My favorite bank teller bears an uncanny resemblance to Don Cheadle. On its own, this resemblance isn’t important, and I never would have considered writing about this bank teller and his likeness to Don Cheadle if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve watched Space Jam: A New Legacy seven times in the past two weeks (and no, it’s not because I’m in love with Don Cheadle; I’m just madly in love with Lola Bunny, and honestly, who isn’t?). It took Don Cheadle playing a rogue AI bent on destroying the Looney Tunes (and Lola Bunny) and enslaving Lebron James in order for this bank teller to finally stick in my mind. Because despite being my favorite teller, this guy doesn’t stand out. Which is part of why I liked him in the first place: he just takes and/or hands me cash and invoices without trying to ensnare me in small talk. Bland, inoffensive, almost supernaturally forgettable. Until now.
I watch him (i.e., the bank teller, a.k.a. Don Cheadle II) pull a stack of $20 bills from a drawer, wet his thumb and forefinger with his tongue, and start counting the stack. I lean on a nearby counter, pretending to fill out a deposit slip (in actuality I’m writing a sonnet for Lola Bunny) and studying Don Cheadle II’s face, noting its similarities to the original Don Cheadle’s, along with the subtle differences and assymetries. He looks up at me, giving me that “I know you’re staring at me and I’m not enjoying it” look, and, if I wanted to, I could shoot him my “I see you licking your fingers again after touching those bills, and I think that’s disgusting” look because I’m starting to hate Don Cheadle II as much as I hate Don Cheadle in the new Space Jam. But I restrain myself. I stick to studying Don Cheadle II’s face and how Don Cheadle II’s cheeks are less angular than Don Cheadle’s, how Don Cheadle II’s eyes look more tired and defeated.
Who thought Don Cheadle would make a convincing villain, anyway? Even for a family flick like Space Jam: A New Legacy, the casting makes no sense. Don Cheadle (and Don Cheadle II, by extension) looks nothing like a rogue AI with toonicidal tendencies, he looks like an introverted bank teller with an unsanitary finger-licking habit. The sheer mindlessness of Don Cheadle as killer computer, Don Cheadle at a bank, and me, here, watching Don Cheadle’s doppelganger and meditating on what it must be like to look so much like Don Cheadle. Don Cheadle. Don Cheadle. Don Cheadle.
I read the closing couplet of the sonnet I’ve written:
And if I’m destined to fight for you,
Lola, there’s no way I could possibly lose.
I cringe at the awkward half-rhyme, scratch it out, then crumple the deposit slip and toss it into the pot of the fake hibiscus flowers that serve as the main lobby’s only decoration. I look over at Don Cheadle II. He’s smiling—the first time I’ve ever seen the guy smile. And I think, Maybe Don Cheadle can play a villain, after all.
Lane (@LChasek) is the author of Hugo Ball and the Fate of the Universe, the poetry collection A Cat is not a Dog, and the forthcoming chapbook Dad During Deer Season. Lane is an editor at Jokes Review and Warp 10 Lit and currently resides in Nebraska.