Slapstick

And NOW I’ll tell you about the night that changed my life in a big, good way. It had to do with both Leslie Neilson and my Uncle Avo.

I was six and my parents were going out to some dinner dance and I was gonna go out with my uncle who was visiting from Armenia. He was crazy like me and we’d both make horse sounds and gallop around the house. When he and my dad and I would play “Guess what I am NOW,” he’d bang his head against the ground a few times and I’d shout, “Hammer?” And I’d win. He was really thin. Armenia-thin.  Avo is short for Avedis. Avedis means “Good news.” When we shorten names, we cut ’em in half and put an “o” at the end. My nickname could’ve been “Anno” if my mom were a mute and didn’t say things like “over my dead body” so often.  So nicknames weren’t a thing. I’m glad, too, in a way. Most of them sound like clown names, anyway. But for him? It fits. This would be the first time he and I would be on our own and I felt both responsible for him and, I don’t know, awkward.

He suggested we go to the movies. I rolled my eyes thinking we’re never gonna find something we’d both wanna see. Our humor is so different – ONE of us will have to fake it. Might as well be me. Fine. So the options were White Fang II and Naked Gun 33 1/3. I didn’t want anything to do with White Fang. I really really really did NOT want to see that boring thing. Also, though, I didn’t want to see a movie with the word Naked in it with my uncle. So it was either going to be White Fang and being bored out of my mind or the Naked movie with me squirming in my seat. He assured me the Naked movie would be good. (Inside, I thought: How do YOU know? How’re you sure that this (probably stupid American) movie won’t have some crazy sex scene that I’m gonna have to feel awkward in front of you about?) THEN I thought, Fine. Fine. If it DOES get sexy, it’ll be your fault.

If he can bang his head against my mom’s furniture and be a hammer, then I can watch a sexy movie and play dumb. Cool. So now I was ready.

We galloped to the theater. He bought me popcorn and I rolled my eyes, like Sure, act all innocent – BE all Normal-Movie-Theater-Goer with me. Thing is, I used to watch a lot of sexy stuff as a kid. My parents were the ones with the TV in their bedroom and when they were out, I’d watch something or other before I’d go to bed. However, I’d always switch the channel back to some cartoony thing before turning it off to clear all evidence.

This movie, though: There was nothing naked about it, or sexy even. Except for some boobs, everything was pretty much Home-Alone funny. Leslie Neilson went shopping in a supermarket and won my heart. So did Anna Nicole and her double knee’d legs, all together.  I was never THIS wrong about a movie (or my uncle.) When my folks asked how it was, I was like, Oh fine. (A la: You wouldn’t understand or You… you’re not a hammer. You never WILL be a hammer.) He came all the way from Armenia for this when I only had to walk a block. That seemed unfair to me at the time.

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