Friday, May 13, 2011

Mel Gibson and I Have Grown Apart

Oh, hi!

I haven't posted here since last Sunday, and now here I am posting right around quittin' time on a Friday afternoon.  That's what we in the blogging business call "strategery".

No, actually, I was busy with a bunch of stuff, and then I was going to post on Wednesday night, but--wouldn't you know it--Blogger, the host of this and fifty kerjillion other blogs, crapped in its pants and was in "read-only" mode until just a few hours ago.

I did manage to publish a couple other posts on non-Blogger platforms though.  For instance, rightcheer, on Aiming low, I wrote about how cooking steaks on a cast iron skillet is every bit as manly as being a medieval blacksmith.

And then, over on Parentables, I wrote about how non-traditional families (e.g., at-home dads/breadwinning moms) are good models for how family labor can be distributed equitably.

Oh yeah, I guess I hadn't mentioned that I would be contributing to TLC's parenting website, "Parentables".  When I was at the mommyblogging conference in New Orleans, a nice lady who attended the panel I was a part of came up to me afterwards, and was all, "Hey--you're a dude, right?  Take this card and email me later.  We need some dudes to write for us."  So I did.  That's what we in the blogging business call "networking".

Okay.  Enough with the links and the boring news updates.  Here's the story I wanted to tell:


Mel Gibson and I have Grown Apart

The plan was to go to the aquarium.  The girls and I have been talking about "fishies," and "seahowsies" all morning.

But one thing and another delay our launch, and by 10:30 we still haven't left the house.  

Lunch has to happen by noon in order for naps to happen by 1:00 p.m.; and if naps don't happen by 1:00, all hell breaks loose.  With a twenty minute drive on either side of an aquarium visit, the math just doesn't work in service of a drama-free afternoon.

"Hey, guys?" I say.  "How 'bout if we go to the zoo instead?"  The zoo is two minutes from home.

"Fishies?"  They reply.

"Yeah...yeah.  There are fishies at the zoo!  And hippos!  And alligators!"



So we go to the zoo.


Whenever possible, we like to have snack time with the gorillas.  

A trainer throws produce off of the roof over the people-side of the gorilla habitat, into the gorilla-side, while we eat string cheese and bananas and laugh at the great beasts.  The silverback, the lone adult male who leads the troop, ignores the kale and lettuce that rains down around him, waiting to snag the fruit that comes at the end of the feeding.  He catches pears and apples without even turning his keg-sized head to track them.  Then, after the fruit is gone, he goes back for the vegetables, charging at the females and the juvenile male who get between him and a hunk of cabbage.

When everyone is fed, we wander down the hill, talking about where we want to go next. 

"Water! Water!" The girls say.

We stop to watch the waterfall on the backside of the gorilla habitat, and the animals who are settling in for a postprandial snooze in the long grass. 

There is another stroller parked next to ours, with a girl about the same age as my twins.  She's a pretty little white girl with dark hair, and she's being attended to by a tall, striking black woman.

Because my kids are mixed-race, and I am nosy and probably racist, I start speculating on the relationship between the woman and the child.  Is the kid adopted?  She's clearly not mixed.  Is she the step-mom?  The nanny?   

I look around for the dad, and sure enough, here comes an older white guy in jeans and a baseball hat.  Smoking a cigarette.  

Seriously?  You can't smoke at the zoo.  

Great.  Now I have to decide whether to ask him to put it out or just passive-aggressively cough and pull my kids' shirts over their faces as makeshift ventilators.  

Oh, wait.  It's one of those electronic cigarettes.

Really?  The hot black lady is with this old grit who's puffing away on a plastic cigarette?  He's not even super handsome, or rich-looking, or very imposing in any way.  Weird.  Weird couple.

I eavesdrop on their conversation, and he explains irritably that a zoo employee told him to put out his cigarette.  Then he shakes his head and pretends to stub the cigarette out on his cheek.

The power of this bit of stagecraft takes me by surprise.  

The man looks at me and I realize I'm staring.  He has the eyes of a mad prophet, of a tweaked-out roofer I once knew who wanted nothing more than an excuse to get in a fistfight at any hour of any day.

Beneath a layer of greyish middle-aged jowliness, he had the chiseled features of the young Max Rockatansky.  

Ah...that's who he looks like!  He looks like...

Holy Fuckballs!  That's Mel. Fucking. Gibson!

I'm struck by many urges at once:
  • Run away!  He's a dangerous lunatic!
  • Take pictures! Sell them to TMZ!
  • Geek out and tell him about how Mad Max and Road Warrior were the most important events of your adolescence.
  • Shake your head at him, silently saying You. Disgust. Me.  That's what one does to pariahs, right?
  • Play it cool--celebrities don't deserve any special treatment.
I play it cool.  By whipping out my phone, twittering and facebooking furiously: OH MAH GAH! I'M STANDING NEXT TO MEL GIBSON!  WHAT DO I DO?!

We stalk Mad Mel for a little while, coincidentally visiting the same exhibits he and his small troop are.  I make contact with his crazy eyes again, and decide it's time to go look at the flamingos and then head home.


After lunch, I check my computer, and there's a facebook message from someone I don't recognize.  It's a reporter from TMZ, whose bots have apparently tracked me down as a potential source of celebrity photos through my frenzy of panicked tweets.  We have a little exchange:

Nope, didn't get any pictures.

That's a shame.

I know. much would you have paid?

Oh...a couple hundred bucks.

*kicks self repeatedly*

Later, I tell my wife about it, including the self-kicking over not taking pictures.   She, of course, talks sense, tells me that it would not have been worth it to have my iPhone smashed by an angry Hollywood silverback.   

But...but...I could have recorded him flipping out and been famous as the SAHD that Mel Gibson attacked at the zoo!

That's really...pathetic, her rolling eyes tell me.

"Plus," she says, "Think of how traumatizing that would have been for the kids."

I agree, and pretend to overcome my regret over the squandered opportunity.

I don't really think the kids would have been scarred for life, though.

And I don't really regret missing the chance to dabble in the twisted celebrity ecosystem, either.  I used to have a huge man-crush on Mel, before people ever talked about man-crushes.  Mostly because I thought he was actually Mad Max.

But when I saw him at the zoo, he seemed hunted and paranoid, and it made me sad.  Even though it seems clear that he's crazy and possibly evil, I had to think about what it must feel like to know that everyone knows who you are, and most of them hate you.  And all you want to do is look at gorillas with your kid.   




  1. This was the most stimulating post I've read in quite a while.

    1. I'm married to a white guy and I scope out mixed race babies and play 'what would our kid look like'. I don't think that's racist; I hope not anyway. And I assume that when he's with my daughter - not mixed - people wonder what the connection is.

    2. Mel Gibson has a. Black. Nanny? Wow.

    3. Mel Gibson smokes fake cigarettes? Ha!

    4. Lockbox.

  2. BTW mu friend is his publicist.. Can't imagine Mel at the zoo unless he was in a cage? lol

  3. You totally took the high road. But I bet they would have paid lots more!

  4. My boyfriend introduced me to Mad Max. Although he loves the movie, he mostly told me to watch it because most people who were teens in the 80s keep calling him "mel" or "max" (due to the strikingly similar appearance. He used to joke that his mom must've slept with Mel Gibson or Terrence Hill when his dad wasn't around).

    Mel definitely lived up to the name of Mad Max though.... he is now known as Mad Mel to my generation.

    I don't think Mel would have beaten you up. Especially if you were very sneaky about it. If he had the urge to fight you, he would've done so when he noticed you stalking him. Worry not! And as a fellow Mad Max fan (though not to the same degree), i would be proud to have Mad Mel punch me in the face!

  5. So I'm white, my husband is Pakistani/Philipino (which really I should know how to spell by now); we call our kids "pan Asian," or sometimes "Asian fusion," like sushi spring rolls or something. We were in Abu Dhabi a month ago; the kids were tan; a man said (to them) while we waited in line to buy a frozen yogurt, "nice of your nanny to get you guys a treat."
    bwhahahaha. Because of course, nannies get paid.

  6. I thought maybe Mel was going to make some kind of come back with his movie "The Beaver".

    Seriously, how can you go wrong with a movie titled "The Beaver".

  7. When I was doing my "A" levels I had a part time job at a local bacon packing factory.One of the lads that worked there had changed his name by deed poll to Max Rockatansky.

    I wonder if he's changed it back yet to something slightly less ridiculous like Joseph Stalin or something.

    Excellent piece as always BD

  8. @Tanya--Okay, so everybody thinks the same thing as me when the parents don't look like the same race as the kid. That's good to know. Re: the black nanny--that also struck me as odd, after I thought about it.

    @KBF--Man, your friend has her work cut out for her!

    @T-Weed--They probably would have paid a lot more if I had gotten video of him screaming in my face, anyway.

    @Leila--You're doing all right if your dude looks like Mad Max! But...did you actually mention Terrence Hill? I thought nobody knew who he was. I loved him when I was a little kid living in Germany--those cheesy spaghetti westerns--"My Name is Nobody," etc. Man, that takes me back.

    @Manhattan--That's hilarious! That happens to my friend a lot. She's Mexican and her husband is a very white white dude. When she's out with her kids, who are very fair, other Mexican women always assume she's the nanny and ask her about her job.

    @David--I wouldn't write The Beaver off just yet. The premise is so bizarre, it might be awesome.

    @Jack--That's hilarious. Did he dress the part, too?

    Actually, I shouldn't mock--I wore motorcycle boots and a leather jacket every day from ages 16-20, and drove an old cop car (holy shit, the motor in that car was called a 440 *Interceptor*) very much as if I were in a post-apocalyptic race/battle for survival. I guess I might have been a little obsessed.

    Thanks, mate!

  9. In 1981 my parents took me to the movies with them to this little artsy cinema in Alexandria, a usual occurrence. But instead of some slightly boring French film, much to my surprise and glee, it was 'Road Warrior'. They must have been desperate to go to the movies and just picked whatever looked least offensive. I was in heaven. Beefed out macho punk dudes in leather, racing around, fighting, and Max in the middle the toughest one of all yet with a tiny little heart of gold...teen dream perfection. After the movie I couldn't stop talking about how awesome it was. They looked at me wondering what they had just unleashed.

    Cary Grant spent his whole life trying to be Cary Grant, not Archie Leach. He often joked about how impossible it was. I can't help but wonder if Mel has had the problem.

  10. "He has the eyes of a mad prophet, of a tweaked-out roofer I once knew who wanted nothing more than an excuse to get in a fistfight at any hour of any day." To be fair, I've come a long way since then. But gratz on the celeb siting!

  11. I wonder what Mel would have paid for you not to sell any pics?

    Of course, that is if he didn't go all Thuderdome on your ass.

  12. I'm glad you opted to keep your camera in your pocket and the girls off the therapist's couch (over this incident, at least). Doing so meant that I got to meet you and C&B at the farmer's market this a.m.

    I neglected to mention the other reason that your blog resonated so well with Leo (my partner) and our friends with the twin girls. Leo and I have a Flat-Coated Retriever who's current got a UTI and the incontinence issues are killing me. The friends with twin girls have a Berner.

    So, yes. Avoiding Thunderdome while at the zoological society is a good thing.

    Oh, and I "Liked" your FB page, so you can absolutely use the interwebs to reach me.

  13. I think Mel has made some mistakes, but I don't fear or hate him. I've said and done some dumb things, too, and I don't hate me. I just have fewer cameras following me around.

    Hey, congrats on the additional writing gig! I was in New Orleans, and nobody approached me for my manly writing. I did get asked for some 4Loko, though.

  14. I hadn't really thought about him walking around with the knowledge that most people probably hate him now. I mean, he pretty much brought it on himself, but still. That's got to be a pretty sad way to live.

  15. When we were in Hawaii on our honeymoon back in '03, Arnold and Maria walked right past me and I made eye contact with Arnold. My eyes popped open because 1st, it's Arnold and Maria, and 2nd, my husband is a HUGE fan of Auhnold's. I think he had watched at that point, Pumping Iron, at least 100 times or more and like a lot of Arnold fans, could quote his lines (from Pumping Iron and other Auhnold ditties) verbatim ("get to the chappa!"). I told my husband, who had been walking behind them to catch up to me, who I had just seen and he absolutely refused to believe me, until another newlywed couple who had already started stalking them, confirmed. After that, the 2 newlywed couples stalked Arnold and Maria for quite awhile. We took some pictures from afar and my husband will still every once in awhile get them out and exclaim, "look at those calves!"

    We've had a few other celebrity sightings, but this is probably our favorite.


  16. You're so ucky to live so close to an awesome zoo! We're stuck w/ the Oakland Zoo, where you're likely to see as many beer boxes scattered around the grounds as animals. And, I would have paid you a lot to kick Mel Gibson's ass! Or thrown him in the tiger cage. . .


Don't hold back.


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