THE THIRTEEN TIMES I MET KEVIN COSTNER
The first time I met Kevin Costner he was on the other side of a locked bathroom door. I introduced myself and told him it was nice to meet him, but he didn’t say anything. The second time I met Kevin Costner he was sitting in the passenger seat of a car in which I was sitting in the back seat. He was singing along to Carole King’s “It’s Too Late,” and so was I. He had a nice singing voice and I told him so. He immediately stopped singing. The third time I met Kevin Costner he was walking around Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town area with a bunch of his friends. They were pretending to be cowboys. I waved at him and he waved back at me but I could tell that he had no idea who I was because from across the gulch he screamed, “Do I know you?” The fourth time I met Kevin Costner he was sitting in the back seat of a limo. I was sitting across from him. He was sitting next to a drunk woman, and so was I. Kevin slid his hand up the woman’s dress. I pretended not to watch. I nursed my tumbler of warm vodka. I tried to slip my hand up the dress of the drunk woman sitting next to me but before I could even touch her knee she looked at me and said that if I went any further she would stick me in my gut with something long and sharp. The fifth time I met Kevin Costner was at a baseball game. He was sitting with his father. I had come to the game with my father as well. I said hello to him but he did not say hello back. He was too busy talking to his father. My father asked me if I knew Kevin Costner and I said that I did. I sat down and didn’t speak to my father again until the game was over and he asked me if I could escort him to the bathroom and help him with his catheter. The sixth time I met Kevin Costner was in Chicago. I saw him from across the street. He was wearing a beautiful three piece suit. So was I. I called out his name but he didn’t hear me. Then he ran into the middle of the street. I thought he running across to say hello to me, maybe say something about the fact that we were both wearing three piece suits, but he stopped, and then started running again, full speed, down the street. I had never seen anyone run that fast in a three piece suit before and I made a note to myself to tell him the next time I saw him how graceful he looked sprinting down Michigan Avenue in wing tips. The seventh time I met Kevin Costner I was riding in the back of a pack of cyclists up the Pacific Coast Highway. Kevin was leading the pack and I somehow managed to finagle my way right next to him. He had grown a mustache and so had I. I pointed at his mustache and then I pointed at mine. Kevin looked at me and then kicked it into high gear and left me in the dust. The eighth time I met Kevin Costner was in Mexico, at a resort in Acapulco. He was sitting on a chaise lounge by the pool. Sitting next to him was one of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, even more beautiful than the woman I had brought with me. She was wearing sunglasses, but that didn’t stop me from noticing that she had a black eye. Kevin was also wearing a pair of sunglasses. He didn’t have a black eye, though. He had a split lip. I looked at Kevin and then I looked at the woman and I thought about saying hello but I didn’t. The ninth time I met Kevin Costner was in Wall Drug, South Dakota. I had decided to take a road trip by myself. I bought a soda at a gas station and then went into one of the gift shops and tried on an authentic Navajo smoking jacket. As I was standing in the mirror checking myself out I could see Kevin behind me, trying on the same jacket. I turned around and told him that I liked his jacket. He pretended not to know who I was. He looked at me, made a gun with his finger and said, “Bang, you’re dead.” The tenth time I met Kevin Costner was in England. He was walking through the forest, and so was I, but from the opposite direction. As our paths crossed I said hello and he said, “Cheerio,” in what sounded like a British accent, albeit not a very convincing one. The eleventh time I met Kevin Costner he was standing on the grassy knoll at Dealy Plaza in Dallas. I was there with my father, who had made the pilgrimage to this very spot every year since 1963. It was my first time. Kevin looked deep in thought. He was flanked by a group of people holding steno pads and taking notes. He pointed in various directions. He wiped tears from his eyes. He put his hands on his hips and bowed his head. I waved to him and he pointed at me. I waved again and he pointed at me again. I stopped waving at him and he stopped pointing at me. The twelfth time I met Kevin Costner was in Los Angeles. I was going into a movie theater and he was coming out. The only difference between him and me was that he was carrying a woman in his arms and I was not. I was carrying a tub of popcorn and a box of Milk Duds. The woman had her eyes closed. She looked scared. Kevin looked calm and determined and almost kind of bored, like he had done this before. I took a step towards him and with one hand he shoved me to the ground. The thirteenth time I met Kevin Costner he was at the helm of a catamaran tooling around the waters near Catalina Island. He was tan and barefoot and his hair was long and stringy. The catamaran was moving faster than most us felt comfortable with. People were hanging on for dear life. A man asked Kevin to slow down, but Kevin refused. I leaned over the side of the boat and lost a lunch I did not remember eating. Kevin turned around and told me that I better not get any puke on his boat. The man who had asked Kevin to slow down reminded Kevin that it wasn’t his boat. Kevin told the man to shut the hell up and they got into a fight. I helped break up the fight. Once the two men were separated Kevin looked at me and said, “And who the hell is this?” I introduced myself, again. I told him it was not the first time we had met. He said he had no idea who I was. That was the last time I met Kevin Costner.
Chris Okum lives in Los Angeles, California. His work has appeared at McSweeney’s, Metazen, The Olentangy Review, The Alarmist, and others.