H.T. Phone Home
I know that patience is a virtue, but then I've never been terribly virtuous.
I knew it was going to be torturous waiting for that phone call. Putting
the thought of Henry Thomas with my number in his cell phone out of my
mind was no easy task. I got a little scared that he was going to "pull
a Stamos" on me. (My friend, Todd, went to high school with John Stamos
and years later ran into him at some theater production of "Grease" co-starring
Belinda Carlisle. John said he was having a party and got Todd's number.
And yes, you guessed it, he never called. B-level celebrities can
be so predictable.) I'm the most pessimistic person I know, but I still
refused to believe that such a fate would befall me. I'd come too far
to reach an impasse now.
It was one of the longest weeks of my life. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday...Friday, I was having a very exciting evening making
an omelette when the phone rang. It was 6:00 pm sharp. I said, "hello"
and then I heard the words I'd waited 26 (o.k., maybe three or four) years
to hear, "This is Henry." My face immediately got all hot. It was unnerving
since I'm the kind of person who never blushes. He asked why I
hadn't called him and joked about me being too cool for him. I was like,
"You never gave me your number and I didn't want to be pushy." He was
all, "Right, you didn't want to be pushy." (Contrary to his impression,
I'm about as unpushy and unassertive as a person can be.) Obviously, he's
a drunk because he swore up and down that he'd given me his number, which
he undeniably did not.
Henry must've had a skewed perception of me. I said something about being
sorry that I was so stiff on Sunday but that I wasn't feeling well and
that I was starstruck. He was like, "Yeah, right." But I really was
starstruck. In a way I had the upper hand in this situation. Apparently
all my "s.c.s." ramblings had put a little fear in his heart, which is
how it should've been. I never wanted to be seen as faceless and fawning
and I'm glad that came across. You have to keep your stalkées guessing,
you know? Of course, I was shaking in my boots since I'm nothing more
than a big talker.
We chatted. It turned out that he was in New York for five weeks, not
the three he originally quoted me. In fact, he had absolutely no recollection
of having said that previously. He said he was busy filming during the
week, but that his weekends were free. Saturday he was buying socks and
painting in his apartment. That made me laugh, but I guess he was trying
to get into character, as his role involved being a psychopathic artist
who taught at a community center. Dear lord. But that didn't stop me from
fantasizing about how I could get one of these sure-to-be-godawful paintings
for my living room, though. Sunday he was attending a celebrity basketball
game (dear lord again). Unfortunately, he'd be in the audience and not
on the court shooting hoops. I said I'd come up with a plan and call him
the next day. Now I had his apartment and cell number. I wasn't complaining,
but like, you should know that giving your stalker such easy access is
just playing with fire!
Now I was faced with the hefty decision of how to entertain Henry Thomas
on a Saturday night. Playing social director is not a role I'm well suited
for. I always end up going to whatever bar, party or show that I'm dragged
to (even if it's kicking and screaming). My friend Jane told me she had
plans to go see some guy, Paul Kay, who I'd never heard of, play a free
show. I hate seeing bands with someone you don't know well, especially
if you don't know what the music is going to be like (no, it doesn't take
much to stress me out). But I figured it was an option at least.
Saturday afternoon I got up the nerve to give Henry a call (I have serious
phone phobia--calling up strangers or near strangers is one of the most
frightening things in the world to me) and mentioned a tentative plan
to hook up with friends at a show later on. He asked who was playing and
somehow I twisted the name from Paul Kay to Paul Kelly. I had no
idea there was even a musician named Paul Kelly, but there was, and Henry
is crazy about him so he was completely excited and ecstatic. I told him
to meet me at Sophie's
at 10 and that we'd head over to the show at midnight. It was a plan.
By the time evening rolled around, I was a wreck. I'd figured out my
wrong Paul blunder and it was eating away at me. I hate breaking bad news,
especially when it makes me look like a dope. (It reminded me of a sixth
grade incident where I'd invited these girls over for a slumber party
and somehow wires got crossed and they thought we would be going to the
Michael Jackson All-Night Skate, and my mom would never let me go to an
all-night skate in a million years. I recall lying on the couch, staring
at the wall, full of woe, trying to decide how tell them we couldn't go
while still keeping them interested in hanging out with me.)
I pulled myself together, slammed a few drinks, and packed up my new
$12 camera and mini notebook. I was set. This night would be captured
in all ways, shapes, and forms.
10:20 PM. I showed up a little late, but I'd run into some friends on
the way and was babbling about my meet-up. I don't think they understood
my enthusiasm. New Yorkers just don't seem to give a hoot about child-stars.
I opened the door and spied Henry facing me. He was accompanied by two
young ladies who had their backs to me (at least the open seat was next
to him). I waved, said a quick hello and made a beeline for the bar. I
could already tell this was going to be a rough night.
As I sat down, it was clear that they were in the middle of a heavy conversation.
Henry had just been dumped. They were attempting to boost his spirits
and were proposing a fix-up. This was hysterical to me. He seemed to be
cheery enough, which I didn't think was right. I wanted to see him curled
up in a ball, crying in the corner, and told him so. This brought horrified
"no's!" from the girls. We were off to a brilliant start.
There was Henry in a sweater vest and cords. Later this would provoke
a comment from my friend Jane, "He must be trying to get attention wearing
stuff like that in the east village." Um, her logic is often a bit skewed,
but I got what she meant. Regardless, it was hot. People can poke fun
all they want; it's not going to put a damper on my love for crisp, conservatively
Across from Henry sat Mia, a run-of-the mill blonde who was his make
up artist. They'd met on the set of "A Good Baby" (yet to be released)
in North Carolina. Next to her was a brunette whose name I have absolutely
no recollection of. She was that unremarkable. She wore pearls, lived
on the upper west side, ran marathons (and had just got back from one
in Ireland) and was drinking Bud Light. I liked neither of them, but that
is probably a given. The strange thing is that I don't think they had
any idea who I was or how I knew Henry. Obviously I wasn't a close friend
of his. The way they were freely talking about personal things was so
absurd. I bet if they had any idea I was his stalker they would be appalled
(and definitely tone down all the goods they were giving me). I felt like
this outsider who just sat down at table of strangers (well, I guess in
a way I was) and it made me wish my friends would show up and normalize
things a bit. I do much better with backup in these situations. 1). To
get me chatting and sociable. 2). To keep me in line once I get on a roll.
I started feeling awkward and ignored, and if there is one thing that
people who know me know better than to do, it's to ignore me. I will create
havoc. They were talking about dogs (I hate dogs). Henry was saying how
one of his weimaraners, who'd never been the same after being kicked in
the head as a puppy, would run off and hump (I did have to give him credit
for using the term hump) the neighbor's dog. This angered the neighbor
into shooting Henry's pet with a pellet gun. I told Henry I'd shoot his
dog too. This prompted a fist up in the air pretending like he was going
to hit me. I'm sure he was already annoyed with me. What he didn't know
is that I like making guys smack me around (I don't mean hard or maliciously)
so I was pleased with myself.
We were waiting for Kenny, this mythical being that Henry seemed to enjoy
talking about, to show up. He finally made his appearance right around
the same time as my friend Jane and her boyfriend, Jamie. Now Kenny was
a piece of work. Though a good deal younger (he was 19 or 20) than Henry
and not looking like him all that much either, he was his stand-in. Only
when they did this posed profile thing that looked as if they'd practiced
it countless times before, could you see the resemblance. It came out
that Kenny was "discovered" in a Burger King somewhere in the backwoods
of North Carolina. Now he was along for the second-rate celebrity ride
and loving every inch of it.
The two of them proceeded to ham it up for the rest of the evening. I
think Henry was so eager for Kenny to make his appearance because he's
one of those types that needs guy energy to feel o.k. The dynamic bothered
me. Like the girls were quiet while "the boys" yukked it up. It reeked
of men watching football on a holiday while the women stay in the kitchen
and do the dishes.
But at least I had photo opportunities galore. I went to town, capturing
every nuance. Henry with glasses, Henry without glasses, Henry with Kenny,
Henry standing up, Henry sitting down, Henry and I together. It was very
exciting. I didn't even care how much of a spaz I looked like taking these
seemingly mundane pictures.
After my friends showed up, there weren't enough chairs and the bar was
getting crowded. Henry was the one who ended up standing which was very
gentlemanly since in an unspoken way he was sort of like the guest of
honor (well, for me. Still, no one had any idea that I did a zine, was
obsessed with Henry, etc.). There was a table behind us with an unused
chair with a coat on it. Henry asked if we could use it. The guys responded,
"There's a coat on it, isn't there?" Them were fighting words. Henry was
steamed. He gave them dirty looks, started talking shit about them and
pretended to put a "mexican curse" on them. The air was fraught with tension
and the potential for a blow-out. I liked that he could get so volatile
over being denied a seat. The creepy thing was when these two girls showed
up and it was clear that the chairs were being saved for them and Henry
said loudly, "Oh, so they were being saved for girls. And they're not
even pretty." Ack, that kind of talk can be really ugly (even though if
I said it [which I might] it would be fine). Henry can deny it 'til the
cows come home, but he is so frat-like.
There wasn't any animosity, but no one seemed to be clicking all that
well. Jane was trying to engage Mia in a conversation about movie make
up since she'd done it herself, but Mia only seemed interested in fawning
over Henry (which didn't appear to sit well with her boyfriend when he
showed up later). I already knew that pedophilia was a touchy subject
with The Hankster, but somehow it got brought up again (probably by me)
which prompted Jane to spout off about this guy she used to date who had
pedophilic tendencies and made faux snuff movies. Neither Henry nor Kenny
knew what a snuff film was. I was in utter disbelief, then I felt dirty
and coarse. How could someone (two someones) be that sheltered?! Of course
that's what drew me to Henry in the first place--the innocence, the sheer
un-Hollywoodness. Well, that's exactly what he was. I mean Henry was putting
up with a lot of crap from me. He really was. No one made him hang out
with his stalker and for that I have to give the guy credit.
When Henry went to the bathroom Mia said, "So, you and Henry are going
to a show? He seemed really excited." Urgh, this was the moment I'd been
dreading. Maybe I was rubbing Henry the wrong way, but at least I had
this fun event promised which could neutralize our obvious differences.
I told her there'd been a mix-up and that the guy my friends were seeing
was not the same guy Henry wanted to see. She seemed perturbed. When Henry
got back I had to break the news, but I'm such a freak that I couldn't
explain it properly and said I'd mixed up the names. He said, "So who
is it? R. Kelly?!" That actually cracked me up, and sadly that
was probably the most clever thing he said all evening.
By this point I was tipsy (Henry'd been buying drinks all evening--and
for the record, he drank Bass, not a single Guinness was downed) and things
started getting a bit hazy. I know that someone broke a glass and this
riled people up and Henry and I discussed how stupid it is for people
to yell and holler when this happens. Henry and Kenny kept doing corny
dialogue in accents from their imaginary screenplay, "The Welsh Hare"
which appeared to be some spoofy Monty Python-esque in-joke of theirs.
They also were doing their air-bassing (as opposed to air-guitaring)
to all the wonderful music being played on the jukebox (Henry complained
about the music and how smoky it was--this just prompted me to blow a
nice big puff in his face. Ever-thoughtful, that's me). So far I'd learned
that: Henry'd thrown a great barbecue in San Antonio and was drunk driving,
he had a Nordic Track that he rarely used, and that he could do a funny
impression of a trucker from a porn commercial (there's a free porn channel
that's on cable access in New York), "I'm gonna cum on your chest!" I
was pleased to see that he had at least a tiny amount of vulgarity in
him. Yet later when I claimed to be feeling sexually harassed by the scary-ass
naked fairy paintings over our table he told me I had a "dirty mind."
Somehow it was decided that my friends were going to take off and check
out the show and would meet up with us later. I still wonder how things
would've been different if we'd gone with my friends instead. We'd already
lost the nameless brunette earlier so now it was Henry, Kenny, Mia, her
boyfriend, and me, the tag-along stalker. They'd decided on going to 2A,
which was advised against by Jane since they're notorious carders and
we had Kenny with us, but they were all smug and wouldn't listen. I hope
to god, Henry didn't think he could pull some star power trip because
it would hardly fly. Of course we got a block from 2A and there's a doorman
just as predicted. We moved to Plan B.
12:00 AM. Plan B involved this bar, The
Library and Kenny using Henry's ID. The place was packed and Henry's
popping in a few minutes after Kenny worked. Sauntering in with these
folks felt so strange. I was greeted with the sounds of Adam Ant's "Goodie
Two Shoes," which did put a smile on my unsure face. The timing was perfect;
a table opened up just as we arrived. "Aeon Flux" was playing on this
screen (which I knew was Henry's favorite cartoon) and he became engrossed.
This left me to contend with Kenny. We got to know each other. I started
telling him about my zine. He didn't know what a zine was. I explained
that I was Henry's stalker, which seemed to creep him out. I asked for
his address, which he wouldn't give me. I told him Henry gave me his
address and he didn't seem to believe me. After verifying this with Henry
he reluctantly gave me his p.o. box in North Carolina. (Kenny Hunt, P.O.
Box 27, Weaverville, NC. 28787. Why don't you drop the sweet boy a line?)
Henry told him he should look at "s.c.s." and that it was funny and clever
(see, he didn't think I was all bad). I proposed the idea of a Kenny zine
(heck, it still wouldn't make a bad mini).
Every word that came out of my mouth freaked Kenny out. I'd make a comment
and then it'd be, "Henry, did you hear that? She says she likes you as
an adult, not as a child." (like being obsessed with his Elliott period
would be acceptable, but interest in the 27 year old version made me scary)
"Henry, she says she's going to attack you." And then he'd get all crazy
and quiz me like he was the H.T. aficionado. "Did you know Henry's
left handed?" "Did you know Henry's dad is in his movies?" "What was Henry's
name in 'Cloak and Dagger'?" If Henry should be worried about fixated
stalkers, it's Kenny he should be keeping his eye on.
I kept pretending to write stuff in my notebook which drove Kenny mad.
I wasn't really writing anything other than a list of the songs that were
played and a few notes to myself. At one point, Henry grabbed it out of
my hand and scribbled a few Teen Beat-esque lines of interest to me. I'd
purchased this notebook at a store in my neighborhood
called "Henry's" therefore that was the name on the price tag. I pointed
this bright orange sticker out to Henry and he said, "Hey, how did you
do that?" It made me wonder about him.
If I had to choose the most beautiful shared moment of the entire Henry
Thomas experience, it would have to be our Smiths sing along. Never in
my wildest dreams could I have imagined sitting in a bar next to Henry
Thomas singing lines like, "I want to live and I want to love. I want
to catch something that I might be ashamed of," (yeah, V.D.!) "Fame, fame,
fatal fame. It can play hideous tricks on the brain" and "Sometimes I'd
feel more fulfilled making Christmas cards with the mentally ill." It
was brilliant. Kenny didn't know any lyrics. Kenny couldn't stand being
left out. Kenny started yelping, "Henry! Who is this? Who is this?!" It
was wonderful to hear the words, "Send me your pillow. The one that you
dream on." in H.T.'s presence. I asked Henry if he'd send me his pillow.
He said that I wouldn't want it 'cause it'd probably smell. I can't say
that'd be a deterrent.
It was photo fest II. I got Henry mugging like only a former child-star
can, looking mock pensive, playing video games, me wearing his glasses,
and plenty of Kenny flipping me off. I made sure to get some of Mia and
her boyfriend so I'd have proof of what I had to endure that evening.
I just wanted to capture the sheer, wonderful idiocy.
Eventually, I was left alone with Kenny and Henry, the two guyest (no,
not gayest) guys I've ever hung out with in my entire life. I'll admit
this is sort of where details fall apart for me. I know I started calling
Kenny "Mountain Man." Somehow Kenny decided I was goth (I'll give you
trench coat mafia). I can't help it if I have naturally dark hair and
a pale complexion. I was wearing black (many New Yorkers do) and
had on gray nail polish, but this outraged me a little. Then I became
"Elvira" and the type who would go to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"
on the weekends. Please. Maybe this is what the wild kids do in the North
Carolina hills, but the rest of the nation does not live in 1986. It certainly
riled me up though. I do know that I started punching Kenny and repeatedly
called him a motherfucker after this.
Not long after that, I was under the table feeling Henry's ankle. (I
can't say for sure what prompted this, but I think the logic had something
to do with him saying the day before that he was buying socks and then
I wanted to see the new socks and then I realized he had cords on and
they're hot so I started feeling his leg. Yes that was it.) Then I got
a dirty look from Henry when I asked for another whiskey sour. I still
don't get that. It wasn't that I was drinking too much (he was getting
himself another drink and had been keeping up the entire night) and it
wasn't that he was annoyed to have to get it (he was going to the bar
already and offered). All I can guess is that I was the only one not drinking
beer and it was somehow suspect? Child-stars can certainly be enigmas.
I could sense the boys getting antsy so I said I'd buy a round of drinks.
However, when I got to the bar I was $1.50 short. How embarrassing is
that? I've never ordered something and not had the cash to cover it. I
totally freaked. And it was odd because my bank branch was only two blocks
away and I swear to god, EAB is never anywhere near where you happen to
be when you need cash so it was a near miracle, but I couldn't very well
just sneak out and get money. I told the bartender to just give me their
two drinks and she was all, "just ask those guys for money, they have
it" and I was like, "duh, doesn't that defeat the purpose of saying you'll
buy a round" and she told me not to worry about it, which was very nice
of her. The lengths I'll go through to win over my stalkées.
Once I got back to the table, I almost immediately proceeded to knock
my drink over and break the glass. Yes, the same girl who had been scoffing
at the drunken glass-breaker from earlier in the night was now guilty
of the same crime. I think that may have signaled a wrap-up (and the beginning
of the end). We gathered up our stuff. Henry couldn't find his glasses.
I remembered putting them in my purse. Now, it wasn't out of a kleptomaniacal,
souvenir-craving urge that I did that. In my drunken logic, seeing them
just sitting on the booth made me nervous that they were going to get
sat on, and for some reason, putting them in my bag seemed like safe-keeping.
Of course when I pulled them out of my purse and handed them over to Henry,
this set Kenny into an accusatory frenzy. I countered with what I thought
(and still think) was the funniest fucking line ever, "Yes, I'm the Stealer
and you're the Pittsburgh Kid. Henry did laugh. Was I out of
hand? A bit. But do I get like this on a weekly basis? Almost definitely.
If all it takes to scare off hacks and their henchmen is talking about
shooting dogs, stalking, snuff films, and surreptitiously sticking spectacles
in satchels--well then, I'm speechless.
Getting something to eat was the next plan of action. Kenny grabbed a
taxi after we discovered that the pizza place was closed. I was left alone
with The Hankster on Avenue A. We ended up at this Polish diner, and I
wish I had of been more with-it because just a couple doors down is one
of my favorite late night food spots, Odessa,
who serves the most fucked-up monte cristo
ever. Well, this place had them on the menu too, but Henry just wasn't
seeing the beauty in it. It's not like I expect the world to share my
passion for deep fried meat and cheese...but still. It was all awkward because
now I didn't have any cash on me and it just didn't seem right to ask
for money from your stalkée, but it didn't seem right to sit there
and not order anything either. It was a quandary, but Henry was gracious
and said it was on him (I'm totally not one of those girls who expects
guys to buy her stuff--I felt like a heel). I got french toast. Henry
got fucking kielbasa, which made me so happy I almost teared-up. I can't
even explain the how my heart filled with pride when the waitress showed
up with a plate of sausage, spinach and french fries. I took all sorts
of disgusting photos of my boy with meat on his fork. This would be one
for the scrapbooks.
Things took on a subdued, end-of-the-night tone. I'm always lower-key
and more sensible when I'm forced to sit down with a single individual.
Henry kept looking at his reflection in window. (This really cracked me
up for reasons he'll never know and that I'll never be able to describe
fully. Back during the peak of my Henry mania I made a freaky e-mail friend,
"The Egg" The Egg had fantasies [he had plenty of less benign fantasies
that I will one day document for the strong of heart and stomach] of a
TV movie with Henry where he played a cop who was a little slick, a little
cocky, and recently down and out. He kept envisioning a scene where Henry
would look at his reflection and start to fix his hair, but then at the
last minute put his hand down and decide against it. The closing scene
of the movie had Henry sitting at a bar with Jimmy Buffet playing as the
credits rolled.) Henry decided he needed a haircut. His hair looked fine,
but he was pretty bleary-eyed and haggard at this point. Of course I couldn't
see myself and it was probably for the best. I told him he looked fine.
In fact, I'd never seen him looking better and told him as much. I wasn't
flirting or trying to pull anything, I just felt he should hear these
things. 1998 had been one of his better looking years. He really has been
improving with age--starting to look a little liney, rougher, adult--and
I know this is strange coming from a smooth-skinned, teen-ogling, baby-lover,
but the look works for him.
I caught him staring off again later and told him to quit obsessing over
his hair. He said he wasn't, that he was looking at the bar across the
street. Maybe he was wishing he was at 7A
instead (they do have cheap nachos and a good brunch). He probably
just wished he was anywhere where I wasn't. (I have a complex from ending
up alone with guys at the end of the evening and just thinking that I'm
being chummy and making small-talk only to hear later from others, "Krista
was freaking me out." It's been known to happen, o.k.?)
Henry brought up his concern with a new movie being made based on Armistead
Maupin's Maybe the Moon. I absolutely love that book. Sure, it's
a satire on Hollywood that centers around "E.T." and the grown-up Henry
Thomas character is gay. So what, it's fiction and it's funny and the
story is really about the midget who was inside the E.T. costume, not
Henry, and for him to get all worked up about this ruining his career
came off as pretty self-important. We speculated on who they'd get to
play the Henry Thomas character.