Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy anniversarween

You may have noticed, by using what are called “context clues,” that I am married. Not to get drippy, but I’m happily married and have a great life. I had the misfortune of growing up in an area full of deplorable, boring, idiotic people, which, from what I gather, is not uncommon. As the astute reader will also have gathered by now, I had a series of romantic failures between ages 14 and 20. This also does not make me that uncommon. Unlike most people, my misadventures ended at age 20.

I met my wife on the very same Internet on which this blog is posted. We met through a message board for a now long-defunct comedy site. We started talking over AIM, then eventually over the phone every now and again, then eventually every night for three hours. The first time we spoke on the phone I told her I was going to marry her. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her this, but I remember it as clearly as I can remember anything, so that has to count for something.

A few years in, it became abundantly clear that we’d have to eventually meet in person, and an invitation to a Halloween party provided us an opportunity to finally get together. A few of my friends and I had planned to dress up for this party as Tom Waits, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed and go together, but now I had a real date so the new plan was for her to dress up as a sexy vampire and I would go as Lou Reed still because I didn’t really want to get a real costume.

When she arrived at the airport in Providence, RI, things were pretty awkward. We had never considered each other to be actual people. For years we had both just been voices on the other end of a phone and once we had broken that concept, there was no going back. It’s a tough strain on a relationship once there are actual people involved in it. We did what was best for our friendship and immediately broke up. Believe it or not, this really helped me out. Now that I had been dumped by my phone girlfriend, I could work on making her an actual, real life girlfriend who I dated. Step one was to impress her at this Halloween party.

The party was being held in a house being let out to about a dozen losers, two of whom were friends of my loser friends. The moment we got of the car we were approached by a girl who appeared to be at least two and possibly all four of the following things: fat, drunk, pregnant and mentally retarded. She told my date that she looked hot and slurred her way though a description of her costume which, it appeared to me, was “green and purple dress.”

We met up with some of my loser buddies and I had a few beers. One of my loser buddies had brought his loser girlfriend, who expected us to give her a ride somewhere. It was then that my girlfriend and I decided that rather than be drunked at by a bunch of losers, we’d go get dinner at Burger King and call it a night. We were still undecided about how we felt about each other as potential mates, but I felt like I had made some headway. The only thing that could fuck this up was my mom. She came into my room no less than half a dozen times to ask us if we were in love and take shitty pictures of us together. It was nerve-wracking having to try to rebuild three years of a relationship over the course of a long weekend, let alone have to compete with my crazy mom.

The next morning, we went out to breakfast at IHOP. By the time we got to the big blue building, it had started snowing. It was November 1. It was then that I truly understood the power of my future wife to control the weather. She was cold and unhappy so all of Hyannis had to suffer with her. After we had eaten, she calmed down and the snow stopped. It was eerie.

We got over our mutual weirdness and decided to more or less get back together and meet up for another long weekend later that year. The second time around it was a little less weird and we were able to truly enjoy our time together. A few months later I moved out to Los Angeles to be with her, and about a year after that we got married. Every time I think about this turn of events, I’m stunned that it actually worked. For the first time in documented history, I was right when I said “that’s the woman I’m going to marry.” For the record, I’ve also said this about Sarah Vowell, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kim Gordon, Katie Miller and Gadget from Rescue Rangers (in reverse chronological order).

I’m sure Halloween used to have some non-trick-or-treat purpose. It no doubt has to do with Catholicism ripping off Pagan holidays. If you know the real origin, I don’t care. For me Halloween marks the end of my desire to meet people through the Internet and the beginning of my life as a grown up.

Bonus Halloween story: When I was very young, I lived with my mom. My dad had split and we were left alone to muddle through with our food stamps and welfare. We had a decent life, if a little bland. For the first few years I can remember celebrating Halloween, I was the Roadrunner. It was the only costume we had and it wasn’t fitted so I couldn’t really grow out of it.

When I was five, through a combination of grab-ass, rough housing and horseplay, I was thrown into a wooden fence and had a rusty nail shoved into my skull, about a half an inch or so above my left orbital socket. I got 17 stitches and an eyepatch that I got to wear for the first three months of kindergarten. I was Eyepatch Kid. When Halloween came around I figured it was a foregone conclusion that I’d go as a pirate. Unfortunately, that would require effort on the part of my mom so I went as the Roadrunner with an eyepatch. At least I was the Roadrunner, as opposed to a roadrunner. That way I was only blind, not blind and humiliated.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Matt and Ben

Warning: This week's post is fictional! I wrote some fiction. I hope you enjoy it.

Matt just made it through the door as he heard his answering machine beep. He just missed a call. He was in no hurry to check what messages were left for him, having just returned from a weekend of working in Hawaii with some friends. Matt’s job had him traveling a lot, but he loved his co-workers. George was a bit older and always good for a story over a cigarette and some shots, and Julia just lit up a room with her smile. It’s nice to work with your friends.

The sound of Matt’s bags hitting the floor in the entry hall was all that Espo and El Guapo needed to hear. The two golden retrievers scampered down the hall to bum rush their owner, barking and lapping his hands as he scratched them behind the ears. He filled their bowl with some dry food and made a sandwich while his dogs ate contently.

As he was about to sit down in the living room, he remembered the answering machine. He trudged back into the entry hall, plopped his copy of the LA Times on the side table and saw the red, glowing “8” on his machine. “Eight messages and I was only away for two days?” He pressed play and was greeted with a familiar voice.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me Ben. Haven’t heard from you in a while, just wondering what was up? The Lakers are playing the Celtics this week, wanna hang out at my place and watch the game? Jen and I just got a big screen. It’ll be great. Get back to me, man. You know the number. Peace. BEEP

Ben! Matt hadn’t talked to Ben in so long. They used to work together, but over the past few years they had drifted apart. Matt got a good job and moved out to Los Angeles, while Ben still lived – more or less – back in Boston. They were friends going way back. Matt and Ben met in elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Matt was a bit older, but Ben was just happy to have a friend. After meeting at recess, they quickly became thick as thieves.

BEEP Hey Matt, what’s going on? It’s Casey. I know you won’t get this until you get back but I’m just letting you know that things are going well with the dogs. Espo’s been real sweet and El Guapo still jumps up on me. It’s tough taking them for a walk ‘cause Espo always runs at other dogs and El Guapo will stop to eat anything. But you knew that. Anyhow man, your mail is on the table. We’re still on for lunch for George and Brad, right? Yeah, so you can hear the dogs barking in the background. Gotta run. See you later man. BEEP

You’d never know it, but Casey was Ben’s kid brother. Casey was born down on Cape Cod and loved the beach. Even his wife’s name was Summer. He was a sweet kid, but everyone knew he got a lot of work by being related to Ben. That’s what happens when you’re from a small town. People judge you by the merits of your family before they judge you, for good or ill.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me Ben. You’ll never fucking believe it, but I got tickets for game two of the Lakers and Celtics, man! Dude, they cost a bundle but it’s totally worth it. We gotta go together. If you can’t come – and you’d be a total pussy if you missed it – I guess I could just take Jen. But come on, man! It’s the playoffs! Gimme a call. You know the number. Peace. BEEP

Huh. Matt thought he had told Ben he was leaving town for the weekend. He sent everyone a message on his e-mail list. Weird.

BEEP Hey Matt. It’s me. Ben. You on vacation or something? (Well that answered that question) I haven’t heard from you in forever. Listen, I just got a copy of the tenth anniversary edition of Good Will Hunting on Blu-Ray. Remember going to school together in Boston? Remember? Listen. Call me. If I don’t pick up, try Jen’s cell. We’re always together. Call. Me. See you around, man. Peace. BEEP

Matt checked his caller ID. Ben had called him over a dozen times that weekend. It was getting creepy.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me. Ben. Remember? From school. Listen dude, Kevin just finished putting together a new campaign and we need another adventurer for Dungeons and Dragons Sunday night. We’ve even got extra dice. Come on over man. It’ll be like old times. Jason and Brian will be there! The five of us haven’t hung out in so long. Listen, I’ll even roll you a fresh character so you won’t have to do that. It’ll be fun. Come on. Call me. Peace. BEEP

Jesus Christ.

BEEP Matt, what’s up man? It’s me, Don. We’re doing an AIDS walk next Friday and I was wondering if you could come. It’ll only be a few hours, but I think you’ll have a good time. Spike will be there. Gimme a call. BEEP

Thank God.

BEEP Hey dick, it’s me Ben. What the hell man? You never return my fucking calls. I can’t believe you. What the hell? We have so much fun when we hang out. Remember when we stole Janeane’s notebook on the set of Dogma and she couldn’t do her standup gig that night? Haha that was awesome! Come on man. Call me. I can come over to your place! Me and Jen! Or not! Jen doesn’t have to hang out, man. I know you’re busy. Do you still see Clooney? Jesus, man. I’m sorry. I just- I just wanna hang out. That’s all. Call me. I miss you.

Jen says hi. BEEP


He was dumbstruck. Matt had no idea what to say. Poor Ben. Matt had been working so much he hadn’t hung out with Ben in so long, he just had no idea it affected him so much. After Ben did Jersey Girl and Daredevil, Matt’s friends had stopped hanging out with Ben, and he followed suit. He felt like such a dick.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me. Ben. I got a great idea for Good Will Hunting 2. So this time- BEEP MESSAGE DELETED. END OF MESSAGES.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Never date a girl named Vicky

(When we last left our hero, he was returning to college after an amazing summer, only to encounter his ex-girlfriend who tore his heart apart.)

It’s amazing how quickly you tend to forget your problems when you get a whole new set of seemingly more important problems. I just got back to school and I had a bunch of new classes to inevitably fail. I also had the Boston Red Sox to worry about.

I don’t really believe in the supernatural affecting the world as we know it. I believe in God, but I don’t really believe in ghosts or curses or divine intervention. Not on a grand scale, at least. I don’t think that God has anything to do with the outcome of football games, nor do dead teammates. Sorry Redskins fans. That being said, the Boston Red Sox had a pretty shitty run for a while. Most people attribute this to Harry Frazee selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and the Babe decided to take his revenge from beyond the grave by not allowing the Sox to win a World Series ever again. Be sure not to take into account the focus on hitting instead of pitching and defense. That has nothing to do with anything. It was just an incorporeal corpulent asshole crushing the dreams of thousands of New Englanders for almost a century.

The Sox managed to make the playoffs and were in position to break my heart again. However, I was about to acquire a good luck charm. A friend of mine had introduced me to a friend of hers. She said, “Josh, this is Vicky. She’s a dyke.” I was disheartened to hear this, as I was quite taken with her. Maybe it was because she had a similar look to John’s Canadian Cousin. More likely it was the fact that I wanted to make my ex jealous. Whatever the case was, I had to make her my lesbian girlfriend.

As luck would have it, Vicky wasn’t actually a lesbian. She just made out with girls to get guys to like her. Well, it worked. We went out on a few chaperoned dates with mutual friends and finally decided we were going steady. This was October 17, 2004. At this time, the Red Sox were down three games to none and were facing elimination by their hated rivals, the New York Yankees. Vicky and I came home that night and watched the end of game four. The Sox managed to win in spectacular fashion and we celebrated into the early morning.

Upon waking up that afternoon, I realized that I had made a huge mistake. This girl was not very interesting. And she was kind of a shrew. And she hated all of my guy friends. And was jealous of all of my girl friends. And so on. On one hand, I wanted to dump her. On the other, we needed exactly six people in the room to watch the playoffs, otherwise the Sox would lose. I swear I’m not a superstitious person, but you know, it couldn’t hurt. I decided to dump her after the playoffs ended. One more Red Sox loss and we’d be through.

We all know what happens next. They won game five on another walk off hit. Then they won game six. Then they won game seven. They were in the World Series. With each passing day, I was growing simultaneously more and less gleeful. The Sox had beaten the Yankees in the playoffs, which I never thought I’d see. They were in the World Series, which again, I never thought I’d see. Unfortunately I also would never see the end of my terrible relationship. I was going to weird Bible study classes with her creepy friends where we’d hear about the evils of premarital sex, and then go home to sin. I started smoking more cigarettes with each passing day, partially because I was nervous about the Red Sox, but mostly because it was an excuse to get away from my fake lesbian girlfriend for five or six minutes at a time.

The worst part was all of my friends knew that I hated her. They all asked why I was still with her and I knew if I told them why I’d get laughed at for being superstitious, and then the trick wouldn’t work anymore and the Sox would start losing again. Intellectually I knew I had no power over the outcome of baseball games but 86 years of failure will make you do a lot of really dumb shit. All I had to do was keep my retarded secret and everything would be okay. I could dump her as soon as the World Series was over. Ten more days, tops.

The Sox were playing an allegedly superior St. Louis Cardinals team who had the most wins in the majors that year. The dreadful possibility of a knock-down, drag-out seven game series loomed ominously on the horizon. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. After winning the first two games of the series at Fenway after committing a combined eight errors over 18 innings, I knew this truly was Destiny’s team, and I would be free of the clutches of this horrible, hateful girl. The team went to St. Louis and took care of the Cards in short order behind the solid pitching of Pedro Martinez in game 3 and a lockdown performance in game 4 from Derek Lowe. It was over. We all hugged and cried. We took pictures and rioted alongside members of the Bridgewater State College police force. The only arrests that night were for indecent exposure. It was glorious. We went back home and fell asleep, eyes red from cigarette smoke, lack of sleep and joyous tears. Life could not have been better, and I would dump Vicky the Lesbian first thing in the morning.

We woke up late in the morning and made ourselves some breakfast. Our other roommates had gone off to work or class and we had the kitchen to ourselves. I poured her a cup of coffee and sat down. In classic sitcom style, I told her I had something to say. She then asked me what time we’d be leaving to get to the Victory Parade. I said, “Whenever you think is good, hon.” She asked me what I needed to talk to her about. I said nothing. I wasn’t going to jeopardize my ride to the parade.

We made it up to Boston a couple days later and stood in the mist watching our heroes drive by in duck boats. To paraphrase Jim Varney in Earnest Goes to Camp, I was glad it was raining ‘cause no one sees the teardrops when it pours. I was moved to tears by the sight of Curtis Leskanic and Alan Embree. My friends called and asked if we would be kind enough to meet them at the Charles River to see the team drive their duck boats into the water. I wanted to but Vicky wanted to go eat. We ended up going to a restaurant and my friends saw Matt Damon. Great. We walked around the Hub for a while and headed back to Bridgewater later that afternoon.

Over the next few days Vicky and I didn’t see much of each other. This managed to breathe still yet more life into our lifeless relationship. She would take the commuter train into Boston every few days to see her friends and I was responsible for watching her car and picking her up when she came back. One rainy day (it rains a lot in Massachusetts in October), I finally decided to drop the guillotine on this relationship. I put on my jacket and hat – a fedora, for the record. It adds class to any situation. I started the car and drove to the train station to pick her up. We drove to the building where my psychology class was and before I could say I word she told me she had been cheating on me. Thaaaat bitch. I couldn’t believe it. Stunned, I left the car and checked my pockets for everything I needed. Cigarettes, lighter, keys – all there. The only thing missing was my phone. I kinda needed that. I ran after her car in the rain. My hat, emboldened by a stiff breeze, liberated itself from my head and was summarily run over by a car. I picked up my flat felt fedora and chased her down. I caught her at a stop light and threw open her passenger side door. She told me she didn’t want me back. I took my phone and ran off, never to see her again.

About an hour or so later, it all sunk in. She dumped me. Why didn’t she love me? What went wrong? So what if I was going to dump her literally five seconds before she dropped that bomb on me? What the fuck is wrong with me that she’d rather be with a guy from her Bible study class who had a gap in his teeth so big you could kick a goddamned field goal through it? What a bitch! All my friends came to my emotional rescue. Choruses of “I never liked her anyway” echoed from every direction. I went from being a dick that was just using her as a rabbit’s foot to a sympathetic figure in no time. It was great.

In hindsight, it seems foolish to have made such a retarded commitment to such a horrible person just so I could see my team win. But I feel like, in the end, it was the right thing to do. My act of selflessness brought joy and closure to generations of New England families, and baseball fans the world over. Red Sox Nation, you needn’t thank me. My reward is the smile I see on the face of every small child, knowing that they saw the Red Sox win in their lifetimes. Somewhere in the Bronx there’s an eight-year-old boy wondering if he’ll be so lucky as to see his Yankees return to glory.