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I tender my cash. You move your fingertips out of their way to touch my wrist and my palm, to create a sense of familiarity that you hope might prompt me to tip. (I was going to slide you a buck anyroad. Itís how I live.) You smile at me. As you turn around and bustle away, your face goes blank. We will never much care about each other. Iíll miss all your Thanksgivings. Youíll never read this crap. I wonít drunk-dial you at 3AM. You wonít hold my hand when Iím dying of cancer. Weíll never be quite human.
Look. I may be obtuse, but I can see where this is going. And thereís just no way Iím going to have a three-way with you guys. Iím getting the signals. Iím picking up what you two are laying down. Your wife is sexy and adorable in her black t-shirt, and I enjoy kissing her, especially when she spits a mouthful of booze into my mouth. But you over there, smirkingÖ Itís just weird. Nothing personal. Iím into girls. Exclusively. I canít change that any more than I can straighten my nose by drinking margaritas. Itís not going to happen.
Goddamn it. I really thought thatÖ Jesus Christ. What the hell was IÖ How am I supposed toÖ Jesus, youíre hard to read. Do I just have to, likeÖ Fuck it. Iíve stopped caring. If itís going to happen, I can wait. If it ainít, I can walk. I meanÖ itís justÖ Goddamn it. You donít reallyÖ Like Iím supposed to justÖ I donít know, really, itís justÖ I mean, thatís not what I meantÖ No. Itís like I saidÖ You canít have it both ways, all right? Itís eitherÖ Look, Iím sorry. I really am. Iíll always be sorry.
IíM SORRY. Okay? Iím sorry you were offended. I didnít realize you were so gosh-darned sensitive, and, really, Iím sorry about that. I always thought you had a sense of humor. I guess I was wrong. Sorry. I assumed you would understand where Iím coming from, my POV. I thought you would hear what I was saying. I guess not. Iím sorry. Iím sorry we donít hang out as much anymore. Iím sorry I can just drop everything and show up whenever you need someone, like the EMS. Iím sorry Iím not willing to change for you. Iím sorry. Okay?
When I lived in Chicago, I got summer. I understood the draw. After basically living on the moon for six or seven months, my blood started pumping the first time I saw a womanís exposed fingernail. Summer was good. I could glance at womenís bare legs, drink beer on the porch, eat dinner with friends on a back patio, and watch kids light firecrackers. Iím not sure why summer is special in Los Angeles. Itís the one time of year I DON'T want to be outside. Camping in February? Sign me up! Pouring sweat through a t-shirt in July? Naw.
You rub me the wrong way. Iím not sure what it is. Your smug, flighty e-mails? Your poorly concealed crushes on people who never think about you? Your thoughtless trend-jockeying, perhaps? Your nervous, eager-to-please personality, coupled with your klutzy, passive-aggressive incompetence? The way your every utterance curves up at the end, as if youíre constantly asking questions? I donít know. Youíve got something special. Keep finding yourself. Regale us with your dull thoughts and your richly deserved frustrations. Until you present some evidence that youíve started to grow out of your adolescence, Iím going to have a blast ignoring you.
Youíve got stars in your eyes, Ďcause I knocked you out cold. My knuckles are heartless; your pain is untold. Iíll give you another just to make sure you know that if Iím not for real, shit, the sun doesnít glow. Iíll find you at midnight beneath a full moon. Those wounds wonít be healing any time soon. What did you think this was, a bunch of shit-talking? Now youíre flat on the ground, your friends giggling and gawking. I mean what I say, so I do what I say. One day I may fall, but this isnít that day.
Iíd love to be clever and ironic about this, for the pleasure of anyone else reading it. But Iíve been a near-homicidal rage for 24 hours, and Iím past turning it into anything edifying, so Iíll address your ass directly. GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY LIFE. Get out three weeks ago. Stop the passive-aggressive extortion. Get your slimy tentacles out of my private affairs. Most of all, donít harass the people I care about. Keep it up, and youíll get a visit from the cops. If youíre lucky. Look at your mess of a life, and do something useful.
Help! Iím so confused! I have needs! I need to be loved! I need to be loved, appreciated, and cared for. Ideally, I need people who are going to care more about me than about themselves, their responsibilities, basic human dignityÖ Iíd like to have more than one of these people, if thatís possible, but one is okay, I guess, for starters. I need someone to fix my life. I need someone to tell me what to do to not be so sad. Iíve tried, but not very hard. Whatís the point, if no oneís willing to grovel before me?
CALLING THE WAAAHMBULANCE. Itís too early too sleep, and I canít. I drank three watery domestics, and now Iím out. Iíve called people, and itís gone straight to voicemail. I hate, hate, HATE every damned cell in my body. Iíd love to annihilate all this, but I know Iím too pussy to do it, so I sit here, thinking about it, stroking my ego. I hate everyone, and Iím going to go insane if I donít find someone to talk to. I call 1-800-SUICIDE. The operator, calm and patient, suggests I read Think Big and Kick Ass by Donald Trump.
I may be full of shit, but Iím not exactly a liar. I actually believe that I know a guy who knows a guy who knows the guy. I actually believe I can help you get some money for your projects. I believe that Iím connected, that Iím a powerful, that Iím a player. I have to believe this. If I stop believing, it will foreclose any possibility that this is, or might soon be, the case. I have, you see, an abundance mindset. I visualize good things happening. They almost seem real. Hence the broad, sketchy promises I make.
Thank you for the missing days. Thank you for the barely remembered taunts, boasts and come-ons. Thank you for the dizzy, aching mornings, waking up in direct sunlight. Thank you for the botched obligations Ė I never wanted to do that shit, anyway. Thank you for the courage and for making any dull evening an epic adventure. Thank you for introducing me around. Thank you for, on more than one occasion, getting me laid. Thank you for keeping me honest, for keeping me humble. Thank you for changing the subject. Thank you for cutting through my bullshit. Thank you and goodbye.
WE HATE THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE US FEEL GUILTY. I HATE YOU, FOR OTHER REASONS. Iíll do anything! Iíll change! Please! Just give me a chance! Whatever you want! Iím the motherfucking expertís expert at it! Iíll promise to never badmouth you! Iíll say nice things about you! We can pretend to be pals, but Iíll politely avoid you and decline your perfunctory invitations (since I know we canít stand each other)! Please! Just give me a chance! I need this chance! Iím going to die without this chance! Itís my only hope! I canít survive otherwise! Help! Please! Help!
Worst standup set Iíve ever done, easy. Tried to crack about recent events. Came out painfully hostile. Donít quite recall what I said. Or am blocking it out. Bleating of a small man. Audiences donít care about you. They care about what you can do for them. They donít give a fuck about your life unless you present it interestingly. Your misery means nothing in itself. But theyíre too polite to laugh at it. ďThereís a fine line between comedic miseryÖ and real misery. But itís an open mic. You can do whatever you want. Even if I hate it.Ē
I know youíre not happy. I know youíre feeling footloose. Antsy. Because you never shut up about it. Youíre finished with this shallow town, and all the shallow little guppies swimming in it. Youíre not appreciated here. Youíll teach us a lesson. Youíll leave! Youíll go toÖ Montreal! Or Montana! Or somewhere! Know what? Donít bother. As long as thereís no contract out on your life, you may as well stay here. You wonít have any more luck anyplace else. And it will be the same here without you. You wonít be missed. Youíll be immediately forgotten and quickly replaced.
I canít tell you what my intentions were, because I never had any, really, that I can quantify. I didnít know what I was doing. Didnít think this through to the end. Was, am, confused. If you expected me to have everything figured out before we set sail, thatís tough, because I obviously did not. I only planned to improvise. I guess that didnít go as well as I might have hoped. Trust me, I feel like shit about this, too. If I could run this through post-production, Iíd edit a lot. Iíd also beat off to the good parts.
Both of you seemedÖ sad, in your own separate ways. Stuck in lives you donít want to live. Steadily beating up yourselves over things you left undone. You told me I had a marketable voice. Your voice jumped a couple of octaves whenever you addressed someone whoís opinion you clearly cared about. You apologized for every inadequacy, as if to say, ďI know. Indeed, Iím not perfect. If youíre going to grind me down, come up with original reasons. Donít just do it because Iím not perfect in the aforementioned ways.Ē Your security is too tight. I love you, too.
THE COUNTERINTUITIVE. I am a lone gunman. An outsider. My only obligation is to the absolute truth. My enemies are you, your friends, and political correctness. (PC is worse than slavery. At least slavedrivers didnít try to take away HUMOR. I swear, until the day I can crack a racist joke without offending any Berkeley professors, none of us is truly free.) Everything you hold true is shit. Iím not even sure you really believe anything. Admit it; you just fake it because youíre a limp-wristed conformist. My IQ is four digits! Ringo was the only good Beatle! Stop me!
PROBLEMS WITH HAVING ONE'S HEAD STUCK UP ONE'S ASS: Not getting enough oxygen. Losing perspective. Difficulty communicating with friends and loved ones. Difficulty supporting oneself financially. Difficulty with properly nourishing oneself. Difficulty establishing and maintaining romantic relationships. General sense of futility; ennui. Unpleasant, pessimistic outlook. Losing the ability to laugh at oneself and oneís circumstances. Lack of personal responsibility. Lack of a sense of security. Lack of engagement. Lack of trust. Difficulty meeting personal obligations. Difficulty recognizing and adapting to change. Declining physical health. Nausea. Dehydration. Sense of dread; impending doom. Falling behind on work. Sense of confusion; hopelessness. Headaches.
The world might be fucked. Destroyed from the inside out. But it does me no good to believe that. All the money might be gone. Pretty much forever. But it does me no good to believe that. My genes could be mediocre. My dick could be basically a syringe full of poison. But it does me no good to believe that. Maybe Iíve already squandered more trust than Iíll ever build. Maybe Iím too far-gone to ever be loved. But it does me no good to believe that. I paint in bright colors. I beat up the sun. I survive.
Why the hell should he care? No one remembers him. No one remembers his name. No one remembers anything he ever did. He is dust now. Smoke. Ether. He canít go back. He canít go forward. He would be stuck, if he had the privilege of existing at all. He looks at his pockmarked, unshaven face in the mirror, and all he can think is ďshut up. Shut up forever. Just stop. Just stop all this.Ē He takes a swig ofÖ Yo, wait a minute, man! Turn that shit off! Give me one of them OLD school beats! [HIT IT!]
If you give me some of your money, Iíll keep it safe for you. Whenever you need any, Iíll give it back to you in small increments, preferably multiples of 20. Iíll loan the rest of your money to other people, and collect interest. After awhile, once Iíve garnered ample cred, Iíll start passing out, not currency or gold or anything tangible, but little tickets I printed out, saying ďthis guy has X amount of money, and if you take it as legal tender, Iíll cover it.Ē Just donít ask for all your money back. I wish a motherfucker WOULD.
We do nothing by halves. If weíre going to FAIL, letís FAIL completely. None of this half-assed, one-balled, wannabe ďcharacter buildingĒ pseudo-failure. Unless you ainít coming back, it ainít really FAILure. Thereís only one way to succeed at failure. Judge, execute and bury yourself, your sorry-ass excuse for an impotent corpse. Go Ďhead andÖ yo; wait a minute. Turn that shit off, man! Damn. Give me one of them old school beats. [HIT IT!] If you want my story, hereís howitt goes. In 7th grade I got your mama out here pantyhose. You canít explain the chaos I bring. Damn.
If my timing is off, or I tugged your hair too many times, I wish that hadnít happened, and I hate that itís the case that it did. I hope youíll remember the laughter and the understanding and the soft-focus make-out. (That happened, too.) Iím smitten with you. Thatís for nobody else to know. I like your eyes, your lips and the way you purr when I rub your back. I like your mystery and your hidden reservoir of sadness Ė they make you more beautiful and more interesting. I want to remember you. Smell you. Letís fuck, at least once.
When I woke up in Honolulu, my mom, in Virginia, was already in a deep sleep, dreaming about a dog that licked her face once, when she was drunk and depressed, before the dog died. The drug dealers outside are blasting ďP.Y.T.Ē on repeat. Iím stuck with a memory. Not sure if itís something that happened, something someone else told me about, or just an idea I picked up somewhereÖ Iím standing in some tough grass by an interstate highway, next to a broken-down schoolbus. Iím holding forth. Some adults are listening, politely holding their giggles. The sun is shining.
The goal is not to kill, or to wound, but to humiliate. Profoundly. Armed warfare is messy, expensive and demoralizing. Psychological warfare is simple, cheap, effectiveÖ art. CHHHH. And now weíre going to let this cook until it starts to getÖ just a little bit brown around the sides. What matters is that it cooks through in the middle. CHHHHH. ďIf you dieÖ I donít have to give you mouth-to-mouth or nothiní.Ē ďPlease donít. Youíd prolly fall in love with me.Ē CHHHH. DS. CR. LT. VJ. JT. JH. YNH. MWN. CHHHH. ďIím not sure he loves my mother at all.Ē
BEING SMART IS GAY. Are you curled up on your pink leather sofa, reading some faggot-ass poetry in some foreign language, watching your cat lick its asshole? Is that why you wonít come out and FIGHT, fruit-salad boy? Last time I checked, I didnít need to spend ten years in grad school to beat your fucking ass. Most of us get by on COMMON SENSE, of you which you have NONE, you namby-pamby, pussy-footing pantywaist. I trust my gut. Since you have no guts, maybe youíd trust my BOOT lodged in your intestines, you educated dumbass. Your brains? My balls.
The sweat pours out. My head pounds harder and harder, louder and louder. My heart hammers away at my chest. I gasp for breath. I squeeze my eyes shut and feel the sting. I can taste my foul breath, feel the film on my skin. I get up and pace. I find myself getting light-headed. Dizzy. I breathe in deeply and slowly, and none of the air seems to penetrate past my larynx. I close my lips and blow air against my cheeks, puffing up my face, giving myself a look for rage and defeat and exhaustion. I canít relax.
Itís not about the money. Itís about the cause. Itís not about the money. Itís about the passion. Itís not about love. Itís about sex. Itís not about sex. Itís about power. Itís not about the sex. Itís about the money. Itís not about power. Itís about the cause. Itís not about the cause. Itís about the sex. Itís not about money. Itís about power. Itís not about the mafia. Itís about a family. Itís about sex and, also, power. Something is about to happen. I call them the way I see them. Until I call them, they arenít anything.
Hey. Whatís up? Can you speak up? I canít really hear youÖ Yeah, you told me about that. Howíd itÖ Good. GoodÖ OkayÖ Shit! What happened?Ö Iím sorry?Ö Thatís a heavy sceneÖ You stopped where? Sorry, thereís a lot of noiseÖ Jesus! What was he thinking? NOT TODAY, MANÖ Sorry; some guy asking for changeÖ So, did the rest of it goÖ Oh. Jesus! How could that happen? Who would have predictedÖ So, youíre sayingÖ No. I really canít help you withÖ Look, man, I thought we understoodÖ Look. Iíll call you later, okay? Thereís too much shit going on.
She waves frantically from across the street. A green arrow directs traffic to her right to turn left, and it does. Too many cars to dart between. The bus groans to a stop. A few passengers shuffle off. She waves her hands above her head, leaps, and tries to establish eye contact with the driver. The green arrow disappears, and a walk sign pops on. She runs through the crosswalk and, panting, boards the bus. ďYouíd better be glad you didnít run through that red light,Ē the driver says. ďIíd be dead,Ē she says. ďThatís right. And Iídíve left you.Ē
The Tip Jar