A bird took a shit on my pants today and I was unsure whether or not to be grateful.
After all, it didn’t shit on my head.
At first, I thought the drop that fell on to my pants was condensation, maybe from a heater or even some residual melted snow that had held out through the recent spate of 40-something-degree weather.
But it felt a little heavy. And out of the corner of my eye I could see that little dabble of chalky white that somehow ends up composing the “eggy” part of bird feces.
Looking back on it, I kind of wonder about the biological reason for something so white coming out of there.
Anyway, like I said, I was kinda grossed out but also at the same time a little thankful.
A bird shitting my head during an outing to Central Park as a young-un had only reinforced my previously-held assumptions, based on my wide range of seasonal allergies, that Nature did not particularly like me and in fact, would like me to stay a nominal distance away from it at all times.
Subsequently there had been either one or two more times of cranial depositions, much further along in my development, but they paled in comparison to the first time.
Somehow, you never get over that smiled wiped off your face when you’re playing and you’re 8 and you realize that that drop on your head isn’t a snowflake.
At least I wouldn’t have to wash my hair, I thought.
That would be a bummer, summer.
All I had to do was go upstairs from the old-lady bench next to the steps of my SoHo building and change my jeans.
Which Eva had hated anyway.
“Why don’t you go back to Hot Topic?” She said.
“I’m hurt.” I told her, before we grabbed each other and continued a previously engaged-in make-out session in the lobby of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU.
Eva was there for a conference on Wallace Stevens and to try to find a professor who taught at her school on the intersection between mathematics and storytelling, her particular passion.
Unfortunately though for the scholars, academics and self-unsatisfied-looking Gallatin kids who were waiting with us in the lobby, I had just slightly overcome a bout with intense depression, the relief from which mostly manifested itself in the need to constantly be making out.
But Eva pulled away again.
“The jeans!” She exclaimed.
“What’s so wrong?” I asked. “They’re black jeans.”
And then, to exculpate myself further:
“I bought them at Old Navy.”
“Ugh!” She groaned. “I need to sew them or something. Better yet you need to not wear them.”
She crossed her arms and grabbed her iPod to resume her game of Solitaire.
“Either that or go back to Williamsburg, you tool.” She informed me.
Which I countered with a kiss.
Which was returned.
As for the defamed jeans, later the subject of much defecation, I feel I should explain myself on these pages.
You see, as comes as no surprise to those of you know me, I’m not much the “shopping type”.
Usually the purchase of clothing for me either involves an extremely rare buying of an in-jokey T-shirt on the web, or to satisfy minimum credit card requirements at a movie theater, or, much more embarrassingly, asking my mom for more boxers, as a purported way to reduce the amount of times I had to do laundry. (The lack of a clean pair of boxers always being the limiting factor).
The jeans purchase had been inspired by a surprise phone call I had received on Tuesday to usher at the Cherry Lane Theater for a show I’d never heard of, called “Love and Contempt”.
When the woman told me to dress in black, I tried to tell her I didn’t own anything that was solid, unpatterned black.
But I guess at that point, I was so desperate to do anything, that I told her I’d buy a pair of black jeans and be ready for Friday.
“See you at 6.” She told me and hung up.
“I think I know why my interview didn’t go so well.” I told my therapist. “It was because I wasn’t on message enough, I wasn’t hyping the company, I didn’t sounds like TV was my first priority.”
“Well that and I kinda cursed when they asked me a question.”
I retold the story to my therapist that I told the H.R. Lady from LA on the phone interview that I must have mangled so badly that they eliminated me.
It was the story answering the injunction: “Describe a time at work when you absolutely failed.”
I was taken aback. The first round of questioning I had somewhat expected, it was all industry stuff and even though I had been having a nervous breakdown at the time, I knew the answers, because I knew the industry.
But here, I didn’t know the answers because H.R. was different than whatever department you were applying for. They were looking to weed out the crazies.
Which was a problem, since all the real stories I had, that came to mind, about failures I’d had at work (some of which have been chronicled here) all involved massive conflicts with authority, meltdowns and irreconcilable differences, usually followed swiftly by a departure.
“Those stories might not be the best to tell.” My therapist offered.
That, at least, I knew.
So what I told to the H.R. Lady from LA was a story about going to Toys R Us on Black Friday to purchase Zhu Zhu Pets from the Times Square store. It was an action packed tale fulled of crazed mothers, harried employees, a ticking clock and a props matter who threatened to send “someone else who can do the job if you can’t get it done”. I talked about my wit, cunning, charm and final discovery of the mechanical gerbils/hamsters, only to find that they were over my budget given.
“That sounds like a good story.” My therapist remarked at this point.
And it was except that when I called the props master to let him know the cost and that I’d put it on my card, he told me to “Fuck it”.
Which is exactly what I related to the HR Lady from LA.
Which maybe for a New Yorker might not be so bad, but when you are being interviewed to give tours to Midwesterners as a representative of a multinational media corporation that doesn’t allow such language on the air, saying that word in the interview is not a good sign.
“Well that’s good that you’ve found some lesson to be taken.” My therapist told me. “However it turns out.”
The next day I found out that I hadn’t gotten the job, but not before my therapist ended our session by telling me that I was beginning to experience the part of a reactive depression where “you are unable to feel happiness”.
And that’s pretty much what Wednesday was all about.
Even though I had had my encounter with that upbeat puppeteer the day previous about having a bunch of eggs, Wednesday was the day it felt like each egg shattered individually.
Or maybe I fell on them.
Or maybe they just fell on my pants.
In addition to the news that I hadn’t gotten the job, delivered in a “Dear Candidate” form letter:
-my meeting with a producer about my feature was canceled an hour beforehand with no attempt to reschedule
-my meeting with some old friends from school about a new short was canceled with “uncertainty” as to when it would be rescheduled
-my pages from my new feature were panned at my writing group
AND no day is complete without:
-two more rejections from film festivals for my short.
At one point, during that day, I got happy for no reason. At another point, after the writing group, I just kept grinding a piece of pizza crust into mush with my teeth and then, grinding complete, circling it around my mouth.
I felt unsure how I had taken the puppeteers advice incorrectly:
Had I just been too focused on each egg individually?
Were eggs like children that needed to be treated equally and recognized for their faults?
Was I just, myself, a bad egg?
I lacked the prerequisite experience to know anyway, since I had not had the famous “egg parenting” course at my middle school. Since I went to school in New York, the teachers recognized that perhaps the rough situation of sidewalk and subway were not the best place for ovine welfare and instead tasked us with bags of flour upon which to shower our care.
Anyway, I think my bag broke.
Which is why when someone offered me a chance to usher, to do something. I took it, even though I didn’t know the show.
I took it, and I bought those jeans.
I remember asking my teacher, Amos Poe, about the differences between cinema and stageplays and what delineates the two.
I remember him, in that subterranean classroom we inhabited, where he still wore his hat and detached post-stoned manner.
“Well,” he told me. “I think the difference is that if you see a bad movie, you can just leave.”
A point which I took as something of an evasion then, but found myself reexamining when faced with ushering for “Love and Contempt”, a production affiliated with, though not produced by, Montclair State University.
It was a vanity project put on by a drama professor at that fine institute of learning who, having fancied himself something of a “dramatis persona” (his actual title in the program for himself), decided to cast his students in a production of his own fashioning, written and directed by him.
The work of an auteur, one could call it.
Well, they could.
What it mainly consisted of was generic suburban people saying things like “all men _____” and “all women _____” in ways that played out just exactly as dictated in the characters actions.
Well then, didn’t see that one coming.
But as I sat in the back of the theater, calmly observing the students and their Jerseyite parents who had sold out the house, I felt not only like I couldn’t watch this anymore, but that I now had a list of things that I couldn’t watch.
Movies I had worked on, shows I’d worked on. The movies and shows that had rejected me.
When I watched “The Office” on Thursday night, I was unsure whether I’d ever lose the queasy feeling I had trying to enjoy the show.
The play was a wash that night, though the Jersey parents clapped into the after-hours, much to the chagrin of the house manager and I who were tasked with the impossible mission of keeping them quiet while a different show went on in a different theater closeby.
Eventually though the Jerseyites cleared out and the house manager, Jonathan, and I got to talking.
He was comfortably older than me enough so that he couldn’t be my peer, but at the same time not so old that he could be my dad or a yuppie either.
He had an easy going attitude and a background in playwriting at NYU.
We talked about Martin McDonagh (“brilliant but watering it down for America…”), Neil LaBute (“a great ear, bad with other people’s material”) and the job of a theater director (“to give the actor space, while guiding them away from the worst decisions”). We joked about the Jerseyites.
He even recommended a covert piece of dark chocolate- and toffee-covered matzoh available at the concession stand that was homemade from Brooklyn and the perfect balance of crunchy, salty and sweet.
And the show was over. The parents went home. I said goodbye to the house manager and asked if I could volunteer again and he told me he’d be around.
But as the house manager went back in and I exited to the street, I felt a pang.
The show was terrible, the actors a joke and the writer/director/creator the biggest joke of all, except for possibly me, who did it all for free.
But I had a great night.
Because when you work in something you love, everyone around you has that energy, they love it too and you are bonded to them in ways impossible by blood or planning.
You are made a family, unconscious of each other, waiting to be revealed.
And then you go home and go to your bed and go on.
But there’s that itch inside of you, to get back in it, to find something else, to be around these people who are “charged” so that you will be too.
That’s the business.
The next morning, I kept wearing my black usher’s jeans.
Is it a fallacy to be grateful when something less bad happens to you?
I’m not sure.
But eventually I had that meeting about a new short and it went not too badly.
And the next day there was a Jia Zhangke retrospective at MoMA.
And then sometime there I could see Eva again and look at her until we grabbed each other and started kissing in other institutions of higher learning.
And this time, we wouldn’t have to stop for jeans.
THE CHERRY LANE THEATER CONCESSION STAND
Dark chocolate- and toffee-covered matzoh- $4.50 (show nights only)
Commerce St. between Barrow and Bedford Sts.
1 to Christopher St, PATH to Christopher St.