Open Letter To The Paperboy In ‘While You Were Sleeping’

Dear Paperboy,

Thank you for the funniest thirteen seconds of my life.

I’m sorry to hear you broke your wrist doing that stunt.

I’m also sorry to hear that it wasn’t actually a stunt–that that epic scrambled-egg flop of yours was a literal accident.

If it’s any consolation, it was funny as hell.

When I got home from the theater, I found my housemate Scott sipping a glass of whisky and watching TV.

“You’re back late,” he said.

“I just saw While You Were Sleeping,” I said.

“Oh, that,” he said. He stroked his beard pensively. Then he started chuckling. “…the paperboy.”

“The paperboy,” I said. Then I started chuckling too.

He flailed his arms. “The paperboy!”

In moments, we were laughing uncontrollably. Scott had to breathe into a paper bag to stop himself losing consciousness.

I got hiccups for four hours.

Because of you, paperboy.

The next morning on my way to work, I saw a newspaper machine on the corner and I burst out laughing.

“Newspapers!” I howled, pointing at the newspaper machine.

Nobody on the street understood.

I guess they hadn’t seen the movie.

When I arrived at work, my co-worker Natalie, said, “What did you do last night?”

“I saw While You Were Sleeping.”

“Oh, what an amazing movie,” said Natalie. “I love Bill Pullman!”

“Who?” I said.

“The guy Sandra Bullock falls in love with.”

“Who?”

“The star of the movie.”

“The paperboy?” I said.

“Who?” said Natalie.

“The kid who wipes out on his bike,” I said.

“What?” she said.

Paperboy, I don’t think she saw the same While You Were Sleeping that I did.

The poster for While You Were Sleeping features two grown-ups–one picking the other up while an oncoming train looms in the background.

Who are those people? And why aren’t you on that poster, paperboy?

Come to think of it, why isn’t the movie called The Paperboy, paperboy?

I would pay full price to watch that 13-second clip of you demolishing your bike on a loop for 1 hour and 43 minutes.

I went on IMDB to try and find more of your work.

Imagine my surprise, paperboy.

You aren’t listed in the cast for While You Were Sleeping.

Which is puzzling, because that is some detailed cast list they have there at IMDB.

One would think the comedic linchpin of that movie would merit a mention.

But apparently not.

You know who is listed?

“Man in Peter’s room”

Who is “Man in Peter’s room”?

For that matter, who is “Peter”?

I don’t know, but even his room got a mention on IMDB.

But not you, paperboy.

Why not?

Did you go into Witness Protection after that movie?

If I don’t know your real name, how am I going to find more of your world-altering crashes?

Or is it really true that that one mash-up of metal spokes and human tragedy is the sum total of your body of work?

You lob the newspaper at a house.

The newspaper flies one direction, and you fly off your bike in the opposite direction.

Newton’s cradle could not have performed a more perfect illustration of the conservation of momentum and energy.

I am floored.

As were you.

As was the world of Comedy.

It was truly The Wreck of the Century.

The holy union of bicycle, boy, and pavement.

They said the Big Bang could only happen once.

They were wrong.

Bravo, paperboy.

Bravo.

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