November 26, 2003 - 12:20 pm
As you may have read elsewhere, it is cold here in Southern California.
It’s not cold cold, but it’s Los Angeles cold. Whereas in other parts of the country, the first snowfall is the hallmark of the truly cold season, out here it happens when you can see your breath.
For the first time last week, I wore a sweater I reserve only for Chicago. I wore this sweater to a party, during which, for the first time in my California adventure, I found myself saying “I am going the fuck inside. It is too fucking cold out here. Fuck.”
My body has adjusted to the temperature here. I am now officially a cold wuss. As I step off the plane when I go home to Chicago for Christmas, I expect to die immediately.
Robin works at a hotel bar. After work last night, I went over there to hang out with her a bit. The original plan was that I would spend the night at her place, but I wasn’t feeling well, and I knew I wouldn’t want to sleep over, so I went to see her because I wanted to spend at least a little time with her.
We talked a bit as we sat at the bar, and I have no idea how the conversation came around to this, but she intimated that she thought I wasn’t a hugely passionate person.
In a lot of ways, she’s right. There isn’t much that I feel very passionate about. I’m a fairly even-tempered person, except for instances when I feel a myself or a friend might be being treated unfairly, or maybe when I come across a piece of particularly bad or insulting art, i.e. the sitcom According to Jim, anything involving Tim Allen, and any webpage that has more than one picture of kittens, or is devoted to kittens, or is written from the point of the view of the kitten.
I like music and movies, but I’ll never be able to claim they’re my life, like some people can do. My obsessions tend to last an average of 36 hours. There are things I love and things I loathe. I can’t buy them or put them up on my wall, though.
I grew up in a house where yelling and fighting was the most common form of communication. I know that isn’t extremely unusual, but I had a dad that had no problem finding a good reason to yell about something when he was in a yelling mood, and even had a special “stick” or paddle for those times when flat-handed spankings just wouldn’t do the trick. My mom would screamingly threaten to cancel every driving family vacation on the morning that we were supposed to leave because she was getting stressed out making bologna sandwiches for the cooler while looking for our swimsuits.
Not that my brothers and I were completely blameless. Really, we were a bad episode of Malcolm in the Middle. We would antagonize my dad by hiding his pipe or losing his childhood baseball bat or destroying the washing machine, scare my mom with a makeshift mannequin attached to a bungee cord and throwing it at her from the roof, and then there was the time we just decided to take all the food out of the fridge, throw it on the kitchen floor, and chop it to bits with knives.
I took the lead in most of these events. I was the older brother, after all.
We were terrors. And my parents would tend to overreact. Consequently, I’ve grown up with the realization that there really just isn’t much worth getting upset over.
In fact, according to Christy’s latest entry, she would find me very boring to date. I myself don’t have a lot of issues, and I don’t like to be involved with people who do. There’s enough drama and tension involved in trying to succeed, and other day to day crap, so when I come home, all I want is a girl who’s going to be an ally and a source of relaxation, and not another thing to deal with before I get in bed.
On the other hand, when she moves out here, she and my roommate are going to get along just fine. Those two have the potential to make some marriage counselor very wealthy someday.
Back to passion. A few weeks ago, Jonny and I were having dinner with our friend Natalie. In an attempt to make us behave like humans, as opposed to animals who cared for nothing but Quizno’s and TiVo, she engaged us in conversation with the light, fun-filled question “What is the thing that you care about most in the world?”
I really didn’t know what to say. I answered that I would like to say “My relationships with people,” but I knew that was just a response that sounded like something one should say, as opposed to what I really felt. The question stuck with me, and I’ve let it bounce around inside me these last few weeks.
I’ve come to realize that the only thing I really care about is laughter.
And, yes, I’m well aware of the irony of saying that sincerely.
Thinking back on all of my life, I can’t imagine a day in which I haven’t sought out ways to make myself or someone else laugh about something. When it comes down to it, it’s why I’ve chosen to go into entertainment. I want to make myself and other people laugh, whether it’s through something I’ve written or something I’m doing on stage.
It may sound hedonistic to proclaim that you’re devoting your life to fun, and, yeah, it is, but I can’t honestly think of anything better to do with my existence. Even if I tried to do something ‘serious’ with my life, I don’t think I’d be able. I’d be known as "The Funny Pope.”
Last night, I’m leaving the bar, and Robin takes her break and agrees to meet me in the parking garage. I get down there, and we aren’t alone. There are hotel guests walking to their cars and a valet, not to mention security cameras. She’s wearing her uniform, and we just stand close for a few moments, softly talking. She’s nervous, and understandably doesn’t want to be seen acting unprofessionally.
Because of these things, a moment goes by, and we kiss goodbye, just once, quickly, and she walks away. I start to go back to my car as she disappears around the corner. I stop.
What happened next makes me wish we never had the conversation in the bar we had about passion, because she probably thinks that’s why I did what I did. It isn’t.
I began to walk in the direction she went. I turn the corner she just did, and there she is, about to go back into the building.
“Robin!” I yelled. She stopped and turned around, smiling, because I think she already knew what I was doing.
And she must have, because as I walked up to her, she said “There are cameras…” but by then, I had my arms around her, and she had hers around me, and we were kissing. And everything beyond our peripheral vision disappeared and turned to black, the guests, valets, and cameras. And it was just the two of us.
After a few moments, we stopped, and still holding her, I said, quietly “I couldn’t walk out of here tonight without touching you like this.”
Through her pretty half-smile and brown eyes, she said “The rest of tonight isn’t going to be good.”
“Because you just made my heart pound in my chest.”
And she squeezed my hand and turned and walked away, and I went home, happy, because I knew I’d see her again tonight.
It wasn't funny, but I'm OK with that.
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