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Two Degrees of Kevin Bacon
Exploring Bacon’s Premise
The phrase “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” gets bandied about now and again. It stems from an interview with the actor in 1994 where he mentioned having “worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them.” Following, a newsgroup called “Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe” was formed. Then students at Albright College in Reading, PA (I had to look it up), created a game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” It’s based on the now peer-reviewed axiom of I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows Kevin Bacon. It also involved mass quantities of inexpensive beer.
“Six degrees” reminds us of how, despite the fact that there are currently some 7.74 billion people on the planet, we’re never that far from knowing someone even in remote places like Malawi, Brunei, or Kyrgyzstan. No doubt there are people in all three of those obscure burbs who have worked with the esteemed Mr. Bacon. For the record, they were key grips and gaffers.
If we play with Bacon’s Premise, as it should have been called, all sorts of possibilities open up. Consider the following:
One degree is obviously a person you know. In this case, you went to high school with him. He was on the wrestling team and used to tell you in secret that he liked wearing tight garments and holding onto strong, sweaty men.
Two degrees is a writer living in Queens. She’s the auntie of the sweaty wrestler. She always thought he had deplorable hygiene and blamed the parents for it. She’s been working on a draft of the same novel for the last eight years. She also keeps too many cats in her tiny apartment and has to hide some of them in the bathroom when the manager calls.
Three degrees is the manager of the building where the starving novelist lives. He is “this close” to getting his PhD in archeology from Columbia. If only he could just finish his dissertation. Alas, he has a serious case of writer’s block and can’t seem to get beyond the first 30 pages. However, he comforts himself by traipsing around the apartment in women’s high heels. Over the years he’s secretly amassed a sizeable collection, all in XXL size so as to be comfy for a guy who’s 6’4”. He even had carpeting installed in his unit so the sounds of his tap-tapping about are muffled. He adores Prada and longs for the day when he can afford a pair. Perhaps that will spur him on to finish his dissertation.
Four degrees is one of our landlord’s former professors. She’s doing a year’s teaching at Keio University in Tokyo. One of her lecture classes this semester is focused on the ruins of Pompeii, specifically the mosaics depicting slaves cavorting with their masters and other images that might be considered pornographic. The school’s administration has received multiple complaints and has requested a meeting with her.
Five degrees is a top archeologist based in Naples who worked with the Tokyo-based professor during the year she spent researching the Pompeii mosaics. Two years ago his wife left him for another woman. His only son is in Los Angeles going to school on a scholarship. He’s lonely but is dedicated to his research. He takes solace in his two chihuahuas, Tony and Sal. He walks them every day after class. He even learned to knit so he could make them sweaters for the cold winter months.
Six degrees is the son of the Neapolitan researcher. He recently flunked out of UCLA and has bounced around doing odd jobs since. His most recent gig was as a valet at a pricey restaurant on Rodeo drive. He has the distinction of actually meeting Mr. Bacon on the first and only night of his employment at the restaurant when the actor pulled up in front to meet friends for dinner. Moments after being handed the keys to Mr. Bacon’s Porsche 911, our valet guy, who had never driven a Porsche before, nailed one of the palm trees on the corner less than 50 feet from the front door of the establishment. Fortunately, the airbag deployed preventing our temporary valet from serious injury. Emergency tech people arrived on scene within minutes and carefully retrieved him from the car. On regaining consciousness, the first thing he saw was the astonished face of Mr. Bacon shaking his head in disbelief.
Why two degrees of bacon in the title and not six? Simple answer: two degrees of bacon is the cashier at Albertson’s who just sold the love of your life the two-pound pack of Hormel’s thick-sliced because it was on sale.
Now that’s what I call bacon.