My Picture with JFK

I didn’t expect to see him, then there I was.

I guess maybe I should have.

It was the New York Film Fesitval again, that time of year, and I had found my way back into the press screenings.

In previous years, it had been easy enough to sneak in as one kind of journalist or blogger or another, but this year, I was just taping the damn things for the director’s conversations, in some cock-a-mamie scheme that involved me possibly getting paid or not.

“Regardless,” The Film Society exec had emailed me. “I can get you tickets to The Social Network after-party at the Harvard Club.”

So there I was next to a former president.

About all the hob-knobbing I was prepared to do.

Eva figured out eventually that there are portraits of all of the presidents of the Harvard Club, so perhaps he had been among them.

Who knows.

(Wikipedia or Rob Malone probably.)

There were real-life celebrities to be seen there too. Andrew Garfield and Kevin Spacey, who produced the project.

Jesse Eisenberg walked past me at one point with an airy-looking date on one arm, and an un-eager look on his face.

Eva, for her part, was mad-pissed at me.

“Who is going to be there?” She asked, when we received the after-party tickets I had forgotten about before our “friends+family” screening of the film.

“I don’t know.” I told her. “Who knows at these things.”

As it was, we both ended up dressed down, out of sync with the various suits and elaborate dresses worn by those around us.

I looked so out of place, actually, with my flannel short-sleeve shirt, that my old college professor Antonio Monda walked away from me as fast as possible after I greeted him, nearly shoving his son at me while he scampered towards the more meaningful guests.

I guess I couldn’t blame him, but it was a hit for my self-esteem.

In fact, the whole thing was, even though I had free drinks and food aplenty and a now rarer opportunity to see Eva, with her going back to school.

But I just kept feeling like a fish out of water and my only other friend there, Amanda McCormick, was too busy micro-blogging the event on her newly-unveiled iPad to chill for more than a few minutes.

I just keep seeing people I half-knew, or knew-of. People who had turned me down for job interviews. People who’d rejected me from festivals.

It just seemed like a world to me that I didn’t belong to.

“Wanna get out of here?” I asked Eva as we got back downstairs from a journey up to the third floor.

“Sure, if you want to.” She nodded.

“Back to my place?” I asked hopefully.

“Not a chance.” She told me, flat.

Later, I waved to her on the subway platform as the train we had both been on left.

I waved not just through one window, but the next one passing as well.

***

I had to ask my father about advice for work.

I had gotten caught up in rumors of advancement, back-stabbing, high-turnover/uncertainty, corporate scandal and the issue of dealing effectively with management.

And I work in a movie theater.

Some co-workers had advanced to me the idea that I was being considered for a promotion, why I didn’t really know, except out of rote sense of necessity, or a lack of availability on the part of others.

But once I got word I guess that they were thinking about it, everything in my job became charged that extra bit like it hadn’t been before.

Suddenly, I worried about cleaning procedures and whether I was being trained properly. Suddenly, I worried about whether my co-workers and my superiors liked me.

I even gave a second thought to my idea of customer service.

When I found my scheduling requests (again) ignored this past week, fused to an employee meeting, I requested a personal audience with the head manager, to discuss my fate.

Previously, I had considered that I was probably going to get fired, but hadn’t sweated it. The point of this job after all wasn’t to be the rest of my life, but to repair me from the trauma of my previous one and to give me some time to figure out what I wanted in life.

But now that I thought I could be promoted, something in me wanted that little bit of respect, that little vote of confidence, that idea that someone somewhere thinks I can do a job.

I had only been promoted once else in my life, in my previous job.

I guess that hadn’t turned out well.

What can I say? I know it doesn’t matter much, but when you spend 50 hours a week somewhere where people off the street can insult and look down on you, it reduces you to something of a child-like state, it beats you up and leaves you wanting for that mark of approval, that smiley-face, that pat-on-the-head that says you are doing good, just so you can nod your head like a contented cat and walk off with some self-entitled meowing.

This is all very jumbled, but somehow, in the moment, it makes sense.

My dad told me to do what I was going to do. That if I made demands I could be fired. That I should treat this like a learning experience.

He’s probably right.

I guess it’ll probably never be lower stakes than this.

And my anxiety just really comes from that sense in my life that I’m stuck in some sort of narrative jumble where history keeps repeating itself, where I am unable to keep it together enough just to make it through the day/month/year.

So I guess I’ll try to learn something.

Or whatever.

I talked last night with Rob, trying to get him on G-chat, but instead just chased him by text.

I was talking to him, not about this, but about auditions I had, I didn’t feel ready for and how anxious I was and upset.

“I wish I was auditioning.” Rob said.

“Why?” I replied, typing bitterly. “Auditioning is terrible. They just make you feel like shit. It’s like a girl was rejecting you every day and you felt good when she answered your text messages even if she never called you again.”

“No it’s not. Only one person can get a role.” Rob replied. “You know some people have put their whole life into being an actor.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, you just stumbled in to auditioning. Don’t take it so hard.”

“Think of it this way:” Rob said. “You get a chance to play a different part every time.”

I gave that some time.

Then, I berated him for a while for not g-chatting.

And then slept, early.

***

The good part of working in the movie theater is that you are close to certain things, Little Italy and the San Gennaro festival being some.

The festival is always gaudy and overpriced, like a bad-times street-fair, but it affords its pleasures.

One day, while I worked the door shift at the movie theater, a patron stumbled at getting his ticket in front of his girlfriend, blaming the large plastic pina-colada he’d obtained at the festival.

“You know, those are non-alcoholic.” I told them and then when they protested, I asked “Why don’t you think anyone was selling beer?”

I got a good kick out of that.

I also enjoyed the wok-fried mozzarella sticks I had heard about from a local favorite, Torrisi Italian Specialties.

To be fair, it wasn’t my scoop, but something I’d read about in the New York Times, before the festival.

Torrisi, which functions like a half-ironic hipster parody, half-straight-up old-school Italian joint, was commenting on the changing demographics of Little Italy by blending Chinese and Italian cuisines for their stand in the San Gennaro festival.

Whatever the political implications, the mozzarella sticks were fucking delicious.

They came with a light marinara sauce, stuck in a chinese take-out box, like I had bought them from the ghetto-Brooklyn Chinese food place Ruby’s, which sells them 5 for a buck.

They were huge 3-D Rectangles of fresh-mozz, not frozen, with the right chewy consistency and a spicy flavor somewhere in the bread crumbs.

I gave some tastes to my mom and dad who came by to sample them.

My mom, who at first refused, ate several.

“Yum.” She said, licking her thumb.

***

TORRISI ITALIAN SPECIALTIES

Wok-fried mozzarella sticks (seasonal)- $3

Mulberry St bet. Prince and Spring Sts.

R to Prince St, 6 to Spring St.

***

One final word:

Congratulations to the SouvlakiGR Truck for winning this year’s Vendy Rookie of the Year prize, in a huge upset over the favorites, Mexicue.

Guys from SouvlakiGR, if you are reading this, I discovered you, so you best be giving me free food. :p

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