Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul clashes with Chef over his depiction in book & blog.
Sweetly, my partner Chef insisted that he have the honor of purchasing the very first print edition of Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life. But as he stood in our kitchen, turning it over in his hands, his proud smile turned to worried concern.
“First in the book and now the blog, I think I’ve become your nemesis,” he said.
“Nemesis? Are we super heroes? You watch too much Smallville.”
“No, I mean like I’m always part of the joke.”
There’s that English-as-a-Second/Third-Language issue that charmed me so much in Episode 14: Happy Soul.
“Oh honey, you mean you’re my ‘foil.’ You’re like Ricky to my Lucy!”
And so it begins—a problem most memoirists face—the feedback from loved ones about their portrayal in the book. For the most part, I’ve tried to head off at the pass any potential issues by letting some key co-stars read early drafts. Angela quite likes her in-book comparison to Minnie Driver, although her sister Mandy tells me the actress is on her Spit List. Susan has always admired Brooke Shields, so I knew that one would earn me points.
The biggest concern I had was with my mother’s reaction. Those of you who know me, or have read the book, understand that we’ve had an up-and-down relationship most of my life. I sent her relevant chapters before the book was published just to be fair and give her a sense of what was headed down the pike. Her reaction was surprising—she said that while she enjoyed the characterization of my father (her ex-husband) more than hers, she thought the portrayal of her visit to NYC was spot-on.
I had been focusing so much on a potential rough patch with my Mother that I wasn’t really prepared for a new issue with my partner. And since Chef and I are both caliente for the actor I compared him to, Gael Garcia Bernal, I wasn’t sure why this nemesis-foil issue was rearing its ugly head.
“I guess it’s just hitting me that my Dad is going to read the book. You know him, he’ll read and study every word of it,” Chef explained.
“That means he’s going to read the Happy Soul chapter.”
“Honey, this isn’t a surprise. We’ve talked about it for over a year. You said it was fine. It’s even excerpted on the blog.”
“The blog is one thing. He doesn’t read that. This is different. The book makes it so real.”
“What’s the issue? The chapter is so sweet. It’s one of my favorites.”
“You know…the part that goes after Happy Soul.”
“You’re kidding? I think any Dad would be proud of that in a son!” I laughed. Chef blushed furiously.
“Tell me you’re not going to write about this.”
“Of course I am. You’re my foil, after all.”
Not sure what goes after Happy Soul? Guess you’ll have to read the book and find out. And I guess I’ll find out soon if my foil has turned into a nemesis.