Monday, June 28, 2010


Yesterday, I found Marley staring at the big LCD TV in my living room with a worried look on her face. "Do you like TV more that people?" she asked.

That I did not expect. "What?"

"I mean, is a TV, like, a substitute for a person, or human contact? I've never had my own one."

I saw where she was going with this. "It can be. But not by choice, at least for me it wasn't. When you're lonely it can be a good distraction, or an escape. And sometimes, I don't know, when things are at their worst, the people on tv might be the only ones you see or hear."

She frowned. "That's really sad. Then again, when I think about all that time I spent in that tiny room . . . I mean, I don't want to think about that. Maybe it would have been good to have something to focus on."

"What about your drawings?" I asked.

"That's about all I did," she answered. "But I didn't always have the stuff to do it with."

I tried not to reflect on that too long, so I just asked, "Is this about that guy Suzanne's working on?"

"Yeah. He got the big screen TV last week, now he hardly does anything but watch it and go to work. And of course he'll never meet anyone if that's all he does. She's afraid he's trapping himself."

"Well, I wouldn't panic yet," I assured her. "He just got it, it's brand new, he's gonna go through a period of initial amazement. Tell her to wait it out for a week or two, it should be easier for him to tear himself away from it by then."

"OK. I just he's not too far gone by then."

"He'll be fine. No one can replace human contact with a TV forever. Seeing and hearing people on a screen never is enough. If he starts talking to them, that's when I'd get worried."

"What about when you yell at the announcers when you're watching a game?" she asked.

"Um, that's different."


"Just humor me, please?"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grab Me A Moosehead Between Innings, Eh?

Last weekend, Sashial asked me, "Don't you ever get tired of seeing the Yankees in New York?"

"Not really."

"Oh yeah, Mr. Ethno-fucking-centric. I think we should branch out."

"We did that," I reminded her. "In Anaheim. It was sickening."

"That was the fucking playoffs," she snapped back. "That was tense. For fuck's sake, let's just go to a fucking game!"

As much as I maintain my New York City arrogance and prefer not to leave, I do enjoy traveling every once in a while, especially to places I've never been. "They've got a series against the Blue Jays."

"Then let's go to Toronto!"

Unfortunately, the Yankees lost the game we went to on an extra-inning walk-off base hit. Sure, it's not the playoffs, but I tend to intensify everything emotionally. On the one hand, that's what makes me a good angel. On the other, for things like this which should be insignificant can seem like the end of the world. Every time the Yankees lose, I think it's the beginning of a downward spiral that will lead to complete and total failure. I must have thought that forty times last year and they won the damn World Series. It's no wonder I spent my lifetime in misery.

But at that moment, it was hard to see my overreacting anxiety from the outside. "Listen to them cheering," I said with a healthy dose of venom. Then I lightened up and added, "I mean come on, what do they really have to get excited about? They're still just Canadians."

It'd been a while since I'd seen Sashial that mad. "HOW the fuck could you say something like that? That's ignorant, prejudice bullshit! Can you really be that fucking vain to degrade an entire country?"

I defended myself with the calm that comes from familiarity. "Sashial, it's just a joke. Canada's kind of like our little brother to the north. We Americans may take a jab at them every now and then, but it's only because, on sort of a global scale, they're kind of like family." One such Canadian who overheard that gave me a little smile and nod before walking off.

Sashial put her hand on my my neck. "Yeah, I figured it was something like that, honey. I know you well enough to know you don't have ignorant hatred like that." Then she held my head in her hands, gave me a gentle shake, and with a smirk, said, "Just don't ever fuckin' do it again," and still smiling, gave me a light but firm upward slap on the side of the face.

I said, "See? I'm like your Canada."

She thought for a second, grinned and said, "Fuck. You always have to be right, don't you?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Well, Since Your Life Sucked . . .

Much to my surprise, I got a call from Suzanne the other day, saying she wanted to pick my brain about something. She asked me to meet her at this place called the Prairie Grass Cafe in Chicago. "I know you love burgers," she said, "I'm telling you, BEST in the state!" Not that I needed much prodding to help a friend, but it was clear she knew how to guarantee my participation.

"So this guy I'm working on," she said, "I'm having trouble helping him, because he doesn't seem to want it. It's like he doesn't care, like he's given up."

"What's his problem?" I asked.

"Well, he's in his early forties and he's, like, you know, single. And he's all, 'I'm past the point of no return, I missed my chance, how can I find anyone, how's it gonna happen, I'm gonna live alone for the rest of my life.' He even bought this huge hi def big screen tv he can barely afford. I asked him why, and he's like, 'Well if I'm not gonna get pleasure from anything else in life I might as well have a great tv, I'm here all alone watching tv most of the time anyway, might as well make it the best experience I can.' It's so sad. It's like he's too bitter to even try anymore."

I knew where she was going with this. "So you need the advice of someone else who was just as bitter."

She seemed ashamed of the truth, but relieved she didn't have to come out and say it. "What would you say?"

"Well, he's not gonna respond to basic words of encouragement, like, 'Oh, I'm sure there's someone out there,' or, 'It'll be there when you least expect it.' It's gonna sound like an empty promise, or since he's like forty already, he'll think if that was true, it would have happened by now. You're better off doing this anecdotally, stories of people it worked out for. That'll make him more likely to think that it's actually possible. It's worth a shot."

She smiled. "I'll give that a try. It's a start at least. Oh, THANKS! How's the burger?"

I shook my head with delight. "Outstanding."