My friends and I keep up the routine when I call them on my cell. You know, “Carmen, where in the world are you?” It’s cute, we have a laugh, but they know I’ll never tell, and they respect that. My privacy is simply too important, plus the Chief is still on my ass and seeking extradition rights.
Let’s see, what clues can I give you … well, recently I was overheard asking about the exchange rate for the euro, and was searching for cheap flights via EasyJet and RyanAir. Come on! You think I’d make it that easy for you?
Of course, I miss my family in Southern California, but I knew this was part of the life when I got into it. And I have my own family now. I’m married to Ricardo, one of my henchmen from V.I.L.E. We understand each other. He’s OK with my fleeing in the middle of the night without warning for an undisclosed location on the other side of the globe, and I’ve come to terms with his leaving the toilet seat up. Marriage is compromise.
I’d like to have kids someday, sure. But I promised myself years ago that, if and when I do pop a little Carmen Tijuana out of the oven, I’d go clean first. Also, I’d like to do some more traveling. You think I’m joking, but when you’re sleeping with one eye open for the next hotshot Super Sleuth on your tail, you can’t really enjoy, say, the Jardins du Luxembourg or the Louvre. Not that I’m in Paris. Or anywhere in Europe. This interview is over.
Got tired of playing the game, simple as that. It was always, “Where’s Waldo?” “Where’s Waldo now?” Then that crap I did in Hollywood. I felt like I was hiding my whole life—from the fans, from my family, from myself.
The thing was, it was a weird kind of celebrity, because I was also wearing this cloak of anonymity, if that makes sense. One minute I’d be milling around, unspotted, in a throng of circus performers and football players at a train station, and the next thing I knew, I’d be fingered and made the center of attention. It was a lot of pressure for a young guy in a mock turtleneck and ski cap, and I admit I had my weaknesses—it was the early ’90s, after all. You name the vice, I did it: drugs, women, carnivals. Some candy company wanted to name an after-dinner mint “The Waldo.” You get the picture.
I now live in a small town in New England with no large communal spaces, and no one cares who I am. Strike that: They care who I am, not who I was. I’m a photographer for the local paper, which some might consider ironic, but not me. I always felt more comfortable behind the camera, peering into the madding crowd, trying to find that one moment—that one person—that makes the story come alive. Or a chimpanzee feeding peanuts to a businessman on a merry-go-round. Either way.
For years I kept screaming out, “Here I am! Here I am!” But no one listens. They’ve got their own agendas, and you’re just a pawn trotted out to amuse their kids before they move on to the next ADD-promoting entertainment. Don’t get me wrong—I like children. I just don’t want that asinine little exercise to be my sole legacy. I have other talents, you know. I can finger-paint, play the recorder, puppeteer.
OK, so they always asked me how I was, and I gave them their proper thanks. But after a million times, I can tell a sincere “How are you today, sir?” from a disingenuous one. Did anyone, at the end of the day, really care how Thumbkin was? I’m not asking for a daily French manicure or anything—I’m not that big a diva—but did they think about Thumbkin’s carpal tunnel syndrome? I still get inflammation when it rains.
I have a few friends left from the old days. Raffi—he’ll be with me to the grave. But you find out about your real circle once everyone else stops asking where you are. Pointer and I talk on the phone every Sunday, and I visited Tall Man last summer in the Hamptons. Ring sent me a nice card when my wife passed. Pinkie and I … let’s just say that if we ever run into each other, I’ll be short and to the point, just like he was with me.
The last few months I’ve been hitchhiking, going where my outstretched body takes me. So, you ask where I am now? I’m just running away, man. I’m just running away.