"Don't I know you from somewhere?"
The sound of that sentence is nearly enough to make me vomit. Despite my garish sunglasses and unkempt scruffy beard, I hear it just about everywhere I go. I take a better look at the girl standing behind me in the coffee line at Starbucks. She's pretty, but not cute enough to go through the torture of being recognized and then sold to the paparazzi for a couple hundred bucks.
"I've been told I look like Tom Cruise," I say. "But that's probably just the nose."
"No, I am pretty good with faces. Did you go to Granville Elementary?"
"Yes! That was it! Michelle?" I take a shot in the dark. It's one of the most common girl names of our generation. I learned that when I stopped remembering girls' names. It's tough, especially when you're around actresses a lot. They keep changing it on you.
"Right yes, weren't we in the same class with that old gal, Mrs... Mrs..."
"Yes, good old Mrs. Svenson. I wonder if she's still alive. Well anyway, I gotta go, but we should catch up sometime."
I say a silent "thank you" to my improv teachers and get out of there before she can figure out who I am.
I have been in entertainment magazines since before I could walk. Instead of normal baby pictures, my parents paid off the paparazzi to hand over their best action shots of me at the beach, in the park, at the mall. I was in my first movie (rated R, I might add) before I could even say "action". My dad is one of the best actors of all time and therefore the entire screen-watching world is waiting to see what the son of the great Victor Madden is really capable of. The problem is, all I want is a normal life. It sounds so cliché, but my entire life has been one long drama-filled hollywood movie. And trust me, drama gets boring.
I barely get to do anything for myself. It's been a battle just to be able to buy my own coffee. I was homeschooled in set trailers, my friends were the children of other celebrities, I have travelled all over North America and to nearly every other continent. I speak English, German, French, Spanish, and a little Japanese. I spend most of my days working out with my personal 24-hour trainer to have the perfect abs. My dad has bought me motorcycles, cars, pools, apartments, even a stripper for my 16th birthday. My mom has her assistant write heartfelt cards to me on my birthdays. My dad's girlfriends buy me ties and try to get me drunk. I hate birthdays.
Maybe I am ungrateful. I literally have everything I could dream of having. But all too often, I wish I could jump into the life of my underdog characters. They always have a purpose, a mission, something to fight for. Something to live and die for. Real life, even for a hollywood star, is so disappointing.
I walk down the street with my skinny latte and watch the cars go by. Normal people just going to work, thinking about taxes and in-laws, saving money for their kids to go to college. I wonder what would happen if I just climbed in a taxi and never looked back. How long would it take before my parents noticed I was gone? Where could I go? Maybe an Amish community in Pennsylvania would take me. I bet I could learn to drive a buggy, I was pretty good at horseback riding in my last movie.
A homeless man looks up at me from his seat on the ground, leaning up against the side of a building. Normally they try to keep these kind of people out of the more wealthy neighbourhoods. "Do you have some extra cash?" he asks.
I don't carry cash, except on movie sets when I usually have a suitcase full. But an idea strikes me.
"Here. Take my dad's credit card. You have a couple hours before they figure out it's been stolen, then dump it. Don't look at the security cameras."
The man looks at me like I've grown another head. "You got some problem with your old man?"
"Spend wisely my friend."
Other peoples' parents might punish their children for giving away their credit card. A psychologist would say I am trying to get my dad's attention. But it would take a much bigger stunt to get my father's attention. I just wanted to see the surprise on a normal person's face. Maybe I can add that expression to my repertoire. I can use it when I win an academy award because my father rigged it in my favour.
I bet the Amish wouldn't take me even if I brought them a suitcase full of money.