That’s Me In There

“You look beautiful, you lost all this weight, how did you do it?”

These were the comments not of a lovely blond aspiring improviser/actress at the improv theater I attend but the octogenarian Italian woman who grunts up and down my staircase frequently at 9am on Sundays screaming “MARIE!” over and over again.

Typically late-morning around 11, she would be either sitting on the stoop, on the stairs or pre-laid cardboard box. She used to wait at the coffee shop across the street, hanging, her voice creaking, holding parlor about the world it’s issues (and surely Marie, whoever that is) until the coffee shop across the street closed at the New Year to everyone’s sad surprise.

She wasn’t the only one to notice.

If you were wondering why I’m making silly poses in the picture above, it is actually an approximation of the drunken mirror dance I did Saturday night after my improv team had a good show.

It went something like this.

Enter the door. Pivot. Urinate. Zip. Pivot Again. Turn To The Mirror. Notice Yourself.

Start a sing-song chant.

“Oh you. You’re there. You’re skinny. Oh wow. Good job. Good job, good job, good job. Good job. Good job. Alright!”

Fist bump up and then down into the chest.

“Peace out.”

Exit.

I relayed this information to funny effect to my teammates and friends Sebastian and Phoebe and our teacher Alan, whose tolerance for alcohol seemed to exceed particularly ours as he observed us post-several shots of Jameson and assorted drinks do our rounds.

I was of course recounting and making funny incomprehensible jokes to the room. Phoebe, who somehow was both drunker than us while drinking radically less refused to take a shot because she loudly claimed that someone came in it (I volunteered Sebastian as the culprit), while Sebastian, big goofy guy he is, just talked about how good he was at improv while wringing his head in his hands at the rest of us and doing his big Sebastian sigh.

When I informed everyone of the dance, Alan replied sort of neutrally, I guess happy for the show, while Sebastian just laughed quietly.

“What, is that really dumb?” I asked him.

“Yes.” Sebastian repeated. “Yes. You doing a dance in the mirror? Bro, I can safely say that’s pretty dumb.”

“Well I think you look great Nick!” Phoebe said. “I think your sex life is about to improve dramatically.”

“I hope.” I replied wondering somewhere how she knew about the state of my sex life, or whether it was still apparent just looking at me.

Is there some pheromone guys emit when they haven’t been dating in a while?

I thought I must have lost it when I lost the pounds but maybe not.

A girl did hit on me though, for the first time in a while, which felt pretty great and FOR ONCE, FOR ONCE, she was not married or with child.

I was just sitting in an Argo Tea Cafe while my friend Ben tried to convince me about meditation as it relates to improv (I must be this way about yoga, sadly) when a young lady just came up and thought I was a CEO, but I told her she probably recognized me from TV and this time I was right.

She dropped hints about going to try an Indian place with her, turned out we knew some of the same people and gave me her number.

It was more disconcerting than anything to be hit on, kind of like someone handing you 5 bucks on the street. You’d be happy but you’d also be like “OK, why? Thanks, oh wait, thank you!”

Like many things in my life, when personal revelations sweep me up, I may feel the need to share the discovery despite it not being new to everyone (sic).

For instance, Phoebe at the bar told me a story that one of our other teammates tried to pick her up the other night.

A tense glance was thrown around the room, even in our drunken, silly state.

“Uh, what did you do, Pheebs?” I asked, uncomfortably casually.

“I just told him not to lift me up that I didn’t like it.”

A sigh of relief.

“Oh, you mean he literally tried to pick you up.” Sebastian clarified. “Okay.”

“Yeah, I mean I thought you meant that he was flirting with you or something.” I said.

“Probably.” She said, blasé. “I assume you’ll all try to fuck me at some point.”

And then she laughed and knocked down the long-percolating shot, the replacement for the one she thought was dirty.

(As a side note: this sort of behavior makes Phoebe an excellent improviser. When you have a bunch of awkward guys up on stage making stuff up and few women, any attempt at sexual referencing can put women and the audience in a super-bad place super-fast. When Phoebe plays, she loves making fuck-jokes and anytime someone talks all sexy, she’ll go even dirtier than them, or take off her improv pants and say “What are you waiting for?” It’s a very impressive move that both makes us male improvisers look like doofuses in a good way and is refreshing and funny to see on stage.)

The point is that other people have to deal with this stuff too, sometimes more so than not. I probably won’t be hit on all the time, with my psoriasis and my lanky nerdiness now taking over where the chubbiness left off, but when I do I should try to feel it, feel the power of it and give as good as I get.

Just like in improv (sorry Rob), commitment and confidence are cool and important.

After all, I can try to hit on people to.

Instead of just creepily stare at them and kind of try to engage them in conversation, just wondering on and off if they’re interested in me.

Or just be there friend for 6 months (old model of behavior) and try to find some random moment to make out with them.

Skinny Nick doesn’t do those things.

Or if he does he does them skinnier.

And hopefully, with more dancing.

***

A recent obsession of mine has become talking to my phone.

Silly, I know, but I work hard at it.

Part of what got me my current job was my obsession with the minor user-end hacking of iPhones and iPads and how I enjoyed reading about it and customizing it myself.

When I heard it was theoretically possible to put Siri (the voice-assistant service that defines the iPhone 4S) on the iPhone 4, I went through a 30-day quest to find a way, navigating around Paypal scams, free sites and other craziness in pursuit of trying to find something functional.

When I went to France (which I miss more and more now that I am not there) my passion for trying to figure out how to explain a carrier unlock and how it would work never escaped me even as the fervor of it died down as I acceot my iPhone’s limited capacities there.

When I was preparing for my sketch show last night (my sketch was, unsurprisingly, about a man obsessed with Siri), I took time out from a tech-through rehearsal to jailbreak a girl on my team’s iPad 2, just because I could and wanted to. I installed Siri on there, even though it was complicated and unnecessary, just because I wanted to know I could.

Tinkering with these small Apple-locked devices makes me feel like a golden god, even if I don’t know fucking thing one about programming.

There’s only so much to judge here.

Deconstructing my own behavior, my excitement is both natural (I’ve always loved technology and forming a “Power-Rangers Megazord”-style fusion of things) and, like it used to be in mthe last two years of my life, certainly about trying to attain some sort of control, of my life, of something?

Going back into therapy, I recently started talking about film school in my attempt to disarm the psychological bombs I don’t want to deal with inside my head. And looking back on the progress I’ve made in my life since film school, since starting therapy, my life has calmed down a lot, I’ve become a more graceful person, more accepting of the lack of control one has over one’s life and more able to adapt (again, thank you improv and some age/experience).

But I also wonder what in me is “real” in terms of things that I am going through (the desperate-angst of post-collegia I’ve mostly escaped, the brooding-ness of my teens) and what’s there to stay.

Even without the word association of my ex’s name with my own weaknesses, I still miss her sometimes on the other side of my bed when I go to sleep. I still feel that loneliness or need for connection that, while it has lost its desperate edge (I’ve been off OKCupid for a while now) still persists. What is the “human” reaction that one has and what is something psychological that needs to be addressed.

The bas part of self-analysis is the potential for everything to become a complex.

I had a dream four days ago about a Google App called “Appellage” with a little Siri icon in the logo that let you travel in time. It was a confabulation, which is a dream full of things you see every day stitched together. I stare at my phone, talking to Siri. I use a advanced internet browser and look up “apps” for it. Someone in my sketch group had written a time-machine sketch. It was easy to analyze.

I dreamed I took it back in time to see my ex. She was in a diner, but somehow it was after the break-up, we knew what we know now. And she just kept asking me, slightly annoyed: “What do you want to say to me? What do you want to say?” and I didn’t know.

And I woke up.

And I tried saying hello to the Siri on my phone but it was buggy that day.

So I emailed the person who owned the server.

And at 11:35, it was back up.

Like that.

***

When I had a day free, I had lunch with my mother.

This may seem strange to y’all and it still seems strange to me.

I live in proximity of my parents as I have all my life, unlike my college friends, whose move to New York was part-crafty escape, or even my high-school friends who entertained a four-year or so reprieve.

Which is not to say I don’t love my parents, I do very much so and what’s more, enjoy their company.

Is the weir inter-dependence of me conversing with them and them wanting to see me natural, or weird? It’s hard to tell, particularly in New York City.

But it does work out well for lunch dates.

My mother picked on short notice on an off-day from work a place called Buvette which recently opened in the old “Pink Tea Cup” spot on Grove St in the West Village.

Inexpensive and well-reviewed, I quickly agreed, which gives you a sense where I got my restaurant sense from.

We showed up and raced for tables in the cramped Parisian-style bistro (though much nicer really) as the walls closed around us with people trying to sit down for “vienoisseries”.

We managed to grab a seat and I grabbed a cappuccino for recent-times’ sake and a salad full of potatoes and roasted chicken and haricots verts in a mustard dressing.

It was as delicious as it sounded, simple and buttery, with uncomplicated (but present!) spicing and the type of home-made feeling accomplished by your parents digging out the roast chicken from last night and tossing it with some really nice greens and last night’s veggies.

Which makes me remember that I can always go to my parents’ house a couple blocks away and get exactly that.

But maybe it’s nice to engage in false nostalgia sometimes.

And pretend that this is just a lunch date where my mom is in town.

Normal.

***

BUVETTE

Le Salade Poulet (w/haricots verts, pommes de terres)- $14

Grove St. bet Bleecker and Hudson Sts.

1 to Christopher St. PATH to Christopher St.

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