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Dispatch #15: The Aisles
Who's on yours?
As I wait for notes on my novel revision, I’ve turned to more serious topics of thought. Ha! As if! Consider this your mid-aughts Buzzfeed listicle-ish article fix.
I have a friend who, for this newsletter, would like to go by the name Emanuel Geary. Emanuel is a visual artist who makes me laugh so hard. When we were at a residency together we had a running joke that the little ersatz pioneer wagon outside the main office was for artists to use, should a sudden need to masturbate came over them and they required privacy. The masturbation wagon! Even as I type this, I am laughing. You see, we were mature, erudite residents at this retreat.
Emanuel had this little game called The Aisles, which we played all the time and I still think of regularly. I emailed her a few questions about it, and here are her answers:
Can you tell us about the Aisles? What’s the theory behind it?
The theory is that if there is a God, he/she/they would have created human appearance in great batches—for instance, those who resemble Mick Jagger—and would categorize all humans on long aisles, somewhat like Home Depot. At one end of the aisle, would be the best possible iteration of a type (for instance, the actress Nastassja Kinski and her father Klaus are on the attractive (or in the parlance of the theory, "high end") of Mick Jagger's aisle. Simone Biles is also on this aisle, as is Juliette Lewis.
Where did you come up with it? (Did you get this from someone else)?
A friend in graduate school made up the game, called, "Who is on Your Aisle?" We played it relentlessly, doubling over in laughter when we placed a particularly odious professor on the appropriate aisle. We knew it was a cruel game but couldn't resist playing.
Who's in your row/aisle?
On the high end is Giulietta Masina, on the low end, Alfred Hitchcock and Winston Churchill.
Now, I personally don’t think of the game as cruel. It’s simply a pleasure to imagine everyone on Planet Earth fitting into a Home Depot-esque aisle like so much lumber, and it’s fun to consider who’s on an aisle together, and the commonalities between the “low end” and the “high end.”
Look, there are certainly two people on my aisle. When I was younger, and she was more famous, Anne Heche was the person people told me I looked like. Recently, Patrick and I rewatched Nicole Holofcener’s nineties classic “Walking and Talking” and I saw the similarity between us—or between her younger self and my younger self. (And, also, let me tell you, that Anne H. can really wear a pair of overalls. Hot!)
What do you think, is she on my aisle? Here are two younger pics of her:
The other person on my aisle is Saoirse Ronan. Watching her on screen is both ego-boosting (because she is pretty and talented, so by association I get to be that, too), and eerie because sometimes her face does things that I know my own face does. Is she in fact my long lost sister? (DAD WHAT DID YOU DO IN IRELAND IN 1993?)
Do you see it? God, I wish my teeth were that nice!
Hmmm, WAIT, maybe you don’t know what I look like. Here are two photos of me for comparison:
That’s my ice cold bitch face.
Here’s a more recent photo, a selfie with my new haircut and a more accurate (goofy) face:
I wish I could find some people on the lower end of my aisle because that’s always sobering and funny to hit on one. The only one I can think of is:
But Charlize Theron in “Monster” is merely dressed up as a non-goddess, whereas I am actually a non-goddess. This is essentially what I look like in the morning/by the end of the day.
I also want to find people who are obviously from different parts of the world. Any ideas for me?
One of my favorite aisles is my sister Heidi’s. Since she and I are sisters, you’d think we would be on the same aisle. But you’d be wrong!
Here is Heidi:
So pretty, right? And you know who’s on her aisle?
That’s right, Tyra Banks! It’s the sparkling eyes and the giant forehead, of course.
My friend Diana is on another good aisle, I think because her mother is French and English and her father is Serbian. She’s got all of Europe on her face! Over twenty years ago, she and I went to Peru together and in the airport in Lima we saw a Peruvian teenager who looked JUST LIKE HER. We even talked to her and her family, and everyone agreed the resemblance was uncanny. However, because it was simpler times, we didn’t take any photos.
Anyway, here is Diana:
Gorgeous! (Imagine having to be me, the ugly friend. All my life.) Also, that’s her daughter Mia in the first picture—just adorable.
I think Honor Swinton Byrne from “The Souvenir” is on Diana’s aisle:
Also, according to my sister Lauren, there’s a little MacKenzie Phillips, and I think there’s a little Rosario Dawson in the mouth (and, in the case of Rosario, the body, too: thin with great boobs…again, it’s tragic to be me, the ugly friend!)
The best one, however, is…
I am laughing. So good.
My beautiful friend Marina was kind enough to play Aisles Guinea Pig for this newsletter. Here is a photo of her:
Now, the game can be more challenging with people of color because, well, until very recently we had mostly white celebs to shuffle around. (Yet another reason for diversity in Hollywood, people! Because it helps the Aisles game!) Marina said no one ever says she resembles anyone…except one (white) person who said she looked like Lucy Liu. Not all Asians look alike, etc.
I think Ginnifer Goodwin from Big Love is on Marina’s aisle:
And then I had a revelation: Elvis is on Marina’s aisle!
It must be the glittery eyes and the charm! My sister Heidi (AKA Tyra Banks) suggested the comic Jo Koy and actress Christina Applegate. I see it!
What do you think? Who’s on your aisle?
I hope this newsletter was just stupid and thrilling enough to get you through.
PS I’m teaching a 4-week online writing class with Catapult about the basic building blocks of fiction: character, scene, pacing, and point of view. It starts mid-May. Learn more and sign up here!