roy-rogersWe had a next-door neighbor when I was young, an elderly man who smoked a pipe and always wore a hat. I don’t remember his first name. It was always just Mr D_____.

He would stop to visit and chat. Never planned, or for a meal, always unannounced and just for coffee. I remember my mother sometimes being annoyed to see him coming across the yard to knock on our back door, the last thing she needed, but she only ever told us to hide and be quiet once.

He was a hunter, which seems wholly at odds with the middle-class suburbia this was, and what I knew about it. He hunted pheasant. He brought one over once, holding its tail out to us so we could see the beauty of its feathers arrayed. He also fished, and he once gutted and cleaned a fish on our back steps, just so he could explain to me the steps in the process. It’s hard to convey how far outside the realm of my normal childhood experience this was. Slicing it up along its underside. Removing the organs and then squeezing his thumb along the vein to push out the last of the black red blood.

We didn’t know all of our neighbors, but we knew him.

The winter after he died, my mother would have to scream at my brother and I to stop complaining about having to shovel his widow’s driveway after we’d already shoveled our own.

I don’t remember his face, just the shape of him, how he looked at the round yellow table in our kitchen. I picture Roy Rogers. Someone from another age. Someone who owned a gun but was nice. Someone good.

This is Rose Tyler, not Jackie or Amber.The other day I was thinking of that line from MSCL where Angela’s mom is like “And I bet the karma at Amber’s house is through the damn roof!” or whatever. And then I was like Oh yeah, Rayanne’s mom, what was the deal with her, was she a hottie? And then I was like Oh yeah, she totally was. EXCEPT. Except, you guys. I was not picturing Rayanne’s mom, I was picture Rose Tyler’s mom! Rose Tyler. Yes you do, from Doctor Who. (Pictured, right.) And then of course I had my usual moment of OMG they were played by the same actress oh wait no actually they probably were not.

It’s like I’m so desperate to discover an uncharted pop culture moment.

So I have been like wracking my brain but I can only ever picture Rayanne in the warm embrace of Rose Tyler’s mom. And I kind of want to go on thinking that, because of course Rayanne’s life would have turned out better if her mom had been Jackie Tyler. I mean how could it not have been. But fuck it, I’m going to go imdb that shit and reconnect some neural pathways. Buckle in brain, here we go.

Patti D’Arbanville! OK I don’t remember her at all. Sorry, lady.

In closing: I used to think that A.J. Langer didn’t get enough work (she was pretty good on It’s Like, You Know…) but eventually I made a conscious decision to not have it be my job to worry about her career. And the character on MSCL that I always related to the most was…wait for it…you think I’m going to say Brian Krakow but no…Sharon Cherski. I guess because of the boobs. But no I’m serious.

The Inconveniencers

September 20, 2007

I was driving down a one-way street when a beat-up car pulled in from the other end and started barreling towards me. If I had to guess, my face was probably saying something like You are a complete fucking retard and it is an abortion of justice that I have to share this planet with you. As it does. But he just kept coming towards me, head down, kind of nodding and waving like Yeah, but this is in-progress, so just move over to the side so I can get by and continue life.

But do you know whose face I picture when I try to remember what that guy looked like? I’ll tell you, because you’d never guess. The security guard in the dotcom building where I worked in (doing math) 1999. This guy. Gray polyester suit, clip-on tie, white socks and black waiter shoes from Payless. One of those people where you feel bad for them but not enough to overcome the fact that you wish they weren’t in your life. This guy was always with the chit-chat. “What do you guys do in there?” (Order more Aeron chairs.) “My cousin designs web pages, could he get a job there?” (If your cousin can actually design web pages, he’s probably overqualified.)

His job completely sucked, all day at this uncomfortable stool and pedestal, no TV or video games. Just 8 hours of staring at the wall, interrupted by the 6 seconds it took one of us to get from the front door to our office. And it could have just ended there, with a handful of overprivileged college graduates feeling mildly bad for this guy, whose job it was to protect a building that under no circumstances needed protecting. But then he started coming into our office. He would use our microwave and get condiments out of our refrigerator for his lunch, and pull up a chair to our eating area and tuck in like it was whatever, one of the guys. We’re like: Hey who’s protecting the building right now? And that was just an intrusion of personal space that could not be borne. I think one of the VPs said something to someone and he was gone soon after that. Replaced by a closed-circuit video camera, IIRC.

But that’s what it is, the intrusion of space, that’s why my brain only needs to remember one of their faces. A shabby guy who is somewhere he doesn’t belong, in a way that inconveniences me and makes me wonder whether or not he totally gets it. We have a match.

I met an artist recently. He was from the west coast and he had a two-initial name, like A.J. or O.J. I hated that he had initialized his name like that, because the first initial stood for his first name, and the second initial stood for his surname, which is ridiculous. If your name is Aaron Paul Jones and you want me to call you A.J., what, you want me to look at “A.J. Johnson” on your email footer and website and not spend the rest of the afternoon disgusted at how fucking retarded that is? A.J. Johnson? Aaron Johnson Johnson? Honestly. Whatever. He was actually a very nice person and I enjoyed sharing space with him.

But when I try to picture him now, I can only conjure the image of a distant cousin I met once, a year ago. At a funeral, he showed me naked pictures of his girlfriend. An artist in his own right, I suppose.

What is it about these two that cause them to be linked inextricably in my brain. A very whiteness. Blonde hair, blue eyes, likely college fraternity membership. But more than that. Something in their smiles, something in the muscles behind their eyes that said: When I drink I do things that cause the Police to chase me.

The Entertainer

April 26, 2007

td-jakes.jpgWhenever I try to picture what Cedric the Entertainer looks like, no matter how hard I concentrate, I can only picture Bishop T.D. Jakes. I feel like I used to have a very clear idea of what Cedric the Entertainer looks like, so I’m not sure why he fell out of my head. Perhaps it has to do with the irony that I find Bishop Jakes more entertaining. But I suppose in some ways Christianity has always been the greatest show on Earth.

Anyways. I thought by now I would have figured out the secret to holding on to a person’s face forever.