"Ryan Gosling" lives at home with his parents. My Ryan Gosling that is. The fake one. Faux Gos, if you will.
The real one lives near Union Square. He does not live with his parents.
Copycat Gosling is 24, has no tattoos, no drawl and graduated recently from Cornell so he commutes from Connecticut into New York to save cash. The real one is 33 and has delicious tattoos on his arm that are so freaking hot -- ugh, I ran into him once in Union Square, slipped him my card and he looked at it, looked at me, I swear to God, then grinned and said in his sexy drawl, "Aw, thanks, but I'm kind of taking the day off work."
I giggled nervously.
So, let's just real in here for a second. I probably can't get the star of "Drive" and "Crazy Stupid Love" -- the movie star, the man, the meme -- to go on a date with me. But I sure as hell can get the one in quotation marks.
My fake Gosling I met off the blindingly superficial website beautifulpeople.com, which claims to offer a ton of celebrity lookalikes who have only made the cut to join the website after a 48-hour voting period where their attractiveness is determined by the opposite sex. So when I decided I wanted a Gosling over, say, a Clooney -- they ordered me up a night with 24-year-old Jeffrey Ayars, a.k.a., my "Ryan Gosling."
We text initially, and he suggests a Sunday brunch. Perfect. Very Gos.
"I got on the dating site in kind of a weird way," he reveals to me with an easy smile when we finally meet up at Fig + Olive in the Meatpacking District. "I imagined it was all soccer moms voting for me or something. But I couldn't check their messages because I hadn't paid for the membership."
I was just staring into his dreamy blue eyes. Psych. I'm not really into 24-year-olds, but I was tickled that he was quite amazing looking in person, with a hypnotic piercing stare -- and here was the nice surprise: a pretty terrific personality to boot.
"Honestly you can find me on OKCupid, too," he says with a shrug. Then he turns closer toward me and seems to assess me from his end as well. When he grins at me, I realize it's not Gosling he reminds me of, it's Bradley Cooper. Well, it's both. This kid is like Cooper and Gosling had a handsome-baby.
As we talk more, he tells me that when he was an art and film major at Cornell he actually did a parody of a beauty-driven website for students where it was so selective that no one actually got accepted. In his research for that, he stumbled upon beautifulpeople.com and joined it as a lark. It's only more recently that they've done their whole lookalike push -- but as he has a genuine Gosling obsession, it's a pretty good fit.
All the staff seem to know him at this trendy brunch spot, and we're brought complimentary mimosas and croissants. I give Faux Gos (faux-gos-i?) my mimosa and he says in a Benjamin Braddock type way, "Are you trying to get me drunk?" I kind of want to lift my leg up for the great POV shot to fully invoke "The Graduate," but I resist.
"Oh, you," I say. I keep wanting to call him fake Gosling. I realize this is bad form.
We start trading dating stories, and he tells me some legitimately hilarious nightmares -- including the woman who invited him over, dressed in a naughty chef outfit and tried to erotically feed him mounds of barbecue chicken. Until she slipped and fell. He left, apologetically. His shirt stained with sauce, like a murder scene.
"Wow," I say. "And I thought I was kinky."
"You have no idea," he tells me.
"What do you do for a living?" I ask him, probably far too soon, as I am obsessed by people's careers and would probably ask this even of the real Gosling himself.
"I work in TV," he says, "but I do comedy as well."
"Okay, yeah, I watched something you did when I Googled you. A trailer for a fake movie "MacGuffin." I think I meant to Google that, too, but now I can just ask you. What does a MacGuffin mean again? I know I've heard it before but I can't totally place it."
"It's a plot device that moves a story along in a movie, but doesn't really serve a purpose. Hitchcock coined. You see it used in like a 'Mission Impossible' where everyone is searching for the mysterious 'files.' Then they just drop it and the files are never mentioned again. So our trailer just has me looking for the 'answers.'"
"Totally. Yes! A MacGuffin. I love that. I love that this date is educational," I say. "I don't think the real Ryan Gosling would be teaching me cinema terms."
He grins -- his Bradley Cooper grin.
"Let's go back to my place," I suggest, and when he looks at me askance, wondering if he's going to get Mrs. Robinson style lucky, I explain quickly, "I want to take more pictures of you. Your pictures don't really capture your hotness. Too much mugging. Less mugging. More think of a sexy mysterious secret. Like this."
I smize. He smizes. We're just chilling. Smizing.
When we finally reach my place, I give him the grand tour of my tiny apartment. He looks at the whiteboard in my kitchen and sees something I forgot to erase. It's on my to-do list next to "direct deposit." It reads: "Brunch with Gosling." He laughs and can't resist. He snaps a picture on his phone.
"That's hilarious," he says. "You know why that's hilarious? You wrote that when you had already been told my name, didn't you?"
"Yeah," I say sheepishly. "It's just so much more fun to write, 'Brunch with Gosling.' And also, I was afraid I would forget your name. I had to think of a mnemonic this morning on the way over to the restaurant. I kept thinking I would call you Ryan or Fake Gosling or something. Finally I just associated you with Jeffrey Dahmer so I wouldn't forget."
"Oh, that's great," he says. "Good. Dahmer. Excellent."
I look at his preppy handkerchief in his standard-issue-uniform-yuppie-in-training blue blazer and ask, "Do you ever do a pocket square?"
He looks at me, hesitates and says, "Is that a sex move or something?"
I crack up laughing. "Oh, my, God," I say. "Yeah, it's like the most advanced sex move there is. No, dude, it's just a little pocket square you can stick in your jacket. Like different colors."
A half hour later, I instruct him to recite Gosling movie lines on demand ("I'm going to help you rediscover your manhood," he quotes. "Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?"), dance on command (he does with my coat rack), do his best Christopher Walken impression ("I'm...really...having...a...good...time...") and eventually get to even more sex questions.
"OK, what's your favorite position?" I ask.
"The pocket square," he says without skipping a beat.
I laugh out loud. This guy might be better than Gosling.
As he turns to leave, I rub out on my whiteboard, "Brunch with Gosling" and I write, "Brunch with Jeffrey Ayars."
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.