Bageltopia.

Dear Jo-hay-hay,

Right now I’m the sole customer at Bageltopia, where my new roommate, Jedd Evan, works.  It’s grimy in here and the lighting is wanly inconsistent and none of the accessories or furniture or trimmings match, and the acoustic tiles on the ceiling are riddled with patches of water stains and mild rot.  The walls are painted the color of what white walls look like in a room that allows smoking.  There is an unplugged, antediluvian ATM in the corner where I am sitting, and on the wall to my right is a cheaply framed, warpy print of a cartoon chef somberly whisking ingredients in a bowl, the French moonlight glinting off the left curl of his ridiculously long handlebar moustache.  The layout is questionable; the wall bisecting the restaurant flagrantly disrespects all tenets of Feng Shui, and my centrally located booth manages to only afford me a perfect view of the condiment area and trash can.  The tablecloths are real fabric and look as though they were plucked from a very dead grandmothers’ estate sale reject pile.  I love the tablecloths. I absolutely love it here, in general.  I don’t know why.  Well.  Maybe I do.

Jedd Evan is pacing back and forth behind the counter keeping busier than anyone ever employed by Bageltopia in its 13 years of existence, I’d be willing to bet.  Chopin is blaring, but it’s fine because even if you blare classical music, it’s still peaceful.  Jedd Evan’s coworker, a tall, slouchy, slack-jawed Post Office Kid in his mid-20s, is expounding on the particularly good parts of the funeral march, and if I was still the sort of person to judge others’ intelligence by the way they dress, I’d be surprised.  One of them is whistling every note of the Chopin arrangement perfectly.  I’m not sure which of them it is, and I decide not to look up and find out.

The Post Office Kid comes and sits by me and we talk about several different things such as mutual acquaintances, lucid nightmares, his broken windshield wipers, Mexican potlucks, billiards, Band of Horses, and the unsecured wireless network of the Karate school next door.  He tells me he is a perfectionist and I believe him mainly because the word looks so ludicrous coming out of his mouth.  I like him.  He’s smart.

I’m trying my best to ignore the fact that when my roommate’s at work, he wears his hat backwards and I guess the combination of the humidity from the rainstorm in the parking lot and the heat from the bagel ovens in the kitchen makes his hair flip up on the sides, because it doesn’t really do that, normally.  I’m listening to two high school girls act their ages diagonally from where I’m sitting and it’s driving me almost insane.  They’re theater-types and they’re speaking so fast and with such deliberate, impeccable enunciation that it sounds like a different language entirely.  They’re dressed ridiculously and I want to judge them really badly until I remember:

1.   I’m fucking 30, and

2.   At their age, I thought combat boots were best worn over jeans and the only t-shirt you could possibly pair with yellow fishnets, mismatched argyle socks, a gold taffeta skirt, and black lipstick was the “Satanic Army” Marilyn Manson one, or, if that one was dirty, the “got weed?” one, or, barring that, a simple black bandeau top that made me look like the absolute slut that I certainly wasn’t, and

3.   They’re 15 and adorably having a great time doing exactly what they should be doing in High School, which is embarking on a bunch of superly important adventures which, in time, will reveal themselves to be worthless, useless, really fun memories.

I just realized my Bageltopia table is about a half a block from East Chapel Hill High School, which would explain the clientele thus far.  I’ve only seen one customer over the age of 15, and Jedd Evan is alarmingly patient with all of them.  He’s not completely moved all his things in yet, his toothbrush and alarm clock and laptop charger or favorite coffee cup, and I’ll tell you what a shitty roommate I already am: I set my alarm clock for 6am so Bageltopia would open on time, and when it went off, instead of trying to wake him up, I disemboweled the entire alarm clock and went back to sleep.  When I woke up staggering around the kitchen for water and a hairbrush (which I needed), he was somehow gone and my alarm clock was in angry little pieces.  It still is.

The perky theater girls are discussing their past repertoire of roles in various “important” stage productions.  I immediately remember why their infuriating voices sound so familiar.

They sound exactly like the Chip ‘n’ Dale cartoons.

It’s not like I’m sitting here, creepily watching Jedd Evan and the Post Office Kid do their jobs, but, I mean, I sort of am.  I like that at Bageltopia I can put my feet up on the vinyl booths.  I like that the owner looks like he’s totally over it, but he still tucks in his shirt.  I like that I can watch Jedd Evan make a pot of coffee and, while he waits for the drip to subside, he’s suddenly behind me reattaching a chair seat to its frame because at Bageltopia, he’s a man of many, many backwards baseball hats.

Love,

Mandey

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Brownie.

It is entirely possible that I have just eaten a hash brownie unwittingly.  In my epic attempt be the most non-grocery-shoppingest adult on the planet, I have given birth to and raised the most successful and healthily understocked pantry at least on my street and in, quite possibly, America.  An inventory of my food cabinet just revealed that I am the proud owner of four different types of steak seasoning, a bottle of Mexican vanilla flavoring, a half-gone box of spaghetti noodles, and an open bag of marshmallows of questionable age.

Fact is, I live like a 22-year-old boy in that my house is a gallimaufry of tiny living room adventures and abandoned art projects, of coffee-stained sheet music and babydoll heads, of too many books and not enough bookshelves, of dirty dishes and dirtier towels and tennis shoes that match no articles of clothing in my possession.  I like my house the way it is, but no one, not even my delightfully slobby roommate, agrees with my current lifestyle.  I can’t stop accumulating things.  They’re all important things.  I have no need for most of them now, but I know that as soon as I throw them out, I will commence a project which will require these precious objects, these twisted coat hangers and paint-crusted brushes, these cinderblock chunks and bits of fabric refuse.

But instead of making my life and my house look like I am worth a shit, I decided to teach myself how to play Mr. Bassman on piano.  In the midst of all the unwashed plates and the unrecycled beer bottles and the detritus of bachelorhood, I managed to ignore all my responsibilities in order to revisit my childhood (which I apparently spent entirely at Showbiz Pizza ) and teach myself to play a Rock-afire Explosion song.  For you, and you only, I have made a video of my 25-YEAR-OLD record playing Mr. Bassman.  I wish I could say that I had to abandon my blog-writing and dig the record out of a box labeled “Amanda, Dorky things, 1985,” but I cannot, because, at age 30, Mr. Bassman is perpetually set up in my little Telex record player, ready to go at anytime.  I listen to it almost every day and I dance around the living room.  For serious, though, it skips twice in the video, and this is because the record is the actual one given to me by my parents at age 5 since the first time I heard the Rock-afire Explosion live and in animatronic person I almost lost my mind and I wouldn’t shut the fuck up about Fatz the keyboardplaying gorilla until I could have him at my fingertips at all times.

Isn’t it magnificent??

 

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New Kids on the Block Put Me Under the Knife.

I am 30, and tomorrow I will go to a roller-rink birthday party for a guy my same age.  This is exciting to me.  We are all adults, and roller-rinks are more fun for us now.  When I was a kid, Skate Country was the greatest place on earth.  Skate Country had everything.  The 40-something self-loather dressed in a referee costume, the giant fuzzy dice, the strobe lights and the disco ball and the arcade with Whack-a-Mole that would spit out tickets you could redeem for those little rubber finger monsters or Pixie-Stix or Fun-Dip.  The laser pointers and the Barbie knockoffs cost more tickets than were feasibly earnable, but we didn’t care.  We had those things already.

I fancied myself the fastest skater in all the land.  I’m pretty sure I was.  But I had to exit the rink floor when they played the Couples’ Skate song.  I say “song” as though there was only one, because there was.

 

Timmy T‘s

“One More Try,” was the intensely negative force in my life that kept reminding me that, at the world-weary age of 9, I would never have a boyfriend and I would probably die  alone.  “One more try,” he would sing, and I’d think, “I never even got ONE try.”  “I didn’t know how much I loved you,” Timmy would croon, and my pursed lips spewed angry, lonely hellfire words, “YOU NEVER LET ME SHOW YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE.”  I wanted to be the most important thing in someone’s life, and Timmy T and his stupid Couples’ Skate song kept reminding me that I wasn’t.

So I set my sights higher than the 4th grade boys who played football badly and made fun of me for my ability to win spelling bees.  I decided my one true love was no other than Joey McIntyre, my very favorite New Kid on the Block.

I had the orange plastic lunchbox.  I had the puffy-paint tee-shirt.  I had the neon-green plastic earrings.  I had the bedsheets and the pillowcases and the Teen Beats and the board game.  My dad taped all their TV appearances for me on Betamax, and I watched them until they wouldn’t play anymore.  I had conversations with Joey during which I would spill secrets I didn’t even tell Jesus.  I had (and still have) all their cassette tapes.  Posters.  Trading cards.  Lunchables with their five faces on them.  Katie Smith and I would run home after school every day and practice the “The Right Stuff” dance where you hook your thumbs into the elastic in your Jams and kick your skinny legs out from side to side (see minute-marker 1:19 in below video).  We perfected the parts in “Hangin’ Tough” that sounded eerily like the Wicked Witch’s Palace Guards’ chant from the Wizard of Oz, and watched the part in the video where they air-guitar with baseball bats about a thousand times.

And then, in 1990, my aunt appeared like a dream at my house with three tickets to the goddamn New Kids on the Block concert.  She was going to take my cousin and me, and we would go to it and then we would be complete humans, not the sub-par, barely-carbon-based, non-NKOTB-witnessing idiots we were before the concert.

When we got there, all decked out in our boy-band paraphernalia, I thought I might lose my mind.  I am pretty sure I peed in my hot-pink overalls.  My side ponytail was hiked up high enough to make me look like a bona-fide cheerleader.  I looked good, and I wanted to make sure Joey saw me.  This was my only chance.

My aunt presented us with NKOTB cassettes that we did not own yet, which was enough to send me over the edge and bring on spastic fits of excitement that had to be distilled in no way other than screaming Joey’s name at the top of my tiny lungs.  We were in Row LL, which was 38 rows away from the stage, so I yelled loud.  And hard.  I screamed.  I jumped.  I panicked when he didn’t stop mid-Roger-Rabbit to single me out and whisk me away to live in the condo I assumed  he shared with Boy George.  I tried so hard to get him to notice me that I did not pay attention to my body screaming out in protest.  Three hours later I was in the hospital.

I had overexerted myself while attempting lifelong happiness and, in doing so, I gave myself a hernia.

I shit you not.

It was the first (and last, at this point) time I had ever gone under the knife.  I didn’t care.  My parents brought me more Teen Beats than I had ever seen in one room and they brought my Nintendo to the hospital and bought me Paperboy and I played that shit till I mastered Saturday.

I thought for sure this stunt would get me on Joey’s radar, and I’d love to say that it did, but I can’t.  He’s still out there somewhere, and I will always love him, Timmy T style, and if he’d only give me One More Try, I could honestly say that I have more to show for my devotion than a 21-year-old scar that’s still numb to the touch.

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It’s Irrelevant.

He’s got this spiky blond hair, sort of messy.  And his jeans always have holes in them. You can tell he’s brilliant, just by looking at him, at his expressions. He is everywhere you are, just another person in town, but another person in town in the same places at the same times as you for whatever reason.

You don’t know his name, but you feel like you should. He’s familiar to you, and why? There’s no reason for things like this.

You know you’ll never meet him.  As it stands, he is an intriguing fixture, with a brain not to be picked or realized. He is scenery, environment. But he is the scenic route as well, and if he was cosmically chosen to haunt your lunchtimes and the shows you go to, then that’s completely fine with you.

You are downtown, driving, parking.  You’re terrified of parallel parking and you will circle the block fifteen times until you can attempt it without holding up traffic. You pass up three perfectly good parking spots because of this and then realize it was all by default. There was no one behind you that whole time. But now you have to make the block. You get back onto Franklin Street, pass up that first good spot for no good reason, and spend twenty-two minutes backing into a space.

You exit the vehicle. You are fumbling for quarters, locking the door, and you glance up to see. . .

. .him. . .

. . .the Mystery Boy. Your fucking heart drops and shatters on the pavement. Soul Meets Body is thundering in your head, and you become annoyed at the whininess of Death Cab. A nickel falls to the ground, and you somehow have the coherency to leave it there because meters don’t take nickels and then you wonder why you’re even thinking about loose change at a time like this.  It’s not as though you can talk to him. And then:

“MANDEY!! MANDEY!!”

You look up and there is the girl you met at the Centromatic show. The one who, when you sat next to her, launched immediately into a story about how she spilled her life story guts onto this random broad in the bathroom of some random bar, and the Centromatic girl is freaking out because “Oh my god, I didn’t even KNOW this woman!!!” And you’re thinking, “You don’t even know me.” And you laugh. The girl’s name is Mary, and she is hysterical, and when you say “hysterical,” you actually mean both “funny” and “a maniac.”

But anyway, there she is, calling your name in broad daylight, and with her is your Mystery Boy, and this is too much to handle. Mary introduces you to Him, tells you to swing by the Cave Bar for a beer. You agree, with no intention of actually showing up because you don’t want to destroy your Mystery Boy; you have drawn conclusions and built his personality for him, and should he speak, he may not fill the shoes you have tailored and created.

You think, “If you weren’t a terrible parallel parker, you never would have met up with them. If you would have just parked, you would have been long gone.” You go to the Cave.

The light outside was a dwindling brightness and the Cave inside is dark.

You do not remove your movie star sunglasses because you feel that if you can’t see people clearly, they can’t see your sub-par complexion, your ill-concealed awkwardness, your bumbling posture. It’s like when your dog shit on the carpet and then stuck her face in between two pillows as though if she couldn’t see you, you couldn’t see her either, and she would not be reprimanded. You look like a complete tool with your enormous shades, staring into your purse, looking for nothing, forgetting how to order a beverage.

The bartender is looking at you. He speaks slowly, clearly, carefully, “WOULD. . .You LIKE A BEVerage, Mandey?” You get a High Life and you stare at it. You snap out of the funk.  You turn on the clever banter and the endearing sweater removal. You tell Mary and Mystery Boy stories about back home, about your favorite movies, about whatever, ever, anything to keep them there. Your mind is a holding cell for contradictory social responses. Mystery Boy is definitely clever, and undeniably antsy. He wants to leave, and you can’t blame him. You’re too frenetic, too wound up, too greasy from eight hours of work. His name is Joey Battles, and he is leaving the bar to go have dinner next door at Fuse. You are feeling a mixture of utter relief and profound disappointment.

You chug the rest of your beer and follow him with waiting for an invitation. You spend two hours sitting outside, two tables away from him, smoking way more than you usually do, thinking about how it’s funny that when a guy and a girl break up, the girl is automatically crazy. Ask a guy what happened with his ex, and he’ll undoubtedly reply, “Oh man. She was fucking craaazy. Woooh!”

There is a sprig of mint as garnish next to the pie you don’t remember ordering, and you pop it into your mouth, swallow it, and then ask everyone at the next table if it’s safe to eat the plants that decorate your food. No one’s sure why you’re asking, because you’ve already eaten it, and you decide that if you are fated to be dead within the hour, then so be it. At least you had the greatest culinary sendoff imaginable, because Fuse handmakes all their pies.

The crowd dwindles, and you look up to find that Joey Battles has made his way over to you, and you are talking, but not really connecting, about music. You decide to leave the vague emo bands behind you. You will ask him his favorite band. Your favorite band is Tool, which makes people cringe because that’s like saying your favorite band is the Beatles. It’s too broad. You harbor images spiked with Technicolor clarity of sitting in Jessy’s bedroom after school, having just smoked a Marlboro Light under the bleachers of the playground down the street from her house. You are young, and you know you’re not supposed to be smoking, yet you really love that your uniform shirt smells gross like that. Jessy is fumbling with some CDs and asks if you have ever heard of the band Tool, and you say no. She puts it on, and Tool makes you feel like hidden cigarettes do. . .it’s a totally guilty pleasure, and they say curse words, and you know this is not something you should be hearing.  You fall in love with the band, and carry them with you through all of the phases, personalities, changes, and surreptitious experimentation that come with adolescence. Tool is your favorite band because you’ve never grown out of them, and it’s okay that people roll their eyes because you feel that your thirteen years of unwavering devotion lends an acute credibility to the response.

So you ask, “What’s your VERY favorite band?”

He says, “Tool. You can go ahead and roll your eyes. You’re totally judging me right now, aren’t you?”  Because when he says this, you are smirking into your hands, which are covering your face, and it looks like you are trying not to laugh. But really you are just smitten. Completely. He understands your point, exactly.

You and Joey Battles are back at the Cave now, in the exact spot you were when you were staring into your purse five hours ago.  The shelf behind the bar is stocked with various questionable snack items, including chips with a logo so retro you wonder about the last time the delivery truck passed through. There is beef jerky and there is citrus flavored gum. Underneath all this is a shelf of canned goods. Soups. Bomb shelter type items. You find yourself staring at the soups, knowing you have seen them a hundred times before, yet you had never questioned their existence. Where’s the microwave? There is no can opener. Why the soups? You’re about to brush it off when Joey Battles says, “Look at all the soups. Why the soups? What is the common factor with all these soups?”

“I don’t know, they all begin with C?” you guess. Chicken Noodle, Beef Consomme, Chicken and Stars, Clam Chowder.

“No. Sodium. They all have really high sodium content.”

And he may be a mind-reader, bringing up the soups like that, there is so much junk behind the bar and yet you both chose to single out the Campbell’s. You are thinking of the Counting Crows  and that one line in Anna Begins that goes, “Every time she sneezes I believe it’s love.” And you wonder if you’re reading too much into these shared thoughts, the favorite band being Tool, the soups. Does it mean anything? A coincidence? Do you believe in coincidence, or is it fate that you’re counting on?

You bring him home. He warns you that his house is shaped like a penis, and when you get there, it sure as shit is. It is a Quonset Hut.  There’s a squarish area in front, and then a domed sort of hallway that sprouts the kitchen and the living room, and then a ball-sack-shaped bedroom area behind that. The overall layout is undeniably phallic. The first thing you notice is a built-in bookshelf and a very furry white rug. You are in love with this house, if nothing else. He excuses himself so he can change his clothes, and you are left with his Boy-Roommate, with whom you attempt to perfect the High-Five. Boy-Roommate’s girlfriend has the most fabulous hair you have ever seen. You become considerably self-conscious of your filthy locks, having come from work, needing a shower intensely. Joey Battles emerges from the ballsack of the penis-house, and you try not to stare at his outfit, an inside-out T-Shirt and a very short batik sarong. You realize that, while you cannot yet be in love with Joey Battles himself, you can definitely be in love with the idea of him. It is that sort of love that grows from profound endearment. But you will not do him the injustice of believing it’s love if he sneezes.

You spy a gigantic cock-a-roach climbing next to Boy-Roommate’s head. You and Girl-Roommate immediately dive under a fleece throw.  “If you cannot see it, it cannot see you, you will not be reprimanded.” The boys spring into action, grabbing various weapons, and they kill and smear the cock-a-roach right onto the wall there. You and Girl-Roommate are hyperventilating, and Joey Battles and Boy-Roommate are breathing open-mouthed and prehistorically, having reclaimed their house as their own, and with their loincloths and long hair, are now going to retreat to their respective caves. You are reminded of why you love boys in general so much

The next night, you find yourself back at the Quonset Hut.  Joey Battles hands you a beer and asks if you want to take a walk. There are lot of woods and gravel roads around, and even though you’re wearing a skirt and platform heels, this is not the sort of wilderness opportunity you want to pass up. For three hours, you walk through the woods with him. These are the things the two of you do:

1. You look into people’s windows, the people who are awake and watching TV at this time of night, and you come up with life stories for them. You have created: a girl who is sleeping on the couch, her boyfriend awake and spooning her, and he has been watching the DVD menu screen for quite some time. They were supposed to do it but she fell asleep and now he is disappointed and horny and doesn’t know how to excuse himself for the bathroom without waking her up. You have created: an elderly widow stricken with insurmountable insomnia, which she combats by watching television way too late, waiting for him to come back home from the dead, or to die herself. You are impressed at Joey Battles’ ability to do this sort of thing because YOU do this sort of thing and you often wonder if anyone else ever does. They do.

2. You find a parking lot with an unsettling apartment complex on its edge. There is an eerie, dilapidated truck in the corner. The front license plate says something in Spanish, and there is something proudly displayed on the front windshield in Old English lettering. A sticker on the back says Chihuahua, and there is a blanket draped over the back seat with little hearts all over it. You take several pictures of the truck, mostly because you want to make sure you’re not hallucinating it.

3. You sit at a bus stop to rest, you have no idea where you are, but Joey Battles does, and that’s enough. Trusting him to not get you lost in the woods is a great precursor to this leg of the journey, because you end up talking about relationships and trust and loyalty and people who cheat, and you say you do not cheat. You do not ask him if he has ever cheated. You do not want to know, really. Not just yet. Past the bus stop is an administrative building with a little courtyard smoking area built onto the side about fifteen feet above the ground. There is a gate surrounding the courtyard. You ask Joey Battles if he is a good climber, because it is very easy for you to imagine him scrambling up trees without incident. With barely a word he is jogging to the raised courtyard, and, of course, he seamlessly scales the brick wall, the fence, and is over and into the courtyard, raising his fists, clenched together, over his head in a sign of victory. Or was that you, being victorious for him? Who knows?

4.  You settle into a gravel-covered clearing and attempt to discuss the coincidences surrounding your meeting. Only, the words come out broken, and you are terrified of sounding like a stalker weirdo. You try to assess whether he is someone who won’t care that you’re sufficiently knowledgeable in everything but an expert at nothing.

You go back to the Quonset Hut and end up on the floor with him, a cereal box, and an unabridged dictionary, and the two of you are finding words in the cereal’s ingredients that that you cannot define, and you look up each word in the dictionary. Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin. They are all members of the elusive Vitamin B Complex. Maltodextrin is not in the dictionary. Not even the unabridged dictionary. You keep thinking about how you sit around at home looking up words in the dictionary, and you try to learn a new word every day, and if you skip a week, then the pressure’s on to learn seven all at once. And when people call you and ask what you’re doing, and you say, “Um. Reading. The um, the DICtionary,” they will undoubtedly acquire a reason to get off the phone. Who reads the dictionary? Now you know the answer.  Joey Battles reads the dictionary. So as not to sound contrived, you don’t bring up the fact that reading Webster’s is a favorite pastime of yours, and you are content with the thought that now you have your own personal sarong-wearing, dictionary-reading, soup-can-noticing, wall-scaling roach smasher.

Define: happiness.

The night is over, it is 6am, and you have been sleeping next to the dictionary for five minutes. He wakes you up, he extricates you from his life for the night, you say goodbye, and you leave.

Thus begins your life after meeting Joey Battles, and you have no idea what will happen next, and you’re not sure what you did with your life before him. It is not a question that should be answered, much like his was not a brain to be picked and then realized. But he’s letting you, he’s letting you pick and realize, slowly but surely, and you have no doubt that in time, you’ll pick and realize exactly what you did before him, and you’ll decide to forget whatever it is that that was.

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Ready, Set, Abandon!

Dear Evan,

It is 8:30am on a Sunday, and I am in my purple martini pajama pants sitting at the bar, blasting Sade’s “Diamond Life,” and watching adorable boys in bandannas and flannels bustle about with wires and lights and cameras and gadgets.  Their rappel hooks are clinking against the tools in their belt loops and I can’t identify the equipment they’re tinkering with and their hair is all mussed and they’re all thin and wildly focused. The girls in the art department are beautiful and hip and too big for this tiny town in their short-shorts and Keds while they mix batches of fake brains in the bathroom and change the decorations in the bar to fit the scenes.  They’re shooting that movie again at Zog’s, and even though my brain doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of any time before 11am, these people are awake and chipper and no one’s drinking the coffee I made, which is startling to me.  I’m waiting for the lead actor to show up in his leather blazer, because I know he will drink some because he already has a favorite mug here, even, and I’ll feel better about myself for being this worthless this early. He’s quite disarming and since my first impression of him was when he was in crazy-intense character, his actual personality is warped in my mind. For the first couple of hours, he made me nervous and I couldn’t look him in the eyes until I realized he’s just a really good actor.  His beard is the color of apple juice.

Apple juice, coincidentally, is the same color as Wild Turkey 101, so we filled up an empty 101 bottle with juice for the Hitman to drink out of.  It looks so real, but that’s movies for ya.

Hobbling over the cement cobblestones haphazardly leading away from The Viking’s purple cinderblock house felt surreal so early this morning.  I thought I’d never reach my car even though I only had to travel 50 feet.  I’m not used to wearing ill-fitting tank-tops this time of year, and I vaguely worried if any old people were peering out their windows thinking I was doing a Walk of Shame, which I wasn’t.

Right now the actor with the apple juice beard is poring over a ton of guns splayed out on the third pool table.  I’m supposed to be the Assistant Art Director, but I sincerely hope they don’t credit me as such because, aside from me having decorated the bar before the fact, no one has asked me for my art opinions about anything and I don’t want to take credit for things I haven’t done.  I play a bartender in the movie.  I don’t even have to act, which is helpful.  I’m tired of acting, generally, in life.  They asked me to wear makeup.  I don’t really have any.  I hope they brought some.  I hope someone knows how to put it on me.

I guess my hair’s the color of apple juice, too.  I’m just noticing it as such.  I used to think it was the color of day-old iced tea, and I might be right, still.

The first movie set I worked on was almost a decade ago and it was in a tiny, creepy town deep in Louisiana bayou country.  It was the type of place that will haunt you; things are a little too quiet and ghosts are everywhere in the crumbling bricks and Spanish moss and kudzu chokes whatever’s still alive.  The basecamp was set up in an abandoned grocery store.  It looked like people were either setting the store up or taking it away and they just sort of. . .stopped. . .halfway through.  Why wouldn’t they finish the job?  Want pictures?  Here’s one:

Abandon Production, Leave your Ladders.

That was the summer I mildly befriended Dave Matthews, who played a part in the movie.  I learned three things about him:  He drinks quad lattes with no sugar, he smokes, and he owns a fuzzy blue sweater that he will claim he wore for your enjoyment if he thinks it will make you feel special and regarded.

Show me the way, leave me one candle.

The next movie set I worked on was the one where I accidentally cussed out Jude Law for asking me where the fried chicken table was.  I didn’t know where it was, and I clearly wasn’t fucking manning it.  I was, however, manning an espresso station with a broken fucking espresso machine.  I told him as much without looking up, and it wasn’t until he lightly grabbed my arm and gave me a piercing, reassuring smile that I realized who I was treating how.  I didn’t care, though, because he’s a cheating bastard and I totally judge him for that.

So now it’s Monday morning and I’m back at the bar for the next chunk of the shoot and I’m being incredibly helpful by sitting in the corner writing a blog.  But every time I walk anywhere or try to help anyone, I run into a tripod or throw away a carefully-placed piece of prop trash or stand in the way of the dolly tracks.  They did let me do the very first clacky black-and-white slate-thingie, though, which was thrilling.

I think that’s about it from my end.  I wanted you to be the first to know that I didn’t write a blog about being lonely this time.  High-five that hot wife of yours for me.  I’ll see you soon.

'scuse me, what aisle is creepiness on?

mandey

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Billy Ocean’s Truffle-Sniffin’ Pigs

Dear Adam Powers,

I know this pair of roommates, and one looks like Jake Gyllenhaal and the other one looks like Toby Maguire, and sometimes I wonder if they just sit around at home in their underwears just staring at each other.  I often have an urge to call up my manager at Carrburritos, who is a dead ringer for Peter Sarsgaard, and who loves 80s music, and have him rent their third bedroom so that I can go over there and perform menial chores for no monetary compensation.  I could, like, put on Point of No Return and wash their dishes and get their autographs and shine their shoes.

We had a Billy Ocean dance party at Carrburritos today.  We discussed what Billy must be doing now, and decided that he must be into holistic medicines or a Zen Master or still in love with the Caribbean Queen, and that he’s just chill.  He probably owns a fleet of truffle-sniffing pigs all named after various gods and idols.  “Find that truffle, Jesus Christ,” he must say a lot.  “Shiva, sniff me out a snack.”  He drinks Sloe gin Fizzes in well-lit pubs with Simply Red on a bi-monthly basis.  He’s the coolest, and never partakes in love on the run.

A black guy in the restaurant heard us talking about Billy Ocean and he yelled out, “That N***a’s whack!”  He didn’t say “ninja.”

I don’t say the “N-word.”  White people never say the “N-word.”  Remember when Louis C.K. did that stand-up bit about it?  He said he hates the actual term, “N-word,” because when people say it, they make him think of the real, actual word, and that’s unfair.  But today at work, Mac told me that, until the late 70s, there used to be a town in North Carolina called “Niggerskull.”  I looked it up on the internet and it’s true.  Mac said there was even a Hardee’s there.  This tidbit sparked a discussion about what their district meetings must be like.  Like, all the Hardee’s managers are in a circle at the conference table and they have to go around and identify themselves, saying things like, “Joey C, Store #4425, Wake Forest, NC,” and “Harold, Store #226, Asheville, NC,” and “Scooter, Store #5564, N***erskull, NC,” and how mortifying that must be.  What if you had to tell people that you never graduated college and you were the night porter at the N***erskull Hardees?  Turns out the name was recently changed to “Negroskull.”

What.

The.

Fuck.

WHY COULDN’T THEY JUST CHANGE THE NAME ENTIRELY?? (Which they ended up doing in 200-fucking-6).  It reminds me of the joke where Shithead McFuckstick got made fun of his whole life till he went to the name-change office and paid his fee and proudly introduced himself by his new name, Shithead Jones.

And here’s something else for you, just to round out the weird.  Today I waited on a couple I had never seen before, and the woman ordered a Corona Light.  I turned to her husband and asked, “Would you like a beer also?”  And before he could respond, the wife reared her ugly head and said, verbatim, I swear it, “HOW DARE YOU??  He is an ALCOHOLIC and he is in AA and you offer him a BEER??  HOW DARE YOU???”

I giggled a little out of shock, which was perhaps inappropriate, but still loads better than what I wanted to respond with, which was, “You’re the reason he drinks.”

I imagine she’s the type of person who resides in Negroskull, NC, now, scarfing down greasy jalapeno poppers half-cooked by beleaguered fry cooks while Loverboy plays softly in the background, a wistful reminder of a gentler, inaccessible place where Billy Ocean is king and the truffles are fresh and abundant.

And in case you forgot what it looks like when Red Riding Hoodasaurus rescues a purple haired alien from a poor-man’s Cantina in the most incongruous music video of all time, I leave you with:

 

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This one’s not so great. . .just. . .meh

On my desk right now:

-One robot-shaped pencil sharpener that walks unsteadily when you twist a pencil in it

-four batteries

-eight empty printer ink cartidges

-sixteen boxes of matches

-one fuzzy rabbit statuette that belongs to my grandma, who I should call more

-seven paintbrushes encrusted with all sorts of dry colors

-one shrink-wrapped block of Colby cheese from a Pepperidge Farms gift basket

-three bottlecaps from beer I didn’t drink

-three unconsumed bottles of beer

-a plastic tower containing several hundred googly eyes of all shapes and sizes

-a painting of a dead-eyed toddler holding fresh flowers

-a painting of my exboyfriend, Robert, who never loved me, probably

-a blue dry-erase marker I remember buying in college

-an unburned candle that is shaped like, and smells decidedly like, a real-life lemon

Outside my house right now:

-my neighbor is having a bonfire alarmingly close to my porch, and I am not invited

-a leather couch is sitting on my porch, waiting to be brought up to the bar, where it will look great, but on my porch it just looks ghetto

-my recycling bin holds about a hundred and twenty beer bottles

-there are three deer standing awkwardly on my front lawn, watching my tree

-there lies, in the road, inexplicably, a large chunk of dirty snow, though it has not snowed here in weeks, and it will not melt, and it is filthy

Today I:

-folded thirty-two bar rags at work

-memorized, again, the fourteen different ways to make a Sazerac, and the one real way to make a Sazerac, and thought of Melissa in New York

-washed twelve dishes

-read my book at Bowbarr for three hours but had to keep moving around the bar because it got really crowded

-looked up from my book at the back of Serpico’s head twelve times and thought of the dream I had last night where he was turned away from me, watching the really long sex scene in Don’t Look Now, and commenting on it a la MST3K and I was sitting silently in the back of the theater, watching the back of his head, exactly like I was doing in the bar at that moment

-borrowed a monkey wrench and didn’t even use it, and then returned it after walking around The ArtsCenter menacingly with it

 

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