An orderly at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, New York wheels a catatonic Robert De Niro – who has voluntarily checked himself in as part of his preparation for his role in Awakenings – down a dim lit hallway crowded with other patients, some of whom are as catatonic as the two-time Academy Award Winner, and some of whom are wildly animated and gesticulating and talking to no one in particular: “I like all sorts of women. I can find anyone attractive, doesn’t matter, they can be white, black, Asian, Persian, Native American, Dominican, like I said, it doesn’t matter. And believe me, around here, there are plenty of opportunities. And I’m not talking about the nurses, either. I worked in the women’s ward and let me tell you, some of those women are hot, Mr. De Niro. Bat shit crazy? Sure, of course. But still, really, really hot. Maybe when you come out of it I’ll take you over there. I’m sure there are plenty of women over there who would be happy to meet you, if you know what I’m saying. But you only fall in love once, right? At least, that’s the way it was for me. Her name was Lynn. Met her at a beauty salon. I was there getting my hair permed. This was back in, what, ’73 or ’74. I’d just gotten divorced. Got married too young. I was real inexperienced in the ways of love, you know what I mean? My wife was a minx, man. She couldn’t wait for me to catch up, so she scooted around town and did what she had to do. I mean, I wasn’t happy about it. It was hard. After she left me I decided to get my act together. Ditched my wardrobe and got hip. Thought I should change my hair, you know? I had to work on my outside in order to change my inside. So there I am at the beauty salon getting my perm and there’s this girl sitting across from and she’s young, beautiful, totally out of my league, I’m thinking. You know what? She starts talking to me. She starts talking to me. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I know I’m not a good looking man. I’m definitely not movie star material like yourself. And by the way, Bob, I’ve always thought you were a very handsome man. In an unorthodox way? Sure. But still, really good looking. I mean, let’s be honest here, you’re a beauty in The Godfather, Part Dos. So anyway, this girl is talking to me and I can’t believe it, although looking back at the times, the way things were back then, it makes a little more sense, because back then guys like me, mooks from the neighborhood, well, it was acceptable to find us attractive. And I guess that’s because of guys like you, and Al, and Dustin, right? Not to say that you aren’t better looking than them, because you are. I’m just saying, back then guys like me had a shot, and this girl was willing to give me one. So I asked her out, and long story short, we wind up getting married. I’m thirty-six and she’s nineteen. Can you imagine that? Me, this schlub, recently divorced, below-average looking at best, with a perm, I somehow managed to snag this girl, who, and I wish I had a picture because then you would really appreciate the absurdity of all this, I mean, she’s a stunner, Bob, a total stunner. She was a model. I shit you not. She was a Ford model. Never became famous or anything, but still, hey, how many guys can say they married a Ford model. Did you marry a Ford model? I thought you did. Hey, you don’t have to answer me, and while we’re at it here let me wipe some of that spit from your chin. Anyway, so’s I got myself this incredible young wife and she’s really into me. I mean, at no point during our cohabitation does she ever look at me and think to herself, Who the hell is this guy and why did I marry him. Every time she looks at me it’s with love, I’m telling you. And the body on her, Bob, the body. It’s like something you’ve never seen before, although, now that I think about it, you’ve probably seen plenty of bodies like that haven’t you? Didn’t you bang Jill Clayburgh? I think you did, Bob, I think you did, so you know what I mean when I talk about my old lady’s body and I put my fist in my mouth. And with a body like this she wants to show it off and I don’t mind. I like other men staring at her. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I accomplished something. As a matter of fact, when we go out at night and other men aren’t looking at her I get upset, even though I can only think of a couple of times that happened. Just with the legs and the tits and the ass, it’s like a constant drain on my balls, Bob. Constant. And then, as if I couldn’t get any better, she, my wife, she comes to me one day and says she wants to add another woman into the mix. What do you think I say to that? What do you think? Of course. I say, Of course, sure, fine. I try to be cool about it, but in my head I’m doing jumping jacks in front of sky full of fireworks. So my wife places an ad in the personals and next thing I know there’s this girl in my living room and she looks exactly like my wife, except she’s a brunette. So now’s I got a blonde and a brunette and guess where we’re headed? To the beach! To the nude beach, Bobby. Can I call you Bobby? Yeah? Okay. Me and Lynn and our new friend Erica are headed to the nude beach. Holy shit, this is coming out like diarrhea. You’re a really good listener, you know that? I mean, I know you’re doped to the gills and you got nowhere else to go, but still, Bobby, my man, you are a good listener, which makes sense, I guess, because in order to be a good actor you gotta be a good listener, right? I mean, I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet. So yeah, we’re at the beach and we are nude. Totally nude. All of us. Nude as nude can get. I should probably lower my voice, huh? So, anyway, Lynn is nude and Erica is nude and I’m nude and we’re at the beach and it’s a beautiful day and we’re lying on our blankets, and to be honest with you, looking back, I can say that was probably the peak moment of my life. I can honestly say that. And I don’t think that’s a sad thing to say, because number one, most people don’t even have a peak moment in their life, and number two, if they do, I can guarantee you that their peak moment most likely doesn’t come close to mine, let’s be honest here, okay. Just me and my woman and my woman’s woman and it’s like, it was glorious. Then I notice that there’s this guy staring at us. He looks about the same age as me, except he’s in really good shape, had that hair, you know, that hair that just kind of falls perfectly around his face, and he’s nude, and he’s hung, really hung, and he’s staring at me and the girls, which is fine, if I was him I would be staring at us too. Because we are a sight, especially the Lynn and Erica. They’re all golden like a couple of hash browns, except they smell like Pina Coladas, right? So this guy walks over and he’s standing over us and he asks if he can join us. And I gotta say, I’m in such a good mood at this moment that I feel a pure and easy love for my fellow man. So I say, Sure, have a seat, pal, and he sits down on the blanket next to me and he introduces himself, says, Hey, I’m Rod, Rod Malpert, and I introduce myself and Lynn and Erica and we start talking, you know the routine. We’re laughing and having a good time and I offer him a, what do you call those things, those ready-to-drink cocktails in a can, The Club, whiskey sours, cold and tart and hitting the spot. We each drink about three or four of those and the sun is starting to go down and next thing I know old Rod’s got his hand on my thigh. Just puts it there like no big thing. I pretend not to notice, but it makes the girls giggle. I guess maybe because I didn’t push his hand away Rod thought it was okay to keep going, so he does, and now he’s got his hand wrapped around my joint, and he’s like, he’s squeezing real hard. But, and if I can be candid here for a second, Bobby, it’s like I was ready for it, you know? I was surprised how open I was to it. It felt right, in the moment. You know about that. You know about the moment. How important it is to take the moments as they come and react in a way that seems most truthful. Well, that’s what I was doing. I was just being truthful. In the moment. And the moment after that. It was just a series of moments and they all felt as if they were happening organically. I think that’s the term, right? Organically? It felt organic. Not mechanical, but organical. Rod turns me over on my stomach and he gets inside of me, real deep, and he keeps going deeper, and next thing I know I’m coming, Bobby. I look over at Lynn and Erica and they’re all tangled up in each other and they look at me and they start clapping. But you know what I’m doing? I’m crying. But I’m not crying because I feel sad, or violated, but because I know it’s never going to be this good again. And it hasn’t. It’s never been as good before or since, can you understand that? And the fact that Rod gave me the Clap does not change that fact at all. Even though it was a pretty bad case, you know? I had to go to three different doctors before they got rid of it. One of the doctors even thought I had syphilis. For a week I thought I had syphilis. You know, a lot of famous people have died from syphilis. Napoleon. And Al Capone. Hey, but you probably already know that, right? Bobby? Bob? Mr. De Niro? We gotta wipe that chin of yours. You’re drooling all over everywhere.”

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