will speak to the flaws they'd hoped to conceal from the world. Spike suffers no one gladly.
Maybe I'll take it far enough that when I enter the "Office of Development," at the Jawa's school, check representing either the entrance fee for 5th grade or 1/3 of the highest yearly salary I've ever commanded in hand, I'll do it with Spike's unconcealed disdain. I won't have to say a word. They'll just see Spike's face on my head and they'll understand.
Spike is power.