Imagine for a minute you've been visited by a genie, one willing to grant you the standard three wishes. Would one of them involve meeting Macaulay Culkin, the star who inspired your Wi-Fi password?
Culkin is making the rounds promoting his appearance in Adam Green's Aladdin, a bizarro DIY interpretation of the classic Arabian Nights tale spearheaded by the former Moldy Peaches guitarist-turned-cult favorite auteur. The movie stars Green as an aimless modern-day version of Aladdin, a floundering musician who happens upon a magic lamp that's also a psychedelic 3D printer. It was partially funded by Kickstarter backers, and Green's releasing a new album alongside the film. Culkin plays a protester whose head gets cuts off. Yes, it's a lot to take in.
Why do you need to know all of this? Culkin and Green were interviewed by Vulture earlier this week, and the resulting piece yielded a little nugget of a short story that's up there with "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" in terms of economy and emotional impact. We only stumbled upon it (through this tweet from The New York Times' Erin McCann) this morning, and it's broken our brains:
Kaitlyn, you can go first: why has this strange, delightful anecdote shaken you to your very core?
Kaitlyn Tiffany: What really gets me about this story is how much it seems like a lie, and how much I want it to be true. What if this was how life worked? Imagine a world where you could summon someone across the world, to your side, merely by wanting it enough. Macaulay Culkin will come to you, it just may take him some time. Have faith.
Is "C'est moi" the only French phrase Culkin knows? Maybe?
Jamieson Cox: It definitely seems a little bit like a lie, if only because he had to say "C'est moi" for the waitress to realize who her customer was. She's probably handed out that photo thousands of times. Culkin's childhood visage is probably burned into her brain. And she couldn't recognize him, even after he opened their conversation by saying, "I like your Wi-Fi code?" That's a super weird thing to say! If I was working as a serviceperson and someone said that to me, I would immediately scrutinize their face and attempt to determine whether or not they were a former child star.
Kaitlyn Tiffany: These are valid points, but you have to remember that this incident didn't take place in our world. Not everyone is like us, scanning the crowd for celebrities at all times. Some people are just waiting for magic to happen. I suspect that "C'est moi" is the only French phrase that Macaulay Culkin knows, and yet, they were the only words he needed. I will sleep so well tonight.
Jamieson Cox: I'm not sure how I've fallen into the role of skeptic — and I don't want to disturb your sleep tonight, because it's Friday and you've earned some rest — but I'm just going to roll with it. They let him keep the card? How is that thing not autographed and mounted above the café's espresso machine? You have this incredible encounter, one you believe is the result of destiny and fervent belief — "I knew you'd come here someday" — and you let Culkin walk away with the evidence? I'm sick over it. (I'll admit that the idea of Culkin — who splits his time between France and New York now, apparently — getting through Paris with only the phrase "C'est moi" is an appealing fantasy.)
Kaitlyn Tiffany: Not everything has to be documented. Some things just have to be felt! A lot! After reading this story I wanted to listen to the Regina Spektor song from the closing credits of the second Chronicles of Narnia movie, and then "Epilogue" from Les Miserables. This story, Jamieson, it blurred the line for me between what is a simple, serendipitous pleasure, and what is seeing the face of God!
You're a woman of faith, and I'm a man of science
Jamieson Cox: It's clear now that you're the John Locke to my Dr. Jack Shephard; you're a woman of faith, and I'm a man of science. Anyway, I have a test for Macaulay Culkin. There's a late-night grilled cheese place just a few blocks down the street from my apartment up here in Canada, one frequented by the local students and lushes on weekend evenings. When you order your sandwich, they give you a laminated photo with some kind of kitschy figure or child star instead of an order number, and they call it out when your food's ready: Jonathan Lipnicki! Cookie Monster! Woman laughing alone with salad!
I'm certain there's a Macaulay Culkin somewhere in the deck, and therein lies my challenge: I want Culkin to visit this grilled cheese place, order a sandwich, and receive the Culkin photo. When he picks up his food, he needs to say, "I like your order system." And when the person manning the cash register says "thank you," he needs to say, "C'est moi." Then — and only then — will I believe that faith alone can deliver the former star of Home Alone to the location of your choice. Make it happen, Culkin! I'm waiting!