7. Time

A: I always think about the people who build buildings and then they're not around any more. Or a movie with a crowd scene and everybody's dead. It's frightening.

I try to think of what time is and all I can think is . . . "Time is time was."

People say "time on my hands." Well, I looked at my hands and I saw a lot of lines. And then somebody told me that some people don't have lines. I didn't believe her. We were sitting in a restaurant and she said, "How can you say that? Look at that waiter over there!" She called him over, "Honey! Honey? Can you bring me a glass of water?" and when he brought it she grabbed his hand and showed it to me and it had no lines! Just the three main ones. And she said, "See? I told you. Some people like that waiter have no lines." And I thought, "Gee, I wish I was a waiter."

If the lines on your hands are wrinkles, it must mean your hands worry a lot.

Sometimes you're invited to a big ball and for months you think about how glamorous and exciting it's going to be. Then you fly to Europe and you go to the ball and when you think back on it a couple of months later what you remember is maybe the car ride to the ball, you can't remember the ball at all. Sometimes the little times you don't think are anything while they're happening turn out to be what marks a whole period of your life. I should have been dreaming for months about the car ride to the ball and getting dressed for the car ride, and buying my ticket to Europe so I could take the car ride. Then, who knows, maybe I could have remembered the ball.

Some people decide to be old and then they do exactly what old people are supposed to do. But when they were twenty years old they were doing what twenty-year-olds are supposed to do. And then there are those other people who look twenty all their lives. It's thrilling to see movie stars— since they're more involved in that than most people—who have worked on their beauty, who still have all their energy because they're still working with their young selves.

Since people are going to be living longer and getting older, they'll just have to learn how to be babies longer. I think that's what's happening now. Some kids I know personally are staying babies longer.

I was standing on a street in Paris once and this old lady was looking at me, and I thought, "Oh she's probably staring at me because she's English," because English people always know me from a London television disaster that somehow starred me. So I sort of looked away and she said, "Aren't you Andy?" I said yes and she said, "You came to my house in Provincetown twenty-eight and a half years ago. You were wearing a sunhat. You don't even remember me, but I'll never forget you in that sunhat. You see, you couldn't take any sun." I felt so strange because I couldn't remember at all and she remembered to the month. Because to remember "twenty-eight and a half years ago" without even stopping to calculate must mean that she really kept track and would say, "Well it's nineteen years now since he was here in the sunhat." It was very peculiar—her husband was there and they were disagreeing about how long it was. He said, "No no no. We weren't married yet, remember? So it must have been twenty-six and three-quarter years ago."

Some people say Paris is more esthetic than New York. Well, in New York you don't have time to have an esthetic because it takes half the day to go downtown and half the day to go uptown.

Then there's time in the street, when you run into somebody you haven't seen in, say, five years, and you play it ail on one level. When you see each other and you don't even lose a beat, that's when it's the best. You don't say "What have you been doing?"—you don't try to catch up. Maybe you mention that you're on your way to 8th Street to get a frozen custard and maybe they mention which movie they're on their way to see, but that's it. Just a casual check-in. Very light, cool, off-hand, very American. Nobody's fazed, nobody's thrown out of time, nobody gets hysterical, nobody loses a beat. That's when it's good. And then when somebody asks you whatever happened to so-and-so you just say, "Yes, I saw him having a malted on 53rd Street." Just play it all on one level, like everything was yesterday.

I think I'm missing some chemicals and that's why I have this tendency to be more of a—mama's boy. A—sissy. No, a mama's boy. A "butterboy." I think I'm missing some responsibility chemicals and some reproductive chemicals. If I had them I would probably think more about aging the right way and being married four times and having a family—wives and children and dogs. I'm immature, but maybe something could happen to my chemicals and I could get mature. I could start getting wrinkles and stop wearing my wings.

They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, "So what." That's one of my favorite things to say. "So what."

"My mother didn't love me." So what.

"My husband won't ball me." So what.

"I'm a success but I'm still alone." So what.

I don't know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.

What makes a person spend time being sad when they could be happy? I was in the Far East and I was walking down a path and there was a big happy party going on, and actually they were burning a person to death. They were having a party and they were happy, singing and dancing.

Then the other day I was on the Bowery and a person in a flophouse jumped out of the window and died, and a crowd went around the body, and then a bum staggered over and said, "Did you see the comedy across the street?"

I'm not saying you should be happy when a person dies, but just that it's curious to see cases that prove you don't have to be sad about it, depending on what you think it means, and what you think about what you think it means.

A person can cry or laugh. Always when you're crying you could be laughing, you have the choice. Crazy people know how to do this best because their minds are loose. So you can take the flexibility your mind is capable of and make it work for you. You decide what you want to do and how you want to spend your time. Remember, though, that I think I'm missing some chemicals, so it's easier for me than for a person who has a lot of responsibility chemicals, but the same principle could still be applied in a lot of instances.

At the end of my time, when I die, I don't want to leave any leftovers. And I don't want to be a leftover. I was watching TV this week and I saw a lady go into a ray machine and disappear. That was wonderful, because matter is energy and she just dispersed. That could be a really American invention, the best American invention—to be able to disappear. I mean, that way they couldn't say you died, they couldn't say you were murdered, they couldn't say you committed suicide over somebody.

The worst thing that could happen to you after the end of your time would be to be embalmed and laid up in a pyramid. I'm repulsed when I think about the Egyptians taking each organ and embalming it separately in its own receptacle. I want my machinery to disappear.

Still, I do really like the idea of people turning into sand or something, so the machinery keeps working after you die. I guess disappearing would be shirking work that your machinery still had left to do. Since I believe in work, I guess I shouldn't think about disappearing when I die. And anyway, it would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a big ring on Pauline de Rothschild's finger.

I really do live for the future, because when I'm eating a box of candy, I can't wait to taste the last piece. I don't even taste any of the other pieces, I just want to finish and throw the box away and not have to have it on my mind any more.

I would rather either have it now or know I'll never have it so I don't have to think about it.

That's why some days I wish I were very very old-looking so I wouldn't have to think about getting old-looking.

I really look awful, and I never bother to primp up or try to be appealing because I just don't want anyone to get involved with me. And that's the truth. I play down my good features and play up the bad ones. So I look awful and I wear the wrong pants and the wrong shoes and I come at the wrong time with the wrong friends, and I say the wrong things and I talk to the wrong person, and then still sometimes somebody gets interested and I freak out and I wonder, "What did I do wrong?" So then I go home and try to figure it out. "Well I must be wearing something that somebody thinks is attractive. I'd better change it. Before things get too far. So I go over to my three-way mirror and I study myself and I see that I have fifteen new pimples on my face and ordinarily that should have stopped them. So I think, "How weird. I know I look bad. I made myself look especially bad— especially wrong—because I knew a lot of the right people would be there, and still someone somehow got interested . . . " Then I start to panic because I think I don't know what's attractive that I should eliminate before it starts causing me any more trouble. You see, to get to know one more person is just too hard, because each new person takes up more time and space. The way to keep some of your time to yourself is to maintain yourself so unattractively that nobody else is interested in any of it

I look at professional people like comedians in nightclubs, and I'm always impressed with their perfect timing, but I could never understand how they can bear to say exactly the same thing all the time. Then I realized what's the difference, because you're always repeating your same things all the time anyway, whether or not somebody asks you or it's your job. You're usually making the same mistakes. You apply your usual mistakes to every new category or field you go into.

Whenever I'm interested in something, I know the timing's off, because I'm always interested in the right thing at the wrong time. I should just be getting interested after I'm not interested any more, because right after I'm embarrassed to still be thinking about a certain idea, that's when the idea is just about to make somebody a few million dollars. My same good mistakes.

I learned something about time when I used to have to go around New York and see people by appointment in their offices. Somebody would give me an appointment at ten o'clock, so I'd beat my brains out to get there at exactly ten, and I would get there and they wouldn't see me until five minutes to one. So when you go through this a hundred times and you hear, "Ten o'clock?" you say, "Weeeellll, that sounds funny, I think I'll show up at five minutes to one." So I used to show up at five minutes to one and it always worked. That's when I would see the person. So I learned. It was like being a laboratory rat and they put you through all those tests and you get rewarded when you do it right, and when you do it wrong you're kicked back, so you learn. So I learned when people would be around.

The only time my system didn't work was with Liz Taylor. I was in Rome appearing in a movie with her and for a week every day she was hours late for shooting, and finally I thought, "Well listen, let's just take our time tomorrow and not get up at six-thirty." So that day she got there before everybody else. She was there before the wardrobe lady and the key grip. She practically had the coffee perking. She really keeps you on your toes. She did the same thing I did, in reverse, and I was thrown off because I didn't know her well enough to predict her. Liz Taylor, in being late fifty times and then early once, must be applying the same principle that I do by having my hair gray so when I do something with a normal amount of energy it seems "young." Liz Taylor when she's on time seems "early." It's like you get a new talent all of a sudden by being so bad at something for so long, and then suddenly one day being not quite so bad.

I like the idea that people in New York now have to wait in line for movies. You go by so many theaters where there are long, long lines. But nobody looks unhappy about it. It costs so much money just to live now, and if you're on a date, you can spend your whole date time in line, and that way it saves you money because you don't have to think of other things to do while you're waiting and you get to know your person, and you suffer a little together, and then you're entertained for two hours. So you've gotten very close, you've shared a complete experience. And the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting anyway. Never getting in is the most exciting, but after that waiting to get in is the most exciting.

If I only had time for one vacation every ten years I still don't think I'd want to go anywhere. I'd probably just go to my room, fluff up the pillow, turn on a couple of TVs, open a box of Ritz crackers, break the seal on a box of Russell Stovers, sit down with the latest issue of every magazine except TV Guide from the corner newsstand, then pick up the phone and call everybody I know to ask them to look in their TV Guides to tell me what's on, what's been on, what's going to be on. I also enjoy rereading the newspaper. Especially in Paris. I can't reread the international Herald Tribune enough when I'm in Paris. I love to while away the hours while other people do their meanwhiles, as long as they call in to report. In my room, time moves so slowly for me, it's only outside that everything is happening so fast.

I don't like to travel, because I really like slow time and for a plane you have to leave three or four hours ahead of time, so that's a day right there. If you really want your life to pass like a movie in front of you, just travel, you can forget your life.

I like a rut. People call me up and say, "I hope I'm not disturbing your rut, calling you up like this." They know how much I like it.

One mistake I make time after time is not following the Golden Rule: I hold elevators. Also, even though I try to throw things away and simplify my life, I palm things off on other people.

What makes a movie fast is when you see it, and then when you see it a second time it goes really fast. If you really want to suffer, go see something and then go see it again. You'll see that your suffering goes by quicker the second time.

I can see a murder mystery one night, and then see it a second time the next night and still not know who did it until the very last minute. So I know there's something really

wrong with me. I mean, if I can sit there and watch another Thin Man and watch it again the next night, and still not know who the murderer is again until the very last minute . . . And I'll be just as curious and just as on-the-edge-of-my-chair waiting to find out, and just as shocked as I was the night before. If I've seen it fifteen times, then maybe one time out of the fifteen it'll come back to me and I might get a glimmer of who did it. I guess time is actually the best plot— the suspense of seeing if you'll remember.

Digital clocks and watches really show me that there's a new time on my hand. And it's sort of frightening. Somebody has thought of a new way to show time, so I guess we won't be saying one "o'clock" too much longer, because that's "of the clock" or "by the clock" and there won't be any more clocks: it'll be "one time" instead of "one o'clock" and "three-thirty time" and "four-forty-five time."

When I was little and I was sick a lot, those sick times were like little intermissions. Innermissions. Playing with dolls.

I never used to cut out my cut-out dolls. Some people who've worked with me might suggest that I had someone else cut them out for me, but really the reason I didn't cut them out was that I didn't want to ruin the nice pages they were on. I always left my cut-out dolls in my cut-out books.

About Time

From time to time

Do time

Time yourself


In time

In no time

In good time

Between time

Time and again



Pass time

Mark time

Buy time

Keep time

On time

In time

Time off

Time out

Time in

Time card

Time lapse

Time zone

The beforetime

The meantime

The aftertime

The All-time—

When I look around today, the biggest anachronism I see is pregnancy. I just can't believe that people are still pregnant.

The best time for me is when I don't have any problems that I can't buy my way out of.

3 commentaires: