The man has to restrain the loose-cannon antics of Mike Logan and Bobby Whatshisface on a weekly basis. He dared to hijack a train while Steven Segal was on board. And I’m in the same building with him. I can get his autograph, if I grab something quick for lunch and rush over to his book signing* before I have to get back to my exhibition booth.
The nearest place to eat is selling “chicken kebabs,” fist sized knots of chicken gristle that crouch defensively on a bed of rice, aggressively foiling any attempt to cut them with the flimsy plastic utensils provided. My efforts to eat them aren’t pretty, and I’m still struggling with them while on my way to Eric’s booth, because I don’t have much time. I get a place in line, still chewing.
Suddenly, the last person in front of me has moved away, and I am staring at Eric Bogosian with a mouth too full of surprise and chicken gristle to speak. I smile, trying to show that I am both happy to meet him and unable to talk. Afraid that this isn’t getting the message across, I add a little wave. I fight to clear my mouth so that I don’t end up choking physically as badly as I am choking socially. Smiling, chewing, and waving at the same time, I hope that he won't think I'm having a seizure. It’s too late to keep him from thinking that I’m mentally retarded.
He graces me with the smile that he has practiced with his agent. "Hello," he begins, pausing while his eyes scan downwards towards my ID badge, "...Peter."
He sounds exactly as he does on camera. World-weary, detached, and cynical, leavened with a hint of slightly-amused sarcasm. And then I realize that he just read my nametag.
Eric Bogosian just read my nametag!
ERIC BOGOSIAN CAN READ!
AND HE READ MY NAMETAG!
I am beside myself with excitement, and a burst of adrenaline wrenches the chicken down my throat. Now that I can speak, I want to ask if he’s holding a grudge against Casey Ryback for ruining his plans, or if he’s due back at the station to tell the commissioner why there haven’t been any breaks on the case. Instead, I request an autograph.
Hesitantly, I ask, "Can you make it out to my wife, Jennifer?" He complies, and I am even able to get my picture taken with him.
On the trip home, my pictures are ruined by airport x-ray machines, and I am left with 27 hazy photos of blackness, one of which bears a glimpse of a giant inflatable cow. There is no trace of Eric Bogosian on the film.
At least I have my wife's book, which has been inscribed:
To Jnnmql -
The man's handwriting is as wild and unkempt as his hair.
* Talk Radio, published by Theater Communications Group ISBN 978-1-55936-324-2.
I got your back, Eric.