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And so, Sydney Pollack and I quietly began a friendly nodding-hello relationship. He was obviously a dog lover and would often stoop to pet other dogs, including mine (Guinness was also stroked by Jack Lemmon once, but that's another story). I told lots of people about this, and, after several months, we went from the silent nod to outright hellos and familiar quick smiles. We never really spoke, but as far as I was concerned I "knew" Sydney Pollack. Since I lived in Los Angeles, it was inevitable that I'd get to be somewhat chummy with a genuine Hollywood star. I was confident that if I ever ran into Sydney Pollack at a party, we'd laugh at the coincidence and catch up on doggy doings. He'd introduce me around and witnesses would see me graduate to "Sydney Pollack's bona fide acquaintance." It didn't matter that he didn't know my name. I'd seen almost all his movies.
There was a break where Sydney Pollack and I didn't see each other for a little while. But after a few weeks, there we were, me pushing a brand-new Baby Jogger, and him, with just a quick double take that I'm pretty sure said, "Congratulations on reproducing."
Then one day I saw Sydney Pollack pull into the dirt parking lot driving a white Explorer. Not a new one. That's so like Sydney Pollack to drive such a common-man car, I thought. He probably owns it just so his dog will have plenty of room in the back. He's got BMWs and Jaguars at home, I figured, yet he chooses to drive a spacious, unpretentious car that could â really use a wash. Now I like Sydney Pollack even more.
Then one day I heard Sydney Pollack say something to someone else, but it wasn't in Sydney Pollack's voice. I didn't expect him to sound exactly as he did in Husbands and Wives or on the rerun of Will & Grace I saw the other night, but it surprised me how . . . menschy his voice was. I pretended I'd heard wrong. But over the following weeks, I noticed something very unSydney Pollacklike about his upper lip, though I tried not to stare. It wasn't the upper lip of somebody who'd directed Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. It was the upper lip of somebody who works at a job he hates or whose kids haven't called in months or is just incredibly ordinary. It was not an upper lip that would belong to Sydney Pollack.
The car. The voice. The lip. I had to come to terms with the fact I've been denying for months. That this is not Sydney Pollack. That I've been living a lie. That I now must figure out just what kind of relationship I've been having with a stranger who drives an Explorer, wears a baseball cap and has a forlorn upper lip. There are still days when I'm almost 70 percent certain it's him, but most times it's more like 20, maybe 25 percent. And even if he is Sydney Pollack, which there's maybe -- maybe -- a 30 to 40 percent chance, what was I doing? Coincidental stalking?
Meanwhile, I've gone on walking my usual route. In fact, the other day I spotted Eric Idle and his beagle. I'm almost certain of it.
Sporting Life: Showtime, Burbank Style
WITH 11 SECONDS LEFT IN THE GAME, down by only a bucket, the point guard of My Bad pushes the basketball up court with the celerity of a fox. The game is on the line, and he ain't about to feed the rock to a wide-open teammate on the perimeter. It's showtime. And he's absolutely positive that one of the eight people in the "crowd" is a pro scout. This kid dreams of the CBA, just like the rest of us on the court. Only he just might have the skill and "mad hops, yo" to make it. Sure enough, he loses his bald-pated defender with a spin move and takes the pill coast-to-coast for a chippy, getting fouled in the process. The beer-gutted culprit looks astonished. Not your high-fiving, finger-waving point guard, though. He's smiling; he's having a good time. Swish. The ball tickles the twine, and My Bad does away with the Wolverines. The scorekeeper pockets another $10, the referees $20 apiece, and the next two teams begin their warm-up. The gym smells like a giant nutsack. "Let's not break out the champagne just yet, fellas," I tell them after in a very white way. "You draw Rebel Alliance next week." I don't understand the laughter that ensues.