You remember when I was wringing my hands about whether to join the Twitter generation, and then it seemed like a practical business matter: If you want to be a popular author you should just try Twitter out and see what happens, especially if you’re going to be an author on tour and I’m considering some more tour dates. I’ve tweeted a few things in recent weeks, trying not to be obnoxious, and the other day I picked up a new follower: Olivia Hussey, she of the Zeffirelli version of Romeo & Juliet. How I remember being captivated by this girl, 16 when she made Romeo & Juliet, during a reissue screening of the picture when I was a mere lad. Actually I went two or three times, I think, and only because of a big-old crush on Olivia Hussey.
Of course she’s done much more than Juliet with her life. She was the Virgin Mary in Jesus of Nazareth on TV, and played the villainous Alicia in one of my favorite mini-series of the Bicentennial era, The Bastard. She appeared in Death on the Nile with an all-star cast and lots of other TV and motion pictures, and played Mother Teresa in a critically acclaimed biopic.
So this famous performer was now following me on Twitter, meaning I should tweet something profound—but I had nothing. I slept on it, thinking something would come to me and the next morning I learned I had another follower: Lana Wood, Bond girl, sister of Natalie, and accomplished actress in her own right. Not to be redundant, but when I saw Lana as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever, well, I had to go back and see the picture again. Dad was very considerate to take me back for repeat showings of these movies. Or was Dad experiencing, shall we say, the same reaction? I hear tell that the apples don’t fall far from the tree.
Truth be told, Lana had just appeared at a John Wayne event in Iowa where my friend Scott Eyman was also a headliner. So she and I had Scott in common. But at any rate, now, not one but two of the big crushes of my cinematic youth were following me on Twitter, and I still had nothing. I could practically hear my tweet’s voice cracking when I shouted out to the world that I had a new column available on my blog, or said I’d be appearing on the nationally syndicated radio show, TV Confidential. But I have to be honest: Joyce Carol Oates I’m not. Joyce Carol Oates has always got eight wise things to say on Twitter and I can’t even figure half of them out, while I sit here like a frog on a rock. I’m terrible at parties, too, but that’s beside the point.
During this period of gross indecision regarding wise things to say, or witty things, or controversial things, I lost Olivia Hussey. Suddenly my Juliet was no longer following me. I was left to wonder—did she suddenly realize she was following the wrong Robert Matzen? Was she intending to follow the videographer in Cleveland? Or maybe the polar opposite Robert Matzen in Germany who’s an extrovert, loves people, and plays soccer? Whatever the motivation for the end of my personal Twitter relationship with Olivia Hussey, it was over and I was crestfallen.
Now I hang onto the fact that Lana Wood remains faithful. I cling to the faint hope that one day soon I can justify that faith by broadcasting a tweet worthy of an original Bond girl and actress who worked with John Wayne in The Searchers and nearly stole the show. The clock is ticking oh so loudly as I sit here. Jilted. And with nothing.