The character of Ishmael from my book Don’t Call Me Ishmael! suffers from Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome which causes him to do embarrassing things in public. I sort of know how he feels. I suffer from Richard Dreyfuss Syndrome. Maybe you do too.
Do you ever come up with what you think are brilliant earth-shattering ideas only to suddenly realise that they’re a load of rubbish? Do you ever make bold, confident statements only to find out almost immediately that you are completely and utterly wrong? If so, then like me, you might be suffering from ‘Richard Dreyfuss Syndrome’ – RDS for short.
And why do I call it the Richard Dreyfuss Syndrome I hear you ask?
Well the answer is because the American actor Richard Dreyfuss was at the centre of my most embarrassing and humiliating attack ever. It happened like this:
One day Adrie and I were watching an old movie that was supposed to have Richard Dreyfuss in it. We’d been watching it a while but he hadn’t been sighted. Now, I know Richard Dreyfuss. I like him as an actor. He’s been in many great movies – Mr Holland’s Opus, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, What about Bob?, American Graffiti etc. So we’re watching the movie and this young boy appears and the following conversation takes place:
Me: There he is! That’s him!
Me: Richard Dreyfuss. That kid, that’s him. That’s Richard Dreyfuss as a boy!
Adrie: Are you sure? He’s really young. I don’t think that’s him.
Me: What, are you mad? Of course it’s him. It’s an old film. Probably his very first role.
Adrie: I don’t know …
Me: What is wrong with you? Are you blind? It looks exactly like him. And what about the voice? No one else talks like that. Of course it’s Richard Dreyfuss! Who else could that be but Richard Dreyfuss?
Then at that moment on the screen the young boy character answers a knock at the door and when he opens it, standing there is … RICHARD DREYFUSS!!!!!!!! … and to make matters worse he looks exactly like he does in all his other movies.
Now here’s the thing. Yes I was wrong. Yes I made a complete jackass of myself BUT if the roles had been reversed and my wife had been the one who made the mistake I’m sure my reaction would have been something like, “Oh look sweetie, there’s Richard Dreyfuss. Who would have thought? He wasn’t the young boy after all. But hey, that was a mistake anyone could have made. The resemblance really is uncanny!” I certainly wouldn’t have shrieked in hysterical laughter and pointed at the other person and called them names like ’dork’ and ‘dag’ and other ones beginning with ‘d’!
Naturally that teeny-weeny error of judgement has haunted me ever since. Where once I used to enjoy seeing that a Richard Dreyfuss movie was going to be TV, now if one is programmed I hide the TV Guide from Adrie so that she doesn’t know. Not that it makes much difference. I still get reminded regularly of my bout of RDS. Here are just 4 examples of many over the years:
Me: Ard what’s the name of the guy who won the Olympic gold medal in the high jump?
Adrie: Was it RICHARD DREYFUSS?
Adrie: Mike you’re wanted on the phone!
Me: Whose is it?
Adrie: Not sure – sounded a bit like RICHARD DREYFUSS.
Adrie (while watching a wildlife documentary where a great ape is nursing her new-born baby) : Am I mistaken or is she holding a very young RICHARD DREYFUSS?
Me: Ard, what’s a seven letter word for ‘biting humour’?
Ard: Would it be RICHARD DREYFUSS?
So you see I have a great deal to put up with which is why I am widely regarded as a saint. But anyway as I said at the start if you also have a tendency to blurt out bold statements and then find you’ve made a complete jackass out of yourself, then do what I do. Blame Richard Dreyfuss.
You are also encouraged to share your stories of personal humiliation on this blog where they will treated with the utmost confidentiality.