Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I’ve been hanging with a slacker thirty-something dude named Todd for four months now, living in the mountains, growing beards, growing hair, and collecting dirt-stains on our bodies while I’ve been wearing nothing but a plastic garbage bag over worn-out, tissue thin boxer shorts.
A few days ago, we hitchhiked into Manhattan to Todd’s townhouse mansion. Todd is an extremely popular and successful motivational speaker and writer.
When we arrived at the doorstep of his mansion, I was aghast. And awed. The place reached up into the cold gray sky with Christmas decorations in every window.
The door opened, revealing a beautiful young woman with long blond hair and an angelic face exquisitely accented with a Popsicle cold expression.
Todd’s face lit up.
SHARON: Where have you been?
TODD: I’ve… I’ve been in the mountains.
ME: Sharon, you are responding to your husband from a place of material things. In the mountains, we came to learn that the material world is a road to hell and unhappiness. You were not in the mountains so you wouldn’t know this.
SHARON: Who is this?
ME: Answer Todd from your essence being. You may not understand this at first, being as how you are the kind of person who cares only about things and trinkets and gadgets.
SHARON: Is this another one of your bottom feeder “friends”, trying to leech money off of you.
TODD: Eric has been a good friend to me.
ME (to Sharon): We didn’t need money where we were. And we don’t need money now. One day, perhaps, you’ll grow to feel like we do, and not be so ugly and gross on the inside.
Sharon ignored me and turned to Todd.
SHARON: The board is ready to have you committed, and they’ve signed over control of all our assets to me.
ME: Sharon, nobody cares. Assets… they’re just things. Things to buy your widgets and doodahs and curly fries.
TODD: Why would the board want me committed? I am not crazy, Sharon.
ME: Sharon, you and this board are concerned with things that no one cares about, or that matter.
Sharon kept her attention on Todd.
SHARON: You’re not crazy? Are you kidding me? You’ve spent the better part of four months with a man in a garbage bag.
ME: This is all I need. It’s all anyone who is truly enlightened needs. I’m practically naked under here.
TODD: Sharon, let us in. We can talk about this inside.
ME: I can help you two work something out. Not financially, but emotionally and spiritually.
SHARON: Go back to your mountain.
ME: Sharon, if I had one wish I could ask a genie right now, it would be to make you see how money is making you miserable. Let it go. Trust me, your disgusting selfish self will thank me.
ME: You might have control of Todd’s assets but you don’t control who’s allowed inside his mansion.
TODD: Eric, I’m afraid she does. Sharon now controls all my assets.
ME: I’m just talking about all your money, and your food, and a roof over my head.
TODD: We have to leave. All of it, it isn’t mine anymore.
I pondered for a moment.
ME: None… nothing…
Todd shook his head.
I lunged for Sharon, reaching my hands toward her throat.
ME (to Sharon): I’ve been freezing in this bag for four months, you cow!
Todd yanked me back.
SHARON: Get this scavenger off my property.
I grabbed hold of her hand, and a bracelet.
ME: Just give me this bauble, just to pay off a few things.
TODD: Eric, let go!
SHARON: Todd, I will call the police.
I released her.
ME: Maybe you can just buy me a few things for Christmas. I’ve made a mental list.
Sharon slammed the door in our faces.
I turned and spied her through the living room window, marching past. I vaulted from the front steps onto the living room window ledge.
ME (shouting at Sharon): Just buy me a few things! Canned meat, a second-hand sweater, a second-hand pair of boxers!
For the next ten minutes, I scaled from window ledge to window ledge, following her from room to room, begging her to buy me stuff.
ME: You have so much money, and all I want are a few things to enjoy... to covet.
Sirens blared as police cruisers screeched onto the street.
TODD: Let’s get out of here!
I came hurtling down from a bathroom window ledge.
ME: I feel so empty!
We scuttled into an alley. When we were at a safe distance, we stopped, panting, and I turned to Todd.
ME: See you later.
TODD: You’re leaving me?
ME: You have no money. I don’t have time for this crap.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I’ve been living in the mountainous wild somewhere in the State of New York for over four months now with a newfound, thirtysomething, slacker-looking friend named Todd. I ran away from my pregnant wife after duplicitously making her spend all our money and bankrupting us. I now wear a plastic garbage bag over my threadbare boxer shorts.
Two days ago, Todd and I decided to leave for a “quest” which he has assured me will net us each millions in cash. Todd is a motivational speaker who ran away himself after getting down. He now feels refreshed and has asked me to join him on his latest big money endeavor.
This morning, we hitchhiked into Manhattan, heading for Todd’s mansion townhouse. In the backseat of the car, I asked Todd what this “quest” was all about. I did this between two major bouts of the giggles (we do this often, never knowing what we’re laughing about). The driver who picked us up kept giving us nervous, terrified looks.
TODD: For years, many of us in the motivational speaking and publishing industry--
ME (cutting him off): Wow, I’ve never heard you speak so eloquently and concisely before. For four months I thought you were a complete idiot and I hated you. I’m sorry.
TODD: I didn’t know that you hated me. That must have been a terrible feeling to carry around for all these months, freezing in your garbage bag. I’m sorry.
He reached out and we hugged each other then. Really hard. It felt freeing.
TODD: So… people in the motivational industry have long known of a message written thousands of years ago on a cave wall--
ME (interrupting): You know, during our four months together, I went to a cave once to pick out a rock to kill you with. I was just so annoyed with you. I think I was getting stir crazy. I’m sorry. Anyway, if I had known you were so informed about ancient messages on cave walls, I wouldn’t have thought you were worthless enough to murder with a rock.
TODD: Oh my God, and you held that in for four whole months. It must have crushed you.
ME: It did. It was unbearable, especially having to carry that rock around, waiting for the perfect opportunity to smash you with it.
TODD: Come here.
Todd took me into his arms and held me for a few minutes. It felt nice, just being quiet and nurtured.
TODD: Everyone wants to find this message in this cave so that they can publish a best-selling book. Legend says it can be found near Angoulême in western France, and that the message tells the truth about why we are here on this planet, what we are all meant to do with our lives and how to be happy. Forever.
ME: I tried to poison you once with pebbles and bark. I mixed them into your water canteen and waited all day for you to die, spying on you from behind trees and such.
TODD: I am so sorry. What a burden to have to hold onto. And all that waiting, that wasted time.
ME: I’m glad you finally realize that.
We hugged again, rocking each other back and forth for almost half an hour.
TODD: I plan on finding this message first and making it my next multi-million dollar success. I’m going to call it Le Message.
ME: Thank you for taking me on your quest. I still have that rock under my garbage bag as we speak but I swear I’m just saving it as a souvenir.
Todd took out his water canteen and put it to his lips for a drink, but then stopped.
TODD: Why is this rattling?
I wrestled the canteen from his grasp, rolled down the window and pitched it.
TODD: I think I’d like to have that rock that you’re hiding under your bag.
ME: On your head?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I live in a cabin somewhere in the mountains of the State of New York with a new friend named Todd, a slacker-looking, thirty-something dude with an overgrown mop-top haircut.
I ran away from my newly pregnant wife over four months ago and haven’t looked back since. She was angry with me for 3 major reasons. These were:
1) Pretending to still be employed for most of the summer
2) Lying about being promoted to a position where I made unbelievable amounts of cash
3) Telling her to quit her job, get pregnant, and max out all our credit
Once my wife discovered the truth I booked it, ending up here in the wilderness where I’ve been living with Todd in a cabin with no power, running water, fireplace, insulation, or roof. Basically it’s a hunting cabin that burned down decades ago but half a wall still stands and we sleep against it at night in one big garbage bag, holding on to one another in an attempt to fight off hypothermia. I also wear the garbage bag during the day since I have no clothes, having stripped down to my boxers while bolting from my wife.
Last night, I had a hard time getting to sleep.
TODD: Stop rolling around. You keep moving the garbage bag and waking me.
ME: I can’t live like this anymore, Todd. It’s been four months. And there’s nothing to do here but hang out against this wall. And all I’ve eaten is the mushrooms and weeds that you find. I’m starving, Todd. And, goddamnit, I need a shower. My hair’s all greasy, and in some spots, it’s rock hard.
TODD: When we decided to move up here in the mountains, you told me that you’d help with gathering food and hunting but you haven’t done a thing.
ME: Living here wasn’t a decision we made. We got stuck here after getting kicked out of that truck that picked us up last summer because we couldn’t stop giggling.
TODD: I wasn’t laughing at anything in particular. I just had the giggles.
ME: So did I, but two grown men with the giggles in the enclosed space of a truck can get pretty annoying. Especially when the reason these two men are giggling isn’t so apparent to the driver who just picked them up hitchhiking, and one of the hitchhikers happens to be in nothing but really loose boxer shorts.
TODD (adding): Which keep falling because the elastic is so threadbare.
ME: I can’t do this anymore, Todd. I can’t. I haven’t done a thing in four months. I mean I know nothing about you and for four months I’ve been sleeping next to you in a garbage bag. Do you see what I’m getting at?
TODD: You’re not happy here? We’re free from all our problems here.
ME: It’s snowing, Todd. And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed lately but I barely have anything covering my genitalia. If we don’t leave here, we are going to die.
TODD: Can’t we just stay a bit longer? I’m not ready to face the world yet.
ME: Todd, I’m not saying we have to go back to our regular lives yet. We could be transients someplace else… where I at least have a shirt or a towel or something. It’s just that I need something more in life than a wall that’s half burned down.
TODD: Where would we go?
ME: I don’t know. Maybe I can get some job making photocopies in an office or something. You can find a job too. What did you do before you ran away?
TODD: I was a motivational speaker.
ME: What the hell happened?
TODD: I got depressed.
I looked up at our half-burned down wall.
ME: You must have been really down.
TODD: I was successful too.
ME: And you lost everything?
TODD: No. I still have a townhouse mansion in Manhattan.
ME: What? And I’ve been sleeping against this wall for four months naked in a garbage bag!
TODD: I needed to get away.
ME: You made me eat a raccoon once, raw, and I think it may have still been alive.
TODD: You looked peaked.
ME: I’m outta here.
TODD: Where are you going?
ME: Your mansion. I need to thaw out.
TODD: I’m headed somewhere else. I now know what I need to do.
ME: And what’s that?
TODD: My quest. It’s time I finish it.
ME: Screw your quest. I’m dying, you moron. We probably have scurvy.
TODD: It’s what I was running from. I just got flustered.
ME: Flustered? You almost killed yourself here in these sadistic conditions. You make me so sick, I’d throw up on you right now if I had something in my stomach. Throw up: that’s what someone as pathetic as you deserves out of life. Get out of my face before I strangle you with my skivvies.
TODD: It’s a quest that will make us both millions of dollars.
ME (changing my tone): Let me grab my garbage bag.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I was in the meeting room of the New York head office of the accounting firm I used to work at when I finally revealed to my wife that I had been fired from my photocopy guy job over a month ago and had kept my unemployment a secret from her, all the while (so that she wouldn't suspect anything) encouraging her to max out all our credit cards, quit her job and get pregnant. The full meeting room, and six uniformed security guards who apprehended us, watched on as my wife, wearing a newly purchased Christian Dior gown, tried to murder me with a squinty-eyed look.
I blushed, as I smartly sported a brand new Savile Row suit.
ME (shy-like): Were you about to say something?
MY WIFE: We're broke! We're completely broke!
ME: What would make you say that?
SECURITY GUARD #1: Let's go.
The guards led us toward the elevators.
MY WIFE: You pledged six hundred million dollars for a hospital to be built.
ME: I don't actually have to give it. I don't even know what the word "pledged" means anyway.
All six guards escorted us onto the elevator.
MY WIFE: It means you said you would give somebody six hundred million dollars.
The elevator doors closed behind us.
ME: You said you were going to join Kitty LaRue's knitting club and you never did.
MY WIFE: Knitting club? How's that the same? Sick children won't have to do without.
ME: What about your bouncy demeanor and your sparkling conversation? Kitty LaRue and the knitting club now have to do without!
MY WIFE: I quit my job. I maxed out all our credit. I got pregnant. All because you told me to. Eric, I don't even know where to begin. Our lives... they're completely ruined...
ME: Well, you said you'd join the knitting club and you didn't. You lied to me! To my face!
MY WIFE: Don't try to turn this around.
ME: You don't try to turn this around! I am really mad at you!
SECURITY GUARD #2: Sir, calm down.
ME: I was looking forward to all that stuff you were going to knit!
MY WIFE: Eric, what are we going to do. We owe thousands and thousands of dollars, not to mention the six hundred million. We have nothing. Nothing... Oh God...
ME: What am I going to do? I thought I was getting knitted goods for Christmas, and my birthday, and our anniversary. Oh God! Our anniversary!
MY WIFE: Eric! Listen to me! You don't understand what you've--
I shouted then, stepping all over my wife's angry words.
ME: Our anniversary won't have any sockettes! Or a shaker knit sweater with a big snowflake around the neck! What am I supposed to do now! Oh God! Oh God! Please listen to my prayers!
SECURITY GUARD #1: Sir! Calm down!
My wife looked into my eyes.
MY WIFE: I'll deal with you when we get home.
ME (hesitantly): We don't have a home, honey. Not anymore.
The elevator doors opened onto the lobby.
And I made a break for it.
I flew out the giant glass doors onto the sidewalk, and never slowed down. Or looked back. My shoulders collided into a few pedestrians as I loosened my tie. I threw off my suit jacket. I thought of how my wife was angry and hated me. I thought of everyone who ever hated me. I ran from all my debt, my responsibilities, and soon, my consciousness. When I came to, I was covered in sweat, down to my boxers, and lying on a dirt road in the woods, miles and miles from that meeting in New York City.
As the hot sun beat down on my glistening body, I put my head in my arms and cried. I really cried. All the disappointment, all the failures, all the times I almost had my first success at something, however small, but didn't. I bawled. I let it all out.
And that was when a transport truck screeched on all eighteen of its wheels as it came to a stop a fraction of an inch from my head. I looked up, wiping the tears from my face.
A skinny young man with a mop-top haircut jumped down from the passenger side and soon stood over me.
SKINNY YOUNG MAN: Dude, your body's glistening.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Five days ago, my wife and I checked into the Plaza Hotel in New York City. It is one of the most expensive hotels in the country. I can't afford it since I lost my job as a photocopy guy over a month ago and have kept this a secret from my wife ever since. I lied to her that I was promoted to a senior management position at the accounting firm which actually fired me. I have been telling her all kinds of stories to keep her believing that I still have a job. She is now pregnant and without employment (both done at my suggestion) and would kill me if she ever found out I was unemployed, especially since I just pledged a donation for the construction of a new hospital for sick children during a surprise appearance on the TV talk show The View.
As I returned to our hotel room last Thursday afternoon, my wife confronted me.
MY WIFE: How are we going to afford that pledge?
ME: Listen, with this promotion, I have more room to breathe now. I'm not as restricted financially.
MY WIFE: You just pledged over six hundred million dollars!
ME: Is that how much I said? Oh God, that's hilarious. Look at you getting all upset. You're so cute. Six hundred million dollars is honey-roasted peanuts to someone like me now. And besides, head office told me to do it. They're footing the bill.
MY WIFE: What?
I could tell she was about to suspect that I really lost my job. I panicked.
ME: Head office is having a national meeting this weekend. Right here in NYC. Why don't you come? They'd love to have you.
This was completely true, except for the part of them loving to have her, or me for that matter, since I was fired in a scenario some might call hostile, or shortsighted, or even stupid, on my part.
The next day, I wore my brand new Savile Row suit, and my wife slipped into a Christian Dior gown and Tahitian pearls, both of which I purchased at the hotel boutique (charged to our room of course). I then called up a limousine to take us to the meeting in high style.
After we walked through the giant glass doors of the firm's high rise, I approached the front desk and told them I was here for the big meeting. Fortunately, my name was still in their database and we were led to the top floor where all the VPs, board members, and regional managers were seated at one commanding, oval table. There was only one seat left empty, and it was at the head of the table.
ME: Honey, why don't you sit. I'll just stand.
MY WIFE: I feel a bit overdressed.
ME: We're fancy people now. And we're classy.
SOME VP: Excuse me Miss, you can't sit there. That's our CEO's chair and he's late.
ME: She wasn't talking to you, so shut your swamp hole.
SHEILA: What are you doing here?
I turned, and saw Sheila seated at the table. Sheila is the manager of the branch where I used to work as the photocopy guy.
ME: I'm a VP now, Sheila. I've come a long way. You can't buy class like this. You're born with it. So get in line.
SOME ELDERLY, DISTINGUISHED LADY: What's your name? I've never seen you here before?
ME: Well I've never seen you. I'm too busy being a big honcho around here to notice a loser like you.
DISTINGUISHED LADY: I'm Lady Diamont. My father founded this firm.
ME: Glad to see nepotism is alive and well is this joint. I'll have to do something about that. In the meantime, why don't you pack up your desk and get out of my face, stinky.
LADY DIAMONT: Someone call security.
ME: Yes, someone do that. As I look around the table right now, I can see that there's some other deadwood besides yourself that needs tossing out.
I placed one of my buttocks beside my wife's on the chair.
ME: Honey, scooch over. I need to make a speech.
SHEILA: Here we go...
I had to make it look like I was really professional now so that my wife would buy that I had developed into a smart and shrewd businessman.
ME: Everyone, you are all being fired today. You will never work in this city again. Or country. I would like to take this opportunity to further advise to you to purchase tickets for yourselves and your loved ones for the next space shuttle, because you will never get another job on this planet ever again. I will personally see to that. You have my word.
I turned to my wife and smiled. I was so proud of myself.
Just then six unformed security guards burst through the doors.
ME: Security, finally.
I gestured toward everyone at the table.
ME: Take out this garbage.
LADY DIAMONT: That man is an impostor. Restrain him.
The guards rushed toward me.
I grabbed my wife's hand.
ME: Hostile take-over! Run!
I picked up our chair and launched it at the window.
ME: To the window ledge!
The chair just bounced off the thick glass.
And my wife and I were apprehended.
I looked up into my wife's confused face.
ME: I need to tell you something.
MY WIFE: What?
ME: Promise me you won't be mad first.
MY WIFE: Then don't tell me.
ME: I got fired from my job.
MY WIFE: What? When? This week?
ME: Over a month ago.
MY WIFE: As the photocopy guy?
ME: I know, I so loved that job too.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
It's been almost one entire month since I've been fired from my job and I've been keeping it a secret from my wife. This week alone, too scared to tell her the truth, I've lied to her that I've gotten a promotion and a signing bonus and I've offered her the opportunities of both quitting her job and getting pregnant, both of which she's taken me up on and completed. I've also told her to go ahead and spend some money on herself. She's maxed out most of our credit cards on maternity wear and baby gadgets. I've cheered her on in every store as she makes a purchase, and encouraged her to tip all sales staff and cashiers. We are so screwed.
During the past two days, as my wife has been shopping for a new house, I've pretended to go to work and then walked the streets of this city in a faux fur coat and raccoon hat, and a pair of extra thick snow pants, all of which I found for a steal at a garage sale and which I hide under mounds of restaurant trash when I go home at night. These past few days, my fur and pants have smelled putrid since they were not properly air-dried after I threw them into a public pool when I thought I didn't need them anymore, but now I do, since I really don't own anything else.
When I came home last night, my wife confronted me.
MY WIFE: I called you at work today and they said you didn't work there anymore.
I was so scared. And petrified.
ME: Not after today I don't. I just got promoted to the head office in New York City!
MY WIFE: What?
ME: That's where I was today. I just flew back. Pack our things. We're moving.
MY WIFE: I'll have to break our apartment lease.
ME: Pay them whatever. We have to leave tonight. Pack everything we own.
With not much credit to our names, we bought two airplane tickets, and at my insistence, reserved a room for a month at the Plaza, one of the most expensive hotels in the country.
This morning, after I left for my pretend new job wearing a brand new Savile Row suit, and eating scrumptious room service (escargot and a bottle of 1986 Bollinger champagne), I grew anxious that perhaps my wife was suspicious that I was fired from my "photocopy guy" job.
I went down to the street, grabbed my fur and snow pants from the trashcan where I hid them last night, and walked the streets, contemplating my next move. When I was told by a pair of police officers to stop loitering and "smelling up the place", an idea hit me. I ran to ABC studios where The View talkshow is taped.
As my wife turned on the television in our hotel room while receiving a massage, facial and manicure, and nibbling on caviar, she saw me being interview by Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg and the rest of the fine ladies on The View.
BARBARA: This morning, before we started taping, this fine gentleman by the name of Eric appeared at our front door with an important message.
ME: That's right, Barbara. My name is Eric and I am donating some of my newfound wealth to the fine city of New York so that construction of a new hospital for sick children can begin.
BARBARA: Tell them the amount which you are donating, Eric.
ME (smiling): Three hundred million dollars.
WHOOPI: That is fantastic. Eric, you are one wonderful man.
ME: Thank you. But it's the least I can do. I just got a new promotion and I make lots and lots of money and I am not unemployed nor have I ever been fired.
BARBARA: We have Donald Trump on the line. He'd like to say a few words.
DONALD: Barbara, after hearing of this heroic man's contribution, I was inspired to match his donation with three hundred million dollars of my own.
ME: Well, I would like to match your contribution with another three hundred million dollars.
WHOOPI: That is absolutely terrific.
BARBARA: It sure is, Whoopi.
ME: Yes, and I was never fired from my job as a photocopy guy. That never happened, just in case any of your viewers think that ever happened. Because it never did, even if some people might be growing suspicious that it ever did. People loved me as that photocopy guy and they never asked me to vacate the premises after I told everyone where they could go, and just generally, hurt their feelings.
More calls came in. And more people wanted to donate money. And I said I'd match all contributions. It was marvelous. I felt invincible. And exhilarated that my wife probably wouldn't find out, for just a little while longer, that I lost my job.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
My wife still doesn't know that I've been fired from my job as the "photocopy guy" (at an accounting firm) for over three weeks now. For the first two weeks, I hid out in a café near my former place of employment while entertaining myself with garage sale goods. I've now been banned from all this city's cafés because all are claiming that my "stuff" takes up too much space inside their establishments and leaves none for their "paying customers" (an exclusive club of which, apparently, I'm not a member of).
Every day since this all-city, all-café ban, I've been taking the subway with my wife as she goes to work and I get off at my station, pretending to go to my own job. I then make my way to an alley where all my garage sale wares are hidden underneath tons of restaurant trash, and proceed to lug my old wooden wagon and shopping cart filled with things like an ancient exercise treadmill and a giant 1980s rear-projection television with wood paneling as I search for a place to plug in all my things and then play with them.
I also have to wear some of my second hand purchases just so I don't have to physically transport them. This includes a fabulous floor length, faux fur coat worn over a pair of extra thick, overalls-style snow pants, and a faux raccoon hat with a tail that reaches down to my derrière.
I've been pushing and pulling my property across this city for eight hours a day for six sweltering days now and I still haven't found a place where they will just allow me inside to fully enjoy my belongings. Yesterday, at 4:30pm, with only thirty minutes left before I had to meet up with my wife, I sat atop my heap of possessions and broke down, crying, and exclaiming, "My life sucks."
It was high time to end this ruse or as I like to call it, my "Charade Parade Masquerade".
I hauled my wagon and steered my shopping cart toward a public outdoor pool in a park and when I was certain no one was looking, I shoved everything into the water, including the faux fur and snow pants which I just ripped off my body. I thought this was an ingenious way of getting rid of all this "baggage" without taking up anymore of anyone's space since it would all be under water and no one would have to see it or deal with it.
My stuff, however, made a loud splash as it landed into the water and people yelled things like, "What do you think you're doing?" and "You almost killed my four-year-old! He was swimming right under your junk avalanche!" and "Don't run away! You can't just leave all your garbage in this pool!" but I didn't let on that I could hear anything as I sprinted out of the park as fast as my feet could take me.
When my wife and I arrived home from the subway, my wife exhausted from a long day at work, and myself completely beat from having to heave a lifelong supply of crap across town for over a week now, I felt the time was prime for the Charade Parade Masquerade to be unmasked. I would tell my lovely wife the truth.
ME: I have something to tell you.
MY WIFE: What is it?
I looked into her eyes. They appeared so drained of energy, and compassion, and gave off a hue of slightly "pissed off".
MY WIFE: Well... what is it? Tell me already, for crying out loud. I had a really long, horrible day at work. And you're making it worse right now.
I swallowed hard. I was so scared.
ME: I got a promotion.
MY WIFE (disbelieving, and maybe annoyed): What? How?
I nodded my head excitedly. Repeatedly.
ME: It's true. I barely believe it myself.
MY WIFE (skeptical): What's your new position?
ME: I'm the branch manager.
MY WIFE: But you're not even an accountant.
ME: I didn't need to be. They just wanted someone to manage all the accountants and since everyone's always doing what I tell them to, they thought I'd be perfect.
MY WIFE: Did they give you a raise?
ME: Yeah. And a signing bonus.
MY WIFE: How much?
ME: Seventy-five thousand dollars.
MY WIFE: Oh my God, Eric, that is such fantastic news!
My wife threw her arms around me and hugged me, squeezing me.
MY WIFE: Let's celebrate! I'm inviting everyone over!
Within a few hours, we had a full-blown party, with a caterer being called in at the last minute and family driving in from out of town. Aunts, uncles, and cousins that I hadn't seen in ages, all raced to our home, from both my family and my wife's. We had a blast, and I got completely wasted and danced the night away.
As I swung my wife around the living room which was transformed into a impromptu dance floor, my wife looked up at me, in a romantic daze.
MY WIFE: Let's have a baby. We can afford it now.
ME: We can afford to have a multiple birth now. That's right. We'll see the doctor tomorrow and they can start pumping you full of drugs.
MY WIFE: Oh Eric...
ME: And you can quit your job tomorrow too if you want.
My wife held onto me tightly. It was the best night of my life.
When I woke up this morning, I found my wife in the washroom, with a smile on her face, and some kind of plastic swizzle stick in her hand.
MY WIFE: I'm pregnant.
We instantaneously hugged.
ME: Let's have another party tonight!
MY WIFE: All right.
ME: I'll be right back. I have to do something.
I ran out the door, thinking I am so poor. How am I going to raise a child and support my wife who's no longer working? We have absolutely nothing. We have no right having a child.
I was going back to the public pool. I wanted my snow pants back.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
It's been almost two weeks now and I haven't told my wife yet that I've been fired from my "photocopy guy" job at the accounting firm. I still take the subway with her every morning as she goes to her own job, but after getting off at my station, I don't go to the accounting firm but straight to the Metro Café nearby where I spend the rest of my day.
I don’t have any money to buy anything in the café. In fact, for the first few days, I just sat at a table by myself and stared at the wall from 9am to 5pm, as the café staff asked me hourly if I wanted anything and I softly replied no every time. At 5pm, I quietly walked out and met up with my wife aboard the subway and no one was the wiser.
After five days of sitting and doing nothing for eight straight hours, I found my days were getting slightly tedious so I started bringing my lunch to have something to do when 12 noon rolled around.
This past Monday, I decided to leave for a twenty minute walk whereupon I came across a garage sale. For three dollars and fifty cents I purchased a large wood easel, some framed canvases and some oil paints. I also bought a sizeable toy wagon for two dollars and used it to pull my new purchases away. I then proceeded to set up my new easel and canvases in the corner of the café and painted for the rest of the day, with the café staff still asking me hourly if I wanted to buy anything and me responding no as I painted away. Every day since, I've added more garage sale purchases to my corner. Just yesterday I bought a mammoth and unwieldy rear projection television from the 1970s with towering rabbit ear antennas and a Betamax VCR with Strawberry Shortcake videos from the 1980s. At the end of the day, I just roll all my belongings to the alley behind the café and hide them under mounds and mounds of restaurant garbage.
This morning the café manager walked up to me as I was sweating up a flood on my garage sale, twenty-year-old treadmill.
CAFÉ MANAGER: You're going to have to leave. Your treadmill is using up all our power.
ME: You've got to be kidding me. I'm trying to get back in shape over here.
CAFÉ MANAGER: We have been very patient with you and your idiosyncrasies but it’s been almost two weeks and you’ve yet to buy anything.
ME: Well, what’ve you got? I could really use a secondhand espresso machine in my little corner over here.
CAFÉ MANAGER: Sir, we do not sale used appliances. In fact, you have so much of your own appliances in here, there’s barely any room left for our clientele. And many of them have complained that they can’t hear each other chatting when you watch Strawberry Shortcake at full volume.
ME: Well no one should be chit chatting while Strawberry Shortcake is dropping some wisdom. It’s berry rude.
CAFÉ MANAGER: Basically, you’re creeping everyone out and because of you, I’ve lost half a dozen employees and seventy percent of my clientele.
ME: I’m out of here. I don’t need all this attitude. Not when I’m trying to make a life for myself in this little corner over here.
I jumped off the treadmill, pulled the plug and pushed it toward the exit, as the treadmill's steel caster wheels heavily gouged the café’s hardwood floor.
ME: Well I hope you’re happy, ’cause you just lost my business.
I pushed my treadmill, and pulled my wagon which held my TV and the rest of my junk, down the street toward the Urban Coffee Shop. Inside the shop, I plugged in my treadmill and continued my workout.
I turned to the staff behind the coffee bar, who all stared at me bug-eyed, and with lower jaws dropped, as I huffed and puffed. I had to order something, or they'd kick me out.
ME (loudly through my heavy breathing): I’ll like to order a water. But not the one that comes in a plastic bottle that I have to pay for. I want the one that comes from the tap that’s free.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
It felt weird walking out of my office knowing I was no longer an employee there. It was no longer my second home, my home away from home, the only home I've ever really known. Walking down the corridor toward the elevator for the last time felt like a divorce from a wife whom I was very much still crazy in love with, but whom I hadn't made the effort to talk to or see for 5 weeks without any valid reason, without ever calling to tell her where I was, or even a doctor's note, and confused as hell as to why she's now leaving me and what I ever did that was so wrong. I felt so misunderstood. What was I going to tell my real wife? Just the week before, I had spent our entire savings on paper towel in some crazy pyramid scheme.
As I walked out of the building, my head down, in shame, I saw a man begging on the sidewalk ahead. I stopped beside him, and held out my hand to passersby as well. I can do this, I thought, suddenly feeling not so shameful. I have way more energy and enthusiasm than most panhandlers, and I have chutzpah. I can go from street corner to street corner, spreading my talent for begging.
A handful of pedestrians were approaching.
BEGGING MAN (low volume): Change please. Change please.
I can do that, I thought, but way better. This guy sucks.
ME (booming): People! There's an ATM machine a few steps back! Is it that hard to punch in your PIN and give me some money? You people make me sick!
BEGGING MAN: Dude, this is my corner.
ME: Well, you're not working it properly.
More pedestrians walked past. I stuck my hand out again.
ME: Handouts! Give me your handouts! Folks, this is kind of like church, but without the boring sermon.
Sheila, my ex-boss, and Charisse, one of my ex-coworkers, walked past. Charisse stared at me in bewilderment as Sheila just shook her head to herself.
ME (slightly embarrassed): I'm just doing this 'till something better comes along.
BEGGING MAN: Dude, I mean it. Find your own corner.
ME: Fine, but sooner or later, I will shut you down. I'm going to hire all kinds of employees to do my begging. I'll have staff begging at every street corner in this city. We are going to squeeze you out, buddy. I'm really going to make a go of this. I feel really good right now.
BEGGING MAN: Move.
ME: You are very lucky today, my friend, because I'm taking the rest of the day off. I need some leisure-time fun after the strain of running my own business here today. That's the bonus of running your own business: you can just take off when you feel like it.
I took a deep breath and smiled, excited about my future.
ME: I feel so great right now. There is so much that this industry hasn't tapped into yet. I am going to set up begging drive-thru's so people don't even have to walk out of their cars to hand over their cash. They can just drive up to the order mike and speaker and we'll say, "Change please" and they'll just say how much they're paying and then they can drive up to the window and hand over their Benjamins.
BEGGING MAN: You've got five seconds to disappear.
ME: I am also going to set up ATM machines which beg for money as people walk by and then people can just enter their bank card or credit card and transfer funds into my account.
I felt so alive. Ideas took flight fully formed from my lips.
ME: I am going to have ice cream trucks that, instead of playing clown music over their loudspeakers, will play a tape begging for money, and instead of carrying ice cream, we'll just carry all the cash that people are giving us.
I never even stopped to breathe, as passion ignited every inch of my being.
ME: My long range plans include a satellite service that people can order to get hooked up to their TVs and then pay a monthly subscription fee to watch videos of myself begging for money on a variety of streets, or just in an empty studio, saying, "Change please." And viewers can call in to make pledges for me. And I'll have theme parks all over this country where families can stand in line in sweltering heat, waiting to meet clowns who beg and take their money. I'll also have hotels and resorts where bellhops and street people beg for cash, knocking on hotel room doors every hour, including at night when customers are trying to sleep.
I looked off to my right. There were no advancing pedestrians on the horizon.
ME: I'm bored. I hate my new life.
I turned to the begging man.
ME: I think the begging bubble just burst.
Don, Charlie and a few others from the office suddenly walked up behind me.
DON: We heard you were begging on the street.
ME: I'm making a killing over here so what's your problem?
Don pulled a sandwich from a paper bag and sat down with the rest of the gang on the sidewalk bench behind me. Everyone began to bite into their food as they all stared at me, like I was about to give a show or something.
I really wanted to go home but I had to save face and make it look like my new life was better than theirs even though they still had jobs at the office and I didn't. I continued to panhandle as if my life depended on it, begging and begging, all the while pretending Don and the gang weren't there. The begging man was now long gone. By the time the lunch hour was over and my ex-coworkers finally got up to leave, I was on my knees, screeching and bawling like a baby, and pleading that some passerby just spare me one penny just so I could say I made some money today. No one did.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I sat in my cubicle as the entire accounting firm (where I work as the photocopy guy) remained silent as still water. My boss Sheila stood over me, having just fired me. She had difficulty accepting the fact that I had been missing from work for five weeks with no calls from myself during that sojourn, nor a valid excuse, or even a doctor's note.
SHEILA: Pack up your things.
I looked up at her.
ME: I never wanted to work here. Even during the interview I didn't have the heart to tell you. I felt sorry for you that this is where you have to work.
I stood and proceeded to make peace with everyone in the office.
ME: Charisse - you are a sad excuse for an accountant. We might as well have hired a bag of cement, propped it up in your chair and given it a calculator and still it would get a hell of a lot more done than you ever could. Ruthie - you are old. You are so old that I always think for sure you'll die when you get home after work, and then when you show up to the office the next day, a part of me is always shocked that you're still walking around and that maybe now you're a zombie and you'll want to eat my head. That lipstick and blush isn't fooling anyone anymore. You're old! And you smell like sardines. Howard - you are the crabbiest man alive. You're so unpleasant, your wife should be given some kind of Nobel Prize for not slitting her wrists. And she should get that prize every day. Don - we all pretend to like you, but we're all just pretending. You're annoying and everyone rolls their eyes behind your back, or when you call our extension, or even if we just have a fleeting thought about you. If I see someone roll their eyes, I know it's because they either saw you, heard you or just thought about you. Raymond - I know you're just the janitor around here and all, but would it kill you to clean something once in while instead of just staring at us luridly all the time. Derek - you, I just hate. Whenever I look at you, you make me wish someone would just legalize murder already.
I turned to Sheila.
ME: And you. You. You really take the cake. You are the most debased human I have ever laid eyes upon, in real life and on TV... or in the movies or on Cops or America's Most Wanted. You're worse than anyone who's ever been on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Tila Tequila or America's Got Talent or Jon & Kate Plus 8 or on The View. You repulse me. You gross me out. You're grody to the max. You're filthy, dirty, smelly, stinky, and disorganized. You belong inside a vacuum cleaner.
SHEILA: I'm calling security.
ME: Goodbye everyone. Thank you for finally ending the absolutely worst year of my life.
I made my way toward the door, then turned back toward Sheila.
ME: You know, all you have to do is apologize and I'm back. Simple as that.
SHEILA: Turn around and get out.
ME: Do you mind if I just print my resume? I need to make lots of copies and my wife won't let me use up all the ink at home.
SHEILA: Good bye Eric.
ME: Can I just write up a reference letter and you can sign it and then make a few copies for me?
SHEILA: Howard, call security.
ME: How long do I have to wait before I can re-apply here again?
SHEILA: You are never to come back here again.
ME: Can someone just take out their cell phone and take a group shot of all of us before I leave?
A half dozen security guards burst through our office doors.
ME: So this is it...
I turned to the guards as all six grabbed a hold of me. I eyed Sheila one last time.
ME: I'll call you tomorrow when the dust settles and we can work this out like adults.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
My wife told me I had to go to work today. I've been calling in sick for a few days, trying to make a go of a home business which mainly consists of buying and selling paper towel. Long story short, I spent all of our savings but now have enough paper towel to soak up the Red Sea so that Moses and his people can safely cross to the promise land.
I'm a photocopy guy at a small accounting firm. It felt weird walking back into my day job this morning. Everyone was busily bustling about so I walked straight to my cubicle and kept my head down. I didn't want to answer any questions as to why I haven't been coming in to work lately. I picked up my phone and dialed up Charisse, an accountant who works in a cubicle across the room from me.
ME: Charisse, it's me, Eric. I'm hiding in my cubicle.
CHARISSE: Eric, where have you been?
ME: I'm just checking in to catch up on what's been happening here.
CHARISSE: No one's seen you in five weeks.
ME: I've had the sniffles.
CHARISSE: You better have a doctor's note.
ME: My doctor kind of fired me as a patient 'cause I never make it to the appointments.
I turned around in my seat to look up behind me, and was immediately faced with Sheila, my boss, who stood over me.
SHEILA (stone cold): Where have you been?
ME (nonchalantly): I've been here all morning, working away, like a dog.
SHEILA: How about yesterday? And the day before that?
ME (incredulous): I was here, working away, like a dog.
Sheila turned to Charlie who is this skinny twentysomething dweeb who works in the cubicle next to mine and never says anything.
SHEILA (indulging me): Charlie, was Eric here yesterday?
I leaned back in my chair so that I could easily stare into Charlie's cubicle and give him a hard, intense look.
ME: Yeah Charlie, was I here yesterday? You remember me here, right, and also how you want to stay alive after work today, so that you can get to go home to your mommy, safely, in one piece.
Looking at Charlie just then, it dawned on me that I never noticed just how imposingly tall Charlie is, and overtly muscular. Charlie stared back into my eyes, his own eyes dead, and slightly annoyed, like I wasn't even worth the effort to look at.
CHARLIE: No. He wasn't here yesterday.
I was steamed.
ME: Hey pardner! I was here! I remember! Because I was working away! Like a dog!
SHEILA: Eric, calm down.
ME (still hot under the collar): It's just that I hate liars! I hate big fat liars like Charlie!
Charlie's bulging biceps were twitching then, as he appeared to be struggling to remain seated, and not to lunge at me.
ME: The garbage that spills from Charlie's mouth is so foul. Everything that comes out of his mouth is trash.
Charlie starting cracking his knuckles with his Incredible-Hulk-like, tree trunk fingers. If I said anything else, this guy was surely going to rip my entire body into wedding confetti.
I shook my head.
ME: What a liar.
SHEILA: I stared at your cubicle all day yesterday. You were never here. So Eric, you stop lying.
Sheila stared intently into my eyes. I blushed from being so intimidated.
ME: Well maybe it was the day before yesterday that I was here...
This is when Sheila really lost it.
SHEILA: I've been staring at your cubicle for five weeks now! And it's been empty for five weeks!
Many in the office shuddered then. The place turned deathly still.
ME (meekly): Well, maybe it was five weeks ago that I was here, come to think of it. It just felt like it was yesterday. It's just all so fresh in my head. Probably because on that day I was working away, like a dog.
SHEILA: You never called to let us know what happened to you.
ME: I didn't want to be a bother. I was fine everybody, trust me.
SHEILA: Do you have a doctor's note?
ME: I'm kind of in between doctors right now.
I reached down into my backpack which was under my desk.
ME: But my wife did write a note from home. I just need to have her sign it tonight.
SHEILA: Don't bother. You're fired.
My jaw dropped. I looked back up at Sheila.
ME: I missed five weeks of work. I never called to explain my whereabouts. I don't have a doctor's note or even a valid reason as to why I've been missing for so long. And now... I'm fired. I have to be honest with you Sheila; I never saw that one coming.
SHEILA: Well, what I'd like to see is you leaving.
I paused for a moment, not saying anything. I couldn't afford to lose my job. I needed a plan, or a disguise, but not necessarily both.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
As I wrote in previous entries, I’ve been calling in sick at work now for several weeks as I build my own conglomerate in the coat closet of the one bedroom apartment I share with my wife.
This is how my first telemarketing call went.
I looked down at the sales script I wrote for myself.
ME (in my reading-out-loud voice): Hello. Do you have one to two hours to talk to me about my products which I want to sell to you?
WOMAN: Two hours? No. Of course not.
ME (still reading): I need at least two hours to effectively tell you everything about my products in minute detail. I may also need an extra hour and a half to tell you about myself, and how I came to start my own company in my small closet which now has a burnt-out light bulb so I cannot see anything.
WOMAN: That’s over three hours? What the heck are you selling?
ME: Glad you asked. I am selling paper towel.
WOMAN: We have plenty of paper towel here, so no thanks. Have a nice day.
ME: How much are you selling it for?
ME: I also buy paper towel.
WOMAN: What kind of business is this?
ME: I buy and re-sell paper towel.
WOMAN: That's really odd.
ME: What’s your address? I’ll send you some of my paper towel. I guarantee that after you sample it, you’ll be on your knees, begging me to sell you more. Or you can trade in some of your own paper towel for some of mine.
WOMAN: But your paper towel is just someone else’s that you bought and sold or traded back to me. What’s the difference?
I went back to my sales script.
ME (in my reading-out-loud voice): Well, once you join my paper towel club, you’ll be trading and buying paper towel with me, AND trading and buying paper towel with all of your friends, during paper towel parties. And when all your friends under you make money, you’ll be making money.
WOMAN: Is this a pyramid scheme?
ME: It’s basically a marketing-structured, paper towel pyramid scheme.
WOMAN (annoyed): How does anyone make money?
ME: That’s up to you, really, and how much time and effort you’ll want to put into your paper towel parties.
WOMAN: I am really not interested. I’m going to hang up now.
ME: Wait… First let me tell you about our Easy-Pay-Whaddaya-Say-Plan. For just four instalments of only two dollars and three cents a month, you can purchase your very first roll of paper towel with thirty sheets of quilted paper. It’s that easy. And that’s before a non-refundable administration fee, a delivery charge, postage, and a finder's fee.
WOMAN: That’s pretty pricey for one roll of paper towel.
ME: Well, then you can sign up for our more affordable refurbished paper towel. That's paper towel which I've purchased from others which looks slightly secondhand due to odd stains. Some of these rolls have paper which is still dripping from soaked up messes, so that's why it's better priced to move.
WOMAN: How is anyone supposed to clean with wet and used paper towel?
ME: That's for you to figure out. I'm not the one who can't afford paper towel that no one's used before.
WOMAN: I'm hanging up now.
ME: Well, now would be a great time to let you know about my very own line of condoms for cheapskates.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
This is the tail end of a conversation I had the other day with a friend whom I just happen to bump into at the hardware store.
MY FRIEND: Oh yeah, and Bobby sends his well wishes.
Bobby is a mutual buddy of myself and this friend.
ME: When did he say that?
MY FRIEND (unsure): A week ago... two weeks ago...
ME (in disbelief): Two weeks ago?
MY FRIEND: Yeah.
ME: You know, there's e-mail nowadays, and cell phones. How hard is it to send your well wishes right away? I should be getting them as soon as someone sends them. I'm sorry, but in this day and age, sending your well wishes through someone else that I may not even happen to bump into in the next few weeks, or months, is really careless. You tell Bobby that I could have really used his well wishes two weeks ago, and as a matter of fact, my life right now is pretty depressing, and hopeless, probably because of his tardiness, so he can take his well wishes and pack them deep inside his caboose.
My mother mailed me a birthday card this year, and like magic, I got it right on my birthday. I called her up, enraged.
ME: Yeah, Dad, put Mom on the phone. I am going through the roof over here! No I don't want to count to ten first. 'Cause I swear, when I get to ten, I may just do something I'll regret if I think about it afterwards, especially if I just read the ten commandments or Dear Abby or something.
I paused for a brief moment. Then:
ME: Hey mom, what's the big idea anyway? Yeah, happy birthday to you too. I just received this birthday card here - through the mail...
I repeated this last phrase in disbelief, as though I was asking myself a question.
ME: Through the mail?
I then proceeded with my rant.
ME: And I get it on the day of my birthday. You took a big risk here, lady. You live hundreds of miles away. What were you thinking? Who knows when I could have gotten my card. And then what? That's my day, and you're being awfully cavalier with it. But if you e-mailed it, like an e-greeting which is free, and I know you love anything free when it comes to anyone's birthday, then I wouldn't run the risk of being birthday card-less on my special day. Dad, hang up. Dad... don't sing happy birthday... Mom, don't sing the harmonies. Because Mom, I don't want to celebrate a day that I wish never happened after what transpired here today. Right now, I wish I had never been born. At least not by you.
There was an awkward silence at the other end.
ME: And just because you're going to e-mail me next year for my birthday, don't think you're getting out of mailing me my usual birthday cheque. You better mail it to me, just like you do every year, and maybe with a birthday card if you're feeling like you have any manners that day.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I am a very independent man. This is why I am starting my own company. I already took a few days off from work (I called in sick again) to concentrate on Phase I of my master plan. It only took me one week to get it done, and that was coming up with a company name.
I have set up a home office which is actually a re-converted closet where I have a chair, a pad of paper with pen, and a flashlight for lighting. My wife’s hanging coats sometimes get in the way of me seeing my pad of paper on my lap, but it’s still nice to hang out in there. It makes me feel like we have this whole other room that we never knew about. I locked myself in my closet office for a full seven days, only emerging when I had completed Phase I. There were only 4 instances when I briefly left the closet, and these were:
1) to go to the washroom
2) to go to the corner store to restock on what I call my “business decision-making fuel” (which is just basically bags of marshmallows)
3) to watch the Sci-Fi Channel (mostly for inspiration) for fourteen straight hours a day
4) to take a much needed break every seven minutes
Last night, when my wife finally arrived from a long day at work, I burst out of my office, over-energized with excitement regarding Phase I.
ME: I came up with a name for my company.
MY WIFE: What is it?
ME: Okay, sit down.
My wife sat in the kitchen chair closest to her.
ME: All right… it’s called… Last… But Not Least.
My wife nodded, then frowned.
MY WIFE: What?
ME (smiling from ear to ear): Last… But Not Least.
My wife pondered for a brief moment. Then:
MY WIFE: I’m not sure about the thinking behind a business name with the words “Last” and “Least” in it. It doesn’t really inspire confidence, or anything good, really.
ME: It’s just that as a business, just because I’ll sometimes come in last among my competitors, it won’t necessarily mean that I’m the least, or any less than they are as a company.
MY WIFE: Yes it will.
ME: Plus, when I’m introduced at business award ceremonies, they’ll say, “And now, last but not least, it’s Last But Not Least.” How cool is that?
MY WIFE. Not very. It’s ridiculous actually. What’s your stupid company making anyway?
ME: That’s to be decided during Phase II…
My wife shook her head to herself.
ME: Which I’ve already started. So far, I’ll be making a reality show of what it’s like to be me during the day [see previous diary entry].
MY WIFE: I’ve seen the footage. It’s just you in the kitchen, sleeping. And then you’re gone for hours.
ME: It’s not like we won’t be making other stuff too.
MY WIFE: Like what?
ME: I’m thinking something like paper towel. It’s everywhere. I just have to go to the drugstore, buy a whole bunch on sale, and then roll it onto my own rolls, and sell it again.
MY WIFE: So you’ll be reselling paper towel?
ME: Yeah, but with my picture on the package.
MY WIFE: Who cares if your picture’s on the package? Nobody knows you from Adam.
ME: Yeah, but it’ll be a picture of me smiling, because I’m getting all my messes cleaned up. Everybody’s got messes.
MY WIFE: Some more than others.
ME: I have a surprise for you.
MY WIFE: I’m not that interested.
ME: I’m making you VP of Last But Not Least.
MY WIFE: VP of what?
ME: VP of Funding. I want you to call all the members of your family, and all the members of your friends’ families and I want you to ask them to invest in my company. And then I’d like you to report back to me in one hour with a progress PowerPoint presentation. We’ll meet in the closet. I’ve set up a boardroom.
MY WIFE: Stop going in the closet. All my clothes are sticky with these little bits of marshmallow everywhere.
ME: Well, I don’t know where you find the time for all this chitter-chatter. I’m just the CEO around here. I’m not the VP of Funding with all these extra hours for fun and games. Oh well, if you’ll just indulge me, I have a company to run.
And with that I stomped back into the closet, slammed the door and turned on my flashlight.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The following is a conversation I had with my wife on Sunday night.
MY WIFE: You want to make a reality show out of our marriage?
ME: And our home life.
MY WIFE: Who’s going to watch that crap?
ME: I’m going to shop it around to all the big TV networks.
MY WIFE: Nobody knows who we are. We’re not the Osbournes.
ME: Nobody knew Jon & Kate Plus 8.
MY WIFE: They have 8 small children. All you have is a cat.
ME (adding to her last sentence): Who’s rambunctious.
MY WIFE: Nobody’s going to watch a show about a guy who keeps calling in sick at work just so he can play with his cat.
ME: They will if you and I keep having disagreements and throw furniture around.
MY WIFE: I’m not going to be in your stupid show.
ME: You just wait and see. This thing is going to be huge. I’m so happy.
That night, before going to bed, I set up my aunt’s video camera in the kitchen. This camera has a hard drive and can record for many hours on end. Yesterday morning, I turned it on as soon as I woke up. The following is a log of the crazy insane footage I have so far.
I walk into the kitchen, rubbing my sleep-puffed eyelids, and wearing a ragged, frayed “wife beater” T-shirt and a very loose fitting pair of tighty-whities (which were my grandfather’s who passed away over twenty years ago. I only recently inherited a minuscule portion of his estate, after a lengthy court battle with friends and relatives. This portion basically consists of just socks and underwear. I don’t want everyone to think that I fought for almost twenty years just for underwear; I just wanted what was rightfully mine – he was my grandfather after all! I don’t really care about the underwear, really… but I digress). My eyes are still only half open as I boil water for tea and then feed the cat, and then steep the tea. All this hectic activity takes about an hour and a half. So far, I haven’t said anything. I start to worry that I might run out of stuff to do and whether my show, in future episodes, might have some lulls in it.
I finally sit down at the kitchen table and sip my tea while silently reading the paper to myself. This takes about an hour.
While reading the paper, I doze off. The camera keeps recording as I sleep for the next three hours.
I finally awaken with a start. I stand and walk to my cat’s litter box in the corner of the kitchen, and proceed to clean it out - something I haven’t done in almost four months. It smells terrible. I swear out loud (the only word spoken so far). After spilling kitty litter everywhere, I open the door for fresh air and my cat darts out. I scramble out after her. For the next five hours, the camera records the empty, silent kitchen.
Still recording the empty kitchen, the camera’s hard drive runs out of memory and shuts itself off.
I now find myself with all this provocative footage of what it’s like to be me, and what the inside of my head might look like. A sort of “a day in the life of”. The only thing left to do is edit this footage to make my “pilot’ episode, which I’ll show TV execs, just to tantalize them. I haven’t been this excited since I won underwear in court, shouting, “That’s the one thing I won’t let you take from me!” and then being smacked in the face with a (thrown-from-across-the-room) tied up bundle of tighty-whities.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I called in sick at the office yesterday and stayed on my couch at home with three large bags of dill pickle popcorn, a dozen powdered doughnuts and twelve cans of Tab and watched daytime TV all day until my wife came home from work whereupon I slipped out the living room window and then walked in through the front door pretending I was just returning from work.
MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE: Did you go to work in your pyjamas?
ME: The office called with a really important emergency this morning. They told me run right over, and not to even bother changing or going to the washroom or anything.
MY WIFE: All you do is make photocopies there? What kind of emergency could it have been?
ME: Well, the photocopier broke and there was no more paper and the door to the photocopier room was locked and no one has the key anymore and everybody needed copies and I had to make hand drawn facsimiles of everything, and because there was no paper, I had to draw and write on all the cubicle walls and furniture and the back of other people’s hands.
MY WIFE (annoyed): I keep stepping on popcorn.
ME: I must have left the popper on all day.
MY WIFE: Why is my make-up strewn everywhere? Were you playing with it again?
ME: You’re crazy!
MY WIFE: Do you have blush on?
ME: You're making me bashful!
Anyway, during my stay home for the day, I saw a captivating talk show which forced me to stop and think about the people in my life who might be holding me back. The show explained how many of us have individuals in our lives who do nothing but create more problems, like making you do all the work and pay the bills while they call in sick and stay at home, or leaving food lying on your floor, or using your stuff without putting it away and then lying about it.
The talk show host called these people Toxic Friends, and she showed everyone how to just dial them up by phone, in the middle of the day, and to tell them that you can’t be friends anymore. So this morning, from my desk cubicle telephone, I called my friend Randy.
ME: Hi Randy.
ME: You’re toxic and for a long time now, you’ve been holding me back.
RANDY (unsure of what I was talking about): Okay.
ME: The time you spent with me may have been the best you’ve ever had with a friend, full of laughter, snakes and ladders and ballet-jazz dancing but it’s lights out. You could have had all this for a lot longer but you blew it.
RANDY (still unsure): All right.
ME: I can’t be the Eric you want me to be, holding myself back just so you can feel good about yourself. I’m so much more than you’ll ever be, and I’m sorry if that makes you feel horrible about yourself. Lord knows, if I were you, I’d feel much worse, like a dirty piece of trash blowing around in some alleyway. You’re a brave man walking around as yourself, I’ll give you that. Not too many would do it. You might be the only one.
RANDY: Eric, if this is about the vacuum cleaner you borrowed last summer and never returned, it’s okay if you broke it. We already bought a new one.
ME: I don’t even know what vacuum cleaner you’re talking about, but if it’s the one I sold on e-Bay, I never broke it. We’re done, all right. Don’t try and make me change my mind. We’ll never be friends again so stop bringing up everything I’ve done in the past - to you, to your family or to your family’s friends. I can’t be friends with you, ever again. It won’t change anything if you bring up the fact that I once told you I’d remodel your house for free, knocked down all the walls, including the outer ones, and then stopped work for a month before finally admitting I didn’t know what I was doing but you still needed to pay me for all the time I put in, including all the hours I stressed around my house wondering how I was going to tell you that I completely ruined your home. I only said I’d work on your house because you’re so manly and I wanted you to think that I was really good with tools and bricks and wheelbarrows. I know you’ve never said anything about it, but I know you’re jealous of the Lexis I bought with the money you finally paid me. We’re done. Don’t ever call me here again, unless it’s for business and you want something fixed around your home. So let’s make this clear, I’m giving you up as a friend, not as a client. You pay much too well.
And with that I hung up. I looked down at my list. I had thirty more friends to go.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Last Friday morning, I found out Charisse (from the accounting firm where I work at as a photocopy guy) was having a Girls Night Out party at her house for some of the women in our office where they would be drinking Cosmopolitan Martinis before going to see the movie version of Sex and the City. None of the men in the office were invited except for Don, who is the only openly gay male at our firm.
I was incensed. So what if I’m a straight man? I LOVE Sex and the City. It’s my fave show of ALL time. By 11am, I decided that I would have my own Sex and the City party, and this one would be a Guys Night Out. Heck yeah! Just a night with us guys, maybe barbecuing and having a few brews and some steaks and then going to Sex and the City.
I quickly handed out invitations to all the men in the office (except for Don who kept exclaiming how excited he was about Charisse’s do), but all the guys at the firm replied that they weren’t interested. So I ran out to my gym, where I know there is a lot of men who work out during lunch. I went from shower stall to shower stall (it’s the only place in the gym where the men actually stay put) and handed out my invitations.
My invitation was simple. It read: “You, sir, are cordially invited to A Night of SEX with a Bunch of Guys!” And because Charisse had free Cosmo drinks at her party, I included (on my invitation), “Before the show, I’ll booze you up nice and good. And then the real fun will begin…” I made sure to add in the “…” since it added a certain element of mystery to the soiree.
Back at work, Don immediately approached me.
DON: I just saw the invitation you gave Howard. Can I come to your party instead of Charisse’s?
ME: Don, nothing would make me happier.
DON: After seeing your invite, I just couldn’t turn it down. You know what I mean?
I smiled, nodding my head. I was beating Charisse at her own game.
ME: I know what you mean.
Howard, a sixty-ish, ex-drill army sergeant-turned-accountant eyed me with disdained, as he held my invitation.
HOWARD: Don’t ever come near me again.
ME: Howard, I know only women are supposed to like it but you’d really like it too if you just gave it a chance. I once made my father watch for half an hour and now he’s over at my place all the time, dying to see what Mr. Big will do next. He can’t wait to watch for two and a half hours tonight. Anyway, I’ve got to get online. I’m posting my invitation on Craig’s List to see if anyone else would like to join us.
That night, at 7pm, men who were complete strangers to me began showing up at my apartment. Of all the guys, I only knew Don and my dad. I told everyone to sit in a circle while I stood in the middle, preparing to make my speeches.
ME: Guys, let’s party.
Everyone cheered and hollered and hooted, interrupting my first speech, and some of the guys felt the need to rip off their shirts and fling them at me.
ME: First off, I’m happy to announce that my wife is out for the evening. And what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
Everyone now jumped to their feet and really starting making noise, applauding, stomping their feet and shouting out. For some reason, Don was now only wearing tiny underwear which barely covered his privates.
ME: And since my wife isn’t home, this might be a real fun opportunity to rifle through her things.
More applause, but this time, not so enthusiastic.
SOME MUSCULAR GUY IN A MESH T-SHIRT: Excuse me.
Everyone simmered down.
MUSCULAR GUY: Does your wife know you’re having this party?
ME: Of course not. I told her my dad and I are singing karaoke duets all night so she left.
MY DAD: We’re actually doing the duets thing tomorrow night.
I smiled over at my dad.
ME: All night long, Daddy. All night long.
MY DAD (briefly swaying and singing): Havin' my baby…
MUSCULAR GUY: If your wife doesn’t know about any of this, you and your father are actually living on the “down low”. Are you aware of that?
ME: I don’t know what it is that you’re talking about, but if you’re asking how low we can go, I’d have to say pretty low.
MUSCULAR GUY: So you’re ashamed of who you really are.
ME: Well, both my dad and I are.
MUSCULAR GUY: Then I don’t want to be a part of this. I’m done with hiding.
The muscular guy moved toward the door.
ME: I love to hide. Half the time, no one knows where I am. I could be in a cupboard somewhere. Who knows? Come find me.
SOME OTHER GUY: I’m outta here. This party’s for poseurs.
ANOTHER GUY: I’m not a poseur.
AND YET ANOTHER GUY: See ya later haters.
And soon everyone was milling out, my party ruined. Don, in his man panties, shook his head as he moved past me.
ME: Get out! Everyone, just get out! See if I care! This will only give me more time with my dad. All night, just me and my dad! You guys are just jealous! Of me and my dad!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I work for an accounting firm as their photocopy guy. They have a tradition here every late spring: The Office Potluck Lunch. Yesterday morning, we all had to meet in the conference room to discuss the potluck. Sheila, our boss, wanted this to be a quick meeting since we all had a long day of work ahead of us. She announced that Charisse, one of our accountants, would be the coordinator for the lunch, her job being to make certain no two people brought the same item to the potluck. We all had to say what we would be bringing. From my seat, I raised my hand to speak.
SHEILA: Yes, Eric.
ME: I think it’s pretty presumptuous that Charisse take it upon herself to be the coordinator of the potluck. This should be taken to a vote.
Sheila sighed, rolling her eyes.
SHEILA: We don’t have time.
ME: That’s outrageous.
SHEILA: Do you want to be the coordinator?
CHARISSE: I don’t know what the problem is. I’ve always been the coordinator of the potluck, year in and year out. And I’ve done a great job.
ME: Well, I’m new here so I wouldn’t know. You might be terrible for all I know.
SHEILA: Then you be the coordinator, Eric.
ME: I don’t want that stupid job.
SHEILA: All right then, let’s move on.
ME: But I don’t think Charisse is the right person to be potluck coordinator.
CHARISSE: What do you mean?
ME: I just don’t want people making decisions for me, and frankly, I wouldn’t have picked you for this stupid job. I think somebody else should get a chance to throw their hat into the race.
SHEILA: This isn’t a race.
ME: No, it’s a dictatorship.
Sheila looked up at everyone.
SHEILA: Does anyone else want to be the potluck coordinator?
Everyone remained silent, and dead-eyed. Charisse shook her head to herself.
ME: It’s a stupid job. Who the hell would want to be a potluck coordinator? The name even sounds stupid.
CHARISSE: If you don’t want to be part of this potluck, you don’t have to be.
ME: Now I’m getting kicked out of the whole thing? Just because I want to have a little say in your little autocratic luncheon? What are you, the potluck Gestapo?
Howard, a sixty-ish, gruff, ex-army drill sergeant-turned-accountant spoke next.
HOWARD: We’re just trying to figure out who’s bringing what, so shut up.
ME: I don’t care anymore. I wouldn’t want to eat anything any of you would make anyway. I’ll probably find all kinds of hair in it and stuff.
SHEILA: All right, now let’s decide what everyone’s bringing.
CHARISSE: Mary, I really hope you’re bringing zong zi. It’s everyone’s favourite.
Mary has been in our country for two years now. She’s originally from China.
ME (upset): Damnit! I was going to bring zong zi.
CHARISSE: It’s a traditional delicacy from China and Mary is from China.
ME (now really annoyed): It’s just that I make it all the time. When people come to my house, everybody wants zong zi. It’s zong zi this, zong zi that.
CHARISSE: Just bring something else.
ME: What are you bringing? It better not be zong zi.
CHARISSE: This year I’m bringing a traditional dish that my mother used to make when she was a little girl in Jamaica. It’s called steamed callaloo.
ME (annoyed and angry all over again): Ah damn it all! Steamed callaloo was my second choice. Let me bring it since you got to be potluck coordinator. Just let me get something for once.
CHARISSE: You said potluck coordinator was a stupid job.
ME: Well I’m not stupid so why would I want it.
SHEILA: Eric, surely there’s a traditional dish you can make from your own cultural background.
ME: Well… I’m half Irish and I do make a mean beer and whiskey and wine cooler stew but people have to drive back home after work and stuff. You know what, just forget it. I don’t want to be part of this dumb potluck. Nobody will let me bring anything.
CHARISSE: You must know how to make something else.
ME (almost shouting): I ONLY know how to make zong zi and steamed callaloo and everybody wants to copy me so whatever.
SHEILA: Eric, calm down.
I stood then.
ME: I just want to say something. There are people starving all over the world and you people are fighting about who brings what and what brings who. Who cares who makes the callaloo or the zong zi. Let’s not get petty here, folks. Not when there is so much at stake.
HOWARD: Shut your mouth already.
ME: I don’t want to rock the boat here so I’ll bring desert. I only make it for special occasions, usually for more civilized and cultured people than yourselves, mind you. It’s Crazy Sundae Float in a Wheelbarrow. It’s a big sundae float in a wheelbarrow and everybody digs in. So there you have it.
I sat back down then and crossed my arms.
CHARISSE: That’s disgusting. Everybody eats from the same wheelbarrow?
ME: Yeah, and with the same spoon and straw.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
When I hear a song for the first time and I really like it, I’ll scramble for my computer and buy it immediately. I will then proceed to listen to the song whenever possible, sometimes putting it on repeat for a good hour. I will also sing the song myself, constantly, in the shower, at my desk at work, during dinner, during long meetings, and when people are trying to tell me something important, like revealing something dreadful which occurred in their lives and they’re crying and needing a shoulder and I’m facing them, excitedly singing my new fave song.
I once listened to a song I liked for 9 hours straight, on repeat, before my wife told me to turn that “crap” off and “unlock the bathroom door” and “turn the lights back on” and “get to work, you haven’t been in days” and “is this what you call a marriage? I feel like I’m married to you and that crappy song”.
I will listen to a song I like so much that a day will eventually come when I’ll actually start to dread when it plays on the radio. As it plays, I’ll sometimes ask someone to turn off the radio as I cover my ears with my hands and then I’ll scream bloody murder and bawl my eyes out, screeching that someone “stop my pain!” I will then call every radio station in the city every twenty minutes to request that they NOT play the song as I continue crying into the phone, blathering on and on incoherently until I pass out.
If, when invited to another’s home for dinner or a party, I notice that they own a CD which contains the song, I'll snatch the CD, take it home and shred it in my shredder, then burn the shreddings and take the ashes aboard a chartered helicopter and dump them in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Simultaneously, I will launch an Internet smear campaign against the artist or band who perform the song, calling them names and announcing how they are really evil and trying to make our entire planet do their evil bidding through their song. I will also turn up at all the artist’s or band’s live performances, following them across the continent, carrying banners which display hateful messages, and my own video monitor which plays a PowerPoint presentation on how the sound of their song is actually depleting our ozone layer and melting ice in the Artic.
I will usually jump onstage and unplug all their instruments while pleading with the singer to never ever sing again, for the sake of all the other artists in the world who, unlike them, really do matter, really are talented or at least are bearable to listen to. I will do this, night after night, until the artist or band concede and make a decision to leave the music industry altogether while changing their names and physical appearances.