Last night I made an appearance at an event in Toronto. I was asked to tell a story. It was a fun night. I saw lots of great friends there. I had a nice chat about Bing Crosby with Ron Sexsmith and Feist and I reminisced about the days when we lived in Paris.
Before I left for the event, I made a quick post here asking which of my stories I should tell. To jog memories, I mentioned a few classics from the past months that had received nice responses. One of the stories I mentioned was the one about my fight with Kevin Spacey. In the comments, many people responded by saying things like: "Wait. What? Kevin Spacey?! I must have missed that one. How can I find it?!"
The thing is, after a certain amount of time, Facebook removes some stories from my timeline and archives them. I'm not sure why this happens. I kinda wish they would all stay put. But since they don't and there seems to be some demand, I figured I would offer an encore presentation of the Kevin Spacey tale. Maybe I'll do this from time and time and repost some of the old stories from the early days that have disappeared from the timeline. How's that sound?
So, without any further delay, here's the story:
If I remember correctly, it was the summer of the year 2000 that Hollywood invaded Halifax, Nova Scotia. Several big films were being shot in the city I called home. The two biggest ones were The Shipping News, directed by Lasse Hallström and K-19: The Widowmaker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow. I think Kathryn Bigelow likes Halifax, because she shot a picture called The Weight of Water there a year or two before. All this activity and the presence of celebrities caused a great deal of excitement. People were going gaga…
One morning I was working a shift at the newsstand, when a familiar face appeared at the entrance. Distracted by whatever song I was probably writing at the moment, I took the familiar face for one of the store's many regular customers and responded as I always did - by saying a rote 'heyhowyadoin'.
A few minutes later, the customer set a large stack of newspapers and magazines down on the counter. I looked up from my book or notepad or whatever the distraction of the moment was, and only then did it register that the familiar face belonged to Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey. Without troubling him with small talk, I rang in his order, bagged it up and he left.
The next morning, at the exact same time, he came in again. And the day after that. And the day after that. After a week of silent exchange, he said something friendly. Then, as the days passed, the chat became more familiar and a very casual acquaintance was formed. We never talked about him being an actor or me being the world's greatest rapper, we just talked about the weather and news and such.
The most unfortunate symptom of the city's Hollywood fever was the inception of a celebrity gossip column in the local newspaper. It was so embarrassing. After receiving a tip from someone who had seen that Mr. Spacey was visiting the newsstand on a regular basis, the columnist called me.
"So what can you tell me about your friend Kevin Spacey?"
"Nothing," I said and hung up the phone.
The next day, I received a call from a friend of mine, who was working in the crew of the film on which Mr. Spacey was working.
"Kevin Spacey just stormed off the set. He said he's going to kick your ass!"
"Did you see the newspaper today?"
The weasel gossip columnist wrote that she had spoken to me (leaving out the fact that I hung up on her) and then proceed to dish all sorts of absurd and petty dirt about Mr. Spacey, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. It came across like I had the biggest, stupidest, most-disrespectful mouth in the world!
Ten minutes later, Kevin Spacey appeared in the doorway of the newsstand's front entrance.
"YOU! ME! PARKING LOT! NOW!!"
"Wait. I can explain. I - "
I ran after him.
When I found Mr. Spacey in the parking lot, tucked away from the eyeballs on the street, he was crouched like a soccer goalie, ready to lunge. I started talking as fast as I could, tripping over myself.
"The woman from the newspaper! She! I wouldn't!"
Before a fully-formed thought could escape my throat, I was seized in a powerful headlock. Mr. Spacey's arms were beautiful-muscular. He smelled so good. He was so great in American Beauty. I remember thinking that if I died right then and there, there were worse ways to go.
I was snapped out of my reverie by a solid blow to the bridge of my nose.
"How dare you talk about Judi Dench's underwear!"
"She's a wonderful woman," I tried to say, but it just came out as a series of constricted grunts.
I called upon my backwoods barn-wrestling tactical training, reached over his shoulder and covered his entire award-winning face with my hand. This broke the hold and gave me a chance to try to calm things down.
"Whoa!" I said, raising my hands in surrender. "I didn't say a word to the friggin' newspaper! I swear!"
I could see that he still wanted to punish my face with his powerful body, so I shuffled around the parking lot like Cassius Clay as I explained exactly what happened. As I spoke, I watched him transform from Hulk-Kevin Spacey to regular-gentle-Kevin Spacey. He seemed to grow before my eyes. When order was restored, he stood seven feet tall.
"We can't let this newspaper-woman get away with the crap she's been pulling," he said. "Let's join forces and get revenge on her."
"Yeah," I said, as the adrenaline wore off and pain began to fill my face.
"Well, I should probably get back to work," he said.
"Yeah, me too"
We walked back to the street with an arm around one another and then parted ways.
"See you tomorrow," I said.
"You're alright," said Kevin Spacey.
And how did we get our revenge on the gossip columnist? That's a story for another day.