The White Shoe Irregular:
It was fun while it lasted.

Being Steve's Friend

Alan Roberts

Many people, most of them svelte-challenged, often ask me, "What's it like to be Steve Martin's friend?" It's very difficult to give a concise and succinct answer. Normally I leave them with something I picked up off the Internet.

"All polar bears are left-handed," I say mysteriously.

"Ah…" they usually respond as I make haste to my haberdasher.

It's not all fun and games, mind you. Being Steve's friend is quite a demanding task. I'll never forget the time he called me up at three in the afternoon and asked, "How ya doin'?" This immediately put in motion a series of conflicting feelings. What does he mean? What could he want? Is he like the male praying mantis that cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body? Before I answer any of his so-called "Just askin'" questions, I think seriously of the consequences. It could involve anything from an afternoon of Frisbee in the park to an evening of chutney and port at Chuck Grodin's house.

Don't get me wrong. Steve and I are like this. By "this," I mean index and middle fingers intertwined in a vainglorious display of human affection. I would do anything for him, as he would for me. There was the time, however — I believe it was 21 October 1997 — when I asked him for a ride to the airport. He proceeded to make up some story about a sick and/or dying relative. But I let it go, reminding myself that some lions mate over fifty times a day.

Undeniably, there's a certain competition between us. Both of us are witty, charming, and terribly handsome. Going gray by age thirty may be seen as a weakness by some, an almost sickening display of crack addiction. But I never thought that about Steve — he's my friend. Besides, a cockroach will live nine days without its head before starving to death.

Sure, he's not as computer literate as I am, but who cares? Not being on the Internet doesn't grant you automatic admission into the "School of Not Goin' Nowhere." I've only recently hooked into the World Wide Web myself, so when Steve and I get together, I tell him all about the places I visited that day. He tries to counter, bless his heart, by telling me about the rice pudding display at Zabar's. It's our little game, sort of a test to see "who's who" in the world of sophistication. Even though I know a cat's urine glows under a blacklight, I can see that Steve is happy to not know, or even care.

We've been friends for many years, and his little quirks have long since stopped bothering me. His tendency to drop the word "didactic" into every conversation just goes in one ear and out the other. Similarly, his insistence on answering the phone by saying "Hello," even though I prefer it when he says "The Jerk is here!" doesn't send me into a downward spiral anymore. For I know that elephants are the only animals that can't jump; hence, I can't expect too much from people.

There's really no explanation for our friendship. Sure I have a few Polaroids of him and Robin Williams winning a three-legged race at Club Rawhide in the Phillipines during the '70s, but neither one of them seems too concerned. When people wonder what it's like to have a friend in Steve Martin, I simply smile, nod a little, place my thumb and index finger under my chin in the pose of Rodin's "Naked Man, Thinking," tilt my head back, chuckle, sigh purposefully, then say, "An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain."

It's the kind of answer Steve would love. If only he knew a pig's orgasm lasts for thirty minutes.