e.t. phone sweet home alabama, obladi oblada


Sometime you use exclamations ironically for a joke or something. Ditto keeping them off ironically. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. This stuff is obvious.

The point is that I told Travis “this the craziest thing ever.” (This was on Twitter.) But I didn’t put an exclamation point on it.  It wasn’t a conscious thing. It was instinct. Period. I don’t care if if he was in town shooting a movie or not. I know that stuff happens. I know people take selfies with Mel Gibson or Vince Vaughan or something in their local Marriott elevators sometimes. But randomly running into (and partying with) the kid from E.T. on the streets of downtown Mobile, Ala. and it being a real enough moment for Instagram to capture is, on some psychological level—one of my favorite levels—the craziest thing ever with just a matter of fact period, by which I mean definitely near the top of the list of things you tell your friends are the craziest thing ever. Again, it’s subtle. And it’d obviously be a whole different thing if it happened to me. But I don’t party or go anywhere, so it wouldn’t. Now that I think about it, I think the fact that it’s Travis factors in heavily to the feeling. (I’m exploring all this to feel productive on a Friday afternoon turned 4:30 Saturday morning, but it’s not just some writing exercise or something. It’d be a good one. And juices are flowing. But trust that I am working with live tissue here.)

I don’t think I would feel as “craziest ever” about him hanging out and putting his arm around and taking selfies with somebody from the Brat Pack or something. Or even The Goonies. Or Fred Savage or somebody like that. Maybe Punky Brewster, but for other reasons. I won’t link to them. I don’t want people knowing I’ve Googled that a time or two. But if it was Punky Brewster I’d probably be down there with him right now, bosom buddies, packing my memory card to the brim. That’s just the way I was raised.

But Elliot from E.T.? I mean think about that. That’s like Madonna (back when she was Madonna) or Michael Jackson or something. Bob Dylan maybe. He was the star of what everyone once considered, like, The Movie. I mean, didn’t they? Isn’t it on Every List Ever or something? Near the top?  I swear I always remember VH1 type things bowing down to it. Like cinema was basically broken into B.C. / E.T. It was like the Seinfeld of 1980s movies. It wasn’t, like, my favorite ever, but it as up there and even as a kid it seemed really important. Watched it a few months back with the kids. (Or maybe that was Stranger Things. BOOM! But that’s the point I guess, so boom on me.) It’s good. It’s ahead of its time. Everyone’s perfect in it. And Elliot [I don’t want to write his real name in case he has Google alerts for himself and feels betrayed by Travis sharing photos with folks. I mean, he posed for them but you know how some people are.] was perfect in it, right? Wasn’t he supposed to be like some prodigy or something? Well I just typed in his name and this popped up. It was the first video, actually, and it’s a video of him crying real tears on cue (I could have nailed that thing. Crying was so easy for us brilliant child actors in the 80s) and getting the gig in three minutes. So I’m going to say yes, Jeremy Henderson, your impression was right on the money.

And the fact that he had kind of hung it up, at least seemingly, at least for the most part, before the apple juice had even been washed from the collectible glasses added to the Elliot mystique (true, I just bought Cloak and Dagger but I didn’t even realize that was him until I watched the trailer a few weeks back. That movie used to freak me out for some reason. Even saying the name of it scared me. More on that later I’m sure).

Drew Barrymore went on to do things. Other people from E.T. went on to do things. No one I can think of, but I’m sure they did in their own way. We all need insurance agents. Photography businesses aren’t going to run themselves. People do things. Decisions are made.

But in my mind it was like Elliot was the JD Salinger of child stars or something. Like he did and ascended into a hidden cultural heaven where not even The Oscars can find you. That’s how much he totally nailed this role. I mean totally. It’s fantastic. He’s in a scene with one of the most quotable movie quotes ever. Maybe if Travis had been hanging out with Macaulay Culkin. Maybe that would be a similar feeling. Maybe even more. But Kevin’s got that weird, depressing menace about him, especially now (no offense).

The randomness of hanging out with someone so Big Once Upon a Time, yet so seemingly obscure (even though apparently he isn’t—and neither was Minnie Driver, she got a movie or TV gig or something right after I posted that—and like I said was apparently in town filming a movie)… I don’t know, it’d be like him giving a ride to some old woman at a gas station and it being Betty Page. It’d be like him accidentally taking Lisa Bonet’s clothes out of the dryer (can you even imagine?) and laughing about it as they split the vending machine’s last Mellow Yellow. (That’d be a hard accident to prove. Maybe Kadeem Hardison’s.) It’d be like being the only one to realize that second shift librarian is Sloan from Ferris Bueller or something and y’all spending all night talking life and love in the kid’s room bean bags.

They’re these huge portraits hanging in the halls of your mind. Only it turns out that people grow up and drink beer and grow stubble. Everyone keeps inhaling and exhaling. And hanging out with normal dudes.

That sinks in more every year. It’s pretty easy for me to call up random celebrities and just own it. (It’s kind of neat because I think it impresses people and makes them think I’m fascinating.) This afternoon I called a former Solid Gold dancer and convinced her I that was a good person (hoping to turn that into something). But these days I could even call Hillary Clinton, like right now, and go toe-to-toe with with her. What I’m saying is that she would be the one nervous talking to me after it was over. Of course I might accidentally commit suicide or die in a boat accident or fall victim to a botched robbery a couple of days later. But that wouldn’t change the fact that her decrepit heart would be beating faster than mine by the end of things. Trump would be harder, but only because he wouldn’t care anything about how whoever this guy is felt, and good for him. Hillary would pretend to care and be nice. That’s on her. I’d exploit it without thinking.

Anyway, the point is that Travis was texting and taking pictures with Elliot from ET in freaking Downtown Mobile of all places, on a weeknight, and now after reading this–and I apologize for that period vs. exclamation mark stuff, not sure where that was going–it doesn’t seem weird at all. Life just keeps happening. We all eat pizza. #OneLove.

Follow Travis here. I’m sure it’ll happen again. Plus he writes great reviews.