"Clint Eastwood and an empty chair. This should be good," I thought from a media riser inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of the 2012 Republican National Convention. The delegates from Vermont and Kansas seated just below me were enthusiastic, anxious to hear what the former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California had to say about why Mitt Romney should be president.
"We love you, Clint!" some shouted as the applause subsided, lifting camera phones and iPads well above their heads in an effort to score a sweet shot of the four-time Academy Award winner.
No one knew they were about to witness the defining disaster of the RNC. But then the 82-year-old icon started speaking ... slowly, very slowly.
For 12 painstakingly long minutes, we were lost in Awkardville, a frighteningly uncomfortable state-of-mind where you're never quite sure what the joke is, and old people seem to deteriorate in front of a live audience.
"So I've got Mr. Obama sitting here," Eastwood says, drawing attention to an empty wooden chair sharing the GOP stage with him. "I was going to ask him a couple of questions."
Is old man Eastwood about to act out a two-character scene where he plays both roles? I wondered. That could've been cool.
Instead, Eastwood rambled on about the Obama administration's alleged shortcoming with zero cohesiveness, occasionally barking "shut up" in the general direction of a silent and invisible President Obama. This GIF, hopefully, captures some of the magic:
It was heartbreaking, honestly, eerily reminiscent of the type of Thanksgiving dinner where your grandmother's sister insists on talking about politics and you realize she's flirting with dementia.
You feel helpless and immediately begin to miss who that person was -- vibrant, lucid. Everyone in the room shares your sentiment, but what do you do?
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In Eastwood's case, you respectfully recite his most famous movie line and hope that it's enough to get him off the stage and back to his recliner.
It's hard watching people you admire get old; and it certainly doesn't make anyone's day.