I was born on February 11. And while I share that illustrious date with folks like Tommy Edison, Jennifer Aniston and Sheryl Crow, there is one celebrity I am most proud of sharing my birthdate with.
Mr. Burt Reynolds.
See, Burt Reynolds is just…Burt Reynolds. He’s fucking cool. He’s old school. He could kick it in a Pontiac Trans Am. He could kick it in skintight Wranglers. He could make out with Sally Field. Then he could turn around and star in something like “Boogie Nights,” which is truly one of the best performances of his—or any—lifetime.
I’ve always been proud to trot out that I share a birthday with Mr. Reynolds, but forgotten about my fondness for him until a few weeks ago, when I found his 1994 autobiography, “My Life,” in the share-a-book shelf at a beach house summer share. There was tons of other shit on that shelf, like Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” and Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” but fuck it if “My Life” wasn’t begging to be read.
It didn’t disappoint. Here are some things I learned about Burt Reynolds—along with some Burt Reynold-isms:
• At the time of the book’s publishing, he’s going through/or has just gone through a very, very ugly divorce with Loni Anderson. Fuck her. Everyone knows that Bailey was the hot one on “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
• Burt Reynolds comes from a hardscrabble upbringing with blue-collar folks who worked their asses off. Respect.
• Burt Reynolds liked the football. Was pretty good at it.
• Burt Reynolds also screwed older women, like 40-somethings, while a teenager. (Insert Burt Reynolds’ voice): “It was my first time making love, and I couldn’t have wished for anyone better to be with. Gentle, tender, and smart enough to make things last for what seemed like forever, she made me feel godlike.”
• Burt Reynolds has sex many, many times throughout the book. They all read like a Cliff’s notes version of a Harlequin novel. “Her hair was long and down below her rear—a rear that you could deliver drinks on.”
• Huh. A young Burt Reynolds looked like Marlon Brando.
• Burt Reynolds on marriage: “Listen, you call me when you think you’re going to get married and come over to my house. Then I’ll beat the shit out of you and force you to drink until you come to your senses. You can’t get married. It’s unnatural.”
• Burt Reynolds does a lot—and I mean a lot—of his own stunts: “I fought a cobra that hadn’t been milked of its poison,” “snail eggs in my bloodstream. Yes, snail eggs that were about to hatch,” “I looked tremendous in the test. Black hair flying, fringed leather vest. I could always ride, and this horse let me do whatever I wanted.”
• Because of this conversation: “You’re going to a big-star,” Dino gushed. “You’re going to get your brains fucked out everyplace.” Reynolds: “I hope not everyplace. Maybe different countries. But not everyplace.”
• Because he said this to Raquel Welch when she asked him why he didn’t make a pass at her: “Because I’m positive that I’d pull up your dress, pull down your panties, and find an eight-by-ten glossy of your cunt.”
• Because Burt Reynolds may save your life if you’re drowning (from “Deliverance” in which he filmed his own stunt going over the freaking falls): “I had never been in a hydrofoil before, but I remembered this guy rescuing me from heavy surf when I was a youngster…you can’t swim out of a hydrofoil. It spins you around like a washing machine…‘What you do is go to the bottom and it’ll shoot you out,’ he said.”
• Because of this picture:
• And this comment, talking about the attention he got after the picture: “A lady in Nova Scotia sent me pubic hair in wax paper regularly for three years—I guess till there was none left. I worried about her in that cold weather.”
So, you could waste the last days of your summer reading something lame, like that new Jonathan Franzen book.
Or you could do yourself a favor. And pick up the Burt Reynolds’ story. Your choice, but we both know which one means you’re an impotent loser.