Dismembered Stories and Their Amputated Sentences

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As a writer, I have this recurring problem.  Film school education and the etiquette of screenwriting has a way of tarnishing my short stories, blog posts, and all of my writing in general.

In a screenplay, it is rude to overly describe sets, locations, characters, and really just about everything.  Every excessive adjective punched onto the page steps on someone’s toes.  Leave the wallpaper to the set designer.  Don’t back the casting department into a corner by fussing over the characters’ appearances.  Only list props necessary to the plot and let the professionals fill in the rest.

When you apply this way of thinking and the formatting of screenplays to narrative writing, you end up with front heavy information dumps followed by dialogue between vague, faceless characters in an unfurnished room somewhere sometime.  This was my initial problem with narrative writing:  a hesitance to describe anything other than the action (but only just a little bit because you don’t want to step on the director’s toes or stifle the actors’ performances).

To remedy this issue, I’ve wildly overcompensated.  My rough drafts tend to describe every little thing with as many pretty words and phrases as I can conjure, killing all plot momentum along the way.

Needless to say, revision for me is a matter of carving it all up.  For every word I add, I delete about ten.

Below are some words that I really liked, but deleted nonetheless.  I won’t provide you with any context for these, because it’s probably more fun that way!

From Hellfire Chicken Wings:

“The bulging gut that hangs over top of the husband/father’s jeans and his stained work shirt are unseemly sights easily found topside, but the two stunted, crooked horns that protrude from his forehead, the cellulite-ridden tail coming to an arrow point at the end – those are unique to this particular location of Fat Mike’s Bar and Grill.

This customer’s misfortunate daughters have equally spaced red bumps in the corners of their own foreheads that look like mountainous pimples – the awkwardness of adolescence is not unique to the mortal world.  Their crooked teeth are reined into line by grizzly-looking metal wires and brackets from a horror movie.  They look roughly the same age, Irish twins maybe, but one appears just enough older for it to be noticeable.  The younger has tangled brown hair that looks so grungy that Kristen thinks the girl might actually be a blonde with inordinately poor hygiene.  The older has dark black hair, too dark, a bad dye job, with reddish blonde roots showing for about an inch and a half.

The matriarch of the family is enormous.  Rolls of fat cascade down her wide frame, peaking at her hips – which must measure nearly three feet across.  Her double chin has its own double chin.  Her facial muscles can’t hold taut the weight of her cheeks and they sag in jowls.  She is wearing light makeup on her face, which is an inhuman fire engine red, peppered with enough whiskers to make Kristen wonder whether a pointy black beard lurks within the folds of flesh hanging from the woman’s chin.  Her eyes, “the window to the soul,” are vacant like a cow’s, hinting at the vacuum of intelligent thought within her skull.  Her horns might be the most pronounced of the entire brood, though it is impossible to tell given the ways that facial fat has folded around them.

Regardless of whether or not the customers sitting in Kristen’s section are poorly-bred and unattractive or brilliantly handsome and brimming with seductive facial expressions, she sees their horns and pointy beards and arrow-ended tails all the same.

She can’t remember exactly when she began seeing people this way, whether it was a week, a month, or a year ago.  These details just so integrated themselves into her perspective so well that she assumed that they were there the whole time and that she had never overlooked them.”

From Trail:

“Though I did not belong, the forest adopted me.  It became a part of me, and I, a part of it.”

From This is Where…:

“My head bobbing just above the water for days, weeks, months.”

From Last Will and Testament:

“But that wasn’t true.  The house was Wilbur – run down and neglected on the outside, untarnished and full of potential on the inside.  Or at least that must have been the way that George had seen it.”

From Decomposing on Your Doorstep:

“It could be the setting of a fairy tale.  Unnaturally lush green grass carpets an unused plot of farm land roughly fenced in and forgotten, complete with rusting tractors and farming equipment.”

“Born of inspiration greater than anything that ever fueled my painting, my ploy for notoriety will finally show the world my life’s work.”

From Antisocial Networking:

“The boredom went up in flames, kindling for Jake’s newfound fascination with strangers.  Soon he was reading their 140-character opinions and insights on Twitter, inspecting the photographic evidence of their alien lives on Instagram, even tracking their professional developments on LinkedIn.”

“All of those insignificant, boring things that bore people can take on a whole new light simply by viewing them from a different perspective.”

Don’t worry, I will share with you the stories from which these words were amputated sometime, just not today!

The Worst Student Film Ever Made

katy perry
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*Names have been changed at my discretion

Synopsis:  A college girl is diagnosed with cancer, parties hard in an attempt to hide from her potential mortality, spirals from alcoholism to drug abuse to addiction, overdoses and dies only to find out in the afterlife that her diagnosis was a false-positive.

All of this was to be accomplished in 3 minutes of screen time.

Title:  “Positive.”

Unofficial Subtitle:  “The Worst Student Film Ever Made.”

Let me lay the groundwork for how we brought this abomination into the world.  Foundations of Production was an entry level course culminating in a semester-spanning project of producing a short film.  The class was split into small groups, mine consisting of myself, a girl that I kinda knew (Laurie*); a stoner that used to live in the same dorm building as me (Tyson*); and a best friend destined to betray me in the months to follow (Elle*).

We all prepared short scripts and presented them to the class for feedback. Everyone in our group took their film ambitions fairly seriously, but this whole project was technically “homework,” so inevitably our efforts became very convenience-driven.  This led us to produce Elle’s script, which featured few characters and locations.  We put together an airtight production schedule that would knock out the brunt of production (scenes taking place at parties) in one night.

Everyone resigned themselves to an irritating group dynamic that emerged long before cameras started rolling – Elle insisted on being in charge of everything.  She shot, directed, starred in, and edited the partially autobiographical monstrosity, ignoring everyone else’s input, and calling all of the shots along the way.

Oh yeah.  I forgot to mention that her script was loosely based on something that she was going through.

Now it may seem inappropriate for me to be so harsh about this girl who made a movie about her cancer, but she didn’t actually have cancer.  She had some sort of lady part cyst.  I always figured it would be rude to ask for more details, so I only ever knew what she confided in me (her then-best friend).  It’s not cool to have lumps of any sort growing on your insides, but Elle’s cyst was deemed benign in an expeditious manner.  There wasn’t a prolonged period where she pondered its cancerous possibilities.  Also, this not-cancer could not be blamed for her drinking problem.

The production churned on painfully.  Our character entered a party, did shots, smoked pot, popped pills, snorted coke, shot up heroine.  She changed clothes between each substance abuse escalation to signal that these were different parties – a subtlety that didn’t override the four, practically identical bedrooms in the same apartment where we shot our smorgasbord of parties.

Each scene was terribly lit.  Overhead lighting was abandoned in lieu of a single lamp that we carried from room to room.  Every frame of the footage was grainy or full of awkward shadows, or both.

When it was time to set up the heroine scene, Tyson shepherded extraneous extras out of the shot.  “You only want 3-4 people max in the room when you’re shooting heroine,” he explained.  No one dared ask him how he knew this.

Elle asked what she should do after she pretended to shoot the drugs into her arm.  Tyson’s answer was something along the lines of:  “After you shoot up, you’ll probably just want to lay down on the floor and feel the carpet.”

By the time Elle was ready to edit the footage, I was the only person willing to stay involved with this dumpster baby of a film.  She trimmed every take and pieced it all together while I just sat around and watched.  Rarely, she would ask for my advice, but only on small matters.  This take or that one?  Establishing shot before close up?  Close up, insert, close up?

For the sequence of the main character getting ready to go out and party after receiving her cancer diagnosis, Elle insisted on using Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold.”  For those unfamiliar, this upbeat pop song is an absolutely perfect soundtrack for getting dressed up to go out drinking with friends on literally any day of your life except for the day that you get diagnosed with cancer.  My polite input on the thousands of reasons why this song didn’t fit the tone was extravagantly ignored.  I mean that. Extravagantly.  Ignored.

Elle considered sneaking the volume down and running the song through the entire substance abuse escalation montage.  Katy Perry – the soundtrack for a downward spiral and heroine overdose.  At least I talked her out of that.

The end of the film played out as follows:  Elle’s character wakes up in heaven, an area of pure white (the white walled hallway of Laurie’s apartment).  “A screen appears.”  That’s what the script reads.  We had no special effects capabilities or budget.  A picture-in-picture effect was edited sloppily onto one of the white walls.  On the “screen” Elle’s doctor (yours truly in a lab coat and black rimmed glasses) is shown explaining to Elle’s mother (Laurie) that the cancer diagnosis was a false positive.  Oh no.  Elle did all of those drugs and died and she didn’t even have a good reason to be depressed!

Each group had to show their films to the entire class. We delivered the final cut to the professor on DVDs.  Thank God this thing wasn’t uploaded onto the internet.

After a brief introduction, the lights were killed and the movie started rolling.  I’ve never blushed so hard in my life.  The class roared with laughter at the substance abuse escalation montage.  Elle’s editing made it seem like the entire downward spiral unfolded in one comically wild night.  To the audience, her character got dressed to go to a party, drank too much, smoked some weed, popped some pills, snorted coke in the bathroom, shot up heroine and dropped dead all within the course of like an hour.  The professor applauded us before admitting that he wasn’t sure whether or not the tone was supposed to be so freaking hilarious.

This was Elle’s mutant progeny.  We let her answer his inquiries into what the hell everyone had just witnessed.

An almost equally horrible film took some of the heat off of us.  It was called, “Mrs. Jickle’s Pickles.”  It was about an old lady who can’t open a pickle jar.  She really, really wants a pickle.  She calls her son.  He doesn’t have time to drop what he is doing and drive across town to help her open a pickle jar, because “Really Mom?”  She tries everything before calling 911 as a last resort.  The cops show up and aren’t nearly pissed off enough when they realize that this old lady is wasting their time with such trifling bullshit.  They scold her but can’t stay mad and end up opening the pickle jar for her.  The End.

For a student film that is as awesome as is just as “Positive” was horrible, check out:  Evil Beer.

CC Fan Fiction: Sex Wine

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Concerning CC Fan Fiction:  CC refers to the name of the restaurant where I work, and has been abbreviated just in case some corporate prude has Google Alerts set up for the restaurant’s full name.  This story is full of inside jokes that might only be funny to about three of my coworkers.  All of the characters are more or less one-dimensional and since I’m the one writing this, I’ve given myself all of the good lines.  If you work with me and you hate this, I challenge you to write your own CC Fan Fiction.  Then, you will realize just how big of a waste of time these stories are and you will cease to be offended.  

Sex Wine

“What do we get on the nose?” Kerver, the general manager of CC Grill asked the servers lined up for the evening pre-shift meeting.

For someone who truly enjoys drinking wine and trying new wines especially, Brantley hated wine tastings at work.  Due to seasonal allergies that managed to follow him from Fall to Winter, Winter to Spring, Spring to Summer, and Summer to Fall each and every year, smelling was not his strong suit.

After hearing this routine wine-tasting question and snorting his hardest into his wine glass to no effect, Brantley hoped for one of two scenarios.  If no one spoke up, he would offer up one of his so-vague-they’re-always-true wine adjectives like:  “fruity,” “sweet,” “earthy,” “smoky,” or “spicy.”  If someone else spoke up before him and offered something specific, he would simply lie cautiously:  “cherries,” “berries,” or “citrus.”  In truth, he was never able to smell much of anything, so when someone offered:  “lemongrass,” Brantley truly had no idea what that person was talking about.  For this reason, Brantley often tried too hard to be silent and invisible and made himself conspicuous in the process.

“Brantley,” Kerver pierced the silence, “what do you get on the nose with this wine?”

Brantley sniffed with ever fiber of his being and felt like air was overflowing from both lungs and into his digestive system.  Miraculously, he actually smelled something.  Less miraculously, that something was sex.  It was a mix of sweat and someone else’s carbon dioxide, bodily fluid and other explicit things that should he blurt any of them out in front of his coworkers, would undoubtedly provide them a tenth or eleventh nickname with which to mock him.

“…Musty,” Brantley offered with faux confidence.

Kerver nodded and moved on to someone else and Brantley wiped sweat from his brow, enjoying the remainder of his wine and wishing that he had the rest of the bottle.

When Brantley went to sleep that night, he dreamt that someone had organized a CC pool party.  Numerous of his coworkers were there, blurred silhouettes in his peripheral visions though none played any role of significance as the dream unfolded.  The entire point of the dream was this:  Brantley saw Ashley’s boobs.

Ashley was a bartender that was nice and laughed at some but not all of Brantley’s jokes.  They had gone out for drinks after work a few times, but only as part of a big group.

He hadn’t ever really contemplated her boobs in his waking hours. In his dream, Ashley was pulling off a one-piece bathing suit really, really well.  After jumping into the pool, she resurfaced and fidgeted with the top of the suit in slow-motion.  A very exaggerated nip slip followed, though “nip slip” is a flagrant understatement.  Brantley caught a glimpse of the entirety of Ashley’s right breast and maybe 40% of the left one too.

Brantley was impressed by the boob’s perfect shape, size, and overall proportion to Ashley’s body.  This realization was not all that unrealistic given the CC uniform’s tendency to hide the shapes of employees’ bodies.

The dream shifted to something else, though whatever came next was forgotten by the time Brantley’s alarm went off in the morning.

There was a tangibly awkward vibe prevalent in the restaurant the following day.  Brantley noticed coworkers blushing at each other’s greetings on numerous occasions.  Many servers found themselves caught in a vicious cycle of alternately staring and painstakingly avoiding eye contact with certain coworkers.  Others babbled when they talked to certain people and stomped away from even the most trivial of conversations in a flustered manner.

Mixed amongst these strange interactions was a smattering of totally normal conversations.

Sam the Handsome Bartender’s following statement was not one of them:  “Last night, I had a weird dream that Andrea gave me a handjob.”  Brantley genuinely laughed.  He hadn’t yet discovered the pattern.

Slightly within context, though there doesn’t truly exist a truly fitting context, Nathan admitted a sex dream to Brantley.  “I had a sex dream about you, but I’m trying not to make it awkward.”  He wasn’t doing a very good job, Brantley thought.

“I saw the mole at the base of your penis and counted seven freckles down there,” Nathan continued.  He really, really wasn’t doing a very good job.

Brantley pretended to suddenly remember something else that he was supposed to be doing and more or less ran the hell away.  He was simultaneously unnerved by Nathan’s transparency and grateful that he didn’t really have a mole on the base of his penis because that would probably be unsightly.  As for the freckle count, he wasn’t entirely certain of how far off seven was.  When he closed his eyes, he could only picture that one freckles.  He vowed to take a closer look in the following days to make sure his own personal tally was accurate.

He was on the other side of the restaurant (far, far away from Nathan) for no reason at all whatsoever when the emerging pattern dawned on him.  The previous day, as he fretted over the bouquet of the featured wine of the month, Nathan and Sam stood on either side of him.  He shut his eyes hard and tried to remember who else was in the room for the tasting.

Karinna had poked her head in, though hostesses didn’t really need to come to pre-shift meetings because hostesses rarely find themselves needing to understand anything about the restaurant where they work.  Regardless, Karinna had scored a sip of wine that night.

Brantley made his way to the front of the restaurant where Karinna had just clocked in.  “So Nathan just admitted that he had a sex dream about me,” Brantley feigned ignorance.

Karinna laughed, “That’s awkward, but it happens.”

“I know.  Sam told me that he had a dream that Andrea gave him a hand job,” Brantley baited her, hoping to coax her into admitting that she fell into the pattern.

He also felt like having a sex dream that only scores you a hand job would be pretty disappointing, though it was much further than he got in his own dream.

Karinna more or less echoed this sentiment.  “Just a hand job?”

“I know, right?”

She shrugged, “I guess I can’t talk.  I had a dream that I was having sex with Andy and Justin but both of their girlfriends were there too.”  Brantley laughed politely.  “I was like, ‘Come on!’ this is a dream!  Can’t I just have this moment to myself!” Karinna finished.

Andy and Justin are identical twins who frequently lift weights.  Due to their German heritage, Brantley always thought it would be funny to call them Hans and Frans, two characters played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon in a series of Saturday Night Live sketches from the eighties.  He never actually followed through with the joke, though, because he assumed that no one would get it (despite the recent resurfacing of the characters for insurance commercials with NFL superstar Aaron Rodgers).

At this point, Brantley decided to confront Kerver about the wine’s mystical effects.

On his way, he passed Bianca, who had also worked the previous night.  Desperate for answers, Brantley blurted out a garble of polite small talk before settling into an intense interrogation.  “Hey.  How’s it going?  Did you dream about sex with anyone in this restaurant last night?”

Bianca started to say that she was good and continue the small talk by asking if the restaurant was supposed to be busy that night, but instead ended up completely taken aback by the unexpectedness yet grave relevance of the final question.  Bianca had indeed enjoyed a sex dream the previous night.  Really enjoyed it.  A lot.  But it was too perverse and insane for her to ever admit to anyone, so instead she just stared at Brantley like he was a maniac.

Brantley interpreted this as a confirmation of his theory and left her standing there with an incredulous look on her face.

He knocked on the office door.  Through the window, he could see Kerver sitting at the computer chair talking to Camila.  Kerver seemed very frantic and flustered (even more than usual, that is) by whatever it was that they were discussing.  Camila, on the other hand, seemed completely baffled by his strange mannerisms.  She hadn’t worked the previous night.

Brantley put two and two together and stepped back from the door, wishing he hadn’t knocked in the first place.  The general manager’s sex dream had been about Camila the previous night.  As far as this bizarre set of circumstances went, things could have been much worse for Kerver.  Camila is a very beautiful human being.

If Brantley told his boss about the wine’s effects, what would happen?  Would they pull it from the restaurant?  Or could they assume that guests would never talk to each other enough to discover the truth?  He contemplated the countless business meetings and tables full of colleagues going out for dinner after a long day at the convention center, all of those shared bottles of wine.  Would five coworkers sharing a couple of bottles of Sex Wine dream about sex with each other?  Or would they dream about other people from work that weren’t with them when they enjoyed the wine, like Kerver’s Camila dream?

More terrifyingly, what if the wine’s effects were amplified with every sip?  If one small taste of the wine produced dreams of hand jobs and nip slips and overcrowded threesomes, would a full glass produce more enjoyable results?  Would a full bottle result in a writhing, incoherent workplace orgy?  Brantley wondered if his coworkers could be trusted with such knowledge, or if revelation of the Sex Wine might send the entire restaurant plummeting into depravity.

Without any of these answers, Brantley decided to keep the truth to himself.

At that evening’s pre-shift meeting, Kerver announced that the Sex Wine had been 86ed the prior evening.  It had sold so quickly, that the restaurant exhausted its entire inventory in one night.

Would they see any of the guests from last night again tonight?  Would any of those convention-goers find themselves blushing across from the table each other at dinner?

“Also, uhm,” Kerver began, shifting his weight from one foot to the other and then back again, “that was a small batch vineyard, so we aren’t getting any more Sex Wine.”

He didn’t say “Sex Wine.”  Obviously, it’s not called “Sex Wine,” but I don’t trust you, you dirty little reader.  I don’t trust you enough to share the true name of this magical elixir.  This is for your own good.

Next Time:  Brantley begins to suspect that Jazzy is spamming Yelp, Trip Advisor, and even Urban Spoon (does anyone use that anymore?) with comments commending her own serving ability.  He considers launching his own personal investigation, but realizes that it really wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

The Time I Helped a Blind Lady Cross the Street

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This all took place several years ago, back when I was living in an apartment complex near an extremely straightforward traffic roundabout that still managed to baffle the legendarily awful drivers of Florida.

I had just finished a 5 mile evening run.  A few dry spots could be found in the bottom corners of my shirt, the rest completely drenched in sweat.  Just a short walk separated me from a much needed shower as I approached the traffic roundabout.

There she was, sunglasses that would be unnecessary for most people given the sunset in progress; a stick with the end marked red that would keep her from tripping over curbs and steps but could not save her from the calamity of Orlando’s perpetually puzzled drivers faced with a slightly unfamiliar obstacle.

I sprung into action.

“Excuse me ma’am,” I said, mostly to let her know that I was now standing next to her.  “Can I help you cross this road?”  She obliged and I apologized for my stench and the layer of sweat on my arm as she took it.

As I escorted her to the other side of the road, I asked where she was trying to go.  The Blind Woman explained that she was trying to reach the Wendy’s about a quarter mile from where we stood.  I agreed to join her for the entirety of the odyssey.

Ahead of us, a truck from the cable company was parked on the curb and its driver was tinkering in a large electrical box nearby.  Jutting out like oversized ears, the truck had those wide sideview mirrors that help alleviate some of the blind spots that plague larger vehicles.

With a little prompting, the Blind Woman explained that she lived in a nearby apartment complex.  She told me that she wasn’t always blind, that her vision had degenerated over several years.  Before she moved in with her daughter, she could get around just fine by memory.

The truck was just a few feet in front of us as we shuffled along, arm in arm.

I felt bad for her.  Not only was the Blind Woman new to this area, but she couldn’t even see any of the surroundings to gain her bearings.  I cringed to think of what might have happened to her had she taken on that traffic roundabout all by herself.

She wasn’t even trying to get something to eat at the Wendy’s.  She just wanted to have a general idea of how far apart everything was.  I launched into an explanation of other landmarks and hazardous intersections, told her about the gas station and the Chik Fil A, the office buildings and hotels on the other side of the wide street.

Then, I led the Blind Woman face first into the outstretched sideview mirror of the cable truck.

I was looking at her as we conversed, insisting upon undoubtedly the most unnecessary eye contact in the long history of human discourse.  She staggered backward upon impact, more startled than hurt.  I babbled a thousand apologies frantically, but she wasn’t injured or upset.

The presence of the cable company employee only amplified the throbbing wound to my pride.

I believe that when people have the ability to help each other, they have a responsibility to act.  In my mind, imagining what harm might have befallen this Blind Woman had she stepped foot into that intersection made me responsible for her fate (the same way I felt responsible for the fate of the drunk jogger who insisted upon running 10 miles to his house rather than letting me call a cab for him).

This line of thinking could save the world, but I’m self-conscious about telling stories like this.  I don’t want to come across as patting myself on the back for my good deed, even though I am proud of it.  Or at least I was until I botched it so badly!

The rest of the journey to and from Wendy’s was uneventful, thank goodness.  Upon dropping her off back at her apartment complex, I implored her to be careful around the traffic roundabout.

Hopefully she found no shortage of people willing to help her cross the street.

CC Fan Fiction: Brooker’s Big Performance

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Concerning CC Fan Fiction:  CC refers to the name of the restaurant where I work, and has been abbreviated just in case some corporate prude has Google Alerts set up for the restaurant’s full name.  This story is full of inside jokes that might only be funny to about three of my coworkers.  All of the characters are more or less one-dimensional and since I’m the one writing this, I’ve given myself all of the good lines.  If you work with me and you hate this, I challenge you to write your own CC Fan Fiction.  Then, you will realize just how big of a waste of time these stories are and you will cease to be offended.  

Brooker’s Big Performance

It was a typical Monday morning at CC.  Brooker and Brantley were the opening servers, Diana was the opening bartender, and Tiffany the opening hostess.

The horrendous 10-song playlist that CC subjects its guests to had just begun its first rotation of the day.  Every single individual employee had, on countless occasions, begged Kerver, the general manager, to change the music to literally anything else.  Literally.  Anything.  Else.  Kid’s Bop.  Music from the 1940’s.  Cher.  Anything was better than the smooth jazz, elevator music, castrated game-show jingles, blasphemous Beatles covers, and that Muzak version of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ that eroded Brantley’s soul every time it came on.

For Valentine’s Day, Kerver finally caved to the voice of the people.  He trusted Pandora to provide the restaurants patrons, primarily couples, with uncontroversial love songs.  Pandora started with Alicia Keys before throwing it back to Aaliyah.  Some of Beyonce’s less grunt-y songs made appearances.  Staff morale reached an all-time high.  Nearly 1 in 3 guests complimented the music selection.

Then, in a schizophrenic or anarchic impulse, Pandora decided to play Missy Elliot’s ‘Work It.’  Perhaps more than any other song that has ever existed, this tune was impossible for servers to ignore as they recited the lengthy, overblown information dump restaurant spiel that CC chooses to burden their guests with.

Calamity played out as follows:

Brantley:  “Hi, welcome to CC.  My name is Brantley.  I’ll be your server today.”

Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott:  “If you got a big dick, let me search ya.”

Brantley:  “Is this your first time dining with us?”

Guest:  “….Uhm…Yes.”

Brantley:  “Fantastic.  Thanks for joining us this evening.  A few things about our restaurant…”

Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliot:  “Phone before you come, I need to shave my cha cha.”

Brantley was not the only victim of Missy on Valentine’s day.  Other servers were interrupted by:  “Take my thong off and my ass go VROOM,” “I’m not a prostitute but I could give you what you want,” and most devastatingly, “Kunta Kinte a slave again, no sir.  Picture black sayin’ ‘Oh yessa massa.’”

Ever since, when asked about changing the music, Kerver responds, “Maybe,” in the tone of a parent – the implied meaning of “Absolutely not, now fuck off and stop asking,” obvious even to small children.

On this particular Monday morning, Kerver could have saved lives by turning on a local radio station and trusting the FCC’s censorship efforts at least until the restaurant opened.  But he didn’t.  The Missy incident was that traumatic to him.

Radio stations throughout Orlando were documenting up to the second reports of a giant, 6-story tall crab-like monster that was stomping its way through tourist town.  With haphazard swipes of its monstrous claws, it had wiped out the attractions of Fun Spot.  Presumably amongst the chaos and din of the monster’s fleeing victims could be heard someone screaming in terror, “It’s HUGE!!!!”

The Crab Monster had then proceeded to knock over the seemingly complete but not yet opened to the public, Orlando Eye (the world’s largest ferris wheel, complete with a perfect view of absolutely nothing).

Inside the restaurant, the terrible 10-songs were blaring torturously.  Brooker was singing as he worked on the various tasks required before opening at 11:30 AM each day.  The hellish playlist not only didn’t phase this aspiring singer, but he actually liked it and sang along to at least three of the songs, literally every single time that they came on (which must have been approximately twice per hour).

One song was a soul-crushingly terrible cover of the Beatles “Drive My Car.”  The other two were songs with gibberish lyrics in no language discernible to even the most astute linguistics experts.  This tendency of Brooker’s was a source of annoyance for many of his coworkers, because his singing wasn’t a gentle hum or muttered recitation of song lyrics.  He belted out imitations of the language-less noises with all of the gusto and conviction of a Broadway performer.

Brantley and the rest of Brooker’s coworkers counted themselves blessed that he didn’t sing along to the French song that culminates in the female singer having the fakest orgasm in the long history of unsatisfied-but-polite women.  Amongst croaks of “Oui, Oui!” are pterodactyl-like screeches causing skin to crawl and penises to go stubbornly flaccid.

Nearby, the approaching Crab Monster had ripped Wonderworks from its foundation and tossed it in the air, causing the upside down museum tourist trap to land upright and surprisingly in tact (though its kitschy International Drive curb appeal was ruined).

Displaying completely unexpected laser vision, the Crab Monster had then melted both of the Ice-themed bars that were built inexplicably less than a quarter-mile apart for some reason.

The prep cooks and front of house employees of CC might have known that the monster was headed to level their restaurant (though Maggiano’s was originally its first choice), had Kerver simply acquiesced to the staff demand for any of Orlando’s pitifully mediocre radio stations.

Instead, the theme song from the James Bond film, “Goldfinger,” was blasting as the monster tore through the roof with its enormous pinchers and demolished the host stand.  Had Tiffany been standing at the front, ready to greet customers as they walked in (like she was supposed to be this close to opening time), she would have surely been killed.  But she survived, because she was in the bathroom.  Or somewhere.  Nobody really knew.

Brantley turned the corner carrying an urn full of unsweetened tea.  His contemplation of how calling these tea containers “urns” was kind of morbid was cut short by the screeching roar of the monster which coincidentally sounded a little bit like the fake orgasming French woman from that stupid song.

This Crab Monster stood upright somehow, walking forward and backward rather than side to side like regular sized crabs are known to do.  It had a strangely elongated torso that allowed it to walk on its back two sets of legs, but the pinchers and weird eyes-on-sticks (Brantley didn’t know the biological term for the body part, but vowed to Google it should he survive the encounter) definitely suggested that this was a Crab Monster, not a Lobster Monster.

Brantley already had his mind set on putting the tea urn (or “monolith” as he had decided to call it from now on) down in its proper place – and held to his plan in spite of the presence of a giant monster, waddling with the weight of the liquid to a counter nearby.  This was a new low for his prevalent task-oriented mindset, but it worked out in his favor seeing as how the Crab Monster’s laser vision trailed him as he waddled with the tea, rather than vaporizing him on the spot.

Meanwhile, the Crab Monster didn’t notice Diana hiding beneath the bar because she is very quiet until you get to know her.

In the midst of one of his annoying performances and thus completely unaware of the chaos and destruction around him, Brooker turned the corner from the back of house and walked towards the restaurant floor croning, “BEEP BEEP, BEEP BEEP, YEAH!”

The Crab Monster, who had raised its giant pincher claw and was prepared to bring it down on Brantley (and the tea monolith), stopped in its tracks.

“Yes, I’m gonna be a star!” Brooker continued, finishing one last line before noticing the gaping hole in the building and the monster before him.  As soon as the next line didn’t come as anticipated, the stunned monster shook out of its trance and began roaring once more.  Hearing the roar, Brantley stifled a giggle before piecing together that the Crab Monster genuinely enjoyed Brooker’s singing.

And Brooker wasn’t a bad singer by any means.  He was simply an incessant singer, and therein lied the problem.  Only under this set of extremely unlikely circumstances, Brooker’s singing wasn’t a problem at all.  It was salvation.

“Keep singing!” Brantley whispered forcibly.

The Beatles cover had trailed off, a poorly executed ending to a miserably unnecessary cover.  A jazzy gibberish tune came on next, another one Brooker’s favorites and without missing a beat, he started imitating the guttural, meaningless syllables.

Once again, the monster stopped in its tracks.

Brantley’s mind took him on a roller coaster of emotions.  First, he felt elation.  The day was saved!  Then, he panicked.  Brooker couldn’t hold the monster at bay forever.  Sooner or later he would have to stop singing.  Finally, Brantley remembered the Brooker literally never stopped singing, ever.  That was why it was so irritating to begin with.  It never stopped.

In his mind, Brantley began concocting an evacuation mission.  He had to get everyone out of the building while Brooker held the monster at bay.

One step towards Diana was as far as he got.  Unconcerned with the complete absence of smoke or fire in the building, the fire alarm went off.  This was a known facilities issue that Kerver did not possess enough profanity to force Pointe Orlando to address.  Despite the recurrence of this problem, every single time it happened, the entire restaurant staff panicked, groaned, or pretended that it wasn’t actually happening (which was how Brantley reacted).  When sold properly, this last option truly baffled some guests and caused them to question whether the screaming alarm was happening in real life or if they were just having their own private seizure.

The Crab Monster thrashed in agony at the screeching of the fire alarm.  Brantley couldn’t help but feel like this was a little bit melodramatic, seeing as how it wasn’t that loud.

Enraged, a pincher shot out and grabbed Brooker, who God bless him, hadn’t stopped singing throughout the whole devolution of the situation into chaos once more.  The Crab Monster brought him close to its mouth, the little finger-arm things that it had instead of lips, “mandibles” maybe (Brantley added this to the list of animal body parts to Google later) dancing with anticipation.

It certainly appeared that Brooker was about to be eaten alive, his irritating singing-turned-salvation silenced forever.  But the pincher stopped short of shoveling Brooker down the monster’s gullet.  Though the structure of its mouth and obvious lack of lips made it ambiguous, Brantley could have sworn that the monster kissed Brooker right on the mouth.  It cradled him close and rocked him like a baby, Brooker still singing relentlessly the whole time.

Then, just as quickly as it tore its way into the restaurant, the monster turned around and left, a singing Brooker still grasped gently in its pinchers.

Diana emerged from underneath the bar and Brantley contemplated whether the shared trauma of the situation brought them close enough to share a reassuring hug.  He decided that they weren’t quite there yet.

Tiffany emerged from the bathroom 5 minutes after the monster’s retreat, still texting, completely oblivious to the destruction around her even as she took her spot amongst the rubble that was once the host stand.

Kerver eventually emerged from the office, screaming at someone on his cell phone about the fire alarm going off unprovoked again.  “This is the fifth fucking time this month!”

Brantley found himself walking aimlessly around the restaurant, trying to process it all.  Near the dishwashing area, he noticed that most of the back of house guys seemed to be alright, albeit a little scared and confused.  He considered asking if any of them were hurt, but most spoke iffy English, so he decided against it.

The Crab Monster stomped its way through Orlando before presumably jumping on 528 and heading back to its ocean home somewhere, prized singing captor in tow.  Brantley wondered what would become of Brooker and the Crab Monster, if they would fall in love and start a family; if Brooker might serenade the monster until he went blue in the face and died; or most likely if Brooker would drown somewhere along the way on the journey to the Crab Monster’s ocean trench abode.

Brantley couldn’t help but find himself disheveled by the monster’s humanized posture.  He agreed that old monster movies featuring real tarantulas or ants rampaging through tiny model cityscapes looked cheesy, but he wasn’t sold on the decision to give enormous animals anthropomorphized biologies before setting them loose to destroy the world.  Hollywood had swung from one extreme to the other, missing the mark in the process.

Brantley vowed not to make this mistake regarding giant animal monsters in his own writing.

Next Time:  Brantley steals Arrested Development’s device of using the “Next Time” segment at the end of an episode to allude to a promising, yet limited joke that isn’t actually worth pursuing in a longer format (and most importantly, won’t actually be included “Next Time”).

Trust me, it makes more sense in practice than in theory.

The Problem with The Brantley Blog

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To anyone who is still here after my year long-hiatus from this blog, I feel like I owe you a big apology and an explanation.

The Brantley Blog was discontinued for two primary reasons.

Bad Feelings

What began as select drinking stories and misadventures from college slowly turned into a broader story arc of my coming of age after leaving home for the first time.  This was a natural evolution, but it came with a price.

I struggled with a lot of loneliness in my first semester of college.  During my second semester, I finally made friends and I got really close with a lot of people who didn’t have much in common with me other than our shared affinity for inebriation.  This didn’t end well.

Petty conflicts, jealousies, and certain individuals’ affliction of talking about people behind their backs led my group of friends to a boiling point.  We all met on top of a parking garage to air out our grievances with each other in a structured act of full disclosure.  We called it, I kid you not, a “Pickle Pow Wow.”   Instead of the kindergarten classroom tool of a “talking stick” with which speakers take turns so that they don’t end up shouting over top each other, we passed around a pickle in a pouch.

Tears were shed, hugs exchanged, bandaids applied to minor emotional scratches and wounds, but deep down we all knew that the group of friends was doomed to collapse in on itself.

I know that this is all incredibly stupid and “high school” dramatic, but it really genuinely mattered to me back then.  A lot of people that I cared about stabbed me in the back and friends that I tried to help resented my efforts.  It left a sour taste in my mouth.

Needless to say, the fun of mocking my youthful naivety and the joy of embellishing drinking tales were far preferable to describing how I lost numerous close friends over the course of just a few short months.  When the story that I was telling one blog post at a time reached this point, I suddenly found myself unmotivated to continue.  These events weren’t much fun to write about and I assumed that it wouldn’t be much fun to read.

I had it in my head that someone out there was piecing these individual posts together and reading them like a book; that this heavily foreshadowed climax was hotly anticipated.  I put a great deal of imaginary pressure on myself to get the story right.

Now I know that this was a silly thing to think.  I understand that blogs are typically consumed piece by piece rather than as a unit and that I could have neglected the hard parts of the story and nobody would have noticed.  But it was still enough to suck the fun out of The Brantley Blog for me.

Brantley:  The Great Disappointment

A recurring problem that I had with weaving my underage drinking stories was the looming presence of my parents in the back of my mind.  Both mother and father had recently joined Facebook and had dropped comments (Mom especially) here and there that made social networking lose its luster.  Thoughts of the shit storm that would arise should they find my blog and read about my youthful mistakes (most of which were intentional) prevailed over every revision and every edit of every post.

Over the last month or so, I’ve come to realize that it goes much deeper than fear of my parents finding out that I enjoyed being a little troublemaker in college.  A big part of my tendency to hold back in my writing has been knowledge of their inevitable disapproval of what I have to say.

You see, my parents are very religious.  As a kid, I remember my Dad making this objection throat clearing noise every time a character in a movie swore.  I remember him changing radio stations and calling certain pop songs “garbage.”  I remember my Mom forbidding me from seeing certain movies and how upset she was when she found out that I had used Napster to burn CDs with cuss words in them.

I, on the other hand, have more or less oscillated between atheism and agnosticism ever since the day that my parents decided that I was too old to get away with napping during church services.  I used to lay my head down in the pew every Sunday morning and rely on my family to wake me when it was all over.  Once that was no longer an option, I found myself increasingly uninterested in the entire body of rituals.

Every part of my worldview is so radically different from my parents that it makes for awkward silences during the holidays.  It would be stupid to let my political opinions alienate me from them, but at the same time, there are certain things that I feel very strongly about and it becomes really difficult to see any basic human decency in differing opinions on some issues.

Really, the worst part is that I get the feeling that they don’t even notice these awkward silences, these times that I shut my mouth in polite dissent.  It makes me feel like they probably don’t know very much about me and who I am, who I became once I left their house.

All of this is in the back of my mind during every keystroke, every sentence.  These things that I write, they are an extension of me.  To hate my writing is to hate me.  When it comes to my parents, that’s a lot of stress to handle every time I push that “publish” button.

It isn’t easy suspecting that a falling out with my parents will inevitably be a big part of my artistic journey.  Some days, it’s enough to keep my fingers from hitting any key other than “Backspace,” but I just can’t live that way forever.

I’m 26 years old.  I’m smart, thoughtful, kind, compassionate, and patient (though I struggle with this one sometimes).  I’m stubbornly optimistic and I don’t want to accept defeat, not for myself, not for society, not for the human race.

I’m proud of who I am and I’m proud of my writing.  My parents should be too.  And if they aren’t, then that’s an issue upon which I can’t courteously keep my mouth shut.

From Here   

I plan on continuing to tell my stories, to laugh at myself and the things that have happened to me.  I plan on sharing my insights on petty injustices that I encounter in my day to day drudgery.  I plan on trying to make readers laugh or smile, to entertain a person or two if only for a few minutes out of their day.

I plan on doing these things on a wider level.  I’m going to share this blog with actual people that I know and if my parents find it, I hope they enjoy it.  No.  I hope that they can’t help but enjoy it, even though they disapprove.  I hope that they are just as proud of me as I am of myself.

The Boner Policy

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Before delving into the collapse of my freshman group of friends from college, I think it’s important to describe some of the adventures that we had together so that you can mourn the calamity of our feuds as much as I did back then.

As I’ve said before, our common interest was partying.  In many cases, there was no further connection binding us together.

The group’s demographic skewed female to Jurassic Park levels.  There were basically three dudes, counting me, hanging out with like a dozen girls.  I loved the proportions at the time, but future events would make me question whether or not females are truly capable of empathy towards each other, or if any semblance of girl friendship is just a long con style intricate murder plot.

Bobby is one of those friendships that came out of our group (we called ourselves “K.I.T.T.” – short for Keep In Touch Tuesday) that actually made the enormous headaches that most of these people caused me feel worthwhile in retrospect.

The other guy, well, he had an emotional issue or two (or seven thousand).  We’ll call him “Tommy” because of his ongoing need for anonymity when it comes to the stories I have to tell about him.  Tommy was a quirky stoner with a lot of money and friends that liked to throw parties in their shitty apartments.

One such celebration of alcohol was The Lingerie Party.  Now 19 year-old Brantley had heard legends of lingerie parties, but was skeptical of their existence.  The concept was too awesome and it always seemed to happen to someone else.  I guess skepticism is the wrong word.  19 year-old Brantley thought of Lingerie parties as “winning the lottery” or “seeing a super majestic bald eagle doing its thing” – he knew that those things did indeed happen, but that they didn’t happen to many people despite everyone’s longing for them.

Well this time around, I was invited and I looked forward to the event with both excitement and trepidation.  You see, I was still self-medicating a lot of social anxiety at the time and if I didn’t get the dosage strong enough, I had a tendency to sweat like someone with a serious medical condition.  Being in nothing but my underwear, there was a strong chance that I would be making it rain on the whole party unless I somehow managed to attach the keg directly to my face.

I coolly suggested to Bobby that we grab some robes or like Hugh Heffner smoking jackets.  I also jokingly, but actually totally seriously, asked him, “So what’s the boner policy at lingerie parties?”  “Don’t get one,” he replied tersely.  Then the robes were more important than ever.

Helping Girls Shop for Lingerie

For some reason, Bobby and I accompanied a ton of the girls to the fancy mall so that they could go shopping for lingerie.  I thought the idea of being on hand to provide a male perspective to girls looking for skimpy underwear was a dream come true.  In reality, however, there are few responses that a slack-jawed 19 year-old boy can give to a lingerie-consumer requesting feedback (and none of them are particularly respectful).

Now at that point in my life, I wasn’t articulate enough to say things like:  “Women shouldn’t be viewed or treated like sex objects that exist solely for men’s amusement and gratification,” but something along those lines was clicking deep down inside of me.  I realized that these were more than just half-naked girls that I would soon be getting drunk with.  They were friends that I respected.  It was almost as if they were human beings equal to myself, you know?

After a few awkward moments of babbled feedback, Bobby and I absconded to the food court and ate meatball subs from Firehouse.

Bobby’s Weird Lime Chicken

The night of the party, the plan was for the boys to prepare dinner for the girls and then we would all part ways to get dolled up and go to this sexy underwear kegger.  Bobby took head chef duty, and we made this weird lime chicken that most people pushed around their plates politely before tossing into the trash.  Out of stubborn loyalty, I opted for seconds.  In a lifetime full of mistakes, this decision still stands prominently within the regret regions of my brain.

Unsurprisingly, Bobby and I were stripped down and ready to go to the party within minutes and the girls took much longer.  To be honest, I don’t remember all that much of the actual event once we got there.  I remember puking in the bathroom after just a few beers and being a good enough friend not to immediately blame Bobby’s Weird Lime Chicken.  I remember different scantily-clad girls sitting in my lap on the balcony next to the keg.  There really wasn’t any intra-KITT drama at that point, so it was a pretty tame affair as far as shit shows go.

The Purest Embodiment of Douche Baggery

Most importantly, however, I remember The Purest Embodiment of Douche Baggery ever to draw breath within our douche bag infested world.  He strutted around the small apartment with his chest puffed out and his arms held away from his sides like some kind of monkey with vertigo.  “I go to the gym a lot!” his body language shouted.  His hair was thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly gelled into spikes.  He wore sunglasses.  Inside.  At night.  Indoors.  At this nocturnal event.  Where there was no sun.  His heart boxers were cute but cliche.  But here’s the best part:  He wore about a half dozen Magnum condoms around his constantly-flexed bicep as a kind of arm band.  I wish I was a talented enough writer to make this up.

Naturally, I played him in beer pong.  Occasionally in a long-tenured beer pong career, you will encounter complaints that the cups don’t have enough beer in them.  The result is that they move around when the ball hits the side and the movement prevents the shot from going in.  It’s a real complaint, albeit an insulting one to make to someone far more interested in beer than pong.  The Purest Embodiment of Douche Baggery claimed that under filled cups were the cause of his beer pong mediocrity.  Every time.  After every shot that bounced off the cups and didn’t go in:  “Is there even any beer in that cup?”  I’m certain that if he acted this way at every party he attended, it was only a matter of time before someone’s fist decided that he had too many teeth in his mouth.

I don’t remember who won that game.  It doesn’t matter.  Pong is just a game.  Beer is a form of enlightenment.

I do remember my partner from the beer pong game sitting in my lap on the balcony later that evening.  The Purest Embodiment of Douche Baggery, who had been hitting on her and being brutally rebuffed throughout our entire game, strutted stupidly out to where we sat and asked her to grab him a beer.  She laughed in his face.  He grabbed his own beer and dumped it on her (and on me by proxy).  Everyone was on their feet and I don’t remember how I talked this girl out of altering some of his facial features.  I think I was standing in between the two of them and lightly shepherding the douche bag into the apartment, but I’m a pretty non-confrontational guy who totally panics in situations like that, so defusing this bomb was most likely entirely accidental.

The douche left eventually and we all kept partying and having a great time, despite Bobby’s weird lime chicken.

When Fate Graces You with an Apology

A few months later, The Purest Embodiment of Douche Baggery landed the task of going door to door in college apartment complexes for some reason or other.  I was hanging out with the girl that he dumped beer on when the douche knocked on the door.  He said his piece on whatever it was that he was doing and then awkwardly apologized for that night.  I laughed at it at the time, but now I know how rare it is to hear apologies from random shitheads that you cross paths with in life.  The potential divinity of the moment completely eluded me in that moment, but really, what are the odds of him knocking on that door in that apartment complex precisely at that moment when I was hanging out over there?

I wouldn’t be enlightened enough to see it this way for hundreds more beers.

The Powder Keg Foundation of Keep In Touch Tuesday

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In what could be considered the final triumph over my social awkwardness, I finally found my place in college in the final months of my Freshman year.  A group of friends had formed around my weekly Thursday night beer pong tradition and I had built for myself a social outlet to cure my weekend loneliness.

In the month leading up to finals and our group’s inevitable disbursement for Summer, what I thought was a brilliant idea came to me while I was pumping gas one already-miserably-hot- in- Florida May afternoon.  It was a concept that would eventually assign a name to our doomed conglomerate of people who had no business hanging out with each other.  The idea was this:  If any of us had gone a full week without speaking, we should call, text, IM, or Facebook each other for a Keep In Touch Tuesday tradition.  The idea was born from my colossal failures at keeping in touch with my friends back in Pensacola (failures that are ongoing to this day), but it soon resulted in a Facebook thread that would become the skeleton of our group’s destruction.

You see, we weren’t all friends based on a common interest or similar personality types.  We were friends because beer.  Some individuals bonded more and others, but for the most part, beer.

My Thursday night watch LOST and then get hammered thing began as me grabbing whomever I could interest to come into my room and be buddies for a little while.  The population in that tiny dorm was initially made up of people living on my floor.  Some of them actually became my pals.  Others drank beer, had a good time and were never heard from again.

The moment Elle stepped foot in my smells-real-strong-like-dude dorm room, that all began to change.  The first night she came over, she brought an empty-headed sorority girl that she was friends with from back home.  That girl never came back, but Elle did.  Every single week from that point forward.  She began bringing different people each time (including my longtime friends Katie and Ashlyn – who like my girlfriend probably feel like they deserved to be mentioned more often in this blog!).

The combination of my hodgepodge of dorm community-mates and Elle’s endless parade of newcomers fused into the earliest manifestations of our group, which in a tremendously stupid move would eventually come to call themselves “KITT.”  Keep In Touch Tuesday.  We were literally calling ourselves Keep In Touch Tuesday.  Those of us with enough sense to know that this was dumb just kept our mouths shut because everyone else seemed pretty happy with the group name.

As I have alluded to in previous posts, my friendship with Elle was always a ticking time bomb.  We were studying the same thing.  We both liked alcohol.  Other than that, we had a similar sense of humor and a frequent tendency to be inebriated.  There were a lot of key differences and personality clashes that we ignored because yay booze.

The origins of our grand friendship came on a fateful night when I drank myself into a state of hyperbolic appreciation.  In a fatefully slurred series of sentences, I declared Elle my “BFF.”  It might have been a joke, it might have been drunkenly sincere.  Who can ever remember such things?

BFFs we remained for several months.  We started planning short films and productions together, discussing possibilities for after graduation.  That’s right.  I told this girl she was my best friend while we were intoxicated and we soon found ourselves planning a future together.

That BFF status endured longer than it should have.  After being turned down by the girl I liked (Mallory) and venting to Elle that I needed some space from her while I got over it, Elle delivered Mallory straight to my door within the next 12 hours in a move as stupid and self-centered as it was prophetic to our friendship’s collapse.  They wanted to get drunk and have fun, Brantley’s broken heart be damned.

Elle was as “there for me” as she could be during the jumblefuck of The Last Girl I Ever Led On and The Greatest First Date Ever, though I had another outlet that was a far better shoulder to cry on.  She presumably read my rants, ravings, and confessions as I communicated them to her through instant message, but she wasn’t all that great at consoling me or making me feel better.  I didn’t hold it against her, because I’m not the greatest at giving advice either and also she was fun to hang out with when beer.

After a Summer full of hysterical and entertaining communication via the Keep In Touch Tuesday Facebook thread, our entire group of friends was thrilled to physically reunite in the Fall Semester of Sophomore year.  What we didn’t know was that we hadn’t actually been around each other enough to discover that we didn’t actually get along, but that’s an epic that will unfold over a future series of strange anecdotes.

As for my BFF-dom with Elle, she joined a sorority that fall and our differences became more apparent.  I’m sorry to generalize, but sororities tend to worry entirely too much about things that mean entirely too little.  I appreciate that these events and social dynamics are important to the “sisters,” but to an outsider they are trivial, tedious, and nauseating.  I did my best not to hold her Greek affiliation against her, but Elle and I were beginning to drift and become separate people in those first months of Sophomore year.

The space gave me enough breathing room to realize that Elle wasn’t a good person, and some of her faults would soon affect me personally in ways that became increasingly more difficult to forgive.

But that’s for another time.

Be on the look out for KITT posts with more details about how our group that was founded on a faulty friendships dramatically (read “ridiculously”) collapsed.

The Bar Epiphany

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I have a recurring epiphany that pounces on me at bars sometimes:  I’m so unbelievably thankful to have found my girlfriend when and where I did.  When I’m at a bar and she isn’t around, I can’t help but notice people looking to make some boozy love connections and realize how hopelessly inept I would be at finding romance in such a way. 

The first time these thoughts and the ensuing gratitude assaulted me, I was extremely drunk before even stepping foot in the bar.  As the friends I came with went and danced, I thought to myself, “Sweet Jesus I hate dancing and if dancing were my only chance at meeting the girl of my dreams, I would certainly die alone.”  I immediately drunk texted my girlfriend to let her know how lucky I was to have her.  

The epiphany struck again last night when I went out for drinks with a few co-workers.  A fairly nice girl was telling me about her hobby of collecting shoes (Air Jordans in particular) and showing me pictures of the pair that she has coming in the mail.  

I wasn’t bored out of my mind, but there was no connection there.  Sometimes I talk to people and feel like I have absolutely zero in common with them.  I don’t hold it against that person and I’m certainly not rude to them.  

I like hearing about other people’s lives as they would tell it.  Mostly because I think that there always exists an abundance of sub-plots, half-truths, and ulterior motives between the lines; but  I also enjoy comparing and contrasting my perception of the person with the perception that they try to project with their stories.  There are three identities at play:  Who I think they are, Who they tell me they are, and Who they really think they are.  I tumbled down the rabbit hole pondering these things as I listened to her life story prior to moving to Florida.  Drinking a Fat Tire, struggling to listen over the din of a mediocre house band, and contemplating some of the complexities of human nature combine for multi-tasking far beyond my capabilities.  I could never have met the love of my life at a bar, and I would have become a miserable, cynical human being had I ever tried. 

Notes From My Girlfriend’s Birthday

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This is over a month late, but oh well.

I’m beginning to realize that I have a tremendously introverted time at bars.  That being said, here are a few of the things that I remember thinking when we went out for my girlfriend’s birthday.

We took Uber, which is basically a freelance cab service.  It was awesome and cheap, though my mom scolded me publicly on Facebook which (aside from providing her with right wing propaganda) seems to be the only way that she uses social networking.  “They don’t do background checks on those people!  They could be bad drivers and/or axe murderers!”  Something along those lines.  You know, typical mom stuff.

Our first bar was Little Indie’s.  It was a hipster dive with provocative pictures of nude pin-up girls providing the entirety of the decor in this building that literally had plywood walls in places.  There were a few booths and high tops for people to congregate around and a VJ stood by the door, playing music in front of a flat screen TV with VH1 Classic on mute.  The music didn’t match the music videos, which was equal parts off-putting and exhilarating.  The unisex bathroom had two beaten up movie theater chairs facing the toilet.  We all know that girls tend to accompany each other to the restroom, but I had never thought of it being a spectator thing.  The bar area was pretty cool and they had a couple dozen craft beers along with some very convoluted cocktails with fascinating names.  

We left and went downtown to Bar-B-Que Bar/Eye Spy/Sky60, which are all connected and semi-indecipherable to me.  I just read on Facebook that the whole trio is shutting down, which is a shame because they’re weird and I like that.  We pushed our way past crowds up to Sky60, which is a rooftop dance party with a decent view of the city skyline.  

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t enjoy dancing, so I occupied myself with getting us drinks and found myself in a purely utopian situation.  The bartender was pretty awful at her job.  Dozens of people were shoving their way to the bar top to assail her for beverages and she was clearly overwhelmed.  I stood politely waiting my turn, taking note of who arrived before me and after me so as to assert my place in the sequence should the need arise.  Some guys shoved in next to me and demanded some drinks.  The bewildered bartender told them that they would have to wait their turns and that because they were being ass holes it wouldn’t be any time soon.  

It was a nice-person-ocracy.  I received preferential treatment based solely on my understanding smile and manners.  I wrote encouraging remarks on the receipt when I signed it:  “You’re doing a great job!”  I added a smiley face just to emphasize that I wasn’t being sarcastic because in reality she was doing a dreadful job.  Even though this bartender seemed flabbergasted by the receipt printer for a solid 5 minutes at one point, I kept going back to her to have my faith in the worthwhileness of courtesy reaffirmed.  

Next to me, a very skinny guy tried to buy drinks for a girl behind him with no fewer than three declined credit cards.  

For some strange reason, a pack of a half-dozen fat girls kept migrating from this side of the dance floor to that side of the dance floor.  Unable to repeatedly part like the Red Sea for them, they shoved their way past us like linebackers and I wasn’t drunk enough that it didn’t annoy me thoroughly.  I contemplated rallying the troops for a game of Red Rover in which we held our ground against the migratory girls.  More comically, I toyed with the idea of twerking on them each time they walked past until they decided to take an alternate route.  

One of my girlfriend’s co-workers apologized to me for buying her so many drinks as we left the bar.  She was staggering forward in front of us as we neared the stairwell.  “So long as she doesn’t fall down the stairs, I won’t hold it against you!” I joked approximately twenty seconds before she twisted her ankle on the third step from the bottom.  

There’s a small cafe that sells pizza by the slice at the base of the stairwell.  It gets mobbed with drunk people around 2 AM.  We joined the line to grab a slice, hoping to stave off the nausea portion of tomorrow’s hangover with tonight’s junk food.  I bought her a slice of cheese, for myself, a slice of pepperoni and sausage.  It came out to like $7 somehow.  The pizza was terrible.  It was like a New York style Totino’s pizza that was over-microwaved and then left out to get cold.  This place stayed in business not because of the quality product that it provided, but sheerly based on its proximity to inebriated people.  Why?  Why would you want to own such a shitty business?  How could you aspire to mediocrity?  They would have been better off ordering Domino’s and selling it by the slice.  I couldn’t stave off the annoyance.  I’ve made homemade pizza without any clear idea of what I was doing and it came out 100x better than these crappy slices.  

I handed my girlfriend her slice, pulled out my phone to call for an Uber, and then turned back around seconds later to find that she had already somehow misplaced her pizza.