Tyler, what do you think you’re really good at?
Well. I’m mighty fine at cutting people out of my life. Not in a vicious way. And not literally, that’s for certain. I’ve never tossed a dead body into Lake Michigan. Anyway. My point is, I remove people from my life when I think that our time is up. I get an instinctual feeling, or the person that needs to vamoose does something like tell me that they didn’t much care for Pushing Daisies, and out they go like a stuffed pepper that has been in the back of your grandma’s fridge since the Reagan administration.
Now, how the person gets the boot all depends on the situation. Obviously when you know a person for a substantial amount of time, and you’ve built a connection with them, that makes it harder to off them. If I barely know the person, however, like if it’s a first date that’s gone abysmal, I usually just get them off and then quizzically stare at my bedroom wall until they saunter out to their Lyft.
Get them off? Your bedroom?
Yes, I’ve recently clocked onto a sad fact of my yesterdays. Let me preface this, though, by saying that I am a healthy person. I am. Nevertheless. A handful of times, when I’ve been on a date where the guy just won’t shut up, instead of telling him to hit the road when we inevitably wind up at my place to watch Bring It On, I go down on him instead of saying, “Hey. You. You’re talking through Bring It On.” One time I brought this fella home who wouldn’t stop yapping about this production of Avenue Q he was rehearsing for, and so we eventually just starting swapping tongues, and then I moved south. The real kicker was discovering that he had the happy and sad drama masks tattooed near the entrance of his crotch. Now, I have a few iffy tattoos myself, but none of them are about to mount a revival of Much Ado About Nothing near my cock. He recoiled immediately, covering them up, to which I replied, “It’s… we all… it’s…”
None of what you’re telling me about yourself so far sounds healthy.
Okay, look: Doctors like me. I’m a healthy person. I take a B12 vitamin everyday. I walk. In fact, I run when I’m trying to catch a bus that will take me to a soft pretzel. We all have questionable faults. So, sometimes in my past I would take one for the peen. I cut that out. And sometimes I remove people.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t want to cut Celeste out of my life. She walked out on me.
I don’t know who I am anymore. The past few months, I’ve done nothing but express myself via my thoughts on HBO’s limited series Big Little Lies. But it was limited, so. It’s done now. Forever. And so I don’t know who or what I am. Besides a shell.
If you watched the recent HBO limited series Big Little Lies, then I’m sure you noticed Celeste’s (played by Nicole Kidman) radiant hair.
Yeah, that was a wig.
Sorry, that possibly came across as a lot more vicious than I intended. I’m not saying that Nicole Kidman’s on-the-regular hair is peasant-like or anything. She’s Nicole Kidman. The minute her roots start to show, I’m sure Keith Urban sounds a dainty foghorn, heaps of Australian glitter cloud the space around her, blinding everyone nearby, and then all of a sudden it’s like said roots didn’t dare try making an entrance.
My aim here is that now that the show is done, all I can think about is what happened to the wig after filming wrapped. Did Nicole keep it? Did Reese Witherspoon steal it so that Nicole couldn’t have it? I don’t think their relationship is that petty, but maybe it is? A man can dream.
In the series, Celeste frequents a cool cucumber of a therapist in order to release the fears that her husband has instilled in her. He’s varying shades of abusive, but he’s played by Alexander Skarsgȧrd. So you’re scared of him, but you want to jump his bones at the same time, and that’s a whole conundrum in itself. Fortunately, I never had to deal with these conflicting thoughts about my father.
Oh, wow. Okay. Your father. That came out of nowhere.
Well, sure, pull my finger, I’ll talk about him.
I cut him out of my life.
It is here that I’ll reveal that over the past 20 or so months since I last saw my dad, I’ve thought about Nicole Kidman’s wig, which I was just recently introduced to, just as much as him.
That doesn’t sound healthy.
It’s not. That’s my point.
It’s gotten to the point where I can’t quite remember what his voice sounds like. I do remember the feel of his face stubble whenever I’d kiss him as a kid. Like a Brillo pad, but on his face. I get that that doesn’t sound attractive, but it was soothing. Almost as soothing as Nicole Kidman’s Vicks vaporub-like voice when she’s trying her darndest to hide her Aussie accent.
I doubt that my father watched Big Little Lies. And if he did, I doubt he recognized that he and Hotty McHotsalot Skarsgȧrd have a lot in common. My dad never crossed into the physical abuse territory like that though. Loud words and illegal oxy were more his style. Are still his style? My style is completely different from when I last saw him. He’d roll his eyes at my pants with the embroidered flowers on them. But I’m sure he’d still foot the bill at the end of a Barnes & Noble trip. Maybe. Probably not. I don’t think he likes me since I took my mom’s side in the divorce. As if it’s possible to remotely be Switzerland when your parents’ divorce is on the line. And you’re entering your mid-twenties. Neutrality has never been my strong suit.
My dad doesn’t know about the past 20 or so months of my life. Or at least I don’t think he does. I dyed my hair at one point. I lived in another country for a wee bit. I dealt with Drama Masks, and a few others guys. I started, went through, and ended a relationship. With a woman. I know, I know. I know what you’re thinking.
But Tyler! Didn’t you have to punch your gay card, like, at least six times in order to write that paragraph about blowing that puppet boy?
Well, yes. Yes I sure did! I had to punch it so many times that I’ve earned myself a complimentary Elaine Stritch Pop! Funko. But yes, I spent a year with a woman. Very European of me, I know. I didn’t cut her out though! We still talk.
Is that healthy?
Oh, shut up!
In a recent Vulture interview, Darby Camp, who played Witherspoon’s little spawn on Big Little Lies, recalled, “One time she [Kidman] let all the kids get on her lap and she wore a wig in the show and she’s like, ‘Oh, guys, do you want to play with my wig or something?’ So we were all testing her wig and playing with it. My mom’s just like, ‘Put down the Nicole Kidman. Don’t touch the Nicole Kidman.’”
My dad didn’t have a wig. He just had himself, and he never quite understood what to do with my sister and I. We went to McDonald’s a lot. I think of him every time I fill one of those ketchup thingies.
They’re called ketchup cups.
That’s the technical term?
Right. So. I think of him every time I fill one of those ketchup cups. But besides asking him if he wanted ketchup, I didn’t know how to carry on with the English language with him. And that’s a bummer, but on most days I’m not sad that he’s out of my life. That’s just the nature of it all. Expiration dates exist.
For the guy in your bed who shouldn’t be in your bed.
For the girl you’re in a relationship with even though whenever you listen to the Funny Girl overture you’re so flaming that you could cook up omelettes for the entirety of the National Guard.
For Nicole Kidman’s wig. Which, you know, it was time to put it down. It was time to put down the Nicole Kidman. The show was perfect. If it would’ve gone on any longer, it would’ve been like that spoiled stuffed pepper. If you haven’t watched it, you should really hop on it if you want to consider yourself a functioning human in today’s culture.
And for your father. My father. There was an expiration date for him, too. He who did what he could. Or what he thought he could. And who certainly didn’t know what to do once I started to figure it out for myself.
About the author...
Tyler Anthony Smith is a Chicago-based actor, writer, solo artist, and Goldie Hawn enthusiast. Through May 6, he can be seen in No Stakes Theater Project's production of Cabaret, up at the Berger Park Coach House. This October he will be putting up his play Mein Comps at Strawdog Theatre Company's new space, directed by Dame Abigail Phelps. @tyreranfernee