Sunday, July 31, 2011
Denis Leary: Exactly The Guy You Think He Is
The waves at Cisco Beach on Nantucket were perfect for boogie boarding, and my girlfriend's brother Bruce and I couldn't set our beach chairs down fast enough. All around us, excited beach goers were either swimming or laying out on towels, enjoying the beautiful weather that only the last Saturday in July can bring.
We grabbed our boards and gingerly waded into the welcoming sea. A few timid steps and Shark Week anecdotes later, we found ourselves taking full advantage of the bountiful surf being bestowed upon us.
Going to the beach can be the focal point of any vacation. However, I've noticed that there are three guaranteed universal truths that apply to every single beach going experience which will severely hinder your capacity to have a good time. No matter who you are, or where you're from, you cannot avoid these three annoying and inevitable beach situations.
First things first. While at the beach I guarantee some fucking kid around you is going to pick up his towel and flap it around in the wind, sending sand and rocks and Civil War shrapnel flying in the general vicinity of your ear nose and throat. His parents will offer some less than sincere apology, give the little rascal a halfhearted admonishment, and you'll be left wishing you were sitting next to Casey Anthony instead.
Secondly, accept that you are going to fuck up the sunblock application. You could be using 100 SPF, water-proof, sweat-proof, nuclear-holocaust-proof lotion, and applying every 20 minutes, but I guarantee you are going to come home with burns on your index finger, tops of your feet, and your ears.
Lastly, I guarantee you'll encounter that annoying guy in the water who holds absolute autocratic authority over his group in determining which waves to try and boogie board, and which waves to skip. You may hear him say helpful things like, "No not this one guys, the next one. The next one is huge!" and "Oh, nevermind we should have taken the first one".
Sometimes this boogie board guru will have a thick Central Massachusetts accent, a long, flowing strawberry blond mane of hair, and an aging 53 year old Irish Catholic body covered in freckles.
Yup. The beach was very crowded, yet I was in disbelief that at that very moment the great actor/comedian and local legend Denis Leary was swimming right next to me...almost like he was like a regular person.
Struggling to comprehend the situation, and assuming my senses were betraying me, I continued about my business as if I'd seen nothing, eventually returning to my beach chair to better assess the situation. A few minutes later, I watched as Denis Leary returned to his seat on the beach...directly to the back and right of us, maybe a first down away.
Now listen. For the record, I think Rescue Me was a brilliant show. Especially the first couple of seasons. But somewhere along the line and definitely before this last season, I really stopped giving a fuck. Actually, what really made me a fan was hearing him and Lenny Clarke in the Sox broadcast booths in 2006. I remember my buddy TPiddy and I crying laughing on Rt. 1, listening to them on WEEI playing off of the legendary Joe Castiglione. They were doing a bit about Tigers 3rd baseman Placido Polanco and his stupid name that brought us to tears. And of course their appearance on NESN that summer was truly comedic gold as well.
I moved to Nantucket in May to live with my beautiful girlfriend, and because of that, I don't get a chance to see my friends very much anymore. I knew I didn't want to be that nettlesome superfan that disrupts the guy's vacation, but I don't know. I really wanted a picture with him. Just something to make my friends a little jealous.
Denis is a huge homer, which is one of the reason I think he is so popular around here. He wears his Boston sports patronage on his sleeve, and I wear my pride literally on mine, so naturally I thought we had at least one thing in common, and that was enough for me. "I'll snap a quick picture and get out of his business", I thought.
But then the doubts started creeping in. He's a gritty comic with edgy material, and he can play an asshole on the small screen better than anyone I've ever seen. Listen. It's one thing to ask Michael Scott for a picture... it's quite another to ask Tommy Gavin. I was very, very nervous.
For probably 20 minutes I sat there with my phone in my lap, testing the camera quality on the random people walking by, cleaning the lense, adjusting the brightness, and otherwise stalling anyway I could. All of a sudden, Denis stood up, and I pegged it as my opportunity to go up and get my picture.
Putting his lack of approachability aside, I managed to suck it up, put on an heir of confidence if you will, and walk on over as cool as I could (which granted, isn't very cool at all).
I said, "Mr. Leary?"
He looked at me. His son and what I assume are his son's friends looked at me. They were around my age. Everyone is looking at me.
Then he said, with more than a hint of disdain in his voice, "Yeah?"
My heart is racing, because already the situation is playing out differently than it did in my head.
"Hi my name is Brett," I said, extending my hand.
He grabbed it and firmly, but slowly shook it.
"I'm sorry to bother you, I just wanted to let you know I'm a big fan of Rescue Me."
That's right. I used the most hack, unoriginal, "I'm a big fan of 'Insert Show Here'" line, but that's all I could muster up.
Clearly not humbled by my high praise, and wanting me to get to the point, he responded annoyed, "Okay..."
"I was hoping to get a quick picture if I could"
And with the same tone you'd use to patronize a child with, he said, "If I took a picture with you, then everyone on the beach would want a picture. And we can't have that now can we?"
I said, "No sir, we don't want that. Alright well it was nice meeting you"
And I slinked back the 15 steps back to my seat. Dejected, demoralized and downtrodden.
What a fucking sheep I am.
Completely embarrassed, I sat down and pretended like it didn't happen.
I liken it to the shame you feel after asking a girl out and having her say, "Nahhh, I'm good" and then laughing with her friends about it.
The worst part of this entire encounter is that I sat in his direct eye line...between him, and the beach. I can't bring myself to look past my peripheral.
Bruce leans over and asks, "How'd it go?"
"He said no."
"He said no", I repeated.
"What an asshole. You know what you should do? When we leave you should tell everyone on the beach where he's sitting."
So that's what I did. I packed up our stuff, stood up and proclaimed to the entire beach "Nice to meet you...DENIS LEARY".
That asshole had it coming. Hell hath no fury like a fan scorned.
On our way out, everyone I passed I felt obligated to stop them, tell them where Denis Leary was sitting, remind them who Denis Leary was, then move on to the next group.
The first large group I passed was of about nine 21 year old girls laying out on towels.
"Hey, do you guys know who Denis Leary is?"
"Yeah that's that guy from Rescue Me right?", one of the girls said.
"Yup. He's sitting right over there. See? I just got a picture with him. He loves meeting his fans."
"Oh my God thank you for telling us. I love Denis Leary!", they said
So I did it again. And again.
How long does it take to snap a fucking picture? 2/3rds of the encounter was already over, it would have taken another 8 seconds maybe? And the entire rest of the time we were there, not one other person came up to him, maybe a testament to what an asshole he is.
This fucking guy had the hubris and ego to send the one fan he had on the whole fucking beach home with his tail between his legs.
I guess I learned that Denis Leary, although he swims and boogie boards like a regular person, isn't such a regular person after all.
at 11:01 AM