A Chilling Tale
I think that it is of importance to note that I am writing the following while I am being held against my will inside a high school gymnasium guarded by a dozen State Penitentiary inmates in small town west Texas. You know, nothing too out of the ordinary.
Yesterday, I embarked upon a journey of epic proportion. I set out to drive from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles, California. Despite measuring over fourteen hundred miles, the trek should have been a fairly simple one. I would be driving through plains and deserts, nothing life threatening (it’s not summer in Death Valley) or particularly treacherous.
Though I had no Californian deadline to make, an incredibly beautiful and exciting woman whom I had met months prior currently lives in El Paso, just about halfway to my final destination. Naturally, I asked her to go on a date with me the night that I would be driving through. Before I left, I ironed a nice shirt and hung it up in my car. As I began driving down the interstate, I practiced charming lines and debonair stares in my rear view mirror for what seemed like hours. Knowing my history, I needed all the practice I could get.
But then something happened that would ultimately kill any hopes of impressing this Mexican beauty who I had set out to see. It began snowing in Texas. At first, it was beautiful and allowed for a pleasant drive as I passed Big Bend State Park. The way the white topped the small hills and cactus: it was all very calming. In fact, it was very calming up until the moment when I was forced to drive 25 mph on the highway and allow 50 yards between me and the nearest car so that I would have time to brake if needed. Yes, it was simply serene until I passed three different semi trucks that I had been rolled on their side, until I passed the SUV laying upside-down on its hood.
It was there, 100 miles outside of El Paso, that I had a decision to make. I had driven for eight hours in hopes of showing this woman that I was thoughtful and romantic. If I stand her up, she will most likely never talk to me again, writing me off as some type of noncommittal ninny. My one chance at leaving a lasting impression was being stolen by Mother Nature herself.
I had all but decided to press on for another two hours when my windshield wipers decided to start spreading the snow evenly over the windshield instead of wiping it away, like buttering toast with unmeltable I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter. I rolled down my driver’s window and pressed on with my head sticking out. After ten minutes of the snow stinging my eyes like thousands of microscopic daggers, I eventually conceded and pulled over at the next exit…. 20 miles away.
At the gas station of this two-star town, I asked if there were any bars, coffee shops, or restaurants. The attendant laughed at me. I assumed that was country bumpkin for no. As I sat at the gas station eating my disgusting Subway sandwich, the country sheriff entered the establishment.
Attention everyone, he said to me, We will be shutting down Interstate 10 throughout the county. This is the third-largest county in Texas. Its diameter spans over 150 miles and we are smack dab in the center. We are opening up the high school gymnasium and will provide coffee and cots. Until then, ariva durchee.
Ariba derchi? Okay, free coffee and a faux bed, that sounds pretty good to me at this point.
I arrived at the gymnasium only to be greeted by over a hundred strangers, mostly truckers, who were there for the night. I looked around for the coffee and cots but they were no where to be found. I pulled out my phone to let the woman of my dreams know that I would have to cancel, but the town doesn’t get reception. I was standing her up, cold. In fact, everything about this situation was very cold. The heater in the gym wasn’t working.
As I sat on the bleachers shivering and contemplating where my life went wrong, five burly men wearing old-timey black and white striped prisoner garb entered the gym.
*At this point I think that it’s important to note that I sometimes stretch the truth while writing these stories, but that, somehow, this inmate bit is 100% factual*
They stand there for a few seconds, look around, and then leave. This town is only five miles from Mexico and my first thought is that these men have escaped Mexican prison and are looking for safety (who wouldn’t after escaping prison in Mexico?). Maybe they were being shipped like cattle aboard one of the 18-wheelers that had flipped on the icy road. The possibilities flooded my mind as they reentered, carrying cots and a cooler full of coffee.
The gruff inmates continued to bring in supplies for everyone who was stranded in the gymnasium. It appears that they were working with the Red Cross to earn good behavior points. As the night grew darker, people began falling asleep as the prisoners kept guard at all the entrances. I’m scared for my life. I have no idea how this all happened. All I know is that I am out a date but have a great start to a horror script on my hands: a tradeoff that I’m almost okay with.
The Jazz Festival
Every so often in a man’s life, he experiences an unfortunate occurrence, a faux pas of grandeur, that causes him to stick his foot so far into his mouth that it, forever more, would be difficult to tell where one appendage ended and another began. That very instance unfolded in my life this past weekend at a local Jazz festival.
As soon as I learned of the festival, I was excited to attend. I frequented the website every afternoon for a week, listening to the various artists and arranging my schedule according to my likings. The festival was three days long and I vowed to be the first to arrive and last to leave.
One thing that I found curious about the schedule was that the times of each set were listed without an a.m. or p.m. designation. Obviously, anything between one and eight were assumed to be afternoon performances, but a few of the times listed between nine and eleven were fairly ambiguous. I didn’t think too much of it and just decided that I’d wander to the next venue if no one was performing.
So, a little before lunch on Saturday, I ventured to a nearby cathedral where one of the performances was scheduled to take place. The building was a beautiful Gothic behemoth adorned with flying buttresses and stained glass. It would be an interesting venue in which to hear some Coltrane, I decided.
As I entered the building, I walked past a woman who was sitting on the steps outside, mascara running down the grave look on her face. She was on her phone and I assumed that she was in the process of having her heart broken. I gave her a friendly smile as I heard music emanating from inside.
The beautifully ornate structure was barely filled, with only a few dozen people sitting near the solo cellist performing near the alter. I decided to sit in the back row so as not to disturb anyone near the front because the music was very quiet and sad. It actually sounded much more like a classical piece than a jazz piece, but I figured that the morning might not lend itself so easily to improvisational jazz.
Now, I’m not incredibly plugged into the jazz scene. I don’t know much about jazz musicians or people who would attend a jazz festival, but I was surprised as to how seriously these people take their music. Everyone in the chapel was dressed in suits and ties; I felt a bit out of place, but the music was so beautiful that I had to stay. I was even pleasantly surprised to see a priest in attendance.
Like an angel who had lost her wings, that cellist played a beautifully somber ballad, nearly bringing tears to my eyes. She played with a level of unassuming skill and tact that I had never seen in a musician. Everything seemed to fade away as the music reverberated throughout the chamber.
As she played her final note, I was so moved that I rose to my feet, applauding with the same tenacity with which she had played. No one else seemed to be as impressed, but I continued to clap, nonetheless. This woman had to know that she had played the most tragically wonderful tune that had ever graced my ears. A standing ovation was in order.
As we locked eyes across the chapel, she seemed appalled at my appreciation. Some people just don’t know how to take compliments. My applause slowly subsided as I realized that everyone in the building had turned around in their pew, glaring at me, staring into my very soul.
And then everything slowly started coming together. The woman crying outside. The somber classical music. The cathedral setting. The priest. The open casket. Gulp… the open casket?
This performance was not part of the jazz festival at all. The performance was part of a wake, a wake at which I had no business to be. The jazz performance was definitely at 11 p.m. and not 11 a.m.
Like a bad episode of Family Guy, I attempted to shrink as I slowly back-stepped out of the chapel as everyone watched in horrific disapproval.
My regards to the deceased.
It was the dollar theater’s last night of operation and they were the only two who walked through our doors. Prior to issuing their tickets, I watched curiously as they talked a mile a minute, gazing at each other with such ardent eyes. I detected no hint of the dissension that I would see in two hours‘ time. In fact, had I not seen them enter hand-in-hand, I would have been tempted to interject myself when I witnessed him following her every move as she briskly walked toward her car, occasionally glancing over her shoulder.
When he caught up to her as she reached the car, he quickly asserted himself against the door, preventing it from opening. She stood there silently and avoided eye contact. Their voices echoed over the empty parking lot.
“I don’t know why you do this,” he initiated, already sounding defeated.
She tried for the door but his weight was too much.
“Talk to me.”
For a second I grew self-conscious about eavesdropping, but I immediately dismissed the notion on grounds that I had nothing better to do.
“I don’t think I can be with you.”
Her words were completely unexpected. He didn’t understand.
“You’re a good man. And you’re good to me. But…”
He waited for her conclusion. Finally-
“But I don’t think you’d wait for me like that.”
“I wouldn’t wait for you like that?”
He then summarized the film which they had just seen. “They were in love and then she left because she thought she wanted something else for her life. He hadn’t seen or heard from her in three years. For all he knew, she was married or dead or living in a convent. He sent her a letter every day for over a thousand days with absolutely no sign that they had been received. He didn’t date anyone else for three long years because he was so certain that they were destined to be together.”
“And they were. She came back for him,” she reminded. “You wouldn’t wait for me like that?”
As his shoulders slumped, I wondered what was going through his head. Was he debating which answer to give? Was he rethinking the past few months of his life? Was he surprised at who she was? Who she had become?
“No,” he sighed. “I wouldn’t do that.
She nodded, hesitantly.
“Because I know people who have done that,” he continued. ”They’re sad. They’re lonely. And they’re still waiting.”
He removed himself from the side of the car and slowly walked around the vehicle. They entered opposite sides and eventually vacated.
I’ve always wondered what the ride home was like, if they tried to see past their differences or if they simply remained quiet and let what they had die.
I had never seen a movie take a toll like that.
Regaining consciousness, he found himself lying completely prostrate, uncertain of his ability to move his extremities. He possessed no knowledge of the past forty-eight hours and thusly begged his memory synapses to fire at will. Typically, he would find any plight that cause him to both plead with and personify his own body to be somewhat comical, but this was not one of those times.
He seemed to be lying in some sort of chic, sterile tunnel, no more than three feet in diameter. He feebly attempted to orient himself, much as one does after obtaining lucidity in the middle of a dream.
There was a beeping. Every few seconds there was a beeping. Perhaps he was in a hospital plugged-in to an electrocardiogram.
The very idea of a hospital made him uneasy.
Did something bad happen? What happened? Something bad happened.
He wanted to reach into his pocket and retrieve his phone but he could not move his arms.
There was that beeping again.
Did something bad happen? What happened?
His contused brain could not fully comprehend the most basic of stimulants, neither aural nor visual.
How long have I been here? Did something bad happen? What happened?
Another beep and he realized that he had awoken amidst a CAT scan. Though unfamiliar with the apparatus, he knew himself to be in a hospital and consequently recoiled, exhausting himself.
As he fell back asleep, he could not help but feel like he should apologize, but he was not sure to whom.
The truth is that he would later regain most of his memory but would never be able to explain his intentions the night of the accident. Whether it be from psychological repression or physical trauma, no one would ever know that he had intentionally let go of the steering wheel that night, not even himself.
He lied there alone on a gurney in the cold, windowless room debating whether or not to call his parents. After all, they lived twelve hours away. What were they going to do?
I’m twenty-four years old. I think I can take care of myself.
He had no memory of changing into the hospital gown and was not even entirely sure if he should be expecting a doctor or if one had already given his prognosis. Perhaps he was free to leave.
But as he considered exiting she walked into the room.
Another beep. This time it was the electrocardiogram. He hoped that she had not noticed the aberration, not that it mattered.
He had not seen her in nearly a year and she looked as she did the day they had met: young, healthy, full of optimism. She had lost all the sadness to her eyes that seemed to pervade as they had grown closer.
She held violets in her hand.
He did not know why she was there; she had a boyfriend. He did not want her to leave but he could feel himself growing angry and he did not know how to handle it.
It was strange, his emotion towards her. The intensity of the emotion had not subsided. It had been a year and it had not subsided. But it was no longer love. It was confusion, jealousy, anger, disgust, frustration, bitterness. He wondered what it would become if she simply told him that she missed him. Would it sublimate back into love or would it simply be a nominal change? He realized that he had not been emotionally intimate with anyone since the day that she had broken his heart.
“Violets,” he initiated.
“Yeah.” She averted her eyes.
“Are they still your favorite?”
She smiled coyly. He had always assumed that if she had instead been named after the rose, her floral preferences would have swayed accordingly.
As he looked at the flowers, he could not help but visualize the happiness exuded by her face every time that he had surprised her with that exact same bouquet. In a matter of seconds he mentally revisited their first date, her graduation, a birthday, and two promotions.
“I’ve never given you flowers before so I didn’t know what to go with,” she said as she set down the flowers on the nearby countertop. “But they somehow seemed fitting,” she explained. He noticed the uneasiness in her mannerisms and assumed that she felt the need to explain herself.
“I got the call last night. I didn’t know if I should come or not.” And then finally she mentioned, “I’m sorry I waited so long.”
A nurse entered the room, temporarily cutting the conversation short. As she gathered a melange of medical supplies, the estranged couple locked eyes. For the first time in years, he could not tell what she was thinking.
It had been too long.
He hypothesized, as he so often did, that maybe she would apologize for leaving him. She would explain that she had been unhappy for the past several months and that her pride was the only obstacle preventing their reunion. It was possible that she would see this chance meeting at an opportunity to tell him how much she has missed him. In fact, it was even possible that she was single again.
Why are you here?
They soon found themselves alone in the room with a palpable silence. He had once told her that the true sign of love was the ability to share silence without any desire to break it.
“How are you?”
“Fine,” he responded. In fact, he had spent the past couple months being honest when asked about his emotional condition. But he had grown weary of alienating his friends with his depressive disposition and decided to lie like everyone else.
“Who called you?” he softly pried.
“The hospital did.”
“I’m still listed as your emergency contact.”
He immediately grew embarrassed, hoping that she would not notice his flushed complexion. He feared that she was there out of obligation and found a subtle irony in the fact that their most recent conversation, though nearly a year prior, focused on the difference between obligation and inspiration.
She walked to the side of the gurney, studying his body. He had been so lost in his thoughts that he had not taken the time to realize the toll that the crash had taken on his body. He followed her gaze to his legs, covered in bruises. His left limb had a large gash directly under the patella. He wiggled his toes, inflicting pain into his lower torso. He moved his arms freely, relieved that the damage was not completely ubiquitous.
“Thanks for coming,” he immediately regretted saying.
As the sadness in her eyes reared itself, he thought about what a coward he was being. For the past few months all he wanted was to have a conversation with her and there she was and he was speechless. He had absolutely everything but absolutely nothing to say to her.
When she had left him, he did everything in his power to become the man she wanted. She had said that he focused too much on his work so he quit his job. She had said that he spent too much time with his friends so he stopped seeing them. She had said that she wanted a man so he tried everything he could to cease being a boy.
Strangely, he was often reminded of the day that he had learned to drive manual transmission. Once he successfully drove around the block, he ran inside to tell his parents but they were too busy to be bothered. He had accomplished something incredible on his own but it would forever go unnoticed.
“I still love you.” He was unsure if it was true or not, but he blurted it out regardless.
On her face he saw that she suddenly regretted visiting him.
“I’m sorry,” she said as she turned to leave.
He grabbed her hand, immediately realizing that this was his first physical contact with anyone in months. She stopped. As he re-familiarized himself with her hand, he was chagrinned by what he found: a wedding band.
They stood there, suspended in time, him holding her hand, a situation which he had imagined for nearly a year, but never like that.
She waited for a comment, conscious of his discovery.
“You’re engaged,” he stated in a masked denial.
“I got married last month.”
He broke out in a sweat, much the same way he would when he would look at their old pictures or read their old letters. His clammy hands passed unacknowledged as he continued to grasp her hand. She made no effort to writhe free.
As he stared at the violets on the countertop, he realized that the hypothetical scenario of her return would forever remain just that.
He began thinking of what his life had been a year ago. He wondered how so many of life’s certainties could vanish, how the moments that he took for granted could now barely be remembered, how his paradigm could entirely shift by a single discovery. Things had made sense a year ago. Life was going in a direction. Then it stopped. It stopped and he did not know where to go. He had prayed for a direction but it never came.
“It’s been ten months,” he pleaded.
She did not know what to say.
The silence reentered the room as he released her hand.
He felt small.
“He makes you happy?”
When he loved her, he only wanted her to be happy, even if it made him sad. Now he did not know how to feel.
In fact, his least favorite thing about adulthood was how muddled emotions became. When he was younger he knew what happiness was; he knew what sadness was. As he grew older, a theoretical happiness could easily translate to an actual sadness. Counter-intuitively, he often found himself laughing out of sadness or crying out of happiness. He wondered if this was a gradual change or if it was sparked by an event such as this.
It was bizarre, the state in which he found himself.
For the second time that day, nothing made sense and he desperately attempted to orient himself. Over the previous ten months, he had occasional thoughts of suicide, though the only one he ever acted upon was the one that put him in the hospital. In fact, if he possessed any recollection of the event, he would have known that it was the uncertainty that pushed him too far, the waiting for a definite answer that drove him to do what he did. Strangely enough, rejection itself would indirectly save his life, but he would never know that.
What will happen to me?
As he entertained scenarios of his future, she walked out the door.
He wanted to leave, too, but not to follow her. He just wanted to go.
Staring at the violets, he wished things still made sense but that stage of his life was over.
He was an adult.
The Best First Impression of All Time
During my sophomore year of high school something very peculiar happened to me that would, in some subtle, subconscious way that I’ve yet to pinpoint, have a lasting impact on how I would approach or, in most cases, not approach women throughout my adulthood.
After watching a varsity basketball game, my best friend’s girlfriend invited me back to her house along with my best friend and her best friend, a very attractive dancer whose name I had only heard mentioned in elite social circles but whose acquaintance I had yet to make.
That night was incredible.
Everything I said was pure comic gold. I don’t know how it happened. I felt like Rodney Dangerfield in that every sentence I said was met with uproarious laughter. It was as if Steven Wright, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Steve Martin, and Mitch Hedberg had birthed an illegitimate love child that would exist only for one night and I was that love child incarnate.
This was shaping up to be the most impressive performance I had ever given. I felt much more accomplished than I did when I was elected VP of National Honor Society, more successful than when I aced my all-district number sense test, and even more proud than I did when I nailed my solo in the school musical.
As you can see, I really had no business socializing with the high school bourgeoisie.
But for the first time in my life, the popular pretty girl hung on every word I said. When I told a joke she would laugh coquettishly, batting her eyelashes and inducing endorphins that I didn’t know existed as sixteen-year-old. Even as my friend and his girlfriend would exchange words, I would catch this girl smiling at me through my peripheral.
Though I don’t remember the specifics of what jokes I told, I do remember my best friend’s girlfriend asking, “Do you ever do stand-up?” The pretty girl quickly nodded and agreed, telling me that I would be great at it. That night, even if it were scripted by John Hughes himself, couldn’t have gotten any better.
But as it eventually came to a close, I approached a mental crossroad that only Robert Johnson could understand. The way I saw it I had three options.
- I could ask this girl out right then and there. We had only known each other a few hours but I was confident that she would say yes. The challenge would be the ensuing months of an impressionable high school dancer dating someone other than the varsity quarterback. We were star-crossed lovers and I was familiar with how Shakespearian tragedies end.
- I could try and recreate the night as many times as possible. Maybe the three of us could create a tradition of spending the evening together after the weekly varsity basketball games. But I knew that this night was special and that lightning doesn’t strike twice. If it does, it’ll probably kill you.
- I could never speak to this girl ever again. No calls. No notes. No messages from a mutual friend. Though seemingly counterintuitive, this plan actually contained the most merit. I was the perfect man in this girl’s mind. If we were to see each other again I would invariably tarnish my good name.
And so, after minutes of deliberation, that’s just what I did. I told everyone that I had had a great evening, hugged them all goodbye, and I left, never to return to the popular pretty dancer who I had so gracefully wooed. And so she would forever remember me as the greatest guy she had ever met.
I had made the perfect first impression. I felt no need for a second one.
Tumblr = marshallrimmer.tumblr.com/
Google+ = plus.google.com/113421337998507540711/posts
YouTube = www.youtube.com/user/mrim86
Twitter = twitter.com/#!/Mrim86
Facebook = www.facebook.com/pages/Marshall-Rimmer/102732513152375
CLICK THE LINKS to stalk me in more ways than one!
This past week I ventured to Toronto to attend Fan Expo, a convention which highlights comic books, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming. Although I work at an online entertainment corporation, I was a bit in over my head as far as nerddom is concerned.
Logically I decided that, despite being surrounded by men playing dress-up (excuse me, “cosplaying”), there should be relatively relatable people working the booths. After all, I was relatively relatable and I was indeed working a booth.
Walking through the expo hall, I spotted an extremely cute girl working the Lego booth. Unlike many of the booths that pandered to the male libido, Lego had a classy, modestly dressed staff, one of which was downright beautiful.
So naturally I pretended to browse through a Lego Star Wars book until I worked up the nerve to ask this girl how her day was. Once I broke the ice, we talked about life for what felt like an eternity. Traveling, society, culture, music, religion, technology, Dr Pepper. I was falling in love with a Canadian and I wasn’t aboot to stop.
For twenty-four years of my life I thought that being attractive and being interesting were two mutually exclusive traits. My paradigm was shifting.
That first day I stopped by her booth a couple times and was always greeted with a smile. I started wondering how difficult it would be to uproot my life in Austin and move to Canada.
The very next day she stopped by our booth just to say hey.
Now, I’m not one for frivolous flings and I know that long-distance relationships pose their own difficulties, but for this beautiful, interesting anomaly of a woman I was willing to throw caution to the wind and see where life would take us.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t take us very far.
As she was at our booth for what would be both the first and last time, I asked her if there were any good restaurants nearby. Despite being a native Canadian, she pulled out her iPhone to check a map. And there on her ring finger rested a sparkly diamond which spoke of a story I had yet to hear.
My face sank.
Now, to her defense, she wasn’t intentionally leading me on. She was just one of those incredibly sweet people who always make you feel like you’re the only person who matters: one of those people you wish you had met while they were single.
Nonetheless, I knew what I had to do.
After retrieving my lunch and gathering my thoughts, I begrudgingly approached her booth one final time. It wasn’t easy, but I broke up with her. She took the news surprisingly well, almost as if she was seeing someone else.
I spent that evening sulking in my hotel room.
Au revoir, beautiful Lego girl. We’ll always have Toronto.
Tumblr = marshallrimmer.tumblr.com/
Google+ = plus.google.com/113421337998507540711/posts
YouTube = www.youtube.com/user/mrim86
Twitter = twitter.com/#!/Mrim86
Facebook = www.facebook.com/pages/Marshall-Rimmer/102732513152375
CLICK THE LINKS to stalk me in more ways than one!
Pay It Forward
As I was leaving downtown one night, a man approached me and told me of his woes. His car had broken down and his wife and two kids were waiting patiently in the car for their father’s return. And just as luck would have it, the man had just had an operation earlier in the week, so he was running low on cash.
I didn’t have any money on me nor did I have anywhere to be, so I told the man I would buy him some gas with my credit card at the nearest gas station.
“Are you sure? It’s a bit of a walk and I don’t want you to go out of your way.”
“Nonsense,” I replied. I decided to make it my mission to get this man and his family back on the road.
He seemed a bit disappointed as I began to walk with him to the nearest gas station. I’d never seen such compassion: a man, who had just had an operation, who was doing all he could to get his family back home, feeling saddened because he thought he was inconveniencing me. What a guy.
As we passed an ATM, he lit up and excitedly told me that I could just get him some cash and he could be on his way. ”And not see the look on your family’s faces when they get their gas? Not a chance,” I confidently told him. Again, he seemed disappointed. What a guy.
Twenty minutes later we reached a gas station where I bought the man a small half gallon gas tank. I explained to the cashier that the man had to get back to his family because his car broke down and he had recently had an operation and his baby needed diapers (which I’m still not sure was relevant). I don’t know why, but the cashier rolled his eyes.
Before I gave the man the gas tank, I ripped off the tag. For some reason he tried to stop me, but I figured he wouldn’t want to leave the tag on unless he was intending to return it for some reason. But, since he was using the tank to get gas to his family, why would he want to return it?
“Two dollars at pump three,” I proclaimed.
At this point, the man appeared completely defeated. Imagine, caring so much about wasting my time that he genuinely felt bad that I was helping him.
I’m not sure who this guy was, but I’m sure he’s told all his friends about the nice, helpful guy who saved him and his family when they were stranded without gas.
The World’s Best Birthday Present
When I was eighteen years old, my friend Soey and I stumbled upon a spare set of keys to our friend Johnny’s car. And yes, by “stumbled upon” I mean “stole.”
Johnny’s birthday was quickly approaching and Soey and I wanted to make it a night he would never forget. So we stole his car.
A week before his birthday party, around two in the morning, Soey and I snuck into Johnny’s gated community, scaled a few fences, and meticulously pushed Johnny’s car down his long, winding driveway, careful not to start the ignition until we were out of earshot.
We assumed this would be the most treacherous phase of the plan. We were wrong.
After stealing a car, naturally we embarked toward the Indian Casino located 100 miles away. We decided that we’d document our trip so we took pictures of us with the car every 20 miles or so. Those pictures may or may not have included Soey peeing into the gas tank.
After a few hours at the casino, Soey suddenly remembers that Johnny’s mom goes for a jog every morning at 6am (How he knows this, I have no idea). Then it hits us that if she steps out of the house and doesn’t see the car, we’re dead. I start doing the math and quickly realize that we needed to have left twenty minutes prior.
We sprint out of the casino, dropping chips like idiots. We don’t have the time to cash out. We don’t have the tact to care.
The next hour was a blur. Literally. I couldn’t find my glasses.
And to this day, I have no idea how it happened. The second that we parked the car in the driveway, Johnny’s front door swings open. We see Johnny’s mom step out and immediately we slide as far down the seats as humanly possible.
This can’t be happening.
The windows are still rolled down and all we can hear are footsteps getting closer and closer.
Soey and I stare at each other, trembling nervously. Johnny’s mom is the neighborhood mom who knows every parent and isn’t shy about telling them how terrible their kid is. You know who I’m talking about. At a powerful five foot two inches, she could easily destroy us.
And then, the footsteps stop.
The car slightly dips. She’s leaning on the hood! Neither of us can breathe. At a later moment, we would decide that she was doing quad stretches and needed the hood for balance. At the current moment, we were on the verge of soiling Johnny’s interior.
My mind races for an explanation to give upon our imminent apprehension. Unfortunately I had spent much of my free time crafting homework and tardiness excuses and lacked the foresight to develop my “why I stole your son’s car” story.
Giving up, I look to Soey for any hint of confidence. He makes a weird face. Maybe that’s his confidence face?
No, definitely not his confidence face.
Sorry, he mouthes.
I can’t move.
I just sit there like a deer-in-headlights, waiting for Johnny’s mom to come crashing down. But after about twenty seconds of waiting, nothing happens.
Confused, both Soey and I slowly rise in our seats and see Johnny’s mom jogging away in the distance, completely oblivious to her son’s duplicitous friends.
We had dodged a bullet.
Vowing to never steal another car, Soey and I developed the pictures and gave them to Johnny at his birthday party as a present.
I haven’t spoken to Johnny since.
How to Get Mugged in New York City
I spent last May in New York City shooting an indie film with sketch comedy group Olde English. It was one of the best experiences of my life, but it definitely came with some hardships.
One night, after a fifteen-hour shoot and an hour of complaints from my girlfriend at the time, I decided I’d go for a walk to clear my mind. I was living in Brooklyn and although crime rates had drastically dropped thanks to Giuliani, Brooklyn is still no walk in the park at night.
Actually, you probably shouldn’t walk in the park at night.
On my late-night stroll I came upon a governmental housing project that took up an entire city block. It was past midnight and the dark structure ominously loomed over me. It strangely had a walkway that ran diagonally through the complex (a hypotenuse, if you will) and I foolishly decided that I’d walk through it. I’d been having a terrible day and proving to myself that I was man enough to do this was the only thing that would cheer me up.
As soon as I enter the complex, I immediately regret this decision. I see a few groups of guys lurking in the shadows and hear some snickers and a couple “white boy” comments but I keep walking. My heart starts to beat a bit faster as I realize the pathway is much longer than I expected, like that stairway shot in Vertigo.
As I make it past the incessant jeering, I can see a light shimmering from the opposite side. I’m almost home free! But about fifty feet away from safety, a shadowy figure moves in front of the exit, walking towards me.
This dude is at least 6’2” and is completely jacked. He’s wearing an XL hoodie and a flat-billed Yankees cap. As a scrawny white guy, I didn’t want to make any overly racist gestures like turning around and sprinting for dear life, so I kept walking towards this guy, hoping that he was a jolly green giant.
He was not.
When I get about 20 feet away from him, he stops. My heart starts pounding. This is how I’m going to die, I think. But again, not wanting to display any signs of racism, I keep walking. I glance behind me and see a group of guys following me. Yup, this is how I’m going to die.
I try to avert eye contact, but I can feel his eyes burning into my flesh. About 5 feet from the giant I glance up and we lock eyes. He’s the scariest dude I’ve seen in my life. His face is covered in scars and tattoos and you can see his muscles through his hoodie. YOU CAN SEE HIS MUSCLES THROUGH HIS HOODIE!!!
My heart is jumping out of my chest. My eyes dart, searching for any kind of escape but I’m surrounded by walls. The only ways out are through the 10 guys behind me or this monster of a man in front of me. I start pulling out my wallet, just to make the process easier.
As I come within arm’s distance of him, I prepare myself for the worst. He looks me dead in the eyes and says, “Evening, officer.”
I can barely breathe. I nod and walk past him, safely out of the projects. I stood on the corner trying to make sense of what just happened: he thought I was an undercover cop, because why else would a white boy be walking through the projects in the middle of the night?
And that, my friends, is how reverse racism saved my life.
How to Ruin your Cousin’s Wedding
This past weekend I was supposed to be a groomsman at my cousin’s wedding. That was, until the morning of the wedding when I realized that I had forgot to pick up my tux.
I have no idea how it slipped my mind. Maybe it was because of the 6 hours I spent in a car. Maybe it was because we were up till 4am the previous night at an Indian casino. Whatever the reason, once I realized my situation I only had four hours to secure a matching tux and make it to Dallas in time for the wedding.
Lucky for me, formal wear companies are not open on Sundays. Wait- not lucky for me. In fact, very unlucky for me.
I get online and call every number I can find for this tux rental place. But it’s Sunday and the offices are closed. I desperately email every email address I can find. No replies.
Groomsmen pictures are in 2 hours. I’m wearing a t-shirt.
So I start calling all the other tux rental places within an hour radius, praying that maybe one of them would be open. About 4 or 5 calls in, someone answers. Thank God for prom season.
“I’m in this terrible situation. There was a miscommunicati
on with the store hours (which is slightly true) and my cousin’s wedding is in a few hours (which is very true) and I don’t have my tux and I don’t know what to do and please, please help me.”
The angel of a woman on the other line manages to rush to the distribution center to pick up a tux that will hopefully match and hopefully fit. At this point, my odds of success are still slim.
Pictures are in an hour and I haven’t informed my cousin of the probable disaster.
When we meet at the store, SOMEHOW the tux jacket matches and fits me very well. The pants are long so the lady begins hemming them. Everything looks like it’s coming together. It’s all very bizarre.
“We couldn’t find you a matching tie.”
Balls. All the other groomsmen have striped purple ties and I have a solid purple tie. Oh well, everything else is good and I don’t have time to do anything about it. I quickly change into the make-shift tux and speed to Dallas.
I arrive at the venue as my cousin and the other groomsmen are changing into their tuxes. I apologize for being late and blame it on rush-hour Sunday traffic.
At this point, I’m still screwed. My tie is solid and it’ll make me stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone in the audience is going to be looking at me, when they should be looking at my cousin. If only there were a way to- wait a second-
I look at the tie sitting in front of my cousin. It’s striped like the rest of the groomsmens’. I wait for a moment and when my cousin isn’t looking I quickly switch out his striped tie for my solid tie.
Once he finishes putting on his vest, he grabs the solid tie, about to put it on. I try not to stare, or give any hint that I’ve done anything sneaky. He pauses and looks at the tie intently. He looks around for a second or two. I’m holding my breath, hoping he won’t notice anything. Eventually, he shrugs and then starts putting on the tie.
From that point on, everything ran smoothly. We took our groomsmen pictures, the ceremony was really beautiful, and the dinner was quite delicious. The solid tie looked like an intentional choice by the groom and nothing felt out-of-place.
I figured I owed it to my cousin to man up and tell him how I almost ruined his wedding. So, like a man, I found the wedding guest book and wrote, “Dear cousin, I forgot about my tux until this morning and I switched out your tie for a different one. And this is how you’re finding out.”