My brother was telling me this story about how a while back, he and a group of his friends found themselves sitting next to a local television sports broadcaster at a bar. It was the guy who covers everything for New York’s MSG channel, providing commentary for the Knicks and the Rangers. I don’t even know who he is. I guess I could look it up. Hold on a second.
OK, that was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be, and I’m usually so good at the Internet. I typed in “MSG talent” into Google and was redirected to MSG’s Wikipedia page. I realized that, out of the twenty or so people on the list, I had no idea how I was going to figure out which one could be the guy my brother was talking about. So I just wound up texting my brother. OK, the guy’s name is Al Trautwig. I don’t know, I guess I’ve never heard of him either.
But that’s exactly the point of what I’m trying to write about here. This guy, Al Trautwig, probably has the best job on planet earth. He’s everything that I want to be in life. Not a sportscaster, no. I don’t know anything about sports. I’m just talking about job and status. He’s reached the perfect level of celebrity that a human being can ever hope to achieve. His ratio of celebrity to regular guy is so perfectly balanced that he is able to fully enjoy the very best that both worlds have to offer.
Let’s examine my brother’s run in. He and a group of friends were at a bar and they notice that they’re sitting close to Al Trautwig. Yes, the Al Trautwig. (Every time I type this guy’s name, I find myself switching back to my Web browser, just to make sure I’m getting the spelling right.) Somebody strikes up a conversation, “hey aren’t you Al Trautwig?” and Trautwig gladly takes the bait. The next thing they all know, Trautwig is holding court, fielding questions, providing off-the-record analysis. At the time, LeBron James was getting ready to leave Cleveland, and there were rumors mounting that he might come to New York. Trauwig’s alleged response, “I’m not going to start masturbating about it until I have some definitive evidence,” is probably one of the funniest answers to a question I’ve ever heard in my life. I hope it was off the cuff, but it was too spot-on. He probably had already used it like five times.
I want to be Al Trautwig. He’s got it absolutely made. He can live his life like a regular guy, but he’s also on local TV, and every now and then somebody’s going to recognize him and he’s instantly going to be elevated to the level of (minor) celebrity. He’s just famous enough that he’ll get attention to the point where it’s still flattering, and not a life-altering nuisance. Can you imagine if you wound up sitting at a bar next to Tom Hanks? It would never happen, because Hanks isn’t a regular person. If he tried to go to a bar, he’d be bombarded by hundreds of star-struck fans coming up to him and saying inane stuff like, “Wow. You’re so famous. I love your work.” And Hanks would have to politely respond, “Gee, thanks a lot. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. OK. Bye.” And, thanks to all of the commotion, there would probably be a huge line out the door, making it really inconvenient for anybody to even so much as get a drink or just enjoy the night. People would start to resent Tom Hanks, growing more and more jealous of the crowd of people clamoring to hopefully, to maybe have just one moment with him. Eventually Hanks would give up on his night out, glancing towards his cranberry and vodka, realizing that he’s already spent so much time greeting the public that he didn’t get to even take a sip of his drink, and now the ice has all melted anyway. He’d settle up his tab and have his personal assistant call his chauffer and on the way back to his mansion he’d sit in the back of the car, looking out the window at all the regular people living their lives, interacting amongst each other, and he’d think to himself, “Where did it all go so wrong?”
Trautwig, on the other hand, can go to a bar, entertain a group of people for ten minutes or so, go back to his own business, knock back a couple of drinks, and then take the subway back home. I can’t think of anything better. He gets to go out, and everything is just a little bit cooler, but not so cool where it gets distorted to the point where it isn’t cool anymore. He’s the apex of cool.
I’m reading back on what I’ve written so far, and it sure sounds as if I have this guy all figured out. But now I’m imagining Trautwig stumbling across this post one night as he stays up way too late Googling himself, a habit that started off innocently enough but has now warped into this twisted nightly compulsion. He’s reading this to himself and growing more and more enraged by each sentence. He might be thinking to himself, “Who the hell does this guy think he is? I’m just as famous as Tom Hanks! I’m not regular! I’m Al fucking Trautwig! Trautwig!” he screams as he raises his fists in the air. But I really hope that’s not the case, because I definitely prefer the first imaginary Al Trautwig that I’ve created to the second, deluded, grandiose egomaniac Al Trautwig that has crept into my imagination right now, just at the end of this post. Al, give me a call. Let’s sit down and work this all out.
Holy shit, my phone is ringing. Oh, but … never mind, it’s not Trautwig, it’s just my mom.