I spent the day with my friend Carol in Laguna Beach and as I was leaving her house (she lives up in the hills), I saw the most beautiful sunset.
I can actually show you a picture of it because as soon as I saw it, I called my friend Dustin—who I went to high school with, who I had a really great bad date with a few months ago, and who also lives in Laguna—and I asked him, “are you looking at this sunset?” And he was looking at the sunset, because it was that good (it was seriously freaking unbelievable) and he took a picture of it and emailed it to me.
Now before you look at this picture (don’t scroll down and look at the picture yet!) I have to warn you that this picture doesn’t really capture the sunset at all (but can pictures ever?):
(insert picture) (um, yeah, it says "insert picture") (because blogspot isn't uploading dustin's picture for some reason) (oy)
(UPDATE: Okay, blogspot is finally allowing me to upload pictures.)
I don’t mean any offense to Dustin’s photo, but this picture doesn’t really capture the sunset (and since you said so yourself, Dustin, you can’t be offended when I say it). This sunset was really a sight to see IRL (that’s “In Real Life” for you non-computer geeks out there)—and also, the picture was taken at the tail end of the sunset, anyway.
Anyway, (do you like how I used the word “anyway” to end and begin consecutive sentences?) I never take the time to enjoy simple and beautiful things like the sunset. I know it’s such a cliché for me to be like “today I learned to enjoy the sunset”—it’s totally gay (in the pejorative sense of the word), but whatever, it’s true: I never appreciate shit like that. (I used the phrase “shit like that” because I wanted to sound more butch and manly after saying the mushy thing about “enjoying the motherfucking sunset” and then I added the word “motherfucking” to my quoting of myself because I wanted to sound really gangsta and, um, even more butch and manly.) (Is it working?) So, since I never appreciate things like dope-ass sunsets, when I noticed the above mentioned setting of tonight’s sun, I pulled my car over to the side of the road and I got out of my car and I enjoyed the last few minutes of tonight’s most beautiful sunset and I’m considering that New Thing #40.
Earlier in the day, I cooked a hamburger and I realized that even though I have probably eaten at least twenty or thirty thousand hamburgers in my lifetime (at first I wrote “over a billion,” but then I was like, “let’s be realistic here” and I settled on “twenty or thirty thousand”) (I remember when I was a kid I used to rollerblade to McDonald’s about five blocks from my house with my friend Katie, who was basically the Angela Chase to my Brian Krakow, except I wasn’t in love with her because I was gay, which made me more like Ricky Vasquez, but other than the gay thing I wasn’t like Ricky Vasquez at all, and I was like Brian Krakow in a lot of other non-gay ways, so I’m still going to say I was Brian “Brain” Krakow to Katie’s Angela Chase—she truly was way cool like Angela—anyway—there I go saying “anyway” again—we used to rollerblade to McDonald’s together and I remember we used to sit near the counter and wait until no one was looking and then rollerblade up to the counter, reach over, and grab as many condiments as we could and then rollerblade back to our seats without getting caught) (we used to do this all the time) (the reason I told you that story was basically to show you that I have, like, a multitude of childhood memories about McDonald’s, which is proof that my figure of “twenty or thirty thousand” hamburgers is accurate. yet, even though I’ve eaten that many hamburgers in my life...)...I have never actually cooked a hamburger, so I’m counting that as New Thing #41.
Okay, did you hear what I just said? I’m twenty-eight-years-old and I just said that I have never cooked a hamburger before. I mean, as far as I can remember. How weird is that? I really don’t think I’ve ever done it. Is that possible? It seems really weird to me. I mean, I know I’m not much of a cook (that’s an understatement) (when I was living in London, my step-sister Patt came to visit me and I invited her over to my place for dinner and I served her spaghetti with marinara and water to drink) (that was it) (no bread) (no parmesan cheese) (nothing but spaghetti, marinara sauce, and water to drink) (I was, like, twenty at the time, so cut me some slack) (I didn’t even realize that it was such a terrible, unthoughtful dinner until years later when Patt said something along the lines of “do you remember when you invited me over for dinner in London and made me spaghetti with marinara sauce and water to drink?” and I was a few years older at the time and I suddenly realized, “wow, that’s a really crappy dinner”), but even though I’m not much of a cook, you would think that at some point during my life I would have thrown a hamburger patty on a skillet and cooked it. I mean, how could I have gone twenty-eight-years without ever actually cooking a burger for myself? I don’t have an answer for you.
So what made today different from any other day? How did I suddenly find myself cooking hamburgers? Well, I was at my friend Carol’s house (like I said before) and she asked me to do a favor for her. Her dad is staying with her for week and she asked me if I would hang out with him while she ran some errands and also if I would make him a hamburger because he’s not much of an eater and that worries her and she didn’t think he’d eaten anything yet all day and he never eats anything she cooks. “Tell him I told you to cook the meat because it’s been in the fridge for a while and if I don’t use it today, I’m going to throw it away. That’s the only way he’ll eat it—if he thinks he’s saving something from being thrown away.”
So Carol left to run her errands and I set out to cook some hamburgers and that’s when I realized I have no idea how to cook a hamburger. I understand that it’s a rather simple thing to do, but still, I worried that if I didn't cook the burgers long enough I might kill Carol's dad, so I stood there for a few beats looking at the raw ground beef and the skillet and the oven and wondering, "how am I supposed to do this without killing anybody?”
Obviously, I figured out how to cook the meat (I’m not stupid) and I finally walked out of the kitchen an hour later as a cooker of two hamburgers, but it was still a bit of a struggle for me, what with being a neophyte chef and all. Still, at the end of the day, I can now say that I have cooked two hamburgers in my lifetime. Okay, actually I’ve overcooked two hamburgers in my lifetime. But even though my meat was overcooked and chewy, it still qualifies as New Thing #41.
Jason Mraz is on MadTV right now. I find him incredibly annoying and incredibly hot at the same time. What’s up with that?
Back to my evening. After I overcooked two hamburgers, after I enjoyed the sunset, as I was leaving Laguna Beach, I drove past Johnny Rockets and I suddenly started to crave one of their egg salad sandwiches so I pulled over and then parked my butt at one of their counter seats. My waitress was this woman named Jewels who had the best smile I’ve seen in a really long time. It was the size of Texas. After I sat down, we both looked at each other and then started laughing for no real reason. It was one of those moments where you meet someone and you think “I know I’m gonna like this person” and you can tell they’re thinking the same thing. For the next 45 minutes, Jewels basically ignored all of her other customers and gave me about ninety percent of her attention. She told me I reminded her of her Uncle Paul “except less Filipino.” We flirted, we joked, we laughed. And as I was paying my bill I decided to do a New Thing I’ve been wanting to do for a while now: I tipped her 200 percent.
Now, I’m not rich by any stretch of the definition, and I honestly can’t afford to be throwing money around right now, but I do believe in tipping well even when you can’t afford it because waiters and waitresses are highly underappreciated and they do hard work and the other day I was thinking, “wouldn’t it be fun to be one of those people who don’t just tip well but tip really well?” When I was in college, I worked for a summer as a host at Louise’s Trattoria in Glendale and I had to put together all of the To Go orders and people rarely tipped me because they just looked at me as the random dude who was handing them their To Go order, but in reality I was putting their order together while answering two phones and making multiple coffee drinks and seating people and it was stressful and I’m gonna stop harping because this was almost a decade ago, but my point is that I remember this one time Kurtwood Smith, who plays the dad on That ‘70s Show, came in and ordered a piece of pizza, which was something like five dollars, and he gave me a ten and told me to keep the change. This was almost ten years ago and I still reverently remember the dad from That ‘70s Show as a good tipper. So I decided that even though I’ve always been a good tipper, I wanted to try out being a really good tipper, and even though I can’t really afford to go around leaving 200 percent tips, I tipped Jewels at Johnny Rockets twenty bucks on a ten dollar meal and that was New Thing #42 and it felt really good to do because Jewels was awesome.
Okay, wow, I did a lot of New Things tonight, ‘cuz there’s more. After the egg salad sandwich at Johnny Rockets, I went to see Transamerica (New Thing #43) and I thought it was a whole lot of hoowy. (HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU SPELL HOOWY? Is h-o-o-w-y correct?)
Nothing against Felicity Huffman—who I love and who fully commits to the role and who deserves her Academy Award nomination—but the movie was a big load of hoo-haw. It was contrived and maudlin and Jesse nailed it on the head when he told me “Transamerica is a dumbed-down version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch made palatable for middle America.” Okay, nothing against middle America, I love middle America, it’s just gotta be the right middle America, and, well, you know what I mean.
So now I’m at home watching the very cute and very annoying (but still cuter by the second) Jason Mraz singing on television and it’s been a long day of enjoying sunsets and making hamburgers and tipping big and watching movies about transgendered folks and I’m ready for bed.
Oh, but wait, also, earlier in the day Carol and I went to the Laguna Beach Parade of Patriotism (I’m not sure if that’s what it was called, but that’s what it was). It was a homespun parade with some men dressed in their best military uniforms and some men dressed in their best drag and some men dressed as taxicabs. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a small-town parade, (and I’ve never been to this one, so I’m counting it as New Thing #44) and going to this one made me want to move to someplace like Ohio (see, middle America? I love you!) where everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyone’s business and where strangers would ask townspeople, “who’s that weird guy who's always walking around the town square singing along to the soundtrack for Twin Peaks on his ipod?”
Wow, this blog entry was really long and I haven’t even re-read it to see if it’s swimming in typos or not. That's a New Thing for me, too, because I usually reread these blog entries at least seventeen times before I click "publish." Voila, New Thing #45.
UPDATE: Okay, here's the actual picture of the sunset, which...
...like I said before, was one of those you-had-to-be-there kinda things.