Matthew McConaughey's Prophetic Wet Dreams, And Other Revelations From His Memoir

Illustration for article titled Matthew McConaugheys Prophetic Wet Dreams, And Other Revelations From His Memoir
Image: Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for HISTORY (Getty Images)

To fully understand Matthew McConaughey—actor, spiritual advisor, and all-around good-time man—one must first understand the concept of “greenlights.” Fortunately, McConaughey lays it out clearly in the opening pages of his new memoir slash spiritual manifesto of the same name. A greenlight is a sign from the universe, an “affirmation of our way.” It’s a “shoeless summer.” It can be, confusingly, any of these things: “approvals, support, praise, gifts, gas on our fire, attaboys, and appetites.” A greenlight is McConaughey’s way of knowing that whatever decision he’s making is the right one, and that he should forge ahead. Greenlights have driven every decison McConaughey has ever made, and if you are interested in finding out precisely how this man, who seems like a caricature, came to be, well, Greenlights is a good a place as any to start.

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The book is marketed as a memoir, but McConughey is clear that the stories he tells are not just stories, but also a guidebook for a modern kind of divination. There is a loose structure that lays out how McConaughey became a famous man—a heady combination of natural talent, ease, and, simply being the right person in the right place at the right time. It’s not a guidebook on how to become famous, but rather a meandering journey through the abyss that is Matthew McConaughey’s mind and his very unique worldview, which seemingly matches his public persona: a well-intentioned himbo king who, somehow, perfectly embodies the old adage about still waters running deep. Abandoning any expectations of a traditional celebrity memoir and reading Greenlights as a series of greenlights that have catapulted McConaughey to fame is absolutely the right move for this book, which is the most fun I’ve had in a dark year.

Many of the stories McConaughey tells are so remarkable in their absurdity that they are nearly unbelievable, but the one thing that comes through the strongest in this book is the sincerity. Matthew McConaughey is whatever you think he is: a visionary, an Academy-award winning actor, a Texan, a kook. He is a man who, in the intro of this book, details a laundry list of experiences that have made him who he is today, cramming seminal life events like where he applied to college (“Duke, UT Austin, Southern Methodist, and Grambling”) alongside the revelation that he was molested by a man at 18, “while knocked unconscious in the back of a van.” A more traditional confessional celebrity memoir might have gone into a further analysis, elaborating on how this detail influenced his life, but McConaughey moves on to taking peyote in Mexico in a cage with a mountain lion and this statement, which I will be thinking about for the rest of my days: “I have a lot of proof that the world is conspiring to make me happy.”

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McConaughey’s indomitable zest for life is inspirational in a landscape where inspiration is basically non-existent. I urge anyone looking for succor in these hellish times to read the whole book, but if your brain is currently incapable of processing complex thoughts, please acquaint yourself with the passages excerpted below.


One time Matthew McConaughey’s father gave a parrot CPR:

McConaughey’s father, Jim, passed away during sex with his mother. That is not relevant to this excerpt about Lucky, a cockatiel that lived in the double-wide trailer McConaughey and his father shared one summer, but maybe it is. One day Papa McConaughey returned to find his beloved pet floating in the toilet, motionless. This is what followed:

Dad, still weeping, brought Lucky’s soggy and lifeless body closer to his face where he examined her hanging head. Then, he opened his mouth wide and slowly put Lucky into it until the bottom half of her wings and her tailfeathers were all that was outside it. He started to give Lucky mouth-to-mouth resuscitation...

On his knees, over a toilet, cradling the bottom half of a cockatiel named Lucky with the top half of the same bird in his mouth, he breathed into her with the perfect amount of pressure... He opened his mouth slightly wider...And that’s when we heard, coming from inside my father’s mouth, a small chirp.

One time Matthew McConaughey was cast in Dazed and Confused; here’s how he came up with his iconic line:

Now, there were no lines written and this was my first time on. film set. I’d never done this before. Anxious, I started going back over in my head who my man is.

Who’s my man? Who’s Wooderson? What do I love?

I love my car.

Well, I’m in my ‘70 Chevelle. That’s one.

I love getting high.

Well, Slater’s riding shotgun and he’s always got a doobie rolled up. That’s two.

I love rock’n roll. Well, I’ve got Nugent’s “Stranglehold” in the 8-track. That’s three.

That’s when I heard, “Action!”

I looked up across the parking lot at “Cynthia,” the redheaded intellectual and I said to myself, And I love chicks.

As I put the car into drive and slowly pulled out, I thought to myself, Well, I’ve got three of the four and I’m headed to get the fourth, then said aloud,

alright,

alright,

alright

Matthew McConaughey makes decisions based on wet dreams, three of which are detailed in this book. Here’s one:

“I was seeing myself floating downstream on my back in the Amazon River, wrapped up by anacondas and pythons, surrounded by crocodiles, piranhas, and freshwater sharks. There were African tribesmen lined up shoulder to shoulder on the ridge to the left of me as far as my eye could see.

I was at peace.

Eleven frames.

Eleven seconds.

Then I came.

I woke up.

Whoa.

...

I crammed my backpack with minimal clothing, my journal, camera, medical kit, a hit of Ecstasy, and my favorite headband, then embarked on a twenty-two-day solo trip to Peru to find, and float, the Amazon River.

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Here is another, occurring around 2005, when McConaughey was looking for simpler pleasures, like a wife, some kids, and a family:

I was at peace, this time sitting on the front porch of my one-story, wood-paneled country home in a rocking chair... Through the trees in the distance, near the driveway’s entrance, Suburbans, Range Rovers, Navigators, and station wagons began to approach the house in a ceremonial procession. Behind the wheel of each automobile was a woman, in the back of each were four young children, all excitedly waving to me as they parked... Each woman was serene and satisfied. Every child was smiling, laughing, and healthy. We all kne each other very well.

Twenty-two vehicles.

Twenty-two women.

Eighty-eight children.

The women were not there to see a man they had ever married, they were there to see a man they loved and the father of their children. The children were there to see their dad.

Me...

They all gathered around me on that porch for a family photograph, and we looked towards a large-format box camera on a tripod at the top of the driveway. Three! Two! One!

Then I came.

Here’s what can be generously interpreted as a poem about the first time Matthew McConaughey saw his wife, Camila Alves:

She made an impression and a definition:

Naughty and fundamental.

Young with a past.

Homegrown and worldly.

Innocent and cunning.

Springtime and salty.

A squaw and a queen.

She was no virgin but she wasn’t for rent.

A mother to be.



Matthew McCconaughey is the himbo king America needs right now. If he started a cult that required annual peyote trips to the desert and a serious, professional command of the bongoes, I’d join in a heartbeat.

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Senior Writer, Jezebel

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chocolate covered raisons d'être

McConaughey is the golden retriever I never had.