Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Interview with Oprah

Oprah, moments before she introduced me.
Dear Diary,

I was on Oprah for a few moments yesterday as part of a show about innovators and inventors. Oprah interviewed me regarding my part in the creation of the new Starbucks logo. She introduced me from an armchair on stage.

OPRAH: We have with us today the man who designed the new Starbucks logo! Come on out, Eric!

The audience applauded and cheered as I walked out onto the stage toward the armchair across from Oprah's.

ME (to Oprah): I'm sorry. I'm not here to talk about the Starbucks logo. My people very specifically told your producers not to even mention the logo or Starbucks.

OPRAH: I'm not sure...

ME: I was led to believe that this interview was about the play I wrote. I feel really betrayed.

I looked around, incensed.

OPRAH: Please have a seat.

ME (still angry): Gayle... where the hell are you?

OPRAH: Sit down. Please. Let's just talk. It's fine. You can tell us about your play.

I sat down across Oprah.

ME: I'm sorry, Oprah. It's not you. It's just that I had an agreement. I can't believe how unprofessional this whole show is. Anyway, I'm sorry about those nasty things I told Gayle backstage. Gayle, I'm sorry. That was truly revolting. I should be ashamed. And I would be right now if I didn't want to rip this entire set apart.

OPRAH: Eric... Eric... just tell us what this play is about?

ME: The play stars myself as myself as I explore every year of my life. It's a one-man show and it's sixteen hours.

OPRAH: And it ends with you creating the new Starbucks logo and becoming a success?

ME: No, it ends at the end of my life. It ends with me dying.

OPRAH: Dying?

ME: That scene lasts for two hours. It's just me on my deathbed. No movement, no sound.

OPRAH: But you haven't died in real life yet.

ME: There's lots in the play that hasn't happened yet. Trust me, as the scenes unfold on stage, they are as much of a revelation to me as they are to you all.

OPRAH: Where is this play playing?

ME: Well, right now, it's playing in the basement of a building. I was just walking down this alley one day, chasing a cat I wanted to be friends with...

OPRAH: You mean a person when you say a cat, right?

ME: No, I mean a kitty. Like with fleas. Anyway, I was trying out all these doors, seeing if they were locked or not.


ME: I don't know. Just to see if they're locked or not. Anyway, one door opened and it was a stairway to an empty basement with garbage and stuff. For all I know, that door's still opened so that's where we'll have the play. Anyway, I've set up a stage with some wood and tarp and I'll just sell tickets at the door.

OPRAH: When are you doing all this?

ME: The play is running indefinitely as long as people don't mind garbage falling from chutes around them. It doesn't bother me none.

OPRAH: What is your play called?

ME: Oprah.

OPRAH: Really?

ME: Yes, my name is Oprah on my birth certificate. You're not the only person in the world named Oprah, you know. I know lots of Oprahs. My play is called Oprah, but the full name is The Oprah Winfrey Show.

OPRAH: Eric… thank you…. for being here today to tell us about your play.

ME: Winfrey is my middle name.

OPRAH: Thank you, Eric.

ME: You can call me O.

The camera began moving away from my face as I swiped some crumpled loose leaf paper from under my shirt.

ME: Oprah, I have your next book pick from your book club. I know you're going to love it because I wrote it. I only have one paragraph but that's only because I couldn't come up with anything more.

OPRAH: We'll have to talk about that another time.

ME: Let me read you the first sentence.

I read my handwriting from the sheet of paper.

ME (reading): The year I become lovers with Oprah is the year she shot a man in cold blood. I could tell she had murdered before. Why? Because she told me she planned to kill more people, and would have taken out Mother Theresa if she were still alive…

OPRAH (to the camera): We'll be right back after these messages…

ME (still reading): I told Oprah, "Please stop this killing spree. I think you should at least stop stalking that family from Little People, Big World." That's when Oprah broke up with me because I didn't have room to stash two hundred and seventy-six "free" cars.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The New Starbucks Logo

Introducing the brand new Starbucks Logo for 2011 which I designed.

Dear Diary,

I'm still at the temp agency, wishing I had a job at Starbucks. After I'm done a shift, I usually end up standing on the sidewalk, staring into the window at the King Street Starbucks, watching all those lucky people working inside, sometimes with a tear dripping down my cheek. I usually end up banging my fists on the glass and then running away into the street, making cars screech their tires to avoid me as I trip and roll across the pavement.

Sometimes, through the window, I even watch other blessed souls getting interviewed, wishing that was me at the little round table, talking about how exceptional I am and how much I'd love to have a job where I could drink coffee all day and eat pastries and chat up the customers and put on one-man plays about my childhood and adulthood and my future old age with a two hour death scene of me in bed, just lying there, saying nothing. But no one could talk or order anything during my deathbed scene; it would only ruin the atmosphere. The play itself would run eight hours, playing daily, and twice on weekends.

Since my job interview, no one's called me, and that was almost four months ago. I've been furious so I've refused to walk into a Starbucks and give them my business.

Yesterday, after a few minutes of staring, I stepped inside. Slowly… I just couldn't help myself. I couldn't believe what I was allowing myself to do. I walked up to the lineup at one of the counters. When it was finally my turn to order, I slowly permitted myself to look up at the menu. I had tears in my eyes; The Prodigal Son returned. There, up high, were all the things I adored and obsessed about but had been doing without for four months.

CASHIER: Sir, what can I get for you?

I didn't respond. I looked down at the glass display cases with all the treats and pastries my desperate, wanting mouth had denied itself since October.


I yelped like a puppy finally adopted. I gulped hard.

ME (barely audible): I'll have a panini.

CASHIER: Pardon me?

ME (still barely audible): A panini.

CASHIER: Anything else? Something to drink?

ME (almost under my breath): I think so… I'll have two of those bagels, toasted, five scones, half that cake, some more paninis…

The cashier listened as I continued to order and sob.

ME: Please hurry. Please…

Everyone on staff behind the counter worked on my order. I had bagels toasting, sandwiches pressing, beverages steaming. The line-up of fidgety customers behind me burgeoned as my order was being set up on the counter like a buffet. I couldn't believe I was finally going to have this dream Starbucks feast all to myself. At last… It took an eternity for the staff to put it all together.

CASHIER: That'll be two hundred, twenty, and fifty-two cents.

I reached into my pocket as I grinned happily.

ME: No problem. It'll be worth every penny.

My pocket was empty.

ME: Hold up. Where's my wallet?

I pulled my hand out of my pocket and stared at it. It was bare.

ME: Oh God, I just remembered. I didn't bring my wallet today. I just didn't need it because I wasn't going to buy anything. I mean, I haven't been going to Starbucks lately so why would I need any money?

I walked away. Some male, shift manager raced after me.

SHIFT MANAGER: Who's going to drink all these drinks? And eat all this food?

ME: Not me. I don't have that kind of money.

The shift manager turned back toward his staff.

SHIFT MANAGER: Who okayed this ridiculous order?

As the staff were accusing and pointing at one another, and the line-up of anxious, angry customers continued to bloat, I slipped away toward the tables.

A large group of suits was seated at a table with Keith, the store manager, and Allison, the assistant manager, both of whom had led my interview four months ago.

I hovered a few inches away, listening in.

KEITH (to me): Sir, can we help you?

Allison took a good look at me.

ALLISON: You seem familiar.

ME: You interviewed me a few months ago and never called back, so you'll have to excuse me but this is awkward for me. Just being back in here is weird for me.

I lingered, wondering when they were going to start up their conversation again.

KEITH: What can we do for you? We're in the middle of an important meeting here.

ME: Don't mind me. I won't snicker or do fart noises or do something stupid like that.

A man in his sixties spoke up.

SUIT IN HIS SIXTIES: We're from head office in Seattle, traveling the world to all the largest Starbucks, and talking to managers about developing our new logo coming out this Spring.

ME: New logo? This is the first I've heard…

KEITH: This isn't the time…

ME: My entire life I have been craving something. I don't know what it's been. It's just that an emptiness lives inside me. I know I felt it from the minute I was born because I don't ever remember not feeling it: the emptiness. I don't ever remember what it felt like not to have it, deep down in the pit of me. Just this big, vast vat of empty. And nothing could fill it up. Lord knows my mother and father tried. With love, with toys, with outfits and hats. In school, my teachers were at a lost as to how to proceed. I was despondent, depressed, the colors of my pants and tops rarely matched. I had no interests. I didn't love anything. My entire life, I just didn't care. Christmas meant nothing to me. Birthdays meant nothing to me. My first kiss, who cares? I didn't even know what Chanukah was. Nothing ever meant anything to me. Then in the nineties, something happened…

WOMAN SUIT: You filled the emptiness…

SUIT IN HIS SIXTIES: With a cup of Starbucks…

ME: No, I saw the Starbucks logo and I laughed my head off. Who the hell wants a coffee from Battlestar Galatica? That's so tacky.

SUIT IN HIS SIXTIES: What are you suggesting?

ME: Lose the name Starbucks. It sucks, but leave the mermaid. She speaks to me.

WOMAN SUIT: In what way?

ME: She literally talks to me. Especially after fourteen double-shot espressos. She sings to me like Lady Gaga and then I wake up beside a sewer grate at four in the morning.

WOMAN SUIT (as an epiphany): That's it. Just the siren. We just need the siren. It's bolder. Iconic. Why didn't we think of that?

ME: You mean that crazy, opera singing, fish chick, right? The one who lies to me with promises of spiritual salvation? She brings me back here every time.

The suit in his sixties slammed his hand on the table.

SUIT IN HIS SIXTIES: The search is finally over.

He turned to me.

SUIT IN HIS SIXTIES: Son, you've just made yourself a whole lot of money.

ME: Can someone buy me a coffee?