Roger Ebert critiques his second date with Oprah Winfrey | Bleader

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roger Ebert critiques his second date with Oprah Winfrey

Posted By on 04.20.12 at 09:32 AM

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OK, as far as I know Roger Ebert never even had a first date with Oprah. "Roger Ebert Critiques His Second Date With Oprah Winfrey" is the title of one of the "dramatic fictions" in Michael Czyzniejewski's new book, Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Fictions, published by local press Curbside Splendor. (Curbside's Victor David Giron was recently profiled in our Spring Books issue, BTW.)

Some gleanings from the book's table of contents might give an idea of the quirky nature of Czyzniejewski's work:

"Barack Obama Describes His Perfect Bowling Game to the Graduating Class, Arizona State University Commencement, 2029"

"Ann Landers Advises Against the Use of Twitter"

"David Yow's 10 Simple Rules for Keeping a Smile on Your Face"

"In His Berwyn Mayoral Campaign Speech, Rich Koz Sincerely Apologizes to the People of Berwyn"

"In Hell, H.H. Holmes and John Wayne Gacy Talk Shit About Richard Speck's Tits"

There's a release party for Chicago Stories on Saturday, April 21, 7-10 PM, at Cole's, 2338 N. Milwaukee. A number of local writers, actors, and improvisers will read pieces from the book.

The full text of "Roger Ebert Critiques His Second Date With Oprah Winfrey" after the jump:

Originally published in Another Chicago Magazine, republished here by permission of Curbside Splendor:

"Roger Ebert Critiques His Second Date With Oprah Winfrey"

At the movie, I realized how terrible an idea it was to go to a movie. Considering how well the first date went, sitting, talking, eating, why wouldn't I go back to the same plan, what each of us did so well? If it ain't broke, right? You can't talk at a movie—I'd sooner die than break that rule—so I chose the one place we couldn't converse, where I couldn't let my best attributes come to light. I also ran the risk of coming off as a know-it-all. People go to the movies to laugh, to cry, to be scared, to be entertained. But intimidated? I should have thought it out. Despite everything, things started well enough. I took her to a sneak preview, which I thought would impress her, and truthfully, I think it did. She'd never been to a critic's screening, she said, and I thought that perhaps I'd made a good decision after all. We got some popcorn and some sodas, then sat in the back row, near the door, where I could use the light to take notes. When the lights went down is when things went south (never a good sign on a date). While a movie, an exclusive showing with popcorn, might not have been such a bad idea, the particular movie is what ultimately did me in. A romance would have been ideal, while an action movie would have been fun. Even a scary movie could have been good, her moving closer, squeezing my hand, hiding her face in my arm. But no, it was a comedy, and not just any comedy, but a sex comedy. The movie that was screening that night? Revenge of the Nerds. At first, it wasn't so bad. "Nerd," it seemed, was synonymous with "successful," not to mention "bespectacled," and while I was the only one with glasses, we had both studied hard, attained a level of success that would have branded us both, by the standards of the film, nerds. But then I dug myself deeper, early on, when I whispered into her ear (breaking my sacred rule), "These guys remind me of me." I was just trying to have fun, somewhat at my own expense. But when it became obvious that these boys were nothing like me, that they were crude and uncouth, and that there'd be lots of nudity, I cringed. By the time the panty raid scene ended and the nerds were watching the sorority girls undress on live video feeds, we couldn't have been more far apart if there was a seat between us. I saw her looking down at her watch. I saw her averting her eyes. I saw the look of disgust. I pretended to take notes, start my column. But really, there wasn't much to say. It was what it was: Underdogs want to get laid, underdogs get laid, pure escapist fantasy. I could have written the review without seeing the movie. After, when the cab pulled up to her building, I asked if she wanted to grab a bite, maybe a drink. She cited what time she had to be in the make-up chair. I vaulted out and scurried around the back of the taxi, trying to open her door for her, wondering if there'd be any chance of a goodnight peck. On my way, I tripped over my own feet, fell to the street. I looked up to see her walk away, heard her faint "Thank you" and "Good night." I could see her feet under the car parked next to the curb. She was making tracks. Then, not knowing where I was, what I was doing, the cabbie pulled away, left me there. I looked ridiculous. There was no speech to save me, not like in the movie. No sweet redemption, no happy ending. I stood up and started walking home, my building not that far. I remember feeling so clumsy, so awkward. Oafish and ham-handed, gawkish and graceless. Just another nerd, all bungle, all blunder. All thumbs.

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