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: "So...how 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.