Inferno

I had an audition for “John Doe” this morning.
I watched it over the weekend, and thought it was pretty good. There were some things that I thought were very “pilot heavy,” but other than that, I think the show has great potential…sort of a Bourne Identity meets Millennium, meets Girls Gone Wild.
A brief explaination of “pilot heavy” is in order: When a series creator wants to sell his or her idea to a network, after all the scripts are approved, and the casting is done, the creator shoots what is called a “pilot.” In the pilot, the creator has to show the network more or less what they’re going to do over the years of the series, and introduce them to the main cast, as well as to the viewing audience. Because of these necessities, pilots can be a little heavy on the talking and exposition, and the explosions and stuff.
So I thought it was a little “pilot heavy,” but not bad at all. I don’t think anyone should ever judge a series by it’s pilot.
So I’m a little excited about this audition, because I like the show, and I haven’t had an audition in several weeks.
Funny aside: at an audition I had a few weeks ago, I walked in, and the receptionist comes over to me and says, “You’re Wil Wheaton, right?” I told her that I was, and she replied to me, excitedly, “I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE!”
Okay, I thought that was really cool. =]
Anyway, there’s this massive brushfire burning near my house, and the resulting cloud of smoke is thousands of milles thick, and hovering over my house, so when I walked out to my car, it was covered in ash, and the sun was casting this spooky blood red haze down on everything. My lawn is completely dead, so it was sort of orange…wish I’d taken a picture of it, but I didn’t.
So I head over to the audition, which is to play a character called “Elvis”, who is described thusly:
“a wild-eyed genius with an IQ that’s over 160…a former “Doogie Howser” with a brilliant mind and questionable social skills. The youthful chief of neurosurgery at a Seattle hospital…”
Sound familiar? He’s sort of halfway between Wesley and the guy I played on Invisible Man, so it’s not a lot of work to prepare the audition…I even get some technobabble…albeit medical terminology, which is a little bit easier to remember.
I get to the audition early, and as I’m walking up the stairs, I am passed by this AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL GIRL, who is clearly reading for the part of the AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL GIRL…I shit you not, she is even wearing a red dress.
As she passes me, I am engulfed in the intoxicating sent of her perfume, and I am hit full in the face with a hypernostalgic memory from when I was about 15…


I’m with my best friend Darin. We’ve just seen a movie in Burbank, and we’re driving back to his house. We could take the freeway, and be there in about 15 minutes, but we choose to take a more circuitous surface street route, knowing that it will allow us to stay out longer.
We’re listening to “The Queen is Dead” as we pull through the curves of this particular street, talking about girls, comics, Nintendo, and debating the me. We stop at a light, and a two girls pull up next to us. I look over, notice that they’re insanely hot, and begin to get nervous. At 15, I’m convinced that any girl I see is a potential trip to at second base…though I’ve never even been to first base, or really had a real at bat, yet.
Darin looks over, and says, “Hey! That’s Misty!”
“What?”
“That’s Misty! I know her from school.”
Darin waves to her, and we all get out of our cars, leaving them idling in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night. Over the next few months, and even now, that simple act of standing in the middle of the steet would bring me incredible satisfaction.
Darin introduces me to her, and she is very, very nice to me. I am immediately drawn to her. She is about my height, with lots of thick blonde hair and bright green eyes that stand out from her face in the La Crescenta night. She is funny, and engaging, and our conversation is easy and effortless. She is also wearing this amazing perfume, that gives me goosebumps…I realize with some embarassment that I have been inhaling deeply through my nose, while she talks, drinking her in.
We talk for a long time, Darin and I carefully avoiding topics like the ones we’ve been discussing in the car. Though we are nerds, we know that Cthulhu is just not discussed in the presence of potential foolin’ around.
A few cars pull up behind us, and we wave them around, as we stand there in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, enjoying the freedom of being away from our parent’s ever-watchful eyes, talking to a beautiful girl while Morrissey entreats an anonymous driver to “take me out, tonight…take me anywhere I don’t care I don’t care…”
Eventually, that time comes when we have to get home, and she has to leave as well. We begin the awkward process of saying goodbye, and I try to screw up the courage to ask Misty for her phone number. We stand there a little too long, me fumbling with my words, and she asks, “Would you like to go out sometime?”
I unsuccesfully try to act nonchalant and my voice breaks as I reply, “Sure!”
She writes her number down on a 3×5 card…which I provide to her from within my Car Wars Deluxe Edition box set. She writes her name and number on the card, and before she delivers it into my sweaty hand, she takes a bottle of perfume from within her purse, and sprays the card.
“So you won’t forget me,” she said.
Yeah, like there is any chance of that happening.
I put the card back into my Car Wars Box, and we all get back into our cars, still idling in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night.
Darin and I drive back to his house in an electrified, excited, stunned silence.
I have gotten a phone number from a beautiful blonde, without even asking.

Though I kept that card in that box for years… I never got the courage to call her. I don’t know why, really…I know I was super geeky and afraid that she’d want to make out, or something, and I wouldn’t know what to do (I should be so lucky)…maybe I was content to sit in the safety of my garage, listening to Oingo Boingo, happily considering what could be…maybe I was just a lameass who didn’t know what to do when the golden prize landed in his lap.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s the last one.
After my audition today, as I was driving home into this great ominous cloud of thick grey smoke, I thought about that night, and the months that surrounded it. I thought about the way her perfume still permeates my Car Wars Deluxe Edition Box Set, and the times I’d play Car Wars in my dressing room with my friend Caius, when I was working on TNG.
I remembered how cool I thought it was to be on Trek back then, and how much fun it was to be part of something that I knew was great. It was wonderful to be part of something that made me feel proud. I feel that same way about WWDN. I feel proud of this stupid website, and the chance it’s given me to find my Voice…I feel proud that even though the source is clunky and I really need to redo everything now that I know what I’m doing, this lame website is mine, for better or for worse.
As I drove home, I looked to my right, at the bright blue September sky over Downtown, and off to my left at the growing cloud of smoke swrling around the mountains, and wondered whatever happened to Misty, who signed her name with a heart over the i. I wondered if she remembers standing in the middle of that road, in the middle of the night, fifteen years ago. I wondered what that amazingly beautiful girl in the red dress would say if she knew that the smell of her perfume had put me in a time machine.
The fire burned hotter, out of control.

165 thoughts on “Inferno”

  1. Wil,
    I am a HUGE bibliophile, voracious reader is more like it, and I must say that the memory you so graciously shared with us was one of the most beautiful and well written pieces I have ever had the privilige to read. Your writing style is so fluid and emotive (hope I’m using that term correctly.) You have brightened up what had been a dismal day. Thank you, friend.
    Peace,
    Thespar

  2. Wil.
    I love the story. It brought me back. I completely knew how you felt through your descriptions.
    It was boys like you that never called me, and I was left home alone on the weekends at 15. Wound up marrying a geek in the long run anyway.
    If you actually do read this: I think your Voice is fantastic, Wil, if you’re serious about your writing, one thing that could have made this even better…Do I dare criticze the writing of our beloved Wil?…As a writer myself I appreciate criticism. It helps me to write better even for on-the-fly writing. You need to connect the last full paragraph to your final statement. What brought your attention to the fire? It’s kinda just hanging there being blatantly symbolic. It doesn’t have to be, your reader is smart enough to catch it. Help your reader connect the two thoughts. Show them what was going on in your head that made you connect the two and complete the thought process. DOn’t get me wrong I think that the piece was full of emotion and well written.
    As for grammar — that’s what editors are for ;-)
    Sending good ‘Wil’ thoughts to the John Doe people here in Vancouver. Hope you get it so you can enjoy the lovely fall weather. It’s been simply gorgeous up here.

  3. As a guy that certainly would be too blind to take any subtle or less subtle “hints” myself, I probably shouldn’t talk. but dammit that was as much a hint as getting a hot frying pan smacked over your face. Had a girl ever asked me out or given me her number without asking, I would have called! …. at least I really really hope I would have^H^H^H^H :)

  4. All this nostalgia makes me think of my first wife, Misty.
    She just never seemed to be fully in love with me, sniff, sniff…
    Right at the point of climax she’d always yell “GIMMIE THAT PHOTON TORPEDO WIL!” (even though my name is Joe) and I never figur….HEY WAIT A MINUTE….

  5. Post 106. Do you ever read down this far? I admit I usually read all the posts when I read one of your entries.
    You’ve gotten a lot of well deserved praise for this entry, but what I like is the fact that you can do all that compu-babble in one post, then turn around and give us something so heart-felt. I’ve said it before, it’s a rare thing to be able to do the two both so well. Geeks don’t ususally communicate well, they lapse into geek-jargon and babble about network firewalls or who’s the better Doctor Who or the merits of the various incarnations of Batman. But to be able to talk about all that stuff, and then bring up a personal, bittersweet memory from 15 years ago and make it as real as if it happened yesterday, well, just wow, Wil (sorry I don’t have your way with words). How do you remember this stuff? You are one lucky guy to have such memories and the ability to share them.
    And good luck on the John Doe thing. I’ve seen both Wesley and your Invisible Man guest shot, so I’d really like to see you get this so I can see what you meant.

  6. Ever watched the movie “High Fidelty”?
    Try it. I dare ya.
    It may make you wanna call that girl’s number
    and find out what you’ve missed out.
    -B

  7. This post put me into a timewarp. In school I was always “one of the guys” (really cute but way too geeky and tomboyish) and never were one of my crushes requited. When I graduated and we were all out on the “graduation party circuit” I got to hear all about the crushes that certain guys had on me but they were all moving away and wasn’t that just tough? Grr. I sure wish boys spoke more before they grow up. :)
    As always you’ve done an eloquent job of recounting your memories Wil. I’ll be back..

  8. Pilot Heavy, eh? I loved it. I thought what you calll “Pilot Heavy” was nothing short of amazing work on their part.
    I would dance with glee if every episode was as fast paced as that one!

  9. You know, I was kind of on the fence regarding the whole ‘Wil is Cool’ thing until you said you played Car Wars (and weren’t ashamed to admit it). You are now offically Cool. Perhaps even SuperCool.

  10. Wow, the way you described sniffing her perfume is the way I used to feel looking at your picture in all the teen magazines. You are awesome Wil!

  11. Wil you just described my high school years! I hereby officially pronounce you one of my four pillars of cool (the other three being Elvis Costello, Barenaked Ladies and Guido van Rossum). Blog on!

  12. Ok, just one WHACK over the knuckles for calling your site lame – ’tis NOT and never will be, Wil, so there.
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face the day after I learned that greed won out and the lovely house next door to me is to be torn down and a multi-story block built, thus destroying the wonderful amount of sunshine I get, and worse still, my privacy. That was a wonderful story, Wil. I hope Misty can remember and looks back with a smile on her face on that middle of the night meeting too.

  13. You know we all love your web site, Wil, but seriously, you should spend more of your time writing, really writing. You have a gift for it, and a novel (or two or three…) is probably there inside you, waiting to be typed out. Hey, at least a few dozen decent short stories, at the very least! So write on…

  14. Good luck with John Doe,
    There’s worse things than being typecast as a really smart guy with a good haircut.

  15. ps Wil, you’re going to be one of those grandfathers who tells long, old stories.
    ;)
    (there’s worse things than that, too)

  16. *sigh* The Soapbox is broken. And I know unrequited love! I know this girl who I totally love, but she is going out with this other guy and they have already make a lot of plans for the future and they aren’t engaged…yet. Does kind of relationships usually work don’t they? Also is it “bad” if I am rooting for them to break up so I can move in?

  17. Hey, the images of your brushfire stirred up a memory of mine that dates back to May 1980. The Empire Strikes Back was released on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, the week after Mt St Helens blew up. A fine mist of volcanic ash was still falling through the air in Beaverton, Oregon, turning everything gray and making it hard to see and breathe.
    Hundreds of Star Wars fans were lined up outside the huge Westgate Theater. Nobody had really appropriate ashfall clothing, having never experienced a volcanic eruption before. People seemed to be afraid the ash might be harmful, and most hd covered themselves head to foot in improvised outfits, with some sort of breathing gear and eye protection — welding glasses, ski goggles, scuba masks, military-grade gas masks, a few complete operating-room outfits including caps and booties. Some people had wrapped their heads and faces in cloth, from which big dark lenses protruded.
    It looked like a huddled mass of refugees on some dismal, gray planet, standing in line for water rations and Soylent Green. By far the coolest moviegoing experience of my life.

  18. cute on the story. but the more obvious parallel between john doe and its scifi predecessors is the pretender.
    now, have you seen the pilot for firefly? there’s a show that needs to get its legs, but could be terrifically funny…

  19. I don’t know if you read these comments because there are so many, but i’ve been visiting your site for about a year now, and I have to say that this was your best post yet. Very well written. I actually couldn’t stop…and I usually hate reading. When I see a long post, I usually don’t bother. Anyways, your site rocks and John Doe is a pretty good show too…hope you get it.

  20. WOW, that was really good wil, it’s brought back lots of good times and missed opertunities, but lots of memorys
    Kordith

  21. Wil might be on a new show? That would be so cool. I’m kinda getting sick of Wesley– Yes, you heard it here first: Not only do I not record the show anymore, I don’t even watch it. You can blame that on General Hospital and the character on that Lucky Spencer… Speaking of my new fav show, I’m gonna go to soapcity.com instead of the soapbox today.
    Laterz.
    Love,
    me

  22. Good luck for the audition and don’t forget to keep us all posted! And yes, all you other guys, CALL HER!!! Ok, that’s a bit rich coming frm me. I never called my first number from a gorgeous guy either. I can still remember it though…

  23. The Forsaker(Al-Khadhulu) does not like his name to be mentioned in the same sentence as “love,” “sex,” or “girls.” He’s just picky that way.
    Sincerely,
    Abd Alazrad

  24. Just a few thoughts —
    a) I live in Denver, and I can appreciate the experience of ash sitting on your car. When the fires were going on out here, there was ash everywhere. Not that it really matters at this point.
    b) If you still have the card from this girl, and you honestly do wonder where she has gotten to, why not call the number on the card? Perhaps her parents still live there. If not, no harm in asking. An old friend of mine found me this way by calling my parents house 12 years after we had last spoken. Of course, I happenned to be there at the time, so when I answered, and he went into his spiel about who he was, why he was calling, asking where i was, etc, I had great satisfaction in responding, “Yes, John. Its me. How are you?” To which he replied…”Uhm…fine, but I didn’t expect you to be there. Can I call you back when I am actually ready to talk to you?”
    Ok, so a small correction. Call that number, but only if you are prepared for anyone to answer.

  25. Worst flashback ever.
    I used to think you were a stuck up jerk… now I’m not so sure… you might be a stuck up jerk trying to get chicks by pretending to be nerdy/sensitive, you might just be really lame.
    Either way you didn’t call the girl, so you lose.
    You are the William Shatner of Next Gen.
    Maybe one day you will find your Princess Toadstool and be able to live happily ever after in 1-up land. Until then get your head out of your ass and put out the big fire near your house.

  26. You never called me you @%#$!!!– oh wait, that was *another* Misty.
    Because this Misty isn’t a blonde, she’s a redhead.
    And this didn’t take place in Michigan.

  27. lady in red, huh? whatever john doe may be, wish you luck!
    even though it does not belong to this post muss gesagt werden: strange thing to see “famous people” do the same weblog shit “we” do. exept you get way more comments;-)

  28. D*mmit, I love this website. You are such an incredibly eloquent writer. Because of it I’m a monkey and proud of it. In your honor my AOL and Yahoo! IM icons are the pic of you at the top of the page that I stole especially for that purpose. You should seriously write a book.
    ~pup, who is now turning her attention back to the IMF protests going on just blocks from her office. updates in the closet.

  29. I just wanted to say that I hope you get the part and I hope the character becomes a regular on the show. You deserve it!!!
    GO WIL!

  30. Erm…that’s not really as special as you’d like to think. You had already acted in some famous parts by the time you were 15, right? Of course most bimbettes are going to be eager to give you their number. Nope, nothing “magical” sounding about it at all. Just another perk of celebrity, dude. Enjoy it, but don’t act like you’re a “regular” guy in any way. You’re way luckier than most guys.

  31. i think you are so damn cute. i think at your next public appearance you should wear the denim jacket with all the buttons on it like the one that was sent out for your fan club. i’m so serious.

  32. Uhhhh… Ok, I’m sorry Danielle, I should have written to you… *feeling immense guilt from when I was 13*
    You all should read “How I Met my Husband” by Alice Munro.
    You should have called her man! But alas I can tell you love your wife and wouldnt change a thing.

  33. i actually just posted a similar story in my journal yesterday. i was listening to the song “temptation” by new order and was reminded of a boy i met one night at a barndance my freshman year in college.
    almost ten years later and i still wonder if he was the one.
    i still have the little plastic bracelet they gave us all when we arrived at the barndance. that boy playfuly touched it a few times.

  34. Cool story, as usual, but I’m gonna rant at you now anyway.
    This is the furthest thing from a stupid website, and I think that you know it, if only from the size of your posse. You’ve managed to inspire people, which is about as cool as it gets. And you’ve managed to convince a crapload of people that you’re worth something when they mostly hated and/or disliked you, which is nearly as cool as it gets. Do you have any idea how many friends you have?

  35. Not to distract from the rousing round of ATTA-BOYs from the posse (and, of course, the usual, predictable negative nabob-wannabes who show up here to trash Wil’s writing and then run off again)…
    but… it’s about time to send out a hearty congrats to all who have donated to help make Wil’s goal of $15,000 for the Avon Breast Cancer walk. As of today (Saturday, Sept. 28), it’s up over $15,000! So, to all you who gave (or who are about to give) the money and all of you who are walking (including Wil and Anne) — good work! Breasts everywhere are grateful…
    Okay… talk among yourselves again…

  36. Dear vapid masses,
    I’m totally in awe. Ever so often – more often rather than less often I’m afraid – I’m exposed to something so sad, so utterly depressing, that I can’t help but wonder about the fate of humanity.
    Wilwheaton.net is one of those occassions. Who the hell are you people? Do you have familes? Jobs? School? Lives? Why is this dried-up actor’s existence so interesting to you? Why do you take part in this exalted pauperism that is Wil Wheaton? He gives you insight into his life, and in exchange, you buy these ridiculous trinkets that he signs, further funding this idiotic raping of the masses.
    Furthermore, Wil Wheaton. You should be positively ashamed of yourself. More than once you’ve complained that you don’t spend enough time with your family. So, let me offer you this insight: try spending less time spreading your inanity to the masses and try actually living life instead of documenting it. You play at introspective, you should understand – watching life as a journal entry destroys life as an experience.
    So, Wil Wheaton, you say that “it was wonderful to be part of something that made me feel proud.” Out of all the meaningless tripe you’ve spewed on this site, this is the one gem of truth that both your readers and you need to latch on to. The former needs to let go of the past and start being the family man that he so often pines to be. The latter need to detatch from your life and find an interesting one of their own.
    Oh, and Crusher sucked. Nice rainbow suit.

  37. for bradwick…if you hate this place so much…why are you here?…and who are you to tell “the masses” what to do?…find someplace you want to be, go there…and get a life!

  38. This is completely off the subject and will be short ‘cuz this hotel computer SUCKS!
    I just saw you at the TNG convention and you ROCK! It was hoonestly tthe highlight of my weekend/weeekk/month…
    It wwas wonderfful to meet you.
    Thaanks!
    (Did II mention this computer ssucks?)

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