Monday, February 11, 2008

Far as a Rental Car Can Go

Tonight I realized that I’ve made a pattern of not doing what I think would be funny. Perhaps this results from my brain’s desire to protect my body from physical harm. However, just positing that something would be “so funny” and actually making that allegedly funny thing happen are two very different matters. Presented below: three recent instances of me failing to create the funny.

One: Last Saturday night, Spencer and I attended CAF for its annual Valentine’s fundraiser, an event which doubled as a going away party for longtime employee Kami. Given that CAF tends to draw from a rather well-to-do crowd, the idea came that a fun way to pass time would be to approach apparently single women and begin the following line of dialogue: “Hello there. I couldn’t help but notice you from across the room. If you could, I’d like you to settle a bet between my friend and me.” At this point, I’d motion to Spencer across the gallery. “See, my friend over there told me you were a cougar, but I say you’re way too old to be a cougar.” The game would have to be played immediately in front of valuable art, of course, because the target’s natural reaction would be to strike me. But even if a fancypants modern art piece were to be crushed beneath the fist of some former debutante, I still say the game would be fun, at least in theory, and I can’t decide whether it would work better on the 40-something set — that is, actual cougars — or women my age, who would surely have an even better reaction to being called cougars.

Two: You may remember the girl who lives below me. Yes, the one with the guitar and the mental library of 90s hits. Perhaps because the nights are warmer now and the entire complex has its windows open, we can hear even more of what she does around her apartment. Most annoyingly, her cell phone chirps with a distinct “new text message” noise about every ten minutes. Just about an hour ago, however, that gave way to an exclamation of “Oh my god!” that we would have heard even if the windows were shut — the kind of line that’s either followed with the giggling glee of someone who has just run into her old sorority sister or the dull thud of a body hitting the floor. My patience having grown thin, I decided that the obvious way to shut this girl up and have fun while doing it would be to hurry down the stairs and knock on her door. When she answers, I would ask if everything was okay. She’d say yes, of course. I’d apologize for overreacting and explain that I was just worried for her welfare… given what happened to the poor girl who lived in the unit previously. “I shouldn’t — I shouldn’t talk about it,” I’d say, before telling her that if anything — anything — happens, that she shouldn’t hesitate to call for help again. Then, at least, she’d be quiet for at least the one night.

Three: Spencer is taking a creative nonfiction class that I took four years ago. Same professor, even. (The class ultimately prompted to write a strange short story that I titled “Godspeed, Captain Pinchy.”) When I took it, so did six or seven of my friends. Franzese, Dina, the Other Drew, Palmy, a few people from the Nexus, and my old roommate Moe. Because a large portion of the class involved writing short stories — ones based on events that actually happened — and then reading them to the class, my friends and I had a running joke about how funny it would be to read a dramatic, nail-biter of a tale in the front of the whole class… and then ended it with the narrator — the same person who had written the piece — dying tragically. I can’t imagine anything better than standing before a group of twenty other young writers and speaking the final words of that week’s project: “In pain, I placed my hands on my abdomen, only to find a strange warm feeling there despite how cold the wind blew that night. I had already stumbled to the ground by the time I realized it was blood. Strange how in the moonlight, even blood glimmers with the beauty of some mountain stream. I suppose that made it better — seeing the beauty in that blood and having it be the last thing I’d see — for soon I’d crumpled the ground. The pale moonlight slowly faded from my sight. I closed my eyes one last time. I thought of home. And I died.” Then, I’d put down the paper and confidently stride back to my seat, past my classmate’s expressions of confusion and rage as they realized that I’d completely failed to grasp the concept of the class.

Being a shit as performance art — now that would funny.

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