Monday, June 02, 2008

#7 - Wendy Bell: No Relation to Tinker or Alexander Graham

When I came up with the idea for my fake wedding engagement back in 2000 (in all fairness, it was actually Amanda Nalley's idea), I sent all of my friends out on a "bride hunt" with one simple instruction: "She has to be a brunette. Everybody knows I would never marry a blonde or redhead."

Let me assure you, by the way, that finding a brunette is no easy task at Ole Miss. That campus is absolutely dripping with (bottle) blondes, and most Ole Miss girls (blonde or not) aren't the types to jump at something like a fake engagement announcement. Consider it from their perspective: a semi-strange guy (from the Coast, no less) approaches them and asks if they would mind pretending to be his fiance' in a major news publication. It's a different breed of girl who willingly and enthusiastically goes along with something like that. So you can see the challenge we had before us. Not only did we have to find a brunette, we had to find the right KIND of brunette...And that's how I met Wendy Bell ("It's the perfect Peter Pan name," she once told me).

In the time following our broken engagement (I never refer to her as anything but "my ex-fiance'"), Wendy and I have remained very close friends. We went to the First Annual Oxford Film Festival together, she was hands-down the best Valentine's date I've ever had (ask her about my call to OnStar sometime), she once got Mac and I into a Playboy Party in Memphis for free (she worked as a Playboy college rep for a while), and like myself, she has been a slave to the Disney machine. My favorite memory of Wendy, though, would have to be that special night in 2004 when we stood front row at a David Bowie concert in New Orleans.

Let the record show that I love David Bowie. Seriously, I turn myself on when I sing "Ziggy Stardust" in the shower. But Wendy LOOOOOOVES David Bowie. He is to her what the Smashing Pumpkins are to me. All the albums, all the DVDs, all the magazines. Her cat's name is Bowie. She has Labyrinth and The Man Who Fell to Earth memorized. You get the idea. This bitch is CRAZY about David Bowie...So when she found out he was playing a show in New Orleans (I was living there at the time) she called me up and asked me to try and get tickets. And being the crafty little devil that I am, I managed to land us in the very front row. The thing is, I didn't tell Wendy about it until the night of the concert. Up until then, I made her think we were sitting in the second balcony. "They're not great seats," I told her, "but they're in the center and we'll be able to see the monitors." (In a way, I guess you could say this was another practical joke I involved her in.) You really should have been there, dear readers. The look on Wendy's face when the usher tore our tickets and then walked us all the way down to the front is one of those sights I would never trade. It's the only time I've ever seen her utterly, genuinely speechless. (That's one thing you can always count on me for, dear readers. I'm never short on surprises.)

Bowie was a good 3 songs into his show before Wendy finally came out of her daze and realized that it was all real. David Bowie really WAS standing right in front of her. It wasn't some cruel dream. Then at one point he stood still long enough for her to reach out and put her hands on his feet (State Palace Theater has a raised platform stage). Remember that scene in The Passion of the Christ when Magdalene touches Jesus' feet and stares up into his face, totally awestruck? Yeah, Wendy's moment with David Bowie was a lot like that. (When she called to check on me after Katrina, she couldn't help but say, "Well, the bright side to all of this is that Bowie came BEFORE the hurricane hit." hehe)

Yes, we've had some good times, Wendy and I. For one such example, check out this clip from "Powerwalkin'" (a movie I shot with some friends during my second semester at Ole Miss). Wendy's pride was wounded when I told her she wouldn't have any lines and would basically just have to play dead, so she made me promise that her name would be more elaborate in the credits than any of the the other actresses. This is a terrible 3rd generation copy of this scene, but I think it gets the point across.

Three cheers for the best little ex-fiance' I've had so far. :)


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