Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Celebrities Envy Dead Tortoise

Adwaitya sat on a marble pedestal, about knee high, in one of the grassy fields in the Calcutta Zoo. There was a small crowd of people to see the dead carcass of the Aldabran tortoise that died within the last week. Adwaitya was 252 years old when he died. Records show that he was born in 1744. Adwaitya was large, as tortoises commonly are, and had been embalmed to prevent it from decomposing. It's head was jutting out of its huge brown shell, where it was supported by a small puffy white satin pillow.

Jack LaLanne was wearing black pants, and a black shirt, his hair died jet black and cropped short, but long enough to stand straight up. Jack had his hands together hanging low in front of him in a respectful pose. He was wearing sunglasses and standing alone.

"Jack, is that you?"

Jack turned to his right. "Yes. Hi. How long has it been, Burt?" asked Jack.

"A few years," said Burt Reynolds. "What the hell you doing way over here in India, for chrissake?"

"Paying my respects to the oldest living thing on earth," said Jack.

"Well, that turtle ain't alive no more," said Burt.

"Tortoise, Burt. It's a tortoise," said Jack.

"Yeah. Just had to see it. Look at it. It looks like any old tortoise. It certainly don't look three hundred years old," said Burt.

"252, Burt. It did not make it to 300," said Jack.

"What are you now, Jack?" asked Burt.

"92," said Jack.

"Wow. You got 22 years on me." said Burt.

'Yeah, well, don't expect much out of the next 22," said Jack.

"I'm feeling great," said Burt. "Hey, is that Madonna over there in those big ass sunglasses?" said Burt.
"I wouldn't know," said Jack.

"Yeah, it is. It's Madonna. Like what the hell. I thought I'd be the only famous person here," said Burt. "Jeepers creepers, look who's over there?" said Burt incredulously. "Is that really who I think it is? Jeez, this is becoming like the Academy Awards. And no news media. Tons of big stars and no news media. Is that really--"

"Yeah. That's who you think it is?" Said Jack

Burt Reynolds noticed that there were a few Indians in Hindu dress, or what he thought was Hindu clothing, looking at him. A child even pointed to him. Yep, they noticed. All around the world they noticed who was once the most popular movie star in the world, five years in a row.

The sun was bright, bearing down on the small crowd of people. Burt slipped out a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses from his lightweight Nike workout jacket. I mean afterall, if Madonna was going to stand among the Indians wearing shades, so was he. But what bothered him were the little Indian children gathering around Madonna, asking for her attention, which she occasionally gave. She seemed more interested in the damn dead tortoise than her worldwide fans.

Burt then glanced at the person who arrived covered in a black sheet wearing a wide-brimmed black sun hat, long black pants, white socks and black flat shoes. He was surrounded by a few other Arab-dressed men, and no one seemed to notice them. In fact, people seemed to shy away from the Muslims. But Burt knew who this was. Michael Jackson could not hide his identity for long.
"This is getting" weird, don't you think. I mean, what is Michael Jackson doing here," Burt said to Jack LaLanne who remained in his respectful pose.

"Probably wants to buy the tortoise's dead body. Maybe Madonna and him will start bidding on it," Jack said with a touch of disdain in his voice.

"They should ebay it," said Burt.

"Burt Reynolds, is that you?" said a woman to Burt's right. Burt turned.

"Faye?" said Burt.

Faye Dunaway was also wearing sunglasses, large ones like Madonna. Burt wondered why the older a woman got, the larger the sunglasses she preferred. Faye actually looked pretty good for being in her.
"What are you doing here?" asked Burt, wondering how old Faye was.

"Don't be an idiot, Burt. I am here for the same reason you are. To see what it looks like to be 250 years old," said Faye.

"Well, you have a long way to go to get to 250, Faye, ain't that right?" Burt was fishing.

"Not as long as you," said Faye. "Look, Burt, the tortoise has hair."

Burt turned and craned his head to get a better look. Damn, he thought. Little bits of hair jutted out of the dead tortoise's head. Very fine hair, but hair just the same.

"The tortoise has as much hair as you," said Faye.

Burt resisted raising his hand to adjust his hair-piece. Faye was a bitch and she knew how to push buttons. He wondered whether she was still good in bed.

"Where you staying?" asked Burt.
"Look at that, Madonna. And is that the freak, Michael Jackson, looking like an Arab woman?" asked Faye.
"Yeah. Where you staying?" asked Burt again.

"Jack LaLanne, is that you?" asked Faye.

"Yes. Hi," said Jack. Jack turned to acknowledge Faye Dunaway. Jack had worked hard to get to his 92 years intact and looking good, or good for 92, that is. Faye, though, was looking good because of surgery. It was obvious, facial skin pulled back tight, lips spread out, causing Faye to have a strange permanent smile. But her demeanor was confident, and she did not seem psychologically scarred by her aging vanity. Jack wondered whether his manic pursuit of health through exercise and good nutrition was any less vain than Burt's hair piece or Faye's plastic surgery. Jack got instantly uncomfortable standing there.

"I got to go. It was nice seeing you both," said Jack, as he turned on his heel and walked off.

"That was weird," said Faye. “He got all funny.”

"Where you staying?" asked Burt again.

"Look at that tortoise, Burt. That thing probably looked the same one hundred years ago. Hasn't changed in a hundred years, and you and I seem to be deteriorating faster than melting ice cream on a summer beach," said Faye as she stared at the tortoise.

"I'm staying in the Calcutta Hilton. You want to join me for dinner?" asked Burt.

"Did you see the documentary Calcutta Hilton? It's about young prostitutes," said Faye.

"No. There are prostitutes at my hotel?" said Burt as a fast wind to change dinner plans went through his brain.

"Madonna just left. Michael the freak is still here. Jack LaLanne left for god's sake. So what the hell are we still standing here for, Burt?" said Faye.

"Is that a yes on the dinner invite?" said Burt.

"You don't look bad for seventy," said Faye.

"You know I'm seventy?"

"I google everyone. I keep track of everyone's age. Madonna and Michael Jackson are both 48. There's something about approaching fifty that gets people to focus on how shitty they look," said Faye.
"You look great, Faye," said Burt.

"Fuck you, Burt. Where do you want to have dinner?" said Faye.

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