Who, that? Oh, right-- that's just Jon Stewart. And me. Johnny Stew. The Stewmeister. Liebo. Et moi.
Over Festivus my mom tried gently to suggest I get some more of my err--junk--out of her house by subtly piling it on top of the bed I was planning to use for sleep. Among the treasures was a thick envelope of mostly embarrassing photos of my college days, and one still-life we shall humbly call Victoire, and which sits above this text like a shining, cockeyed beacon.
Though it's there in broad daylight-- our proximity, his left-handedness, my record-scratch gesture and sensible middle-aged green market tote-- what this picture fails to convey is that J.S. is about to laugh. At something I said to him. Using my own breathsicles.
The year was 2004. The month: September. The place: The Borders in Columbus Circle. (*Borders, you see, was a retail outlet that sold non-electronic media, if you can imagine such a thing). I had about three hours to kill before I'd see Jon, and rather than work on my physics lab, like my friend Arien did, or pluck out all my eyebrows, like the lady behind us, I tried to think of a thousand slick things to say to my hero. Maybe something about how um.... Or like, that we both uhhh... Because I thought errr....
I had nuthin. Not even after the line snaked past a shelf holding Peoplesmart: Developing your interpersonal intelligence. And then it was time. There he was. 5 people--4 people--3-- no, just 2 (one obese and one medium) ahead of me. My heart was racing, sweat formed beads on my upper lip, fluorescent lights illuminated our facial imperfections as the sun illuminates the craters of the moon. And he looked up at me longingly...
"Listen," I said. You gotta sign the page that has the Supreme Court justices in the buff. It's for my grandma." He furrowed his beautiful brow. Then his dorky publicist chimed in: "You must have a pretty cool grandma, eh?!" "Sure," I said, "for a racist dowager, she's ok."** And that's when the very breath that the Almighty breathed into Jon's substantial nostrils emerged somewhat rhythmically from their passages.
Having scored that point, I felt encouraged to watch him sign his name right over Clarence Thomas' nethers, and then stare him in the eyes and say earnestly, "L'shanah Tovah to you and yours." To which he replied, "I have no idea what that means. But to you and yours as well." Surely he jests.
Then I floated away on a cloud of stardust.
So eat my dust, plebs! For I have caused the exhalations of great men. And thanks, Mom, for putting this particular treasure in between me and a good night's sleep.
*For this line I owe an enormous debt of gratitude and probably quite a lot of money to the hit TV show Will and Grace. In an episode where Karen lets Jack's parrot fly out the window, but offers to get him another, Jack screams: "If my grandmother died would you bring me another racist dowager with a purse full of diabetic candy??"
* I must also point out that my grandmothers, may they rest in peace, were two of the least prejudiced people to walk the earth.