I love hypothetical questions. Scenario games like "Would You Rather...?" and "Fuck/Marry/Kill" work the brain like an anthropological Sudoku.
Lately I've been rolling around one such question in my mind: If I had to cast my psyche in a movie, who would play it?
I began pondering my answer by jotting down an inventory of all the things I know about my innermost self. She's an old soul, but wildly progressive. She's messy and stubborn. She's a performer, physical and loud. Usually too loud. She makes her own rules. She eats a lot of cheese.
A short list of overqualified women came in to read for the role.
Hysterically physical, Lucy wasn't scared to appear unattractive or unfeminine. She pushed other cultural boundaries, creating the first TV show to feature an interracial couple. She was a rebel. A mogul. A queen.
Like so many brilliant comedians, Carol Burnett channeled the pain from a difficult childhood to fuel her outrageous humor. Despite being told repeatedly that she wasn't pretty enough to be in front of the cameras, she pursued her craft without apology. A savvy businesswoman, she continued to break down gender barriers, leveraging a stipulation in her contract to create her show, despite the fact that CBS thought only men could do variety.
Josephine Baker was a fierce performer, artist, and activist. An astonishingly courageous symbol of liberation and civil rights, she refused to perform for segregated audiences. She used her body as a piece modernist art, exploding taboos around race and sexuality.
These women are worthy of worship, without a doubt, but according to my inner casting director, none of them felt totally right for the part. They were all such icons, true trailblazers, and too intimidatingly larger than life. I closed my eyes and let intuition guide me.
Then, a very clear picture popped into my head.
Unpolished. Mischievous. Flirtatious. A lovable slob. A delightful crank. A big-hearted, beautiful, old jewish man with a thick New York accent and deep wrinkles from a lifetime of laughter.
So, basically, I'm Walter Matthau.
Despite a myriad of physical differences between us, this is exactly what I feel like on the inside:
And that, my friends, is how I realized our spirits can transcend not only generations, but gender. We're all made from the same molecules, and star dust, and blood. Plus, the more I stare at that picture, I realize Walt and I have the same eyebrows. Zero plucks given.