I’ve wondered if I was screwed. Many times. Maybe I’m just absolutely hopeless. No self-control. Sometimes it seems like I can’t seem to string together self-esteem or hope long enough to actually do anything. Can’t focus on anything.
People whisper about me being screwed. “Those boys don’t have a chance.” The upbringing, being torn, all that. Those thoughts cross my mind. Never be happy, all that jazz. Wind up dead, or in a mental institution. Some people think those thoughts. Some don’t.
Don’t have a chance. No Shot. No chance to do what? What exactly are we talking about?
My little brother Nick, my mom’s son- running out to the car, before I take my aunt and her friends to the airport. He’s running with my aunt’s sunglasses in his hand. My aunt’s friend, she says my brother is a good boy.
You know why she said that? Because my brother is a good boy. No chance. Get outta here.
I always romanticized the mental home. Days of just sitting around doing nothing. The bar is pretty low at a mental home. It’s a good day in a mental home if you have coherent conversations and don’t express any delusions or paranoia. I’d get gold stars four days a week. A brilliant romance could develop in a mental home. Patients are probably not allowed to have sex, so we’d have to sneak into to the mop closet. It would be an adventure. Thrilling. Take a load off, seriously. ZERO expectations in a mental home.
When I broke up with my first girlfriend and my depression felt like an extraordinarily dense black tar that coursed through my veins and weighed me down, making it difficult to walk, I thought about checking into a mental home. I looked at some pictures online and the buildings’ exteriors depressed me. It’s not like I’d be going to some celebrity resort rehab. Not with my health plan. Oh well, guess I’ll just go to WORK, at STARBUCKS.
While we’re here, let me just tell the slightly more fortunate, that the down-trodden, the depressed, the poor, they’re working at Starbucks and the like. The guy who was taking too long to make your mocha, he was thinking about checking himself into a mental home before he arrived to work at 5:30 am, but one of the people he truly loves -his coworker- was on the phone pleading with him to not leave his fellow slaves short-handed for a morning rush. Try to consider things like that when you’re pissy. If the wait is too long, or they put an extra pump in your mocha, just realize that you’re really angry because you aren’t as thin and young as you used to be and keep your trap shut. We all know that’s why you’re really angry. The last time you were a prick, you were given decaf shots and you didn’t notice. Nice pallet genius.
I digressed a bit but I don’t think I’m gonna cut too much. What was I saying? Oh, yeah, this is supposed to be about honesty. When this piece began in my handwritten notes it was about honesty. And before that, when I was lying in bed and listening to Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah, this post was about how I was told by my pal that I was pretty honest. When he said it, we were talking about serious things, my flaws. He said it almost as if it were tragic, as if I were a victim of it.
I don’t really feel that honest. I feel a lot of guilt. I felt guilty when I stole a dollar from a kid once. I felt like shit the other day when I picked up seven dollars off the ground and I was pretty sure I knew whose it was- they were down the sidewalk a bit. The rationale behind not rushing back to give it to the couple was that moments before, I’d awkwardly almost crashed when I rode my bike past them. They absolutely witnessed my near-crash and I didn’t feel like seeing them ever again. I bought $7.00 in lotto scratcher tickets with the blood money and lost, of course.
I have seen every episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. It’s Jerry Seinfeld’s internet show. In an episode with French comedian Gad Elmaleh, the Frenchman observes that Americans are always talking about how they feel. “I’m feeling okay…I feel…”
If I’m being honest I moved home from Boston because I was drinking and smoking too much weed and occasional harder drugs. I smoked weed everyday for maybe four years, and I was doing ALL DAY everyday for the last two. Beer just sort of accompanied, it mellowed me I suppose. Beer was nice in the beginning. It never tasted good. To this day, beer is beer.
But if I’m being honest, weed allowed me to appreciate the little things. Sunsets, guitar riffs. Weed basically made me have a nice long sit-down out there in Boston and I don’t regret it one bit. It was a relationship. Amazing in the beginning and a bit drawn out in the end, but as with all the drugs, and the drinking, I have no regrets and I doubt that top-dollar psychoanalysis could have more effectively and efficiently forced me to face the flaws that I need to fix in order to go where I’m looking to go. I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been stone-cold sober. Your brain just plain does NOT go there. It doesn’t.
I had a relationship with weed and other drugs. I try not to judge and I’m not really talking about drugs today so, moving on.
I’m broke and I don’t have a book on the shelf or a movie in the theater but it’s all good. I work at a brewery with a nice beer garden. There’s a little fish pond and- well it’s just lovely in the beer garden. Patrons talk about beer. They brew at home or think about brewing at home. They talk about hops. Hops Shop. Just talking hops shop. I’m not really there. My mind is in Boston. I’m learning to play bass at age 27. I’m learning to play my favorite songs. Never in my wildest dreams. I’m watching young musicians as they develop into the finest in the country. This ain’t hyperbole. I know some of the best in Boston, and that means that I know some of the best in the country. I saw a couple of them grow up, right in front of my face. I’ve sliced meat with these folks. I’ve slept in their beds.
In Boston, I stood up one night and talked about my mission to about ten or so of the most amazing people I’ve met. And they loved it. Eight years after coming home. After the crying on shower floors. The letters from family members urging me to come back to the fold in not-so-subtle ways. What, are you gonna write The Great American Novel? 45 minutes, I talked. They were laughing. Never in my wildest dreams.
I don’t have a car. Everyone has a car. I’m the only one at work who rides a bike. And it’s a good-sized brewery/bistro/beer garden. Lots of workers. It’s my own doing. It’s good for me.
My mom was raised Mormon and she married my non-Mormon Dad when she was 19. He was 22. They had three boys in three years. I was third. My Dad was baptized Mormon but he threw in the towel when they divorced after a six-year marriage. He’s essentially not Mormon. If I’m being honest, I was kinda hoping that he and my step-mom would be a little more in-my-corner when I came home from my mission and I made it clear that I no longer wanted to be Mormon. I was told that (with respect to my mission) “It would have been nice if you would have finished.” That killed me a little bit, but it’s all good. I love them and they made me tough and that’s cool. They’re approach to me coming home a penniless mess was good for me. Minimalist. But they’re there. They have ALWAYS been there.
My brother, their younger son, is a Marine. He was his basic training platoon’s Honorman, or Guide. That means he was the best. They flew me back here a couple of years ago to see him graduate. The day of, we went to the base down by the San Diego airport early in the morning. The first thing the Marines did was jog out to us. But they couldn’t talk or acknowledge. That came later, when they were dismissed after speeches and whatnot. But I saw my brother there, Trevor. The Marines stopped jogging in front of the families. And I saw my Dad’s son holding his platoon’s flag, wearing an arm band that meant he was the Guide of his Platoon. That’s when I started crying. I was looking around for other people crying, but nobody was crying. I tried so hard to hold it back. Mothers with their signs, nobody crying. I fell to the back of the crowd so my parents wouldn’t see me. Eventually I caved and hugged my step-mom Janis. She wasn’t even crying over her own son being a bad ass.
Later in the day we’d walk around base and other marines would address my brother as Guide and again I’d have to go to the bathroom or around some corner to compose myself.
Trevor and I, we’re different. I’m about as liberal as Bill Maher. I don’t know Trevor’s politics, but I can guarantee you that they aren’t in line with Bill Maher’s. But you see Trevor, being guide, it made me think that maybe I had a chance. At his core he’s got what I got…I moved to Boston with nothing and I knew nobody. These words…God I wish you knew how hard I worked for these words.
Folks at work are nice. I’m in San Diego again. People are more laid-back here.
So the brewery, it’s a huge building, about the size of a football field. Maybe half a football field, whatever. It’s big. Then the bistro. The bistro is a very large restaurant with seating for hundreds. And the garden, it’s about a half-acre. I work special events. If a couple has a wedding rehearsal dinner in the garden I work that event. That’s what I do. Events.
I’m more guarded since Boston. I feel like a high school nerd again. At work, I’m quiet and I don’t talk to girls. I had to tell a couple of fellow caterers the other day- “You know I was pretty cool in Boston.” Just an old man, tellin’ war stories. I was talking about my 30th birthday and I told them that I was talking to these girls at a bar and they were like “AARON!? Talking to GIRLS?” So yeah, I told them I was cool. But now I ride my bike to work and I’m 33.
Despite my post-Boston recoil, the folks at work are getting to know me. One of the bistro managers will flick me on the ear as he walks by. One of the waiters usually slaps my hand and then brings it in for a hug, largely because he’s just nice. But it always strikes me as pretty non-New England. Sometimes I leave my bike at work and one of them will give me a ride home. I wrote a paper for someone (SHHHH!) and she got an A. She keeps telling me to plug away with the writing.
There are a lot of them. Millions actually. They drink beer and have filthy mouths. They have tattoos, piercings and pre-marital sex. But, you see, they’re in my corner.
The About Section of this blog might have been my greatest source of anxiety stemming from SFSF. I never knew what to write in that section. It’s a silly blog. “A venue for my writing.” It began with movie reviews and shorts about phone books. My posts got a little more personal. Sarah joined and eventually settled into writing Miss Connections. I experimented. I made a feeble attempt and making it a local webzine.
I think it’s really about one thing. It’s a writer coming out of his shell, building the strength to say what he initially wanted with those early, vague posts from four years ago.
There has been ambiguity in recent posts about God. I’ve said a thing or two about prayer, and God. That vagueness was sort of intentional. It was an unconscious preface to this post.
To be clear, I do not believe in any organized religion on this planet. I lost my faith in a traditional God merely via the The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormon church. In my early, even more fired-up 20’s I used to tell myself that my agnosticism was a euphemism for my atheism. Since then though, my beliefs have morphed and I’d say that I’m more truly agnostic. When I was 21 I just assumed that after death there was “The Blackness,” but I didn’t give it much thought. (Who would want to?) In recent years I’ve considered “The Blackness” a bit more and it’s grown closer to a charcoal. I recognize now that I truly know hardly anything. I recognize that no typical Christian God alternatively means Something, because it means Something Else; and in recent years, I’m more and more interested in the Something Else, and less in being vindicated, and in hearing people say “you were right to leave the Mormons.” I’ve actually gotten more spiritual as this journey has gone on. And with the risk of sounding pretty ridiculous you could say I’ve seen more “magic” than I ever did on the other side of the fence. Though, I think religious people are partially on to something with their spirituality. I think positivity and optimism go a long way regardless of your belief system.
I just deleted a long paragraph about how the talented are doing nothing these days and the idiots are the ones actually getting things done. Idiots’ music is heard on the radio. More idiots than geniuses are making films. It was a bit of a tangent and a digression. As I was writing that paragraph, Sarah was there in the back of my mind.
One day, a couple of years back, she wanted to make some sort of statement, something about the purpose of the blog. In a post, she wanted to state that I was an Ex-Mormon. I told her that I wasn’t ready to do that. I don’t know exactly when our exchange happened. It was certainly after What I Wanted To Write, a post in which I thought I’d made a statement or two that hint at my beliefs. But I don’t know if Sarah’s suggestion was before some of the other personal posts like the seminal Ether 12:27 or Bright Lights Big City. I think in a post or two I’ve uttered the phrase “not really Mormon anymore.” In Bright Lights Big City, I essentially say that I’m free. To this point, I’ve felt like I’ve basically said what needs to be said. I didn’t want the reader’s job to be too easy, because my job was never easy.
But again, maybe it’s time to be clear. Sorry Sarah, I am an Ex-Mormon. I don’t believe in any of that stuff. I don’t think it’s right that blacks weren’t allowed to have the priesthood until the year my oldest brother was born (and I don’t buy the excuses as to why this was permitted; usually it boils down to another mysterious test from God), I don’t believe gay marriage should be defined as anything less than straight marriage, I don’t believe a woman’s role is to stay home if she doesn’t want to, and I just don’t believe in any of it. I haven’t for ten years and I turned my beliefs over because I felt it was the RIGHT thing to do. I believe in the wrongness of the Church with far more conviction than I ever believed in its rightness. The leaders of the Church try to call your bluff. They say that if you don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and you don’t believe the current prophet is called of God and you don’t think the Book of Mormon is true than you don’t believe in the whole shootin’ match. Well, guess what? I don’t.
The Church forces this reaction, my reaction, out of people, more so than say, contemporary apostates of Judaism or Catholicism because Mormonism is a stage or two behind many other religions as far as its assimilation into mainstream culture. It should be clear that I don’t come from a branch of Mormonism in a remote Utah town that still clings to more archaic practices like polygamy; though I don’t come from a religion that has given birth to fellows like Woody Allen, or Martin Scorsese, who have communicated their struggles with their respective cultures on-screen for the last couple of generations. The absence of those voices results in loneliness amongst the apostates, and that loneliness exacerbates the fear of leaving. It’s hard to leave people, do you understand that? The Church I come from is in a half-life, and I believe I’m just part of the process, a natural reaction.
Other Christian Religions:
A “cool” church might be better than a more fundamental, old style of Christianity, where the woman is seen and not heard, and where homosexuality is verbally assaulted. Christian rock bands (ironically) play the most soulless music on the planet while accepting teenage homosexuals. No. WRONG. You want a place where young people can gather and learn values? You want to strengthen the community? Get a little courage and start a group that isn’t affiliated with any sort of hate whatsoever, even if you discount the hate as merely an ancient vestige. Modern Christian churches aren’t the ideal, and they certainly aren’t cool. A religion that is reformed to the point where it behaves with equality but is rooted in inequality is imperfect. It’s a compromise. If a Christian is okay with homosexuals, if they think nothing less of homosexuals than they do their “straight” neighbors, I don’t think the air is clear. The elephant is still in the room, it’s just smaller. The doctrine exists and members of Christian churches are married to that doctrine. Space will always exist between a person who is a member of an organization that condemns homosexuality and a homosexual person. A gay man might be comfortable with a “cool” Christian who is gay-friendly and in every ostensible way egalitarian, but I promise you that all things being equal, a homosexual is even more comfortable in the presence of one who is not married to doctrine that places one sexual orientation above another, just as I am less comfortable around people who may love me, but are waiting for me to come back to the fold. People want to be comfortable. It’s been over ten years, I am certain of these things. The ideal scene has NO elephant in the room. Extremists will gravitate toward the core, and the core promotes bigotry. And extremists will always exist, because inherently, there is always an extreme. Religions based on the Christian Bible put the heterosexual person above the homosexual. They put the member above the non-member. One could argue that they don’t, that “we are all God’s children,” but I’m speaking in terms of righteousness. A Christian God prefers you to be hetero over homo. That’s what I’m talking about here. When one believes he or she is less obedient than his or her neighbor, it’s psychologically damaging. And I don’t agree with that. We as a progressive society should be reaching forward, beyond our archaic values systems.
I believe that we need to allow criticism of religion. Just as we permit religious freedom, we need to defend the freedom to critique all religion. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that we need to encourage criticism of religion to compensate for the current atmosphere which wrongly discourages it. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me over the years why I’m not Mormon anymore. “FOR THE SAME REASONS YOU AREN’T” I wanted to shout. Are you kidding? As if believing in something other than what your parents believed was some crazy new concept. Religions aren’t Peoples. They are theological philosophies and as such they should be debated. If peoples’ faiths are shaken, well boo-hoo, mine was, it’s a part of life
So that’s that. I just wanted to make things clear.
The last twelve years have been quite a journey. It’s been pretty difficult. Pretty rough. I’ve read a lot. I’ve looked up lots of words in the dictionary. I’ve watched youtube videos of my favorite authors, learning the trade. I have grammar and vocab apps on my phone (I used to use them.) When I was in Boston, I was almost always poor. I walked to work, I went to bed hungry a couple of times. There was a lot of hard labor, if not easily defined, that went into the words you’re reading right now. But without question, the hardest thing to overcome is my fear of getting these words out. I switch to the present form is for obvious reasons. Everything else pales compared to the hurdle that is the fear from the response of the church I left.
So that’s it for now. I want to take a break from all this serious business of catharsis. I’d like to put certain things behind me, & I think it’s best to put away the old blog. After I click the publish button for this final post, sanfranciscostreetfighter has served its purpose. Though I’ll make an effort to clean some things up and to make it easier to navigate. My early, 2nd Tour of Seattle writings will surface somewhere else, as well as everyone’s favorite substitute teacher, Mr. Meardon. (Maybe.) I might hide stuff in certain spots for die-hard fans of the future, but otherwise, Esephesef is going to be a time capsule.
I’d like to have more fun with writing, use metaphor every now and then. I want to work on screenwriting and songwriting. Perhaps make a freaking buck or two doing what I do. I feel like hanging up the first-person narrative form for a few seasons. Writing teachers discourage it anyway; it’s just a glorified diary. I should thank Sarah and Graham (he did some amazing illustration on the blog.) Also I should thank everyone in Boston. They were part of the process. When I was impassioned and inebriated at the end of a night, I was only saying what I was too afraid to say before, yet still too afraid to say more formally. Six years ago, I moved to Boston for the sole purpose of becoming a writer and I’m pretty sure that I succeeded.
Closin’ out the old blog folks. SFSF’s two regular readers might have noticed that I’ve been changing the theme on a daily basis. I’ve been tinkering with it, (stumbling across horrific typos in the process) and looking into upgrades- looking into the future of SFSF.
Conforming the old posts to a new living format would be quite a chore. Eventually it occurred to me that perhaps it’s time to put Esephesef away. It just makes sense. So that’s what I’m going to do. The name is quite silly.
It’ll always be here though, for public dissemination. All of my short stories and whatnot. All my sentence fragments. I ain’t gonna try to publish them or turn them into a book or anything. It’s better that way. It’ll be easy for teachers to access when they show the old blog to their classes. Am I right or am I right or am I right?
I really did interview Michael Dukakis. I didn’t write about it largely because my notes were terrible. Also, I was paranoid that I just wouldn’t be able to make a story out of it. I only took one journalism class in college, and I don’t remember covering the art of The Interview. (Maybe the class did, but it might have been one of the semesters I dropped out.) I made a half-assed attempt at finding a way to record the phone call, but obviously I gave up. When the time came, I just opened up the SFSF Style Guide and scribbled away.
I thought I could interview the former presidential candidate because I figured his life had calmed down quite a bit since the 1988 presidential election. Also, Dukakis was a Massachusetts man. He had governed the state prior to his big run. I was a Massachusetts man myself, living in Somerville. So I gave it a try. I found some email addresses and phone numbers online. Eventually, through the coordination of his assistant, an interview was scheduled. He was in California at the time, teaching a semester of college at UCLA. He teaches in the fall at Northeastern and heads west to UCLA for the winter. He doesn’t mind the winters. “My dear wife, on the other hand…”
When I first moved to Boston in the Summer of ’08, I knew not a single soul and I had no cable TV, so I watched a lot of PBS. Boogieman, a fascinating FRONTLINE documentary, told the story of the ’88 campaign. The title character was Lee Atwater, George H.W. Bush’s campaign manager. Atwater took negative campaigning to the next level. He was from the school of Carl Rove-wedge issues, shock, fear-anything goes. Lee Atwater was dirty. (You should watch the documentary.) Prior to Boogieman, all I knew about Dukakis was that he ran for president and that he lost. In 1988, for me, (a seven-year-old) he was a bad guy, because he was a democrat.
Well I decided that Dukakis wasn’t a bad guy after Boogieman. Lee Atwater was the bad guy. Dukakis seemed like a pretty good guy, actually. In the documentary, he spoke about his nightmare of a presidential campaign from the garden of his house in Brookline with his wife Kitty at his side. It seemed to me that he had a darn good attitude about everything. He lost because, as he told me, he wasn’t prepared for how low Atwater was going to go. Dukakis had brought a knife to a gun fight.
I began my blog a couple of years after watching Boogieman, & eventually sought out the Governor for an interview. Dukakis IS a good dude. He gave a silly little blogger like me THIRTY MINUTES. THIRTY MINUTES, over the phone from his office at UCLA.
I was a wreck going in to it. I’ve never interviewed anyone even remotely high-profile. I scribbled down phrases as fast as I could. At the start, I feared I wouldn’t have enough questions, and that there’d be terribly awkward pauses. but Dukakis was a pro, he always had something to say. Eventually, I calmed down and figured I should just listen more and not try so hard to document everything.
He was enthusiastic and energetic. Despite the fact that he told me he had the flu that was currently plaguing the nation, he hardly sounded like he was in his seventies. He told me that virtually none of his Political Science students were cynical. “How can you be cynical with Obama in the White House and with Warren in the Senate?” (Governor Dukakis thought the world of Elizabeth Warren, the rookie Senator from Massachusetts.)
I asked him why he thought the Obama campaign was successful- was it modern media? Did the Dems have a better grasp of all the new tech since ’88? He told me that more than that, it was the human element. He said that there was no replacement for knocking on doors, and various other means of personal contact.
I didn’t get any fascinating bits during the conversation. No bombshells. I don’t think it went terribly but it didn’t go wonderfully either. Much of what he told me, I already knew from my manic research in the days leading up to it. I was extremely relieved when it was over. I’d gotten through it. I think the greatest thing I gained from the phone call was the confidence it gave me. I think I can interview almost anyone now. I might not be amazing at it, but I can get the job done.
As the conversation wound down, he asked me about my background, or the point of the blog. I told him that I’d gone on an LDS mission. I tried not to babble for too long, but I said that I didn’t really do that anymore. It wasn’t my thing. He paused a moment and explained that you go through life and you do certain things, and sometimes your interests, priorities and beliefs just change and that you keep moving forward, and that there’s nothing wrong with that.
So the Dukakis Transcript is fake. It reads like it was written by a stoner because it was written by a stoner.
* * *
I’ve posted a lot since I moved back to California in July, so scroll down if you have the time. Most of the posts are short, so there.
About ten years ago, my Creative Writing professor at Palomar Community College had the class write about “Stealing Something.” One fellow shared that he’d written about stealing someone’s happiness.
Back then, I dreamed of making a film about Jr College, so I the story-boarded the stealing happiness moment immediately after it occurred.
In case you don’t feel like craning your neck:
-Stealing someone’s happiness, I guess.
-Okay, interesting. We won’t get into why.
* * *
I don’t know if I followed through with the assignment. I’m a terrible student. But I have stolen a couple of things.
When I was 17, I walked out of a bowling alley with a cluster of candy machines. There were 4-6 candy machines that were attached together by some sort of metal framework. We developed a simple plan. One guy pulled up in a pick-up truck in front of the bowling alley while a third partner in crime helped me carry the machines out. We did it calmly and coolly. We drove to a cute girls house to show off our loot- “Look, we stole CANDY MACHINES!” She came out in her pajamas (it was a school night.) The whole thing had an air of innocence -it was only candy– until we finally got a machine busted open and all of the quarters fell out. Before that moment, the only thing on my mind was a week’s supply of banana Runts. The clanging of the jackpot pouring out of the machine gave me pause. This was actual theft.
I definitely didn’t write about how I’d stolen a dollar bill from a kid on the bus. I should have. I’ve told that story to a few people.
It was summer day camp (babysitting) and I was about 8 years old. I was sharing a seat on a bus with a “friend” on the way back from a field trip, a presumably a low-budget affair to a nearby park or something. My pal opened his wallet and showed me a dollar bill. He was stoked to have this dollar. This was 1990 and we were 8 years old, so a buck was pretty significant. You could buy a fair amount of candy with a dollar.
Somewhere along the line the Washington made its way out of the kids pocket, or wallet, and I swooped it up when my “compadre” wasn’t looking. I stole it more for the act than the need. I was curious what it would be like to steal something. I don’t think I’d ever stolen anything before that.
Well I found out what it was like to steal, particularly from a young fellow who really prized a dollar bill. It sucks. The kid was aware of his loss pretty quickly and became immediately distraught. He looked everywhere. He was on his knees, looking underneath the seat. He asked me if I’d seen it, so of course I lied. I was a thief and a liar in a single bus ride back from a field trip. The remainder of the bus ride seemingly took three hours. My “buddy” was not very happy.
Neither was I- I felt like complete shit. When we filed off the bus, I took the dollar and gave it to a 16-year-old camp counselor whose enthusiastic appreciation surprised me. It was about the inverse of the loss that my victim felt back on the bus. He showed it to his co-counselors, holding each side up with his hands. “Look, this kid gave me a BUCK!”
Baseball careers can be long. The luckiest players, like Derek Jeter, can play for 15-20 years. They play 162 games a year, so you get used to them playing. The good ones, like Jeter, are as reliable as family. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re on TV, in the batter’s box seemingly every day. Oh, Jeter’s up? You can go back to the conversation with your wife or reread the birthday card from your aunt. It’s Jeter. He’ll always be there doing his thing. He’s standing in the batter’s box, coolly holding his hand back, showing the ump he isn’t quite ready as he digs his feet in. A little cocky, that Jeter. But he’s good. Everyone knows it. You won’t be reading birthday cards when Jeter’s up to bat in the playoffs.
Similar to when loved ones die, you pretty much drop any negative feelings toward a respected player, like Jeter’s aforementioned batter’s box thing after they retire. Just as you’d pay good money to hear another “Torture Talk” from your deceased Grandfather (This one’s for you Pop.) Anyway, as I was saying, just as you’d love to witness one of the attributes that drove you crazy, you’d love to see Jeter in the batter’s box after he retires- if you’re a San Diego Padres fan, or even a Red Sox fan. I mean, if you really love baseball.
The hated Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series the night I was born, and as a consolation, God sent a chubby, 5’10” brilliant athlete to the Padres for the 1982 season. Tony Gwynn would be there for me, slapping base hits and throwing balls in from right field with laser accuracy until after I left for my LDS mission. Tony was there my entire childhood. When I was about 11, I was present at a game when he went 5 for 5. For some crazy reason I was also lucky enough to be in the dugout before “Mormon Night At The Padres.” I even heard Tony mention to a teammate that the stands were atypically full in fair-weather San Diego that night because of all the “Brigham-Youngers.” I wore his #19 in little league and I cried when he died this year because that’s what you do when your favorite baseball players die, even if you’re a grown-up.
As I’ve “grown up” my team loyalty has waned a bit, and my love has transitioned more toward just “the game.” Sometimes baseball is boring, I know, but as there is opposition in all things, it also has the most tense moments.
And I think baseball is the best of all sports for its metaphors. The ups and downs, the contentious marriage of luck and skill. Bucky Dent is shorter than your Dad and probably has less power than him as well, but he’s the hero to hit the Yankees series-winning homer in 1977, not the beastly Reggie Jackson, who looks more like a linebacker than a baseball player. (Reggie actually homered in that game as well, he just didn’t hit the game winner. I looked it up.)
Boston is my city. I know that now more than ever. I can articulate why I felt compelled to “randomly” move there from San Diego much better than I could when I made the journey at age 26.
“No, not for college…”
I love the Red Sox team that won the World Series last year. It’s the best group of guys I’ve seen on a diamond in my whole life- Dustin Pedroia, the salty veteran Cody Ross, and my former Padre Jake Peavy. One year after they lost me and the rest of the city because they drank beer and ate fried chicken in the clubhouse during games, they put together the best redemption story in all of sports. The really bad guys were sent away (to Los Angeles of course) and the others were severely warned by the first non-sellout crowds since Manny Ramirez was a youngster in Cleveland.
John Lackey came back lean and mean, absent the fried chicken fat, and the team gave the city what the city was owed. I knew it was a special team when Pedroia and Shane Victorino advanced from 1st & 2nd to 2nd & 3rd during an ALCS game against the Detroit Tigers. A lot of guys would have been more cautious as a pitch bounced only a few feet away from the catcher, but those two averaged-speed opportunists took off. I saw a slow-motion shot of Pedroia pointing to Victorino after they both safely advanced. Pety yelled “THAAATTA BAAABY!” The Sox were gonna win one for the city, there was just no question. Miguel Cabrerra and the rest of the better-on-paper Tigers or Cardinals couldn’t do anything about it.
But if I was a REAL Sox fan, I wouldn’t be writing this. Don’t tell anyone, but my favorite players are Yankees. Joe Dimaggio, Thurmon Munson, Babe Ruth, and my favorite player of all time- Lou Gehrig. He gave my favorite speech. Not my favorite athlete speech, but my favorite speech. The well-fed New York native, born of hard-working German immigrants, in a moment of self-awareness that stands as a reminder to anyone who gets paid handily to play a boys game, told the world that despite his dying condition, he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth. You think about it for a minute and you realize that he was. He knew it, and that’s awesome.
Joe D. thanked God for making him a Yankee. Derek Jeter slapped a little sign displaying that prayer every day before he played. Yankees are rich like all the other athletes. But true Yankees understand their fortune. And as anyone will tell you -including any Red Sox fan- Jeter knows this. Jeter played the game like he knew he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth and that’s why we’re all gonna miss him.
My first tour of Seattle, I lived with family on my mom’s side. I hadn’t applied to any colleges my senior year, and as my AP Government teacher told me “I had a lot of shit going on.” It’s fair to say that I was sent up to Seattle the first time. It was a family decision. I was a bit of a project.
My mother had two sisters who lived in Redmond, Washington with their husbands. Both couples had children that ranged from baby, to just younger than me. I worked at the family Fun Center that my uncle managed while applying to Ricks College (which soon after expanded and became BYU Idaho.) I got into Ricks College despite having earned a 2.4 GPA in high school. The Bishop of my congregation (ward) in Seattle was very charismatic, and as far as I know, he’s the reason for my matriculation.
The First Tour was 2 years, from the summer I graduated from Scripps Ranch (1999) until the Summer I left on my mission (2001.) I attended two semesters at Ricks College- Winter 2000, and Fall 2000 (Yeah, it’s backwards.) When the fall 2000 semester ended, life was all about preparing to go on my mission. Ricks College was in Rexburg, Idaho, but for the sake of chronology, I call that entire two-year period the First Tour.
The Second Tour was vastly different from the first. My 16-month mission didn’t really go as planned. I “wasn’t really Mormon anymore,” I’d tell people, (not my family though, I just kept quiet about that shit unless they prodded.) I returned to San Diego after my mission. I was all fired up and excited to write about all my experiences in The Church, though I had no idea how to go about that. It was the beginning of this long ass journey that I’m still on. I was really fired up. I wasn’t Mormon anymore, but I didn’t drink or do any drugs for almost two years to show people that I didn’t leave to have fun. I meant business.
I worked a couple of jobs until I eventually landed a job at a movie theatre, which to this day is the only job I’ve ever had where I never looked at the clock. It was with some really awesome folks at the Mira Mesa 18 that I had my first Miller High life. And I met my first girlfriend. I wrote about that relationship here on the blog in a short story called Ether 12:27.
But I wasn’t content being young, happy, and in love because I had a world to change. I needed to move to Maine “to write,” despite having been accepted to California State Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo (It’s gotta be the longest name in all of collegia.) I’d been receiving emails from the journalism department. It was real. Amy went to Cal Poly. She was on the phone with me till, seriously, the midnight deadline-like down to the fucking minute-helping me with my application.
Pretty sure the family intervened again when I went to Seattle the second time. It was a compromise. I don’t think anyone was too keen on me just picking up and moving to Maine. My older brother Adam and his new wife had just moved to Seattle to join the rest of the extended branch up there. He called me one day and asked if I wanted to move in with him. I really wanted to go to Maine, I told him. But he had a job lined up for me, so that was that. I’d been planning on moving to Maine with about $2000, and no job lined up.
I lived with Adam and his wife in suburban Redmond for about six months, then I moved to an awesome little Seattle neighborhood called Greenlake. Both Redmond Greenlake compose my second tour. The sole purpose of me moving away was “to write.” So below is the first thing I wrote up there. I plan on posting more 2nd Tour stuff in the future because I am really fond of that time. It’s kind of juvenile. I’m going to try to keep that feel. I kept most of the original run-ons. Much of the editing was done for clarity. This is the beginning.
I’m writing this now on April seventeenth of ’06 and I’m writing the date out because my last daily journal is all fucked up because of indentations. It sort of made it’s own little format where I press tab and the curser goes all the way across the page. It thinks it knows better how to write a date out. It doesn’t indent the normal way. Fuuuuuck it. Fuuck word. Today was a Monday and I had the day off. I bought a shirt at j-Crew for $20 and it’s still in my backpack and I went to Natalie’s restaurant and she wasn’t there then I found her house so you could call me a fucking stalker. Wow. Slgdjflkj;sfdlkasfdlk;jsafdkl;jsafdlkj;lk;jsadkl;lkj;asfdlj;lkj;dfsal;jlk;asdfl;lkj;sdaflj;klkj;asdfljklk;jsdaflkj;sdalsdflj;kl;asg;lds;asldfka;sldfka;sldfkas’lgk;asdfasdfasdf;’;’lasdd’l;sjdfg’alskjas’dlgfasdlkjasdljfkasldgjfaslkjfaslgjflsk
That was yesterday. I was listening to “I won’t be home for Christmas” by blink-182 and I started rocking out on the keyboard. (That’s all the sldfka; shit.) It was kind of ironic frustration, making fun of myself. After, I threw the cordless keyboard on my bed, (mattress only really) and decided to run some stairs. So I killed myself doing that and drank tons of water and I was really tired at work today, tired when I told Dawn “Pretty girls shouldn’t smoke” and she said that was cute, tired because I woke up at least three times to pee all the stair-water.
The 24th was today. Monday. I went to my new house. It’s in Greenlake. It’s owned by a 28-year-old woman named Abbey. Her boyfriend Sid lives there. He’s really cool. He’s a little bit younger, about my age. Adam went with me to look at the house. He told me that Sid’s for sure a stoner. I asked Adam how he know and he told me he just fuckin knows. Sid musically accompanied Abbey and I into every room in the house. Upstairs he had this hand drum that he’d bang on. When we were downstairs looking at my room, he switched to guitar. He’d play a little chord or hook when there was a quiet moment and just let it ring out. I’m supposed to write about a bunch of things. I broke up with Amy. My new downstairs roommate is a girl who has already graduated from Emerson College in Boston. Her name is Lilly and she’s going to be a writer and write a book about Boston.
It’s about 10:00 am. I’m sleeping on my left side, wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt from the night before. My right leg is kicked out in front of me, making a 90 degree angle with my other leg. A younger version of me sits on the corner of the futon. His hair is shorter, fuller, neater, and he’s clean shaven. He’s wearing a hand-me-down suit. His tie is red, the color of passion.
“Wake up,” he says, as he shakes my foot urgently.
I grunt and make a feeble attempt at swatting the young fellow away.
“C’mon, wake up. You’ve been saying, ‘When I’m 30′ for a few years now. It’s time.”
I straighten my right leg and slowly roll over onto my back. Eventually my eyes flicker open, my gaze fixes upon the ceiling.
“C’mon,” he continues.
I tilt my head forward and glare at the youngster sitting on the end of my futon. “Please go away.”
“I’m never going away,” He tells me.
I make a concessionary sigh and slowly sit up. “Yeah yeah.” I put my feet on the floor, elbows on my knees and I bury my face in my hands.
“You gotta write!” He says. “You gotta write everything! How can you be so lazy? Not now! Remember Vegas?”
“Sure. An escalator in Ceasar’s Palace. The epiphany.” I’m rubbing my eyes intensely.
“Yeah! You were going up an escalator, and you realized I…you had something, but you knew it was gonna take time. Your voice was still developing.”
“I know the story, buddy. I walked around all day drinking complimentary Heinekens, high on that new revelation. I told myself that I wasn’t really gonna get going until I was thirty, like a lot of my heroes. I could have fun for a while. I romanticized it.”
“Yeah yeah- you had a lot to absorb. Well, you’re 30! What do you need now? Who do you need to read?” The kid’s getting excited. “Do you need to move again? …I don’t think so. It’s time!”
“Whom. Whom do I need to read.” My face is still in my hands. “I’m hung over. Maybe I don’t wanno do anything. What do you think about that? Why can’t I stay here in Somerville, work my job, keep playing the bass and just do whatever I want?
“But you’re supposed to write.” He stands up. “You were born to write. That’s what you say.”
“No, buddy. That’s what YOU say. I wasn’t supposed to do anything, dude. You know something? Dad was Catholic. Grandma still goes to church every Sunday, no matter where she is- vacations and everything. She goes by herself. That’s devotion. I’m half catholic, you ever think about that?” I stand up, throw my arms in the air and yawn. “Half catholic!” I proclaim, satisfied with myself. I look at the bed on the opposite end of the room where a young man, about 20, wearing only boxers, is passed out. His name is Turvis and he’s real. I glance at a dresser to my left, the table on my right. I ask nobody in particular, “where’s that little piece?”
“What piece?” The young fellow asks. “…Anyway, that’s garbage. You never stepped inside a catholic church. Grandma lived across the country your whole life. You saw her a handful of times.”
“I’ve been inside a Catholic Church,” I argue.
“When you were on your MISSION. You went to midnight mass, for fun– for curiosity’s sake.” He begins pacing the room. “But your whole life was MORMON. Your friends were Mormon, you went to a Mormon college, and you went on a Mormon mission. You lost your faith and they lied to you and you need to write about it. You promised. You always said you had no fallback, like Tarantino. He went to film school, not films. You love that quote more than you love his movies. You’re supposed to write about everything and you know it.”
I take a break from searching for the pipe and look at the kid. He’s wearing a charcoal suit cut in the late-eighties. The coat’s length is relatively short and has a wider lapel than is currently fashionable. “You love that suit, don’t you. Was a bummer when the crotch ripped. Anyway, who are they? And what did they lie about?”
“Exactly. This world ain’t black & white. Look, lots of people left the church- I’m sorry, you want that in capitols, right? Hoards of people left The Church because of Prop 8 and all the other shit, and you know what they did? They fucking moved on! Can you believe it? They felt no need whatsoever to write about it. They just moved. They tell people they’re glad they ‘got out when they did,’ like that guy from the party a few years back.”
“The party in Seattle, where there were two guys dressed as missionaries?”
“Yeah, that party.”
“But then you bumped into that real ex-missionary.”
“Yup. Nice guy. He’d also lost his virginity while on his mission.”
“His dad was a bishop.”
“Mmm hmm. Well, he’s married now and he sells houses. He’s not writing about anything.”
“Yeah..” The kid slows down a bit. “He wondered if anyone would ever want to read about that kind of thing.”
“It shook you up, didn’t it buddy?”
“…Before that, you never used to wonder.”
“That’s because I was an idiot.”
“An idiot?” He looks at me blankly.
“…A little naive. Ignorant. Silly. Self-obsessed. Entitled.”
“Maybe” he offers- “Maybe you’re different than that guy at the party because you can see into the future.”
“WHAT? …oh, you mean I have vision?
“Yeah,” he says hopefully- “you have VISION. That guy at the party was smart, sure, but you have vision.”
“Visions of grandeur buddy.”
“Who are you?” He asks me. “I don’t know you anymore. You know for a couple of years there, the title of the book was Delusional Degenerate, but it was because that’s how the family made you feel, or how they felt about you. But it wasn’t true. You knew it wasn’t true.”
“I thought it wasn’t true, and yeah, it was supposed to be ironic, but maybe the irony is that it was dead-on.”
“But” he insists “…but you’ve gotten better! Remember, on the stoop the other night, Marci was talking about that literary term and she couldn’t recall is, or who came up with it, or talked about it. You said “Hemingway, Unity of Affect.”
“I got lucky. Hills Like White Elephants. The only thing I ever read by Hemingway. It’s like two pages. Oh, and it’s EE-ffect buddy. Unity of EE-ffect.
He shakes me off. “You remember other things though, like how passive characters rarely work, and Show, Don’t Tell and stuff.”
“Show, Don’t Tell is like 4th grade.
“I don’t like your attitude,” he says.
“No shit. You’re exhausting. Remember when I had the class read that thing about visiting Tyler’s grave with Amy? I couldn’t find the grave. I searched everywhere. I found myself hundreds of yards from the site. I knew the general vicinity. I knew he was buried near the gazebo. But I couldn’t find him. I ventured far off, until I was football fields away, frantically going up and down the rows. Amy was way back by the gazebo, just patiently waiting.”
“Yeah, it was good,” he insists.
“No, it wasn’t. I had the class read that whole thing. And you know what I found out later? I’d written semetary. With a fucking S. A story about looking for my brother’s gravestone and I wrote Cemetery with an S. I’m a joke.”
“You know how to spell!” he exclaims “…it’s cuz when you write sometimes, you just go. You say that’s the only thing you do where you don’t question things. Everything else you do, you’re always analyzing things. People tell you that you need to live in the moment. But you live in the moment when you write, like how your buddies play guitar.”
“They’re sick of the parallels. They think I’m delusional.”
“…Nah,” he mutters reticently. He sits back down on the end of the futon. “You have perspective. You can relax now…sometimes.”
“Speaking of-” I look down at Turvis. “Turvis! Turvis, you seen that pipe?” Turvis doesn’t make a sound. I look back at the youngster. “Anyway, what were you saying? Perspective? Oh yeah genius, I smoke weed now. It helps uptight people with shit like that.”
“Maybe you don’t need to smoke weed anymore, by the way, maybe it’s worked its course.”
“Maybe you should pipe down. I should have discovered it sooner. Then I wouldn’t have put up such a fuss.”
“You always used to say that maybe sobriety gave you a better view of things, being sober for so long. Because everyone else was drunk.”
“Lots of people are sober. You’re not making any sense, buddy.”
“Nah, I think I am,” he says desperately. “Look, you gotta write, you promised! You gotta at least try!”
“Why?” I ask the youngster. “How do you know there isn’t some other kid who went on a mission, got all sad about it, and decided to write? Maybe he or she’s writing something better. Maybe he’s properly read. Shakespeare and Proust. More Hemmingway than just Hills Like White Elephants. More women, you ever think about that? Maybe he can seamlessly insert french phrases into his writing. Maybe he or she is down at the other end of the square. Maybe Jamaica Plain or Chicago. I’ll read about his or her new memoir on the train, in the metro. If he’s better, he’s probably better at drawing parallels. He’s not writing a lazy-ass memoir. It’s a brilliant novel with actual metaphors. Maybe The Church is a giant monsoon, and the main protagonist is a spider.” I take a breath and look at the bookshelves above the fellow in his underwear. “Where’s that piece? Turvis, Turvis! Where’s that piece?” To my surprise, Turvis lifts his arm and points across the room toward his guitar amp. I head over.
“It’s not here, Turv.” I look back at Turvis but he’s resettled into his coma. I stare down at the amp. There’s a mesh PBR hat on top of it. I lift it up, revealing a small marijuana pipe with a couple of hits left in it. “Aha.” I take the piece and return to my seat at the edge of the futon. “Lighter…lighter.” I check my pockets and find one in my jeans.
“Wakin’ & bakin huh?” The youngster asks. “You didn’t drink for a year and a half to show em’ that you meant business. You used to mean business. You could get people all worked up at parties. They said you were passionate, and that struck you, cuz before that, you hadn’t considered yourself passionate. You were just you. You were gonna write about everything, because everything was absurd. It was natural. It wasn’t a good idea, it was just… I don’t know, normal.”
I clarify, “It was a reaction.”
“Yeah, it was a reaction!” He repeats. “That’s cool! They hit you and you were gonna hit them back! It wasn’t an idea. It wasn’t a great little story idea that you came up with while sitting on the toilet. If anything, it was their idea. They gave birth to it! They gave birth to you, you say, literally and figuratively.”
He stands up, off his end of the futon. “Last year when you were thought about moving home- remember that?”
“You didn’t shave. You were gonna move home, you were gonna quit, like you always threaten.” He shakes his head, “and I’m an idiot? Im an idiot? You were thinking about going home and making cabinets! THAT’S STUPID! A wood worker! You were depressed, but the thought of quitting and going home made you more depressed and you did that dramatic stare-at-yourself-in-the-bathroom-mirror thing, a silly moment of reckoning. You thought about cabinet-making or cabinetry or whatever, and you just looked at your pathetic two-weeks growth imitation beard and you just stared, and you saw a writer. For the first time you really saw a writer and you laughed. You like, believed it, after almost ten years, you really saw it.”
“Look,” he continues, “what did you used to say? You’d say that it would be worth it if only ONE kid read your book. It would be worth it if you made it just a little easier for ONE kid to leave The Church or his church or her church or whatever church.”
“Alright,” I tell the kid. “You make a good argument. But listen, it’s different now, it isn’t black & white. It’s not going to be all roses & vindication, you understand?”
“Yeah, yeah I got it,” he says, eagerly.
“No, you don’t- not completely. But that’s okay.” I’m holding the piece in front of my my mouth with my left hand. The lighter is poised in my right. “Let’s go. Let’s fuck ’em up.”
Papagayo (downtown Boston) This restaurant would last about four minutes in regions of the country that specialize in this sort of thing. The first red flag emerges when you overhear a manager mispronounce jalepeno. If you’re on West st, downtown, head next door to the less pretentious Fajitas and Ritas. If Fajitas is closed, walk to Park st, make a right and order a couple of taquitos from 7-11.
Soundbites (Ball Square, Somerville) Brunch food that gets the job done. The rumors about the owner’s temper are true; he did brawl with the Ball Square Cafe owner in the middle of Broadway, directly in front of the two adjacent, competing restaurants, and he will throw you out for looking at him wrong. Despite its flaws, Soundbites is a better, more honest restaurant than Papagayo. The crew charges through busy weekend brunches in a way that evokes awe from patrons, if also hostility.
Charlie’s Kitchen (Harvard Square) This is where you go when you first move to Boston and you think you’ve found a cool place. Tall PBRs. Tall Gansetts. One enormous fryer and a huge tub of batter in the kitchen. It’s dirty, old and loud. Low-level staff endure pure hell on Earth when tending to insane summer-night crowds in the “Beer Garden.” Urinals and toilets are often catastrophically avoided. Health Code Violations abound.
Tremont 647 (Guess where) Molly Dwyer, Tremont’s Chef de cuisine -or whatever you wanna call her- is a pro. Multiple patrons have proclaimed “This is the best blank I’ve ever had” whether it be soft-shelled crab or the braised pork ragu. Eat her food before she leaves Tremont, then eat her food when she owns her own restaurant. She’s like 25 years old.
Dave’s Fresh Pasta (Davis Square) Go there for the “penny candy” box and grab some Swedish Fish.
-What do you mean, crazy people are normal, and the normal ones are crazy?
-Well I mean, first you gotta understand that I don’t think anyone’s crazy, okay? Crazy is used when people are lazy or ignorant. It’s a lack of understanding. Any crazy behavior is rooted in something, everything can be explained. Every thought, outburst, rant, muttering, stutter, it all comes from somewhere. Not one person on this planet knows EVERYTHING, do you agree?
-…Yeah, I suppose. But what are you saying?
-Well if not a single person knows it all, not even the wisest of Japanese fellows, 100 years old, with a beard down to his toes, not even that sage knows it all, Am I right?
-Whatever, not really, I’m just thinking of the mentor from Kill Bill. It’s a social stereotype, to help you visualize something, for common ground. You get what I’m saying though?
-Sure, you’re saying that the wise old karate man knows a lot about life but that he doesn’t know everything.
-Exactly, and the point is, everyone else knows less than he does.
-Everyone? Karate is kind of silly Aaronchan.
-Okay, well lots of people know a lot less than that Japanese dude. Trust me, that guy knows his shit. I thought the Japanese thing would win you over.
-That movie is silly.
-Okay okay okay, point is, a wise old man -OR WOMAN- know all kinds of things about life, but they don’t know it all, and that means that most everyone else knows even less. Lots of people are walking around in the fog. I know this -we know this- because a little fog has cleared in our lives, but that only means there is more fog to clear.
-Maybe some of the fog has cleared in YOUR life Aaronchan. Not all of it. Just because I don’t know everything, that doesn’t mean I look at MY LIFE as foggy.
-Fair enough, but I’m not the only one trying to move through a thick fog, agree?
-Okay… you were talking about crazy Aaronchan.
-Yeah yeah yeah. Crazy. When things are foggy, you bump into obstacles. You run over a pothole and pop a tire. You might even crash into someone else. These things are hard. You know, you crash into a lightpost and you come home and your parents are all frustrated and mad about the damage done. They wonder if you’ll ever really learn to drive. It’s frustrating for everyone. They don’t know exactly what happened. You don’t either. The lightpost was hidden from view of the fog and you didn’t see the bend in the road. There’s an explanation for everything.
-Maybe. You’re just making excuses. Why are you talking about cars now and not the old Karate man?
-I’m doing the best I can.
-Why are normal people crazy? They’re fine. They seem to be driving down a clear road, bumping into nothing- or maybe they have good foglights.
-No, their road is clear, but they threw the map away. When they were young, they had all these ideas about where they were gonna go. They had plans of places and people they were going to see. But they feared getting lost. So they just keep going down the same road, the road they know, because they feel safe.
-What’s so crazy about that?
-You see the guy driving down the road in his piece of shit car. He looks ridiculous at first sight-
-You’re talking about a crazy crazy person, not a crazy normal person?
-Right. He’s bumping into shit and swerving, he just looks ridiculous. He applies the brakes erratically, just looks like a baffoon right off the bat.
-That’s you Aaronchan!
-Sure. And then you see another car drive past. It’s a real sensible thing like a late-nineties Honda Accord. He looks at my car. Blue smoke is coming out of the exhaust because I’m burning oil. Accord driver shakes his head and smoothly drives past.
-Cuz you’re crazy! Haha!
-Yeah, but the thing is, I’m coming back from Madagascar. I’ve been to Paris and Rome. Ancient Rome. I’ve been to the moon. This guy, this Accord guy, you know what he does? He goes to the gas station five miles down the road, fills up, and turns around. He drives 250 miles back in the other direction. He fills up at the opposing gas station. (He knows he can go about 350 miles on a tank of gas, but he never lets the needle drop below quarter-tank.) He turns around and repeats. He does the same thing every single day, back and forth, back and forth, for the rest of his life. Same road. Now who’s crazier?
Joan’s been working at the park for nearly thirteen years. She actually doesn’t have ferrets anymore, but she does have tarantulas that live in aquariums in her room. One of the giant spiders is the size of a dinner plate (11.5 inches.) She holds them and stuff.
Additionally, Ms Hogentoglar is a self-proclaimed biker chick and she has years of equestrian experience. She’s highly involved with race horses associated with the Del Mar Race Track. Thanks for your time Joan!
I had a spot that I’d go to the summer I left the ravioli place. Down along the Charles River by the BU Bridge. That summer there was a piece of fence that was missing that allowed to me to walk up above, to the train tracks. It was “my spot.”
Where was this spot when I was younger? I could have used a spot when I was 16.
I’d ponder things. I’d brood. I’d drink a beer or smoke a joint by myself. I embraced my arrested development. Down by the river I watched the cyclists pedal and the joggers run underneath me. Theirs was a much more controlled expulsion of energy. I was a 30-year-old crazy asshole. Trying to pretend I was anything else only made me crazier. I’d spent my earlier years desperately trying to catch up to my older brothers in maturity and the last few doing the same with a bunch of kids who were younger than me. People growing up around me, that’s one thing, I was used to that. But it really gives you pause when kids start passing you by. You see them when they’re babies and they just keep going on, past innocence.
I called Jeannie, told her all about my departure from Dave’s. She laughed and told me she didn’t understand the big deal with that place. I told her an Irish bar needed a doorman. She said that I wasn’t a doorman. She could look at me for two seconds and tell that I wasn’t a doorman. That’s all I got right now, I told her. I asked her if I was a failure. She told me to calm down. I told her I was pissed at the ravioli place. I thought it was the best collection of people I’d ever seen. I said that they were the salt of the Earth and that I loved them all and they stabbed me in the back. Fuck em’. Fuck em all, I told her. I thought that was gonna be my last job. My last shitty job, before I started getting published. More gravely she told me to calm down, and to write it all down.
When people tell me what to write, like I don’t know. Please. They ask, “Is it in your head or on the page?” Don’t they fuckin’ understand? In my head and on the page are the same damn thing. I snap my fingers and it’s on the page.
Eventually I got a job at a shitty Mexican restaurant that would have survived in San Antonio or Diego for about five minutes. The black shoes I had were all wrong. Painful. Unbearable. By the end of a shift where I earned $8 my feet felt like they were being eaten by piranhas. I couldn’t wear them a minute longer. I had no money for a new pair so I called my mom in San Diego. She told me she’d pay for a new pair over the phone with her credit card. I took them off and walked through the grass of the Boston Common in my bare feet, holding the planet’s most terrible black shoes, all the while Louis CK in my head reminding me that I wasn’t entitled to shit when I was born into this world. Louis CK, with his yacht, taking his girls out on the Hudson river. He ain’t telling all he knows.
I got fired I suppose. I mean, I knew I was done. I started punching because Gary slapped me. You would too. Davy said Gary was looking to get punched and I was looking to punch someone, but Davy didn’t figure…
I loved the punks. It didn’t make any sense. But Gary said we were all fuck-ups. C’mon, enough with that. We smoke and drink and we get loud, but enough of that. Fuck-ups because we didn’t finish school? Please, is anyone fooled by that anymore? The kid’s like 20 years old and his band toured Europe. I ain’t gonna hear this fuck-up shit. Not about you, not about me. Fuck-ups because we don’t work at hedge funds? Those people hedge their lives. You think nobody knows we got it right? Nobody knows we’re sitting on winning lottery tickets?
Arrogance? Please. You’re begging for arrogance. I never thought I’d be talking like this, but it was forced out of me. You New England Cynics yank it out of me. It didn’t have to be this way. Clowns. The snot-nosed chubby little piece of shit is all grown up and he can smack the leather off the ball.
We got nuthin to prove to nobody. We’re the best and we know it. You wear your long wool coat and you pay with your Amex. I slice your meat, but you know. You think it’s with irony that you call me boss as you exit? Get the fuck out of here, I am your boss. All you buy is time with your credit card, but the clock keeps ticking. You tremble at the register, and with your dead eyes you see the life in mine. Get the fuck out of here…
Who am I kidding? I have everything to prove.
Gary said he was the rebel, raw genius of the ravioli place. Something like that. Not yet realized. But Jason was like the sweetheart genius. Full-on. Lovable. Whatever. Point is, there was nothing about anyone else. What about Dan, Jason’s favorite living songwriter? You know Dan got a perfect score on the Math SAT? What about Sam, unquestionably the best guitarist of the lot and just a comedic freak of nature? Dana Carvey at the wrong place and wrong time. Chris, he gave me a history lecture everyday I worked with him in the deli. Deli retards. Marci? Hanging just as hard as anyone all the while, quietly, almost secretly getting her degree with flying colors while the boys cry about being fuck-ups. Davy? Don’t get me started.
What about me man? Too old to be a genius I suppose. Uneducated pseudo-intellectual at best. Gary called my post-fight rhetoric pseudo-intellectual. Maybe he’s right. I never threw around phrases like pseudo-intellectual when I was his age.
Time’s up on my genius clock. Too old. Too late. How about if you think for a minute? Your mom gets divorced a few times. You’re in high school. The phone rings and you hear a click. It your mom’s next husband. You just know who it is. Everyone knows and nobody talks about it. Your brother, in the hospital bed in the living room, he knows. He’s dying… but he’ll get better, he always does. But this time? He’s pretty bad. He ain’t even talking the same. He isn’t the same. The family sends you up to Seattle. Your aunts and uncles are gonna take care of you. You try to do well in college. But in-between semesters you carry your brother’s coffin. WHY THE FUCK WAS I CARRYING MY BROTHERS COFFIN? I AIN’T JUST SOME KID FROM THE CHURCH, LIKE THE OTHER PALLBEARERS. I should have been up on the stand, telling stories like I do…
They’ll send you off on a mission where you lose the faith. Where people at the door tell you things you’ve never heard about your church. Are they true? Space babies? What the hell are space babies? You lose your virginity on your mission in the sixteenth month. Haha, what position? You move home, give yourself a couple of years to tell your story, cuz it’s a winning lottery ticket, right? When you get home you lose most of your friends. The family in Seattle pulls away.
And then you fall in love. Another freight train just right smack in the head. She loves you. She really does. Even before the New York Times. You don’t get it. She loves your stupid hair and shitty car and acne and delusional dreams and everything. Damn. A writer can’t do nuthin before love. Love will delay you a bit.
Then you move across the country because you can’t shake the naivety from the non-Mormons and you can’t shake the prodigal stuff from The Church. You have so much more work to do. Boston. You’ll sleep on a floor in Dorchester in an apartment with three cats. You’re allergic to cats. You volunteer at your favorite author’s tutoring center. But you’re a bit older than the interns. They correct you and suggest college. You feel stupid. Assimilate, you tell yourself, so that you don’t die. The trains just keep coming. But you gotta get up. You can’t fail. Everyone back home thinks you’ll fail but you can’t. You have to make it. You can’t quit on this one, not the big one. You meet a genius with a guitar and he hands you a bass guitar. It hits you like freight train, but this one- it’s good. It’s real good. The genius kid, he’s cooler than the interns, smarter too. It’s all good. Maybe you’ll be okay. Weed, booz. They slow down the brain, allow you to think. More freight trains… it’s gonna be a while.
If you were me, you’d be me too.
Why, I asked, why the hell was Gary in a little circle with Jason and Marci, talking about what they were going to do about it? About the fight. About me. As if Gary didn’t slap me. A real trio of punk-rockers. So goddamn grown up, the lot of them! Give em’ a raise! Taking care of BUSINESS! WHY THE FUCK is Gary there, in that little conference? You ask how it looks, fighting in front of customers? I DON’T CARE! Since when do you assholes care how we “look?” You fucking “rock & rollers.” You should join the church I left. Why was Gary not immediately fired, like me? He slapped me! Was it the intensity I fought with? The yelling. Screaming. Like the one and only time I really heard my Dad give it to us boys…
Yeah, they said. The big table made such a shriek as it moved. Chris and Jason pulling me off. Chris’s girlfriend later told me all she cared about were the scratches on her boyfriend’s back. Other people. C’mon Aaron, other people.
Yeah I fucked up. It was still light out when I got home, summer in New England. I told Sarah that I got into a fight with Gary. I argued my case. Taking shit. What was I supposed to do? You want me to just take it? Sorry man, I got slapped. Last time. Bad timing I guess. Was I supposed to take shit my whole life? I’m just supposed to take it? I got beat up a few times. I never fought back. I never understood people. I never understood anything. I was an easy target. In eighth grade, a little blonde psycho who was rumored to run around with automatic weapons hit me over the head about a dozen times with a paperback dictionary while the teacher was out. More humiliation than physical pain. I just don’t get it, I was an easy target. Second grade, another kid, this fucking kid, he saw a picture of my brother in the local paper, with the tumor on his neck, and you know what he said- “I wouldn’t wanna have him for a brother.”
At some point it really begins to simmer. I wasted a fucking decade because I believed all the assholes. All the fuckers who asked why I played. You can’t call the writing chicken scratch. You really can’t. All the pieces of shit, afraid to live, critiquing my decisions. Chicken scratch? Clowns. Fucking clowns. It’s like I’m dealing with children.
You realize you blew your twenties on a trivial thing like confidence, and you’d be pretty pissed off yourself.
Eventually I rested my case to Sarah and just threw myself on her lap. I cried. I bawled. She’s not there that day, I’m dead. I fucked up big. The people I loved the most. There it is Davy- put it on the whiteboard.
Geez, it’s like I don’t even have to try. Ben’s getting a beer and a water, up at the beer stand. We’re gonna split both. Man, there are ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE HERE. Townies, hippies, preppies. Me & Benny. They’re all outcasts. We’re all outcasts. Functioning. The townies will return to their towns. The preppies will go back up the North Shore and the hippies will go back to saving the world. But everyone’s here for themselves today. Dancing with themselves. They’ve all been in the shit and they’re all bonding over this band that has been in the shit. I think I might be getting it. Pain, escape. Ben’s coming back with water and an aluminum Coors Light can. Gotta go, Ben’s tappin’ me on the shoulder. New spot.
I told Ben he was in charge, before the ingestion. He’s been here before. We went down to a new spot, closer to the stage. Ben told me this is about when it starts getting good. When it gets dark. A girl was freaking out. She was telling us that she threw up on the grass. Ben and I were just trying to sit down. I saw the vomit. We sat in front of it. It was fine, I didn’t smell it or anything. She was so emotional. She pointed to her vomit, again and again. I was okay but she wasn’t and it was making Ben and me not okay. She wouldn’t shut up. You’re in charge I told Ben. We left. But it was a good spot. We got real quiet. I began wondering if I was gonna be okay. I was real quiet. We walked to a new spot where a huge man asked us if we saw his watch. It wasn’t a great spot, way off stage right. Too close to the walkway. The man kept asking if we’d seen his watch. I really didn’t want to help look for his watch in the dark. I did some courtesy looking. Does he think we stole the watch? Jesus, we didn’t steal the watch. Why am I afraid of everything these days? Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. This man is scary. Ben, maybe we should go.
We moved up a few feet on the grass. It’s still not the best spot. I think I’m gonna be okay. The girl was so emotional about the vomit! She needed to relax.
Take charge, I told Ben, regarding the vomit. Ben’s got me. But who’s lookin out for Ben? I should ask him how he’s doing. What if he loses it? So what if he’s been here before? It’s okay. It’s real quiet. I’ll be good. I’ll keep close. I should ask him how he’s doing. He’s right there. I’ll do the little things that nobody sees. My horoscope says I’ve been behind the scenes for quite a while. That’s right. I have been. I was taking care of them when they thought they were taking care of me. The little things…I should ask Ben how he’s going.
…Howwwwww you doing? He asks. The tension burst and words flew out of my mouth like water through a dam-
IwasjustthinkingtheSAME THING! Iwasgonnaskyouthe SAME QUESTION! &IwasthinkingabouthowIwasgonnarespondtothatquestion! Whew, I was thinking of all these ways to ask you and things I was going to say. That’s funny man, that’s crazy. It’s all good.
We’re both okay. It’s intermission. Time to go to the bathroom.
Intermission is kind of scary. People everywhere. Like a sea, basically, flowing on the asphalt river. Gotta stick with Ben. We’re gonna pee then we’re gonna get another water and a beer- to split. The bathroom’s crazy. We just go in and out, and the first one done waits right out front. I was done first. Man people everywhere. Where’s Ben? I’m changing tenses, gotta go back and fix that later. But maybe not. This is happening right now. AARON. It’s Joe the bartender. AARON! TELL ME HOW I KNEW I WAS GOING TO SEE AARON LYNCHFIELD WHEN I WALKED OUT OF THAT BATHROOM? Is he serious? Did that thought really pop into his head, that he was gonna see me? That’s weird. My football coach called me Lynchfield. His son asked me why I played. I was no good, why did I even play? Where’s Benny? Joe the bartender is like 40. He worked at Tremont. He was boyish, like me. I’M COMING BACK TO TREMONT! I’LL BE BARTENDING, BROTHER! PAPAGAYO! MAN! YOU WERE RIGHT! THE PLACE IS A TRAIN WRECK! Oh nice. Yeah, cool, we have this new manager at Tremont. I don’t know why Andy hired her. She’s from Tip Of The Top or something. I don’t know. But she, she tried to tell me what words to use when I talk to tables. She told me not to say “folks.” You don’t tell me what words to use. You can tell me a lot, but you don’t tell me what fuckin words to use. Where’s Ben? WELL I’LL SEE YOU BACK AT TREMONT, A-RON! WHEW! I KNEW I’D SEE THAT KID WHEN I WALKED OUT OF THAT BATHROOM!
There’s a new documentary out. Mike Myers from Saturday Night Live made it. It’s about this guy who worked with Jimmy Hendrix. A producer. He knew everyone who was cool back then. He helped them out. He told Jimmy to get business cards. Jimmy was like “What? What the fuck is a business card?” This guy, he was a protector of the artists- that’s what Mike Myers said. I should tell Ben we should watch that documentary. Does Ben wanna know that he’s a protector? Maybe he doesn’t want to hear it. But he’s crucial. Maybe it will make him proud. He should be proud.
He taps me on the shoulder again. Time to go.
Let’s start off this week’s Miss Connections with an example of an MC that I see more often than I want, because, while I don’t believe in the institution of marriage, I like to believe that those who get married do. And yet MC seems to be an attractive place for people to post totally discrete solicitations that will never be seen by anyone other than their desired party:
But You’re my Wife’s Best Friend… – m4w – 34 (Crossing the Line)
…..and I golf with your man. But I feel the sexual tension between us. The other night when we bumped into each other coming out of the bathroom, that intense look. I know if they weren’t in the next room. I’m so tempted to cross the line, but we can’t…right? Or can we? I know you’re out there struggling with the same question. Advice from others with any similar experience welcome. So confused…
Okay, just between us middle-aged cuckolds, let’s be real: you’re not confused. You’re unsure in the way that people who only want to risk a marriage for hot sex are unsure. Because if that hot sex never happens, well, it’s going to be a goddamn shame about that deposit on your wedding hall. And the years of building an emotionally meaningful relationship with another person will be lost—not to mention your wife!
But, even married men will be men, right?
Just one night – w4m
I keep thinking about our conversation and imagining many scenarios with you. So curious just want one night with you but your my husbands friend. I find you so attractive .. What do you think ? Hopefully you read these!
This is one of the many reasons I love MCs: just when it seems that someone has posted an MC that cements stereotypes about one demographic, you get another that proves everyone can be just as scummy! Didn’t think that the first poster would get anywhere with his MC? Well, think again, because turns out his friend’s wife does want to get freaky in the breakfast nook!
Though, not in the way that this next poster wants to get freaky:
Hot Ass Baseball Dads – w4m (North Andover)
I love going to baseball each week just to watch all the incredible good looking baseball dads who are so involved.
Maybe I should pretend to forget my stance so one of those hotties that walk by and say ” hi” can touch me and give me goosebumps!!!!
I love sports and hot dads!!!
Who wrote this, a prepubescent baseball player? Why else would she be practicing her stance at a kids’ baseball game? And the use of exclamation points is clearly indicative of a Tiger Beat connoisseur. The title of this posting should be “Spice Up My Life (Daddy Issues),” because this little lady has a taste for salt and pepper! At least she comes by it honestly. About as honestly as this next poster:
Chestnuthill Bofa ATM – commented about your nipples – m4w
Around 5:45pm at the Bank of America ATM near the Atrium mall….you were a gorgeous brunette in super tight jeans and a white top with no bra. You look like Megan Fox. I walked in after and could clearly see your nipples thru your shirt. I have no idea what came over me, but when you turned around to leave I said “you have absolutely beautiful nipples”. You looked right at me awkwardly and said thanks and then left.
I’m not a perv. It just came out. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Just want to say sorry if I freaked you out…
Dear ATM Man,
I’m so glad you posted this. To be honest, I was a bit freaked out—but now that you explained that you were simply ENTRANCED by my MESMERIZING nipples, I totally forgive you. In fact, this isn’t the first time a man has been simply unable to control himself around my ENGROSSING nipples, and it’s probably my fault for wearing that shirt. You’re definitely not a perv, just a normal guy put under extraordinary circumstances.
Anyway, I appreciate the MC. You could probably sense that I check this religiously and so this was the best way for you to apologize to me.
Want to have wild sex in public sometime?
And, last but not least, perhaps the greatest MC to have ever graced the Internet:
Susan – m4w (with Jesus)
I forgive you. In the time of Noah so shall it be in our time. Forgiveness is what you lack along with common sence, I suggest you Take Jesus into you’re heart and maybe you will not be such a hateful bitch
There’s things I could say, ways I could deconstruct this and the emotional state of the person who wrote it, but dear baby Jesus—who clearly endorsed this message—why would I?
I lie in bed a lot. I J.O. I’m J-O-K, I suppose.
Supposed to be working on something long-form.
Gazing at the stars, Orion told me to be me. He told me to just be Aaron Litchfield. He confided that he knew I was good, as if it was a secret.
No no, that’s not what he meant. Everyone’s not happy with who they are he told me. Everyone’s unhappy with who they are and it bugs him.
Take a deep breath, he said. No, don’t take a drink of that beer, or a puff of that cigarette. Just breathe-
Yell with me, he said. Orion told me to SCREAM at the stars, loud as I could. But I had to do it vicariously through him. He’s got a good strong voice anyway.
Crom can’t focus when his nose is stuffed, he said he can’t think about anything else. I’ve been a mouth breather since birth. Excuses excuses excuses.
* * *
That’s that. Okay, so if you haven’t checked in lately, Sarah has a new Miss Connections, and I have a conversation with Blaze. Just scroll down.
Boston’s been through a lot this week. Its people have been subjected to emotional rugby, which is a game I am convinced has no rules other than “hurt each other,” only made worse by the relentless media coverage.
But through it all, Bostonians carried on—living, loving, loving from afar, loving in completely inappropriate ways and then posting about them on the Internet. Such as this first MC:
A much better show than Oblivion! – m4mw – 41 (Danvers)
Not a missed connection, really — I saw everything! (a la Patrick Stewart in “Extras”) — but thanks to the young couple who spent the entire, overlooooong 5 pm showing of Oblivion at Liberty Tree shamelessly getting it on in the back row. Obviously, I’m the guy who was sitting midway down the row shamelessly watching!
I suppose thanks are also due to the producers of this particular big-budget snoozer for not providing any competition to your writhing lapsex. I give you a five star review, three more than that flick deserves….
You didn’t seem to mind my brazenly watching you go at it — you even stuck around a bit as the credits rolled, perhaps waiting for me to leave. (I wanted to see who the key grip was, honest!) Anyway, if you enjoyed the added thrill of an audience, hit me up – the next matinee tickets will be on me. :)
The best part about this MC is that this man has clearly realized a fetish he never knew he had: being able to be a movie snob and an envoyer at the same time! Getting off to his own snarky one-liners about the movie he’s watching while others are getting off! When he says “the next matinee tickets will be on me,” he means it—because if there’s not a film playing at the same time, he’s not interested.
But as skeezy as it is to be getting down and dirty in a movie theater, and even moreso the man watching it, this next MC is truly in poor taste:
Girl on CNN – m4w – 28 (Watertown)
Just wanting to let the girl that was interviewed by CNN after the suspect was caught know that she is hot.
Solitary confinement can do a lot of crazy shit to your psyche. My brother was once put in solitary confinement in the Navy (and it had nothing to do with ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ so you can put away the jokes about “seamen,” as if my grandmother hasn’t made them already anyway). He said he learned how to win at Monopoly…against himself. I can’t remember ever finishing a game of Monopoly, aka The Four-Hour Exercise in How to Steal Money from the Bank Without Anyone Noticing, let alone after I’d spent time making up my own alter ego and then giving her the ol’ Capitalism Shakedown. The only time I’ve been in solitary confinement was (semi-)voluntarily for much of my childhood, and I ended up writing poetry…about how much I love America. Like I said: it changes people.
So it’s not totally unreasonable for this guy to make a totally inappropriate advance after being stuck in his house for hours on end. I mean, this woman was probably the first one he’d seen all day, if you don’t include his lipstick-smeared right hand.
But how, how how how did he justify this to himself? “I wish I could care about what this woman is saying, or the horror that my entire city went through over the past few days, but all I can think about is how sexy her mouth looks when she says, ‘I’m just happy the terrorists have been caught.’ Mmmmm. It’s even hotter than when my hand-mouth says it.”
The next poster has significantly better judgment when it comes to understanding what is MC-appropriate:
Hey, girl, hey. – w4w – 21 (Davis Sq.)
Hey. You with the face. I saw you looking and LIKING. Thumbs up. Two of em. BAM. Saw you outside of Diesel looking gay as a fish. And I like that. A lot. Hit me up. Alright, you had navy and green flannel on with these tight black jeans. Rocking a nice big pair of boots with laces. You had these glasses on… you look smart like WHOA. Like you go to Tufts or something. You probably have a tattoo. I’ll probably like it.
The fact that “gay as a fish” and “flannel” describes half (which, if anything, is a severe underestimate) of the clientele of Diesel, and that I’m sure similarly quirky and bold, yet coy and tongue-in-cheek, MCs have been posted for them many times, did not make me less endeared to this one. I think it’s because of the poster’s obvious self-awareness in writing this, and her ability to point out the ridiculousness of MCs in general without literally pointing it out (“Hey. You with the face.” instead of, “There’s no way you’ll ever see this, but…” =1,000,000 eprops [those are still legal virtual tender, right?]).
It could also be that I imagine Tom Cruise voicing the lines, “I saw you looking and LIKING. Thumbs up. Two of em. BAM.” And who isn’t whisked away to Wet Dream World by the thought of Tom Cruise hitting on you?
But this last MC, as always, takes the award for Most Heartwarming:
I’d had a horrible Friday night, trying to cope with my sister’s deteriorating condition due to cancer. I started crying at the bar, surrounded by my friends and went to try to find the bathroom to compose myself when one of the bar staff told me I had to leave and escorted me out. In no condition to be alone, I tried frantically to text my friends to come find me as drops of rain and tears fell onto my phone, to no avail. Lost, disoriented, abandoned and scared, I managed to find a main street to catch a cab home, shakily got out onto Brighton Ave and walked one block to my house, losing my wallet along the way.
When I finally realized it was missing, too much time had passed for any hope that in a well-trafficked area, I would find my wallet. The thought of canceling and replacing everything was a constant reminder all weekend of the anxiety, shame and sadness of that night. Something told me, the entire time, that it would come back to me.
I checked the mailbox every day to see if someone had dropped it in there and when I ever reached in and felt the mailer today my heart jumped. I couldn’t tear that stupid stretchy FedEx plastic fast enough. There it was! But the biggest surprise was not that all three of my credit cards, my Charlie card with over $50 on it and four $20 bills were inside, along with my license, library card, hospital cards and medical alert card (I have a chronic illness); it was that inside there was one extra thing: a small piece of paper torn from a notebook that read, “Hey, found your wallet on the ground in Allston. Hope losing it temp. didn’t cause too much trouble”
I had to fight back a tear, I was so grateful. It may seem like a small thing, but for me it was much more than a lost item, a hassle and money. I cannot express how proud I am of Boston right now, and this one particular, anonymous good Samaritan. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can be sure this good deed will be paid forward many-fold.
Boston has a reputation for being a city of cold-hearted bastards—which is perhaps not helped by the fact that many Bostonians pride themselves on being cold-hearted bastards—but it is small, astounding acts of kindness like this that prove even New Englanders can be nice.
Or that we need to build a wall around the city, Texas-style, to prevent any more foreigners from ruining our reputation as borderline sociopaths.
Hi Aaron it’s Blaze
I heard about those attacks in Boston. You’re right next to that. I want to make sure you’re okay.
Oh, thanks. Yeah, I’m okay.
Are all your friends alright?
Yeah…thanks for asking. How are you?
Ummm, pretty good. I saw a bunch of busses in Torrey Pines the other day and I thought it was a load of people here to see Jesus.
Oh, no way! They were looking for Jesus?
No, I just thought they were.
So yeah I saw a bunch of tour busses full of these people here to see Jesus and I thought of a speech I’d give them.
No you didn’t.
Yeah I did. So I thought of this speech and I thought I’d give it to you and you could put it on your blog.
If you write me a speech from Jesus I guarantee you that I’ll put it on the blog.
Okay, good. You know what? I’ll do that right now, I’ll hang up and email it to you right away.
Okay. Thanks Blaze.
Well Aaron, I’m glad you’re alright and I hope everything is okay in Somerville. Tell your friends that your friend Blaze says hi and I will go write that and send it right away.
I’ll do that. See ya Blaze.
It was the cloudy day of Sunday February 3rd 2013. I Blaze Ginsberg, I am taking myself to ride the city bus to Fifteenth Street Beach. As I go I see a murder of tour buses roaming the streets. I think is Jesus Christ back, I think he is?
Hatred is not the way; you have some nerve to hate someone because they are disabled, black, or gay.
People of the Holy Cinemas of California, you have some effrontery to hate this girl because her name is Mercury! Ye with the least amount of sin cast the first stone; let this girl be at her own.
I have come back to remind, if you want salvation some day, love acceptance and kindness should always be the way,
Sports: The Mid Virginian Mountaineers lost a nail-biter to the Dirty River Scoundrels 139-101.
They’re Coming Down Next Weekend
by Aaron Kingsbury Litchfield
Mrs. Retter, Period 6 Remedial English
Oh, I’m sorry, this looks really good on me.
And they take it. And it’s gone.
She’s a tall girl. She’s almost six feet tall.
Do you know what it’s like, she asks, knowing your mother and your aunts are all skinnier than you?
I have to hide my clothes in the attic. I go up to the attic and nothing’s there. What are you gonna to do?
You were born with a scowl on your face. I put it in your baby book. I said, man that is an angry baby. Now though you have a nice smile. You look like Prince William. But I have to go.
Troy fell four times on his way to school. They’re having a bit of a freezing storm.
Ok love you. Bye.
I recently visited my good ol’ home state dere of Minnesota, and in honor of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, this week’s MCs are all from the Minneapolis Craigslist. As we all know, most MCs in Minnesota happen in the supermarket, like this first one:
adam corolla fondled your pinneapples – m4w – 33 (uptown rainbow)
He questioned price on some cookies as made cashier run an isle to check a price..tdude then decided to hit in u..I noticed that he was touching all your items u were going to .buy then the more as he searched for change …I SAVED your gum and ran it outside to u as cashier said that would be sweet …I SHOULD HAVE ASK U TO DINNER. god knowyou weren’t eating pineapples after his grubbing hands were i on them …we did have a nice quick chat about him ..thou u think u digged him lol
What this guy lacks in grammar, he sure makes up for in chivalry! I mean, he SAVED her gum from both the much afeared Produce Fondler and her own terrible short-term memory. (We will ignore the fact that the cashier, whom the poster assumes is actually named “Cashier,” had to tell him it would be a sweet thing to do before he did it. Proving the fact that even sociopaths can do good deeds if given a bit of probing!) He SHOULD HAVE ASK HER TO DINNER, but apparently didn’t because she actually digs the Fondler. Which is not enough of a sign of this woman’s fetish for people who grope grapes, because this man still thinks he can reach her via MC.
Fact: You Are Both Weirdos, and Not The Kind Who Are “Meant For Each Other.”
This next poster expresses the same sentiment:
a poem… – m4w
you came into town
you turned my frown upside down
you went home with a douche
there is no good rhyme for douche
Well played, sir. Well played.
Okay, but where are some sweet postings for thoughtful people?
You Bought My Son’s Nerf Gun at Target – w4m – 38 (St. Louis Park)
My son was checking out at Target with a bag of nickels and you stepped in and bought his Nerf gun. I’m not sure if you were just sick of waiting in line for the a target check out guy to count up the change…either way you made his/my day. A first I thought it was Target that gave him the toy then he explained it was you. I wish I had known this before you walked out the door so I could say thank you. I was checking out in another lane and wanted my son to buy his own toy to learn a lesson about how much things cost and their true worth. You stepped in and taught him a far more important lesson about kindness and generosity. Thank you so much.
Wow, this is so kind. I mean, I’ve seen Pay It Forward, and Minnesotans do have that reputation for being what Bostonians would call “wicked nice, like retahded nice,” but this is really nice…a bit too nice.
Okay, here’s what actually happened: the boy was taking way too fucking long to pay for a $12 Nerf gun with a bag of nickels, because he was paying for it with a bag of nickels. The man behind him started mumbling angrily under his breath about how much he’d like to hit the kid with the bag of change, but the kid (who makes up for his poor business sense with a heightened sense of hearing) heard him and began to cry. The man, not wanting to draw more attention to himself lest people question his motives for purchasing Toilet Buddies, paid for the kid’s Nerf gun. So, not only did the kid get a free Nerf gun, he also learned that by crying, he can get anything he wants. And thus, another sugar baby was born.
Congratulations, Mom—your son is going to grow up to be a socially-acceptable type of prostitute. Don’t worry though, his sugar daddy/momma will teach him the value of a dollar…because he’ll know exactly how much work he needs to do to get one.
This next poster knows exactly what I mean, since women are apparently throwing themselves at him for no good reason:
You dig my accent? I have a question – m4w – 33 (St Paul)
Yet again I get a remark today from a very attractive young lady who said she loved my accent. Very flattering and everything but…
1) I guess I don’t understand how an accent can be ‘hot’ and
2) I don’t understand why I’m always told that in situations where I can’t capitalize on it, shall we say.
What’s with that?? Answers on a postcard please… or in an email. Especially if you’re the young lady who served me in Noodles & Company on Ford Parkway this morning ;)
Here’s some answers:
- You suffer from an inability to hear any sort of accent, like being verbally colorblind. Right, there’s nothing inherently ‘hot’ about an accent, unless you think that people who are from a different place are interesting and thinking about them moving their tongue in creative ways to speak your language reminds you of making out. Just like there’s nothing inherently ‘hot’ about blonde girls…unless you like blonde girls.
- I’m interested in what a situation that you could “capitalize” on would look like, and why this seems to be a widespread injustice committed against you by kind females. Should the young lady at Noodles & Company have first removed her name tag/t-shirt and then complimented your accent? Should she have waited until you used the restaurant’s bathroom and then whispered it through the keyhole?
At least she didn’t describe your accent as sounding like “a rubber life raft bobbing on a sea of steel drums.”
And, in normal Miss Connections fashion, we’ll end on a tender note:
TCF teller at Cub (scared of thunderstorms) – m4w (Hanson/Northdale Coon Rapids)
You weren’t my teller but I was next to you. You are the most beautiful woman I have EVER seen in my life! Your eyes and ur lips were so amazing! And your smile made me feel good! Scared of thunderstorms your boss said. I’d love to know more about you!
You’re right—her smile IS lovely!
Hugh Hefner News:
-I read a terrific article about the 87-year-old magazine editor in this month’s issue of Esquire. (Hefner began his career as a copy editor at Esquire.) Here’s a photo I took of a memo to his company in 1961:
I highly recommend the article. I won’t say much more about it, but I have to include this quote from Hefner’s new editorial director, Jimmy Jellineck, regarding his opportunity to work for a high-profile magazine:
“If you forget that, [it’s a privilege] that’s when you fall down the rabbit hole and you’re writing on the Internet at home in your underpants. I’d rather put a gun in my mouth.”
September 14, 2008 (2 Months In Boston)
I got your letter in the mail today. It was nice to receive a letter in the mail. On the subject of your identity, I think the only thing that helps with that is time. Really. You can read tons of books and meet tons of people, I mean, maybe there’re SOME things you can do, like travel… I don’t know. Being alone helps, but… it’s so frustrating. I think time is what clears up the brain better than anything else. Nothing gives you the perspective of time- seeing events from a distance, and yourself as a different person. My old roommate Lilly from Seattle told me that it’s difficult, if not IMPOSSIBLE, to write about a subject when you’re still immersed in it, particularly when things are severely dramatic. I think it’s at least true in my case. That’s how I justify being unpublished at 26.
I’ve made so many shower manifestos, as far back as 12 years old. I’d promise that I was going to go to the batting cages more, & lose the baby fat. The next school year was always the year I’d get a girlfriend and be confident & popular. And get good grades.
In High School, I told people I liked punk music, though it wasn’t really punk. In retrospect, my favorite band at the time, Face to Face represented me perfectly- high energy, but the lyrics were too vague. They just didn’t go there. They were too restrained.
When I saw them live my senior year at a New Year’s show featuring about 20 bands, all the more tattooed punk kids- fans of Guttermouth and The Vandals gave way to a more grave crowd when Face to Face took the stage. I was happy to see other Face To Face fans for the first time; many of them looked more like me- less decorated, and more restrained. There was minimal moshing when they played.
I liked Face To Face, but I didn’t put their posters on my wall. I was always in awe when I saw other kids rooms. All that expression! I was severely envious. I never decorated any of my rooms growing up. My rooms looked like empty-nester bedrooms that are converted to guest rooms after the kids leave. There were only a few hints that my room actually belonged to a person.
I looked up to a fellow in high school named Justin. He’d pick me up for seminary (basically an hour of church before school each day) at 5:45 am. Cheshire Cat, in Justin’s truck on the way to the church was my introduction to Blink-182. Justin dated pretty girls and had about 4% body fat. He always had cool shoes. He flipped through my CD collection once and observed that he had every single CD that I had, but of course he had about three times as many.
When I went to BYU-Idaho before my mission, I was out late one night with my roommate Kyle and his girlfriend Jen. I was crazy about Jen, but there was nothing I could do at that point. We were in an empty parking lot while he did some pretty athletic things on roller blades. He jumped off a six-foot wall while spinning around. Rollerblading in my native San Diego was considerably uncool, as there in an ocean to surf in and skateboarding was taking over the world. I didn’t skate though, I just hung around skaters and wore what they wore. Anyway, I made fun of Kyle for his rollerblading. I told him it was gay. He got distinctly and justifiably angry. He looked at me.
“What do you do Aaron? YOU DON’T DO NOTHIN!'” He pointed at me.
I didn’t do a damn thing. My failures to make the baseball team my freshman & sophomore years in high school were too fresh, so I never said a thing about baseball. What was I supposed to say when asked if I played sports? When people did ask, I told them I wrestled in 10th grade. I laughed it off and blamed the skater friend of ours who convinced a few of us to wrestle that year, subjecting us to the humiliation of a singlet.
I dreaded beginning-of-the-year-questionnares that asked about hobbies and interests. I wasn’t in A.P. English so I didn’t feel qualified to talk about how The Great Gatsby hit me like a freight train, and how I immediately went out and bought Fitzgerald’s first book, This Side of Paradise, and ate that up too.
You know Roxane, I went on my mission and stuff and that’s when I got to thinking about things. I took a psychology class at Miramar College after I came home. I was 22. We discussed identity one day. The professor explained how people become who they will be for the rest of their lives when they are in their teens. I remember walking to my car after that day of class, puzzled. I recalled how This Side of Paradise ended. Amory Blaine said that he knew himself, but that was all. When I read that line I thought Amory was lucky, because I didn’t know myself. I admitted that even if I had an identity, I wasn’t sure what it looked like, or how to explain it. Weezer’s Pinkerton was basically on a loop in my stereo around that time.
I wonder how you decorate your room
I moved to Seattle a couple of years later, after Amy. For the first six months I lived with my brother and his wife in Redmond, the suburb that houses Microsoft. My bedroom in that apartment still resembled a grown-up kid’s room at his parents’ house. But then I moved across Lake Washington to Green Lake, just a couple of miles north of downtown Seattle. My new roommate Lilly was a writing major from Emerson college in Boston. She was 22, I was 24. I was extraordinarily excited about this. I was going to learn from her. I considered her a powerful force on the other side of the fence. We shared a good-sized basement apartment. On our living room couch I told her I was going to write a memoir about being a missionary and all that. I showed her my missionary name tag. She beamed as she grabbed it from me, clutched it to her chest and announced that it was going on the outside of my bedroom door. I joked about how unskilled I was. My memoir, Delusional Degenerate would be “By Aaron Litchfield, with Lilly Smith.” (But I’d really write it myself though you know.) She smiled and said that would be so “neopostmodern.” I showed her something I wrote about visiting my Mormon friends’ father at the law firm. She smiled and said it needed exposition. She told me I wrote stream of cosciousness. Stream of Consciousness? I had to look up exposition also. Duh, just break down the word. EXPOSE. C’mon Aaron.
I bought a Weezer poster for my new apartment in Green Lake, though days after I’d moved in, it was still hopelessly unraveled on my bedroom floor. I mean people could SEE that poster and they could make their snap judgments about me! Lilly probably thinks Weezer sucks! She met me at the entrance of my room one morning and I saw her gaze down at the poster. I awkwardly told her I didn’t even know if I was going to put it up. She said it was OK, that keeping it on the floor was so “neopostmodern.” And she walked away.
I just stared at that poster, lying on the floor, in a tube shape, wide as a soccer ball.
Seattle. Age 24. You got a girlfriend dude. Don’t know how, but it happened. How about this little apartment, huh? Called me right after they showed the place even though they said a couple of days. Hadn’t been driving for 5 minutes. Said I was just a good fit. Good Fit… Don’t wanna be labeled, huh? Same reason you can’t get a tattoo. Don’t want to be defined, do ya pal? Can’t have limitations… True Romance is like the greatest movie ever! Tony Scott IS in fact a cheeseball. He directed TOP GUN for goodness sake! But True Romance has Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette. They’re perfect. PERFECT how their careers didn’t pan out. Make it better. Tony gave it a Hollywood ending. It needed that. Actually made it even more Tarantino than Tarantino would have…Look at that poster… you love literature, but you simply gobbled up Moneyball, like no other book. Stayed up all night & it’s a baseball book by a finance writer.
“It’s so neopostmodern” she said.
Thanks to Stephanie from Buffalo, NY for her help filming.
Anyone who knows me, even just through the social mediaz, knows that I’m totally incompetent when it comes to any form of technology. You could probably put oven mitts and a blindfold on a monkey and they would be able to figure out how to use the Internet better than I can. (Though, to be fair, I am referring to one of those monkeys that’s, like, only a few hundred thousand years removed from human evolutionary history. You know, the smarter ones. Whatever.)
The point is, no matter how much of an imbecile I am at technology, this woman is worse:
Anthony Roberts I am feeling you – w4m (Waltham)
Your name is Anthony R ( I know your last name just not posting it here for obvious reasons)
I think your really cute and I want to get to know you but I am not sure if you feel the same
while you talk to me occasionally you have not asked for my number
but i want to hang out with you so email me if you see this
So, not only did this woman include Anthony Roberts’s full name, she also included a city, street name, and MAP of where to find him. I guess her idea of “being discreet” was not posting his cell phone number or Social Security number on the Internet. Well, at least she’s posting for someone she’s met IRL, unlike the next poster:
looking for your Dad – w4m – 72 (Arlington)
Hi, you are a nice young couple, we sat at the Legal Seaside bar enjoying “Portuguese Seafood Stew” yesterday (Friday March 15); we had a brief conversation about your dad, you and your husband live in Grafton.
I was there with my date, I would love to get in touch with your dad. My date was OK, but not what I’m really looking for. If you happen to see this, please ask your Dad to give me a call.
1. What did this person say about their father that was so appealing? “He’s filthy rich, ages better than a fine wine and is the best shuffleboard player in his retirement community”?
2. What exactly is a 72-year-old woman looking for? Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of senior citizens dating, because it gives me hope for the future and is like a big middle finger to the stereotype of chaste old folks, but at what point do you decide to just ride out your time by following the adage, “Love the one you’re with”?
3. Why is “Portuguese Seafood Stew” in quotation marks? It makes the dish sound more insidious than seafood anything already is.
I applaud this woman for her shamelessness, though, I really do. Just like this guy:
Man Who Ralphed at Park Street – w4m – 26 (Park Street (alewife))
To the well dressed gentleman who decided a crowded train platform at rush hour was a good place to lose your cookies.
I hope you’re OK. I would have helped but I suffer from a serious form of Emetophobia and was busy trying not to faint and or cry. It’s odd that no one seemed to acknowledge your sickness–but at least I can take comfort in knowing that if I were to suffer from a serious medical ailment, everyone would pretend not to notice.
Oh, is it your first week in Boston? Don’t worry, the collective nonchalance becomes ingrained in you after a while, so that not even you will notice when you throw up in public.
Hope you were just drunk (at 5PM) and not suffering from the Flu. Let me know if you are OK and also WHY GOD WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME.
Again I ask: is it your first week here? Because he was definitely drunk. Why do you think the streets of the Financial District are lined with giant Irish pubs?
It’s really sweet that this woman is inquiring into his well-being. I mean, acknowledging that he did not intend to throw up at all, much less in order to send her into a conniption, or maybe just handing him a tissue as he was hurling would have been more considerate, but…this is, uh, nice.
Okay, I’ll fess up: I chose this one partially because imagining a man wearing a business suit and throwing up in public makes me feel better about my liberal arts degree. No, I don’t have a full-time job with a steady salary and an office in a skyscraper, but hey, you don’t see me blowing chunks in front of the evening rush hour crowd. At least, no one would be surprised if I did.
Though that mental image hardly competes with this one:
Muffin slap – m4w – 28 (Cambridge, ma)
I saw you on the street today. You had really long fingers. Like, way long. You could probably scratch your knees without bending at all. Also, your neck was fast. It moved with a quick swagger if you know what I mean. By the way you were really good! Now I like a lot of sauce, but this was one sassy slump. You were carrying 14 muffins in one hand with those dumpy fingers and all I wanted to do was create a good muffin slap across your sexy bugs. Contact me if you saw me creating a muffin slap opportunity. I am a man.
This MC reads like it was written alternately by Don DeLillo, a horny British brat, and…Aaron, actually. The language here is just glorious—your neck was fast. It’s a horrifying image, but it’s a very specific one nonetheless. “Sassy slump”? I don’t know what the hell that is, but dear God do I love it. And it’s anyone’s guess as to what this woman was really good at, but even the most overarching and misplaced compliments can deliver a self-esteem boost. The only part I totally did not understand was what a “muffin slap” is.
In addition to being effectively Amish when it comes to technology, I am totally out of the loop on the culture of anyone who grew up after the 1970’s. Naturally, I went to Urban Dictionary for the definition of “muffin slap”:
This is a physical diss for all girls who have muffin tops. You approach one of these unfortunates from behind (for those more daring, or rather semi-retarded, you can advance from the front) and with both hands slap her muffins.
So this man, who provides absolutely no other description of himself than that he has a penis, is either being a huge fatphobic asshole, or just very open about his muffin slapping-fetish. And because I’m optimistic, and a little in love with his poetic description of her sassy slump sauce, I will assume it’s the latter.
You find that quick-necked woman, Man, and may you both slap each other’s muffins.
Scanning Missed Connections for interesting posts can sometimes be disappointing. Most posts are horribly vague–one this week actually just said, “You were hot, walking down the street. We made eye contact.” so, EVERYONE who left their house that day–or just vengeful nonsense–“Fine, go back to that whore, but will she ever understand what ‘Raging in the Deep’ means like I do?”
This week, however, the Freaks of Boston really came out in full force. Take, for example, this anti-pedophile:
Indoor Playground – m4w – 36 (Watertown)
Went there last week and was impressed with the mommies and nannies. I’m tall, lean, and bearded
If we smiled and made eye contact, say hi.
Have a good day
Let’s consider for a moment how a 36-year-old man found himself at an indoor playground stalking female child wranglers in the first place. He makes no mention of a child, like, “I was the dude with the five-year-old dressed as Spiderman who was screaming for an ice cream cone,” so I can only assume he was there alone. This is how I imagine his day went down:
–Wake up on couch in front of the TV, having fallen asleep to infomercials for Chia Pets that look like Obama, cigarette butts and Bud Light cans littering the floor
–Wallow in self-pity
–Drink a Gatorade and eat the leftovers of a Meat Supreme pizza you don’t remember ordering
–Decide to clean yourself up and go out (eventually settling on your nicest sweatshirt and a quick sink wash of your armpits)
–Search for some place more exciting than the dank bar you usually frequent in the early afternoons, remembering that women your age often have children and therefore congregate at schools, but loitering at an elementary school is creepy, so you eventually settle on the nearby indoor playground
–Feel strangely drawn to the maternal figures at said playground because you clearly need someone to take care of you, though it doesn’t really matter who at this point so no need to remember any of these women in particular detail
–Return home feeling like you’ve accomplished something and maybe grown as a human
–Wipe away said feelings by writing a MC for any and all of the women you just stared down while they tried to herd their children away from you
–Return to the couch, the only one who truly understands you
As much as that MC weirds me out, the next one hits a bit closer to home—because I actually used to live here:
courtyard Fremont you were role playing a dog getting pounded loved – mw4mw – 35 (Boston )
we went to bill burr Saturday night.
When I was a freshman at Emerson College, right in the heart of downtown Boston, they ran out of space for all of the incoming co-eds (“Oops, you’re homeless!”) and had to rent out the entire 7th floor of the Courtyard Marriot, down the street on Tremont. (Bill Burr was performing at the Wilbur Theatre that night, not twenty feet away. Also, “Fremont” Street is in Mattapan.) A lot of weird shit happens when you live in a hotel, but this is by far one of the strangest:
you were in the room next to us… you role played a dog while your husband or boyfriend fucked you crazy from behind. then you talked about it after you came and you got the outfit from I party… thin walls in the hotel, but we want to meet you. it was hot email us the room number you were in would love to have a drink together.
So at first you’re all, “Oh, they listened to a couple doing it doggy-style. It’s weird that they could tell the position through the walls, but otherwise this is pretty normal.” And then the poster is like, “BAM, I mean a literal dog outfit. Not only did we listen to the whole thing, we also realized we’re furries and into foursomes. Let’s make it happen.” It’s kind of beautiful, in a way, that these people found each other…it’s also disturbing for me to imagine all this going down in the bedroom I occupied for a year. How many people played out their “Shaggy Dog” fantasies on my sheets before I lived there?
This MC, however, is even more personal…
Red Line, Green Line, Copley – m4w – 25 (Copley)
I got on the Red Line at Harvard and noticed you sitting with your friend. We both transferred to the Green at Park, and I sat directly across from you. We made eye contact. We smiled at each other. My heart literally started racing. We both got off at Copley. I wanted to say something to you, but you raced away and I thought maybe I had freaked you out. If you see this, and your heart started racing too, I hope that you respond.
You: short dark hair, jeans, pumas. Me: short dark hair, jeans, pumas.
…because it is definitely just a post for himself. Narcissists, take note: when you get goosebumps from seeing yourself in the reflection of a subway window, it’s time to hit up the Family Dollar for a pocket mirror. It will save you a lot of money in T passes.
Much like cold sores on a college campus, the love of MCs has spread across this frat house of a nation. My friend and fellow MC lover, Joel, recently brought this infographic to my attention:
Take a minute to soak this all in.
No no, take your time, there are at least 50 states up there.
Okay, so a few disturbing trends:
THE WALMART BELT
Public spaces where people congregate and “hang out” are generally the types of places you’d imagine seeing someone from across the room, maybe even having a few words of dialogue, and then later being retroactively ballsy/desperate enough to write a MC. In most of the South and Midwest, it seems the hip joint where all the cool cats go after work and before re-runs of Cops is…WalMart. For anyone who’s seen People of WalMart, you know there’s a lot of connections to be missed.
This woman, for example, was caught building a meth lab on a WalMart shelf in Oklahoma. I imagine that MC would read something like:
M 4 W —
Hey girl i saw you down aisle 5 next to the economy sized bleach cookin up some meth, and some love in my hart. i cant stop thinking about the way you mixed those household chemicals into a highly addictive, brain-sizzling, life-ruining substance. i’m interested in chemistry too, and i think i have sum with you. you didnt stop until the cops came and dragged you out–i love a woman with confidence. let me know if you want to get freaky through the glass pane of a supervised room during visiting hours.
So either Georgia doesn’t have WalMarts, or (more likely) they are so far away from where humans live that more time is spent in the car driving to and fro. Or all the retirees driving through Georgia on their way to Gated RV Community, FL are undressing each other with their eyes in a last-ditch attempt to check “swinging” off of their bucket lists. Which is actually really dangerous, because RVs are like road whales, and you’re probably going pretty fast. Senior Citizens: Stop. Eye-fucking. While. Driving.
I mean, I know Rhode Island is small, but goddammit you guys–parking lots? Is every MC written by a bored suburban teenager, or someone who fell in love with a member of their rival gang’s family and can only express themselves through dance?
Utah –> Brigham Young University –> Mormons. I once worked with a woman who told me she had gone to BYU to find a husband. She has a doctorate and is the Executive Director of an international non-profit.
I’ll let Aaron elaborate on that.
But the most disturbing trend, by far, is…
I had to look at Indiana a few times before finally accepting what it actually says. “Athome”? It could be a really hip bar. No, maybe it’s “at ho, me.” Dear God, it really just is “at home.” And because I don’t like incest, I wanted to assume the best: Indiana is full of people looking for themselves. It’s really just an Existentialist State, where most people lounge at home in pools of ennui, wondering whether they really exist at all, and whether it even matters anymore.
And then I went to the Indianapolis MC list and found this:
Mail Carrier – m4w – 29 (Noblesville)
Beyond bad; Stupid, not funny, and extraordinarily formulaic.
It’s the old Planes, Trains, and Automobiles concept wherein two opposing characters are forced to travel across the country. One is a straight man, the other a joker. The concept is so overused and this film is so bad.
Zack Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. proved that the teat had been sucked dry with 2010’s Due Date. In the 90’s, Chris Farley and David Spade executed the formula much better with Tommy Boy.
Anyway, Jason Bateman’s character gets a raise from $50K to $250K a year. But holy shit, his identity gets stolen! After his new boss threatens to let him go, Bateman comes up with a plan: Drive to Florida, pick up the thief and bring her back so she can explain to the boss and the cops that everything is cool.
Melissa McCarthy plays the rotund thief. She was pretty funny in the film Bridesmaids, but not this one.
The evil T1000 from Terminator 2 has a role in this film.
But it sucks and it will show you absolutely nothing new.
What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than scouring the annals of Craigslist’s Lonely Hearts Club for the most laughable attempts at making human connections, I always say!
At least, that’s what I’m saying this year, because my Valentine to SFSF is the first Miss Connections of 2013!
I DIDN’T CHOOSE TO IGNORE YOU LADIES
[This is both the heading of the first MC, and my apology for being so negligent in writing Miss Connections. Moving on…]
YOU LADIES ARE WRITING TO ME AND YOU ARE NOT BEING HONEST WITH ME. I HAVE NO IDEA WHICH OF YOU LADIES IS WRITING WHAT BECAUSE YOU ARE HIDING, WHICH ISN’T FAIR BECAUSE MOST IF NOT ALL OF YOU LADIES ARE WRITING TO ME.
That’s an amazing track record, isn’t it? Most, if not ALL, of the ladies who read this MC are writing to him. I’m almost afraid to post this, for fear it might turn into an Internet version of The Ring—once you read this MC, ladies, you have seven days to write to him or you, uh…cease to be a lady. I mean, you probably have enough time to read the rest of this blog post, but after that you should definitely consider writing to him.
I HOPE TO MEET A LADY IN PERSON.
Ah, the mystikal sighting of a lady! How long mere mortals have yearned to see one in the flesh!
YOU LADIES ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ACCEPT ME FOR WHO I AM. IN PERSON. I AMN’T FOUR PEOPLE. A SINGLE MAN, LOST, LONELY AND AFRAID AT TIMES.
Goddammit. This last line is so naked, so vulnerable, it almost makes me feel bad for mocking the poor guy. I just want to tell him that there is a place on the Internet for confessions of weakness, and it’s called Xanga circa 2004.
Okay, let’s try someone who knows whom they’re addressing, first name and all:
Sarah who works at Museum of Science + Children’s Museum. – m4w – 25 (The Sinclair)
i never do this, and I’m not sure what your story is, but we met tonight at the sinclair. you were with some friends but didn’t care much for the bands playing.
you told me a sub-par story about a coffee shop and a guy in a wheelchair. although you were slightly tipsy, it was adorable. i think you said you’re from texas.
i wasn’t in a great place to have a conversation, and you said you usually don’t talk to strangers, but I would love to hear more of these sub-par stories sometime over coffee or drinks.
I will admit that I opened this MC because my name is Sarah and, though I have never worked at either of these museums, I have always wanted to. So I imagined myself being this Sarah, one who works with science and brats and goes to concerts and talks to strangers. I imagined opening an MC where the poster describes me first as a disinterested audience member, then as a sub-par storyteller, who is adorable despite the fact that she is tipsy (which is definitely a euphemism for “sloppy”), and then almost maybe remembers my home state.
And then I promptly copied, pasted, and mocked. As adorable as this guy probably thinks he is in this MC, Sarah is offended. She thinks that wheelchair coffee shop story was worthwhile, and she doesn’t usually talk to strangers because, even when they have the buffer of the Internet between themselves and her, they will feel the need to tease her in order to win her affections. May as well tell Sarah her eyes are two mesmerizing crumbs of stale bread in pools of curdled milk, for God’s sake.
The next poster finally got it right:
Cute Toll Collector I-90E – w4m – 29 (Brighton/Allston Exit)
Me: brunnette, bangs, blue eyes, blushes easily. You: blond, very short hair, great smile.
You were so good looking I got flustered trying to hand you change…you may have been slightly amused? I make that drive every Monday and I think I’ve seen you on one other occasion and had a similar experience. Just thought I’d let you know the effect you’re having on female motorists.
Okay, it’s not the most inventive or heartwarming MC I’ve ever posted, but I appreciate it because it’s written for a toll collector. Do you understand how relentlessly boring a job like that is? You are stuck in a phone booth, asking grumpy passersby for change. It’s like being a professional highway panhandler. No one expects to have fun doing that job, and along comes this woman who not only gets flustered trying to hand you a handful of nickles, but she thinks about you enough to write an MC later. Now THAT is romance!
But the last MC this week goes not to the most romantic, but the poster who clearly has the best sense of humor:
To the girl who flipped me the bird this afternoon – m4w – 24 (Lechmere, Near Science Museum)
You: Irate woman (probably mid-late twenties), sunglasses, driving some sort of gas-guzzling “luxury” SUV.
Me: The blue-eyed dude in a silver Toyota Corolla that was unwittingly blocking some sort of stupid left-hand turn opening that could only be found in Boston/New England.
There was a huge cluster-fuck of a traffic jam just past the Lechmere T stop. You tried to make some insanely stupid, stubborn move across my lane. I, being trapped between a bunch of other cars (this was a traffic jam, bee tee dubz) had nowhere to go. You proceed to throw your hands up in exasperation and when I proceeded to mock you, you flipped me one hell of a sexy middle finger.
I laughed in return and threw one back at you. You then (I could only guess by your agitated facial expressions and lip movements) cursed at me and flipped another sweet, slender middle finger in my direction. I responded with a double-dose of “fuck you” symbolism, and you drove away.
Coffee sometime? Maybe we can tell each other to fuck off in person.
I had to read this MC a few times to decide whether I thought the poster was passive aggressively ranting or legitimately asking this woman out. Despite the fact that he insults her car and portrays little that he likes about her, I feel like this is a real MC. He doesn’t sound angry, and there’s no other reason for him to write all of this on CL unless he actually wants to chance finding this woman. Who knows, maybe he’s into rageful females.
But the real MC should be for this guy:
P.S. To the old dude who followed this girl through the same lane and shook his fist at me, you’re the man. I proceeded to mock you too, and instead of getting pissed like previously mentioned girl, you laughed and threw up a peace sign. You win.
He certainly does.
New England isn’t known for its Mexican food, and I don’t think it ever will be.
SFSF Restaurant Review
735 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge (Central Square)
I’ve eaten at Picante a few times. It disappoints almost every time. The food seems to be well-made, with quality ingredients. But it’s also pretty bland and heavy on the rice. Mexican rice is a pretty boring food.
Perhaps Picante’s problem is that they’re one of the only decent Mexican food places in their price range in greater Boston, which gives them a bit of an inflated ego.
Authentic is often attached to food establishments. I don’t pretend to know what authentic Mexican food is. I went on a church thing during my first adolescence that took me to Tijuana, Mexico. There, we took part in a service project for our Mexican-Mormon counter-parts. The Mexican Mormons were gracious enough to cook a meal for us, which I remember being heavy in veggies and potatoes, with no hint of spice. So maybe Picante can claim authenticity. Who knows? What matters with food is whether or not it tastes good.
I used to live in Central Square and I ate at Picante a few times because the food options are limited. (Food options are always limited though, right?) Like I said earlier, the food at Picante has always been disappointingly bland. I ate fish tacos there once and had to suffer through mango salsa and grilled fish. It was laid out in do-it-yourself fashion. Mango salsa is stupid.
Picante’s pretentious interpretation of fish tacos is pretty much what you get anywhere outside of my native southern California. In San Diego, there’s a pretty big chain called Rubio’s that does fish tacos way better, if not authentic. They fry up whatever white fish they get ahold of and put it in a corn tortilla with cabbage accompanied by a flavorful, spicy mayonnaise sauce. I always add more kick from their salsa bar, which is pretty good. I’m not even going to go on about some of the other Mexican joints in San Diego. They’re good, trust me.
If bland, the meat at Picante has a natural texture to it, as if the chicken they purchase comes from birds that are let out of their made-to-fit cages and into the daylight every now and then. The meat feels as if it isn’t loaded with steroids, at least not to Roger Clemens levels.
I said that my taco salad was $8.75 and later $8.25. It was one of the two. It definitely wasn’t $7.00, as the website advertises. I’m sure they just haven’t updated the site in a while.
Their salsa bar is also pretty good. There are a few varieties to choose from. Absent from the salsa bar though, are carrots marinated in jalapeno juice. Lots of Mexican food places back home have delicious, soft, jalepeno-soaked carrots available for free at their salsa bars.
So I give my meal 4 out of 5 stars. That’s based solely on last night’s experience; I can’t promise everything at Picante is going to be as good.
I went to my uncle Sonny’s house the other day and the title topic came up. He told me that he knew a fellow who “left the schmuck on” his son. He felt bad for the son and expressed concern that the kid was going to suffer when he got older.
“Poor kid’s gonna suffer.”
I was with Peachpit the other day (minus Hannah) and I told them about this. I explained that I understand that it’s a bit more hygienic to have the tip cut off, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree that someone being left in a more natural state was going to suffer. I wouldn’t use the word suffer.
Louis brought up the Jewish circumcision ritual. We all agreed it was weird, but it’s really not any weirder than circumcision in general. Cutting the tip of the fucking penis OFF. Additionally, Louis reminded us of the common theory that the uncircumcised have better feeling during intercourse. (I considered simply using sex in that last sentence, but couldn’t resist. Sorry. INTERCOURSE. Of course.)
“My Dad was circumcised down by the river.”
That’s what Jason said. Seriously. He explained that his father took him to the river where the procedure took place.
“His sanitation was jumping in the river.”
Sophie picks me up in Detroit, and we drive the six hours or so to Cincinnati. Like most stretches of freeway across the Midwest, the sights are all an homage to driving culture: huge buffet restaurants next to even bigger shopping malls, an “adult play place,” and billboards selling insurance and conservative morality.
Sophie and I have spent a lot of time driving together since we became close friends in high school, and the introspective, philosophical conversations inherent to long rides in the darkening night come easily. We discuss where we are and where we’re going, two 20 somethings with no obligation to stay put, and then giggle over silly stories and bad jokes. We’re driving down to see Eddy, another high school friend, who studied violin at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and stayed after he graduated to continue working on the music scene and to play with his band.
We pull up to Eddy’s house, a three-story building wedged in next to a police station. Eddy lives on the top floor, and the bottom two floors are used for his music program. He tells us this area is East Price Hill, which used to be a really nice area when the Price family still lived here. It’s still not as degraded, however, as Lower Price Hill.
“The poverty rate in Lower Price Hill is around 40%,” Eddy says. “It’s one of the scariest places I’ve ever been. The poverty just strikes you.”
“What’s the poverty rate in Cincinnati in general?” I ask.
“About 30%,” he says. “Oh, wait, I thought you asked about Price Hill. The whole city in general? It’s much lower. Cincinnati has, per capita, the highest rate of millionaires in the country.”
“Yeah, especially the neighborhoods surrounding the city, like Indian Hill and Mariemont. Indian Hill, as a community, was the biggest supporter of George W. Bush in the 2008 elections, financially.”
And yet the biggest problem for Eddy’s youth orchestra group is money. MYCincinnati is a program that Eddy’s friend Laura founded just over a year ago and he joined, just after he had graduated from college, based on the lifesaving program El Sistema in Venezuela. The idea was to keep kids off of crime-ridden streets, away from temptation and out of harm’s way, and to give them skills that would help them succeed in other aspects of their lives: discipline, camaraderie, self-esteem. This structure, which has been replicated all over the United States (including SFSF’s base in Massachusetts) serves the same purpose everywhere, and is successful in turning out not only incredibly talented musicians, but also lowering crime rates and building more beautiful communities.
Eddy and Laura teach children how to play the viola, violin and cello everyday after school for two hours. Laura teaches the children who had never played a note on any of these instruments before joining the program, and Eddy guides the returning students, evidence of a successful first year. All of the instruments have been donated by a local violinmaker who simply believes in the program.
Sophie and I help out one day. Eddy puts us in charge of child-wrangling; basically, take the kids as they filter in, make sure they get their instruments and head to the correct orchestra. Eddy tells us that he and Laura suspect or know that many of the children have autism, Asperger’s, or some sort of condition that makes it difficult for them to function in social situations. One boy, who looks like a 9-year-old version of Benicio del Toro, refuses to let go of his stuffed beaver toy, and sits it next to him while playing. Eddy invites me into his orchestra room and introduces me to his musicians.
“Sarah and I grew up together,” he says.
“But I thought you were from China!” shouts one of the older girls.
“No, he’s from Minnesota,” replies a younger boy.
“But he looks Chinese!” she shouts.
Eddy quiets the rowdy musicians, then says, “My parents are from Korea, but I was born in Minnesota.”
“Oh, so they were immigrants?” shouts the same girl. “They came here with nothing but a suitcase and the clothes on their back! We learned about this in class.”
I talk with some of the kids at snack time, and realize that most of these kids are either immigrants themselves, or the children of new immigrants. Many are fluent in Spanish–immigrants from Guatemala and other Latin American countries, Eddy says. I ask them to teach me something, but they’d rather gossip with me about other students instead. After snack, one child sweeps up and the rest get back into playing position. Their parents start arriving, many mothers who just smile at Sophie and me, but when they speak it’s with a melodic foreign cadence.
The Happy Maladies, Eddy’s band, rehearse almost every day we’re there, and Sophie and I get to sit in while they perform. We sit on the bed in a room barely big enough for the four band members and their instruments. I write down the first things that come to mind as they play:
a kaleidoscopic fever dream//the punk rock of string quartets//the joy of barely bridled chaos//emotional wanderlust//being wrapped up in a satin curtain from your grandparents’ house and rolling down a hill of wildflowers on the first day of spring
Though he was always gifted at music, I never heard Eddy sing until recently. It gives me chills every time. I smile to myself, an inside joke with my memories of his love for Joanna Newsome and Bjork. He and his bandmates are all very down-to-earth, modest even after playing a complex original tune on the banjo or upright bass and harmonizing all the while.
Eddy’s friends move slowly and lightly, and smile frequently. Everyone seems genuinely interested in meeting his high school friends. When we’re not at a concert or helping with Eddy’s orchestra program, Sophie and I drink coffee and play board games and write. I begin to feel like I live here.
On our drive out of Cincinnati, Sophie and I pass an enormous statue of Jesus, arms wide enough to encompass all of His children doing 80 on the freeway, next to a flashing billboard. “OUR GOD…IS BIGGER THAN…OUR STATUE!” The tongue-in-cheek humor and laidback attitude of the Midwest, as conservative as it can be, is what gets lost in the headlines, and is what makes me love it every time I return.
“This is called, ‘urban prairie,'” Taylor says as we drive past yet another empty lot overgrown with rusty grasses. I look down the street and realize that these patches of overgrown city greenspace are actually the norm, not the anomaly as I had assumed before she pointed it out.
“There’s been a problem recently with wild dogs,” she says. “Wildlife attracts wildlife.”
We drive past abandoned houses, crumbled and crumbling, buildings with fire damage next to houses that look like perfectly habitable Midwestern homes.
“Are there a lot of house fires?” I ask.
“Yeah,” Taylor says. “The day before Halloween is called, ‘Devil’s Day,’ in Detroit. A lot of houses are set on fire, as sort of a gang initiation.”
“Abandoned houses?” I ask.
“No, ones that people live in,” she says, and I can see that the pain it causes her to repeat this has hardened into heavy totem that she carries somewhere inside her lungs, to remind her when she speaks that this has never been easy for anyone to voice. We are walking around the Heidelberg Project, a series of reclaimed houses that stretch across two blocks in Detroit’s East Side, a neighborhood replete in urban prairie. The sidewalks, empty lots, and houses still standing are all part of the art, done by a group of local artists intent on reviving the community.
There is a lot of street art in Detroit, because it’s just so easy. Land is ample. So are canvasses.
I met Taylor my first semester in college, and we became friends over a shared interest in social justice issues. She moved to Detroit over a year ago to do Teach for America. She always wanted to be a teacher, and told them to send her to the place that most needed teachers, the place that others didn’t want to go. She currently teaches sixth-grade English. Outside of class, when she and her boyfriend, who also does TFA, are not debating the best teaching techniques, she takes her students out for hot chocolate and cheers them on at their football games. She’ll tell you it’s her job, but only about half of what Taylor does is actually required. She just knows that a lot of these kids need it.
“It took me a long time to understand that the people who live in these houses are severely impoverished,” she says, gesturing at beautiful old brick houses with scalloped awnings and long driveways. Her idea of poverty, coming from the West Coast, was much different. “In Seattle, poor people live in ugly high-rise apartment buildings. Here, everyone with money left, and all of these houses went up for sale. They look nice from the outside, but then you walk in and there’s no furniture. It’s really confusing.”
Poverty is different in places with space. Instead of cramming the impoverished into as small a space as possible in the center of an unsavory urban neighborhood, the city allows them to sprawl over unkempt land, live in large but dilapidated houses, away from any grocery stores or hubs of public transportation. Access to the city is still dictated by wealth, but that wealth is determined by convenience and crime rather than space or aesthetics.
I spoke with my father a lot while I was there. At first, he called to ask me how I was enjoying the Motown in Motor City.
“Dad, I have no way of leaving. Sophie’s picking me up tomorrow and we’re driving to Cincinnati. I’m leaving then,” I say.
“Well, okay. Just don’t walk around any neighborhoods you don’t know by yourself at night.”
My dad grew up in a rough neighborhood. I grew up in a very clean suburb of the Twin Cities. Our city repaved a lot of the biking trails around the lake near my house when I was in high school. He says I don’t know what it’s like. I tell him I feel like I’m in a disaster zone. “New Orleans without Katrina,” I hear it’s been called.
At least, that’s how I feel when I drive through the city without stopping, without slowing down to see any of the community gardens that have literally sprung up in the wake of urban collapse, the bicycle cooperatives, the independent bookstore hidden in the basement of an organic restaurant, the churches and churches and churches, and, of course, the art.
Taylor lets me borrow her car while she teaches one day, and I explore the city a bit alone. I stop at all of these places. I talk to a woman at a bookstore that sells mostly books geared towards Detroit’s largely African American community, many of which incorporate spiritualism and religion into their discussion of racial politics in America. She tells me that the space also operates as an art gallery most days. She laughs a lot during our conversation, but it never seems forced. People on the street ask me how I’m doing. I remember how genuinely friendly people are in a lot of the Midwest; it’s just part of the culture.
And that was what Taylor always told me about Detroit: it’s been hit hard, yes, by a disaster of our own making, but the people who stayed, the people who couldn’t afford to leave and those who could but chose not to, are all working to keep the energy of Detroit alive, to build and create and transform. The city is now an incubator of innovation in almost every area of public life, and the people who live here aren’t giving up on themselves, or Detroit.
[If you’re interested in helping provide books for Taylor’s classroom library, check out her wishlist of books. Her school can’t afford to provide any for her kids, and her students truly feel special to receive these packages!]
A few weeks ago, I found out that my Great Uncle Sonny lives up the road from me. I grew up in San Diego, and most of my family is on the West Coast. I’ve visited Sonny a few times now. He has the same exact Somerville accent as his twin sister, my Grandmother (Dad’s side.) His last name, -Kingsbury- is my middle name. Since birth, I’ve been accused of having a name that is soaked with pretension, though Sonny says it’s “just a hic name from Vermont.”
Below is a photo of Esephesef‘s uncle. He’ll be called upon for all avuncular duties, like telling me to go back to college and whatnot. I think Sarah’s in the clear, though maybe he’ll tell her it wouldn’t hurt to eat a slice of cheese every now and then.
The SFSF house watched the debate last night. At one point there were seven of us in front of the telly for Obama, Romney, and the really old man from PBS who didn’t have a chance.
There was a twenty-year-old in attendance for the presidential debate. In fact, she encouraged the viewing of it. I argued against and suggested just going to my room and listening to music, and having an informal SFSF meeting with booze. Sarah was on her way home, and like I said, I preferred that to watching the debate. The 20yr/old expressed the importance of the debate and attempted to sell it by enthusiastically describing “watching while it all goes down.”
I told her I would just watch highlights, read about it, and watch what John Stewart does with it. I explained that debates are hard to sit through, because they never really say anything or answer any questions. Debate’s are largely about wedge issues and debaters throw a bunch of loaded statements and numbers out that absolutely must be fact checked in order for any rational intelligent person to come to a conclusion about the debate. The debater who was most ethical and accurate -or however they judge them- can’t be proven until later, when everything has been sorted out. By the end of the debate, the audience tends to be left frustrated and annoyed (except for die-hard, single-minded, sycophantic viewers) because the candidates barely talked about anything at all, and the things they did touch on were grandiose and, like I said require all kinds of research to confirm.
I explained to the 20yr/old that it’s just best for me to read about it later.
But we watched it. Afterward, one SFSF house inhabitant said that he felt like he gained nothing; In-fact he’d lost intelligence. I also felt confused. Mostly weird. I know I heard Romney say trillions many times. Trillions in deficits.
I think the hackneyed vagueness of it all is why, immediately after a debate, the news people talk about body-language and quickly-intelligible pronouncements, like Obama and his anniversary.
Hey, I was writing an incoherent piece about food, a vague follow-up to yesterday’s “Kinda Snarky”, when I got real hungry and decided to go into the square to get some, uh, food. I locked my bike across the street from Diesel Cafe and went in and ordered a small Iced Vietnamese to go.
Then I went to Chipotle to get a burrito, which was so graciously stuffed, that it required a few attempts at wrapping up the tortilla and two sheets of tin foil. I knew that this burrito was going to be eaten out of a bowl when I got home.
So then I walked back down Elm Street, toward my bike, which locked in front of Eastern bank. I had to walk my bike since it would have been quite a chore to ride it with my super-stuffed burrito and my Vietnamese.
That’s when I heard you on the phone with someone. You assured the person you were going to finish writing about Blondie soon. Your hair was on the shorter side for a young girl, but still very feminine. You are probably in your early twenties.
I walked past you and as I did so, the whole manic, “Oh-shit-now-or-never/you-won’t-know-if-you-don’t-throw-yourself-out-there/what’s-the-point-esp-when-you-consider-your-current-job-situation/Fuck-me-I’m-30″ monologue that every human is familiar with ran through my head. (Upon further consideration, it’s fair to assume Patriots tight-end Rob Gronkowski is unfamiliar with that sort of monolouge- at least to that extent.) Nevertheless, I decided to stop when I reached the other side of the street (the corner Dunkin Donuts occupies, I think.) I had to pretend to examine my keys because I couldn’t pretend to look at my phone, as I left it at home. The possibility existed that you wouldn’t follow me across the street, rendering my key-chain examination more pathetic.
But it paid off. You followed me across the street. (Follow isn’t the most correct word, but I like it. There’s hope in its usage.) We walked alongside each other for a few seconds before I had the gumption to ask you if you were writing something about Blondie. You explained that you were actually referring to a friend of yours you call Blondie. I explained that I was a writer and that I liked Blondie, so that was my weak justification for opening a conversation with you.
You asked me where the Bank of America was located, not just an ATM, but one you could go inside and actually talked to people. I told you that it was around the block a bit and that I was going that way. (Thankfully!) In the minute or so that we walked together you asked me if there was any place fun or cool around here. I asked you what you meant. You explained that you meant dancing and stuff. I told you that you’d have to go to Central Square. There’s a place called Zuzu where you can dance to good oldies songs and stuff. Then you asked me if I knew where one could find a place where one could dance some sort of esoteric dance. I asked you what the esoteric dance was that you spoke of.
As I walked with you (clutching my Vietnamese and Chipotle burrito,) I banged the pedal of my bicycle up against my leg a couple of times. It broke the skin a little.
I never wanted a tattoo until the day I knew I was going to get one. It’s a similar feeling, I hear, to finding the person you want to marry. My parents decided to get married after only six months, and they have been happily married for over 25 years now. My mother said she just knew, that when you meet your soulmate, the one whom you’ve loved in every life before and will love in every life after, there’s no question.
Yesterday, while standing at work, I knew I had to come out to my mother. I never wanted to, or felt I needed to, until I just did. I left work, walked across the street to the Prudential Center, and sat down on the steps leading up to the Food Court. I was sitting under the sign for Flamers, a hamburger joint. Keeping my sense of humor in this situation, I realized, might be the only way to get through it.
I thought about having the conversation in the privacy of my own house, but sometimes I feel that expressing myself in the anonymity of the city is easier than the intimacy of my home. I never go to the Prudential Center. It’s a shitty shopping center with shitty architecture and I knew that if this memory turned out to be horrible, I could remember it with unequivocal disgust. I had thought about doing it in front of the Copley Library, because it’s my favorite building in the whole city–the architecture is gorgeous, it has great art, the books go on forever, they have maps and this beautiful empty room I can only ever find by accident–but I would never want to chance losing that gem. So I sat down next to a bunch of teenagers wearing shirts with trendy slogans and meandering through the waning days of summer, and told myself it was only a moment. It would be over and then it would be a memory.
I called my mother’s cell phone. She didn’t pick up. I felt like I was going to throw up. That coffee was not a good idea. I called the home phone.
“Oh, honey, I can barely hear you. You sound all echoey.”
“Really? Oh. Can you hear me at all?”
Pause. “You sound like one of the adults in the Peanuts cartoons.”
I walked about five feet away. “What about now?”
“I don’t know, I can’t tell. Keep talking.”
I did my best impression of the teacher in Peanuts. “Wah wah wah, wah wah, wah.”
My mother laughed. “You’re so funny. But I still can’t hear you.”
I tried calling her again. I adjusted the volume on my phone. I called her cell phone. She finally started laughing so hard at the absurdity of the situation that we hung up. I biked to Commonwealth Avenue, where I hoped to find a quiet bench. Instead, I found the Boston Women’s Memorial and sat down next to Lucy Stone. She was lying on her side, writing something with a quill. Her monument cited her as a journalist and abolitionist and activist for women’s rights. Whatever forces of irony and coincidence that were conspiring in this moment gave me, at the very least, some sense of peace, like this conversation was meant to happen this way.
I called my mother again. “Ah, that’s much better!” she said. “So then, what’s up?”
“Well…” I began. I had practiced my opening line countless times in my head, but it seemed irredeemably inadequate. All words seemed weak, hollow, but they were all I had. “I want you guys to know things about my life, even though I don’t need to tell you, because I live in Boston, but I think it’s important that I tell you something about myself that I have recently discovered, which is that”
“I am bisexual, and”
“sometimes I like women”
totally redundant but it doesn’t matter keep going
“so I thought that you should know that.”
There was a slight pause. I wasn’t crying. I hadn’t thrown up.
“Okay.” And that was it. She knew. She knew and she didn’t freak out. She expressed some confusion, which is not unique to my mother or people of her generation–“I understand being totally gay, and I understand being straight, but I don’t really understand the in-between”–and I told her it was a feeling, it’s not something that can be rationalized. It’s like when you just know that you’ve met the one, or that you want something on your body for the rest of your life. It’s when you discover an indelible truth about yourself, something that can be covered with clothing or lies but will never change its shape or force.
She said I didn’t have to rationalize it. She said she wanted me to be happy, in whatever way that meant. She said my friends and family don’t care because they love me as a person. We talked about spirituality and God and the possibility of other universes. We talked about signs and coincidences. We talked about ghosts and the afterlife. She told me my dad was holding a poker game at their house later that night. She said she wouldn’t tell anyone else, unless I asked her to, because it wasn’t her business to tell.
I told her I loved her. We thanked each other. I hung up, giddy and hungry and exhausted and ecstatic, and biked home through the city streets, feeling freer than I ever had before.
We had a Nintendo that we had to share. All three of us played, but when Tyler and I wanted to see what happens when you beat the game, we watched with chins on our fists, deadly silent as Mario made the crucial eighth-world jumps.
We also had a seven acre hill of dry brush. Adam caught snakes. Five foot long bastards, maybe two inches thick. I think they were mostly Bull Snakes. He’d stuff them into pillow cases and hang on to them for a couple of days. I never saw him catch a Rattle Snake, but he says he did. He read books on reptiles. I never touched the stuff.
He wrote something once. Dad and Janis read it. Two 12 year olds at an arcade. “It’s not like we were getting intimate or anything!” So good. So grown up.
After a relative died, my Dad hung two rifle-less Civil War bayonets (one with dried blood) and an old machete over the fire-place. We had sword fights. Tyler, usually with the machete, was the fiercest.
We’d throw the bayonets straight up and marvel at how they’d just stick in the ceiling. We’d hurl them across the room and marvel at how they’d stick in the floor.
My dad summoned us with one syllable.
“Who put the hole in the couch?”
“…” “…” “…”
“Who put the hole in the couch?”
“…” “…” “…”
“WHO put the hole in the couch?”
“I dunno” “no clue” “…”
And he let us go, liars.
“Sooo, FOCUS, group. Feedback on the show, one at a time- how’d we do?”
“I couldn’t really hear the trumpet at the beginning.”
“Hey look, Sarah’s here.”
“OK I’M DRESSED, I LOOK LIKE A HUMAN-”
“Oh, I could totally hear it. Super Loud.”
“A REAL HUMAN BEING-”
“I have definitely never heard the vocals like THAT. It was kind of scary.”
“arealhumanbeing DESPITE THE FACT THAT I’M STILL DRUNK!”
“Sarah really is drunk, isn’t she?”
“WHO CAN I FIGHT?”
“What did she say?”
“AWWWW FUCK ME!”
“It looks really good when you say that with half an eyelid down.”
“WHAT IS DRUNK? WHO IS SOBER?”
“Don’t you guys have a writing party going on? It’s Sunday.”
“Yeah, but I think it was cancelled today.”
“How long has this been going on? Thanks for the invite.”
“Oh, well now you’re invited. Jason goes, he’s not even a writer.”
“Yeah, I just go there and take off my pants and jack off.”
“Yeah, he does do that an abnormal amount.”
“It’s quiet, I can just jack off in peace.”
“Well, the sound of jacking off is the original beat isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s very percussive.”
“Helps the work ethic.”
“Some people play jugs, I just play the-”
“That is how music started, isn’t it?”
“Yeah Mozart or something was like having a good time, and you know…”
“Well, first there was the heartbeat, THEN the beat-off.”
“Of course Jason, the romantic.”
“SOOOOO, again, one at a time, how’d we do last night?”
“WELL I WAS FUNNELLING PBR’S”
“Is that how bad it was?”
“Funneling them INTO MY EARS! I WASN’T LISTENING TO SHIT!”
* * * & % $ * * *
So yeah, SFSF ate brunch with Peach Pit Sunday, August 12th. It was the day after their show at Precinct in Somerville. I wasn’t funnelling PBR’s- at least not into my ears- and I’d say it went well and I definitely heard Louis’s trumpet. Jason, Louis, Hannah, and a third Waxman named Sam gave us an impromptu show afterward. I can’t post it here, so I put it on the SFSF facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sanfranciscostreetfighter/269083733191512
My girlfriend spoke Japanese better than her younger siblings. By the end I could distinguish three distinct styles: She spoke formally to her grandparents, casually to her mother, and lastly my favorite -which she would occasionally exercise with her immediate family- an over-the-top mock formal which sounded like a severely feminine Japanese stewardess doing the seat-belt routine.
She always told me to make outlines. I told her it doesn’t work like that, I couldn’t explain.
The movie theater had 18 screens and a giant lobby to accommodate enormous weekend crowds. On a Friday night there’d be eight employees selling tickets- four behind the glass on the left and four on the right. Two wound-up lines of people taking up most of the floor left a path in the middle to go through to the greeter, who stood near the back, facing the entry.
But this was a weeknight and the basketball court-sized lobby was empty. I ripped a total of two tickets during my first hour at the greeter’s podium, and that was it. Nicole Kidman With Brown Hair sat alone behind the box office glass on my left. The second box office, across the lobby to my right was dark and empty. Suddenly, I heard a squeel from the intercom. There were no customers, but I quickly dismissed what I’d heard and figured it was an accident. I was thinking typical thoughts of how I never had a chance with a girl like her during my two-hour tour at the greeter’s stand. I shouldn’t’ve even been thinking about it because she was a 17-year-old senior in high school and she’d come in with her boyfriend before. I was a chubby jr. college student. Box office employees had a bit of seniority. They were trusted workers who typically worked at least a year before transitioning to box office, where they generally stayed. They seemed to have actual relationships with the General Manager. Her office was behind them. They didn’t have as much fun as ushers, who basically walked around lazily for eight hours, sweeping popcorn under the seats.
An usher’s only real struggle was greeting, and making attempts to avoid it. A greeter would jealously watch the mob of free ushers emerge from the 1-9 side as they walked past, gracefully scooping up stray kernels of popcorn without assistance from the broom. These one-handed flourishes seemed to taunt the greeter. as they moved across to theatres 10-18. Most new employees began by working concessions, which was behind the greeter’s podium, where was just enough space for dozens of sprawling families to order nachos and 52 ounce drinks. Concessions was a nightmare. My tenure behind concessions was mercifully short because the woman who got me the job went to high school with my pal Tyson, and I think she understood my embarrassment selling popcorn and drinks to people I knew from high school, which I was four years removed from. Teenage girls had it the worst, they really had to claw their way out of concessions.
So I was at the podium, thinking about how I didn’t have a chance in hell, cursing my life. Kidman was a senior in High school. I was a Jr. college student. But I heard that megaphone squeal out of the box office a second time.
“Yeah, you, COME OVER HERE.”
I awkwardly walked over to the box office and she slipped me a napkin that said:
I think you’re cool.
We should hang out! :)
When I came home from my mission over a year earlier, I gained about 15 pounds in a month. I didn’t have a job and I kept myself busy playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4. 11-year-old little brother Nick turned me onto it. I remember the astonishment on his face when he saw me still playing in the living room at 7:30 am during his morning routine. I just gave him a guilty smile and wondered aloud if I was permanently damaging my thumbs.
I made a couple of attempts to lose the weight and failed. I once put on my archless skater shoes and ran about two blocks before turning around, defeated.
“Didn’t make it very far didya?”
So Kidman told me I was cool. I went home that night and put on my new running shoes and ran down to the park. In tenth grade, a kid from church convinced me to join the wrestling team. He was big on running stairs. The first time up he’d touch every single stair, which he said was good for quickness. On the even intervals, he’d skip a stair with each stride. That was good for -I don’t know- strength. The park had a decent stairway that ascended from the parking lot to the field above. It was about twenty stairs. Every single, every other, every single, every other. I began that night.
A couple of months later and fifteen pounds lighter I checked the usher schedule, which listed the times that movies ended, and told my friend Shannon that next up was theater drei followed by theater elf.
“Oh, you took German in High School? My friend-”
Yeah my girlfriend- she took German in high school. Japanese wasn’t available, but she probably wouldn’t’ve taken it if it were.
We all went to get fastfood on a ‘Theatre break.” A theatre break is when there are like 45 minutes with no theatre to clean. We’d just bullshit in the break room or find somewhere to hide. -This was the only one of my 20+ jobs where I never looked at my watch- So Shannon and I snagged my girlfriend from concessions. I made a joke at the drive-thru that she laughed at. That’s when I knew I liked her. But she had a high school boyfriend. But maybe she was gonna break up with him because she was going away to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I called her at noon on a Friday in June and asked her if she wanted to go out the next night. She said she couldn’t go out on Saturday because it was Shannon’s birthday.
It had turned into the exact same all-or-nothing Loyd Dobler situation In the 1989 film Say Anything. Lloyd asks Diane Court out on Saturday. She has plans. Then he asks about Friday, the current day. She hesitates for a painful second and says “why not?” And you know, a whirlwind romance ensues.
“Well, what are you doing tonight? Wanna go to a Padres game?”
I had about 20 dollars to my name and I wasn’t about to ask my mom for money, so I went up to Nick’s room. I knew he had a coffee mug on his dresser where he kept lots of change and I was pretty sure there were a couple of bills inside.
“NICK, I’m going out with a girl, can you help me out?”
He jumped over and immediately dumped it out on the surface of the dresser. In recent weeks he’d been asking me why I didn’t have a girlfriend when the brothers Tyson and Quinn were bringing girls around. He pulled out some crumpled bills, and much to my good fortune that little bastard had two ones and three fucking twenties. He didn’t hesitate to give it all to me. He asked me if I needed the quarters. I told him “nah” and promised I’d pay him back.
I tried to conceal my anxiety as I struggled to find a parking space downtown. She was totally cool. After finally parking in a garage ten blocks from the stadium, I began looking for a scalper. She was totally cool. Across the street from the stadium, I found an overweight middle-aged man in a Yankees jacket and paid him 40 bucks for two seats. He told me we were getting a decent deal and that the girl I was with was pretty. With a stutter I told him that I knew. He told me that all he wanted me to do now was tell the guy who would take our tickets that he, the scalper, needed a pastrami on rye. I deadpanned “Whatever you want dude.” So we walked across the street and up to the gate. I told the young ticket guy that the Yankees fan over there needed a pastrami on rye. The ticket taker -a little confused and annoyed- looked at the scalper, I looked at the scalper and the scalper began laughing his Brooklyn ass off like he’d never seen anything funnier in his life. I wasn’t laughing. My girlfriend was hanging on to my arm. Jesus, she was totally cool.
I freaked out about eating my nachos for fear of looking like a stupid pig. I ate them slowly and methodically, careful not to spill cheese all over myself or have it crusted somewhere on my face. I gave up during the fifth inning and slid them under my seat. I’m ordinarily a damn good eater.
On the Big screen she saw the handsome outfielder, Xavier Nady.
“Ooooooh, who’s that?”
“That’s Xavier Nady. Kinda sucks” I muttered.
“Ohhhh it’s OK, I like you Aaron.” She smiled and squeezed my arm.
Shit, she thought I said it sucks that she thinks he’s cute. “No no, HE kind of sucks.”
After the game we went back to the theater and watched How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days after hours with like the whole crew. I dropped her off. She told me later she was surprised by the door-opening and all that old-fashioned stuff. I didn’t kiss her that night.
I kissed her two nights later. I took her to Tyson And Quinn’s (parent’s) house, where my article in Palomar college’s The Telescope was taped to the refrigerator by Tyson. Tyson had blacked out the first part of the article’s title- Palomar College can be more than just-, leaving the title the author had intended which was simply High School With Cigarettes.
She met their parents too. When we walked out I had my hand on the small of her back and I told myself I was gonna kiss her that night, and it was going to be the first kiss that really mattered. We went back to my new apartment that I shared with four other movie theatre guys. One roommate was drunk on the couch. “Yoko Ono” he simply announced. We went to my room. We were there for maybe five seconds when I grabbed her head with both hands and kissed her. Then I shot over to the closet and grabbed a plastic bin that had Tony Gwynn’s rookie card and other personal stuff.
“Here’s a two dollar bill that was Tyler’s- my brother- this is my missionary name tag- oh, those marks on the back are from when a baby took it off me at church and chewed on it. That’s like tradition- I had more than one, but that’s like THE tag, you know, the first one they gave me- that’s not even Tony’s rookie card. It’s his second year card. See he’s already pretty chubby…”
I kissed her more.
I told her I loved her on the tenth day and she laughed at me. I dropped her off certain that I’d screwed it up and we were over. But somehow I saw her again the next day. And the next day.
On a Saturday evening I brought her up to my Dad’s house, a 45 minute drive to the high desert. Nobody was home so we went into the office as she checked her email. I heard the front door open and waited nervously before my Dad eventually popped his head and a single hand around his office door frame. With a nervous smile he muttered “Hello.” This behaviour was atypical of my dad.
I went to church during that first year home for some reason, even though I was mentally checked out, and writing The Big One in my head. The last day I really went to church, I’d been dating her for a couple of weeks. I thought I looked alright, in my favorite dress shirt, a Brooks Brothers steal I got at a thrift store. It was white with plum checkers. But I felt like a fucking idiot. Minutes before, I’d bumped into the bishop in the hall and he asked me if we could have a chat after the second hour. In the bathroom I looked in the mirror and asked myself what the fuck I was doing. Like I was in a movie or something.
In the bright, full, parking lot, I asked her what SHE was doing while I loosened my tie with my other hand. My tires chirped a little bit as one end of my tie was caught up in the wind and poking out of the sunroof.
At the door she beamed as she saw me in my church clothes and grabbed me by my plum collar. In slow motion she whispered-
That’s to illustrate how she made me feel.
With clenched toes, I sat at the foot of the bed as she read my first college essay. I was trying to get into one of the University of California Schools. 1000 of my words attempting to persuade a passing car to please not say “fuck you” to me and my missionary companion. My argument was that perhaps the passing car didn’t understand the pressure we were under.
“You ARE a writer she said.”
I saw my girlfriend almost every day that summer.
In late august I was in constant agony, waiting for her to tell me that she was going away to college and that she’d had a fun summer. When we were alone, she’d tell me she adored me, or tell me she really liked me. I’d just look at her, bottling my annoyance. As if her liberal use of like was intentional, to illustrate that it wasn’t the other one.
At a movie theatre party in late august we got into a little argument. It was our first. I was monitoring her drinking, she felt I was too nosy (To be fair, she got wasted after one beer. Wasted. She would get blotchy all over. There is a term called “asian glow”, but for my girlfriend drinking was like you or me walking into a bee’s nest.) We left the party early. I knew she was real mad when I asked her a pretty unmemorable question, to which she responded by asking me stoically if I wanted to get out “here.” “Here” was at the stop sign a quarter-mile down the hill from my mom’s house.
In front of my house she told me she thought I was too protective at that party. I told her I was sorry, but that she’s basically allergic to alcohol. She pukes after two shots. Allergic. Her mom even told her so.
She was still not happy with me. I began to wonder if this was it, in front of my mom’s house. She was going away to college. So I figured I’d give her the speech I was thinking about giving, even though I never convinced anybody of anything in my life. I told her that nobody was gonna freak out as much as me. Nobody was gonna sweat like I did. I disclosed my fear and disgust of 18-year-old freshman boys. I knew what they were; shirtless in gym shorts, as they rubbed their chests and adjusted their balls and stormed down dorm halls poking heads in and out of rooms as they referenced that hot asian chick. I told her it was difficult. When I first met her she had the high school boyfriend. The first time we did anything outside of work, I detailed my car, because I was gonna drive her to that party. Why? I don’t know. She had a boyfriend. I pointed out where the upholstery of my Reagan-era car was coming undone. It was the carpeted area that began at the bottom of the door and went underneath the pedals. When I drove us to that party I cleaned it out really good and used a bunch of fresh duct tape. She was going to California State Stupid Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo Expialadosious, so like why would she date me, if she was going away? She broke up with the other guy because she was “going away.” Plus I just went to Jr. College… it was just always tough, her going away. And when I thought she’d break up with me because I told her I loved her early or when I died my hair blue -just- nobody was gonna freak out. Oh, yeah, plus I told her that I borrowed that money from Nick. So she asked me-
“You love me right?” She was waving her hand in front of her face.
More from the driver seat than my own, and with my face in her neck, I pointed out the lunacy in asking that question but of course then I answered it.
She left for Cal Poly a week after her friend Emily began school, so we got to go down to San Diego State and get a glimpse of the college life a week early. Emily told us about her roommate who seemed nice but might be a pathological liar. Emily had thought she heard the girl say that her dad was a Pediatrician but also she swore she later heard podiatrist. We went to a thing in a big room where condoms were passed out. The girl down the hall was really very sweet and they talked about nursing for like an hour the night they met. And of course a girl from their high school was on the floor below. I would kiss my girlfriend in the dorm room when they talked about that shit and the girls would pause and smile.
I started doing this thing where I’d go in for a kiss at normal speed, but suddenly I’d flare my nostrils and the speed I was closing in with would suddenly decrease. I would de-flare them and the speed would stay the same until I widened them again and the deceleration would recur. It was like a spaceship parking on the moon, with retro rockets firing in the opposite direction to facilitate a gentle landing. I used to do that in the mirror when I learned what retro rockets were when I was a chubby sixth grader. But I didn’t kiss the mirror, I swear. I’d just park my face on it.
When I drove down from Seattle to visit her at Cal Poly, I’d do the thing where I grab her face and kiss her.
She told me to get on my knees. So I did. Then she grabbed my head with a startling amount of force and said “This is what it’s like to be me, AaronChan.”
* * *
We broke up for good over Christmas break three years later. She was headed to Australia for her last semester of college. I was 26 and had just struggled through another semester of jr. college. We sat on the floor of her empty room. This was gonna be it. She told me I needed more confidence. She told me that she looked in the mirror almost everyday and tells herself that she’s pretty and smart. Through all the salt and snot, I burst out laughing. She was wearing these new tights and a big shirt. I was never gonna take those tights off. I told her that I was sorry, and I just didn’t know it was gonna take this much time. She told me to make an outline. I told her…that I didn’t even know… WHAT I wanted to say. I told her about how Nick was playing football now and how I push him so hard to exercise and run. He was a running back. I really wanted him to have a victory, you know? A triumph. So I told him to run stairs, like I’d been doing. The same stairs I began running when Nicole Kidman told me I was cool. He should alternate from running every-single to ever-other stair. I told her how I pushed him, but secretly I wondered if maybe it’s not in our DNA.
But I was at the gym the other day and this guy asked me to play one-on-one basketball. I hate basketball because it requires the most athleticism of the major sports and I felt I had none. So we began playing, and this guy played, you know, at least fairly regularly. He was a couple of inches shorter than me but had a muscular, athletic build. He had a decent shot. We went to the outdoor court on a uncharacteristically cold night in San Diego and I began playing basketball with this guy. I had the ball-handling skills of a toddler, and an archless shot. But I covered him. It was a low-scoring affair.
I explained to her that the sudden temperature drop combined with the extreme physical exertion had made it difficult for me to breathe. I thought I’d fully relinquished my asthma through years of running. But what occurred was an authentic, middle school era, chubby, snot-nosed attack. Hands on my hips, wheezing, with thoughts of impending heart failure, I’d line up in front of the arch, ready once again to cover him like glue. I couldn’t quit. He said I was fast.
“I’ll make an outline. You want me to make an outline?”
“You didn’t go to Cal Poly. You got in AaronChan, but you didn’t go because they didn’t require one of your ‘brilliant’ essays.”
“Cuz no one gave a shit, AmySan. I cared so much and where’s that essay that I wrote? Some electronic trash bin. C’mon babe, who else was writing that? When I was fifteen I got this special magazine thing, you know, How To Get Into College or whatever and I read an example of a good essay and it was about this young girl on vacation. She had a nice time with her family and I don’t know, they were hiking or something and she went off with this nice young boy. She had such a dandy of a time and she even kissed him at the end. And that was a great essay cuz she didn’t write about how she was gonna succeed or whatever, or about her grandmother’s death. She had a nice voice and she told a sweet little story where a cute young one-dimensional Mormon boy makes a cameo and kisses her.
“I just wanted my essays to be read, babe. I wanted feedback. I’d rather they tell me to give up the writing than nothing at all.”
“You want them to think you’re great and you want them to forgive your bad grades, because you think you’re owed, in ways nobody can quantify. You want the New York Times to love you. You know, I love you AaronChan.”
“Love, present tense.”
“You need to admit that you like some things about your old life.”
“Like your favorite scripture.”
“I don’t have one.”
“Yes you do Aaronchan. It’s Ether 12- something and it’s about weak things becoming strong. And you love that because you think you turned it around on The Church.”
“You hate to admit that you miss some things from that life, or that you learned anything. That’s why you can’t write anything. The same people you were supposed to go against, the family, Tyson and Quinn, they’re the one’s who love you the most and they’re the ones who keep you going. You love how your aunt told you that you’re not allowed to fail, when you lived with her before your mission. You use that as fuel- you think you turned that around on them too. But that’s who you are AaronChan. You put blankets on people when they sleep and you carried my little brother to his room when he was passed out drunk. You tell the CORNIEST jokes. You think you’re fueled by anger AaronChan, and you are, but do you think you could have done this on anger alone? You are Mormon AaronChan. No matter what you believe. Present tense.
“Why do you always need people to find you? Why do you need to write on a silly blog? I know, I know, you think you’re a punker. But I also know you want more people to hear you. You want to scream and cry out. You looooove that you first heard Arcade Fire when you were an hour outside Seattle, when you left me. Are you going to write about that AaronChan? Are you gonna tell them that you moved away from me? What was the name of the song? Rebellion. It makes you cry sometimes Aaron- how it went in and out of reception in the hills around Olympia.
“And you wish you could have Tyler but you know you can’t because you never talked to him about that stuff… and you just can’t. He’s not yours AaronChan and he’s not theirs either. You’re gonna have to learn to get along.
“Why do you always have to do it your way? Because you think people are going to find you, don’t you? You dare them to find the talent, right? Movie Reviews Of Movies I Haven’t Seen All The Way Through? Dawson’s Creek? Really AaronChan? Please. I don’t know how hard people look, they might be more relaxed than you. I know what you want to write about. You want to write about God and reason and existence and good and evil and hope and love and fear and everything else. And I don’t know if they know that.”
“I have to go. And you have to go to Boston and be a writer, like you always wanted to. And you can do it. And it’s OK that it’s going to take a while because you’re ambitious. And you have ADD.”
She picked up a pen that was lying on the floor before her. She slowly began to push it toward my face until she actually began putting the uncapped end into my nostril. I jerked my head back and swatted the pen away. For a moment, I held my hand up silently in defense. She frowned and exhaled. So I dropped my hand and let her go.
I Don’t Think I’m Gonna Fish
By Aaron Litchfield
Who: Aaron, Chef Ray, Benny, Reid, and Reid’s Dad
Where: Cape Cod
When: The end of summer
Why: For fun
What: I went fishing with my friends Chef Ray, Reid, and Benny.
Friday Night 9:30pm- Benny and I met Chef at a Dunkin Donuts in Dorchester. Benny looked around a lot. He asked me about ten times where Chef Ray was, and he kept saying he should have been there by that time. I told him I didn’t know what was up, and that maybe it’s no big deal.
9:35- Chef Ray showed up.
10:50- We arrived at Benny’s parents house where Chef and Benny played video game soccer while I watched a Bill Murray video on my computer. Chef Ray looked over when he heard me laughing. He said:
“You like that shit don’t you?”
“Yes, I do Chef.”
Saturday we woke up and took our time doing things.
11:00 am Saturday- I went out and got Benny and Chef Ray coffee while they played more video game soccer. I got to drive which was cool, because I don’t have a license.
12:30 pm- Benny and Chef finished playing video game soccer. They like that shit. They get really into it. I think it was exciting for them because usually Benny plays at his house, while Chef plays at his house, with little girls kicking and poking him and asking him waaaaay too many questions when Chef just wants to relax a little bit. But now they were at an empty beach house in Cape Cod, and I think they were happy to play together in the same room. They were yelling at the screen and stuff.
12:45- We went to our friend Reid’s Dad’s house. It was a 15 minute walk away.
1:00- We met Reid’s Dad’s girlfriend at Reed’s Dad’s house.
1:05- We said goodbye to Reid’s Dad’s younger girlfriend. So it was Benny, Chef, Reed, Reid’s Dad, and me. We walked to the water and got in the fishing boat. Reid told us how his Dad was saying that we were going into Great White Shark territory and we all talked about how scary and exciting that was. It took about a half hour on the fishing boat to get to where we wanted- a spot where the bay meets the ocean. Benny, Chef, and I rode in the back of the boat while Sam was up front, next to his Dad, who drove the boat. There were smelly fumes in the back that I think altered our consciousness a little.
1:35- We finally got to the edge of the ocean and the bay- supposedly home to JAWS. Chef, and Benny went to the front. Chef began putting his pole together right away. Reid and Reid’s Dad went after their hooks and bait as well. I began eating my sandwich. Reid’s Dad talked about fishing. He told Reid where he could catch this fish and how he should bait that fish. Reid said “Oh, yeah?” and “Oh, no way” a few times. Also “Oh, OK Dad.” At a quiet point I just heard Reid say to his Dad-
“I like bluefish.”
1:40- I tried get up to go to the bathroom but I was nervous. I had to stand on the back ledge of the boat. It felt like someone was trying to shake the ground from underneath me. And I thought about Jaws exploding out of the water and eating me while I stood there, exposed. I sat down. Chef asked Ben if he was going to fish. Ben put his hand out flat and glided it forward-
“I like to ease my way into fishing.”
1:42 Reid’s Dad began throwing big pieces of fish guts into the ocean, right off the side of the boat. I think Reid was also afraid of JAWS.
“You wanna do that so close to the boat Dad?”
1:45- I finished the second half of my sandwich. Reid and his Dad began talking in hushed voices.
1:47- Benny leaned forward and began putting his pole together. Chef asked me if I was going to fish.
“I don’t think I’m gonna fish.” I climbed up on the back of the boat again and tried to pee.
1:49- I was finally letting things go up there when Reid made an announcement to Chef, Benny and me.
“Hey guys, I’m sorry to say, but we gotta head back. My Dad has a doctor’s appointment at three.”
* * *
October 11 2014
I chose the video “Aliens Exist” by Blink at the end of the Ultimate Post because-
I went to the Boston Public Library to write/finish “What I wanted To Write.” The BPL on Boylston is where I’d go when I first moved to Boston, before I even had a fucking computer. I’d send emails and check facebook and whatnot. So after I’d begun the blog, I’d return to the BPL when it was time for serious business. WIWTW was for the SFSF and it was a big deal because unlike “Glossary,” I was actually gonna give some meat about the mission and the church. So I went. I got a little dressed up, cuz this is my job.
It’s hard for me to read that early stuff because it’s so personal, though it’s not like I’m ashamed. It’s not as if I want it to go away. AS IF! I just don’t feel like reading it right now. I’m digressing. I want any errors removed, but it’s not worth it for me go over the old stuff again. Maybe in the future. Email me people. Yeah right.
Anyway, I felt pretty damn good after finishing WIWTW. I felt real good. I felt like I’d done a good bit of writing and it took me about ten years to write like that. I felt light as a feather. I walked out of the old East Entrance (as I always did) and there was a light blanket of snow covering the ground on that late winter/early spring day. That winter was the lightest of my six Boston winters. There was like no snow. The winter prior to that, there was a ton of snow. So the blanket of snow that met me as I exited the BPL just made me feel like everything was right in the world. I felt good. I remember the subway ride home. I wondered who was reading it. I was so amped. I tried to find things to listen to on my ipod that matched the energy level that I felt. You’d think “My Name Is Jonas” would have done, but no, not enough. The only song was “Aliens Exist.” I listened to it over and over. Fuck yeah.
Oh yeah, so the point. I also felt like that after the Ultimate Post.
Fall of 2005
I think about description and how I’m not very good at it, how I can’t do it. I think about how Robin Williams tells Ethan Hawke that he can do better than just say “scary man.” Ethan Hawke gets up to the front of class and after some prodding from Williams he has a creative breakthrough and eventually says “sweaty toothed madman.” I wonder if that’s really any better than “very very scary man” cuz I can think of a very scary looking man when I hear “very very scary man.” I get distracted when I think “sweaty-toothed madman.” I just get way too into the tooth when I think about it. Saliva on the tooth. Any moisture on the tooth is saliva, not sweat, am I right? If it is sweat, who’s to know it’s not saliva? I don’t understand. Not even close to being scared at this point.
I can’t describe. I’m on the phone with Amy and I explain that I don’t really need to describe a tree. I argue that everyone knows what trees look like from TV and movies. Writers don’t need to waste their time with that stuff anymore. She wants me to describe a tree anyway.
“AaronChan, I want you to write about a tree.” Away from the phone, she yells at Augustus, her roommate’s cat.
“AUGUSTUS!” She doesn’t want Augustus in her room.
I tell her that’s cute. She tells me I’m wrong- she wasn’t trying to be cute. I say that it’s cute even if she’s not trying to be. I explain that I’m often funny when I’m not trying to be. I tell her about the time I watched Empire of the Sun with Tyson and Quinn. (convey how long it was and how they maybe didn’t want to watch it.) They know I love the movie Empire of the Sun. I give them this confused look, this pathetic look that says “Please stop making jokes at me.” And they laugh. I explain to her that I’m not doing anything to be funny when I make those confused faces. To the subject, there’s nothing special about being funny if you’re not trying. At this point I’m trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing. I’m basically explaining to Amy that I’m often made fun of by Tyson and Quinn. I’m not making any sense. I don’t think she cares much…she’s not really saying anything. She tells me again she wants me to describe a tree. I tell her I’ll describe a tree on myspace tomorrow.
This is a super early piece. It’s not perfect, but I’m fond of it. I wrote it when I lived in Seattle when I was 24. I showed it to my roommate Lilly, who had recently graduated from Emerson College in Boston with a degree in writing. I was really anxious about what she thought. I remember she told me that she liked it but, that it needed exposition. I wanted to preserve it as much as possible for the blog here, so I didn’t expose much more or change it drastically. But the short film script I just posted is a decent prelude this. So read it if you have the time. It might effectively expose.
Just so you know, this little thing is super short-you can read it in five minutes or so-but the short film might take up to 30 minutes. But I’d love it if you read them both and then told people with money and influence about them.
I’m not sure why, but The Firm was written in italics and just right at the top of the page as it is below.
I’m looking through the Young brothers’ closet for a shirt to wear. It’s 10:30 am. We just woke up in Tyson and Quinn’s bedroom. They have this black fold-out mat for nights I sleep over. They sleep on bunk beds. This is a brief and very special period where all three of us degenerates don’t have jobs or jr. college to burden us.
“Let’s visit Dad at the office. Quinner?”
“The old man loves when we visit him at the firm Tommy.” Quinn’s face is two centimeters from mine by now. “Tommy?” I resist laughing. He wants me to laugh.
“He won’t mind if Gwar comes along? I say. “Three’s a crowd.”
“Yeah Gwar you’re right…maybe we should drop Gwar off Quinner.”
“Don’t be a FOOL!” Quinn says. “You’re always welcome at the old man’s office.” He gives me a hearty pat on the back.
“Hey look Ty, how about this!” I grab The Firm shirt off the hanger. The shirt displays the name of some old band from pre-mission days that I know nothing about, but it just became worth every penny spent and every minute waiting in the sweaty merch line of an ancient concert.
“It’s so appropriate! The old man will love it!”
On the way we listen to Good Morning Heartache by Rancid and one of the boys says: “There’s a kid that went to Poway High who’s an attorney at the firm now. He graduated a year before me.”
“That’s weird…what a douche.”
When we get there, it’s just like you’d expect in a movie. At first the receptionist is skeptical, and she asks Tyson’s name. Tyson YOUNG, he says. She almost apologizes. Up the spiral staircase to the old man’s office. It’s nice. Not too big-like in some movies where you can set up a putting green-but big. Plus there’s a balcony with a terrific view. On the walls are pictures of the family I’ve never seen before, but otherwise they’re the same. In front of a lake or in the woods or whatever. Everyone is nicely dressed and each photo has a theme and color scheme involved in their clothing. My family doesn’t have these pictures I remind myself. But it’s tough to do that with our family. Do you put the old divorcees together, fake it? Do you pretend the step-dad is the rock, the tree trunk, the King? Eh, who cares.
Brother Young is genuinely happy to see us. “Gwar” He acknowledges. “What’s going on?”
Brother Young tells us he is writing a “Failure To Perform” on the computer.
“Hey, that’s right up our alley.” I say.
The boys belong here, and I’m allowed, but I need to earn my keep with comments like this. I might even try to act like I know something about law because step-dad #1 was an attorney, my mom is a paralegal, and my aunt and uncle are both attorneys. When I was a kid, there were always lawyers in my ward. The bishop during my high school years was an attorney. My first language might as well have been Latin for goodness sake.
But really, the only thing I know about law is that in every single television and film interpretation, there is an objection to the opposing attorney being ridiculously off topic-
“Where is he going with this your honor? This is ridiculous.” The old prosecutor says.
The underdog attorney desperately explains that his seemingly ludicrous series of questions will lead somewhere. “Just wait a minute, please, your honor…” The disparity in tone of that sentence shows that the Underdog Idealist Attorney has swallowed all pride and we know that now he truly feels for the young lady he is defending. Nothing else matters anymore- the BMW, the summer home, nothing. He has sacrificed his downtown law firm job for this beautiful, naïve, young southern blonde.
The judge is merciful. Barely. He responds in a way that lets Underdog Idealist Attorney know that he is enormously lucky to continue only because his honor happens to believe this is the first interesting dialogue heard in three weeks of litigation. “I want to hear this. Proceed counselor.”
We go out on the balcony. The boys’ old man shows us the city. We can see the Coronado Bridge, Coronado Island, and the Hotel Del Coronado. They show all that stuff when there is a nationally televised Chargers game. The network announcers always fawn over San Diego. They love it here.”So the stadium is kinda old? WHO CARES? HAVE YOU LOOKED OUTSIDE?” I know nothing about this town and I don’t think it’s that beautiful.
We go outside to the balcony and Brother Young and shows us a tall office building that looks like it has a really big southern California tract home on top. The roof has red tile and everything. Brother Young explains that it really is a big tract home. A deal was made. A man built a big home on top of a downtown office building. We discuss the eccentricities of going to and from his home. If kids live there, what do they do? Play outside? Haha.
Circa 2004. GWAR and TYSON are two fellows in their mid-twenties. Both are a little overweight and exactly six feet tall. Both have served full-time missions for their Church. GWAR’s mission was cut short after about sixteen months while TYSON completed the two years.
This film begins as they attempt to re-live their pre-mission days of waterballooning. TYSON is in the front seat of GWAR’s 1987 Honda Prelude. They developed this practice of targeting both pedestrians and other cars on the streets of Poway, California around 1998-1999. Back then, there were more participants in the suspect car- typically three or four. Notably absent on this day is DAN, who was The Driver. DAN could drive and toss balloons with remarkable accuracy. TYSON’s marksmanship from the passenger seat was also legendary. At this point in their lives DAN, who has also served a mission, is married to a woman who is expecting their first child. As a result, GWAR defaults to the driver position on this day. GWAR is not a good water balloon driver. He was never even a great tosser of balloons. At best he got the Spirit Award. He once hit the inside of DAN’s car in a spasmodic thrust toward the window.
It might be obvious, but it should be noted that GWAR and THOMAS are the same person in this story.
By Aaron Kingsbury Litchfield
INTERIOR, NIGHT- CAR
Dude, What are you doing!? What in the world are you doing!? Why do you slow down? Every time, Thomas! You don’t need to slow down! It messes up my timing!
Sorry! I’m not used to driving.
Dan could really drive. He never slowed down. You DON’T slow down.
I know. Shut up. We shouldn’t be doing this anyway. We can’t get arrested for throwing water balloons. What if we get caught doing this? We can’t get caught doing this. We’re too old.
We never got caught before, Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar.
THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
That’s cuz Dan used to drive.
Dan could drive that car like a champ Thomas!
THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
Yeah, and he’s married now. With child.
Later on GWAR and TYSON are driving down Garnett Ave in Pacific Beach. They have quit throwing water balloons at cars and pedestrians. Garnett Avenue is where MTV used to go to cast lotharios in their shows The Real World and MTV’s Beach House. TYSON and GWAR’s drive down Garnett Avenue, with its myriad bars that specialize in Birthday Cake shots and Irish Car Bombs, is very observational in nature.
Thomas, it’s your turn now.
THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
TYSON (building enthusiasm, in a devious manner)
No, It’s not funny. I don’t know why it’s funny.
(rolling down the window) I hate you.
GWAR leans his head out the window as they pass a group of popped-collard, puka-shelled-necklace-wearing brutes with a couple of thin, loud-talking females. He yells out a startlingly loud and abrupt- HEY! This results in a young mini-skirted girl nearly falling to the ground. The group mostly laughs, though a couple of the big males affect an angry disposition.
Good job Thomas!
Oh Oh Oh Oh, get that group right there!
TYSON rolls down his window and yells with a remarkable amount of mocked vigor-
PARTYYYYYYYY! WHOOOOOOO YEAH! PAR-TAY! OWWW!
The crowd hollers back uproariously. If they are aware of the irony, they aren’t offended. Though it’s safe to say they aren’t aware.
CUT TO- DRIVING HOME
That’s the most fun I’ve ever had on Garnett Avenue.
Whaaaat? Better than all the bars? The beers? Thomassssss? Thomas S?
Yeah I guess. I mean, the beers helped me in the beginning. I don’t think I would ever have gotten Emi fall in love with me if I never had a drink. She would have dismissed me as awkward and intense like all the girls before her.
TYSON(with caricatured zeal)
You didn’t need beer to talk to ME, I love you for who you are Thomas!
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, and you never had any. You don’t need it. It’s weird to think what you’d be like drunk. Don’t ever drink.
TYSON(still with the exaggerated zeal)
I wouldn’t be your guiding light if I did, now would I Thomas?
A few days later GWAR walks into TYSON’s house. TYSON’s mother, in the kitchen to the left, sees Gwar walk in without knocking. He immediately turns right and walks toward Tyson’s room. When he gets there, he finds that the door is locked. He leans in and hears that TYSON is in the shower. Through the door GWAR also hears Weezer’s Green album playing. He smiles at this. He knocks, knowing Tyson won’t hear, and knowing that even if he did hear, he wouldn’t end his shower early. GWAR curses himself. He turns around to look down the hall. He can see TYSON’s mom, wearing an apron in the kitchen. GWAR paces in the hall awkwardly before walking to the foyer to sit in a chair by the front door. After less than a minute, he gets up and walks back toward TYSON’s room. He leans in and hears TYSON still in the shower. He tries knocking again to no avail. He walks out to the foyer and stalls a bit trying to decide what to do. Finally he walks to the kitchen.
INTERIOR, DAY- THE YOUNG’S HOUSE.
Hi Sister Young.
THOMAS(reaching into a cabinet for a glass)
There is no glass, so he walks across to another cabinet where he finds one. He opens the fridge and pours himself lemonade.
Still don’t know where the glasses are?
Sure I do. How are things?
Oh, busy. Denise and Darren are coming in a couple of weeks and I’m trying to clean up before they get here.
Well that’s cool.
How are things with you?
Oh, fine I guess. Up to no good, you know. Same old.
That’s nice Gwar.
So what are you two up to today?
Tyson and I are carpooling to college.
No kidding? Well that’s wonderful.
Sure is. Tyson didn’t tell you?
He never tells me anything… you know, I saw your mother at Costco yesterday.
Oh really? How is Meg Ryan?
She seemed fine. We talked about you boys…
Yeah? What about?
Well…I don’t think I should say.
I’m sure it was about just how proud of us you are and how great we are for each other. Tyson and I. Yeah, no need to tell me! Speaking of, I need to get that guy going. We’re gonna be late!
TYSON (wearing a towel, at the entrance to his room)
Well if it isn’t a Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar!
That’s me. Hey man, I wish you wouldn’t lock the door. I walked into the house without knocking, thinking I’d just slide to your room but of course you have to lock your bedroom door. Why? I’m not gonna go into your bathroom and interrupt your shower routine. I know you lock that door too, you weirdo. Anyway, I bumped into your mom and I know she’s mad that I didn’t knock. We had a little chat.
TYSON (loudly, across the house)
Mom, have a nice talk with Thomas?
TYSON’S MOM (from the kitchen)
Yes Tyson- you know, Gwar doesn’t mind me.
THOMAS (still at the doorway)
Just let me in man. What does she mean? She doesn’t mind me? Like I don’t have a problem with her?
No like, you don’t mind her, like acknowledge her, or respect her, by just walking through the door of her house without knocking. Gwar the genius writer over here. A regular Bill Shakespeare.
Well, shucks. I don’t mean anything. I love your fam. You know I always wanted to be a Young.
TYSON (with an exaggerated smile, pats GWAR on the shoulder)
I know you do Tom.
GWAR (entering the room and closing the door)
Do you have a shirt I can wear? (tugs his belly) I hate this one.
TYSON holds the towel with one hand on his hip and opens his sliding glass closet door with the other. He stares into a vast, colorful closet.
Ahhhhhh, what can I get for a Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar? (resting his now free hand on his other hip)
GWAR(grabbing a t-shirt that says THE FIRM)
Remember when I wore this to your old man’s office? When we visited him at the firm?
Sure do Tom.
That was somethin’ else. I wrote about it. Anyway, I got us an appointment to tryout for an improv place in Los Angeles.
What? Are you serious? When?
Thursday. We’ll leave at noon, right after your oceanography class. We don’t have to be there until four.
TYSON (sighing again)
I don’t know if my liege will be OK with it Gwar.
She’s fine with it dude.
You asked her? Oh Tommy. Tommy Tommy Tommy. What are we gonna do with you?
EXTERIOR, DAY- JR COLLEGE PARKING LOT.
GWAR walks toward TYSON’s boxy new Scion. Someone is playing an electric guitar plugged into a miniature amplifier. GWAR knocks on the car window. TYSON is disgustedly clearing the passenger seat for Gwar. Without looking up, he unlocks the door and GWAR enters the car.
What do you think about that guy over there, playing guitar?
TYSON still hasn’t made eye contact with GWAR. he’s picking up half-full water bottles and throwing them into the back seat
I think it’s the gayest thing in the world and you do too. So don’t ask me.
Are you excited?
TYSON(He still hasn’t looked at Gwar)
Sure Tom. (picks up a water bottle and holds it in front of Gwar’s face) How many millilitres did she drink out of this one? Riddle me that, Tom.
I don’t have an answer for you man.
CUT TO- DRIVING
Hey, you know how the Terminator asks little John Connor why he cries? (in a very mediocre Arnold Schwarzenegger accent GWAR utters) Why do you cry?
Well, what if he was like Why do you fart? and Why do you laugh, when you fart?
TYSON (not missing a beat, in a perfect 13-yr-old Edward Furlong voice)
You know, cuz it’s funny.
Yeah, Yeah, exactly. That would be a funny skit or whatever, like on Saturday Night Live.
Sure it would Tom.
Hey, also, when we’re up on stage, you gotta do Chris Farley auditioning for the part of Sam from Lord of the Rings. You know “Master Frodo…”
Whatever you say Gwar.
Anyway, that guitar player’s shirt told me to listen to Bob Marley and his hat told me to party naked.
I told you I don’t want to talk about him.
Alright alright, you know how to get there? Just drive up The Five for like an hour then I’ll tell you where to go from there.
With resonant disgust for the fellow in the parking lot, TYSON intently scrolls through his Ipod looking for a more obscure Talking Heads song. After his selection, GWAR picks up the Ipod and changes it to Road to Nowhere. Tyson’s look implies that GWAR needs to move on past Talking Heads’s radio songs. If GWAR was directing this film he might show TYSON and GWAR eating at In & Out burger as Road To Nowhere plays. TYSON is truly happy as he takes his first bite into a Double Double. Under GWAR’s direction, he’d perhaps show TYSON’s road rage. He’d show some exteriors of the drive from San Diego to LA. The ocean. The immigration check-point. The signs that caution families crossing the freeway. He’d show Gwar opening TYSON’s glove compartment, show a bunch of things falling out of the glove compartment and show TYSON’s irritation of the whole thing.
EXTERIOR, DAY- VENTURA BOULEVARD.
TYSON and GWAR pull up to a tiny, street-front improv place.
We have almost an hour. Lets walk around for a while.
TYSON and GWAR walk down the street and quickly enter a typical LA vintage/ironic t-shirt store.
INTERIOR, DAY- VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE.
Hey this is where that guy at college gets his shirts and hats that tell us what to do.
That’s right Tommy Tom.
A very young blonde who most likely works at the store absently walks past them. GWAR catches her attention.
Excuse me, have you heard of the improv place a few doors down?
Really? (pointing) It’s just a couple of doors down that way.
Nope. (she moves along)
GWAR looks at Tyson apologetically.
They walk to the Imrov place. They go through the door and enter a very small lobby. There is a woman sitting behind a box office.
INTERIOR, DAY- SHITTY IMPROV PLACE
Are you here for the tryout?
Go ahead through those doors and have a seat.
They enter a tiny theater with maybe twenty chairs. There are a handful of improv actors already seated. One looks about 30 years old and is wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jacket. In fact, they all look about 30 years old- with the exception of a 45 yr old man who is outfitted in Sam Kinison’s hair and wardrobe.
NINJA TURTLE(to a cute 30-year-old woman)
Where do I know you from?
CUTE 30 YEAR OLD WOMAN
I Don’t know.
Was it a movie?
30 YEAR OLD WOMAN (sighing)
It was! It was 13 Conversations about One Thing!
30 YEAR OLD WOMAN
You’re right. I was en extra in that.
Nice! Me too!
GWAR picks up a brochure from the seat back in front of him. He points to Chris Kattan’s name on the program and promisingly shows it to TYSON. TYSON nods.
A 50-year-old man with the world’s worst haircut enters the room. Think Javier Bardem in No country For Old Men, except this man’s hair is thinner. The following doesn’t really need to be scripted: The Improv owner shows them around the small studio. There are pictures of famous alums like Chris Kattan and Tim Meadows. Pictures of Jr. Varsity casts, Varsity casts, and Wednesday Night casts. He explains that only the top one or two levels get paid. Most do it for free and the rookies pay to perform. He sits them down and tells them about himself. He’s been in a few episodes of Three’s Company. With a smile, he says the residual checks are nice. He nods silently, giving this cast of hopefuls time to soak in the glorious residual money that he’s earning, suggesting they could be so lucky. So now it’s time to perform.
THREE’S COMPANY IMPROV DOUCHE
Ok, we’re just gonna do some things to get you loosened up here. First, I want you to swim around like fish.
Everyone does their interpretation of a fish. TYSON is visibly annoyed at this stupid exercise as he just pretends to swim like a human, using his arms to backstroke. GWAR is more pathetically attempting to appease the improv man than TYSON. Initially, GWAR uses his arms like a human, then self-consciously pulls them back toward his body and attempts to show swimming without arms. This results in a pathetic upright serpentine movement. As GWAR swims past TYSON, he gives a look of confusion, TYSON in return, silently expresses his annoyance for the whole thing. The other six hopefuls are generally desperate and over-zealous in their fish impressions.
What follows is a series of cuts that displays a typical bottom-level Los Angeles improv store: A good-looking Asian-American man does an excellent Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. TYSON and GWAR do some heavy, bookish British accents. The Ninja Turtle finds a way to work a make-out session in with the woman he met on the set of 13 Conversations About One Thing. The Sam Kinison man doesn’t do much at all.
At the end, the Improv owner lines everyone up onstage and tells them he wants each of them to do whatever they want, anything they want. They take turns doing freestyle improv. The Asian American man does some more excellent Arnold. There are a few other random things. Some funny, some not. Then we get to Tyson.
TYSON (very loudly)
MASTER FRODO! WE MUST CONTINUE UP THE MOUNTAIN! WE MUST GO ON! (shaking his hands vigorously, as if at an altar) WE CANNOT FAIL! WE NEED TO TOSS THE MAGICAL RING INTO THE BOILING LAVA OF DOOM! WE MUST GO ON, MASTER! IF WE FAIL EVIL WILL PREVAIL, AND EVERYONE ELSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE EARTH WILL DIE!
When it is time for GWAR’s freestyle moment, he is extremely nervous. He’s silent for a few awkward seconds. Finally, he utters, in a horrible Arnold Schwarzenegger accent that nobody in the room can decipher-
…why do you fart?
There is deadly silence from the Improv leader and the other actors. Tyson looks down the line at Gwar with astonishment and horror.
Cut to the car. It is quiet for a few moments as Tyson drives. Finally-
Why do you fart?
(uproarious laughter from the two of them)
BONUS! An early short: The Firm
I decided that I’m gonna blog. I’m gonna blog cuz I don’t know what else to do.
There’s that memory of my mom. She must have been my age now- maybe two years older. She’s in Dr. Stevenson’s office and they’re just talking about Tyler’s future appointments and then conversation ventures off into non-medical, life stuff. Not too personal or anything. I’m not going to make anything up, like: She had to go to the post office before 4 pm to drop off a credit card bill that she UGHHHHH, didn’t want to get into right now and that she HATES credit card companies and whatnot and she doesn’t have time to deal with any of this right now.
Cuz I wasn’t really paying attention, I was maybe 6 years old.
Everyone is quiet for a second, then she begins to cry. She doesn’t wail. And she doesn’t cry for too long. Dr. Stevenson does the best he can and of course her crying isn’t a surprise, nor is it out of line. She stops. He tells her that he couldn’t possibly understand. He says that they’re all doing the best they can.
He was a good-looking guy. He wore a plaid shirt. Not too old. He didn’t get out of his chair and come around and physically comfort her.
I’ve had that memory for a few days. Hanging around.
I remember playing outside the hospital with Tyler.
I went to the hospital with Nick right before I moved here to Boston. I was 26, Nick was 16. We drove down there late at night thinking we’d take a look at Tyler’s old 8th-floor stomping grounds. We found out that the 8th-floor was no longer the pediatric floor. In fact there wasn’t a pediatric floor in the hospital at all. Everything had moved to Children’s hospital.
As a 15 year-old I remember swinging the bat in the parking lot of the hospital and asking Pop if I swung as fast as they did in the majors. He wasn’t too thrilled with the question.
As a 17 year-old, in the elevator with Nick, someone asked if he was my son.
Tyler never spent a Christmas in there.
I’m 29 now and I’m doing the same thing. How am I any different from who I was? What am I going to do to “grow up?” Will I ever be less emotional? Will I ever calm down? Can I go back to school? Can I relax? Can I change things? Can I be happy for a while? I’m kind of happy now. I am so weird.
And then there’s the elevator memory. Another early one. I always wondered why I remembered a moment like that. I asked myself what made it stick. My mom told me once that Dad’s role was The Rock. He never showed emotion. It wasn’t his job. It worked even better that they divorced so young. We had two worlds. The one where we emoted, and the one where we didn’t.
In the Hospital Memory my brain likes to picture the three boys together- Adam, Tyler, and me- the youngest. I’m about six. But if we were leaving the hospital, Tyler wouldn’t have been there with us, waiting for the elevator.
There were six elevators that led to the 8th floor and we’d stand there and wait for a ping. It’s just a memory of my Dad asking which elevator door was going to open up. Just a trivial little thing.
Hello everyone, 2014 Aaron talking here. I know I said I was done with SFSF after the Ultimate Post, but this belongs here. It’s old. Plus, who actually believed I’d stick with closing out the blog? Anyway, the above was written four years ago, just days before I began SFSF. It began as a sort of manifesto, but then it quickly turned into a journal entry, with the weak segue being “I decided I’m going to blog.” That decision was a product of the manifesto, a baby step that I’d decided must be done. (I deleted the bullitt-pointed, actual manifesto portion that included topics like More Grocery Shopping and Less Eating Out.)
At the time, I never would have posted it. The blog was my first public writing venue. The early entries were vague. Prior to that, I kept everything locked up and unfinished.
While going through it, I remembered that I’d written about the elevator before so I looked in an even older online collection of my journals in Hotmail Documents and found the following:
…and then there’s Tyler. Tyler. Am I a writer because Tyler had cancer and died? Did he die to enlighten me and you all? “You all” being really only a small segment of the population? A few hundred thousand or so young kids that will read this and relate to it and love it and clutch it and make them want to tell people to fuck off when they’re told dinner is ready while they’re sitting in their rooms thinking about it? Did Tyler have those 30 operations and spinal taps for YOU? Did Tyler have all this happen to him so I would be extra submissive and self-conscious for waaaay too long in order for me to better question and observe everything? So I could always think about that time in the hospital when we were leaving and my Dad was like “Which one do you think it’ll be? Which fucking elevator will be the one to take us out of this hospital, the hospital Tyler’s in cuz he has cancer and he won’t ever kiss a girl or get married or hit a home run or drive a car? Which one? No, Aaron, that one’s going up.”
“Ahh, there we go.”
He told me that I was serious and that I used to be all about having fun. Interesting, because I don’t think of that pre-Boston year (post Amy break-up) as fun. But now my life was about growing up. He was damn perceptive, this Blaze. We went into a book store where a lady told him to keep writing. We were walking back to the car after lunch (two sides of fries) and I pointed to a bookstore across the street. I told him I should try to buy his book, EPISODES: My Life as I See It. That was no problem for him, his mom’s friend worked there. Inside, this friend urged him to keep writing as a young girl searched the store for EPISODES. I echoed that shit and said that he was like more important that 99.9 percent of the writers who get paid regularly to write. Fuck it, he’s better that 100%. Who the hell is more important a writer than Blaze Ginsberg? I have no clue.
I was a bit protective of him when I went to his house, at the start of our day. His mom was a writer too. She waitressed into her thirties but now made $ as a full-time writer which is the dream. The protective part came when I asked Blaze about his book at her house and she hissed “Don’t just grab the book off the shelf, Blaze.” I wanted to kinda say to her Hmmm, maybe it’s not a big deal, maybe I really wanted to see Blaze’s EPISODES, Relax lady. Sure it was my fault that I never got around to purchasing it online when I was in Boston because I was an extraordinarily flakey pothead, but that book was important shit and I wanted to see it. A little intimidated by the son, hey lady? Blaze was the shit. I still haven’t read his book because I’m a fucking loser even though I know it’s probably the best thing on the planet. It’s his life in episodes, as in TV episodes, based on sitcoms, loosely- or based on the sitcom format. I don’t know, I’m not even going to begin wondering how brilliant it is, I just have to read it.
In Boston, I asked him to write something for my blog. Later, I went to edit it, “chop it up,” you know, play editor like a big boy, cuz Blaze was the only writer I could edit. I was about to chop certain words and things that I didn’t think worked but sure enough they did because he used like the 2nd and 3rd dictionary definitions of words, words whose first definition’s I was unaware of. And I’m not talking refrain and refrain. He was a brilliant writer, probably the most brilliant little modern piece I’ve seen and when people nudge him to write he just insists he wants a more normal, steady job. Something regular. I asked him if he knows anything about the finances of his book. Maybe he has enough in the bank from EPISODES that he doesn’t need a normal job. He could write, you know, what he was born to do. Do this world a service Blaze! Show ’em who’s boss. Who’s really mentally challenged or whatever? He knew nothing of his finances. I was suspicious about his mother and the rest of his family. Protective over Blaze. But everyone is protective. It’s easy to be protective. His mom was protective of him when I went to pick him up. She didn’t have to meet and chat with me, but she did.
The original plan was to go to the beach. We went looking for a spot and while we were driving around the lot I observed a supremely hairy man getting in or out of his truck. He was a stocky, hairy fella. I laughed a bit. Told Blaze that perhaps a man like that should trim himself or cover up if he plans on parading the coast. I was stretching for conversation, one of those things I knew was stupid as it was coming out of my mouth. What an asshole I am. We kept driving around the parking lot. I was in my mom’s hideous huge white Dodge Durango. I expressed disdain for this sort of activity, driving around, looking for a fucking space in a busy parking lot. I didn’t even have a license at the time. Blaze’s mom would have been furious had she known I had no license. I hated the DMV. I was home six weeks or so before I got my license.
Eventually Blaze suggested that maybe the beach wasn’t gonna happen. I was cool with not going. I looked at his arms an noticed they were pretty damn hairy. The striking difference between Blaze pre and post-Boston was his look. He definitely looked like a skinny boy when I left for New England. He was 20. He worked at the grocery store in the same shopping center as my Starbucks. He wore his pants really high and of course his name was Blaze. I chatted him up when he came in. He entered the coffee shop mostly bored, looking to satisfy something- hard to do in a Starbucks when you don’t drink coffee. But there aren’t too many options in grocery store shopping centers. He usually settled on one of the stupid over-priced fruity sodas. His disdain for his bagging job was far more articulate than my disdain for my job. I thought he was so cool and he acted nonplussed, which of course made me pursue the friendship more. I put in the effort to be sincere. He doesn’t give a shit that I have an autistic cousin. I’m sure everyone has an autistic something or other. He’s probably sick of people wanting to believe THEY are the insider, THEY can relate. He’s probably sick of the patronization. I kept at it and eventually we were pals. Pals enough that I talked to him a handful of times during the six years I lived in Boston.
Upon my return a few months ago, I noticed that his hairline had receded quite a bit and he’d gained weight. His stubble was thicker and, like I said, his forearms were pretty damn Hairy. Again, I’m an asshole.
When we left the parking lot, we decided to go to lunch. A girl he had a crush on worked at a mediocre Mexican restaurant on La Jolla Village Drive. Blaze always had crushes. We ain’t much different. Maybe I’m fuckin autistic. He told me once that he didn’t wanna date an autistic girl or special needs girl and he hated it when people suggested otherwise. Made sense to me.
Sadly, his crush wasn’t present at the Mexican restaurant. He never gave up hope though. He was looking pretty much the whole time. His gaze was always above the table, out toward the front of the restaurant, around toward the server’s station. Ultimately I realized that his crush wasn’t only the reason for our lunch venue, but perhaps the whole day. I don’t remember how this crush began. I think he had simply fallen for the waitress a couple of months prior while eating there. He ordered two sides of fries. Chips and salsa were free. I had eaten and was broke so all I ordered was a coke. We were our waitress’s nightmare. The table was full of free chips and cheap fries. Whatever. This was Blaze, he was cool as fuck. Autistic. Our bill was like 12 bucks.
I asked Blaze if I was different from before I left and he said with a lot of expression that I sure was. Oh man was I. He told me that before, I was all about having fun but now it was all about growing up. Everything was so serious now. He was good. Blaze was good. It was all perception, mood, body language and he was dead-on. Most other people would have said the opposite because their analysis of me would have been based on what my current plans were. Upon coming home it wasn’t about going back to school or what I was going to do for a real job, but I talked about my “writing partner” and writing screenplays. Silliness. I was still frustratingly silly. The opposite of getting serious. Before I moved to Boston, it was all about “getting away.” I was still in my twenties. To me, at the time, it felt serious. Or in retrospect, I like to remember it as serious. My break-up with Amy sent me into a depression and life was all about picking myself up and getting things in order to move to Boston. I think of it as a serious time. But Blaze said back then I was all about fun. Having fun. Now I was so serious. For me, life was now all about GO GO GO and growing up, he told me.
They made a banner for me. My Starbucks coworkers. A Goodbye Aaron banner. I already felt old then, at 26. They were like 20. A couple of them were still in high school. But I drove around with them, a Honda CRV, where you can put the back seat all the way down so that you’re just looking up at the sky as you cruise around. Clouds jerk right and left and the tops of trees pop in and out of view. I enjoyed that. Damn. Why so serious? Shit got real I guess. Blaze knows. Blaze knows.
I think both Adnan and Jay did it. It is all sad and very interesting. My thoughts aren’t final. I wish nobody was guilty.