A Tale of Two Kevins

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by Kevin Schaefer |

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The receptionist at my physical therapy clinic looked up from his computer, meeting my eyes. I could see the lightbulb shine in his brain. “That’s right, I remember your name was Kevin because you look like the guy in ‘Clerks.’” 

Being a pop culture aficionado, I was honored by the comparison to the iconic indie filmmaker, podcaster, and comic book scribe Kevin Smith. In fact, I was so flattered that I posted a Tweet about this story a few hours later and tagged Smith in it. When the “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back director “hearted” it, my fanboy ecstasy blasted through the roof. 

Aside from sharing the same first name and the first letter of our surnames, I like to think that Smith and I have a few other things in common. We both can utter more words in a day than most people can in a week, and our ability to ramble about superheroes knows no bounds. He and I have an unparalleled desire to not only consume and create media but also to engage with people who share our passions. Whereas some artists prefer to keep to themselves, Smith and I can’t stay away from people. 

Our similarities also come across in our Christian upbringing, our origins from families of five, and our love for all things zany and irreverent. The list goes on, but suffice it to say that my admiration for the guy who paid homage to all of the independent contractors lost on the second Death Star bears a personal connection. 

While in college, I spent a lot of time thinking about what my life beyond the classroom would look like. I was an English major who spent the bulk of my time writing movie reviews for the student newspaper, and my primary source of income came from my monthly social security checks. My dreams often conflicted with reality; I dreaded that I would eventually need to face the challenges of post-college life. 

As these thoughts raced through my mind, I found guidance and comfort in reading memoirs. One of these was Smith’s book, the title of which is a tad too profane for this column. Nonetheless, his story captivated me. He was a guy from New Jersey who worked at a convenience store, without connections to Hollywood. Yet, with little more than a ragtag crew of actors and a screenplay that he had poured his heart into, he set out to begin his film career. 

Whether people love or hate him, Smith’s origin story is widely regarded as one of perseverance and passion. “Clerks ushered in a new era of independent films and inspired many like-minded artists to pursue their creative endeavors. 

While diving into Smith’s movies, television work, and graphic novels, I was an aspiring creator trying to navigate adult life with a disability. There were times when SMA seemed like an unstoppable hindrance. My defective muscle-brain communication system can claw itself to the forefront of every area of my life, if I allow it to. 

Had I not learned from artists like Smith, I might not have put forth the effort to write comics. I might not have pursued my current work in the world of rare disease communities. There was a time when I viewed my disability as nothing more than an obstacle, rather than as a key element of my identity and story. 

A couple of months ago, before the world decided to catapult itself into apocalypse mode, I went with some friends to see Kevin Smith live. He was nearing the end of his roadshow tour for his most recent movie, “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot,” the long-awaited sequel to his 2001 absurdist comedy. 

I got this close to asking Kevin Smith a question about Batman. (Courtesy of Kevin Schaefer)

After he screened the flick for everyone in the packed theater, Smith got on the stage to tell stories and answer audience questions. He talked about making the movie, his future projects, and how his life has changed since he survived a heart attack in 2018. If he hadn’t spent an estimated 30 minutes per question, I might have had a chance to ask mine.

Smith’s giddy enthusiasm for loving life at every turn has stuck with me. In a world that seems to get crazier every day, perhaps the best thing we can do is count each day as a gift, and embrace the zaniness and humor along the way. 


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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