Ed O’Neil (yes, Al Bundy) circa 1980.
Dogs Of War
Ed O’Neil (yes, Al Bundy) circa 1980.
Dogs Of War
My girlfriend is a nurse. I never ask her how her day is. I used to. Until one day she told me she had to stuff someone’s uterus back inside them. Not only do I not want to hear about that, there’s no way I can top it in the bad work day sweepstakes.
It’s not that I won’t listen. I’m just not volunteering.
“I admitted a guy today with no penis or asshole.”
I got excited and said,
“You admitted GI Joe?!?!”
One of the questions I’m most often asked, right behind,
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” (I don’t know if I should count that one due to my girlfriends unfair advantage of proximity)
“How do you come up with your ideas?”
To that I answer,
And that’s pretty much true. It could be a person walking past or a full-formed thought that pops into my head just before I fall asleep (like the script idea that popped into my head a couple of weeks ago that, although a trifle, I knew it would be easy to write. So, 20-25 hours later, I get it done. No one’s read it – not that I’m embarrassed by it so if anyone would like to, let me know – because I’m not sure it has a market and I don’t think it’s funny enough).
The thing is you really just have to be on the lookout for it because ideas are everywhere. A snippet of conversation can lead to a joke, the way a row boat bobs in the water can lead to a sad story, the rhythm of the rain on a window can flip you into a horrendous situation. Then sometimes something hits you in the face and there’s nothing you can do but report it.
I was aimlessly flipping through the channels when I passed the local access channel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything other than notices about pancake breakfasts and snow emergency parking rules and this time was only slightly different.
The difference was the sex offender registry. While these men are not wanted by the police (that information was the largest portion of the screen) their faces, names, work and home addresses blipped across the screen with the Marvin Gaye classic, “Let’s Get It On” serving as the soundtrack of their lives.
After I regained myself and started to go aimless again I thought,
“You know what would be cool? An Ex Offender Registry to list bad ex’s.”
I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I let people talk for uninterrupted periods of time. Maybe it’s because I pretend to give a shit so often I’m damn good at it. Whatever it is, people tend to tell me stuff (truly amazing stuff you’d have to devise the most horrific torture to get out of me) and want me to support them in their endeavor.
It’s usually acquaintance types who do that so I guess that’s some of the explanation. Don’t get me wrong, I do things for my actually friends too but those things lean more towards lifting, hiding, or disposing of heavy things. They know better than to tell me their deepest, darkest demons unless they need a laugh about it.
They’d never do something like want my shoulder to cry on during a divorce. Those people are more likely to run their plans for revenge past me to see if I can find flaws. But the acquaintance type needs to use me to vent. Sorry, spunky, I ain’t a heat exchange, peddle you’re piddling ass problems elsewhere.
That’s not to say I won’t be there because I will. I don’t mind helping someone in crisis as long as they don’t mind my using their sadness as fodder. It’s not really an even exchange (I have to sit there sometimes for hours without shaking whereas they don’t help write my bit about it) but one I’ve resigned myself to enduring.
This acquaintance has been talking about his pending divorce for what seems like longer than he was married. I listen and nod and try to see if there are any flaws in my revenge plans. And, truly, I don’t mind. As long as there are rules. Rule, actually. That rule states, you come to me. I don’t go to you. I don’t go with you. I don’t actually do anything. Seems fair. If you’re going to beat on my ear drum all day I shouldn’t have to travel to get the pounding.
“Would you come to a support meeting with me?”
Are you unaware of the only fucking rule about me helping you, spunky?
“It’d mean a lot to me.”
What was that? I can be mean a lot to you?
Of course we all know I went. I’ve never been to any type of support meeting. I don’t even wear underwear, that’s how little support I need!
We walk into this room and it’s full of whiny, complaining, ex-hating twits. They ruined my life! They got my house! They weren’t the person I married.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And right across town your ex is saying the same shit about you. Roll with it or get rolled over, chuckles.
When we were trying to sit it turned out there were only single seats. He’s hesitant so I pushed him in the direction of a seat between a crying woman and a guy who was rocking back and forth. I found a seat between two guys who were glaring straight ahead. My peeps!
I’m listening to the stories and, yeah, okay, fine. Life didn’t work out the way you planned. Do you think I wanted to be doing this for a living? Do you think I want to be here? Do you think I’m not having a heck of a time stopping myself from laughing right out loud?
As time goes on people start to whine down. The leader looks around and sees that everyone’s had a handful of snivel snacks. Except me. He starts to ask why I came and I don’t want to make my acquaintance seem even more of a whiny maggot than he is so I say I’d rather not discuss it.
Turns out that’s like waving black eyeliner at a goth.
“I’ve been listening to everyone’s stories and I feel for you all, I really do.” I always say that when I really don’t. Gives an air of care, don’t ya think? “But that’s not me.” I can tell they’re trying to have me shed some light on my darkness but I stop them. I guess the only thing I can do to get them to stop badgering me is to come clean.
“Besides, the only reason I’m here is for the alibi.”
You’d think a conglomerate of gloom like this, with revenge fantasies in their heads, would find that, if not funny, at least a damn good idea.
A guy begins to relate a story to me,
“I wish you were there, you would have died.”
I looked him right in the eyes and said,
“Then I’m glad I wasn’t.”
I was editing an exceptionally lame script for this guy. It had been pretty painful because, evidence to the contrary, he thought every word was a gem. The script has slight chance at getting read; slim chance at getting moved up the ladder; no chance at getting sold. It’s hack, plotless, and poorly structured.
I really could do nothing for it. The patient was dead and rigor had set in. Of course, I didn’t know that when I took the job but knew I was in an overflowing bucket of shit and potatoes before page one was turned.
I did my job as quickly as possible. I hate the smell of rotting brain cells in the morning. I sent him back his script with my notes. I was as kind as I could be. I’m not totally evil. He’s not a pro so I treated it as such. I’m not saying one day he can’t be the greatest writer of all time but I’m also not saying I can’t become a flamenco dancer.
It took some doing but I did make some points that stabbed through his cement encrusted head. I’m not saying it wasn’t a contentious arrangement or that he will pay attention to my notes or that any of this matters but, just as we are ending our acquaintance, he says,
“They don’t make ’em like you anymore.”
I smiled at him and responded with,
“That’s because my parents are dead.”
I’m outside of the coffee shop talking with a gentleman while his kid stands there quietly. After the Monday snow storm we had people are in a pretty good mood to have a day that clear and 44 degrees. That’s how low this winter has beat out standards.
He tells me that K-Fed is going on tour with Britney and getting five grand a week to watch their kids.
“Five grand! To watch his own damn kids! That’s not right!”
“Shit, I’d go on a baby killing tour for five k a week.”
I know what you’re saying, ‘Hey, idiot! Why would we want to hear about that? It sounds, and I don’t want to say it, normal.’ And you’re right. Impatient, but right.
I’m near the end of the transaction when his kid holds up his Mr. Potato Head, asks if, when I was a kid, I had a Mr. Potato Head.
“Nope,” I began. “I had a Mr. Potato Salad.”
The kids looking at me like the idiot I am when, about ten feet in front of us, a guy steps away from a vehicle he was talking into and the car pulls away. It’s not even ten feet away when he yells,
“Hey! Get back here!”
The car stops. Feeling as if his will has been followed he begins to walk toward the car as it shifts into reverse and knocks him down.
During his protests (“What the fuck are you doing you crazy bitch!?!? was one of them as he dusted off the seat of his pants) I shake the guy’s hand who I’ve been talking to, shake the kids head, and say,
“Love is in the air and it’s crashing to the ground.”
I walk past the car as the guy gets in screaming as she pulls the car around and through the parking lot.
Gotta love young love.