I saw Bruce Lee the other day.
No, not the leaping, karate-chopping Bruce Lee, the other Bruce Lee. The one who lives down the road from me. You know. Bartender? The one who has parties in his garage? Yeah, that one.
In my life time, I have known a Bruce Lee, a James Bond, and a Tom Cruise. Both James and Tom left my life long ago, but Bruce is still around, and it got me wondering. How does having a famous name affect your life?
I could ask Bruce, I suppose, but he works all the time; so rather than inconvenience myself by, you know, popping by there and sitting and talking to him about it, I think I’ll just extrapolate.
Still with me?
James Bond. Poor Jimmy Bond. Even the 10th grade math teacher Mr. Sums (I made that up) couldn’t resist calling roll the first morning with a fake British accent: “Bond? James Bond?” he’d say, a smarmy grin on his face. Poor Jimmy. There he was, right up front with the other beginning-of-the-alphabet names. “Here,” he sniffled miserably. Jimmy was a little on the scrawny side with a perpetually running nose. Looking back on it, he probably had a number of undiagnosed allergies and could’ve used a pill or two. What he got, however, was chased down the football field after school by a good portion of the soccer team. In the end, Jimmy was caught and “shaken, not stirred”. Last I heard, James Bond was working in the parks system and was on his second wife.
Tommy, on the other hand, was, as we said back in the day, “fiiiiiiiiiiine”. What a good looking arrogant little bastard he was.
Oh, Tom! Why didn’t you ever call me like you said you were going to?!
I saw Tom at the 10-year high school graduation. He had gone to the Air Force Academy right after graduation and was doing very well for himself. Heavy drinking had altered his looks dramatically, but he was still an arrogant little bastard, and he was drunk drunk drunk. He couldn’t believe I was still single, I couldn’t believe he was still upright, and I slipped out the front door after claiming I had to use the bathroom rather than hear what was going to come out of his mouth next. I actually ran to my car.
What a waste of his good looks and a pretty cool name – or at least until the real Tom Cruise came out with the Scientology stuff. Then it got strange.
So how does having a famous name affect you? Outside of being just one more bullet in the arsenal of casual childhood cruelty, the passage of time seems to take care of it. If it's not your name, it's your height, your hair, your glasses, or whatever little weirdness – perceived or real – that they can sniff out about you.
And speaking of weirdness, I've gotta run. I'm meeting Cher and Ozzy for a drink, and you don't want to let these two start without you.
Five in Five: Tuesday, January 23
7 hours ago