Monsters in My Pocket, Acting on my Brain (And Also For Some Reason, Anne Heche)

“I wish I could be a Pokemon Trainer.”

“Then it would just be like I graduate high school and boom: just go around, going like, ‘Squirtle, go’ and shit.”

“Would be less lame than this.”

The conversations one has in one’s free time.

Frank and I were walking down Elizabeth St in Chinatown, working out ideas about unemployment and video games after a quick spin-by Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.

The ice cream was delicious–I got a one-scoop of half-Oreo/half-Red Bean which was creamy and chewy and felt good in the post-rained out afternoon.

Frank and I, who had never had completely overlapping interests, found ourselves diverging even more after college, and when we hung out we found ourselves bound both by old, shared nerdiness and present lack of employment.

Thus Frank’s wondering about a world where he could just not worry about jobs and instead be a Pokemon trainer.

“Yeah, that’d be pretty sweet.” I told him, not entirely mulling it over.

“Just go around winning Pokemon battles.” Frank said, ambling.

“You know the one thing I never understood was that you like beat up a kid’s pokemon and took his money. But where the hell did he get that money from in the first place? Did these kids even have a real job? Were there parents just loaded? Were you taking their lunch money?”

“That’s fucked up.” Frank said. “Then what would they eat?”

“Shit.” I said. “Puts a whole new perspective on the game.”

Just as I had dissolved into my writing and some attempt at artiness after high school, Frank had embarked on a more common-sensical path in his education, as he was always the more down-to-earth of the two of us. He studied business, Japanese, accounting; whatever interested him. He went to college, not knowing what he would learn or get out, on an ambling path down which he had found good friends, some of whom I had met upon my accompanying him to his other friend’s wedding. I had made friends of my own, in my own way, but I had always been so dead-set and concentrated in my education, treating film school more like a video game where one must “level up” and gain new powers than any sort of journey of discovery.

Moreover, just as we used to be fellow, shapeless nerds, in stark contrast to our built-superiors involved in athletics, I had maintained a relative flubbiness, while Frank complained to me on a daily basis that he was now a “Small” in shirt size and commented that you know you’ve really gotten a good workout when you have to puke afterwards.

“Not saying that’s a good thing.” Frank said. “Just saying you know, you really killed your body that time.”

By comparison, my father complained to me today that I should get some shirts that fit me. I was wearing a large.

We ended up going and getting, in addition to the ice cream, a “WiiMotionPlus” so I could play the new WiiSports Resort game (as close to the word “sports” as you’ll ever see me), but when Frank come over to help me set it up, we found out that in the process of moving my Wii had been somehow dismantled in a way irreparable by mere players of the system.

After that, we didn’t do much but hang out. The thing I’ve always liked about Frank is that we never really have to do something and even a day wasted, feels relaxing when you have someone to hang with, relatively tensionless.

Frank had come home from college, expecting to work with his father in home electronics installation, but his father’s business had slowed in the post-Madoff era and Frank could only work from time-to-time.

One of the effects of the mass joblessness my early 20s friends are experiencing is that there’s always a discussion of the future as if there might be one. My parents upon seeing Frank asked him if he would be a personal trainer, while I had been encouraging him to go back to school for cooking, another passion of his.

(I couldn’t say that it didn’t have something to do with selfishness–I’d rather hear more about food from him and less about exercise.)

And ask me that question, I keep thinking what I thought in college about my future: that, namely, wasn’t it supposed to be right now?

“That stuffs boring.” Frank said, upon voicing my thoughts. “And I’m tired. Good night.”

And upon that Frank conked out face-down on my couch with a murmur about gluts or biceps or something.

Talking about exercise in his sleep. God. Damnit.

Oh, well.

Time for more video games.

***

Introduction time.

This is what I get for asking for a little background on everyone.

The two other actors were at various levels of experience, one being a New Orleans-bred Downtown-character actor who had recently done a performance piece with his sister about Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire reimagined in a post-that-play, post-Katrina atmosphere of New Orleans while also summoning up Marlon Brando.

The other guy was even scarier:

A skinnier, more hipster-y version of myself with curly hair and a blond moustache who was a theater student at Fordham and was even ostensibly straight.

“Damn.” I thought to myself. “A straight, skinnier version of me at theater school? He must get super laid.”

They were staring at me.

Oh yeah. My introduction.

“Well, uh. Yeah. I’m just some guy Michael found in a line.” I told them.

Silence. Hanging smiles from the two of them. The director, Michael (the same), smiled uncomfortably.

“And uh, now I’m  making him look bad.”

I tried to goofily smile my way out of the situation and the hanging silence turned into some laughs.

You don’t know, I thought to myself. They are actors. Maybe they all just hate you now and are acting this way.

I was there for my first rehearsal, the first rehearsal of all of the rehearsals, I would find out, for this crazy play I’m in: The Confidence Man which is being put on by this group, The Woodshed Collective.

Michael, the good-natured guy who I’d met waiting in line for a show that was a one-man reenactment of Rambo: First Blood (the book, not the movie), explained to us that in the play we all were con-men and we were all being conned.

As I read the lines, I struggled towards character. As I had explained nervously to the pretty, also-NYU Assistant Director, what I was quickly figuring out was that I wasn’t an actor, at least in the sense that people who had been through four or however many years of school were.

In my mind, I thought about all these secret tricks they must have learned, ways of getting in touch with themselves to pull out emotions, beats that they could find in a scene, ways of relating to their character.

Me, when I read, was just trying to sound cool, just trying to embody some different version or affect of myself.

My rehearsal ended early, only three hours-long, for our first of a series that would stretch on every day until our performance.

As I left the room, dismissed, I turned around about five steps from the door and asked: “So was that okay and stuff?”

Everyone gave words of assurance.

I bet they were all talking about what a dick that kid was as soon as I left, I thought as I headed for the elevator.

The next morning I awoke to a facebook message from one of my actors praising me for “being natural” and saying he was “honored to work with me”.

Which made me think, wow, what a nice guy.

Either that or that he felt bad about talking about what a dick I was yesterday.

Neurosis.

***

Finally and on a completely unrelated note, I read an article in the New York Times magazine and am now attracted to Anne Heche.

She used to weird me out, pretty much, what with the whole Ellen/Lesbian thing break-up.

I admit to my own ignorance, that when I heard that she had proclaimed herself in a lesbian relationship, in love with Ellen DeGeneres, I could never look at her in the same way in the roles she was cast for as a straight romantic interest.

I would always try to read in to what was there, whether there was some attempt at representation, or a layer “put-on” of a hetero-normativity.

The ways of definitive attractiveness that stars like Nicole Kidman have fell away from her, melting into confusion of my male libido.

But upon reading the profile of her in the Times, her strange, southern, sexually-abusive childhood, her constant vulnerability that she brings to her roles, her attempts an all things to find love, bouncing around to different genders and types of lovers–suddenly I felt a heat towards her, an unraveling or deconstruction of all the times I had been made to feel uncomfortable.

Maybe it was the idea that she was vulnerable, honest. Maybe it was her craziness, her suppressed personality “Celestia”, a woman who thought aliens were going to take her away to the stars.

Maybe it was that suddenly it seemed like there was so much to know about this person.

Maybe I just have a lesbian fetish. Or a crazy one.

Who knows.

The crazy one, at least, would make a lot of sense.

***

CHINATOWN ICE CREAM FACTORY

One Scoop: Half-Oreo, Half/Red Bean– $3.75

Bayard St bet. Mott St and Elizabeth St.

NQRWJMZ6 to Canal St.

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