The economy is kind of in the crapper -- this comes as a shock to you, I'm sure -- and its much worse in Des Moines than it is in Omaha, at least in the construction industry. While many people around him have been laid off, my brother has been working in Omaha for the last month because of contacts he made while working here before they moved. This means I've had a roommate four days a week for most of the last month.
As we were at the Icehouse on Wednesday night for half price pizza and pints night, and to a lesser extent to watch the World Series, he was telling me about the ever expanding universe of Burt Reynolds. Not the mustachioed star of Smokey and the Bandit and Boogie Nights...no, Burt Reynolds is the name my brother uses as his pseudonym.
Seriously. Its been a huge, ginormous inside joke for years, for no other reason than the fact that its utterly ridiculous. I think it started when they lived in Omaha, and we were out at Happy Hour at Nico one Friday night. Across the room from us, there was a mustachioed gentleman in his mid-40s sitting in the corner booth with six young hotties surrounding him. To a large extent because of the mustache, and to a lesser extent because of the ladies half his age surrounding him, my brother mockingly started calling him "Curt Reynolds" -- Burt's fictional brother. It was a Happy Gilmore reference, I believe (Happy saying to himself as a limo pulls up, "Whoa...it must be...Burt Reynolds or somethin'!")
We sat there trying to get "Curt's" attention, yelling his name, seeing if he'd answer. Of course, he didn't, but it still was a lot of fun. We laughed all night about Curt Reynolds, practically mocking the dude right to his face, although he never figured it out, because obviously his name wasn't Curt.
As time went by, any guy with a mustache automatically became known as Curt Reynolds, at least to the Brothers Univers. His wife thought we were nuts, and rightfully so. I'm pretty sure everyone else did too. As I write it now, it does seem pretty ridiculous, but it never fails to make us laugh. We see a guy with a stache, we yell out, "Hey, there's Curt Reynolds!" I saw a dude in NYC last fall with a stache, and I texted my brother to tell him I'd just seen Curt Reynolds. He saw a guy in LA with a 'stache, and called me a 1:30 AM (to be fair it was only 11:30 PM out there) to tell me about it.
Recently, my brother has begun traveling not as Curt, but as Burt. When he gets sent out of town for construction jobs and stays in hotels, he stays under the name Bert Reynolds (note the slight spelling difference). Not because he's famous and trying to hide where he's staying, but because it cracks us up.
He ordered a pizza from Godfather's last week and gave his name over the phone as Bert Reynolds; when I went to pick it up, I asked for the Univers order. The guy behind the counter told me there was no such order. I laughed and asked if it was under Reynolds. Of course, it was. Of course.
We met for breakfast at Hy-Vee early one day last week, and the name he gave them for his order? Lets just say when the runner brought the food out, he had to stand and yell "Bert Reynolds" to find us.
Better yet, when he signs safety forms for his company on the job site, he signs his name as Bert Reynolds. He has a strong disdain for his safety coordinator, so I'm sure he considers that his subtle little jab at their bureaucracy. Everyone on his crew knows he signs things as Bert. They're in on the joke too.
However, this week may have been the piece de resistance. He's working on a large bank renovation here in town, and because its a bank, security officers follow them everywhere they go. Most of the building is locked down, and they have to check out keys every morning -- and check them back in every night. His foreman forgot to turn the key back in one night this week, and while my brother was packing up for the day, he got cornered on the missing key even though he wasn't responsible for it.
Security: "Well, he really should bring the key back tonight and check it back in."
Brother: "Don't worry, I'll personally make sure he brings it back first thing tomorrow."
S: "I'm sorry, what's your name again?"
B: "Bert Reynolds."
Told the security doofus his name was Bert Reynolds. Hilarious. The amazing thing is that he bought it! The security guy nodded and walked over to his superior, said some unintelligible things, pointed, and according to my brother, clearly said "Bert Reynolds assured me the key would be back first thing in the morning." The superior cocked his eyebrows as if to question, "Burt Reynolds?"
And then, honest to Evening Shade, the superior said, "You're telling me that Stroker Ace is coming to turn the key in tomorrow? Right, you bet he is. Tell me another one, Johnny. That's funny."
Wow...Stroker Ace! I'd forgotten all about that movie. It is a pretty forgettable flick; I mean, you know its forgettable when not even WGN shows it as part of their Craptacular Movie Spectaculars. Smokey and the Bandit II? Sure. Rough Cut? Occasionally. Malone? Every once in a while. Stroker Ace? Never.
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