We're deep in both the heat of the summer blockbuster season and that withering, must-mate-right-now time of year, which always reminds me that there's no quicker way to glean a person's true soul than to ask, "Who do you think would play you in the movie of your life?"
A lot of folks swear by the ol' "What's your favorite movie?" line, a similar tactic with faulty logic. Answers to that can be misleading: Too many people, crouching behind their intellect, will toss something at you like Aguirre, the Wrath of God, when you know damn well they're canceling all dinner plans if Stripes is on cable. You can never get to the truth.
Asking them to cast themselves, however, pulls the curtain aside no matter what comes out of their mouths. If someone's willing to throw a ludicrous casting whopper out there, you know their level of self-awareness is at rock bottom. Sure, we'd all love to think that Matt Damon's supple ham somehow suggests the thirtysomething droop of our asses or that scheduling the dental cleaning we've missed for the last two years will give us Cameron Diaz's million-dollar smile. But it doesn't, and it won't, and the denial of it indicates severe problems with reality. Anyone who tries to tell you they're Susan Sarandon when all you can think is "Cloris Leachman" is not worth your hard-earned time and money. (For an extra test, throw in a raised eyebrow and the challenge, "Well, who would play you in the TV movie of your life?" It's always good to find someone who is able to articulate the jump from Glenn Close to Meredith Baxter.)
Before attempting this game, try it on yourself. You get one delusion, and you have to take a moment of honest reflection the minute a trusted comrade calls you on your b.s. I once allowed myself the fantasy that Robert Downey Jr. couldn't wait to play me, that his brooding pathos was perfect for the role of a man who uses his newspaper column to comment on the lack of penises in the arts. I swore that in me was a complex, Oscar- worthy character that could keep a gifted actor from ever having to do crap like Ally McBeal again. I will admit that part of me—the aforementioned part so missing from the arts—was superficially drawn to Robert's little-lost-boy pout and the physical fitness he'd gained in the prison gym, but honestly, I believed he could use the work.
Then, between unsubtle and derisive choking noises, my friend Jamie informed me that, sorry, it would have to be Robby Benson who took on the challenge; this is like telling a low-budget producer that Josh Hartnett is unavailable but, hey, Kirk Cameron's free.
I remembered Ode to Billie Joe, and I cried a little before I went back out into the world. The truth hurts.