Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nat Topping - Master of the Dance (Part III - The Revenge)

Last night, my girlfriend and I had our weekly Latin Dance class.

This has become more than just a dance class, by the way; it has also become what I like to call a "Nat class." In a "Nat class" the skill becomes almost secondary as I begin to learn more and more about myself. They are heart warming and illuminating events and I hope one day to turn this particular experience into a movie. Like Billy Elliot only taller, fatter and less British.

Here are some things that I have learned about myself:

Self Revelation A: I am a dance competitor. Not in the sense that I am going to start slapping numbers on my back in the hopes that I can earn extra money and the respect of my dancing peers. To hell with that. But if I'm going to drag my ass out to the 'burbs to take a dance class, I want to learn what I'm doing. Even if I'm only going to forget everything I've learned over the next three days.

Self Revelation B: I am incapable of moving my hips. This is a particularly challenging obstacle when dancing the cha cha. Ever dance the cha cha with the Frankenstein monster? Now you know how my girlfriend feels. This may be the challenge that I ultimately must overcome in a poignant climax at the end of the movie where finally I learn to move beyond the steps and start dancing with passion and fire!

"GRRRRRR!! FUEGO BAD!" shouts the Frankenstein monster in his red sequined jump suit.

Self Revelation C: As hard as I try, I cannot dance the Tango without making an ass out of myself. As soon as I get the face under control I start flinging my arms around like I'm some sort of Tango master. When I'm not flinging my arms around, I'm making silly Tango faces. When I have my arms and my face under control, I suddenly can't do any of the steps. I don't know if this is something I can control with additional practice or if I just need to embrace the silliness and move on.

More self revelations to follow I'm sure. For now, I will continue to soldier on in my attempt to conquer my inherent awkward whiteness and, if all else fails, I can always fall back on the monster mash.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Garden Grave...

Last Friday, we did our one and only (foreseeable) performance of the Danse Macabre for this year. I have to admit, it was nice to get back out on stage and do a little improv. It's been a while since I've actually performed in front of people (last March?) and even longer since I last performed improv (last November?). I've spent most of the year writing, which I love of course, but I still have that itch to occasionally get up in front of an audience and make an ass out of myself.

I have missed doing the Danse Macabre too. Last year we did a pretty substantial run of the show and it was a good time. I think what makes it so much fun is the fact that the show is done in a style that is not only very appropriate for this time of year but also just a lot of fun. There's also nothing more enjoyable than fake-ripping the larynx off of another actor in the middle of an audience. I also tied a personal record three deaths on stage last Friday, so that was fun: (1) I had my throat cut open, (2) I was bludgeoned to death with some sort of gardening implement, and (3) I was killed by the innocence to two virginal females who happened to be twin sisters (played, naturally, by two men). Number 3 was probably the most satisfying.

The theatre in Three Oaks was absolutely gorgeous. The space is a converted Corset warehouse. They build a stage with a couple of trap doors, a hydraulic lift and catwalks across the top of the playing area. This gave us plenty of toys to work with, and one of the directives for our show was to use as much of the space as possible. There was one moment in the show where Don Hall and I took a ride up the hydraulic lift for a quick little scene. Did it advance the plot? No. Did it add anything to the audience's experience? Probably not. I had fun, though.

Once the show was over the owner of the theatre treated us to drinks and food and then put us all up for the night in a couple of different rooms in the building. It was like a little vacation.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Staged Reading

I loves me some staged reading. Last night was ours for Robot vs Dinosaur and I have to say I had a great time. We got some good feedback from the audience (the people whom we are writing for) and the actors as well (the people who have to actually say the lines). I thought the most interesting part of the talk back was when we asked the audience if they thought there was a theme to our little show. I was surprised to hear some of the different possibilities provided by the audience - themes that I never would have thought of but that make us as writers sound so much smarter than just a couple of guys that want to be funny. The most important result for me is that I came away excited to get back to work on the show.

On to the next event! The Danse Macabre opens and closes tonight at the Acorn Theatre in Three Oaks, Michigan. The show is at 8:00 [7:00 Central for you Chicagoites] and the theatre is about an hour out of the city. If you're free tonight, come hang out. The link to the Acorn Theatre's site (with directions, etc.) can be found in the right hand column.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"When People Stop Being Ugly"


The staged reading for Robot vs. Dinosaur is tonight at the uptown writer's space. See the left hand column for more details. If you're not already doing anything, come hang out.

And now...

First, I want to apologize for not writing anything since Monday. I have been too busy over the past couple of days with contemplating the future!

Specifically this article from the BBC News website.

For those of you who don't have time to click on the link or for those of you who have an irrational fear and/or hatred of the British, I'll summarize: basically the human race is heading in two different directions. One half of the race can look forward to evolving into an ultra tall, attractive race of super intelligent uber-yuppies. According to the article:

"Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will improve... while men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices and bigger penises.

Women, on the other hand, will develop lighter, smooth, hairless skin, large clear eyes, pert breasts, glossy hair, and even features...."

The other half... well, not so much. You remember Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies? That'll be you, other half. Better start checking the rental listings for caves.

How long before the rest of us can expect our symmetrical facial features, pert breasts and gargantuan penises? Why, just a mere 1,000 years!

All of this courtesy of the evolutionary theorist Dr. Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics. That's right; somewhere someone is handing out doctorates for people to sit around and think about what people might look like thousands of years from now.

Curiously enough, I have recently been doing my own evolutionary theorizing and am working on publishing my own treatise on the future of humanity. Here's a brief excerpt from my forthcoming book, entitled "When People Stop Being Ugly."

It's a working title. Here's the excerpt:

"In the not too distant future - relatively speaking, of course - the human race will finally shake off the chains of ugliness and step out into the sunlight of extreme attractiveness. All humans will finally have the opportunity to sport luxuriously smooth red beards regardless of hair color, although women will be discouraged from growing them over the first 3,257 years. By year 3,258 the notion that bushy red beards are desirable regardless of sex will finally gain widespread acceptance. Also, men will be tall (~6'4") and sport an incredibly sexy beer belly. Women will finally grow that third breast we've all been waiting for. Childrens' vocal chords will not develop at all until the age of thirteen."

I would go on but (a) I don't have the time or the space on this page to include all 453-plus pages of the treatise and (b) I don't want to give too much away for free. I'll be charging money for this scientific brilliance, thank you very much.

I wonder if the London School of Economics could use another doctor...

Monday, October 22, 2007


Hey y'all.

I actually have some events this week! I updated the Events information in the left-hand column of this blog, so check those out. Also, there's a new date-nite sketch on the website as well. And, just so you people know, the staged reading on Thursday is, in fact, free.

Side note: if you ever have a chance to drink multiple free German beers with your bosses in the middle of a Friday afternoon/evening, I highly suggest that you take the opportunity. You learn so much more about your superiors, and they learn what type of socially malignant human being you really are. It's a win-win situation for us all! Lucklily, I still had a job when I arrived to work this morning.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Oktoberfest is a 17 day long festival of all things German (read: drinking) that typically ends on the first Sunday of October. Today is the third Friday of October, but that's not going to stop the company I work for from cutting out early today to go boozing together. I may have some good blog fodder coming out of this evening. Or I may have a hangover. Stay tuned, my little Cleverettes!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Where The Hell Is Fall?

All alarmist apocalyptic screaming aside, does anyone else miss autumn? It's a beautiful, breezy 73 degrees here in the windy city. I know that I should be thankful, given that purgatorian November is just around the corner, just to have those last few moments of warmth. Despite that, I find myself longing for those upper 50's/lower 60's temperatures that I expect for this time of the year. In fact, I look forward to the fall - it's one of my favorite times of the year. I feel cheated.

Ah well. Enough belly aching. Here's a picture of a man making love to an inflatable rhinoceros. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nat Topping - Master of the Dance (Part II)

Last night at Latin Dance class (that's right - quit laughing) I completely mastered the Salsa and the Tango.

Okay, well, I learned the absolute basic moves of the Salsa and the Tango, so I guess the "master of the dance" part might be a little misleading. Maybe I might be better suited to"student of the dance." Or "bumbling baffoon of the dance." Either way, I'm still taking those baby steps towards overcoming my inherent awkward whiteness so at least it can be said that this experience is a good thing.

Here are my stats:

Number of confirmed times in which I stepped on my girlfriend's feet: 1

Number of times where I may or may not have stepped on her feet but she was too polite to say anything: 11

Number of times where I may or may not have dug my fingers into her shoulder blade: countless.

I will say this much: dancing the Tango makes you feel like a badass - even the most basic steps. We learned to do the side promenade last night. It looks awesome, and the great thing is the female partner does all the twirling work, so all I have to do is concentrate on not screwing the pooch on my half of the deal and then we're golden. After a couple of those side promenades pretty soon I was thinking, "I must look awesome. I'm like freaking Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman!" A quick glance down the room towards the full length mirrors confirmed that no, I just look like a slightly overweight dude desperately trying to look like Al Pacino. I spent the rest of the night trying to dance away from the mirrors.

Here's another piece of self-knowledge that I uncovered while dancing the Tango. I am incapable of dancing this dance without making some sort of silly Tango face. Try as hard as I might to just concentrate on what I was doing, I found it impossible to keep from raising an eyebrow and smirking. I don't know if it was just a function of the "I'm awesome" thoughts running through my head or if I have some sort of dancing condition which prohibits me from looking like a normal person. I might need to consult a physician. I'll keep you all posted.

But I shall soldier on. And perhaps one day in the not so distant future you might see me up on stage in a Michael Flatley-esque show where I am wowing the audience with my incredibly masculine yet ever-so-slightly suspect dancing moves. So you have that to look forward to. In the meantime, say a prayer for my girlfriend's feet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Help Desk Hell Hole

I spend a lot of my time sitting in help desk hold-music purgatory. It's just a part of the job when you work in the glamorous telecommunications industry. You know those long waits on the phone where you hope and pray that you'll get an actual person on the line just so you can do something easy, like change your billing address or something mundane like that; you know those calls? You know how irritating and long and painful they are? That's a big part of my day.

It is not unusual to spend an hour on hold just to speak with a representative from AT&T. Normally, I wouldn't wait an hour to speak to the freaking Godfather, much less some soulless cog in AT&T's intricately evil corporate machinery (no offense, AT&T). But the shitty thing is you can't just hang up and call back later because if you hang up you lose your spot in the line. Then when you call back, the wait will probably be even longer because you start at the back of the line and work your way forward. God help you if you don't take a trip to the bathroom before you get on the line.

So, as a result, I spend much of my day trapped on the phone trying to think of ways to keep from rapidly losing my mind. I'll multitask and do whatever work I can get done but inevitably I'll run out and as a result end up sitting and staring at my computer screen contemplating the nature of death.

I'm therefore compiling a list of things one can do while waiting on the phone to pass the time. This is, obviously, only a partial list. If you people have any recommendations, please leave them in the comment section. Here's what I have so far:

Compiled by Nat Topping
  1. Rock out to the hold music! Go ahead and dance! Play the air guitar. This one just requires a mind over matter mentality. You're going to enjoy yourself no matter what. Pretend that your at a Hootie and the Blowfish Concert and that the tickets were free so you'll be goddamned if you don't have a good time.
  2. Make up words to your favorite hold music! I have a favorite on the Verizon Business hold line: "We'd love to keep you Verizon Hell/ There's no escaping us/ Hell, your in hell/ and now there's no escaping hell/ no, no, no escaping this hell now."
  3. Practice the art of puppetry! I have become an accomplished hand-puppeteer over the course of a half-year here. Did you know stapler can be a shark given the right imagination? Experiment and see what items on your desk or body parts you can make talk (note: some body parts are inappropriate for use as puppets in the work place. Bear that in mind).
  4. Create elaborate paperclip sculptures! My buddy at work made a little free-standing paper clip man that I keep on my desk. Also note that your paperclip sculptures can be used as puppets. hey, you can tell your boss that you're multitasking!
  5. Teach yourself office martial arts! What office supplies can be used as weapons? The phone as some sort of nunchuks, maybe? Binder clips as throwing starts? Try snatching a pushpin from your own hand. See if you are accurate enough to put a paper clip in your co worker's coffee cup across the room.
  6. Learn to imitate a turrets syndrome patient! Swearing constantly is not only cathartic, given that you are slowly wasting away like a wilting flower and there's nothing you can do, but the streams of obscenity make for some great awkward pauses when the rep finally picks up the other line.
  7. Draw little stick figure cartoons of what you imagine the employees on the other end are doing right now! I used to have a very intricate rendering where the help desk people were too busy sacrificing a goat to answer the ringing phones. I would show it to you but, alas, but it was so elaborately drawn that the work is now hanging in the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.
  8. If all else fails, search for raunchy hardcore porn using the company's internet!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Visitors from Around the World!

Hello members of the global community,

Until recently, I thought that there were only three people reading this blog. Now I know that there are at least SIX, three of which do not live on this continent. How do I know these things? Because I'm tracking each and every person reading this blog. Don't ask me how. It's a secret which I choose to take with me to my grave.

Well, ok: it's a little program thingy called sitemeter.

Today, as a de facto ambassador to three other countries, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my "global viewership" by honoring the countries whose citizens accidentally ran across my website while looking for pirate porn.

Hello, Greece! One of your children in Athens stumbled across my little blog and spent a grand total of 5 seconds on my site. I would like to say "welcome" to you, my Athenian friend, and thank you for your interest. I too am interested in your lovely country! I think that most of your food is delicious. I particularly enjoy your lamb dishes. I never would have thought that I would like lamb - they seem too cute to be delicious. You guys proved me wrong - your propensity for eating cute things has opened my eyes. I also hear that you guys have loose wardrobe requirements on some of your beaches in the islands. I hope that one day I can return the favor and visit you and your many beautiful islands. I dream of spending my afternoons at your nude beaches (fully clothed, of course, to spare everyone the site of my gargantuan penis; but I will be sporting a large pair of binoculars) ogling the German tourists while sipping some delicious Ouzo and eating stuffed grape leaves.
Hello, Sweden! One of your residents in Stockholm seems to be interested in stories about men buying panties. Hey, whatever floats your boat (I'm envisioning a viking longboat here - correct me if I'm wrong). I must confess that I do not know much about your country, other than that you guys make wooden floors and Ikea furniture. I have one of your chairs in my tiny studio apartment right now. The chair has a name, but I can't remember it off the top of my head. Something elaborately Swedish. I just call it "Chair" if I ever need to address it in polite conversation. I would be more than willing to spend some time learning about your (presumably) lovely country - particularly if you guys have nude beaches.

Brazil: I don't know who among you is visiting my site (someone from Sao Paulo), but I absolutely refuse to advertise their custom-made T-shirt company on my blog. I don't care how many nude beaches you may have, or how enticingly attractive your Amazonian women are. I categorically refuse to advertise anything on my site unless you are willing to pay top dollar (or whatever your Brazilian currency is) for the space. That's just the way I roll. And if you as a country have a problem with that, then you can go to hell. Also, I hate your flag. There. I said it.
In closing, I would just like to say "Thank you" to all the foreigners out there who have visited my blog (except for you, Brazil) and would like to encourage you to come again. Tell your friends, too. And tell Kazakhstan that I miss them terribly.
Oh Kazakhstan!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Staged Reading!

First thing's first: Robot vs. Dinosaur (the group I've been writing with on Thursday nights) will be having a staged reading on Thursday, October 25th. It'll be at the Uptown Writer's Space, located at the corner of Lawrence and Broadway in Chicago. I think the reading starts at 8:00 and should take about an hour or so; I'll let you all know for sure later on.

Last night we had the actors come to the meeting to read through our scripts so that they can get acquainted with our long-winded, rambling scenes. There's nothing more rewarding for a comedy writer than hearing other people (particularly performers) read your scripts out loud. It reminds you that you're not just writing so that you can sit in a dimly lit basement somewhere and laugh at your own cleverness in between eating cheetos and glancing over at that Japanese game show on the Spike network. Scenes are meant to be read aloud! In public! Comedy must be shared!

That being said, that act of hearing your work read aloud will also tend to point out the glaring flaws/typographical errors/lack of proper grammar/awkward wordiness etc. potentially present in your scene. So, even though your scene might seem perfect while you're sitting in your basement watching gameshows and eating cheetos (I don't know where I'm coming up with these details - I have no basement, I have no cable and I have no food) you find out pretty quickly that even your most polished script still needs work before you actually put a scene up "for real."

Not to fear though - that's what the staged reading is for: finding the flaws and fixing them before you try conning people into paying money to see your work. It's also an invaluable way to learn what works and what doesn't. If you are a writer just starting out, I highly recommend strong-arming your actorly (or reasonably literate) friends into reading your scenes aloud for you. Typically, some sort of food or beverage offering will suffice as payment. Remember, in the theatre world, certain items can take the place of money. For instance, in the actor's world, beer is just as good as currency. Whiskey is the prefered currency of the writer. Directors prefer casting-couch sex. I don't know what lighting designers like but I'm pretty sure whatever is is it's illegal.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Response to My Sister's Most Recent Blog Post

Dearest Vanessa,

You wrote a blog entry addressed to me, so I feel I should write one back to you.

In response to your most recent blog post, I suppose I owe you an explanation on the "McDonalds Bet." I was sitting in a bar with my buddy Pat, discussing various foolish things when, and I can't remember how it came up, I mentioned French McDonalds. Pat insisted, incorrectly, that there was no such thing as a French McDonalds and that they were in fact outlawed from the land of France by government legislation. I informed him that he was incorrect (yet again) and he stubbornly refused to admit the errors of his way so I was forced to prove that there are McDonalds restaurants in the land of France.

Since you had just spent approximately a year living in the land of France, I considered you to be an authority on French fastfood and so texted you to verify what I already knew: namely that I am right. Your texted response proved my point and I thank you for your assistance. Pat continues to live in denial, as is his wont, but I have since realized that there is nothing that you or I can do to change that.

He's probably reading this right now.

At any rate, I am glad that my foolish childhood dancing antics (videotaped without first obtaining a signed release, by the way, from toddler Nat) continue to amuse and delight you. Rest assured that I like you too.

In regards to your impending lameness, I would like to welcome you to the club. I can't even tell you how many times I have turned down the opportunity to party with a busload of Scandinavian strippers, opting instead to order a delicious Lou Malnati's deep-dish pepperoni pizza and watch the entire 4th season of Mr. Show. I wonder if perhaps you and I are genetically predisposed to lameness. We are related afterall, or so I've been told.

In regards to your preference for the "real life," I personally feel that I have yet to find such an experience. Would you count living in the land of France as the real life? I spent eighty hours each week for over a year working at a theatre and did not consider it to be real life. I've worked countless straight jobs praying for that not to be the real life. I have my responsibilities; I pay my bills; is this the real life yet? Meh. It's life.

I think the difference between giggling freshman Vanessa and senior year Vanessa is not so much a penchant for real life but an expression of your maturity. At anyrate, I'll get off the pseudo pulpit and say I'm proud of my little sister who is most likely smarter than me. And I'm glad that you wrote a new blog entry - you should write more often - it gave me something to read.

Talk to you later, kiddo.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nat Topping - Master of the Dance

This will be me in roughly a week. My girlfriend, the greatest baseball girlfriend ever, has talked me in to taking some sort of latin dance class with her. I have always loved to dance but never had the confidence to actually learn how to properly do it. I also figure this will be a good way for me to erode away at my inherant white-guy awkwardness. At the very least, it should provide me with some good potentially embarassing fodder for blog writing. So you have that to look forward to.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pleasant Weather: The Coming Apocalypse

What a glorious past couple of days, weather wise. Temps in the 80's, sunny, a slight breeze coming out of the west. I even considered going swimming this weekend. Of course, I am a pasty white guy and I was afraid that I might get some sort of horrendous blistery sunburn again, so instead I kept my shirt on and enjoyed the sunshine. Yessir, there's nothing finer than summer in Chicago.

What's that you say? Check the day? Why it's Monday, silly. Oh the date. Sorry. Hold on, let me check my calendar.

October 8th. Huh. Seems a little late for summery weather given that we're clearly in autumn now. Well, maybe it's like an Indian Summer or something. Except didn't we kind of have one of those already? Maybe we get two. Maybe we as a city were extra good this year and are being rewarded with a second Indian Summer.

Well then I shall think nothing of it, give thanks to the fates and simply enjoy the nice weather with which we have recently been blessed.

Now what should I do today? Perhaps I will check the BBC news website now to read up on the current events of the day and so forth. I would check CNN but I'm afraid I've had my fill of anecdotal amputee news recently.

Let me see here. Hmmm. It would appear that Canada is asserting it's teritorial rights over something called the Northwest Passage. Boring! I wonder what David Beckham is up to. But wait, what is a Northwest Passage? Let me think. That must be a shipping lane that runs between that Atlantic and Pacific Oceans across the northern coast of Canada.

But I thought that the Northwest Passage was largely theoretical. I thought that there was so much Arctic ice that there was no safe way to get large shipping vessels through. I thought that countless 16th century explorers risked time, money and lives searching for a viable Northwest Passage only to be turned back in vain.

It looks like that same artic ice has melted enough that a shipping lane over the north of Canada is now a viable option. I've always thought that we needed another shipping lane. As a matter of fact, I spend a lot of time thinking about shipping and wondering where the next lane is going to come from. Maybe we as a continent were extra good this year, so we're being rewarded with another shipping lane! I wonder if it's part of the same good things that we did to deserve all the good weather.

Oh, before I forget, note to self: buy sunscreen.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What I Will Be Thinking About All Day

This might just be the strangest little article I've ever read:

From WSOCTV in South Carolina.

Apparently, a man by the name of John Wood lost his leg in an airplane crash but has been keeping the amputated leg so that when he dies he can have it cremated along with the rest of his corpse. Somehow, his amputated leg ended up in a barbecue smoker. The smoker was sold at public auction to another South Carolina genius, Shannon Whisnant, who decided that he wants to charge people to come see the disembodied leg.

As a man who often keeps all of his most important items concealed in my oven, I can certainly empathize with Mr. Wood. One would hope that other people might respect the protective sanctity of one's cooking apparati and have the decency to return the valued possessions, legal documents etc. contained therein to their rightful owners. On the other hand, if one wants to auction off one's safe, one might want to make sure that the safe is completely empty first and, oh by the way, WHO KEEPS THEIR FREAKING LEG IN A BARBECUE SMOKER?

These are the important, hard hitting questions that I need answered, damn it.

At least I can look forward to laying awake tonight thinking of ways to rationalize this story.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Comrade Nat of the Russkaya Mafiya

Finally, after a life time of trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up (I'm 25 - you'd think I would have figured it out before now) I have stumbled across the perfect career for myself.

Mom, I'm going to be a Russian mobster.

Last Saturday, I saw a movie called Eastern Promises. Not the best name for a movie, granted, but it was still pretty kick-ass. It's about the Russian brand of organized crime running amok in London, England. (Not London, Ontario obviously; running amok is typically frowned upon by most Canadians as just plain impolite). I would write a thoughtful, intelligent review on the movie but I am so pumped about my new career choice that I fear my objectivity could be called in to question.

Ever since seeing the Godfather, I always thought the life of organized crime would be a fun and exciting career move. Unfortunately, I do not look Italian. Anyone who has ever seen my pale white ass knows this. For a while, I considered stage makeup as a suitable alternative to my poor choice of genetics but once the other mobsters find out it becomes a huge issue and, trust me, even once you apologize you will still never live it down.

But hey, Russians are pale white bastards too. And they are just as crooked and violent as any other mob! What a perfect fit. Now I just need to perfect the accent and the cold, lifeless Siberian stare.

Which is what I have been doing for the past couple of days, that is to say when I'm not pulling dustpans out from underneath my girlfriend's car. Whenever someone asks me a question, I do a little shrug, curl up the left side of my upper lip and respond in my best low, gravelly Russian accent, "Da, da," which I can only assume is Russian for "Fuck you, I could kill you right now if I wanted." I don't speak Russian. Yet.

I walk the streets at night in a black suit that I bought at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Not exactly high class custom tailoring, but I gotta start somewhere. I don't want to commit any real crimes yet, because I don't think I have enough money or connections to bribe the cops, so I just imagine them. In my imagination, I have extorted $3 million from various barbers across the city, smuggled countless duffel bags full of heroine into the city and brutally killed seventy ethnic Chechens and Ukrainians with an assortment of knives, icepicks, metal pipes, exotic handguns and once with a MiG-33.

I'd say I'm off to a pretty good start.

Then again, I've never been a big fan of Russian food. Beets have never really done it for me, and I cringe at the thought of eating fish eggs. I wonder if eating that would be a part of the hazing ritual. Also, whenever I drink Vodka I am always overcome with the desire to tell embarrassing sexual stories about myself to complete strangers.

I may need to rethink this a little bit. I guess for now I'll just keep writing drivel and see where it leads me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Damn You, Janitor's Truck!!

At about 9:15 last night I received a call on my cellular phone. I picked up and on the other end I heard the high pitched squealing of a woman set to the sounds of a loud grinding noise in the background. I was about to chalk it up to another anonymous sadomasochistic perv-call when it became clear to me that the woman on the other end was, in fact, my girlfriend. And she was not happy.

Katie, who lives in one of the far suburbs of Chicago, surprised me earlier in the day by offering to come into the city to spend the evening with me. It appeared that I would finally realize my life-long fantasy of being hand-fed grapes and fanned by a scantily clad woman. I cleaned up my room. I showered. I bought a giant palm fan and some grapes and then I put on a nice button-down shirt. I did everything that I should do but typically don't because I'm somewhat lazy that way in preparation and was ready to go when I got the screamy-hysterical call.

As it turns out, while she was on her way down the highway a pickup truck loaded with a bunch of janitorial supplies must have hit a bump or something. Garbage bags and other assorted crap fell out of the truck, which was directly in front of her, and she couldn't swerve in time. There was now a loud scraping noise coming from somewhere beneath the car, which explains the grinding noise I heard on the phone. She had stopped on the side of the highway to call her dad, who proceeded to yell at her for stopping on the side of the highway (admittedly not the best place to stop given that there were psychotic drivers speeding around the curve at 90 miles per hour). She was scraping along down the highway and thoroughly scared when she called me.

I calmed her down and told her to get off at my exit and stop at the nearest well lit place (the CVS drug store on Diversey and Western) where I would meet her. I jumped in my car and sped off down Diversey towards the highway.

When I got to the parking lot, she was already parked and out of the car. I got down onto the parking lot pavement in my nice button down shirt to take a look. A powder blue plastic dustbin attached to a rod was lodged underneath her car. I felt around underneath the car to see where exactly it was stuck and discovered that there was also a plastic hook on the other end of the rod that was attached to the bottom of the car. I needed scissors. Stat. We were in the CVS parking lot.

You would think any self-respecting establishment selling office supplies would be sure to have scissors in stock. This was not the case at the CVS. Apparently, scissors sell like hot cakes on Damen and Western Avenues. Who knew that area was such a hot spot for arts and crafts. I was certainly not aware of this. If I had known, I would have got an apartment in the area. I love arts and crafts. I was about the leave when by chance I found one lonely utility knife hanging out in the housewares aisle.

The cashier must have thought I was going to commit some sort of heinous crime. When he asked if I needed a bag for my brand new utility knife, I told him no. It was to be my only purchase. He then got to watch me rip the packaging apart and open the blade as I walked out the door. I guess I could have waited. I'm lucky he didn't call the cops.

I then spent a good ten to fifteen minutes underneath Katie's car hacking away at the makeshift plastic contraption lodged between the pavement and the car while she was calling her dad again. I took a quick breather from hanging out in the warm underbelly of the car and noticed a smoking middle-aged Indian man staring at me. I don't know if he was trying to figure out what I was doing or just staring at my now exposed sweaty ass-crack. I gave him a polite smile. He looked away and went back to waiting for his bus.

I finally managed to pop the plastic hook off one end of the rod and cut away enough at the dustpan part so that I could drag it out from under the car.

Was it time for the hand-fed grapes yet? No. Why? Because the car was now leaking some sort of fluid too. We left her car in the parking lot for a moment and then drove back to my house to turn off all of the lights that I had left on and to wash and bandage up my hand. I changed my shirt, now black from all the crap underneath her car, and then I followed Katie back out to the suburbs so that she could leave her car in a mechanic's parking lot. Finally we made it back to her house and then we crashed. So much for a lovely evening in the city. I am happy, though, that I could help her out and keep her calm. Hopefully the car's fine.

As I was driving in to work this morning from the suburbs (a nice two hour plus traffic-filled joy ride through thick fog) I was cut off by a little purple Hyundai. The rear driver's side window rolled down, and a man popped his head out. He then projectile vomited onto the pavement twice. My sentiments exactly. I thought how nice it would be to have a chauffeur or, better yet, not to have a car at all.