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Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?

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Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?

5/5 (10 valutazioni)
331 pagine
5 ore
Sep 10, 2013


Hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America's favorite comedians as he turns 65, and a look back at a remarkable career in this New York Times bestseller.

Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he's not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like "Buying the Plot" and "Nodding Off," Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Readers get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever "test positive for Maalox"), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. He lends a light touch to more serious topics like religion ("the aging friends I know have turned to the Holy Trinity: Advil, bourbon, and Prozac"), grandparenting, and, of course, dentistry. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal's reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived.

Sep 10, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

Billy Crystal has starred in many hit films, among them When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, The Princess Bride, and Analyze This. He is the author of the Tony award-winning play 700 Sundays, about his relationship with his late father, which was later adapted into a book, and the children’s book, I Already Know I Love You. Crystal was a cast member of Saturday Night Live, is a six time Emmy winner, and recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He has hosted the Academy Awards nine times. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Janice.

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Still Foolin' 'Em - Billy Crystal


65 Is Not 60

March 14, 2013, my sixty-fifth birthday. I got up that morning, padded over to the bathroom, threw some water on my face, looked in the mirror, and my uncle Al was staring back at me. My scream brought Janice, my wife of forty-two years, running in. I kept yelling, HOLY SHIT! What the fuck happened to me? Somehow, overnight it seemed, I had turned from a hip, cool baby boomer into a Diane Arbus photograph. I looked at Janice for an encouraging word, for a hug, for an It’s okay, Billy, you look great. It’s an old mirror. All she did was glance down at my robe, which had opened up, and ask: When did your pubic hair turn gray?

It’s hard to believe. Not the part about the pubic hair or that my package now looks like Einstein with Barry Scheck’s nose. It’s the part about how it’s really happening. And fast. As a kid, I was drawn to the dark side of things. I knew at a young age that no one gets out of this alive, but it seemed that I had time. Back in 1961, when I was thirteen, I would think, In 1978 I’ll be thirty. Great, that’s so far away. Then when I was thirty I thought, In 1998 I’ll be fifty and that’s so far away. Now that I’m sixty-five I think, In the year 2038 I’ll be … mostly dead. Or as Miracle Max in The Princess Bride would say, Slightly alive.

There’s some comfort in knowing that there are so many of us boomers in the same boat. Truth is, very soon, the entire country is pretty much going to smell the same, from Los Angeles to Maine. We are all in this together and are all having the same thought: I FUCKING HATE THIS! There are seventy-seven million of us in this age group, and with all our diversity, we have one thing in common: OUR PARENTS WERE RIGHT! It all happened so fast.

During the past year I saw my dermatologist more than I saw my grandkids. Things started to grow on me where they shouldn’t. My ass looks like the bottom of a boat. I don’t shower anymore; I’m sandblasted twice a week. I’m always at the dermatologist’s. He keeps picking at me; I’m like his own personal honey-baked ham.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to bitch and moan.… Wait, I am, but I’m trying to answer the really fundamental questions of life: Where are we as baby boomers? Where are we going? Where have we been? Did anything we do really matter? If there’s an afterlife, do they have digital cable? What’s next for us? Do the Yankees have enough pitching? Why does God make everything small that should be big and everything big that should be small? Like my nuts, why are they now HUGE? Every time I sit on the toilet, I make tea with my balls. Thank you, God, put that and the Nazis on your greatest hits album.

The whole idea of sixty-five is scary, because I’m now closer to (gulp) seventy than I am to sixty, but to me, fear has always been a motivator. America’s kids are plump and out of shape, but not me. Have you been to Disneyland lately? It’s not a small world after all. It’s a big, fat, sweaty-ass-crack world. I, on the other hand, eat organic food, I juice, I work out, and I take comfort in the fact that my sixty-five is not my grandparents’ sixty-five. When my grandfather was sixty-five he looked eighty … and he smelled ninety.

*   *   *

We all have a different image of what old is, and if you were exposed to senior citizens at a young age, as I was, and they told you, One day you’ll look like this, it can color your soul with terror. For me, old is my grandfather, coming to visit in his Bermuda shorts hiked up to his tits, and wearing black socks and sandals, and when he would sit down you could see what looked like a small dog in his pants surrounded by a bag of pears. Terrifying. I never wanted to look like that, so I push myself.

At sixty-five I can do the same things I could do at thirty-five, if I could only remember what those things were. At sixty-five things do change … quickly.

For one thing, your libido slows down. You don’t kid yourself and look at twenty-five-year-olds anymore. Actually, I do, but they’re out of focus, and by the time I get my glasses on, they’re gone. When you’re sixty-five, you’re surprised by what now turns you on. You look at Dame Edna and think, You know what, maybe.

At sixty-five, when you go out to eat and tell the family that dinner is on you, you mean it literally. It’s on your chin, on your shirt, on your pants. You’re usually wearing more than you ate. At sixty-five, you’ve already had ten colonoscopies. My colon has been photographed more than the fucking Titanic. And it’s horrible, because we fear the colonoscopy, we’re terrified of it. For me, I never enter a door marked EXIT. It’s the fear of the procedure with the camera and the whole nine yards going up there. It’s going to be painful, but as they say, it’s not the camera that hurts, it’s the crew. For those who haven’t had it, let me explain what a colonoscopy is. Basically, you’re driving north on a southbound highway … if you catch my drift … and the drift comes after the procedure. I’m telling you, they fill you with hot air. I was literally a hybrid car, I was half gas. You’re like a walking whoopee cushion.

The key to having a happy time as you develop chicken hands is you just have to stay upbeat and optimistic, even as you’re trying to make your comb-over not look like Rudy Giuliani circa 1999. Stay positive! I hate seeing guys give up when they turn sixty-five. Just go to the mall. There are the wives, with the husbands trailing behind them. Poor guys, they have no shoulders. They look like paramecia in suburban coats. They’re just following their wives around the shopping mall, getting excited only when they can have a new front door key made at the locksmith kiosk. They drift around the mall, drifting, drifting, drifting. It’s like the march of the very depressed penguins; they’re walking—it’s not even a walk, it’s a waddle, it’s a shuffle, it’s a wuffle. They just wander around the mall with their wives leading them, and they’re holding the wife’s coat in one hand and her pocketbook with the other. And you know what’s in her pocketbook?

Their balls.

At sixty-five, you’re always a little cold. Even the new thicket of hair on your back doesn’t help. You start to think, Global warming isn’t such a bad thing. Global warming isn’t the only inconvenient truth. The real inconvenient truth is that I now pee in Morse code. Am I painting a pretty picture?

Which gets me to my most important point, the one thing I want you to take from this book, because it can change your life. It’s this: that if you’re feeling what I’m feeling, don’t worry because … wait, I forgot what I was going to say, what was I talking about … give me a minute. Shit! Damn it, I hate when this happens. Oh well, I’ll remember sometime before the book is done.… Hey, where are my keys?

I Worry

One thing is constant for me. Every night I go to sleep at eleven. I wake up refreshed, ready to go, full of energy, look at the clock, and it’s one-ten A.M.

Hi, I’m Billy and I’m an insomniac. Right now, I’ve been up since 1948. It actually started back when I was born: First seven days, perfect. I was doing great, sleeping in, clocking twenty hours a night. Then day 8, they woke me up and somebody with a black hat and a beard cut off the tip of my penis. I’ve been up ever since.

Insomnia, from the Greek word meaning I can’t fucking sleep! Ah, sleep … to sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub. I tried rubbing it. Nothing. My penis looked at me and said, Are you trying to start a fire? So now I’m awake and I feel like a fool. Guys, at our age, masturbating is the worst type of high school reunion. You’re with your first love, who looks older and smaller, there’s no real excitement, and ultimately you’re sorry you came.

Did you sleep well, did you sleep? I tell people I sleep like a baby: I’m up every two hours. And it’s so lonely when you can’t sleep and your spouse can. Sometimes when I wake up, I fake nightmares, just so I have someone to talk to. Don’t—no, no, put the gun down, no!

Honey, you okay?

Yeah, I’m okay, it was just a bad dream. You want to play cards?

I feel bad about waking Janice up, but it’s better than watching her sleep in that middle-aged way with the occasional snore. Men hate when women snore. It’s a double standard: we men fart, cough up things and spit them in the street, we pick our noses while we drive and, if we’re alone, wipe it on the bottom part of the seat, we pee in the shower and on the golf course. Come on, guys, admit it: we all pee in the shower because it feels so good, but if a woman snores, we’re ready to get a lawyer. We’re Vikings at the social tea of life.

So I’ve tried everything to fall asleep. I tried the glass of red wine before bed for a few months. I still couldn’t sleep, and I ended up in Betty Ford. Then I got one of those sound effects machines that creates the experience of being on the beach. My model is called Coney Island. It has waves, weeping Mets fans, and gunfire. They say it works because the sound of rushing water makes you want to go to sleep. It made me want to pee. Now I have another problem.

Getting up quietly in the middle of the night is a challenge. I’m groggy and walk to the john with all the grace of Buzz Aldrin doing the tango on Dancing with the Stars. Once I get to the bathroom, I don’t want to stand up and pee because God hasn’t messed with my stream today and the noise will wake everybody up as I yell, That’s what I’m talking about! So I decide to sit down, and I fall in because some schmuck (who would be me) forgot to put the seat down.

You know why we can’t sleep? It’s because we think. The brain doesn’t shut off; there’s a little factory going all night. We never think about good things, only the bad things we’ve done. The regrets. When you can’t sleep, every night is Yom Kippur. Why did I say that to that schmuck? Okay, he was a schmuck, but why did I say that? After all, he is the pope.

So I try to calm down by eating. They say turkey makes you drowsy because it has tryptophan. If it works so well, how come you never see a turkey nod off? I have a turkey sandwich and a warm glass of milk—and once you have milk, you gotta have a cookie. Now I still can’t sleep and my cholesterol is at 800.

I’m so upset, I try to watch some TV. That late at night, it’s all commercials aimed at my age group. First one I see is for a sleeping aid called Rozerem. That’s the one where they say your dreams miss you and they show Abe Lincoln talking to a beaver.

They said it’s the first sleep aid with no potential for dependence. Really? If I’m taking a drug that makes me dream about Lincoln talking to a beaver, I’m taking that five times a day.

Next comes the onslaught. Every ad is for beer, big fat hamburgers, Rogaine, and Viagra. They think we’re all one fat bald guy who can’t get it up.

But at least the new impotency ads are aimed at women. Now they show a really hot woman in her forties; she has that happy, contented look we’ve all forgotten, like she’s just made love for hours. And then the guy comes into the bedroom, the guy who had the problem. He looks like a middle-aged model (or Mitt Romney), he’s got perfect hair, a great smile, a sweater tied around his neck, and at the end of the ad he and the wife are on a little boat that has the biggest mast you’ve ever seen in your life. I’m not stupid; I get it.

Then there’s that Cialis ad where they say you take it and it lasts for thirty-six hours. You can have sex anytime in that thirty-six-hour window. That’s way too much pressure for me. We’re a fast-paced society: we want things now, we have instant Internet, instant messages, we want instant sex, not thirty-six-hour Cialis. Thirty-six hours is more than my whole history of sex. Cialis is a bad pill for us Jews. Irving, take this pill, it’s good for thirty-six hours. He says, That’s over the whole year, right? Can I redeem hours if I don’t use them? Can I trade them in for that set of dishes?

But at least the Cialis ads are done well. The original Viagra ads were terrible. They were all athletes, prominent people revealing that they suffer from ED. The idea is if it can happen to them, it can happen to anybody. Even Mike Ditka and Bob Dole did impotence commercials. I applaud them for admitting this personal problem, but honestly, the thought of them with erections is enough to make me impotent.

Whatever the affliction, they make the commercials look so beautiful. These people have real problems and in thirty seconds it’s all solved, there are butterflies and bike rides and people walking their puppies, whatever they have is cured, their prostates are shrinking, their bones aren’t brittle, their hairlines are back, and I’m filled with hope. Then right at the end of the commercial that voice comes on and quickly says …

May cause lack of appetite, dizziness, nervousness, psychotic episodes, blurred vision, stuttering, skipping and jumping, Tourette’s syndrome, barking at the moon, bile backup, speaking in tongues, anal leakage, diarrhea, and impotence. And I’m thinking, Okay, who cares? I have to get some sleep!

I get sick of all the commercials, so I change the channel. Now I’m watching high-speed car chases at three A.M. That’ll put you right out. Might as well have a double espresso. In Los Angeles, car chases do bigger ratings than CSI. They’re the original reality TV. I’m watching a car going the wrong way on the freeway, then it’s going ninety through a school zone, it hits a fence, the suspect is out of the car now, running, the TV camera is in the chopper overhead as the perp, now in a dramatic spotlight, runs through backyards and jumps fences. Personally, I think it’s the best work Lindsay Lohan has ever done.

So I go back to bed. I toss and turn and turn and toss and just can’t get comfortable. Then finally I find the right position, the pillow is nice and cool, and I fall asleep. Five minutes later, the alarm goes off: time to start the day.

Now I get up and I’m cranky. I’m Jeffrey Dahmer and there’s nothing in the fridge. I’m overtired. Overtired. The excuse every mother gives for a nasty kid. Why did he light the garage on fire? He’s … overtired. Why did he do that, Mrs. Hitler? He vas overtired, just a little cranky, he didn’t sleep vell in the 1920s.

I’m up all night because I worry; I worry about everything. Like the fact that I’m not fucking asleep.

I worry about the axis of evil: Syria, North Korea, and Wall Street CEOs.

I worry that if I’m ever arrested and go to prison, I’ll like anal rape.

I worry that one day my kids will look down at me and say to each other, I changed him last time, it’s your turn.

I worry that Scientologists may be right.

I worry that I’m writing this chapter via texting while driv—

I worry that the paramedics will not speak English and won’t be able to read the words PLEASE RESUSCITATE I have tattooed on my chest.

I worry that I am not worried about my grandkids being stuck with the national debt.

I worry that playing Angry Birds for thirty hours a week may not qualify as aerobics.

I worry that I’ll die while too many of the people I hate are still alive.

But the one thing I don’t worry about is dying in my sleep. Because I never sleep! When the angel of death comes to my bedside and puts his hand out for me, I’m going to look him right in the eye and say, Get the fuck out of here. Then Janice will tell him, Don’t listen to Billy—he’s overtired, he’s a little cranky.


I’ve always thought that the key to a good sex life is variety. That’s why God gave me two hands.

Humans love sex, we need sex, it’s how we connect, it reminds us we’re alive, it’s the third most basic human need, after food and good movie popcorn, but over time the need changes, as does the act itself.

If you’re twenty-five, you’re probably reading this chapter in between your third and fourth go-arounds of the night. If you’re forty-five, statistically you had sex sometime in the last three nights and will have it again another 5.8 times this month … but if you’re sixty-five … HEY, WAKE UP … if you’re sixty-five, certain conditions need to be just right in order to do the nasty. She can’t be having a hot flash, he can’t have had too much asparagus, dinner had to be light and over by four-thirty, and there can’t be a new episode of Homeland on that night. Also, your cell phone has to be on Vibrate, not so you don’t hear it, but it adds a nice sensation if you sit on it just right.

When you’re young, all you ever think about is the next time you’re going to have sex; when you get older, you can’t remember the last time you had sex.

Let’s eavesdrop on a couple I will call Him and Her. They were twenty-five in 1973; now they’re sixty-five.


HIM: I love when you do that.

HER: You mean tighten it like this?

HIM: Oh my God, how do you do that?

HER: Punji, my yoga instructor … he taught me.


HIM: Wow, you’re so wet down there.

HER: Oh sorry—I coughed before.


HER: What do you want to fuck to?

HIM: Marvin Gaye.


HER: Move a little bit to the right and turn up the sound on the TV.

HIM: I can’t hear you, the TV is on.… Oops, I’m done.


HIM: Look at you, you’re so beautiful.

HER: Awwwww.


HIM: I can’t believe these tits.

HER: Stop looking in the mirror and come to bed.


HIM: God, I’m hard.

HER: God, you’re hard.


HER: Did you take your Viagra?

HIM: What?

HER: God, you’re hard of hearing.

HIM: You lost an earring?


HIM: Why are your eyes open?

HER: Because I love to watch you make love to me.


HIM: What are you looking at?

HER: The drapes don’t match the paint.


HER: Let’s stay home and make love.

HIM: I love rainy days.


HER: Let’s make love …

HIM: My hip hurts, it’s going to rain.


HER: Wow, that must be eight inches.

HIM: Wait until I get excited.


HER: Wow, that’s so hard …

HIM: The doctor said it’s benign.


HER: I love to feel your heartbeat through your shirt.

HIM: Every beat is for you.


HER: Maybe it’s your pacemaker.

HIM: Call 911, I’m having palpitations.


HIM: Now, now!

HER: I’m there, I’m there!


HER: Now, now!

HIM: Be patient—Larry at the barbershop says it takes thirty minutes to work because first the blood has to accumulate in the shaft.


HIM (whispering): Tell me what you want me to do.

HER (sotto voce): Put your finger in there.

HIM: Wow, I’ve never done that.

HER: It’s wonderful.


HIM: Tell me what you want me to do.

HER: Get me my vibrator and go for a walk.


HIM: Wear something sexy to bed.

HER: How about just a smile?


HIM: Have you seen my sweatpants?

HER: They’re in the drawer. And wear some socks, your toenails cut my leg.


HIM: Let’s do something we’ve never done before.

HER: Turn me over, baby.


HIM: Can we try something new?

HER: Oy.

*   *   *

Oy. A universal word that sums up how you feel when you hit sixty-five. Many people have said Oy. I think it was Custer’s last word when he saw all those Sioux Indians on the hill. Oy: it was what King Kong mumbled when he saw those planes buzzing him on the Empire State Building—until the studio cut it out because they thought it made him sound too Jewish. Oy: it was what Osama bin Laden said when he saw the Navy SEAL at the bottom of the stairs. Oy: it is what life is like at sixty-five … and as I approached my sixty-fifth birthday, I couldn’t help but think, How the hell did I get here?

Growing Up Crystal

You know how angry kids will sometimes say, ‘I didn’t ask to be born’? Well, you did, my mother used to tell me. Your brothers took hours to arrive—not you. Thirty minutes, tops. Around my eighth month you started kicking a lot and I thought I could hear you saying, ‘Let’s go, I’m breaking your water.’

On March 14, 1948, at 7:36 A.M., I arrived at Doctors Hospital in Manhattan, overlooking Gracie Mansion and the East River. I am the youngest of Jack and Helen’s three boys. My brother Richard, known as Rip, is two years older than I, and Joel, my big brother—literally: he’s six foot two—is six years older. We lived on Davidson Avenue in the Bronx until the lure of the suburbs seduced my parents, who had a dream to own a house with a lawn the size of a toupee. My folks followed my grandparents, who were perpetually not well and whose doctor had advised that the salty sea air of Long Beach, Long Island, a lovely, quaint beach town, would do wonders for them. Not true: they were always sick, and anything metal they owned, including my grandfather’s hip, rusted quickly.

Long Beach, 1953.

My grandmother Susie Gabler was a large woman of Russian heritage, weighing in at over two hundred pounds, and my grandpa Julius was a diminutive, cranky Austrian who had twin albino brothers. Tiny little pink Jewish elves we called the lab rats. Very rare, they would fetch a grand sum on eBay today. They usually wore woolly three-piece suits, and when they stood together they looked like salt and pepper shakers. Grandma, who loved to laugh, was the dominant force in the family and actually is credited on Wikipedia with inventing guilt. For instance, once she asked my mom to take her to a doctor’s appointment, and when Mom said she couldn’t, Grandma responded, I bought your house for you. She also put the fear of God in me, literally. If any of us did something she felt was wrong, she’d tell us, God will punish you. One time when I was about six, she told me not to skip. I did anyhow and fell, and she said, See, God punished you. Terrifying. Grandpa was slowed by arthritis and crankitis. He and I understood each other. He was in pain a lot, and I was pissed that I was short. Yes, I had a case of little guy’s disease for a while. It ended about a week ago, when I finally understood that my big spurt had already happened.

Nonetheless, Growing Up Crystal was a great time. My dad was the manager of a popular record store in New York City, called the Commodore Music Shop, which was owned by Grandpa Julius and his sons Milt and Danny. Milt had transformed the place from a hardware store into the center of jazz in Manhattan when he got rid of the light bulbs and whisk brooms Grandpa was peddling and created Commodore Records, the first independent jazz label of its time, and sold hot jazz records that he produced himself. When Milt left to become an executive at Decca Records, my dad took over as manager and became the go-to guy for jazz enthusiasts. He also produced jazz concerts on the weekends at a place called the Central Plaza, on Second Avenue in Manhattan. Dad turned all of us on to jazz, and its great stars were family friends. It was also Dad who saw how much I loved being funny and would let me stay up on school nights to watch the great comedians of the fifties on television. It was Dad who brought home comedy albums from the store so I could listen and learn. And it was my mom and dad whom I most loved to make

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