Voices

Walken around

By the

March 29, 2001


I’ve recently come to the conclusion that there are really only two things in this world that make me uncomfortable. And when I say “uncomfortable,” I mean it in the purely psychological sense. I’m not talking about the discomfort that may arise from one’s arm being set on fire or having a kneecap blown off. Not to make light of those particular discomforts, but they don’t really concern me. I’m talking about things that are uncomfortable and don’t involve actual, physical pain.

The first of these things is, I’ll admit, a somewhat frivolous matter, but maybe that’s where its true power lies. It has no real level of importance, which makes it tough to deal with sometimes.

The vague and meaningless object of my discomfort is the little exchanges I have with people that I know, but don’t really know. Somehow these people, the ones I have a class with, have hung out with once or who live in my dorm, and I both feel that there is a need to acknowledge the other. Standards of procedure exist for this sort of thing. One can go with the head nod, raise the eyebrows or the always popular chin extension (who the hell started that anyway?!?). But, of course, sometimes the chin just can’t convey all the emotions we wish to share, and so words are necessary:

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Not much, you?”

“Not much.”

We don’t even have to slow down. And the situation above is probably one of the more meaningful exchanges of this sort. Have you noticed that we’ve degenerated to the point where we just babble at each other as we go by?

For some reason I decided to stop being a “what’s upper” and became a “how’s it going” guy. Don’t ask me why, all I’ve done is confuse everything.

“How’s it going?”

“Not mu? er, uh, good.”

And by that time, it’s usually already over; I’m past them going the other way.

Sometimes all this confusion necessitates a slow down. Then we both get forced into that awkward position of standing and talking to each other. God, I hate that. Because we never have anything to say, both of us just feel dumb until someone finds a way to leave. We try to make these exchanges as short as possible, memorizing only these three phrases to say and nothing more. We receive no points for creativity. What’s up. Not much. Later. Nothing else is left to do.

But things get uncomfortable even before the exchange, when I see one of these casual acquaintances approaching from a distance. We both see each other, and we know that the one has seen the other. But it’s way too early for that to happen. So we both pretend like we didn’t see each other, because we can’t just stare eachother down for 30 yards. With nothing for us to do except the whole what’s up, not much thing?which can’t be done too soon?the timing has to be just right so that the exchange ends as we pass each other. When I see somebody coming toward me on the horizon and I know confrontation is inevitable, I start to get crazy.

I really can’t take this waiting interval. I’m looking off to the side. Oh, look at that bush. I’m just looking over there. Oh, just checking my watch. I’m not looking forward. Look at my eyes; I obviously haven’t seen you yet, and then when it’s safe? What a surprise! You’re right in front of me. What’s up!

But that’s really not a big deal; it’s just a minor annoyance. The other thing in this world that makes me uncomfortable is not so much a situation, as a person. And this person is a cause for major discomfort. The second bane of my existence is Christopher Walken. I fear Christopher Walken.

I am not afraid of the dark. I am afraid of Christopher Walken lurking around in that dark. When I walk up the stairs to my bedroom at night, I feel him behind me. I know he is there, creeping up with a knife clenched between his teeth or something. And I just want to dash madly up the steps, dive through my door and lock it. I just had a chill go up my back thinking he might be behind me right now. He scares me. The day I meet Christopher Walken I’m bringing a couple extra pairs of clean underwear along.

He is a great actor and I love his movies, but nothing gives me more solace then knowing I can hit stop and make him go away. Christopher Walken always has his mouth a little bit open. And like a zombie coming to eat your soul, he’s got that dead expression that makes you wonder whether he has blinked in the last decade. This wakes me up at night.

You may think this is all a joke, ha ha, but I assure you it is not. Fatboy Slim released a new video called “Weapon of Choice,” and if you put on M2 you will eventually see what I’m talking about. It starts with Chris Walken sitting there and some music playing. Then for the next five minutes Walken dances around an empty hotel lobby as though it’s a Broadway musical: Walken dancing up an escalator, Walken jumping over a railing and flying Crouching Tiger-style around the room, Walken prancing up a wall, Walken twisting and jiving down a hall full of mirrors. These scenes are the entire video, just one long shot following Christopher Walken around. No other human being, nor any emotion, appears in the video. When you see it you will be uncomfortable., and then you will understand. Maybe one day you’ll look down a dark alley and stop, because you never know, Christopher Walken might be skipping around with a knife in his teeth, just waiting for somebody to come by and say, “Hey, what’s up?”



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