Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grandfathered In.

Saw an old friend from an old job today after, I don't know, 10-odd years of living our lives and trading the occasional email. In the old days, we'd sit in the crappy Irish pub after work sometimes, drinking whiskey sours and talking about fiction-writing.

Today, we sat in a middling hotel restaurant at lunchtime talking about real life -- kids, jobs, real estate, book promotion (not that I have any kids or real estate or a book to promote) -- and yet, in a weird way, it was like no time had passed and we were still in the crappy Irish pub.

We talked about all the people we'd known and befriended from our old workplace. "The thing is," I said, "I don't really hang out with anybody at my job now. At The Old Network, I felt like I made real friends. Now, I'm not as interested. I don't go to happy hours as much as I should. I just don't care as much. There's a baseball game outing this month..."

"But it's all a lot of effort," J said.

"Exactly," I said. "It's like, I have enough of a hard time keeping up with my relationship, my family, and the friends that I already have. I don't want to meet any new people."

"Yeah, I don't want to meet any new people either," J said. He's married with two kids and lives by the beach in a lovely house in Connecticut, the lucky bastard.

"Maybe it's the stage of life we're in."

"It's the stage of life. It reminds me of this Sinbad routine where he says, you only need two people in your life: one to look in the window to make sure you're still breathing, and one to call 911." A Sinbad reference: impressive.

I laughed. "Yeah. Or, did you watch Six Feet Under? There's a scene where Brenda says, 'I always thought that as I got older, I'd have more people around me.'"

The actual scene I was trying to conjure goes like this (with thanks to this blog):

brenda: i always thought that i would have more people in my life as time went on.

billy: hmmph… doesn't work that way.

brenda: yeah. i’m starting to realize that.

billy: its almost like as we get older, the number of people who completely get us shrinks.

I've met my share of people who "get" me, along with my share of people who don't get me (or whom I do not get) but are grandfathered in because we met at a time of life when shared experiences, a certain sensibility and sheer availability threw us together.

I like to think that maybe (maybe?) there are a few more of both types of people in my future. They're just fewer and farther between.

Music: "Another Day"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pound Foolish.

"Hey, can I interrupt for one second?" Coworker 1 approaches my desk, where I am sitting down and showing Coworker 2 something on my computer.

Coworker 1 wants to thank me for the help I gave her in setting up a hub for some space shuttle launch coverage.

"Oh sure, no problem. I hardly did anything," I said.

"No but you gave me the foundation for understanding the code and everything, which was hugely helpful," she said. "So, thank you so much."

She is about to turn and leave, but as she does so, she reaches out her hand (which also has a lace glove on it). She is loosely making a fist. I sit there and stare. I do not know this person very well, and would not have pegged her as the fist-bump type, but then she's wearing lace gloves, so she's already a game-changer here. Or maybe she's going for a "gimme five"?

I am terrible at interpreting gestures. Unless you're flipping me the bird or attempting to start a round of clapsies, there's only a 40 percent chance that I'm going to understand your meaning. High-five attempts terrify me. I can even mess up handshakes. Rather than express this in the moment -- pause, ask for clarification, offer a quizzical look -- I try to play along and inevitably err on the side of being embarrassing.

So despite the fact that I have no idea what's going on here, especially with the gloves partly obscuring her hands, I decide to be game and return what I deem to be a fist-bump. "No!" she says, shaking her hand and opening her fingers, and I realize that she actually has something in her hand that she is trying to give me. It's a souvenir from the shuttle launch.

So I have done two things: I have assaulted her with an unwanted fist-pound, and I also suggested that *I* am a fist-pound type, which I am NOT. And I did this in full view of a witness.

God that was awkward. That is going to haunt my Monday.

Update: I have been informed that this gesture is also called a dap. There are also other definitions of "dap" on the Urban Dictionary page for it that are similarly unappealing.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Too Much?

So, for the last 24 hours or so, I've been intermittently listening to a podcast called The Lavender Hour, which is basically what happens when two people say, OMG our conversations are so entertaining, we should just tape them and put them on the Internets, only instead of just talking about it, they actually do it.

I found it because I had just watched Duncan Trussell in Drunk History Vol. 6 and was curious about who he is. The Internet didn't really have an answer for this question, but it did have the Lavender Hour, which Trussell co-hosts with his comedian friend.

Do you ever find yourself mesmerized by a piece of entertainment without even knowing why? Like, I'm not really laughing out loud here, and I'm not sure I even get where these people are coming from at all, but this speaks to me on some unfathomable level (or, alternatively, I just need more of a life), so I am just listening to it anyway. It's like... company. That's how I feel about the show Portlandia: There are a few sequences that I find hilarious, and then the rest of it I just sort of watch because I just inexplicably want to be there.

So but the thing about Lavender Hour episode that I listened to was that at times, I had to skip through because they were working so blue that I couldn't take it. Like, jokes about malls and dad-wear and the Cheesecake Factory, of course. But jokes about rape and anal sex...oh my delicate ears.

It was my own fault that I turned from this to the show Louie in search of something a bit lighter. And once again I found myself alternately amused and nauseated. I hit "pause" at about the point where someone was talking about rubbing a "smelly little cock" all over a woman's "depressing tits."

This experience -- of going from amused to perplexed to outright disgusted/traumatized and back again -- seems to be much more common now than it used to be. Remember when Eddie Murphy was edgy? It reminds of the moment at 1:28 in this interview with Charlie Sheen where he has just spewed out some craziness and breaks the frame for a moment to ask, "Too much?" It was such a genius wink at the audience in a time where everyone was just loving Crazy Charlie Sheen. But ultimately, yes, it was too much. Who wants to watch an id in overdrive for more than five minutes?

I don't know. It's not that I want everything to be squeaky clean. I would just like people to err on the side of restraint and be more creative rather than going for the shocking laugh, because these people are talented enough that they don't need it. But the real UncMo here is not the comedy itself but that a) I can't make this point in a sharper way right now and b) I sound like Grandma (or Bill Cosby). But I mean does anyone share my dismay?