Friday, January 20, 2006

New Thing #20: Sit 'N Spin, and Jake, and MSCL

So, about a year and a half ago, I dated this guy named Jake. (Jake is not his real name, but wouldn't it be cool if it was his real name? Because come on--Jake? I've said it once and I'll say it again: it's a great name for a boyfriend.) (Speaking of which, if your name is Jake and you're reading my blog, feel free to become my boyfriend.) (Ed. note: Um, Erik? What's up with this fixation on having a boyfriend named Jake? Is it because Jake Ryan was one of your first crushes? Get in the back of the line, bud. Lotsa people had crushes on Jake Ryan. Move on.) (Speaking of Jake Ryan, though, and obviously not moving on, you must read this essay.) (Oh my god.) (Sorry.) (Anyway.) (Let me start over with this post.)

So, about a year and a half ago, I dated this guy named Jake. We met through Friendster, so the first time we actually saw each other in person was on our first date. Now, during this date, I thought he looked familiar to me. Really familiar. I've-seen-him-in-something familiar. And this was in Hollywood, so it was fairly possible. Then it hit me: he's the guy who played the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off who wouldn't let Ferris and his friends have a table until Ferris pretended to be Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago.

Now, I could have just asked him: "Did you play the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off?" But then I wouldn't have had any fun googling him later that evening. And a first date isn't a first date without at least a little bit of googling before going to bed.

After resolving to google, I stopped wondering where I knew Jake from. Besides, I was fairly certain I had figured it out: he TOTALLY played the Snooty Matre' d in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I was certain of it now, looking at him. I could move on.

We continued with the date, and it went very well. It was actually kind of a perfect first date. We had dinner at a very nice restaurant and as we were finishing up, he disappeared--for a moment I thought that maybe the date had only been going well in my head and in reality he hated me and had ditched me with the bill--but then, a few moments later, he returned with some Chocolate Chocolate Chip Haagan Daz ice cream. I had mentioned earlier that it was my favorite ice cream, so he ran across the street to 7-11 to pick up a pint for us to have for dessert. This was just a small thing, maybe, but I think it speaks volumes to the kind of guy Jake is.

After dinner, he dropped me off at my car, we kissed goodnight, and then I went up into my apartment and I googled him. Turns out, I was wrong. Jake did not play the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, after all; this dude did.

Whatever, I still liked Jake. I forgot about the Ferris Bueller thing and then we dated for about five weeks. It was a quick affair, heated, fraught with emotion. When we broke up, we severed things pretty severely. Not in a I-don't-want-to-ever-see-you-again way, more in a I-don't-think-I-can-see-you-for-a-long-time-because-it-would-be-too-painful way. There was just a lot going on, and I don't want to get into all of the details, but suffice it to say the break-up was a beast and we haven't spoken since. This was over a year ago.

Now, today's post was supposed to be about how I went to Sit 'N Spin. Sit 'N Spin is a show run by Jill Soloway and Maggie Rowe at the Comedy Central space at the Hudson, where, according to the LA Times, "people [read] things that are funny, dirty and sad, twice a month in Los Angeles." How can you beat that? I was super excited to go to Sit 'N Spin and hear some "funny, dirty and sad" essays because I've recently started dabbling in the form (I kind of consider this blog like my workout area, where I can practice writing about real things rather than writing about imaginary people, a.k.a. "characters") and so I'm eager to read and hear as many personal essays as possible right now. Also, my friend Taylor was reading a piece written by Amy Heckerling, and I was excited to see Taylor perform. Like, bonus.

Going to Sit 'N Spin was supposed to be my New Thing for the day. (It still is my New Thing for the day.) That's all today's post was supposed to be about--it was gonna be short and sweet, along the lines of "I went to Sit 'N Spin tonight, it was great, and...The End." But then things got...well...kinda complicated.

The night started out fine. Let me set the scene:

I'm there with my friends Jesse and Mike. We've got great seats (5th row back, center) and we're just sitting there chatting, waiting for the show to start, checking out all of the gorgeous, literate types in the audience. Jesse sees someone he knows from college; they say a quick hello. I see someone I did a play reading with a few years ago; we say a quick hello. I look around the room and see several more quick hellos happening between several more gorgeous, literate people in the room. I feel like I look like a homeless man among all of these well-groomed people, but I figure it's okay because I'm a writer and writers can get away the "unkempt hair and wrinkled shirt and vaguely homeless" look. (Right?) The show should be starting any minute.

And that's when he walks in.



I haven't seen him in over a year. I lean over to Jesse and tell him, "Jake's here." Jesse knows all about Jake, but they've never met, so he cranes his neck to see what Jake looks like. "He looks exactly like the guy who--" But before he can finish his thought, the lights fade and the show begins.

And this is when I have a quick little panic attack. No, that's not right. The words "panic" and "attack" seem to be alarmist words for what I had. It wasn't anything major. All that really happened was my heart did a little bit of a skip and a jump and I wondered what my conversation with Jake after the show was going to be like. It's been over a year since we've seen each other, what are we going to say? Are we going to be emotional? Are we going to fall back into our old jovial patter? Will things be awkward? What's going to happen? Dear god.

Fortunately, the show is great and I'm able to forget about my anxiety and just enjoy myself. The show begins with a very funny piece by Eric Friedman about getting lost hiking up to the Hollywood sign; next up is a poignant piece by Shaz Bennett about a lucky foxtail, and blaxploitation, and religion; this is followed by an outrageous (in a good way) essay by Anderson Gabrych about coming of age and butt sex; then Kate Flannery reads an essay about doin' the deed with one of the Monkees, which literally has the entire audience singing along to Daydream Believer; and then Taylor Negron finishes us off with a piece by Amy Heckerling titled "Joseph Goebbels' Private Diary," which is exactly what the title promises and it's also brilliant. Oh, and I forgot to mention the music--there are also some very funny songs by Mark Nutter and Cynthia Carle. It's a very entertaining evening. So entertaining that I almost forget that Jake is here.

But then the show ends, and the lights come up, and everyone stands, and people start to mill about the stage so they can say hello to the performers, and I see Jake standing across the room, and it all floods back to me. Oh, man. Okay. I'm ready. I'm going to go have this moment. I'm feeling a little bit buttfluttery, but I can do this.

As I'm making my way into the crowd, Jake and I have eye contact. I smile, nod my head. But he doesn't react. He looks away. He starts talking to someone else. Weird, I think to myself. Maybe he doesn't want to talk to me? Maybe I shouldn't approach him? No, that would be even weirder, I have to talk to him.

Okay, here goes. I walk over to him and I touch his shoulder. He turns to look at me.

"Hey, Jake," I say.

His look is inscrutable. It's loud. (The room, not the look.) Lots of people are talking.

"Hey," he says back to me.

There is a long awkward pause.

And then I'm like: " have you been?"

It feels like such an inadequate question--I mean, it's been a year since we've seen each other--but it's all I can think of to say. I should say something else. I should say something about how he grew his hair out, and it looks good. I should say something. He's not speaking. WHY ISN'T HE SPEAKING?

He looks at me. Brusk. (Dismissive, almost? I can't tell.) And then, finally, (FINALLY), he says, "I had a good new year. Nice to chat. I have to head out."

And then he walks away.

What? WHAT?!? What just happened?? What was that? It's been a year and that's the conversation we have?

I go over to Jesse and Mike. They have been standing within earshot. They've heard the whole thing. They can't believe it either. What a dick! That's the general consensus: Jake is a total, complete dick. "I had a good new year. Nice to chat. I have to head out." I mean, what the fuck?

So I get all upset, and I'm bitching to Jesse and Mike about it, and then Jesse says, "Did you ever notice how much Jake looks exactly like the guy who played the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off?"

Wait. Stop. Hold the phone. Um, Erik?


The man you just talked to?


The man you've been anxiously awaiting a conversation with for the last hour?


I'm sorry to break this to you, but that man, well...

Spit it out.

It wasn't Jake.


It wasn't Jake.

You mean the man I just had an awkward conversation with wasn't the man I went out with for five weeks last year?

No, the man you just talked to was Jonathan Schmock who played the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The Snooty Matre d' who wouldn't let Ferris and his friends have a table until Ferris pretended to be Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago?

Yep, that's the one.

Okay, um, wow. So. Um, yeah. No wonder he looked at me so funny when I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder and started talking to him like we went way back. He looked at me so funny because he had no idea who the fuck I was. Because we don't know each other.

The rest of the night is a blast and a blur. I drank some brandy, and I told my story to some of Jonathan Schmock's friends who confirmed that the man at Sit 'N Spin was, indeed, the Snooty Matre d' from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Mr. Jonathan Schmock.

But all of that said, my New Thing for today was still going to see Sit 'N Spin, and it's a great show, and you should check it out.


As I lie here in bed typing this into my laptop, I'm reminded of the last few moments of the pilot episode of My So-Called Life. Angela Chase and Rayanne Graff and Ricky Vasquez try to get into this club called Let's Bolt, but they can't get in because they're under age and Rayanne's cousin Tito never shows up to help them sneak in, and then Rayanne gets drunk, and these two guys almost rape Rayanne and Angela, and then Rayanne almost gets into a fight with one of the guys, and then the cops show up, and the cops drive the girls home (Ricky isn't with them anymore, he's already run off), and then Angela's voice over notices that "at rayanne's house, no one was home," and then my heart breaks, and then Angela sees her dad with another woman outside of their house, and he might be having an affair, and Everybody Hurts by REM starts playing on the soundtrack, and then my heart breaks again, and then Angela's shoe (which isn't actually her shoe--she and Rayanne traded shoes when they were waiting for Tito to help them sneak into Let's Bolt), well, Angela's shoe-that-isn't-really-her-shoe breaks, and, my heart breaks again, I just can't take it anymore, and Angela finally goes upstairs and wipes off her make-up and she sees her mom and breaks down and cries in her arms, so happy to be home and safe after such a supremely shitty night. But then, the next morning, when Angela bumps into Rayanne and Ricky in the hall, her friends are telling these other kids about what a totally wicked night they had. Rayanne says, "I am telling you, we had a time." And then Rayanne looks at Angela: "Didn't we? Didn't we have a time?" And then Angela kind of smiles and she bends one of her legs a little bit and without even really thinking about it, she says, "We did. We had a time." And you can see in her face that, yes, she did have a really shitty night, but you can also see that she's only sixteen-years-old and when you're only sixteen-years-old sometimes even shitty nights can be great because they're new and they're alive and your life is suddenly feeling like an adventure. And how great is that, right?

Tonight was not a shitty night by any means. But there were a few moments there where I felt like I was having an adventure. And I would definitely say that we had a time.

Yes, we did. We had a time.


Sarah Doyle said...

Heyyyy Erik
Great story, I was just in Chicago actually with my boyfriend and we were trying to figure out if that restaurant where Ferris goes was actually in Chi-town so we could go & eat there and well, yeah ANYWAYS

You know I work at the Groundlings Theatre, right? Well I do and if you ever want to come see a show there PLEASE let me know.
(949) 433 5533
Hope everything is great! :]

Anonymous said...

buttfluttery! a.) did you mean to say that?! b.) is that even a word?! i only noticed because i had kept reading and i thought, "wow, butterfly-y, i wonder how he spelled that," because that's what *i* had thought you had written, and then i thought, "wait, i think he made sort of a different word of it, like butterfly-er-y" and i thought, "yeah, i guess that works," and then i scrolled up and re-read. nope. apparently, erik felt buttfluttery. interesting (wink wink). (ms. tina poppy)

Gina said...

Ok, so this post proves that you are a MSCL fan..sweeeet! Isn't it weird that we both did a post about the same random show that was only on for like, 9 weeks over 10 years ago? I love Rayanne because she's a little bad ass and i always wanted to be her. When we have our marathon, we should dress up as our favorite character!

Erik said...

Sarah Doyle, you cannot leave me hanging like that...DID YOU FIND THE RESTAURANT!??!? Also, did you go to the top floor of that very tall building and put your forehead against the glass and look down at all of the ant-like cars and people? And did you go to the Sunday in the Park with George museum and have pensive thoughtful moments while The Dream Academy's cover of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want was playing in your head? Well, did you?

Ms. Tina Poppy, it's a new word I invented. You have to read my post below, the one about my new writing group. And then you have to start using the word. I MEAN IT. Use the word.

And Gina, yes, I love the show, I can quote the hell out of it, I own it on DVD, I have seen it too many times to count. I love the episode you mention on your blog, but my top three episodes are:

1. "Pressure," the one where Jordan teaches Angela how to drive and he's pressuring her to have sex with him.

2. "Betrayal," the one where Rayanne gets the lead in Our Town, and so much heartbreaking shit goes down.

and 3. "Life of Brian," the one told from Brian Krakow's point of view, with the World Happiness Dance.

And I knew those episode titles by heart, that's how much of an MSCL geek I am.

Jesse said...

it was a time, quite the time, time time time...I was about to get all Suzanna Hoffs, I'll refrain.

Sarah Doyle said...

Unfortunetly, we didn't find the restaurant. We asked some guy at the Seers Tower and he said he didn't think it was actually in Chicago. But yes we did lean our forheads against the glass and said "I think I see my Dad. The son of a bitch is down there somewhere" but then corrected myself cause my dad was indeed not in Chicago but in Orange County. ;]

Joe Chandler said...

the ferris talk is making me feel warm inside.

i used to get compared to cameron all the time. at first i'd be insulted, but then i'd be happy.

Erik said...

Jesse, it really was a time, though, right? I mean, we had a time.

Erik said...

Sarah, I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear that you leaned your foreheads against the glass and said that. I need to do that.

Erik said...

Joe, I always compared MYSELF to Cameron! And then I would feel insulted, but then I'd be like, "why are you feeling insulted, YOU'RE the one who said it."

And besides, Cameron's the one who really grows. I never really thought about it, but it's actually his movie. Ferris changes a little bit, I guess, but not really--Cameron's the one who steps out of his shell (with Ferris' help) and begins to appreciate life and stands up to his old man.

I just watched this movie over Thanksgiving weekend three times. So good.

dustin said...

hey, wow.... what a strange thing to happen... i enjoyed reading your blog! you're a goo writer! I loved my so called life too! see you SOON!!

Erik said...

dustin, it was a strange thing to happen. it kinda makes me feel like a terrible person, to have been so certain this was someone i knew, and then to find out i was so wrong. i mean, i think i kinda raised the bar on "absent-mindedness" on this one.