When Harry Met Sally: An Archetypical Title For A Story In Which People Meet Each Other, In This Case Andrey & HappyBob
Alastair: When I announce, as I often do, that I have met the Andrey Summers, the usual reaction is disbelief. “Surely not the distinguished actor who graduated from the University of East Anglia to land a supporting role in the Indiana Jones films, later playing the fat professor in the first two seasons of Sliders, and recently starring as Gimli and Treebeard in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy?” my audience would ask, to which I’d reply “no, that’s John Rhys-Davies.”
Hair? Eyes? Distinguishing facial features? I can confirm that Andrey does, in fact, have all of these. But the most distinguishing feature on Andrey’s face would have to have been that large piece of broccoli stuck between his teeth. I probably should have told him about that before I left. (Joke © Aussie Ben, 2004)
What follows is our long-awaited account of that fruity and fruitful meeting between myself and Andrey, and vice versa. And only nine months after the fact – honestly, we spoil you.
|Hello, I’m Andrey, better known as Andrey Summers.|
|Hi, I’m HappyBob. Friends know me as Alastair, and those who don’t know me would have no reason to call me anything anyway. Not sure why I brought it up, really.|
|This, the second of its kind, is a dual-narrated feature about one aspect or another of our respective/respected careers. In this instance, the one and only time we actually met. On an unrelated note, exposition is really boring to read.|
|In early 2004, Andrey and his Significant Other scored a six month working holiday in Sydney, Australia. Around this time, I travelled to the very same city to see Radiohead in concert. The stage was set for an explosive confrontation.|
|I finally met Happybob “Alastair” Craig during, as far as I can remember, an explosive confrontation with my girlfriend over who was going to set up the stage at a radiohead concert.|
|We had arranged to meet at the central tram station at 1pm. It was incredibly easy to find, with many large and helpful signs reading “TRAM STATION” in a font large enough to grab one’s attention by its metaphorical testicles. Naturally, it took me forty minutes to find, and even then only by accident. I spotted a tall young man with a wild hairdo best described as “Andreyesque”, and accompanied by a significantly less Andresquely-styled young woman. The former stranger turned his head in my direction. His facial expression was frozen in an impossibly broad grin. His eyes were open slightly wider than the usual human standard. Not enough to send the mind’s alarm bells ringing, but enough to make the mind’s security guard sit up and pay attention.
“Ah, Mildred, so glad you can make it,” he said, static smile intact. “You look just as I expected, but I expect my expectations were expectantly expectable.” He removed his face – now clearly a paper mask – to reveal exactly the same face and expression. In the ensuing silence, a tram drove past. Its squeaking breaks sounded slightly, and very appropriately, like chirping crickets.
|I had arranged to meet my girlfriend at the Central tram station, which was incredibly easy to identify, because of all the trams around it. As Alastair and I approached her, I noticed that she was wearing a very cricket-like grin. The stage was set for an explosive confrontation.|
|“By the almighty sanitizer, I COMMAND you to rain,” screamed Andrey at the heavens. With all small talk about the weather out of the way, Andrey introduced himself and his tennis coach, Beatrice. “To the hovercraft!” he ordered. On the assumption that he meant we should get lunch, we agreed. As we followed, Beatrice explained that she was actually his girlfriend, and her name was Emily. We set forth for the nearest Pizza Hut.|
|After Happystair and I successfully abducted my girlfriend (whom he kept referring to as Mildred for some reason), I decided that it would be best to get indoors. The rain had gotten so bad by this point, that Alasbob’s hovercraft could no longer function, so Pizza Hut seemed like the most prudent choice. On the way, my girlfriend tried to clarify, to little effect, that her name was Emily. I don’t really care anyway, I said, because I’ve given her the nickname “Mohogany”. If only because she looks very tasteful in my study.|
|Andrey parked the hovercraft – which, like his pants, appeared more a state of mind to him than a physical object – on top of a passing nun. We took a brief moment to marvel at the sunny, cloudless sky, but with the incresingly desperate cries for help becoming noticed and several bystanders phoning the police, we thought it best not to stick around. We entered Pizza Hut. Our adventure, or at least the very small and uninteresting part that involved lunch, had only just begun.|
|I offered Alastair a ride in my hovercraft, seeing as how his wasn’t operational. He refused, on the grounds that we were already at Pizza Hut, and he and Emily ascended the stairs into the seating area. I shrugged, and parked my vehicle in the men’s bathroom, under a soap dispenser. Then, I parked my pants in the women’s bathroom, and went to look for our table. “As long as the planets are turning,” Happybob was saying to Emily as I approached, “as long as the stars are burning…” He didn’t finish for some reason. Later that week, I would realize that this was because these are lyrics I had heard in a meatloaf song that day, and not, in fact, something Happybob had ever said. Still, at the time, I suspected him of hitting on my woman, and started hitting the one of the employees to make him jealous. Or Emily. One of them. I think.|
|As we settled down to our pizza and a conversation I can no longer recall, I took time to try to contemplate the many faces of Andrey. How could I separate Andrey The Myth, Andrey The Man, and that braindead PE teacher character from the shortlived 2001 Australian sitcom Sit Down, Shut Up? As the last persona was, in fact, a completely different person, I quickly removed him from the equation. The other two weren’t as easy to differentiate. In the stories we co-wrote, Andrey was always the invisible diabolical mastermind masquerading as a harmless nutcase, with sense of logic was so precise it transcended common sense. But he was just a character. If all authors took on the habits of their creations, Stephen King would need to be shot. Besides, the man in front of me chewing the edge of the table was clearly not invisible. They were worlds apart.|
|As Emily and Alastair talked quietly about something that was probably very easy to remember 9 months ago, when it happened, I busied myself with trying not to think about him. After all, how different could he be from the way he portrays himself on the internet, right? A face bright yellow, body frail and black, indeed the crone would cringe as eye be klept astride him. Brieflty, I wrestled my mind back from the ghost of William Shakespeare. Hmm. Actually, maybe Alastair was different in real life. After all, he’d never gently kissed my girlfriend’s arm during our MSN conversations. I decided to get to know him a little better. Perhaps, I thought, I would take him to my favorite Kinukinaya Japanese Bookstore Outlet.|
|Emily, who had chosen to dine in at a different table, at a different restaurant, joined us again. Our walk to Kinukinaya was uneventful, punctuated only by a brief stopover at Gloria Jean’s Coffee and the occasional unprovoked Russian expletive from Andrey to any passing bystander wearing a red shirt. Emily ordered a cappucchino, Andrey demanded a small duck, and I asked for a moccachino. “People must MOCK you a lot!” shouted Andrey, who proceeded to commit seppuku with a nearby straw.* We finally reached the bookstore. But not even caffeine could prepare us for what happened next.
*This really happened.
|On the way to Japan, we stopped over at Gloria Jeans. As Alastair modelled several selections of conservative menswear, I quipped “People must JEANS you a lot,” and stabbed myself in the stomach with a piece of straw from the hayloft. I also feel compelled to explain, for reasons I can not grasp, that in Australia they pronounce Mochachino “MOCKachino”. I don’t know. Anyway, the bookstore’s shores loomed before us shortly after the aforementioned sojourn, and not even JEANS could have prepared us for what happened next. Although I assume, had there been caffeine, we would have been fine.|
|It was love at first sight. A stunned Andrey gasped in glee. I should mention that despite Andrey’s tendency to set his own hair on fire and forget girlfriends’ names, he and Emily were very close. Hold onto that thought tightly… now hurl it out the window. The moment he walked inside, he only had eyes, ears and shins for one thing.
What if Superman’s spacecraft had landed elsewhere? What if he had been raised in Russia to became a Soviet super-soldier? These questions and more were answered in the object Andrey now held lovingly in his arms: a trade paperback of the “what if” tale Superman: Red Son. As he fell to his knees reciting Shakespearean sonnets with tears of joy streaming down his face, I left for the science fiction section and bought $120 of Star Wars books. Honestly, some people need to get their priorities straight.
|As soon as we entered the bookstore, Happybob screamed something about Star Trek, and took off. Emily and I were both baffled by this, but it didn’t take me long to live it down. My keen soviet eye had spotted a Superman comic wherein he is re-imagined in what I consider to be his True Form. It proved an enjoyable and thorough read. Then, I walked over and picked it up, which somehow made it even better. I won’t tell you what happened when I actually looked inside, but let’s just say that if Emily hadn’t been an open-minded gal, I might’ve been sleeping on the couch that night. Which is supposed to imply that I inserted my penis into the book. Which I’m not admitting.|
|After a productive (if slightly messy) perusal session, we left the store via the lovely armed security guards who showed us to the exit. With Sydney not quite as keen to embrace us as Andrey his comic, it was time to head back to the odd-smelling foreign couple’s appartment. Emily, myself and Andrey walked, strolled and morris-danced our way back to the tram station. On the way, Emily suggested we take some photos on a children’s playground. We posed on what at first appeared to be a spiderweb-styled climbing apparatus, but judging by Andrey’s agonised screams*, was probably some manner of kinky Japanese torture device. After one painful and uncharacteristically long minute, we continued our quest for transportation.
|My next crystal-clear memory of that fateful day (night?) is some kind of vicious entanglement I had with what seemed to be the rigging of a wrecked 18th century coffin-ship. Finally wrenched to freedom by Emily, Alastair, and a combination of both, I caught my breath, and suggested we perhaps take a tram. As usual, my instructions were followed to the letter, and next thing I knew we were riding a tram. By which I mean sitting on benches inside the giant Imax Theatre, having photos taken of us. I have no logical means of connecting these two events, but it can be surmised that Emily and Alastair are good people that care in a profound way about the things I say, and how they can interpret such information to best carry out my instructions. Or something. I guess the real point is that I’m worthless and they know it. The Imax was pretty nice, though. High ceiling.|
|We paused our journey to make a brief stopover – despite our journey being nothing but a long string of pauses and stopovers – to visit a particularly cramped IMAX theatre. We ducked forward to avoid our heads hitting the ceiling and approached the ticket office. Andrey halted. It was love at first sight. In the twenty minutes they had gotten to know each other, Andrey and the Superman comic had become inseperable. But now he only had eyes, ears and spleens for one thing. The receptionist seemed slightly annoyed when Andrey embraced her desk with a powerful hug. It turned out the cinema was closed for the day. This would have been a sensible time to leave, but prying Andrey from the table proved more difficult than expected. We eventually reached the tram station. The conductor strictly forbade Andrey from bringing the desk inside, and the couple were forced to part ways. Andrey was strangely silent on the way home. He gave the comic a reassuring lick, but it lacked the enthusiasm of their earlier, carefree minutes. The entrance of a third party had clearly cracked a once-perfect relationship. Only time would tell whether they could regain the magic.|
|During the tramride to our luxury townhouse, I regained the magic. Then, Emily said “Oh my God, get off, we’re in a public place for Christ’s sake!”
I had lost the magic.
|“Shoot him! He’s behind you! I’ll meet you at the rendezvous point, pronto!”
One way or another, Andrey’s love life was back to abnormal. We had retired to the apartment for a bout of Halo 1. His enthusiastic war-cries drowned out all other noise, including my suggestions to actually turn the console on. When he finally did, he immediately lost all interest and left to prepare dinner. I was left to play Halo. It looked and played suspiciously like Game Boy Tetris. Thirty seconds later, Andrey returned with the evening meal. It looked and tasted suspiciously like Game Boy Tetris. Emily chased him out of the kitchen with a broom and served up the real dinner. No matter how much he tried, Andrey couldn’t get the invincibility code to work.
|Back at the luxury townhouse, Emily prepared a delicious taco dinner, because Alastair had been making the same Taco joke all day. That night, he came to know the meaning of joke taking form as grim reality. The tacos, though, tasted delicious and I commended Emily on her efforts as we ate, globules of food falling from my mouth and onto the floor, which I then bade her mop. For some reason she misunderstood me and, decided to mop my face instead. Luckily, there were no Covenant Elites in the room at this point, so my screams didn’t spell sudden death for all of us. Still, she should be more careful.|
|Like a landlord banging on the door and demanding silence, the day came to a close. Emily said goodbye to me. I said goodbye to Emily. Andrey said goodbye to me. I said goodbye to Andrey. Emily said Andrey could clean the kitchen tonight. Andrey said goodbye to Emily. Emily said she wasn’t going anywhere. Andrey said he would miss Emily most of all. Emily said okay, that’s enough. Like the day coming to a close, the landlord banged on the door and demanded silence. Andrey, oblivious, repeated his farewell to Emily in the form of musical theatre. Emily said if he wasn’t careful he’d get the broom again. I quietly slipped outside and went home. And so concluded an interesting, enjoyable and above all purple day. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as was the following Monday, when we met up again and did pretty much the same thing.|
|And so ended our epic, once-in-a-lifetime story. I guess we could’ve written about the next day, but I can’t remember very much of it. I mean, after all, it did happen nine months ago.
This other thing we’ve written about, though. Different.
Emily horribly dumped Andrey several years after this article was written. Coincidence?
Either way, you can laugh at his pain on The Rubber Chicken Podcast.