Virtually Defriended

“So I guess I can never write you anything again.” Chadd told me. “Otherwise it’ll just appear on your blog.”

It was the night before Halloween and Chadd was dressed up snazzily as The Invisible Man, with gauze, a suit and a trench-coat, while I was wearing a quickly splintering beard as a Hasidic Jew.

“I guess you should probably be careful what you say then.” I told him. “I’ve got a good memory for these sorts of things.”

And he laughed.

After opening last week with a mixed-critique, Chadd clarified that he didn’t want to get me down with his criticism of my script, something I knew well. The point was it just sucked to hear bad news, even though I had rather hear the truth than lies or nothing (or at least, what I can accept).

The party we were at (actually the disused fire escape of the party) was one of the big, expensive-ish open bars I was surprised to hear about on Halloween, but which apparently existed universally for that date.

My costume had gotten me some looks up-and-down the street and later a man in an inflatable stripper suit would try to rub up on me, presumably to make my costumed character uncomfortable. For all my discomfort growing up in New York, dealing with my own perceiving and perceived judgment by the ultra-Orthodox community here in NY, my Halloween costume ended up being a strange lesson in “walking a mile in their shoes.”

After all, when I came into work my co-workers couldn’t recognize me for a while. They look puzzled or stunned, or as if they didn’t know how to react. I felt uncomfortable thinking I was the source of such emotions until they were broken with laughter, recognition.

I ended up missing out on a hangover from that pre-Halloween night (though I had one for Halloween, later), heading home early and not taking full advantage of my open-bar privileges.

Eva wasn’t there and, without her, I mostly don’t see the point of parties, anymore.

I awoke Halloween morning to John Beamer in his now continuously-labeled John-Cave (my laddered sleeping-loft), who at least had a decent story.

***

For one of the first times my therapist asked me: “What are you talking about?”

I should explain.

I’m not sure what sort of relationships people have with their therapists (if any), but mine amounts to somewhere between a Jewish confessional and a conversation.

My talk with her usually has to deal with things I am uncomfortable about, things I want to change, but also whatever is on my mind, to which she replies.

She is obviously a warm, intelligent woman, of around my mother’s age, who shares at least some of my interests. We could discuss politics, or film, or the merits of the book Holes (many).

Our talks are not usually a cryptograph, in my mind at least, where I recount my vivid dreams seeking to explore past trauma, though to be truthful I don’t know where my therapy is going.

Rather, our talks are usually processing how I am feeling and how I can most accurately portray what’s on my mind to her, so she can take it in, so she can see it.

I remember when I read a review of In Treatment, the show I like especially because of how it contrasts/compares with my own experience, I was made uncomfortable by the assertion that “therapy, on the part of the patient, is often a series of defensive lies”. (Which I guess I could see as being some of the play of the show.)

That’s not what I want to do, what I am doing, I thought with less than certainty.

Which brings me back to the explanation that I tried to give to my therapist to understand:

“Dealing with people that are being guarded makes me uncomfortable. It just makes me feel uneasy. I have been told or accused in the past of having some mild form of Asperger’s, a convenient excuse for some of my less social behaviors, but one quality I have is that it can be difficult for me to tell whether someone is being serious or not. So I guess when I talk to people, in social situations, and they seem guarded, they seem not present, not there, it feels like a trick. Like they’re deceiving me. It makes me feel uncomfortable, as if someone was calling me stupid. And worse, it makes me unsure of myself and the world around me and how to judge it.”

When my therapist asked for more, I tried giving it. I talked about “a wall” I felt around some people, I talked about meeting people at the UCB, after classes or a show, telling them a story and seeing the disconnect on their face. I guess the context of the lack of connection/understanding mattered almost as much as the situation itself. If this was going to be my life, how would I get people to deal with me on my level.

At film school it was easy, since there was more time to feel around an angsty crowd, to grab friends and leave friends and adjust socially to a place that was comfortable. But maybe the added context of my life is what adds the pressure and not just the “wall”.

At home, John Beamer tried to tell me that if I followed comedy, this would be the way of the rest of my life. People would be guarded, people would be fake.

“People leave themselves for on-stage.” John said. “Anything that’s unsavory or strange they leave there, to use in their comedy. Because in real life, off-stage, you can’t be that jerk you were just lampooning, you have to be a winner.”

“A winner”.

After I voted yesterday, I broadcast my vote for a local NY politican and internet-meme Jimmy McMillan and defending my vote, I managed to offend an ex-co-worker so badly that she de-friended me on Facebook.

I said the wrong thing at the wrong time I guess, but I was shocked when it happened. I had just talked to this woman, a talented up-and-comer, a few weeks ago at her request. We’d had a nice long conversation that had gone amicably and well.

And that was enough that she absented herself from my life. I couldn’t see it, but I just felt bad.

That night, I couldn’t sleep, until I did.

***

When heading home from the aforementioned, mind-bending therapy session, I had another mind-bending thing happen to me: free food.

I actually did a double take to stop on the street. A truck called Malaysian Kitcken had pulled up and was offering samples (in 45 minutes) of Malaysian food, in order to promote it as a viable NYC take-out option.

Free food that has the word “asian” in it you say?

I was there.

For 45 minutes.

Waiting in line for a small plate.

Which this was not.

Because those Malaysians (actually white PR guys repping Malaysian food) did their job and right after my sample, I went barreling over to Laut, the much lauded super-stealthy Malaysian joint on the side of Union Square which recently (and to me, totally unexpectedly) received a Michelin star, despite offering Thai-style take-out lunch specials!

Which is in fact, the sumptuous picture you see before you, a Malaysian Chicken Curry lunch special stuffed full of string beans, sauteed okra and savory bits of chicken.

My stomach rumbled for it as I gulped it down, licking the box after completion.

The curry was neither the gulpy-creaminess of a “Tikka Masala” nor the dry mild-spicyness of a “Massaman” curry, nor even a doubly hot “Vindaloo”. Instead it was peppery, probably influenced by the advertised “fried chiles” and bound together by coconut milk, which made it light and cut the spice while keeping the flavor.

In the end at home, I was kicking myself for not going to this place when I lived, for almost a year, a block away from it.

But what can I say: Chipotle was new then.

Ah, what a time.

***

LAUT

Malaysian Chicken Curry Lunch Special w/Brown Rice- $10

17th St bet. Broadway and 5th Ave

NQR456L to 14th St.-Union Sq.

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