Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 24: That’s What She said—How alcohol and the Office saved my life…An ovation of gratitude to the mockumentary narrative of the past nine years (a.)

That’s What She said—How alcohol and the Office saved my life…An ovation of gratitude to the mockumentary narrative of the past nine years (a.)

Status: 24 days. In grade school before we knew anything about drinking whatsoever we would sit at the vestigial lunch tables which would fold into the walls of the gym after eating alight  our pint sized chocolate milk’s in front of us like we were consecrating a wedding toast to longevity and say, “24 hours in a day. 24 beers’ in a case. Coincidence?  I think not.” before chugging the lactose libation and saying ‘ahhhhh.’ We would also make cigars out of fruit roll-ups and  vicariously puff on them a la Hannibal from the A-team commenting aloud how we Love it when a Plan comes together before our lunchroom histrionics were duly truncated by Mrs. Reinhardt and our recess would be monopolized in front of the chalkboard scribing out repetitive passages from minor biblical prophets presumably pertaining to locus and vices.

So much for good old Nehemiah. Ibid that for Ezra.

The first poem I can remember writing for my poetry notebook in fifth grade was a haiku about rutabagas. It went like this:

                        Rutabaga babe.

             Don’t you want to eat it, babe?

                        Rutabaga babe.

                                   --Basho beware.

 The number 24 has always been my quote ‘lucky’ number which has nothing to do with hours in a day or sudsy packs of cold ones. When I was in junior high (showing my age here) I used to walk to the corner of Western and Sherman where there was a payphone and call my little girlfriend up because I was just simply to coy to call her in the house when my parents’ were home. It kinda sucked because she lived in bumfuck Washington (or, if you’re a yocal, Warsh-ing-ton, accent on the  inexplicable ‘are’) and via the chrome slit of the payphone it cost 75 cents the first three minutes and then fifty cents per minute ad infinitum and I just kept having to deposit salvaged quarters in slot machine fashion until the  caroling shrill of the voice-over operator coerced the call into teenage termination and I would be left quarterless and alone,  with only the gaseous hush of traffic guzzling down Western avenue to keep me company.

Since I was an athlete I wore this runner’s watch I could use to monitor splits with  and I would incessantly consult my wrist while tramping down the street to the payphone and, when looking at my watch, if I happened to espy the digits ‘24’ I knew she would pick-up, I knew I would have enough quarters cached in to the linings of my pocket to make the call linger, I knew her forehead would blush when she would pick up the receiver on her end and I would inquire if ‘My little mermaid was home,’ even though it was her portly mom with the bad perm who picked up half the time.

Teenage antics and lucky numbers. Pathetic.      

Physiology: Bored bored bored bored bored. I’ve lost between 10-15 lbs. of unalloyed beer slab since this fast convened but I’m still bored. I don’t dream when I sleep. And since I’m plum out of both cigars and fruit roll-ups I’ve been prostituting the hell out of ye olde coffee pot. Those who know me know that my inveterate beer pounding  is only part of a larger trinity of vices which include massive amounts of caffeine married with tufts of tobacco smoke which follow me around everywhere I go like dirty ballooned caricature speaking bubbles in a Peanuts’ cartoon strip. I started drinking coffee (a lot of coffee) freshman year of high school which was (showing my age again) about a year before One World opened and a decade and a half before the first Starbucks would steam milk in P-town.  Junior and Senior years of high school I literally wrote something like four or five INSUFFERABLE teenage-angst laden poems a day. I mean they sucked. Thousands upon thousands of shitty poems that I still have burrowed somewhere in my mom’s basement like a forgotten time capsule. Every afternoon I would arrive home from school and brew a pot of coffee in my bedroom and listen to the Writers’ Almanac while holding my pen (always black) like a scalpel, chiseling into the ashen cigarette white of the page watching as inky blotches somehow transmogrify into the linear configuration of  emblems and shapes and how theses emblems and shapes, when arrayed in a certain fashion of the pasture of the page are able to spell items connoting succinct sounds which is capable of planting pictures in the arable sponge- psyche of the reader’s brain.


One of the (insufferable) teenage poems that I wrote went like this:

                        In a world so jaded, so inane,

                                    To put it’s Trust in Kurt Cobain. 

Ibid. Pathetic again. Although Jewel purportedly wanted to use it as the title for her next book of bathos-induced bestselling poems.




There’s a scene anyone who has ever endeavored to slog through David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is well familiar with. It’s around page 600 in almost any edition and it’s the scene where Gatley is working the night Shift at the Ennet recovery house and has to wake the residents’ up to move their vehicles so they can avoid being towed and Gately eventually gets shot and spends the rest of the novel in a coma. What’s beautiful about this scene is how Wallace presents a bouquet of unattractive, working class drug-addicts straggling around the front porch of the half-way house wearing mud-masks and tank top undershirts and slippers moving their vehicles in the midnight frost of mid-November. The bevy of characters are blue-collar, despondently downtrodden, drug-addled, not someone you’d invite over to say grace with at thanksgiving dinner, and yet, at the same time, lovable, endearing and true.


The first time I watched the Office in the spring of 2005 I thought about that scene from Infinite Jest.      

Novelists in general don’t watch much television. What I know about shows I would probably like yet have never seen ( Mad Men, Breaking Dawn, Games of Threes) shows that I am sure are just exceedingly well written which I know about almost solely from reading the Arts section of the New York Times. Maybe once every two years I’ll go on a Simpsons or All in theFamily binge (I also have a patent pending on the PARKER LEWIS CAN’T LOSE –greatest show of all time--drinking game I engender one weekend over four 12 packs and five frozen pizzas when I didn’t want to leave my apartment).

But for the most part, with the exception of Sports Center to verify my virility, tv is completely void from my life. As it should be. NPR is usually always blasting at full volume in my apartment so if something happens in the world I’m well informed and I don’t have to optically endure all the coifed charlatans on FOX news that makes me want to throw up on their coifed paychecks.

Fifty years from now when I’m on my deathbed I’ll have no remorse about missing seasonal sitcoms. I will have remorse about the books I did not read and the stories and poems I failed to write because I was too busy staring at a digitalized slate allowing a random fumble of thoroughly edited images dictate the narratives and storylines of which I chose to adhere and allow to govern the pulse of my life.

  Then there was the Office, the American version hitting Yankee coastlines in spring of 2005. Somehow I caught the pilot episode chiefly because at the house where I was living the television was always on and somehow, from the outset, I fell just a little bit in love.  

Perhaps it was the glory of the single-lens interlocution (borrowed heavily from Christopher Guest’s preparatory greatness), the mock almost Brief Interviews with Hideous Men style evasive inquirer-qua-panelist where (due to the single camera) it felt like the audience was, for some inscrutable reason, championing a Q & A session with a gaggle of middle-aged, overweight hygienically deficient mock professionals, taking a keen interest in their work ethos and romantic foibles and (somehow, which is how fiction and good writing works) becoming one with them. Empathizing with them. And loving them.

 Since we perceive and experience life from the single lens wedged and marooned inside the football helmet of our own skull we were able to sidle amongst the carrels and water coolers of Dunder Mifflin like a chameleon, unnoticed yet all knowing.

It was this mockumentary single-lens format that transitioned a show about marketing listless sheaths of paper into a vivid fresco of just plain fun and tear-duct welling laughter. There was Michael who looked like he just failed to garner the lead of Cyrano in Roxanne the musical whose highfalutin antics and vain attempt to be loved propelled the show for the bulk of its run. There was Jim with his ruffled bangs and lanky gait resembling the scarecrow from Wizard of Oz  unsure of which direction to go until his akimbo limbs somehow always devoutly pointing in the yellow brick road that lead to Pam’s smile.

And there was Dwight, who anyone who ever monopolize even a month of Junior high playing Dungeons and Dragons has met a character thereof.

There were other’s of course and tomorrow I’ll relay how The Office literally saved my life but for now, that’s what she said, and she said it very well while bringing us along for the ride.

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