It’s been about a week since my last legitimate update, and many exciting things have happened in the interim. Please note that “exciting” is used here in its false connotation. What I’m saying is that nothing interesting happened.
I have to backtrack, though, before I get to this week. There’s a lot of stuff I never wrote about because I just didn’t have time, and because my frame of mind last week was entirely different from my frame of mind this week (funny how that happens).
Last Monday – April 21st
Part of my pitiful Monday that I never wrote about was this: a member of my humanities group, who is also in my politics class right after, offered to buy me lunch. He did this because I forgot my wallet, and he was pretty lonely because his girlfriend was out of town. For reasons I am about to explain, I’m going to nickname him The Cheat.
Now, The Cheat is an ADD case obsessed with his music-store salesman job, despite the fact that he’s not very good at it, and even more obsessed with women. Now, because I roughly resemble Joe Don Baker in appearance and do not regularly shower, I am pretty unscrupulous when it comes to women. I have to be. But even I have a certain set of invisible moral lines that I will not cross, and I immediately lose respect for people who do cross said lines.
The Cheat was in the midst of crossing those lines. Like I said, his girlfriend (I guess I’ll call her The Girlfriend, for lack of a better alias), who is also in our humanities project group, went out of town for about a week. So over the previous weekend, he went to some shitty-sounding party, and he got a girl’s number. He was pretty proud, so I imagine that in his private universe of horror, this was quite an accomplishment.
After pointing out a woman wearing a purple thong and a few other attractive women, he settled on an extremely good-looking blonde who was sitting near us, talking to somebody on a cell phone. After loudly admiring her various and impressive physical attributes, The Cheat decided it was time for me to go and talk to her.
I decided this was a terrible idea. For one thing, The Crush (you know the one) and I were at that point making moon eyes at one another (despite recent developments, we still are; more on that in a bit), and I didn’t want to possibly jeopardize that in favor of randomly wandering up to some stranger who was more than likely talking to her muscular, terrifying boyfriend on that cell phone. For another, I just don’t go up and try to pick up women. Despite my many, many, many, many flaws, I think guys who do stuff like that are embarrassing and sad. I think most of the women they try to pick up, on the off-chance they’re sober enough, think the same thing.
When I explained the latter reason (I was keeping the former mostly to myself), The Cheat decided that it was time for a pep talk. He pulled out a small, mangled piece of paper with a phone number written on it in bubbly, girlish handwriting. He said, “Do you know how I got this phone number?” I didn’t respond, figuring the question was rhetorical; also, I had no interest in continuing the conversation.
The Cheat, who apparently had taken his ritalin that morning, elaborated. “You know I’d never do anything about this. If it weren’t for The Girlfriend, I wouldn’t be who I am today*. But I still had to get this girl’s phone number. To show myself that I still could.” You have to admire the purity of such backwards logic.
I said, “I don’t really need to show myself anything.” Of course, immediately thereafter I second-guessed that statement, which led to a series of circumstances that, when combined with the rest of the day, led to the worst Monday in recent memory. Maybe I’ll blog the rest of that story another time; it’s irrelevant right now.
The important part is that The Cheat basically spent his weekend trying to pick up women. Whether or not he was serious in such endeavors doesn’t matter. I don’t really mind a testosterone-soaked evening of carousing in search of the lady who is just drunk enough to talk to me. But it’s different when you’re in a serious, theoretically committed relationship like theirs. It crosses one of my deadly moral lines and goes straight into Wrongville.
At any rate, that little lunch was followed by the lunch I had on Wednesday with The Crush, in which she went off on what a scumbag The Cheat seemed to be, without even knowing any of the information I had learned during my lunch with him. So, being the gossip and shit-talker that I am, and attempting to impress her with my moral code and hypothetical commitment to an even more hypothetical relationship, I told her everything that I learned.
The Crush was aghast, and suddenly her seemingly unwarranted contempt became vengeful rage. This, especially, made me uncomfortable in light of my endless thoughts of jumping into bed with her despite the boyfriend she had just told me about.
This Monday – April 28th (finally!)
So on Monday morning (that’s the Monday of this week—wow, back on track!), we began presentations in my humanities class. Our group didn’t present until Wednesday, which was the one day our professor could get the VCR, but we had to suffer through two oral reports. One was done by a pleasant, portly girl who discussed the differences in Renaissance paintings with as little detail or insight as she could muster. The other was done by this piece of shit who loves hearing the sound of his voice, despite the fact that he never has anything worth saying. He droned on for approximately six decades, discussing the wildly uninteresting ways Christianity has been grafted onto other beliefs over the centuries. Wow!
Meanwhile, The Cheat kept going on in his ADD world, cracking terrible jokes that I politely laughed at because he has an irritating habit of repeating his terribly jokes more loudly if nobody laughs. Every time I laughed politely, The Crush would lean over and whisper to me, “He got another girl’s number!” Granted, I agree this is bad, but it was easier to laugh politely than to hear the joke again. But I felt bad about it.
After class, our group ironed out plans to meet and finish our project on Tuesday night. One member, let’s call him The Workhorse since he did pretty much all the work, was pretty down about the whole project, frustrated that it was turning out like shit and he was putting way too much time into it and he hated one of the other members of the group. He was pretty pissed that we even had to meet on Tuesday, but he made all the arrangements. More on that in a little while.
The Cheat invited me out to lunch after class. Our first lunch, last Monday, was pretty irritating in itself, but the fact was, I owed him money and I didn’t have any cash, so he said I could buy him lunch and we’d call it even. In retrospect, I should have hunted down an ATM.
One of the first things he said to me after we sat down was this: “Remember how I told you I got that girl’s number?” How could I forget? “Yeah, I did it again.” How proud you must be. “Yeah, and I met up with the first girl last Friday.”
Uh-oh. He just crossed another line. Getting two girls’ numbers behind your girlfriend’s back is bad enough; meeting with one of them is on the border of cheating. Maybe it can be considered cheating; just because you don’t actually touch a girl doesn’t mean that meeting them behind your girlfriend’s back with plainly nefarious intentions is hunky-dory. I don’t really know the finer points of cheating, since it’s hard enough for me to get one girl interested in me at one time.
Realizing that we still had another horrible evening to spend together, I decided not to rock the boat. I said as little as possible, and what I did say was humoring his statements and actions.
Then, he started talking to me about The Workhorse. “I think The Workhouse has a thing for The Girlfriend.” Oh God. I am not getting in the middle of this. I had noticed The Workhorse flirting with The Girlfriend, but it didn’t seem particularly serious. Even if it was, I am not getting in the middle of it.
“He hasn’t said anything to me,” I said.
“Yeah, I didn’t think he would. Eh, it doesn’t really matter if he has a thing for her or not, but if he touches her, I’ll kill him.” Good to know. I guess it’s perfectly acceptable for him to go to parties and try to pick up women, but if anybody tries to make a move on his Girlfriend, they deserve death. Seems fair.
“I don’t think he would,” I said.
“Me either. He’s smarter than that.”
One thing you have to realize about The Cheat is that he is painfully nonthreatening. He is short, scrawny, and dopey. When he makes statements like these, I find it difficult not to laugh.
After trying to sell me a new soundcard (for retail!), the lunch was over.
I showed up nearly twenty minutes late on Tuesday night. I decided to take a shorter route that, while still shorter, was not short enough. When I arrived at the studio where The Workhouse works (and where we did most of the work on the project), The Workhouse was in a rage. He could not separate The Cheat from The Girlfriend, and because they were together, no work had been done. The Cheat rambled on and on about the poor quality of the audio; The Workhouse didn’t give a shit, because it’s a five-minute video for a gen ed. The audio was good enough. Meanwhile, The Girlfriend stumbled incompetently through her lines. Mostly, though, they just screwed around.
Meanwhile, I’m the in-the-middle guy, whether I want to be or not. The Girlfriend instinctively trusts me for reasons I cannot explain; The Workhorse and I get along pretty well, especially after spending Friday and Saturday nights without The Cheat or The Girlfriend, and we actually got most of the project done in a few hours; and The Cheat takes me into his confidence because I Know Things. I hate Knowing Things.
But when I got there, they pretty much swung into action. I got fairly unpleasant last week when I wanted to just get the goddamn thing done, so they’re kind of afraid of me now. This is a good thing. For lack of anything better, The Workhorse and I decided to write The Girlfriend’s lines onto a roll of paper towels, which The Workhorse would roll up like a TelePrompTer.
Meanwhile, I sat in the control room with The Cheat. He started whispering things to me, such as, “See what a good mood he’s in now that he’s alone with her.” I saw that he was, indeed, in a better mood, but the mood was invariably soured—whether he was alone with her or not—when people started screwing around. He just wanted to get the damn thing done, and I was with him on that.
When The Cheat couldn’t get the audio to work properly, he went out to adjust the boom mic (which for some reason he insisted on using instead of a clip mic), and The Workhorse came into the control room to adjust the audio level. It is difficult to describe the barrage of obscenities that flowed from his mouth when he realized The Cheat had been trying to control the wrong mic, hence the poor audio quality. It was pretty bad, though.
Things were disintegrating. I hoped the project would at least get nearly finished before things completely dissolved.
We finally shot the stuff with The Girlfriend, did a brief shot with myself and The Cheat, and then we went back to The Workhorse’s house to finish up the video. The Cheat decided it would be in his best interest to play Unreal Tournament on The Workhorse’s laptop, with the sound cranked up, while The Workhorse tried to edit the video. That led to an irritating and nonsensical argument that eventually resulted in many pairs of headphones.
Meanwhile, The Girlfriend decided it was her duty to flirt with me. Great, she’s flirting with me with her boyfriend right there. While The Cheat may not be even remotely threatening or intimidating, I’m usually pretty passive when I feel like the group needs to get along. I didn’t want this to turn out badly. Fortunately, it didn’t (as far as I know).
Later, The Cheat and The Girlfriend got into a fight that led to a lot of tension and awkwardness that, really, The Workhorse and I should not have been privy to. The Cheat mused over how wonderful it would be if The Girlfriend’s dad was beaten to death with a broom. This did not go over well. The Workhorse decided to step up the pace, so we finished shortly thereafter, and I drove home as fast as I possibly could.
The video went over well. Our professor liked it, despite the notable lack of any intellectual content. Fortunately, we followed a really, really awful video that put Oedipus Rex into a Jerry Springer context. The Workhorse said he talked to the people who made it, and they said they shot the whole thing Monday night and edited it Tuesday night, and they were mostly drunk in both cases. It showed.
Because I spent such an enormous amount of time on that fucking project, I had only written about half of my politics paper. I decided it would be beneficial to cut that class and have lunch with The Crush and The Workhorse. The Workhorse and I got to have an extra-long bitch session without the irritation of getting caught by The Cheat. I was also able to share all the information I had gathered from my second lunch with The Cheat. This further enraged The Crush; The Workhorse just thought it was moronic.
Afterward, I walked The Crush to the film building. We talked about the fun and excitement of academic advisers, early registration, and the school’s leap into the late 20th century by finally embracing online registration. The cool thing about my school is that it’s so full of shit, it’s obscenely easy to complain about everything, and you can use this as a way to pretend like you have things in common with women. “Gosh, I had that professor. He is such a dick.” It rarely backfires if you know who’s who around campus.
I’m slowly digging my way into her life. Next week’s challenge is to get to hang out with me during non-after-class hours (i.e., over the weekend). Since I don’t have this project hanging over my head anymore, I should be able to keep both of my readers updated on my progress with shorter, less boring entries.
I decided I wasn’t going to go to screenwriting today because I was extremely afraid of reading my partner’s script. His screenplay details the life of a bug chaser. For those of you who are unaware, bug chasing is a bizarre and terrifying phenomenon in which people (mostly gay men, if I’m not mistaken) seek out HIV+ men so they can get the disease. The HIV+ men who are willing to pass the virus along are known as gift givers.
Needless to say, this script was not wholesome. Not only was it pretty graphic, it was also so melodramatic that it became unintentionally hilarious. The first time I read it, I almost pissed myself. I know that makes me a monster, but I couldn’t help it.
My job, in reading the script to the class, was to read all the action blocks. So I was afraid that I would either laugh uncontrollably and inappropriately while reading it, or I would start vomiting during some of the more gruesome descriptions. So I decided the easiest way to avoid either of these would be to not go to class at all.
But I still had to go downtown. My adviser meeting for registration was today at 4:20, so I figured I’d get there around the same time I usually go to class, pick up a class listing for the fall, and plot out my semester. However, I couldn’t find any class listings, and after awhile I got bored and paranoid, so I just went to class, about half an hour late.
For those of you keeping track, that means I read the script. It went over surprisingly well: nobody laughed. In fact, there was so much tension from the disturbed students that even I couldn’t laugh while reading it. I just sat there with a dopey grin on my face and tried to hide my inappropriate amusement. I actually did crack up at the “Prepare to kiss your negative status goodbye” line, but I was the only one, and I played it off as a nervous titter.
Afterward, when we went around the room giving constructive feedback about the script, the overwhelming majority of the people prefaced it with, “I really liked the story.” This has been fairly uncommon so far in the class. We’re not really allowed to say “I liked it” or “Wow, that sucked.” So that was strange. Also, The Filmmaker said that it was a “harrowing portrait of human depravity.” Yeah, he really talks like that. All the time.
I left almost immediately after that for my brief and surprisingly non-irritating advisor meeting. And then I went home. Which brings us up to now, so I’ll stop talking.
Thanks for putting up with me. Next time, I’ll add MS Paint illustrations to make it more bearable.
*No big loss. [Back]