Fish on a Bicycle has interviewed me. It was just the two of us, at a trendy outdoor cafe in Hollywood. I was smoking a clove cigarette and wearing a studded Gucci t-shirt, and he was leaning across the table in earnest, holding his tape recorder close to me so as not to miss a word. People kept bothering me for autographs, but I screamed at them and threw my latte on one particularly pathetic hanger-on.
Okay, so he just emailed me the questions, as you might expect. I don't even smoke. Just read the answers, goofballs.
1) You are abducted by aliens. They are benign and albeit a characterless and cold lot, they are at least polite and concerned with your comfort. It turns out that they have a benevolent nature and they share with you, in lay terms, a secret that could end the suffering of millions. They describe to you, beyond dispute, in a way that you could easily relate to others a direct link between cancer and laughter. You are returned to earth safely and now have the opportunity to end the "big C's" reign of terror at the cost of abandoning one of humanities greatest gifts, humour. What will you do?
Lose the humor. That's an easy one. I would say yes to absolutely anything that would put an end to cancer, whether it would be for one person or many. Unfortunately, I didn't think of that when I was in school, because it would have been cool to go into a field where cancer research was being done. But I don't dwell on that with much regret--chances are, I wouldn't have been smart enough for it anyway. So my new slogan would be "Lose the humor, lose the tumor." Ho ho, sometimes I crack myself up. Oh wait, I can't do that anymore. Drat.
2) It's Christmas eve and you are six years old, it's almost time for bed. Can you describe what you see, and how you feel?
Believe it or not, this is an impossible question for me to answer. I remember almost nothing of my life before, say, age 9. Which is weird, because I didn't start on the booze and pills til age 11. (I'm kidding. I started booze and pills at age 10. Okay, I'm still kidding.) Seriously, though, I did not have a fabulous early childhood, and always wondered if there was some reason I don't remember it...like did something terrible happen to me that I blocked out? It's a mystery. At any rate, it's not such a sad story--there was a point in time when things dramatically improved (at the aforementioned age 9), and then continued to get better and better over time, til eventually I would say it became downright awesome. So the earliest Christmas I remember would be age 9 or 10, and I remember awaiting such holidays with some major excitement, although I do not recall the details of the night before. I know that the anticipation was always eased a bit because my mom was a big softie who loved gift-giving above all other things, and she would always break down and give me a gift or two before the actual day. I didn't even have to ask--in fact, as I got older, I used to say, "No, I want to wait til tomorrow (or whenever the gift exchange was to take place) and do it right," and she would say, "No, I can't wait! Open just this one." That one gift wouldn't be missed, either, because she grew up poor and her gift-giving policy when she became a mother was always "the more, the better." Our Christmas tree would be packed with so many gifts it would look like it was for 10 people, when it was really all for me. We didn't have a lot of money some years, either, so those gifts might all be little, dollar-store gifts that didn't cost much, but she insisted on having tons of them so I felt like I was having a windfall Christmas. Christmas was her favorite time of year, and she made a huge deal out of it, in terms not only of gifts, but also decorations, food, and cheer. Since she passed away two years ago, Christmas, by contrast, is really not much fun at all.
3) What is the biggest, most shameful lie you have ever told (and has it come back to bite you)?
Well, this isn't so much a lie as just bad behavior. I cheated on one of my first boyfriends, many years ago. He was certainly not someone I could have married, not only because we were too young, but also because he was just not right for me. But he was a genuinely great person, and he loved me and trusted me. It never really came back to bite me, but about a year after I broke up with him, I began thinking about it, and I started to see myself in a different light. Before that, I had always defended my actions, regardless of what they were, and felt that I was in the right 100% of the time. Suddenly I started taking stock of the little things (and bigger things) I did that were thoughtless or hurtful. That was kind of an epiphany for me, and from then on, I worked much harder at behaving in ways that show good character, but I am still bothered by the things I did back in the day that I now see were dishonest.
4) Project yourself into the future, your little boy has grown up. He's become a handsome, intelligent, articulate and (despite your influence) well balanced 18 year old. He calls to say that he'd like to bring his new girlfriend over, for dinner, and could they stay over? (The obvious implication is that they would like to share a room.) Let's say you are broad minded enough to agree. They arrive, giggling and holding hands, she is pretty, bright and in every way adorable, but 35 years old....discuss.
Funny you should ask such a question. I'm 8 years older than my husband--which, as you may have guessed, makes him 12 and me 20. (Okay, so those aren't our actual ages, but the part about the 8 year gap is true.) I am sure my in-laws didn't exactly break out the champagne when my husband told them about me (he was 21 at the time, and I was 29.) Even so, an 8-year gap is a bit easier for a parent to digest than a 17-year gap. I have some friends who have an even bigger age gap than that, and they are very happy, so I can't say I'm against big age gaps--but we are talking about an 18 year old here, which makes a difference.
I can't imagine agreeing to let my 18 year old sleep in the same room with his girlfriend. But more importantly, I would certainly expect the little beast to give me a courtesy heads-up on the advanced age of his wittle punkin before he showed up at the door with Miss Crow's Feet. (Brian told his mom on the phone, by the way, how old I was before introducing me. I believe she sat there for a second and then quietly said, "Brian." But then recovered and was very nice about it--and his whole family has always been wonderful to me.) At any rate, what I'd hope is that she didn't have kids--that would concern me more than the age gap. Naturally, I'd wish he was dating someone his own age, or at least closer to it, but I know better than to make a big deal about disapproving of his choice in a girlfriend for whatever reason--that would only strengthen his dedication to her, I'm sure. I assume that most relationships begun at 18 don't end in marriage anyway, so he might as well live and learn on his own. Now, if she had kids, I'd be incredibly nice while she was there, but eventually get around to having a one-on-one with him discussing the challenges of such a relationship--but then ultimately still let him make his own decision (like I'd have a choice anyway). But in your scenario, I am somehow broad-minded enough to agree to let them share a room, and the short answer is that I would not change my mind on that when I discovered her age. I would avoid anything that would so horrify him as causing a scene in front of his girlfriend. (I prefer to cause my scenes behind-the-scenes.)
5) And just to prove it's hypothetical, you have some extremely dead people to choose to marry, hurl off a cliff or shag stupid: Kurt Cobain, Michael Hutchence and Jim Morrison.
Well, there's no point in sparing Cobain's life, is there? He was very clear about not wanting to be here, and very proactive about making that happen. Plus, leaving him here to be tormented by that jackal Courtney Love is just plain cruel. So I'd push him off a cliff, and he'd probably thank me on the way down. Then I guess I'd be in the unfortunate position of having to shag Jim Morrison, just because I'd rather be married to cutie-pie Michael Hutchence than to Jim. I'd just have to watch him like a hawk and not leave him alone in hotel rooms. (I answered all these questions assuming these dead people would be alive again in your scenario. If they're still dead, then my answers would change based on the varying levels of decomposition. Whoever is less decomposed is the one I would shag, and whoever is most decomposed is the one I would marry.)