I was hanging out with some friends last weekend, including one named Roxanne. It made me remember this story I wrote a while back....
I grew up in the house that wasn't in the movie Roxanne.
Belcarra is 45 minutes from Vancouver by car, 15 minutes by boat. When I was seven years old, Steve Martin came to Belcarra to film "Roxanne".
Five months prior to Steve Martin arriving in Belcarra, the producers of the movie scouted locations close to Vancouver to shoot the film and eventually stumbled upon our house. "We really like the balcony over the balcony, it's vital for a very important scene in the movie.” said the hollywood film guy. Another nodded in agreement, “Yes, very important. “You will need to relocate for a few months. Everything inside the house will need to be refinished, but you will be compensated and left with a house better than when we start.” The deal hinged on a tiered-balcony. Clearly, these guys were about to take filmmaking to a whole other level.
Dad looked at Mom and smiled, “Who would’ve thought our balcony would be so famous?” Mom looked at my Dad and smiled. “Finally, we can get rid of those damn carpets. Brown, what we’re we thinking?” Plans were drawn up to move us into a temporary apartment. Our house was going to be in a film. Our house was going to be famous. Boxes were already packed in my parent’s minds. Steve Martin was going to be in our house. Steve Martin was going to be on our balcony. Steve Martin was going to get rid of our brown carpets.
In the end, they built a new house for the film. I guess pretty much anybody can say the house they grew up in wasn’t the house from the movie Roxanne, but how many houses got the red ribbon? The brown carpets held their ground for four more years. By the way, the girl our age who eventually lived in the house from Roxanne was named Erin Dirkatch. Her famous house situation never made her famous, even locally. Actually, the only thing she’s ever become famous for so far was getting the unfortunate schoolyard nickname of ‘Erin Dirt Snatch.’ I’m glad they never filmed Roxanne in our house.
So, anyhow, Steve Martin was staying next-door to us and we’d watch him come and go from the set everyday with that giant nose on his face. He'd wave to us as he drove by and occasionally talk to some neighbours, who were of course, all huge fans.
One morning my brother and I were waiting for our school bus to arrive when Steve Martin came out for a quick look around after getting his giant nose make-up put on. He stood on the corner, gave a friendly wave, and waited for his ride service to arrive. From the house next door lurched Rommie, our wooden-legged senile neighbour who was at least 50 years out of Martin's comedy demographic. Actually, I'm pretty sure there’d never been a comedy demographic to ever apply to Rommie. In the five years since he’d moved in, I’d never once seen him laugh or smile, no matter how funny the situation. (including the time our dog, the appropriately named 'Rascal', sniffed at Rommie’s wooden legs, found his least favorite, then began to piss on it like a racehorse.) Rommie wasn't much of a 'walker' either, so for exercise he'd 'walk' his Doberman pincher, Princess, by firing up his giant camperized Dodge van then proceed to enjoy nature aboard two tons of steel propelled by a V8 engine. Rommie, in all his faded glory, started up his van and began to drive off with Princess running eagerly behind inhaling blue fumes.
So here was arguably the funniest man on the planet, Steve Martin, equipped with a giant prosthetic nose, displaying jut how funny he was. Imagine being eight years old and seeing the funniest man on the planet with a giant nose. Now that’s funny. The funniest man alive stood captivated by an even-more uproarious happening instigated by arguably the least funny man on the planet, Rommie. Rommie drove towards Mr. Martin with dog-in-tow. Worlds were about to collide.
We stood there transfixed, wondering if the opposite energy of the two men would tear the space- time continuum in half, opening up a new dimension in comedic reality. Rommie approached Mr. Martin. Their eyes met. Mr. Martin stood proud displaying his nasal prowess. Rommie sat proud displaying his dog walking ingenuity. A smile broke across Mr. Martin’s amused and crowd-pleasing face as he raised his arm to wave at his new neighbour. Rommie stared back, shocked, disgusted. He made a gesture towards Steve Martin’s giant nose. Steve Martin pulled out a long index finger, thrust it into his adequate right nostril and gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign. Rommie was taken aback; he shuddered with disgust, scowled for good measure, and rolled up his passenger window to shield the nose.
As he drove past, ‘walking the dog’, we saw the unmistakable denture-sheen glint of the beginnings of a smile to creep across his craggy face. My brother and I touched each other’s arms to make sure we had not in fact been transported to a surreal twilight zone. Our arms were there. It was real.
Steve Martin watched Princess round the bend then looked the other direction to see his approaching ride service. The car arrived and he hopped in. As he drove past we looked up into the big black car to see Steve Martin. He looked down at us behind that giant nose, and winked.
This is not the house I grew up in.