You know, my stepdad’s brother had a sailboat like Robert Redford’s in All Is Lost. He mostly kept it docked in Savannah, and sat around on it listening to Bonnie Raitt songs and drinking beer. When I was twelve, he took me out on the ocean, and after it got too hot I went below deck and curled up on some life preservers, and listened to the sound of the water lapping against the side of the boat, daydreaming about a girl I had a crush on who had crimped bangs.
Then he took me to a Savannah Waldenbooks, and said he’d buy me any book I wanted. I wanted a Dungeons & Dragons Monstrous Compendium. “What’s that on the cover, there—a monster?” he asked about the fleshy orb covered in eyestalks on the cover.
“It’s a Beholder, I said. “It can turn you to stone with its eyes.” He just smiled and lit a Doral cigarette. I’ll go ahead and tell you now that I never got up the courage to talk to the girl with crimped bangs, but I did freeze the shit out of my friends’ characters with a Beholder in my neighborhood D&D game when I got home from Savannah.
Maybe if Robert Redford had taken his stepuncle on the boat with him in All Is Lost, he could have just kicked back below deck and thought about all the women he had crushes on, both with crimped bangs and without. “Hey, a big shipping container full of shoes almost hit us, but I swerved out of the way,” his stepuncle would yell from the deck, “and I got some cool shoes. Think I could dunk in these?” I guess Robert Redford’s stepuncle has hoop dreams in this scenario.
Do you think Robert Redford even gets crushes these days? Or is he too old? How old is too old to get a crush on somebody? Maybe it’s just crushes till you die (come to think of it, “Crushes Till You Die” would be a good tattoo). Maybe even up till the last minute, there’s some part of your brain that looks over and sees a pretty nurse about to pull the plug, and a voice inside you says, “If you wake up before she shuts down life support, tell her you founded the Sundance Film Festival and we might have a shot at this.”
Now I want a Robert Redford “Crushes Till You Die” tattoo. Wait. That makes it sound like Robert Redford plans to crush you until you die, like with his car or something. Not what I meant! I’ll make sure the tattoo artist puts little hearts over Robert Redford’s head to indicate he is not a murderer.
Anyway, if he is too old to get crushes, Robert Redford’s not too old to play Dungeons & Dragons. Hell, maybe Robert Redford and Paul Newman used to play D&D all the time back in the 80’s. “A beholder crushes you until you die.” Robert Redford would say, gazing into Paul Newman’s baby blue eyes over his Dungeon Master’s screen.
Incidentally, my Bonnie Raitt-loving stepuncle had piercing blue eyes exactly like Paul Newman’s. I haven’t seen him since I was twelve—I wonder if he still has that boat, or if he remembers what a Beholder is, or if he still gets crushes (Bonnie Raitt, maybe? I’m sure he wouldn’t kick her out of bed). I hope so, because feeling like you’re too old to get crushes is what will really turn you to stone.
Also incidentally, I was at a poker game the other day, and my friends and I started talking about how Stove Top Stuffing should pay for the rights to Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About,” and change the lyrics to “Let’s give them stuffing to talk about.” I’d like to see Bon Iver do a soulful high-pitched indie folk cover of that. Judging by the look of Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, I’d say Bon Iver is no stranger to stuffing.
I bet Robert Redford wishes he wasn’t a stranger to stuffing, stranded way out there in the middle of the ocean.
In theaters October 18th.