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Copyright © 2001 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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rob moore vs. ralph robert moore
march 31, 2001
I occasionally receive requests for autographs.
If someone is requesting just my autograph, they'll usually include an old friend in the envelope, a stiff, three inch by five inch white index card, blank on one side, on the other side lined horizontally, one pink line near the top, blue lines below to the bottom of the card.
These cards are old friends to me, because I remember as a boy buying package after package of them, each in thin, clear, crinkly plastic that could be easily beheaded by pulling a red line around below the rectangular top, like on a package of cigarettes.
I used the cards for a number of purposes as a kid, but most importantly to record my assessment of different horror films I'd seen.
Above each pink line, in blue ink, I'd print the title of the horror film, in conscientiously-drawn slants and cursives.
Below the pink line, across the blue lines, I'd carefully write out, tongue out between my white teeth, detachable cap of my pen wagging atop, my pretentious, scorched-earth review of the film in question.
Oh, what an insufferable shit I was when it came to determining if a particular film met my high standards! In my puffed-up imagination, a little boy in a smoking jacket, jade and crimson, right hand slipped four fingers only into the velvet side pocket, thumb rakishly angled outside, puffing cherry-scented pipe exhalations up into the air of my wall-papered bedroom, mulling over, with differently-positioned lip expressions, whether a particular film deserved a childishly-drawn one, two, or three stars.
I kept all my reviews, one to each card, in a small, tin, beige box a third the size of a shoe box.
Over those compressed years of early adolescence, when so much else was changing in my life, my feelings towards my parents, my attitude towards school, my own body, a new, blank index card flicked down on the lamp-lit brown desk in my bedroom became less a rehearsal for adulthood and more a temporary retreat into the childhood scaringly melting away, forever, an opportunity to take again great comfort in the constancy of the pink line above, the blue lines below, like Adam and Eve in the grayness of the fields outside the garden going back in their memories again, and again, to the tall, soft, silken, bending green grass they caressed with their fingers before finally, fatally, reaching their fingers up.
What I would give to be able to hold in my palms those index card reviews! To read first hand about me, Bobby, as I was called then, forty years later. Would it be like reading someone else, or would I recall the thoughts that formed the words? (Because, of course, each sentence is only a writer's final thought about that sentence. Readers don't get to see the half dozen or more different candidate sentences originally tried-out to fill that same gap between periods).
So when I open an envelope with one of those pink- and blue-lined index cards inside, Bobby's small head briefly pops up out of the crisp whiteness, like the magical reappearance, but indelibly different because of its reappearance, of a quarter behind a volunteer's ear.
I also sometimes get a request for an autographed picture. I honor all such requests, using a picture of me I don't particularly like, but which is easily reproducible, and has an adequate slant of nothingness in the upper left corner to squeeze in my name and a greeting.
It's always an honor to me to get a request for my signature. Once I unfold a letter and realize what's being asked, there's something touchingly intimate to it, almost like a mariage proposal.
Lately, though, I've been receiving more frequent autograph requests, of a different kind.
These come mostly from kids, hand-written requests, the large upper loops of the individual letters looking like empty thought balloons, asking me to autograph football trading cards featuring my face and my stats as a wide receiver.
Except it isn't my face, it's a young black man's face, and I don't wide-receive (I've never had a little finger's interest in sports, so I'm not sure what a wide receiver does, although it doesn't sound like the sort of position I would enjoy, let alone collect stats about.)
Apparently, there's a Rob Moore who plays for the Arizona Cardinals (I believe he's out for the season with knee injuries, according to the commiserations I receive with most of the autograph requests. I suppose knee injuries are inevitable with wide receivers).
After a certain number of requests I looked him up on the Internet, finally meeting my doppelganger face-to-screen.
He's a nice looking guy, with an engaging grin. Younger than me, born in 1968, the same year I was trudging up and down the wide sidewalk of Fifth Avenue in New York City with a few thousand others, hoisting up a white poster board placard, black-lettered, protesting the police riot during the Democrats' convention in Chicago (police and students clashed frequently back then. In France, the police hit some student protestors so hard on the backs of their heads they knocked their eyeballs out of their skulls. This was during "Flower Power". William S. Burroughs, asked once, said the only flower he would give to a policeman was one in a flowerpot, from fourteen stories up. I really like Burroughs.)
I wrote back to one of the autograph-seekers, letting her know I wasn't the Rob Moore little kids thought I was. She in turn very kindly contacted George A. Baker, a truly nice guy, and a writer himself, the editor of Autograph News, who agreed to post a notice in the next issue letting people know I wasn't the Rob Moore everyone wanted to contact.
This will mean I'll get far less fan mail, of course, but at least the mail I do get will be meant for me.
Tonight it was bills, a flyer for a new furniture store, an offer to join the Columbia House DVD Club, and a rejected manuscript.
Rob Moore probably did a lot better.