The Ryan Report -- Episode 307 "Almost Famous"
Ryan's Bio | Read the episode recap
Growing up, my friends and I loved going on secret missions, eliminating bad guys and freeing captives. But really, it wasn’t my friends and I – it was Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal…See, we’d put on headbands and arm ourselves with cap guns and tear through the neighborhoods, dressed as our favorite action movie stars. We’d go on the same kind of mission that we’d seen them go on in the movies and then argue about which one of us had saved the day.
Even today, I’m not the biggest guy around and back then I was definitely one of the smaller kids. And most of the time it wasn’t an issue, I was treated the same as everyone else when we went bike riding or traded baseball cards. But when we played action hero, only the bigger kids got to be Arnie or Sly. I was stuck being a bad guy, or worse, a sidekick. If I could convince them, maybe they’d let me be Chuck Norris. But only maybe… See, when you’re younger, it’s tough to know where you fit in if you’re not a bigger, muscled guy. All the famous people, the athletes, the stars, the role models that people look up to, they don’t look like you. They’re big and broad-shouldered and look like they eat three raw steaks a day. That certainly wasn’t who I was, but who I wanted to be.
However, I figured that maybe I could make myself into that guy. I started trying to work out every day, to eat raw eggs & tons of protein, and whip myself into bruiser shape. I quickly discovered a few things: that raw eggs taste awful; that my tough-guy scowl intimidated no one; and that as hard as I worked out, that guy in the mirror wouldn’t suddenly sprout a few inches and have his body radically reshape itself. If anything, I looked skinnier (although, at the time, I preferred to think of it as “sleeker.”)
So I had to accept that I’d never be the Hulk Hogan of the neighborhood, no matter how much I worked out to my Hulkamaniacs workout tape. But as I graduated school and grew up, times changed. Tastes changed. Where Stallone and Schwarzenegger had been the model for what a “man” was, suddenly there was Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. Instead of muscles, brains and wit came into fashion. Girls at college started to tell me how I looked like Ethan Hawke or Jude Law… And, yes, they meant it in a good way!
So when Esposito got all ruffled the other day when I was designated as ladies choice, due to the whole Twilight phenomenon, I could only laugh at how the tables had turned. Now my boy Espo, Mr. Muscles himself, was getting the treatment that I’d gotten for so long.
I tried to console Espo, but he had to start bragging about his achievements, his appearance in the NYPD calendar (it was a group shot) and all the fanmail letters he received (three, if you count his mother). It was so sad that it reminded me of my ten-year-old self, protesting about how I could totally play Arnie. So I took the man out for a drink and talked him back up.And I definitely didn’t tell him how, when I went to the bathroom, I got asked by a very single, very beautiful if anyone had ever told me I have a “Robert Pattison” look. Or how when I steered her towards Espo, how she didn’t go for the “Muscley”-type of guy.
If only my 10-year-old self could see how the world is now…Of course, one of these days, I should probably watch Twilight so I’ll know what all the ladies are talking about.