Interview

PRESIDENT RICHARDS
(Directing Davy toward a simple chair) Have a seat David. (He lowers himself to the chair behind the desk.) I talked with your mission President. He’s filled me in. How are you doing?

DAVY
I’m alright.

PRESIDENT
You’re alright… Alright….well your family, they’re not alright. I talked to your aunt. I don’t think she’s all right.

DAVY
(perks up a bit) You talked to them?

PRESIDENT
Well, I have. Your family is pretty broken up about this.

DAVY
…I’m sorry.

PRESIDENT
You’re sorry? You don’t look sorry. I don’t exactly see a face of remorse David.

DAVY
…It wasn’t an easy decision to make.

PRESIDENT
Decision? You decided to sleep with a girl. You were a representative of Christ’s Church in these modern times and you decided to have intercourse with a girl. I BET such gross disobedience wasn’t an easy decision.

DAVY
Well, I lost faith in the church out there. For about the last year I was trying to figure out how to go home.

PRESIDENT
You didn’t consider praying, asking God for faith? You didn’t consider obedience to his commandments? Clearly you didn’t consider obedience after your display of gross misconduct.

DAVY
Actually, I think I gave it a good shot.

PRESIDENT

(mockingly) You gave it a good shot. Hmmmmm. You didn’t even complete your mission. (elevating his voice) A good shot! You have no idea what a good shot is David! You haven’t finished college. You haven’t gotten married. Kids? You think your faith was tried? Your patience?

DAVY
That was a large part of my decision, I wanted to leave before I had a family. I’ve seen what happens when a parent decides to leave the church after having kids.

PRESIDENT
Well that’s just ridiculous. You wanted to leave before a family was involved. Sounds like you never gave it much of a chance.

DAVY
I think I did.

PRESIDENT
You think you did. You gave it a good chance. You decided to leave the church a mere few months into your mission and that was a “fair chance.”

DAVY
Yes President, I think I was a very good missionary, and a very obedient missionary. And I did pray, and ask God for faith.

PRESIDENT
And…what did you hear? What was his response?

DAVY
I don’t believe I heard anything.

PRESIDENT
Hmmm. So after five months or so, you just throw in the towel?

DAVY
Well, yeah.

PRESIDENT
Yeah…Hmmm. You know the Lord doesn’t make it easy for us David. We don’t just ask him for a testimony in his Gospel and get it overnight.

DAVY
I know. I was very obedient before my mission though as well.

PRESIDENT
You were?

DAVY
Yeah, I think it was very important to me.

PRESIDENT
And how do you know you gave it this great effort, David?

DAVY
I saw the other missionaries out there. They didn’t take it as seriously as I did.

PRESIDENT
How on EARTH can you know such a thing?

DAVY
I just, I mean, I could explain, but I think it would be a waste of time…(more confidently) I was very devout President. I woke up on time every day. I studied the scriptures. I even filtered my thoughts. I made a great effort, and I just think that compared to most of the other missionaries, and members back home, I think I gave a lot of myself.

PRESIDENT
How do you have any way of making that determination? And even if it was true, you know the Lord doesn’t make anything easy for us.

DAVY
I know, but I had to make a decision. And I decided that this life we have is it, and I want to live it outside of the church. Now is the time… like I said, before I had a family to tear apart…I’m sorry President.

PRESIDENT
Don’t apologize to ME. Back to your decision. This “decision” you made. You decided to sleep with that girl. You made the difficult “decision” of having sex? You decided you were done with the church and that it would be a good time to engage in pre-marital sex.

DAVY

No…(shows he’s slightly irritated) I told you I lost my faith about a year ago.

PRESIDENT
Why didn’t you say anything then?

DAVY
I didn’t know what to say. I was afraid. Like everyone tells me, I’m so young. It’s hard to navigate this.

PRESIDENT
Afraid of what? How we’d respond? Don’t for one second think that a young man such as yourself can shake the faith of me, or your Mission President.

DAVY
I was afraid of how my family would respond- like you said, they’re pretty broken up. I knew they wouldn’t like it.

PRESIDENT
Your decision.

DAVY
Yeah.

PRESIDENT
So why exactly did you make your decision Davy? Why did you decide you were going to leave the church?

DAVY
I…it just didn’t make sense.

PRESIDENT
What didn’t make sense?

DAVY
I don’t know-

PRESIDENT
YOU DON’T KNOW!!!???

DAVY (A bit more assured)
Well, none of it made sense.

PRESIDENT
“None of it?”

DAVY
Blacks not being allowed to have the preisthood until 1978. Women’s roles. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being gay.

PRES
(sighing, frustrated) There isn’t anything wrong with being gay… Is that it Davy, have you been having homosexual thoughts?

DAVY
I don’t think I have to be gay to think there’s nothing wrong with being gay.

PRESIDENT
So that’s it. You just don’t believe in any of it. You reject it because it’s inconvenient.

DAVY
I think it’s the opposite really. I think it’s inconvenient to reject it.

PRES
Is that so young man? You reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ because you feel that it’s incorrect and you’ve figured out the truth on your own. Well, what do you believe then? Tell me, what have you found? Why are we here? Who put us here?

DAVY
I don’t know.

PRESIDENT
You don’t know. (shaking his head, sighing) You don’t know. But you know that (He authoritatively thrusts his index finger to the top of the desk) THIS church isn’t your thing and that you can sleep with girls now. Sounds pretty convenient to me. Sounds pretty arrogant actually. (He lifts his index finger from the desk and points it at Davy) You are very arrogant David.

DAVY
I have a question President

PRESIDENT
What’s that?

DAVY
During a stake conference “talk” you gave,  you went on about cleaning clocks.You were walking about your pal on the offensive line and you smiled and said “Boy we sure cleaned a lot of clocks.” Pure joy on your face President.

PRESIDENT
What are you talking about? What’s your point?

DAVID
Why was that necessary, to say that you sure cleaned a lot of clocks? It wasn’t a priesthood meeting. Families, little kids, toddlers crawling under the pews. And you cleaned a lot of clocks? Why say that?
And I’ve heard that before, arrogant. I know ya’ll like that one. You love the “it’s about you” line. I’m making it about me. I guess. I decided to think independently. I am selfish in that respect. What’s in my head is mine and you, nor anyone else will take that from me. And it leads to a confidence that can come off as arrogant. You think I’m arrogant, fine by me. People on the other sie of the fence give me a little bit of that too. I know I need to be humbled at times. That’s what my brothers were there for, you know, keeping me in line. Not you though, cochise. You don’t keep me in line, not any longer.

PRESIDENT
Now Davy you were disfellowshipped, NOT excommunicated. You watch your words.

DAVY
WATCH MY WORDS? WATCH MY WORDS “PRESIDENT”? Yeah, as a matter of fact I do watch them. You trying to call my bluff? I’m doing this for attention, huh? Is that it? I have some line drawn?

You know what? My old man, never heard him talk much. Not nearly as much as ya’ll. So I watched him closely, know what I mean? I paid attention. And one time, at dinner with some folks from out of town, my Dad was asked about church, you know cuz he was a member during the time he was married to my mom. The woman asked my Dad his status. My old man said he had no idea.

PRESIDENT
YOUR POINT, DAVID???

DAVID
(Stands up and points back at the President) I don’t give a shit what you do with my status, cochise. It’s a name in a FUCKING computer.

 

Penultimate Post

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?

It's been real.

It’s been real.

Stealing Something

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.

Needless to say, the instructor is in the center.

Needless to say, the instructor is in the center.

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!”

Jeter

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.

Seattle, 2nd Tour

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.

Totally Biased Boston Area Restaurant Reviews

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.

 

 

PHISH CONCERT

6/4/2012

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.

 

The Slavery Flag

It’s February 2014, and Georgia has a new license plate available that displays the Confederate Flag. It’s not really new, it’s just updated. Aside from an article I read on jalopnik.com, I haven’t researched why this is allowed. This is because I’m lazy, but I can also claim that it’s to maintain a moderate level of awareness as I contemplate non-racist reasons for displaying the Confederate Flag. I want to be a typical American, just contemplating why this might be allowed 150 years after our country’s bloody Civil War, half a century after Martin Luther King Jr died for equality and after Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a bag of skittles. I am a moderately informed American who has a preconceived opinion on the matter.

Okay, so here’s where I contemplate non-racist reasons to display a Confederate Flag, whether it be a full-on flag or a little one on your license plate:

1) You long for the “Old South.” You hate the hustle & bustle of the city you live in. The honking horns, the traffic, the sirens. Your 9-5 job. You want to trash your phone and computer and just eat some southern food and fish along a hot, lazy river with a crude pole that is simply a stick with a piece of yarn attached to it. You want a piece of straw in your mouth. The X that is displayed in the back of your truck doesn’t mean that you’re a racist, it just means you long for simpler, quieter times. The South. You want the drawl and the hospitality.

2) Political issues other than SLAVERY.

3) You like the design. You like the abundance of red, and you like that X, with all the stars in it. You like it for no other reason than you think it looks cooler that the ol’ Stars and Stripes.

4) You know that the Confederate States were wrong, but you believe we should constantly be reminded of our ugly past so that we don’t repeat it. You love that the South has moved past slavery and you are proud of that fact. It’s like the 9/11 never forget t-shirts and stuff.

The above reasons aren’t very convincing because of SLAVERY. This country shipped over humans from Africa and sold them as if they were dogs, or worse yet- machines, or appliances. I can hardly contemplate Benjamin Franklin or George Washington’s greatness without feeling a ping in my heart that reminds me that despite the founding fathers’ greatness, they all had slaves. It’s ugly.

I’ve heard the why-we-went-to-war-other-than-slavery explanations before. History majors like to explain these sorts of details. I’m sure there were plenty of issues other than slavery, it’s just hard to get past the whole SLAVERY thing, so I forget these issues. If you display the Confederate Flag for political reasons beyond slavery, why do you cling to a political ideal from 150 years ago? Haven’t we advanced beyond that in terms of policy?  What Confederate ideal, outside of slavery could we possibly implement that would make modern America a better place?

When I think of the Confederate flag, I think SLAVERY. I think of how the South Was for SLAVERY and the North was opposed. This is after hearing arguments about how there were many reasons the nation was divided- it wasn’t simply black and white. There were political complexities that go beyond the buying and selling of humans. I know that the North was still racist. I’ve heard from a history major that the reason the North could abandon slavery was that it had industrialized. It simply didn’t need that huge, free, work force. I recently read that Lincoln once said he didn’t think blacks would ever be equal to whites. I’ve heard all these things and I assume that SFSF readers have more or less heard the same.

I moved from San Diego, California to San Antonio, Texas when I was nearing the end of 7th grade. I was startled by the racism in Texas. My first friend was a kicker named Jeremy. Kicker was short for Shit Kicker. Shit Kickers got the name from the cowboy boots they wore. They kicked shit in the fields. From my perspective as a San Diegan, Kickers dressed like toned-down cowboys. Kickers wore boots to school, and Wranglers. I’d seen Wranglers before. They had the tag on the belt line like all the other mainstream jeans. Kickers wore a kind of Wranglers I’d never seen before, with the leather tag on the butt pocket. Wranglers were worn TIGHT. Everyone else wore baggy jeans. Clara Driscoll Middle School was represented by many cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. There were Preppies, Kickers and Jocks. And there were Hispanics, Whites and Blacks.

Jeremy was only my friend for a month or so because he was racist. He told racist jokes at lunch. He repeated the slogan “You wear your X, I’ll wear mine.” Your X was a reference to Malcom X. By mine, Jeremy meant the Confederate Flag. In addition to repeating his Your X/Mine refrain, Jeremy spent his free time doodling Xs and telling racist jokes. Jeremy was my friend for, like I said, a month or so. 7th grade ended, and Jeremy was gone. In 8th grade I got to know more people and made friends with some non-racists.

If you display the Confederate flag and claim to not be a racist, why would you submit yourself to being mistaken as a racist? When your truck passes a car on the highway, and the child in the car asks his mom what that flag represents, what do you imagine is said? The flag is reduced to a simple symbol. It is only an image and no words. It passes by. There is no benefit of explanation from the bearer. The mother can explain to the child that there’s a chance that the bearer of the flag is not racist, but she can’t be certain. Why open yourself up to that ambiguity in a subject so sensitive? The flag is a loaded statement, and loaded statements are frustrating and annoying. If the bearer claims to endorse human equality, why would they open themselves up to dispute on the matter? The bearer of the flag is at best a lazy idiot and at worst a racist who longs for the days of slavery. Who wants to bear the Confederate Flag?

Displaying the Confederate Flag is equal to that under-breath utterance that one is afraid to make louder and more direct. People who make such utterances are weak. One utters when one is afraid to state boldly and clearly. People who long for the Confederate South are the moral bottom 1% in this country. They are weak, racist cowards who are afraid to look a black man in the eyes and tell him he belongs on a plantation under someone else’s ownership.

MISSION PHOTOS

This was taken toward the end of my mission. These photos were all taken with my 35 mm camera (A couple of photos were sent by friends, but they were also taken on film.) I apologize for the quality. This was an impulse post, and laziness prevented me from attempting to scan the photos. But my iphone 5 did alright. Roughly chronological order and roughly July 2001-October 2002

This was taken toward the end of my mission. These photos were all taken with my 35 mm camera (A couple of photos were sent by friends, but they were also taken on film.) I apologize for the quality. This was an impulse post, and laziness prevented me from attempting to scan the photos. But my iphone 5 did alright. Roughly chronological order and roughly July 2001-October 2002

This is at the Seattle ariport. I'm about to head to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah- for about 3 weeks of training. Uncle David is on your right and Uncle Tom is on your left.

This is at the Seattle airport. I’m about to head to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah- for about 3 weeks of training. Uncle David is on your right and Uncle Tom is on your left.

That's my friend Deloy. We went to college together and he was in the MTC with me. Since he went to Russia and had to learn a new language, he was in the MTC for 2 months or so.

That’s my friend Deloy. We went to college together and he was in the MTC with me. Since he went to Russia and had to learn a new language, he was in the MTC for 2 months or so.

Elder Gunning, if I remember correctly. He studied with me in the MTC, but went to a different mission. Oklahoma, I think.

Elder Gunning, if I remember correctly. He studied with me in the MTC, but went to a different mission. Oklahoma, I think.

I got the

I got the “MIssionary Goggles” early, as I’m only taking that photo because that girl was relatively scantily clad. Everything is contextual.

My mission was called the Colorado Denver South Mission. It covered the Southwest part of the state and into Kansas. My trainer and I were based out of Ulysses, a town of about 5000 people.

My mission was called the Colorado Denver South Mission. It covered the Southwest part of the state and into Kansas. My trainer and I were based out of Ulysses, KS, a town of about 5000 people.

Corn

Corn

Interstate 70 disected the South Mission from the North Mission. I think this is to give missionaries a little taste of everything (city/country) Though I never served in Denver. This was a special trip where we were allowed to see a baseball game on our day off. We often didn't have to dress in

Interstate 70 dissected the South Mission from the North Mission. I think this is to give missionaries a little taste of everything (city/country) Though I never served in Denver. This was a special trip where we were allowed to see a baseball game on our day off. We often didn’t have to dress in “proselyting clothes” on our day off, but President made us dress to the game. To keep us in check, I think.

Elder Mississippi Smith. The Mississipi is because there was always more than one Smith in the mission at a time. He was from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I remember because NFL great Brett Favre had a home there and he told us stories.

Elder Mississippi Smith. The Mississippi is because there was always more than one Smith in the mission at a time. He was from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I remember because NFL great Brett Favre had a home there and Smith told us stories.

Girls. I wasn't the only one who did this, okay?

Girls. I wasn’t the only one who did this, okay?

Even awkward when I kiss a car. But it's an M5. This car was all the rage when it came out.

Even awkward when I kiss a car. But it’s an M5. This car was all the rage when it came out.

This was taken in my second area. I was transferred from Kansas to Colorado Springs. Usually about 12-14 missionaries in a zone. (My mission.)

This was taken in my second area. I was transferred from Kansas to Colorado Springs. Usually about 12-14 missionaries in a zone. (My mission.)

This youngster lived in the neighboring apartment and he'd walk in and hang out.

This youngster lived in the neighboring apartment and he’d walk in and hang out.

We were lucky to live in an apartment it another companionship. (Other people to talk to at the end of the day.) Langston on your right, was my companion. He was a great young missionary, only out a few months longer than me. Martinson in the back and his companion Idaho Ray.

We were lucky to live in an apartment with another companionship. (Other people to talk to at the end of the day.) Langston on your right, was my companion. He was a great young missionary, only out a few months longer than me. Martinson in the back and his companion Idaho Ray.

I'd be lyin' if I told you ladies didn't hollar at me and Langston walking down the street.

Langston.

Every 6 weeks, the mission was shaken up with a Transfer. Elder Ka'onohi (Elder K) was transferred in as my companion. Elder Kieth and Tennessee Ray replaced Idaho Ray and Martinson. There is the child again.

Every 6 weeks, the mission was shaken up with a Transfer. Elder Ka’onohi (Elder K) was transferred in as my companion. Elder Kieth and Tennessee Ray replaced Idaho Ray and Martinson. There is the child again.

Elder Kieth, on the right at a transfer meeting. Those were days off as well. Kieth wasted no time getting ready for basketball, which was played in the gym at the church where the meeting was held. He always wanted to roll his sleeves up, which was a source of contension. Photos were always taken at transfer meetings as missionaries went in and out- often transfered hundreds of miles away, with the possibility of not seeing some of the guys until after the mission- if ever again.

Elder Kieth, on the right at a transfer meeting. Those were days off as well. Kieth wasted no time getting ready for basketball, which was played in the gym at the church where the meeting was held. He always wanted to roll his sleeves up, which was a source of tension. Photos were always taken at transfer meetings as missionaries went in and out- often transferred hundreds of miles away, with the possibility of not seeing some of the guys until after the mission.

Kieth VERY QUICKLY pit me into this position.

Kieth VERY QUICKLY put me into this position.

We found this suit when we cleaned out the apartment.

We found this suit when we cleaned out the apartment.

Elder K. Nice of him to take this photo after we parted.

Elder K. Nice of him to take this photo after we parted.

Okay, check this out. Natasha, in the front there- well we baptized her- so now she and Elder K are engaged, more than 10 years later. No joke. Elder K asked her mom what hymns we should play at the baptism. Her mom suggested

Okay, check this out. Natasha, in the front there- well we baptized her- so now she and Elder K are engaged, more than 10 years later. No joke. Elder K asked her mom what hymns we should play at the baptism. Her mom suggested “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones.

Elder K was in love with this new bike he got at a transfer meeting and rode it around the church parking lot.

Elder K was in love with this new bike he got at a Transfer Meeting. Elder K was one of the best teachers in the mission. When I found out he was going to be my companion, I was told “You’ll get in some doors.”

Elder K and I hung out with this woman Rita a lot. She wasn't interested in the church though.

Elder K and I hung out with this woman Rita a lot. She wasn’t interested in the church though.

The old fellow is Bob and he's taking a photo of Elder Smallwood. He'd been baptized a year or so before I met him, and always hung out with missionaries. He was very serious about his portraits. We did laundry at his house and occasionally watched TV (Not supposed to watch TV.)

The old fellow is Bob and he’s taking a photo of Elder Smallwood. He’d been baptized a year or so before I met him, and always hung out with missionaries. He was very serious about his portraits. We did laundry at his house and occasionally watched TV (Not supposed to watch TV.)

I think this is the transfer meeting where I became a trainer. 6 months into my mission. I went from being jr. companion (The other guy in-charge) to trainer. It was a big deal that 5 people from my group (You're always compared and associated with the guys you came out with) So 5 people from my MTC group trained. It was a big deal and I was nervous. Elder Tikalsky from South Jordan, Utah is my new greenie.

I think this is the transfer meeting where I became a trainer. 6 months into my mission. I went from being jr. companion (Where the other guy is in-charge) to Trainer. It was a big deal that 5 people from my group-you’re always compared and associated with the guys you came out with-5 people from my MTC group trained. I was nervous. Elder Tikalsky from South Jordan, Utah is my new Greenie. And he is to my right. K and Langston are my old companions when this photo is taken.

Posterity photos are a popular thing at Transfers. K trained the tall guy, who trained the other two.

Posterity photos are a popular thing at Transfers. K trained the tall guy, who trained the other two. (When I posted this I didn’t realize that the “Tall Guy” (in the middle of the three white guys) is barely taller than the other two.

K and Bob.

K and Bob.

Wedding Photo?

Wedding Photo?

Langston made the cake- he was really into it. It was important that it be made from scratch- no cake mix. I think it was Bob's 61st. Bob sadly passed away a couple of years ago.

Langston made the cake- he was really into it. It was important that it be made from scratch- no cake mix. I think it was Bob’s 61st.
Sadly, Bob passed away a couple of years ago.

Bob had fake teeth. We didn't know that and he freaked us out the day he took them out. Here is Elder Haukenema paying tribute.

Bob had fake teeth. We didn’t know that and he freaked us out the day he took them out. Here is Elder Haukenema paying tribute.

When my dad saw this photo he said that Haukie was a

When my dad saw this photo he said that Haukie was a “big boy.”

He was big.

He was big.

Elder Caldwell. He was on his way out when I met him. One of those guys you listened to because he'd been around a while.

Elder Caldwell. He was on his way out when I met him. One of those guys you listened to because he’d been around a while.

Elder Lane Foulger out of Eugene, Oregon. I really liked this guy.

Elder Lane Foulger out of Eugene, Oregon. I really liked this guy.

Another

Foulger

My companion Elder Duff, from Poland, Maine. He kept me up at night telling stories about Maine. He made me want to move there. I fell in love with Maine and he's the reason I always wanted to move there to write. Duff was a convert to the church- baptized about a year before his mission. He was an amazing person and a darn good missionary. Despite what his hairline tells you, you're looking at a 19 year old.

My companion Elder Duff, from Poland, Maine. He kept me up at night telling stories about growing up there. I fell in love with Maine and he’s the reason I always wanted to move there to write. Duff was a convert to the church- baptized about a year before his mission. He was a darn good missionary. Despite what his hairline tells you, you’re looking at a 19-year-old.

Duff cooking.

Duff cooking.

As with all things, it took me a while to figure out how to make a good pancake. (My problem was the better was always to thick. Once I learned that, I made some decent hotcakes.)

As with all things, it took me a while to figure out how to make a good pancake. (My problem was the batter was always too thick. Once I learned that, I made some decent hotcakes.)

Duff and I. We were taken to Zio's for pasta. we loved when members of the church took us to Zio's.

Duff and Me. We were taken to Zio’s for pasta. we loved when members of the church took us to Zio’s.

Duff is pointing out that

Duff is pointing out that “Door” is spray-painted to the side of the door.

This is my favorite picture. We rode around in the backs of trucks often. To and from Transfer meetings. Duff and Elder Goettman on the right. Goettz was quiet, but about as cool as it got. He played in a band back home. He was into the Black Crowes and stuff.

This is my favorite picture. We often rode around in the backs of trucks. To and from Transfer meetings. Duff and Elder Goettman on the right. Goettz was quiet, but about as cool as it got. He played in a band back home. He was into the Black Crowes and stuff.

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Goettman is pointing out an attractive female in this photo.

Elder Hiestand, on the right, was a good friend of mine. That's a member of the church in the middle. I guess he'd about my age now. We looked up to him because he had a beautiful wife and was super cool. He drove us around in a convertable Ford Galaxy from the 60's. We were in that car one night when he took 4 of us to buy ice cream. He opened his wallet and said

Elder Hiestand, on the right, was a good friend of mine. That’s a member of the church in the middle. We looked up to him because he had a beautiful wife and was super cool. He drove us around in a convertible Ford Galaxy from the 60’s. We were in that car one night when he took 4 of us to buy ice cream. He opened his wallet and said “Get whatever you want Elders, I have eleven dollars.”

Hiestand was a darn good baseball player.

Hiestand was a darn good baseball player.

I think this is outside the Red Robin. A real fancy chain out West.

I think this is outside Red Robin, a real fancy chain out West.

Elder Fineangenofo (If I remember.) Also Elder F. Hiestand's Greenie. So he was doing the whole missionary thing while also learning English. Not easy.

Elder Fineangenofo. Elder F was Hiestand’s Greenie. So he was doing the whole missionary thing while also learning English. Not easy.

Close-up

Okay, so this guy, his name is Doug, and it's a whole other blog post that involves a limo, a fancy hotel, and stripper cash (what he's holding.) But like I said- another blog post. Yeah, that's a bottle of wine, and yeah, he's wasted.

Okay, so this guy, his name is Doug. Doug is a whole other blog post that involves a limo, a fancy hotel, and stripper cash (That’s what he’s holding.) But like I said- another blog post. Yeah, that’s a bottle of wine, and yeah, he’s wasted.

That's Smallwood inside Doug's limo. Doug didn't come with us, so we got to mess with the radio and stuff, like IN THE MOVIES.

That’s Smallwood inside Doug’s limo. Doug didn’t come with us, so we got to mess with the radio and stuff.

Elders Moses is standing in Doug's hotel bathroom. Hotel Monaco, if I remember correctly- in Denver.

Elder Moses is standing in Doug’s hotel bathroom. Hotel Monaco, in Denver.

I think we'd been playing baseball in out proselyiting clothes. Foulger on the right and Romney on the left.

I think we’d been playing baseball in our proselyting clothes. Foulger on the right and Romney on the left. (Google says the word is proselytizing, but we said proselyting. One less syllable.)

Our job wasn't easy, so we kinda went crazy sometimes.

Our job wasn’t easy, so we kinda went crazy sometimes.

Debauchery is a popular photo genre amongst missionaries. This toilet setting is very cliche, but cliche for a reason.

This toilet setting is very cliché, but for a reason.

Again with the debauchery.

Again with the crude.

The TV isn't even on. The cigarette ain't lit.

The cigarette ain’t lit, and the TV isn’t even on.

This car was owned by one of the

This car was owned by one of the “lesbians” from the apartment upstairs. The sticker reads “When I was your age we had to walk 2 miles to get stoned and have sex.” This is a very typical missionary photo.

The caps are on those bottles, we didn't drink beer. We took the beer from these women. One of both of them were members. It was like a confiscation thing. The women later came back and got it- I think. I remember for sure them calling and telling us to giver their beer back. We may have poured it down the sink, I don't quite remember.

The caps are on those bottles, we didn’t drink beer. We took the beer from a couple of women. One or both of them were members. It was like a confiscation thing. The women later came back and got it- I think. I remember for sure that they called and told us to give their beer back. We may have poured it down the sink, I don’t quite remember.

I don't remember where we found this keg that Elder Hanson from Des Moines Iowa is holding.

Also, I don’t remember where we found this keg that Elder Hanson from Des Moines, Iowa, is holding.

The keg made a very mediocre night stand, as you could imagine. The mission wanted us to get rid of it, even though it was empty.

The keg made a very mediocre night stand, as you can imagine. The mission wanted us to get rid of it, even though it was empty. You can see that other missionaries autographed it.

The only time on my mission on entered a liquor store. We got five bucks for it.

The only time on my mission we entered a liquor store. We got five bucks for the keg.

This is another blog post as well, Elder Steed crashing into a rock pile after riding his bike down a set of stairs. The good Canadian cut up his hands pretty badly but didn't utter one swear word.

This is another blog post as well- Elder Steed crashing into a rock pile after riding his bike down a set of stairs. The Good Canadian cut up his hands pretty badly but didn’t utter one swear word.

We were the Fountain zone and we called ourselves the Cottontails. We were supposed to play this team made up of a family. The family, The Bartons, if I remember, had beaten a couple of other zones in softball games. They played a real smoke-and-mirrors/finesse style softball. When I was in Fountain with Hiestand, Foulger and company, I knew we had a zone that could beat the Bartons. So we made t-shirts. But the Bartons didn't even show. DIDN'T EVEN SHOW. Cuz we would have annihiliated them.

The Fountain zone- we called our softball team the Cottontails. We were supposed to play another team comprised of mostly a family. The Bartons, if I remember. They had beaten a couple of other, past zones in softball. The Bartons played a real smoke-and-mirrors/finesse style of softball. When I was in Fountain with Hiestand, Foulger and company, I knew we had a zone that could beat the Bartons. So we made t-shirts. But the Bartons didn’t even show up. DIDN’T EVEN SHOW. Cuz we would have annihilated them.

Typical day off

Typical day off. P-day, or Preparation day. That’s when we were supposed to do laundry and stuff.

What a squad

What a squad.

Elder Steed. We called him Prince William.

Elder Steed. We called him Prince William.

The Olympic Training Center was in Colorado Springs. A visit there was a decent P-Day activity as we weren't allowed to do much else.

The Olympic Training Center was in Colorado Springs. A visit there was a decent P-Day activity as we weren’t allowed to do much else.

We weren't allowed to kiss girls, so Hiestand is settling here.

We weren’t allowed to kiss girls, so Hiestand is settling here.

I remeber that it rained this day and that Elder Smallwood attacked Elder Moses. The fight was broken up pretty quickly.

I remember that it rained this day and that Elder Smallwood attacked Elder Moses. The fight was broken up pretty quickly.

Another Transfer

Another Transfer

We used to watch the girls play softball out of the window in our room.

We used to watch the girls play softball out of the window in our room.

And we'd tell Moses to calm down and not yell vulgar things loud enough for them to hear- we represent the frickin' church , after all.

And we’d tell Moses to calm down and not yell vulgar things loud enough for them to hear- we represent the frickin’ church, after all.

Moses. I don't know if this is the day our companionship began or ended.

Moses. I don’t know if this is the day our companionship began or ended.

Moses is burning a tie on his sixth month anniversary, as was customary. Ordinarily a mission is 2 years.

Moses is burning a tie on his sixth month anniversary, as was customary. Ordinarily a mission is 2 years.

This is a photo of Pueblo, Colorado, my last area. Pueblo is an hour south of Colorado Springs, where I'd been about 10 months. The missionary on the far right is Elder Thurgood. We were together two transfers and had some serious fun. He was my 2nd greenie. Very smart kid. This is a posterity picture. Tikalsky is next to me with his first greenie. This made me a grandfather.

This photo was taken in Pueblo, Colorado- my last area. Pueblo is an hour south of Colorado Springs, where I’d just spent 10 months. The missionary on the far right is Elder Thurgood. We were together two transfers and had some serious fun. He was my 2nd greenie. This is a posterity picture. Tikalsky is next to me with his first Greenie. I became a Grandfather this Transfer.

Wood is making the goofy face.

Wood is making the goofy face.

We went to a game in P-day clothes and got busted. President was not happy.

We went to a game in P-day (plain, not proselyting) clothes and got busted. President was not happy.

Must have been the first game.

Must have been the first game, as I’m wearing proselyiting clothes or simply- pros.

My Greenie, Tikalsky.

My Greenie, Tikalsky.

My trainer, Elder Arizona Ray is in the hat. This is his posterity photo.

My trainer, Elder Arizona Ray is in the hat. This is his posterity photo.

This is the famed

This is the famed “Girl Across The Hall.” Or Gath. In the hallway, as she was coming or going, Elder K told her she had beautiful eyes while talking to her about the church. She lived DIRECTLY across the hall.

We spent Christmas with a Mormon family, as is typical.

We spent Christmas with a Mormon family, as is typical. You see Bob came along.

Taken in Denver. I like this picture despite the ink stains.

Taken in Denver. Sorry about the ink stains.

Elder Milius came out of the MTC with me, though I never got to spend much time with him. He's wearing Bob's cardigan.

Elder Milius came out of the MTC with me, though I never got to spend much time with him. He’s wearing Bob’s cardigan.

A photo sent from my friend Deloy in Russia.

A photo sent from my friend Deloy in Russia.

Life-Long pal Tyson sends love from Africa.

Life-Long Pal Tyson sends love from Africa.

Mart

hanson

Kieth

ROMNEY

MOSES

Grimace

He's protesting having to wear Pros to the baseball game by wearing a bow-tie. Missionaries don't wear bow-ties.

He’s protesting having to wear Pros to the baseball game by wearing a bow-tie. Missionaries don’t wear bow-ties.

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  •     *     *

Sept 2015

There is a sneaker in front of the door to keep it from swinging all the way open. I don’t want it open. I only want it a few inches open, to say, I’m approachable, but I’m not really crazy about doing anything.  Being bugged. But you don’t have to actually call or text of you need something. You can even poke your head in before knocking. But I’m watching a Justin Bieber video right now, and I’d prefer to be alone.

Aside

Miss Connections: The One with Nipples and Jesus

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)

God damn!

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?

Sincerely,
Megan Fox

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?

Miss Connections: Love Lockdown Edition

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!

Obviously!

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.”

I didn't mean it, baby. Oh, come on, Carol, you know I was joking! Don't give me the silent treatment, Carol.

I didn’t mean it, baby. Oh, come on, Carol, you know I was joking! Don’t give me the silent treatment, Carol.

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?

Answer: All the humans.

Answer: All the humans.

But this last MC, as always, takes the award for Most Heartwarming:

You mailed me my lost wallet?!?! (Brighton Ave, Allston)

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.

Aside

Just Another Brief Conversation With Blaze

BLAZE
Hi Aaron it’s Blaze

AARON
Hey man.

BLAZE
I heard about those attacks in Boston. You’re right next to that. I want to make sure you’re okay.

AARON
Oh, thanks. Yeah, I’m okay.

BLAZE
Are all your friends alright?

AARON
Yeah…thanks for asking. How are you?

BLAZE
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.

AARON
Oh, no way! They were looking for Jesus?

BLAZE
No, I just thought they were.

AARON
Oh.

BLAZE
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.

AARON
No you didn’t.

BLAZE
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.

AARON
If you write me a speech from Jesus I guarantee you that I’ll put it on the blog.

BLAZE
Okay, good. You know what? I’ll do that right now, I’ll hang up and email it to you right away.

AARON
Okay. Thanks Blaze.

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.

AARON
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?

Jesus’s speech:

Fair people of today,  I have come your way,  I have these things to say-

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,

That is all I have to say, your Wholly Ghost Savvier,
Jesus H. Christ
%      *      *      %      *      *      %
Here you can read The Holy Cinemas of California, an older conversation with Blaze. That’s where he references Mercury and stuff.

News, Evening Edition

Pop Punk

 

Sports: The Mid Virginian Mountaineers lost a nail-biter to the Dirty River Scoundrels 139-101.

Poetry:

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.

Miss Connections: Minnesota 2.0 Edition

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.

This one is called, "Ca Ca Cow." I shit you not.

This one is called, “Ca Ca Cow.” I shit you not.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

Miss Connections: It’s A Lot to Digest

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)

 staticmap

moody st

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.

Thank you.

Okay, questions:
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.

muffin top

Awww yeah, I wanna slap me summa dat

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.

Miss Connections: When The Weirdos Come Out to Play

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 is one of the least creepy things you find when Googling "shaggy dog fantasy." Just...trust me.

This is one of the least creepy things you find when Googling “shaggy dog fantasy.” Just…trust me.

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.

Miss Connections: The Science Edition

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:

Image

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.
3363This 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.

THE CAR

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.

Seriously.

PARKING LOTS

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?

"It's really hard to land my jumps when cars keep trying to park here."

“It’s really hard to land my jumps when cars keep trying to park here.”

COLLEGE CAMPUS

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…

AT HOME

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)

My dear love. You know I would have done anything for you. I still can’t believe you “took care” our twins. You told me to back off while you were leaving your husband then go and get a boyfriend. You said you loved me. I have mixed emotions that I don’t get to see you anymore since you transfered. Part of me misses you and the other part is glad I don’t have to see what I can’t have. Hope your boss is making you happy.
Mike
…it gives mail-order bride a whole new meaning.  It’s genius, really: why leave the house when you can get love delivered to you? I mean, shit, order a pizza and see who shows up. Let them take care of your twins, even! Just don’t be upset when their franchise of Domino’s suddenly “stops delivering to your zip code.”
Oh, and to the states where the gym was the most frequent site of MCs: the rest of the nation hopes you feel really great about finding toned, sweaty, half-naked people attractive. We can see the beauty in people anywhere–but especially in stores that sell bulk items.
Aside

VDMC: Valentine’s Day Miss Connections

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)

hey,

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.

Restaurant Review

New England isn’t known for its Mexican food, and I don’t think it ever will be.

It didn't occur to me to take photos until after work, when everything was closed. Sorry.

It didn’t occur to me to take photos until after work, when everything was closed. Sorry.

SFSF Restaurant Review

Picante Mexican

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.

Doesn't take much to be a highly decorated Mexican joint in Cambridge, MA

Doesn’t take much to be a highly decorated Mexican joint in Cambridge, MA

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.

Circumcision

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.”

Cincinnati

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.”

“No way.”

“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.

Detroit

“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.

This giraffe was part of an outdoor theater, made from reclaimed building materials, old furniture and makeshift light fixtures. You could say he’s part of the urban jungle.

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.

This was the closest I got to anything Motown-related while I was there.

One day, he calls to tell me the police chief of Detroit has just resigned. “They’re telling visitors to the city to ‘enter at your own risk,'” he says. “You need to get out of there, now!”

“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!]

Just What I Needed

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.

“Go To School!”

Often people are dumbfounded when they learn that I moved here for no other reason than “To get away”, “To write”, or “Cuz I broke up with my girlfriend and it was time to go.”
One person asked very emotionally, “Why the F***would you move out here.?!” People seriously get offended that I moved here from sunny San Diego.

The Debate

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.

Miss Connections: The One That Aaron Wrote (I Bled For You)

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.

 

How to Remember Coming Out to Your Mother

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.
“Hello, sweetie!”
“Hey, Mom.”
“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”

inhale

“I am bisexual, and”

hold it

“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.

I think it was me.

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.

“BOOOOOOOOOOOYS!”

rhythmic tumble

“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”                   “…”

“OK.”

And he let us go, liars.

Brunch with Peachpit

From left- Travis Fletcher, Hannah & Louis Waxman, and Jason Reyes

“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?”

Travis, Jason, Louis & Hannah

“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

I Don’t Think I’m Gonna Fish

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.”

THE END

*     *    *

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.

The Cat and the Tree

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.

Fish Day

 

You gotta do certain things on Saturdays, like put the sausages in the freezer.

Delington, is that a euphemism?

My last day was a Saturday. The big day! The biggest day of the week. Sunday off, thank goodness! Saturdays are real busy with all the Tufts kids and everything.

So, Saturday. My last day. I walked over to The Deli. Davy was long gone. It was dusk, summer in beautiful Somerville. Closed for an hour or so. Davy had cleaned up real good. The slicers were clean, the knives were clean. The counters, everything was nice and clean. I opened the fridges and looked at the stacks of turkey and capicola and I thought that perhaps it was the last time I was gonna be doing this.

I was so charged up, but it was this quiet moment and I remember thinking that this was a big deal. Not that I had really lost my temper this time. I kind of knew that was a big deal, the temper thing, but I was going to have to process that later. There were going to be a lot of changes. What was really on my mind though, as I looked at the provolone and manchego, was that I would not be opening the fridge doors anymore. No more fish days, I knew that was big.

Fish Day, Delington!

They called my stacks of meat Delington Stacks. I was proud of them. They were nice and tight. I’d try to stack slices like salami, that came in a tube, back into the cylindrical form they arrived in. Chris and Davy did a fine enough job. It didn’t really matter, but their stacks were easily distinguished from mine. Their salami slices hung out a centimeter or so. No big deal. But I thought I did it well and I was proud of it because I didn’t feel like I did a lot of things very well. I knew it was a silly thing but what can you do?

Sam named me Delington. Aaron Delington. Chris was named Chris Delis. Delis plural. Davy was The Duke of the Deli, or Deli Duke. We listened to Bruce Springsteen, Rancid, Goo Goo Dolls, and a lot of other bands that are too cool for you.

The Improv

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.

THE IMPROV

By Aaron Kingsbury Litchfield

INTERIOR, NIGHT- CAR

TYSON
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!

GWAR
Sorry! I’m not used to driving.

TYSON
Dan could really drive. He never slowed down. You DON’T slow down.

GWAR
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.

TYSON (nefariously)
We never got caught before, Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar.

THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
That’s cuz Dan used to drive.

TYSON
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.

TYSON
Thomas, it’s your turn now.

THOMAS S PRESTON ESQUIRE S GWAR
No.

TYSON (building enthusiasm, in a devious manner)
C’mooooooon, Thomas!

GWAR
No, It’s not funny. I don’t know why it’s funny.

TYSON
Thomas…

GWAR
(rolling down the window) I hate you.

TYSON
YESSSSS THOMAS!

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.

TYSON
Good job Thomas!

GWAR (excitedly)
Oh Oh Oh Oh, get that group right there!

TYSON rolls down his window and yells with a remarkable amount of mocked vigor-

TYSON
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

GWAR
That’s the most fun I’ve ever had on Garnett Avenue.

TYSON
Whaaaat? Better than all the bars? The beers? Thomassssss? Thomas S?

GWAR
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!

GWAR
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?

END SCENE

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.

GWAR
Hi Sister Young.

TYSON’S MOM
Hello Gwar.

THOMAS(reaching into a cabinet for a glass)
What’s happening?

There is no glass, so he walks across to another cabinet where he finds one. He opens the fridge and pours himself lemonade.

TYSON’S MOM
Still don’t know where the glasses are?

GWAR
Sure I do. How are things?

TYSON’S MOM
Oh, busy. Denise and Darren are coming in a couple of weeks and I’m trying to clean up before they get here.

GWAR
Well that’s cool.

TYSON’S MOM
How are things with you?

THOMAS
Oh, fine I guess. Up to no good, you know. Same old.

TYSON’S MOM
That’s nice Gwar.

GWAR
Yup.

TYSON’S MOM
So what are you two up to today?

GWAR
Tyson and I are carpooling to college.

TYSON’S MOM
No kidding? Well that’s wonderful.

GWAR
Sure is. Tyson didn’t tell you?

TYSON’S MOM
He never tells me anything… you know, I saw your mother at Costco yesterday.

GWAR
Oh really? How is Meg Ryan?

TYSON’S MOM
She seemed fine. We talked about you boys…

GWAR
Yeah? What about?

TYSON’S MOM(sheepishly)
Well…I don’t think I should say.

THOMAS
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’S MOM
Bye Gwar.

TYSON (wearing a towel, at the entrance to his room)
Well if it isn’t a Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar!

GWAR (hushed)
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?

TYSON
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.

THOMAS
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.

TYSON
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?

TYSON
Sure do Tom.

GWAR
That was somethin’ else. I wrote about it. Anyway, I got us an appointment to tryout for an improv place in Los Angeles.

TYSON(sighing)
What? Are you serious? When?

GWAR
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.

GWAR
She’s fine with it dude.

TYSON(sighs again)
You asked her? Oh Tommy. Tommy Tommy Tommy. What are we gonna do with you?

END SCENE

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.

GWAR
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

TYSON
I think it’s the gayest thing in the world and you do too. So don’t ask me.

GWAR
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.

GWAR
I don’t have an answer for you man.

CUT TO- DRIVING

GWAR
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?

TYSON
Yeah, sure.

GWAR
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.

GWAR
Yeah, Yeah, exactly. That would be a funny skit or whatever, like on Saturday Night Live.

TYSON
Sure it would Tom.

GWAR
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…”

TYSON
Whatever you say Gwar.

GWAR
Anyway, that guitar player’s shirt told me to listen to Bob Marley and his hat told me to party naked.

TYSON(sighing)
I told you I don’t want to talk about him.

GWAR
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.

GWAR
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.

GWAR
Hey this is where that guy at college gets his shirts and hats that tell us what to do.

TYSON
That’s right Tommy Tom.

A very young blonde who most likely works at the store absently walks past them. GWAR catches her attention.

GWAR
Excuse me, have you heard of the improv place a few doors down?

GIRL
No.

GWAR
Really? (pointing) It’s just a couple of doors down that way.

GIRL
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

WOMAN
Are you here for the tryout?

GWAR
Yeah

WOMAN
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.

NINJA
Was it a movie?

30 YEAR OLD WOMAN (sighing)
Maybe.

NINJA
It was! It was 13 Conversations about One Thing!

30 YEAR OLD WOMAN
You’re right. I was en extra in that.

NINJA
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-

GWAR (softly)
…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-

TYSON
Why do you fart?

(uproarious laughter from the two of them)

THE END

BONUS! An early short: The Firm

*ding

2010

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:

2006

…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.”

*ding

“Ahh, there we go.”

When I Went To Lunch With Blaze And He Got Two Sides Of Fries

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.

Read The Holy Cinemas of California and the other one about Blaze. Also, his website.

I See These Guys

I see them on facebook, the guys from my mission. They were supposedly more badass than me. I mean they broke ME down, but I’M the apostate now. They were the guys who got in fights playing basketball. “I wanna be on Litchfield’s team cuz he has heart.” Like I was innocent and they weren’t. They hushed when I walked into the room, like people always have. Ain’t foolin’ nobody. C’mon man. I thought you was badass. I’m the one who writes anti-Mormon shit now though I suppose. “Poison” is what the mission president called it. But they have families and pictures outside the temple. I went on my journey. I went to Boston to be a writer. I’m the apostate. I was the most anal. Anal Litchfield they called me. The other guys, walkin’ around naked. Badasses. They have families now. Takin’ pictures outside the temple. I thought I acted for them. I thought I spoke for them. Not one of them came with me. Not one.

Former Intro to the Ultimate Post

First off, the final Statistical Brief.

In these briefs I mainly go over how unlucky googlers found their way to a whiney blog written by a 30-year-old man in his underpants. So here you go:

Entering “spiderman bulge” into search engines led 117 people to sanfranciscostreetfighter over its four-year existence. In an early piece, a (not really blatantly sexual) photo of Spiderman inadvertently led “bulge” searchers to this lame-ass wordpress blog. Don’t think that 117 is the total number of folks who stumbled across the blog looking for bulge, as people searched also for “spider man (notice the space) bulge,” “wrestling bulge,” “one direction bulge” …you get it. I’m not going to list them all, because this is a BRIEF. But I will show a couple of photos.

What's your favorite? Seriously.

What’s your favorite? Seriously.

mister connectionstwo

Only FROSTED Pacey tips will do, folks.

One more? Okay.

bulge

bulge

Lots of people searched for “vigina” as well. You don’t deserve masturbation material if you can’t spell vagina, now do you? Someone searched for “tumors that fall out of a vigina.” And with that, I’m gonna close out SFSF’s final Statistical Brief.

*     *     *

Alright, ready for the Final post by Miss Connections? The San Diego Version? Sarah’s retired, so I’m going to do my best:

I don't know if you're trolling but you still suck dude.

I don’t know if you’re trolling but you still suck dude.

Anything but "knotty." And MissCons shouldn't be grammatically scrutinized, but you raise the stakes when you brandish a semi-colon; phrases on both sides of the mark should be able to stand alone as sentences.

Anything but “knotty.” And MissCons shouldn’t ordinarily be grammatically scrutinized, but the stakes are raised when you brandish a semi-colon; phrases on both sides of the mark should be able to stand alone as sentences.

roll call

Anyone hungry? Wanna head to the thru-smell? Didn't think so.

Anyone hungry? Wanna head to the thru-smell? Didn’t think so.

nurse

This guy’s alright.

Okay, that’s that. Miss Connections is officially retired. On to the business: