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September 22, 2020

If there are two people with whom I’d like to share a lunch, it would be Dr. Anthony Fauci and Keanu Reeves. They are heroes who never looked for this recognition, but it landed in their laps anyway. And by “hero” I mean that their personal achievements and personal qualities are what brought people to notice them.

For Dr. Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert, the Covid-19 pandemic is what his professional career has prepared him to address full on. Could we have ever imagined that his expertise and wisdom would not be welcomed at the White House at a time like this?

Thank goodness for talk show forums that have welcomed Fauci as their guest where he can speak openly and honestly about the dark realities of Covid that have wreaked devastation in the form of avoidable deaths throughout our country. And the subject of wearing face masks is still a debate.

“People take sides,” Fauci shared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. “…like wearing a mask or not is a political statement and that’s really unfortunate, totally unfortunate because this is purely a public health issue. It should not be one against the other.

Sadly, this is where we are.

Then there’s actor Keanu Reeves. I think it’s the authenticity of his character that I like. My favorite films in which he starred: “A Walk in the Clouds,” a drama, which by the way was filmed not far from my home; “Something’s Gotta Give,” a romantic comedy, and the “John Wick” franchise, although in the last one the violence was really over the top for my taste. Quite a range.

I finally figured out why I have a soft spot for Keanu, thanks to the book Louie gave me as a Christmas gift last year: “For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves” by Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran. Critical essays and “fun facts” about the actor. One item that stood out to me was the fact that Keanu is dyslexic. I know about dyslexia because Louie has “the gift,” too.

In short, it is difficult for individuals with dyslexia to read fluently. It’s the way a person’s brain is tweaked. There is auditory dyslexia and visual dyslexia. The overall condition slows learning – but doesn’t impact intelligence. Many people have dyslexia. Other famous names: Albert Einstein, Jennifer Aniston, Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, even Saint Teresa.

The more I thought about it, Louie and Keanu have similar character traits: athletic, compassionate and generous. And they like Shakespeare. They enjoy being private. But they can be boisterous, too. They are never preoccupied with what people might think of them. Then they have dyslexia as their biggest common denominator. Both had difficulty reading as children. Louie is a wiz at math, and he can solve problems and puzzles like you wouldn’t believe. It’s as though he lives to solve things. I don’t know how Keanu is in this department. Louie cares passionately for people to a fault. Despite dyslexia, Louie got top grades in school. But he often got into fights in school to protect boys who were picked on by bullies and couldn’t fight for themselves. I realized that Louie just might be my John Wick.

An unexpected Keanu moment happened in 2007 after Louie picked me up at Los Angeles International Airport. I had just returned from visiting our daughter in Argentina. I was craving Mexican food, so we ended up at El Tepayac in East Los Angeles near Evergreen Cemetery that’s one of our favorite holes in the wall. As we sat eating in the small crowded dining room, I saw three men walk into the restaurant one after the other. I glanced at the last one. Dressed in black, he was wiping his brow. I said to Louie, “He sure looks like Keanu Reeves.”

“That’s because he is,” Louie replied right back. I almost choked on my menudo, a traditional Mexican soup made with tripe, hominy, and spices served only on weekends (great for hangovers they say).

I decided that I would not get all giddy and embarrass myself – or the most famous person in the room whose table was close to ours.

On the other hand, a young woman sitting at the counter glided over to him with her cell phone and he happily obliged to have a photo taken.

A few more minutes went by. Then Louie discreetly asked me, “Are you sure you don’t want a photo? This is your only chance…”

I thought about it. Louie was right. My only chance. Something other-worldly took over. I got out of my chair, slowly walked to Keanu and said, “Mr. Reeves, you are one of my favorite actors. If I could, I would wrap my arms around you – right now!”

Keanu smiled that famous smile of his and said, “Aww.” Then he stood up. Towering over me, he gave me a big hug. Then I asked if it would be all right to have a photo of the two of us. Of course, he said, again with a smile. That was before smartphones. The photo is safely tucked away – in one of my photo albums – or on a CD.

And before I walked back to my table, Keanu stopped me and asked so kindly, “How was your visit with your daughter?” I might as well have been (Diane Keaton’s) Erica Barry in “Something’s Gotta Give.”

Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives

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