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Kathryn Spira

A Winter Sweater and Remembering Michael Keaton

So we all know how cold it has been in the northeast lately.  The reason I bring this up is because a few days ago I wore my warmest sweater that I got at a store called the Banana Republic in New York City about 25 years ago.  As Terry is typing this for me she just reminded me that it might have been the fall of 1984 in that we are just into 2010 right now.

Banana Republic was in the Soho area of lower Manhattan.  Soho stands for South of Houston Street “pronounced Howstin”.  It was here that I met the actor Michael Keaton.  The reason I bring up the sweater is because I bought it right after meeting him.  That in of itself is a funny story.

I was walking into Banana Republic and he was walking out at the same time.  I’m like “Oh my God, Michael Keaton! I love you!”  Without missing a beat he quickly replied asking me what my name was.  Flustered but very excited I said “Kathryn Spira,” to which he answered immediately, “Oh my God, Kathryn Spira! I love you too!”  I was so thrilled that I said very rapidly, “No I mean your movies but I love you anyway.  I am an actress and I really think you are a great actor.”  He kind of looked bemused and amused at the same time saying, “Well, good luck to you as an actress.”  He hailed a taxi and I went into the store speechless.

It was while in the store that I bought this very cool hunter green and off white snowflake sweater which was knit on both sides. It is because I wore this sweater just a few days ago that I retold the story to Herman and then to Terry and now to you today.

What I remember the most is the film he was in the early 1980’s called “Mr. Mom.”  He starred in this picture with actress Teri Garr.  From what I remember, Keaton’s character was recently laid off, forcing his wife to enter the workforce.  Keaton assumes the role as hands-on, stay-at-home dad.  The kinds of things he runs into are as mundane as doing grocery shopping and as complicated as actual child rearing.  It was a hilarious movie and I think it could stand the test of time with standards today.

This is the type of movie I always imagined myself being in as an actress.  Though I have no personal knowledge of the whole concept of parenting, I think because of my disinterest and ignorance about parenting I found the movie hilarious as Keaton found himself struggling with parenting issues.

I remember Garr’s character chiding her husband because he had no idea about the difficulties of day-to-day parenting.  There was a scene when he was in a grocery store with his kids and they were pulling everything off of the shelves that they could reach. He was having a hard time saying no and keeping control. Though he was not sure of what foods to get, he was sure sugary foods were not the way to go.  A particularly hilarious scene showed Keaton trying to describe his grocery store experience to his wife and she just rolled her eyes and said, “You don’t have to explain this to me. I did it a lot longer than you.”

Through the course of the film,  Keaton finds new found respect for his wife and the work she did child rearing during all of the years he worked outside of the home.  The conclusion of the film brings normalcy back to Keaton’s life, but I’m not going to ruin it for you in case you haven’t seen it.

I’ll keep my sweater and my personal memories of Michael Keaton alive with my sweater as a reminder.


About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site