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Bukowski and Popsicles

Bukowski and Popsicles
Pirates?" I reply. "Is it recent?" I'm sitting across from one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, and he's trying desperately to remember the name of a film.

"No, it's the one.... You know." He reaches for his telephone and presses a button. "Carla? What's the name of that picture? You know, about the pirates?" "Captain Blood." "Yes! There you go."

We're in his office. He's wearing a handsome suit and a big smile. Behind him are two floor-to-ceiling corkboards—custom-designed, I'm sure—covered with signed photos of him with famous people. I'm talking about the kind of famous that even the locals living in the Kenyan hinterlands would recognize.

He presses the intercom again. "Oh, Carla," he says, "bring us a few Popsicles." He asks me if I prefer banana or cappuccino flavor. "Cappuccino," I say, a bit uncertain. He conveys my choice to Carla and orders a banana for himself. Have I chosen poorly?

Carla walks into the office dressed in a stylish tan suit, her hair pulled tightly back into a well-kept bun, two Popsicles in hand. As I unwrap mine, I suddenly wonder: Why are we eating Popsicles? Seems a I have a panic moment: Is this some kind of come-on?

As I lick this rather large cappuccino Popsicle, it starts dripping all over my hand. I revert to childhood habits and attack the ice, sucking on it before any beige liquid drips on my clothes. I realize that I'm also making a sharp sucking sound. Suddenly I'm hugely embarrassed by this "display."

I look up to gauge his reaction, but to my surprise he's devouring his banana 'sicle with more gusto than I've seen anyone do since I was 7 years old.

"Do you ever get depressed?" I thought we were here to talk about acting. Do I tell him I get sad? Or will that come off like I'm emotionally unstable? I want this man to keep me in mind for jobs, so I feel like I can't let my wall down. I grope for the most appropriate answer. "Sure, I feel sad from time to time. Like anyone."

"What about negative thinking? Do you ever have that? Like if you don't get a job or you can't find an agent or you break up with your boyfriend. Does that affect you?"

I nod my head yes. He leans a little closer toward me and says, "You wanna know what I do? I take 30 minutes each day and I let myself have it. I tell myself I'm an awful director and that I'll never do another picture. I'm hard on myself for being shy at parties and feel like nobody at the party really likes me. Why can't I just walk up to strange people and say hello? I'm insecure and selfish, and I believe my career is over."

He shifts to his side a little, the leather chair creaks, and he takes out a black leather wallet. He opens it and hands me a little piece of wrinkled paper. On the paper is a poem by Charles Bukowski:

don't worry, nobody has the

beautiful lady, not really, and

nobody has the strange and

hidden power, nobody is

exceptional or wonderful or

magic, they only seem to be.

it's all a trick, an in, a con,

don't buy it, don't believe it.

the world is packed with

billions of people whose lives

and deaths are useless and

when one of these jumps up

and the light of history shines

upon them, forget it, it's not

what it seems, it's just

another act to fool the fools


there are no strong men, there

are no beautiful women.

at least, you can die knowing


and you will have

the only possible


I hand the poem back. "That's beautiful."

"Whenever I have a moment of weakness, I read it." He points to a miniature statue he has of a man pushing a large ball. "It's the myth of Sisyphus. This man has to push this ball up a hill for eternity. And once he gets it to the top, it'll roll down and he'll have to push it back up again. At first this seems like torture, but then the man realizes once the ball is rolling down the hill he has a few minutes of freedom. I know your life probably looks like this, but you should never give up." I smile. "Don't worry, kid. You'll be fine."

Afterwards, I sit in my car in the parking lot for several minutes, thinking about what he said and trying to make sense of it. Though I don't grasp all of it, I sense something extraordinary happened. As I turn on the engine, I glimpse myself in the mirror. Tan Popsicle dye surrounds my mouth. I try to lick it off, but instead I laugh. As I leave the parking lot, I wonder: Are all Hollywood directors like this?

Alexis Peters graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood in 2004. She played Ingrid in the Sci Fi Channel original film Grendel and has appeared on Days of Our Lives and the Fox pilot Faceless. She can be reached at

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