When Pacino's Hot, I'm Hot
by Robert Levin
Blanche Dubois always depended on the kindness of strangers. Me, I've always depended on strangers thinking I'm someone else.
I'm referring, in my case anyway, to getting sex.
I know it's weird, but the assumption some women make that I'm one or another of a certain group of actors and musicians has been, from my early adulthood to what's now my middle age, how I get my pipes cleaned more or less regularly and for free.
It's also made it possible for me to have (however briefly and if you're willing to stretch the definition) an actual relationship.
I should make it clear right away that on my own terms I'm not someone you'd describe as spilling over with attractive qualities. For one thing, a future with the second towel man in a car wash certainly isn't something a lot of women lie awake at night fantasizing about. No, it's not that I'm dumb; it's a problem that I have with applying and executing. I'm not good at those things. In fact, I'm terrible at them. I think this is because I've never been comfortable with the whole business of living. There's something unnatural about it that I find unsettling and I tend to lose my concentration in the least challenging of situations. You might want to indulge a generous impulse and remind me that anyone, on a given day, can screw up the Post Office test. But when I tell you that I also failed the New York City Transit Authority's dispatcher quiz, you'll have to agree that the condition of ineptitude here does for sure have a stunning dimension.
And if my level of achievement and corresponding financial circumstances aren't enough to give a lady pause, there's my appearance. Although I'm of Greek ancestry, the figure that I cut is something less than Greek. Just under average height, more skinny than slim, and with long, usually unkempt hair hanging over my ears and forehead and down the scruff of my neck, I also have heavily lidded eyes, sunken cheeks and a pallor that's cadaverous. While we may not be talking Elephant Man, this still isn't a picture I'd want to keep in my heart-shaped locket.
But here's the thing: When I look in the mirror I see (if a likeness is to be drawn at all) Ratso Rizzo or Sonny, the pathetic loser in "Scarecrow". But a number of women, when they look at me, see Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino. Or, for that matter, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed, among others.
Typically, and on an average of once a month, I'll be in a bar, seated alone in a corner and nursing a beer when, just like that, a woman will be at my shoulder.
"I know this is rude," she will say, "but I couldn't help myself. I had to come over to tell you how mesmerizing you were in 'Godfather II.'"
Or: "''Positively Fourth Street'—it changed my life."
I realized some years later that the "strange thing" (as I came to call it) surfaced for the first time when I was only twelve. A dozen or so teenage girls were exiting a theater that was playing "A Hard Day's Night." As I passed by on the other side of the street, one shouted something and then three or four of them broke from the others and began to run in my direction. I can recall my sensory equipment registering a small blip that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. But terrified by their shrieks and the predatory way they were licking their lips, my reaction was to flee.
Nine years would pass before anything remotely comparable happened again, but by then, though no less mystified by what was taking place, I was at least ready to respond more appropriately.
Two weeks after my twenty-first birthday (and just one week after my graduation from high school), I was working as a messenger and in a cab on a summer morning with a package to deliver. Heading across town we were paused at a light when an incredible creature materialized. Wire thin, without a curve or a bump in her entire torso, and all arms and legs (especially legs—in my memory, doubtless distorted by time, her skirt is hemmed at just under her chin), she had to have been seven feet tall, and I'm not even counting the fuck-me heels and tendril-like spikes of hair that, drooping just a bit at the ends and gently waving as she moved, erupted from the top of her head. Factoring in the enormous sunglasses she was wearing on an oval face, she resembled nothing so much as a giant insect.
Coming alongside the cab, she did a broad double take, exclaimed, "Holy shit, I don't believe this," and yanked the door open. The light was still red when, tucking me back into my pants, she said, "Say 'hi' to Miss Baez for me, Bobby."
(I remember that my driver was holding both sides of his head with his hands and that his eyes were popping out like cartoon eyes on springs. When we arrived at my destination he not only refused to take any money, he actually gave ME a roll of quarters.)
I still had no reason to regard this incident as anything more than a bizarre and isolated case of mistaken identity, until I encountered, a couple of weeks later in a bar, another woman who was under the impression I was Bob Dylan—and then another who was thoroughly persuaded that I was Al Pacino. With these events I could hardly fail to recognize the pattern that was developing.
Of course it would be awhile before I got a handle on the amazing gift I'd been handed and was able to realize something like its full potential. But in much the same way that I finally achieved respectable levels of competency in toilet procedures and at masturbating by myself, determination, practice and a willingness to learn from my mistakes paid off and I became increasingly proficient at utilizing it.
In the first of the instances I've just noted, for example, my response to the woman who approached me was to thank her for the implicit compliment and then to correct her. But when I observed that being truthful didn't just dampen her interest in me but provoked a discernible hostility—when, that is, she put her cigarette out in my drink and called me an "asshole"—I understood that denying the identity a woman assigned me was not the way to go and that I'd do well in the future to stifle the reflex to be honest.
And bearing this lesson in mind on the second occasion, I did get the girl to come back to my place.
Now before I go on I should point out that my place isn't exactly a showplace. It suits my budget, but it's in an old Lower East Side building where the facilities aren't in their conventional locations. (We're talking bathtub in the living room, toilet in the kitchen, that sort of thing.) Plus, I share the joint with several legions of cockroaches, an ever-extending family of rodents and an apparently unprecedented and aerodynamic hybrid of the two. (The biologists who've come from everywhere to investigate this phenomenon always leave with very concerned expressions on their faces.)
So as you've no doubt gathered, bringing a woman home was a really bad move. I'd go into detail about what took place when we arrived at my apartment, but since the matter is still in litigation it's probably wise to say only that (as I got it explained to me later) it was almost certainly the sudden presence of a total stranger, especially one with red hair, that precipitated the attack. (Apparently some primal imperative to protect its young had been triggered.) Okay? In my judgment it was more of a menacing and hovering thing than what you'd call an attack. But I think that's all I'd better say about it.
Despite the unpleasantness, however, this episode was an important learning experience, and when yet another woman who believed I was Al Pacino presented herself I not only made no protest but insisted that we repair to her place. Well, a few hours later I was cheerfully extracting my shorts from a tangled mix of hastily discarded clothing at the foot of her bed (and promising that first thing in the morning I would instruct my agent to forward a signed eight-by-ten glossy from "Bobby Deerfield").
But my education was hardly completed. If, at this point, I had two basic rules to follow—never volunteer the truth about myself and never let a woman anywhere near my apartment—I would soon recognize the need for a third: Never even think about initiating a hook-up. I'm referring here to events that took place on an evening when, horny enough to jerk off to a postcard of the Statue of Liberty but attracting no attention, I approached a woman and boldly introduced myself as Al Pacino. The loosened retina I sustained (and which makes everything get like very white for a second) has served to keep me mindful of just how critical to my success, not to mention my well-being, is the discipline of laying back.
Yes, I did feel a little guilty at first but I got over it.
Look, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that what I do isn't nice, that I take advantage of the women I connect with. Do you know what I want to say when I hear that? I want to say "FUCK YOU!"—that's what I want to say. I've given the matter a great deal of thought and I'll explain this just once. The women I attract are not what you'd call off the top shelf. Though they all qualify as women in the technical sense, are all, that is, in possession of the crucial anatomical components (which, more often than not, are in something like a normal configuration), they are not exactly achingly beautiful, beaming with mental health or candidates for a Star Fleet Academy scholarship. In fact, and without exception, they are pretty desperate people, sick puppies and three-legged cat types. Many of them suffer horrendous hygiene problems and are also myopic to the point of posing a serious threat to themselves. They are usually very drunk as well. Given their condition the service I provide them is every bit as valuable as what they do for me.
Now don't understand me too fast—I'm not talking about providing them with sex. I'm talking about helping them satisfy another need, a need that's just as real and urgent as the need for sex. I'm talking, of course, about the need to feel special. By physically connecting to my celebrity these women can feel that they are sharing in my anointment.
But that's not all. After suffering the consequences of being truthful, and noticing over time that what questions they would ask me could, for the most part, be readily answered by any faithful viewer of "Entertainment Tonight," it gradually became clear to me that somewhere in their brains these women understood that I wasn't the luminary they were taking me for. But given how pressing was their need to rise above their abject circumstances, even for a minute (and something—whatever it was—about my physiognomy enabling them to use me to this purpose), the fact that they sort of knew they were delusional wasn't about to interfere with their pursuit of me.
So, as you can see, there's no exploiting going on here—not from my end anyway. I mean the very last thing these women wanted me to be was straight with them. On the contrary. They were counting on me to help them finesse a trick they were playing on themselves.
A TRICK THEY WERE PLAYING ON THEMSELVES! Get it?
Okay. I didn't mean to get vicious there, but since it's never really ME who gets laid, I suffer a pretty large indignity myself. So I think people might find it within themselves to be, you know, a little less judgmental.
In any case, with the recognition that my role in the process was just to show up and play along, other methods of procedure I would over time develop are fairly simple, intended only to make sure that I'm presenting myself in a way that's as amenable to distortion as I can get it and then to forestall the possibility of ruining things.
My manner of dress, for example. To try and stay apace of what some half-dozen affluent and more or less fashion-conscious men might be wearing at any given time would have been out of the question even if I'd been able to afford it. And since I never know who I'll be before I venture outside, whose wardrobe would I choose? So in the summer I wear jeans and a work shirt (cleaned and pressed to be sure) and either sneakers or boots. In the winter I add a sweater and a pea coat. I might very well be the complete non-entity and total loser that I am. On the other hand I could just as easily be a Master of the Universe in a casual mode.
My demeanor is informed by the same psychology. Once a woman has established contact I try to limit my responses to those rare questions I have no answer for, to an ambiguous smile. Or, when I think it's best, I become silent and expressionless. Real actors will notice that, in the latter respect, I avail myself of a rudimentary device of their craft. Taking on a poker face, I let the woman read into it what her wishes and expectations dictate and require.
And, of course, no matter how agreeable the experience and melancholy the break, I always make it a point to disappear after one night.
With just one notable exception, I've scrupulously adhered to these rules and they've helped to assure me a fairly decent range of experiences.
I'm thinking now of a woman who despite an irritating quirk that she had of blowing her nose with her hair, kept my interest by taking me through not just every position in the Kama Sutra but more than enough new ones to justify a supplementary volume. (It being Lou Reed's turn to get lucky I was serenaded all the while by her tape of my " Greatest Hits.")
I'm thinking as well of the time identical triplets, appropriately sharing the same delusion and built like middle linebackers, invited Leonard Cohen to a cluster fuck and wound up breaking two of my ribs.
It's a little off to the side, but I'm also thinking of a period that lasted several months during which I was continually approached by men. "I really enjoyed your work in 'Cocks 'n' Cocks,'" they would say. And they would go on to tell me how impressed they were by the way I took "full occupation" of my "space." That sort of thing.
It was puzzling. I'd never heard of this film, or of the actor—Johnson something—they were taking me for. At first uncomfortable with their advances, it dawned on me one evening that my chances for scoring had suddenly doubled and that I'd be a fool not to take advantage of such a break. (I mean where's the problem? It's just friction, isn't it?) But sad to say, not much would develop for me in this area. Before anything happened these guys would erupt in fits of incapacitating laughter, get really nasty or become crestfallen and disconsolate. It turned out that they'd decided I was Johnson Johnson, a porn actor who (within his discipline) was having his fifteen minutes. Curious, I found "Cocks 'n' Cocks" in a theater on 42nd Street and checked him out. To my surprise there were real and striking similarities between us; many more in fact than was usually so. Unfortunately there was also one significant difference. I had barely qualified for the "Woman's Home Companion" category in the old high school joke. When Johnson Johnson used the urinal in a men's room he probably had to stand in the hall.
And then there's the "relationship" I spoke of, which was also the time I broke most all of my rules. We're going back a dozen years here, but there are still nights during which I'm abruptly awakened by the sound of my voice calling her name. When I'm not alone these outbursts cause my bedmates to awaken rather abruptly themselves, but I think at least a part of what they find disconcerting is that the name I call is "Roger"—her father wanted a boy and he hadn't taken no for an answer.
A sparrow of a girl, no more than four-foot-ten and alarmingly skinny, Roger had thick black hair that, falling over most of her face, also fell nearly to the floor. The first time I saw her, from the other end of a long and crowded bar, I thought she was a half-opened umbrella standing on its handle.
We were introduced later that evening by a casual acquaintance of mine she turned out to be with who knew nothing about me except my real name (and who was obviously trying to dump her). But when he said, and quite clearly I thought, "Roger, I'd like you to meet Pete Papadoupolous," her reply was: "Mr. HOFFMAN! What an honorary and spectaculated phenomination. This is PEERLESS even."
Now the thing was that when I saw what was happening normal procedure in this circumstance went out the window. I think I knew immediately that Roger was a keeper and at once recognizing how much she wanted me to be Hoffman and deathly afraid that she would turn away at the slightest hint that I wasn't (which would have been difficult to tell since her hair made it all but impossible to know in which direction she was facing), I went out of way to nourish and perpetuate the "misunderstanding."
What can I say? I was in love for the only time in my life, and when, in our initial embrace a couple of hours later I must have squeezed her too hard and she urinated all over my sneakers, I just—I guess it was the intimacy of it—went over the top. Indeed, before the sun came up I had invited her to live with me and she had accepted.
"I'm so excruciated," she gushed. "I'm besides both sides of myself. And yours too!"
Yes, of course I knew there was no way it could work, that it had to end badly. But I couldn't help entertaining the fantasy that if I drew her in really tight before she discovered her error, we might achieve a depth of bonding that would make my true identity (or lack of one) irrelevant.
The following morning (and amazed by the soothing effect her presence was having on my flying roommates—who'd stopped fluttering around so much and were making sweet cooing sounds), I was more than anxious to know everything about her.
She hadn't, I learned, had an easy time of it.
Her father, she said, had been a profligate of languigistics at a presticated universalment but had quit his tender position and dissipated— just, and poignantly, a day after Roger, then a toddler, had spoken her first paragraph.
No less heartbreaking, her mother, on whose insurance policy she'd been living for the last twenty years, had tragicastically electrified herself when she inexplaciously dropped a George Foreman grill into the bath she was taking—this on the evening of the day she'd come to Roger's first grade class to hear her recite "Mary Kept A Smallish Lamb."
But at this point (and apparently wrestling with her delusion—which was something I'd never known any of my women to do and which, I thought, said something about the quality of her character, though I'm not sure what exactly), she began to ask some questions of her own.
"How come you don't seem to have the majority of cash I respected?" she said. "How come you don't habituate in a nice place? How come you don't have a phone if Steven Spielberg and Sidney Pollack want to hand out some rings? How come your closet is only fulminating with jeans? Also, how come you don't keep your birds in cages?"
Considering that I wasn't used to such an interrogation—and that I was obliged to think on my feet—I came up with something that I thought wasn't bad.
"Honey," I said, "you've entered my life at the worst possible time and while I know that it's asking a lot, I can only hope you'll find it within yourself to bear with me. I'm afraid that I may be afflicted with what's called the 'J.D. Salinger Syndrome'. It's a condition of creative paralysis that sometimes develops in artists who have achieved a legendary stature. Owning the prospect of a fame that will survive their demise, they live in terror of losing that prospect by producing work that might be inferior to what they've already accomplished. Rather than risk tainting their image, they cease to function and, in the worst cases, to even appear in public where the possibility of a clumsy or mediocre utterance could alter and diminish the way they're perceived. What happens is that they effectively sacrifice the remainder of their lives to their immortality. I may or may not overcome this disease and I'll understand completely if its something you want no part of. All I can say is that I'm deliberately staying out of the public eye right now and that I've cut myself off from even my closest friends and associates who, meaning well but not understanding, would only make light of my problem and encourage me to work. This unfortunately includes my accountant who happens to be the only person with access to my bank accounts. As for the apartment, it's my hideout. It's perfect as a hideout because no one would ever think to look for me in such a crummy place. You're the only one who knows about it, the only person I've trusted enough to bring to it. But again, I'll understand if this isn't something you want to involve yourself with because it won't be a whole lot of fun and I don't know how it will end."
And it worked. Roger said nothing, but in addition to breaking out in a really hideous rash as I spoke, her chest swelled noticeably, almost expanding into something like a bosom. She must have felt five feet tall to be deemed worthy of sharing in my time of trial.
But her obvious uneasiness with the situation in which she found herself would periodically surface. A couple of days later she wanted to know why more people didn't notarize me on the street.
"Really good actors," I said, "have the ability to be anonymous when they want to be, sometimes even invisible."
I remember that when I said this it made her giggle.
But even putting aside the considerable tensions caused by my charade (and the always frazzling necessity to invent places I was going to when I left the house for the car wash every day), living with Roger was nerve-racking all by itself—like being tuned to two radio stations at once in a room with the light bulb loose in its socket. Periods of incessant chatter, for instance, would suddenly be interrupted, often in mid-sentence, by a dead silence, as though her plug had been pulled from the wall. At such times she might become motionless as well. Although her eyes would remain open I couldn't be sure if she was actually conscious. In fact, on several occasions, I'd have been ready to believe she'd expired were it not for an odd clucking sound, the origin of which I was never able to locate, and something unattractive that she did with the muscles around her mouth.
Still, as enormous as the problems were, the moments of bliss I experienced in those first weeks more than compensated for them.
Spring was beginning and celebrating its arrival, we did the things new lovers do when spring is upon them. We went to a windswept beach where we romped and frolicked in the sand. Locked in an embrace we rolled over and over down a steep hill in Central Park. In the evenings I washed her hair and she gleefully folded my penis into woodland animal shapes.
I'd have to say that, all things considered, life was pretty good.
Then it went bad.
Roger read in a newspaper that Hoffman was going to shoot a film somewhere in the Midwest and that he'd be on location for two weeks.
"Why didn't you push my head up?" she said, showing me the article.
Even though I'd known all along that such a development was inevitable, I was
nonetheless shaken by this news. It took no small effort to collect myself sufficiently
to say: "I was going to tell you, but I thought I'd wait until the last
minute because I wasn't sure the part would work out and because I knew how
painful a separation now will be for us. I didn't want to make you sad before
I had to."
"Well let's not get ahead of ourselves," I said. "It could be just a fleeting thing."
Needing a place to get lost for two weeks, and with nowhere else to go, it was left for me to seek accommodations at the car wash. And the night before I departed Roger helped me pack my things. When we were done she went to the kitchen and brought back a bottle of cheap champagne she'd concealed in the back of the refrigerator.
"This is a time for jubilating," she said, pulling the cork herself. Then, touching my glass with hers, she said, "Breakfast with eggs, Duster!"
As you can imagine, the following days were either bad or worse than bad. Sleeping in various vehicles in a lot adjoining the wash, I showered and did my laundry standing behind cars on the conveyor belt. And missing her terribly, the fact that I couldn't reach her because the apartment had no phone was torture for me. I could only hope that she was okay.
Finally, mercifully, the two weeks were up and I went home.
Hearing my key in the lock, Roger came to the door with one of my "birds" perched on top of her head and holding another newspaper. Without a word, she shoved the paper at me before I'd even crossed the threshold. It was open to a story about Hoffman. Some kind of budget issue had arisen and production on his film had been suspended. During the hiatus Hoffman was staying in New York. The paper had been printed on the date he arrived.
He'd been here for a WEEK!
Putting the paper down I met her eyes and saw that they were red and swollen.
"Where were you?" she said. " A whole plus seven—and twenty-four as well."
When I had no quick answer she said, "You're doing an exquisite triathlon, isn't it?"
You will appreciate that, as heart wrenching as her question was, my principle emotion at that moment was relief.
"Darling, Darling," I said, "No way. There's no way I would ever betray you like that. No, I'm not having an illicit liaison. How could you think such a thing? I'm playing an unhappy man and to stay in character I deprived myself of your company—for as long as I could bear it anyway. It's just a coincidence that it was exactly one week.
Roger stepped toward me and buried her face in my abdomen.
"I was frightful," she said
She was trembling and so was I. We stood holding each other for a very long time.
Determined from then on to be more careful, I made a special effort to monitor what she might read, see or hear. But I couldn't cover everything. Just a few days later we were awakened by the radio alarm clock and immediately heard on a newscast that the budget problem had been resolved and that Hoffman was back on location. Fleeing to the kitchen to find something to kill myself with, I could feel Roger right behind me. I expected flying dishes. What I got was a juicy kiss.
"You didn't have to submit a misleader about being Dustin Hoffman," she said. "Why did you think you had to be duplicacious with me?"
I was stunned. Had my wildest dreams come true? Was it possible that Roger had come to love me for myself after all? I couldn't believe it. Nor could I believe the sex that was to follow.
I always knew Roger was hot when (it was her signal to me) she lay down on the bed on her stomach, raised her skirt and floated an air biscuit. But that morning's air biscuit resonates for me to this day. Indeed, it will be forever etched in my memory, not only for its remarkable housekeeping application (it worked to clear the apartment of all vermin for almost a month), but because it served to set the stage for the most incredible orgasm I've ever had.
I've never been able to faithfully describe that orgasm. If I report that before it I'd had no idea how much sheer joy there was to feel in sex, that never in my life have I known so pure an ecstasy, I don't begin to do it justice or to convey how, in the throes of it, I felt myself transported to a place beyond time and that, floating free as something like total spirit, I was privy for an instant to the deepest secrets and most puzzling mysteries of creation. (In that apocalyptic moment I actually understood, for example, why Chuck Norris was on the planet.)
And I can say this notwithstanding the fact that the orgasm was somewhat premature—I was still standing over the bed and fully clothed when it happened.
Anyway, when it was done and I lay down next to her, happily exhausted, basking in the afterglow, I was ready to drop my guard and reveal my true self to her in all its emptiness. Brushing away her hair to find her face, which took a awhile, I was about to speak when she said:
"You'll never assume the crush I had with you."
"I saw 'Our Picnics in Needles Park' six times and 'Bobby Dearest' eleven times. God, Alfredo, how I wanted to sit on your head!"
If, only minutes earlier, I'd discovered what it must feel like to win the lottery, now I knew the depths of despair. Even to think about commencing a new deception was beyond my strength.
I didn't know what to do.
The very next day, and too weary at this point to bother checking the TV listings, the matter was taken from my hands. Pacino suddenly turned up on a live talk show we were watching. When he came on, Roger looked at me, then back at the screen and then at me again.
"How are you doing that?" she said.
When I could only shrug she bolted from the room and was gone for twenty minutes. She must have lapsed into her semiconscious thing because I could hear that strange clucking sound (which was a lot louder than usual). When she returned she stood directly in front of me with her arms akimbo. (I could tell her arms were akimbo because her elbows were sticking out of her hair at the same 45-degree angle.)
This time she WAS pissed.
"You haven't been Al Pacino either," she said.
"No, Honey, I haven't."
Where once Roger had contemplated me with an unabashed reverence, as though an aureole surrounded my face, now she looked at me as though I was the lowest form of nature's creepy crawly creations.
"I've known it," she said. "You're a pathoprecocious person.
You're a hypothetical liar. Well, don't bother to make up something improved
because it'll be too little and without much else."
"I mean it," she said. "I'm cognisacious of the person you really are now. I've been expectorating it for days."
Yes, I was ready to say ruefully, I'm Fred the Fraud. I'm Sid the Shit. I'm Deforest the Deceiver.
"You're EMILIO ESTEVEZ ," she said. Your Emilio Estevez and you're ashamed of yourself. WHY? WHY, Emilio? I know you aren't a word that people keep inside the house, but yesterday when my suspicionings aroused me and I said to myself, 'Roger, you're a chimp, this can't be broccoli you're smelling', I went to a laberarium and found you in a book. It said you were a 'third-belated thespassian who sometimes didn't stink the place up'. Wouldn't I co-habituate with Emilio Estevez? Am I so stuffed-up, or what the fuck is this?"
"If only you'd had the retegritude to level yourself for me. But now.... Oh Emilio, I could never stay with a man who has so weenie an esteement for his mortal fibers. Nor I myself."
I pleaded with her not to go. I had no way to pull it off, of course, but I promised to take her backstage to meet the cast of "Cats." I know she agonized over the proposition, but this lady was not without principles. Indeed, she looked at me then as though it was a few years after Watergate and I was Richard Nixon wondering aloud to Republican Party officials if they might, you know, consider nominating me again.
A few months later Roger took up with a guy she's been with ever since. I think she thinks he's Danny DeVito and I've often wondered, since they have a phone, how he handles it when Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas never call.
And while I'm on a sour note anyway I might as well tell you of a period in which the celebrity connection women make for me actually worked to my detriment. It was when Pacino's "Revolution" was released—and on its heels the video. Amounting to a devastating left jab, right cross combination, these unfortunate events threatened to end my career as well as Pacino's. In fact, it got so bad for a while that even women who thought I was Gabriel Byrne would suddenly back off and decide to take a pass. It really wasn't until "Sea of Love" revived Pacino's popularity that I returned to full stride.
When I look back, however, it's clear to me that even during that difficult interval I was better off than I would otherwise have been and I know that I have nothing to complain about. Although I may not have put up Wilt Chamberlain-type numbers, neither has my life been bereft of carnal experiences.
Moreover, I got a woman to actually live with me and though it was very brief, that union produced a son. (Unbeknownst to us at the time, Roger was pregnant when she left me.) I haven't mentioned my son because frankly he embarrasses even me. To say it as gently as I can, most people, when they've seen him or tried to engage him in conversation, take for granted that his parents were first cousins. But Eileen (Roger wanted a girl and she wouldn't take no for an answer) is almost a teenager now and I've noticed lately, when he comes to visit and we're out on the street, that he's begun to turn the head of more than an occasional young lady.
Here's wishing whoever they want him to be a very long run.
Robert Levin is a former contributor to The Village Voice and Rolling Stone and the coauthor and coeditor, respectively, of two collections of essays about jazz and rock in the '60s: Music & Politics and Giants of Black Music.
Copyright 2003-2006 AntiMuse