I am Ironman.
Okay, no I’m not. Robert Downey Junior is. He just IS. I think he could legally change his name to ‘Tony Stark’ and even Marvel would be fine with that. But why (after such a long absence) am I suddenly writing to express my love for Ironman, er… I mean, Robert Downey Jr.? (Oh, same dude and you know it.)
Because of a dream. A dream that left me with a sudden crush on the aforementioned actor and a new mantra.
I am Ironman.
Yes, Robert Downey Jr. appeared in this dream. Calm down. We were at a coffee shop.
I was seated at a long community/conference table with a few other strangers. My laptop was open to a Final Draft document I was working on. A script. All ordinary things for a Los Angeles coffee shop. With one exception. I was crying. Because… the struggle is real.
For the past 6 months I had been working at a soul-destroying, physically damaging, and mentally draining hell-pit of (what aspiring actors call) a “day job”. And that description is being kind. Look, don’t get me wrong. The people were great. But we were overworked to the literal point of collapse and I had lost my health, creativity, and general will to live. In my dream, I was try to scrape up the meager fragments of what psyche I had left to write a script in which to cast myself.
As I had been crying in public, I was staying desperately still in an attempt to not draw attention to myself. I wasn’t drying my face, because then my cover would be blown. No one looks at strangers in Los Angeles anyway. It might generate a real-life, human interaction. And we can’t have that, now can we? That would be terrifying! (No, really.)
Anyway. I was staring into the half-white abyss of my computer screen when I noticed a person sit down directly across from me at the table. Stay cool. He probably won’t notice the tears. And he certainly won’t say anything even if he does. Such were my dream-thoughts. I could perceive the man was wearing a casual suit and has dark hair. I could also tell… that he was staring directly at me. The coffee he had bought rested between both his hands, yet his attention was apparently only on me. Crap. Cover blown.
A long moment passed. I was pretending not to notice. I thought my growing discomfort was amusing the man. So I had enough. I straightened up and look straight back at this jerk who seemed to be getting entertainment at my expense. Oh… Robert Downey Jr. Of course. Because this is Los Angeles. Makes total sense.
I said nothing. Too stunned to react. I just stared right back at him. You know… As you do.
“Why are you crying,” he said in a flat, only mildly interested tone that I’ve come to associate with Tony Stark. He lifted his coffee to his lips for the first time since sitting down. I didn’t back down or become timid. I just replied with a slight attitude, “Because I’m not Ironman.” He tried to hide a smirk behind his coffee as he finished taking a slip. I added, “Or Pepper Potts, for that matter.” Then I had a tiny smirk of my own.
He lowered the cup back to the table, suddenly back “in character”. His response carried the tone and mannerisms of that now famous repeat performance (and does so the rest of the time). “Oh. That is a reason to cry.”
What. A. Jerk! Haha, kidding. I smirked back. “Yes. Yes, it is.”
“Well. What would make you Ironman?”
Ignoring the obvious answer of ‘be you’, I replied plainly, “A lot of money? I guess. I’d like to pass on the being a prisoner in Afghanistan part though.” Now I smile and finally rub my face to dry the tears.
“You’d have a hard time finding room for an electromagnetic in your chest too. How much money would make you Ironman?”
Wha–? He had run that all together in a deadpan tone, giving me no chance to react to the opening comment. Yep. Tony Stark. I was talking to Tony Stark. I looked down for the first time to try to hide my smirk. I composed myself and shrugged. I named an amount of money that was only double the amount of my student loan debt.
“With [X amount] I could make a decent go at it.”
It was a hypothetical conversation. No harm. I tipped back my coffee cup to finish it off as I waited for ‘Mr. Stark’ to ask another question with teasing machismo. This was amusing. I like this guy. And he had stopped my crying. Until…
I set down my empty cardboard cup only to see that Robert Downey Jr. had written out a check. For an amount moderately exceeding the figure I had mentioned. I was too dumbfounded to politely decline his generosity. He simply left the check on the table in front of me and stood. One hand held his coffee. The other had pulled out a pair of dark aviator sunglasses that had paused halfway on their way to his face. He looked into my wide, bewildered eyes and spoke with a hidden amusement.
“Good luck becoming Ironman.” He slid the sunglasses on with one smooth motion and added, “But I’m keeping the suit.”
With that he winked, turned away, and was gone. I was left crying again, but for entirely different reasons this time.
End scene. I mean, end dream. I woke up. I woke up… with a sudden, massive crush on Robert Downey Jr. and a need to watch all the Ironman films (which I promptly did). Now, I’m not saying that I wish he (or any other wealthy person) would magically appear to rescue me from my economic hardships and grace me with a little start up money to fund my film/acting goals.
What I AM saying is that… I am Ironman. Or, I want to be. Metaphorically, at least. See… Ironman is bold. Confident. He’s creative, intelligent, and builds his own escapes. He defends those who can’t defend themselves and he equips those who can. Take away all the “things” (even the suit) and ‘Ironman’ will still be standing there. (Albeit with a bit of a draft! Haha.) Because ‘Ironman’ – as I’ve come to see it/him – is an attitude, a mindset, a way of treating yourself and those around you. And that’s what I want.
That said… I still think I’ll be visiting L.A. coffee shops regularly… RDJR, where you at? Ha!