When I was a kid, I did a lot of acting. I mean morning and night acting. By the time I got to high school, I had already done my fair share of community theater and what little private workshops I could do in my small state of Delaware. I was ready for the big time in mind, so when one of my buds from a summer acting workshop asked me to do an improv piece with real people, I was totally down.
"Listen," he said. "I got this girl that I totally dig. The only problem is that she's with this douche of a guy. I just need you to like be a gangster or something, show up while we're all hanging out, and I'll beat your ass up. Then this douche that she's with - this freakin' coward - will be seen for what he is, and she'll totally be with me."
"That's crazy," I said, and laughed. "I'm totally in."
"Good. Rehearsal. Saturday."
Now my buddy (he will remain anonymous) and I worked that Saturday, and basically all I was supposed to do was shave my head - to look tough - and swing a knife at him a couple times, until he kung fu'd the thing out with what he said was his black belt left foot. To my surprise, after a few practice windmill kicks, he was knocking the knife out of my hand, so I figured it'd all be alright.
"You are not bad with this kung fu shit," I said.
"Dude!" he said defensively. "I'm a black belt."
"Okay. Well, you're pretty good."
"I'm telling you. This thing is in the bag. That girl is as good as mine."
I wasn't so sure, but I didn't say shit. I just wanted to see what would happen. I knew my buddy would do alright with the acting, and now, with that kung fu action. But I had no idea what it would be like to have a girl and guy there who weren't in on it.
Back when we did the theater camp together, we had pretended to dislike each other for a whole week before we had an all out choreographed fight in front of a university dormitory with the rest of the high schools invited to the prestigious program in attendance. It was quite a theatrical event - complete with screams from the audience as I took a few fake body blows to the stomach, and then knocked out my buddy with a wild right hook that he violently shuddered away from while biting down on a blood capsule. It was seriously the stuff of legend. I mean, seriously, it almost got us expelled.
Anyway, back to the fight at hand. We had decided to meet at his posh school on the other side of town. I was supposed to roll up in my car and meet him on the football field where we were supposed to get into it. I was supposed to get there around 330 p.m., but those dang after school activities in high school kept me around a bit longer, so I rolled up into the school parking lot around 3:40 p.m. That was a bit too late. I was pulling into the place, and I saw my buddy pulling out. I didn't know what to do really. I just froze a bit. Then my buddy gave me the bird and we were off.
I sped after him down these back roads. I didn't know exactly how we were going to pull over and have the knife fight, but I figured adding an improv car chase was pretty bad ass, so I just rode his ass down some mean back roads. We were weaving back and forth around the center line, trying to edge each other out, when I saw a familiar car in my rearview. It was Kaivon! My buddy since ninth grade. He had no idea about the improv car chase or the knife fight, but he recognized my car, and was now joining in on the car chase, but just thinking we were joy riding. It was some serious shit.
Then my buddy - the one with the kung fu and the girl and her boyfriend in his car - pulls over on the side of one of these random back roads. I pull over too. And then so does Kaivon! I didn't know what to do at this point because the driver's side of my door was smashed in, so I couldn't just step out and get the knife fight going. It was totally stuck. I just sat there for a while, until my buddy came running up, yelling about not coming for the knife fight.
"Yo!" he shouted, and started flailing his arms around in a postured mad rage. "This is me being really angry because we're about to have a knife fight!! What's wrong!!"
"Dude," I said. "I can't get out of the car. The driver's side's stuck."
"Go through the passenger!" he continued shouting.
"It'll look shady!"
"Come on! Do it!! I got the girl waiting! I need to have a knife fight!"
I climbed out of the passenger seat. I was about to head over for the knife fight, when Kaivon started yelling for me. Well, he wasn't yelling. Back in those days, his typical call was to bleat like a goat, so I heard "Baaaaaaaaaa" in a super high-pitched shrill. I ran over to him as quick as I could.
"Listen," I said in fast talk mode. "Buddy and I are having a knife fight because he wants to get a girl and prove that her boyfriend is a douche so don't freak out and just chill because shit is about to go down."
Kaivon's eyes literally popped out of his head. I think the only thing he heard was "knife fight." I had to skedaddle though. I headed straight for my buddy. He jumped out of the car, did this Bruce Lee windmill kick and knocked the knife out of my hand. Then he up and jumped into his car though the driver's side window Dukes of Hazzard style and sped off.
All I could hear besides the revving motor was Kaivan in the background bleating like crazy. I was guessing that he approved or just thought that was crazy shit. I wasn't about to argue with him. I was hungry. I figured the theatrical event was a success, so I just headed home with him for some sandwiches and to talk out how this all came to be.
I didn't talk to my buddy with the kung fu again for a couple weeks. I finally called him to see how things were going.
"Dude," I said. "It's me. You get the girl?"
"Totally, man. I'm with her now."
"Get the fuck out!"
"No, it worked. You know her boyfriend was even considering shooting you with a paintball gun that he had in the backseat."
"Thank God he didn't."
"So you're good?"
"Yeah, everything's good. I'll chat more later."
My buddy never called me after that. I figured things went well with the girl or whatever. I was busy with my own life. It wasn't until I got to college that I thought about that whole incident again. I was doing the freshman tour of dormitory life with a bottle of Popov vodka when I ran into a kid that went to my buddy's high school. I wanted to talk about the knife incident right away.
"Yo, so and so," I said. "How is my buddy? Did that knife fight get talked about at all?"
"What knife fight?" the kid said.
"You know the one to get that hot girl."
The way the kid said "what" made me feel like not talking anymore, but the cat was out of the bag.
"That was you!!"
"Listen, man, I was just doing my buddy a favor-"
"Dude, man! I'm his best friend and he didn't even tell me."
"What do you mean?"
"Buddy told everybody about that knife fight. It was all over the school. He rode that thing all the way to senior year, man! He was getting like mad pussy because he came off like this guy that fought this gangster. Man! It was you!!"
"Yeah, man...I'm sorry. I didn't know he wouldn't tell you."
The kid didn't say anything after that. I felt real bad that I had been part of something that went sour. I was down with doing a little imrpov stunt, but I didn't know the guy would keep it going for years. That's pretty crazy. After I re-told this story to Loren & co., I thought about my buddy again. I wonder if he's still living off the laurels of our fake knife fight. Maybe it's been so long in his reality that he actually thinks it was real. That would be something. I don't know. I think I'd probably do some more improv fights if I hadn't ever met that kid in the dorm room. Who knows? Maybe I can find this buddy with kung fu on Facebook and out him.
Ah, it's been too long. I also admire the guy in a way too. He was like the real life "Talented Mr. Ripley."