(Disclaimer: One thing I pride myself on is that I have never posted a Twitter sighting of Jake on this blog. I think it's creepy and weird that people can [and do] keep track of his every move, and I consider it a gross invasion of privacy when fans constantly monitor mentions of him for information on his whereabouts. THAT SAID, if Jake ever comes back to Memphis, rest assured I will once again use Twitter sightings to stalk his sorry ass all over this city and I won't think twice about it. And now, our story...)
I kept waiting for one of you to say something to me about it.
In fact, I was pretty disappointed that you didn't. I saw it coming and I'm half-asleep at the wheel nine days out of ten (and the tenth day I'm fully asleep). Jake was on tour with Mumford & Sons and Mumford & Sons was coming to the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival. I knew because I already had tickets, but I guess no one else thought to look ahead at the tour schedule...
Tsk, tsk, stalkers.
I brought up the possibility to my friend Melissa on Thursday. And then to my friend Kathryn, in for the weekend, on Friday. And when I woke up on Saturday and checked Twitter, it was confirmed:
He was in Memphis.
Jake Gyllenhaal had finally come to visit me.
And IT. WAS. ON.
So it's Saturday morning and Jake has just been sighted at the Farmer's Market (by the way, the location was how I knew the sighting was legitimate - had he been spotted around the corner at Earnestine and Hazel's, I would have cried foul). Kathryn and I were headed out the door to meet up with Melissa at Boscos in Midtown for lunch. If Jake had contacted me and asked me what to do while he was in Memphis, I would have suggested going to lunch at Boscos (it's his type of place). But he didn't contact me, and though we were mostly joking when the three of us discussed the possibility of him showing up there, when we were seated, I positioned myself facing the door just in case.
"We don't have to talk about baseball anymore," Kathryn said as we waited for our food. She and Melissa were watching the Braves game on the screen behind us.
"Eh, she's not listening to us anyway," Melissa said. And I wasn't. Both because I don't care about sports and because I was kicking myself for committing us to a restaurant for lunch before we knew where Jake would be eating. It wasn't long before we found out, though. As we were finishing our meals (and, in my case, beer), Twitter told us Jake was eating his own lunch at The Arcade Restaurant, downtown on South Main.
With that, I was ready to go. Now. But our waiter was interminably slow bringing our checks, and Melissa and Kathryn watched with thinly-veiled fascination as I gracefully hid my inner turmoil.
"I've never been there to witness you like this," Melissa said.
"I'm on a mission," I said. Coldly. Earnestly.
It's a testament to their trust in me that both agreed to ride in my car with me behind the wheel with Jake all of five miles away and one-and-a-half Boscos' beers in my system. (The half was Kathryn's - let it never be said Becky Heineke leaves undrunk beer at a table.) But they did. Though not before Melissa prompted me to pull a copy of I'm Stalking Jake! (by Becky Heineke) from my trunk.
"I'm not giving him a copy!" I'd protested.
"No," she'd said. "You should get him to sign it!"
"Oh, that's such a good idea! That'd be awesome. And then he can buy his own damn copy if he wants to read it. That's essentially what I told his dad."
Which is true. You can read about that here.
When we got downtown, I raced to The Arcade and...Jake was already gone. For several paralyzing seconds I stood on the corner of G.E. Patterson and South Main debating what to do. With no Twitter reports to go by, I had absolutely no idea where to go next...
In fact, let's take a closer look at where I actually was. On the map below, I was standing at Point A.
Little did I know, at that very moment Jake was renting a bike at Midtown Bike Company at Point B.
331 feet away.
Not knowing this, however, I turned to my patiently-waiting friends.
"Maybe he went to the Civil Rights Museum?" Melissa suggested. "Or Beale Street?"
For the next ten to fifteen minutes, I looped around downtown, passing Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum, and, of course, Midtown Bike. I passed Midtown Bike three times all while Jake was renting a bike inside.
"Surely he went to Beale Street!" Melissa said as we sat in my car, still oblivious to his whereabouts. She said this because if you were going to be in Memphis for one day, you would totally go to Beale Street. So I parked very near Beale Street. And I had no sooner taken my key out of the ignition when...
"He just rented a bike at Midtown Bike," Kathryn reported, via Twitter.
But Kathryn was already Googling the location and...
"It's on South Main. HA!" She suddenly started laughing. "It's by the Civil Rights Museum! Over by The Arcade Restaurant!"
"Are you KIDDING ME?!" I yelled. "Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!"
I was still yelling "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" as I rounded the corner, leaving Kathryn and Melissa far behind me as I booked it back to Midtown Bike.
Kathryn later told me that as I stomped toward the shop, she and Melissa chatted about the excitement of being along for the ride while I was in full stalker mode, and contemplated possible titles for my sequel to I'm Stalking Jake! They came up with I'm Still Stalking Jake! and I'm Half-Heartedly Stalking Jake! I told Kathryn that the most accurate title of any sequel would be I'm Stalking Jake, But Only If He Shows Up in My City (subtitled I'm Sure as Hell Not Traveling for this Shit Anymore).
Kathryn and Melissa were many blocks behind me when I blew into Midtown Bike Company and charged toward the young man at the counter.
"Did you just rent a bike to Jake Gyllenhaal?" I demanded.
"Yeah," he said.
"Dammit. Yeah, I just saw it on Twitter. I've been two steps behind him all day. He ate lunch at The Arcade but he was gone by the time I got there." I then paused temporarily to find the right wording, because I wanted to explain myself thoroughly but without coming off as a complete psycho.
"Look, I'm known the world over as one of his biggest fans," I said. "I've written a book about him. I have traveled all over this continent trying to meet him. And I write this popular blog about him, too, so...er, do you have any stories for me?"
In hindsight, I probably couldn't have phrased it any way that would have made me sound more like a complete psycho, but he very nicely told me that Jake had come in but he wasn't sure it was him at first. When it came time to pay, though, there was no question, yet the bike guy didn't give it away that he knew who he was renting a bike to.
"Oh, that's really good," I said, meaning acting like he didn't recognize Jake. Old habits die hard and apparently even now I automatically switch to PR mode when discussing Jake with the general public.
"He's on a green BMX bike, and he's with another guy," the man told me. "You could check down by the river or maybe Beale Street."
I told him we'd just been by Beale Street and thanked him for the tip. "His head was all shaved?" I asked, just as a final confirmation.
"Yeah, he looked like he was straight out of Jarhead," he told me. I then thanked him again and walked out just as Melissa walked up to the door. "Kathryn's getting coffee," she said, nodding next door to Bluff City Coffee.
"He just left, he's on a green bike, and he's with some other guy," I reported. "We just missed him and he could be anywhere." My stony expression was such that Melissa decided to capture it for posterity:
Twenty-four hours later, the man at Midtown Bike Company documented my visit on Facebook:
Over at Bluff City Coffee, Kathryn and Melissa were enjoying whatever they'd bought and I was slouching in my chair as we debated our options.
"We could drive to the river," I said, "but I don't know that he would go down there."
"Beale Street?" Kathryn asked.
"At some point, I'm going to have to go back to my car," Melissa said. For she was still parked at Boscos. I was concerned about leaving, but Melissa rationalized that if he'd rented a bike, he would be gone for several hours. And while she didn't want to miss the excitement of Jake and Becky once again coming face to face, she had somewhere she needed to be later, and now did seem like a safe time to take her back...
"I feel like this is your best opportunity," she said, referring to stationing myself by Midtown Bike Company. "He has to come back at some point to return the bike."
Convinced, the three of us embarked on the world's fastest trip from South Main to Overton Square and back, Melissa encouraging me to drop her off before the car had come to a complete halt, and I got the finger from a woman who thought I was stealing her parking space near Boscos, though I remain baffled as to why she would have thought I had any intention of parking my vehicle anywhere based on the way I was driving.
Once safely back downtown, Kathryn and I parked ourselves in front of Bluff City Coffee and settled in for the long haul.
Roughly ten minutes into that long haul, Kathryn commented that I made these adventures sound more exciting in my book.
"Yeah, I leave out all the parts about waiting around for hours on end. You just throw in a sentence about the wait and then BAM, out comes Jake and the action starts." I then graced Kathryn with a reading from the Toronto chapter, which I stopped in the middle of to step onto my soapbox.
"He's such a hypocrite!" said I, clenching my fists in genuine anger, for all of this stalking had brought back emotions that I had thought long dead and buried. "He's a total groupie and he doesn't see the hypocrisy in touring with Mumford & Sons or hanging out with Rufus Wainwright or attaching himself to Lance Armstrong like a third arm while he blows off the people who support him!"
This particular complaint of mine is nothing new. In fact, Kathryn had probably heard that exact rant more times than she can count over the past five years, but Kathryn is a champ and let me bluster. I then finished my reading and settled back to glower down the street in silence.
"I wish he would just show up already, dammit," I said. I feel like a person should only have to spend so many hours in one lifetime waiting around for Jake Gyllenhaal to show up, and whatever that lifetime allowance is, I exceeded it back in 2007.
Also, I had a party to go to.
"Kevin is texting me again," I told Kathryn. Kevin had invited me to Frankapalooza, and no, I can't explain what Frankapalooza is; it's just something you have to experience. But I knew there was free alcohol in it for me and it was bad enough that Jake was making me wait. But making me miss out on drinks, too...
At last someone rode up on a bike. But it wasn't Jake. It was A Friend (not his real name; he asked me not to identify him lest he be embarrassed in the professional community by his inclusion in my epically self-centered Jake Gyllenhaal blog). A Friend asked how the search for Jake was going and I filled him in. Green BMX bike. With another dude. Blah. Blah.
"Are you going to Frankapalooza?" I asked. "And if yes, could you bring us back some alcohol?"
He did one better by riding around the area and scanning for green bikes. He found three, one of which was next door to The Arcade Restaurant at the Cheesecake Corner (remember this), but Jake was nowhere in sight. He also brought Kathryn and I a beer each.
"If you were on a bike, in Memphis, you know where you would go?" he asked.
"Clearly not. Or I'd be there. The river, maybe?" I said.
"No. Sun Studios. And I know the manager there."
"What? Call him!"
So he did. He stood right there on the sidewalk while Kathryn and I drank our Fat Tires under the awning of Bluff City Coffee and asked the manager, "I have a really random question for you...you know Jake Gyllenhaal? The actor? He didn't, by any chance, come into Sun Studios today?"
"WHAT?!" we heard from behind us. Kathryn and I turned around to look at the couple sitting at Bluff City Coffee's one other outside table. "Jake Gyllenhaal? We were just at Sun Studios and he wasn't there! He was definitely not there. Why is he in town?"
I explained that yes, he was in Memphis for the day, he was touring with Mumford & Sons, and had recently rented a bike next door and we were waiting for him to return it. They nodded like it was perfectly normal for me to know so much about the goings on of Jake's life.
And then the manager at Sun Studios confirmed that Jake had not been there.
"Well, I'm going to Frankapalooza," A Friend said. And neither Kathryn nor I could blame him, since he had both gone out of his way to be helpful, and also it was starting to rain.
"If he has any sense, he'll return the bike now that it's raining!" A Friend called over his shoulder. Kathryn and I agreed that that was making a rather large assumption about Jake having sense, although the two of us didn't seem to have much either, what with sitting on the sidewalk in the rain and all.
Minutes passed. We finished our beers. The rain stopped. We talked. We sat in silence. We had now reached the two-hour point in waiting and the man at Midtown Bike, who had exited the shop several times for several different reasons, had stopped looking over at us in amusement and had started looking at us as if we were sad and pathetic.
It was then that Melissa texted.
Melissa: "How goes it?"
Becky: "Still. Waiting. Any updates from your end?"
Melissa: "Cheesecake Corner! Says Twitter! Cross the street!"
"Cheesecake Corner!" I yelled to Kathryn. And I bolted down the street, Kathryn trailing behind me at the pace of a normal person.
Cheesecake Corner, as mentioned above, is next to The Arcade Restaurant. And remember, we were at Bluff City Coffee, which is next door to Midtown Bike. And if you refer back to the diagram above, you will see that that means FOR THE SECOND TIME, I had been waiting for Jake while he was all of 331 feet away.
For oh, yes, he was long gone by the time I accosted the group of 8 or 10 teenagers who were leaving Cheesecake Corner.
"Yeah, we met Mumford & Sons," one guy said when I asked them to spill.
"And Jake Gyllenhaal was with them?" I asked.
"Yeah, he was with them," a girl said.
"But they left already?"
"Oh, they left, like, an hour ago," the girl said.
"NO! I've been just behind him all day!"
They all seemed genuinely sad for me. Probably because I looked heartbroken. Or angry. Several of them actually apologized to me.
"If it helps, they said they were going to see Jerry Lee Lewis," the girl told me.
"Yes! That helps! Thank you so much!" I said.
"And he's in a really bad mood," another guy said. And for some reason this cheered me immensely. Like, it was the first real confirmation that the Jake Gyllenhaal who was in Memphis was the Jake Gyllenhaal I had always known and stalked.
"Oh, that's just Jake!" I said, grinning at last. "He's always a jackass to fans. Thank you!"
As they walked off, Kathryn approached.
"Alright, he left here an hour ago and he's going to Jerry Lee Lewis." We consulted our watches and the schedule. And the sky. And Kathryn wasn't as keen on making an appearance at Frankapalooza as I was.
So she took my car, drove back to my apartment, and picked up jackets for both of us. And I...
...went to Frankapalooza.
"Hey, everybody, this is Becky!" Kevin yelled as I made my entrance. "She wrote this book! [Kevin holds up book.] And she's really stalking Jake Gyllenhaal today!" The assembly of drunken onlookers in Kevin's living room gave me a warm and vocal welcome and asked me many questions about Jake while Kevin filled me with as much alcohol as possible in ten minutes. It was a quick hit, but I had an actor to accost. I headed back out the door to a chorus of "good lucks."
"Go get him, Becky!" someone yelled as I started down the sidewalk.
"I'm on it!" I yelled back. I then chugged the margarita Kevin had sent me out the door with and charged into the Beale Street Music Festival by myself. I was determined. I was a little bit angry. I was also half-drunk. I walked the length of Tom Lee Park and the crowds parted before me as I blazed ahead to the Bud Light Stage. I got there just in time to see Jerry Lee Lewis take the stage.
And Jake was nowhere in sight. Although the Commercial Appeal would later confirm that he was, in fact, very nearby:
It was Alex. "Why aren't you in Memphis right now?" I asked him.
"Why is Jake in Memphis right now?" he shot back. When I told Alex that Jake was on tour with Mumford & Sons, he asked me the exact question that everyone I'd told that to had asked me: Why?
Strange, because to me, Jake touring with Mumford & Sons makes total sense. It's just the sort of thing he does.
To the rest of the world, it's apparently a little weird.
"Hold on, someone's beeping in. I'm supposed to meet up with Kathryn and maybe it's her," I told Alex. But it wasn't Kathryn. It was Another Friend (who didn't know she was going to wind up in a blog and thus will remain anonymous).
"Becky! I'm calling to claim your firstborn!" she said.
That morning, before Kathryn and I had left my apartment, I had updated my Facebook status:
"What have you got for me?!" I yelled into the phone.
Another Friend confirmed he was here to see Mumford & Sons. And then confirmed something that made me want to punch Jake Gyllenhaal in the face.
"I can confirm that he was definitely at Bluff City Coffee earlier."
"WHAT THE HELL?! I was sitting outside Bluff City Coffee FOR HOURS!"
Based on his rumored arrival, I missed him by mere minutes. Again, let me reiterate: Jake Gyllenhaal and Becky Heineke spent AN ENTIRE AFTERNOON in one TINY SECTION of downtown Memphis, never more than 331 feet from each other, and NEVER CROSSED PATHS.
Thank God for the safety of everyone in my immediate area that Kevin had forced as much alcohol upon me as he had. It made me feel less like crying and more like looking up at the sky in utter exasperation while repeatedly cursing Jake Gyllenhaal's name.
Miraculously, through the throngs of people, Kathryn and Another Friend both walked up to me within seconds of each other, just as Jerry Lee ended his set.
"Should we get a beer?" Another Friend asked.
"I can think of nothing more appropriate after the day I've had," I said.
I never saw Jake at the Mumford & Sons concert. If he was on stage, I missed him. Mumford & Sons played a great set, though. I can see why Jake likes them. Maybe some day I'll be cool enough to hang out for days on end with an artist I admire. But probably not...
After the show, we headed back to the walkway near the backstage area. Another Friend saw someone she knew coming out and stopped him. He was with a woman, and with them was a much younger couple, around my age. Another Friend tried to talk us backstage while I explained my day to the younger couple. I handed my book to the girl.
"This is amazing!" she said when I finally shut up. "You wrote this? And he's back there?! You have to get back there!!"
But they couldn't help us with that, and though the four of them tried to come up with a scenario in which I could send the book back to Jake and have it returned to me signed, I knew it would never happen. No way. I'd never see that book again.
And that was the one thing that made me sad about my day: That other people, all of these other people, had tried so hard on my behalf. Had gotten excited for me. These people were hoping some sort of genuine moment might occur if I were successful...
In a way, it made me feel old.
It was a fun day, though. The chase, the frustration, the feeling of confident belligerence that welled up in me every time I thought he was lurking around the next corner - that was all a good time. It even would have been a good time to have him blow me off again. But in the end, I got what I've always gotten from Jake: Exasperation. The two couples walked off, Mumford & Sons was done, and with that, my chance to even catch a glimpse of him was over. The end.
It was hard to sit there all day and watch as people who could probably care less walked by him and then posted about it on Twitter. But I will say that a deep, sadistic part of me was glad that even though people like those damn teenagers at the Cheesecake Corner got something through luck that I've never gotten after five years of relentless work, at least while they got it, he was a total jerk to them.
That's my boy!
At the Memphis Farmer's Market (which, by the way, is probably all of 331 feet away from The Arcade Restaurant):
With local DJ Drex from The Q 96.1/107.5: