Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.
The Drag Race is really the only worthwhile party of the year at Bard. More people attend this party than attend the college as a whole, which is saying a great deal considering the poor turn-out of people for every other social event. In many ways, it's also the most honest party of the year. It's the one party where you can kiss someone if you're attracted to them, and people set aside, if only for four hours, the crippling insecurity that too-well characterizes Bard students. The Princeton Review said it best: Bard students are dodgeball targets. But for one night a year, those same uncertain students shed their insecurity and clothing, and pack into the Old Gym to delight in the rhythmic crowding of sweaty bodies.
Actual-Ben went dressed as a Chippendale, and had a great time. But do you know who had a really great time? Mythological-Ben. I've already heard half a dozen stories from different people about the wild things that guy did that night. Mythological-Ben, at least from the perverse antics people have been telling me, (most of which have left me nauseated, owing to their disjointed surreality and their affiliation with me) is one hell of a party animal.
Just as a general rule, me knowing myself and my less-than-happening happenings better than anyone else: if you hear an interesting story about my life from anyone other than me, it's probably not true.
Adam Conover and I have been having a war for a long time. We sign each other up for things, it's pointless and vengeful and comical.
In a recent installment, probably to get back at me for signing him up as a Dutchess County Republican spokesperson and Team Leader, Adam signed me up as a Dutchess County Republican spokesperson and Team Leader. Now those ridiculous assholes send me all sorts of propaganda, all poorly-written, with instructions on how to distribute the information to my loved ones and others who should "share [my] values." Last week they recommended that I change my answering machine message to include an endorsement for a Republican candidate.
"Thousands of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other Team Leaders are actively working to encourage voter registration and early voting throughout the nation. For anyone to suggest that Republicans would set about to keep anyone from legally voting is absolutely absurd."
Clearly I'm the only Republican Team Leader who remembers the election two years ago and the absurd amount of energy expended by the Republicans to keep thousands from legally voting.
"We recently told you about an outrageous Democrat cartoon that attacks Republicans on Social Security and depicts President Bush pushing a senior citizen off the side of a cliff. This week, we are setting the record straight with our own video highlighting the work President Bush and Republicans are doing to save Social Security for seniors and everyone."
I beg of you, watch this video, it's fucking hilarious. This video is why I'm glad I don't pay taxes.
My e-mail program just accused me of having a swearing problem, and then threatened me.
This bothers me because: A. I don't particularly want my mail program to have a subjective viewpoint. B. Even if the program is cognizant, which it shouldn't be, why the fuck is it reading my mail? C. What is this, an intervention? I'm sending a fucking letter here.
That's right, tonight is my first-ever appearance in a courtroom. Oh, I'm so excited. I've never even seen a bailiff before.
"Your honor, charge me what you will: no fine could possibly match the amount of currency I would have paid for the thrill of standing here today. Why, I wouldn't even be surprised if you saw me here again. And if you release me unfined, I give you my word, so help me god, that I will race home recklessly and race back again for just one more chance to be part of the great American judicial system."
The courtroom was significantly less impressive than John Grisham movies had made me believe. At some point in the past, someone had managed to force a large desk through a small door, and the act of doing so had transformed what would have been a standard office into a court of law. And despite all of my hyperventilating, the precedings didn't even have a bailiff.
I went dressed like a lawyer, because I thought it would help. Standing before the judge, I really wanted to spout out one of the thousand quips I'd heard over and over again in courtroom movies. "Now, Mr. Popik. Is it true that your address is at Bard College, and that your permanent addr--" "Your honor, I object. All of this information is circumstantial. You're leading the witness. Move to dismiss. The prosecution rests."
"Mr. Popik, are you currently employed?" "Well, yes, but not legally. It's all kind of under the table, if you know what I mean. Wait, I think that came out wrong. Dammit. Wait. Alright, see, I do have a job, but it's not like I fill out tax forms or any of that legal stuff. With all due respect, your honor, paying taxes is for suckers. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear your response, one of the officers was addressing me. Did you say that you are employed?" "No, your honor." "But you are a full-time student at Bard College?" "That's what they say anyway! No, but seriously, I'm a full-time lots of things. A full-time liar, a full-time drunk, and sure, yeah, that student thing too." "I see. Mr. Popik, in light of your honesty, you lack of employment and your snazzy jacket, I'm going to minimize your fine, and reduce the number of points against your license to two. This courts fines you sixty-five dollars, to be paid within three weeks." "Sixty-five dollars?! Is that all?! I spend more than that on drugs! Gee, thanks!"
I'd like to take this moment to reiterate that this account, and everything else I've ever written about anything even remotely illegal, is pure fiction, and should be considered inadmissable in a court of law. Unless said court has a bailiff.
10.21.2002 I spelled out the plan in the elevator: we would steal a pinball machine. We would walk in professionally and assertively, with a direct course of action, making sure to unplug the machine before carrying it out of the room as a group. Of course, we knew that we would be immediately stopped by one of the game room monitors, at which point I, the sober one, would attempt to justify our taking the machine. Even as we made our way down the hall where the game room was located, I wasn't sure what I was going to say. "This machine is broken, we've been asked to move it," or, "We're just going to borrow it, we'll bring it back when we're done," or, "Good Lord! When was the last time this machine was taken for a walk? You all should be ashamed of yourselves."
The campus center game room has a pool table, a foosball table, three video games and two pinball machines. I've seen dorms with better game rooms at other colleges, but I don't go to other colleges, I go to Bard. And at Bard, unless students want to stay in their own dorm lobbies and play the expensive and predictable game "Win the Coke," they have to trudge all the way across campus just to crowd into the tiny game room. It's loud, it's boisterous, and unless you show up at two o'clock in the afternoon, there's always a line for the pool table. To add insult to injury, if you wanted to steal the pool table, maybe to move it to somewhere roomier, you wouldn't be able to, because (A.) there are always game room monitors on duty to make sure you don't do just that, and (B.) pool tables (unlike pinball machines) are too heavy to carry.
Because it was a Friday night, the game room was especially crowded. The space around the pool table had pooled with people, and all but one of the machines was occupied. So we didn't even have to choose which machine to steal, our prey lay before us, obvious and vulnerable -- Medieval Madness.
At first, everything went according to plan. I wedged myself between the machine and the wall until I could reach far enough to remove the plug, while the others took hold of the machine. None of this went unnoticed. The group playing pool stopped to observe our progress, the video gamers watched us out of the corners of their eyes. It's hard to move a pinball machine without making a lot of noise. Any second we would be approached, and I was already preparing my defense.
But surprisingly, no one stopped us. The room was packed with people, but not one of them so much as asked us what we were doing. It was remarkable in every way, and we didn't really know how to react to it, the whole plan having been born to entice a specific reaction. Not knowing what else to do, we stole the machine. We pushed the cumbersome mass out of the room and into the hallway, and it was as if we had robbed a bank but had no particular use for money. Granted, we had managed to steal the pinball machine, but what would we do with it? Even if we wanted to play pinball, which none of us did, we would still need to pay fifty cents, regardless of the location of the machine. We had been going for a reaction--possession of the machine had never been our actual intent, and its acquisition left us confused.
So we just kept on stealing it. We made our way down the long hallway with our backs pressed hard against the machine, the metal legs screeching against the floor like some horrible dying animal. People walked past us casually, one even remarked about how much he loved Medieval Madess, and we called out to them, "Then why aren't you stopping us?" But we just kept on going. It took three of us to get the machine into the elevator. We debated leaving it there, we imagined someone pressing the elevator button and having the doors open to reveal all the madness of medieval pinball. But the doors wouldn't shut with the back of the machine flat against the back wall of the elevator, and turning the machine sideways just wouldn't have been funny.
The four of us stood in the elevator--the machine, my two drunk friends and I--and debated what to do. "We could put it in the cafe, that could be funny," or, "We could get a camera, and then take pictures of ourselves all around campus with the machine," or, "We could just say 'fuck it' and go get a sandwich." We did, in fact, go get sandwiches, but not before pushing the machine back to its home in the game room. We had challenged the only authority within walking distance, and we had lost to their disinterest. We had robbed a bank for the attention, and the police couldn't have cared less.
On a recent trans-Atlantic flight, a plane passes through a severe storm. The turbulence is awful, and things go from bad to worse when one wing is struck by lightning.
One woman in particular loses it. Screaming, she stands up in the front of the plane. "I'm too young to die," she wails. Then she yells, "Well, if I'm going to die, I want my last minutes on earth to be memorable! Is there ANYONE on this plane who can make me feel like a WOMAN?"
For a moment there is silence. Everyone has forgotten their own peril. They all stared, riveted, at the desperate woman in the front of the plane.
Then a man stands up in the rear of the plane. He is gorgeous, tall, built, with reddish-blond hair and hazel eyes. He starts to walk slowly up the aisle, unbuttoning his shirt
It was so surreal to have people run up to me and say excitedly, "Did you hear about Finland?! They're being bombed!" "What are you talking about, man, that was a joke." "No, seriously, people were killed!"
1. My interview for this job consisted of one question, which, of course, I knew the right answer to, and answered correctly. Job interviews are all about lying--lying and smiling--both of which I can do on command. "So do you know the area?" Come on, it would've been really stupid to say no. I wasn't really that concerned about not knowing the area particularly well--having ordered so many calzones from this particular establishment, I expected that most of the deliveries would be going to my college anyway. It's incredible how often I'm wrong.
"Ben, you're up." "Alright, where'm I going? "The zones (that's pizza shop lingo for "calzones.") need to go to Germantown, and the two large pies are goin' to North Road in Elizaville. You know where North Road is? "Uhh..." "Alright, whatcha wanna do is this: when you hit the town center on Main--you know how it splits there at the church?--take the right one. Go like two and a half miles, it'll be on your left. But keep your eye open, because the road is really easy to miss. You got that?" "Yeah. And Elizaville...that's...West?" "The Hudson river is West, I think you mean North." "Yeah, that's what I said, North."
2. The perfect amount for an order to come to is sixteen dollars. It's a perfect "keep the change" quantity. Anything less than that and they'll ask for change back, and anything more than that (in the less than twenty-dollar range) will be less rewarding. I love that people feel the need to tip more when they order a lot of food. Most people treat me like a waitress in that sense, cutting me fifteen percent as if I had to labor more to complete their large order. Whether it's five large pizzas or a single calzone, my entire job still consists of carrying a warm bag from my car to your front door. But don't get me wrong, I appreciate your money.
3. I have an elephant's memory about tipping. If you give me a big tip, I probably won't forget your generosity, and next time I'll go out of my way to deliver your food before the other orders. But if you give me a shitty tip, if you give me a one dollar tip on a twenty-nine dollar order, I will not forget a single eyebrow on your face. And god help you if I run into you in the supermarket.
I'd write more right now, but I have to go back to work until ten.
1. Annie and I have been making a lot of smores lately. We make them in the microwave, because I can't honestly be expected to whip up a campfire every time one of us wants some chocolate and marshmallow melted on a graham cracker.
Keelin came over to hang out the other day, and I casually remarked that it was ridiculous that she and I, in the two years that we lived together, never made smores in the microwave.
She looked at me like I had four heads. "Are you serious?" "Completely" I chimed, "It's such a good idea! You would've enjoyed that so much." "So you're being serious right now? You mean what you're saying right now." "Yes..." "You're not kidding? You're kidding, right?" "No...what's your deal?" "We made smores allthetime."
I've always recognized what a poor memory I have, but that moment was uncommonly alarming. Apparently we made smores all the time. She was really bothered to see that I was serious, that I really couldn't remember, and I don't blame her. She told me an anecdote about me eating them in the room last year. All I have are disconnected, dream-like memories of melted chocolate and plates that needed to be cleaned. This was six months ago.
2. Along the same lines, I woke up this morning to find the cryptic phrase, "A business suit, a poncho and some long blond hair," written on the palm of my hand. I remember thinking to myself, "what the hell does that mean?" It was in my handwriting, I must have written it. After a minute or two I realized that it was a description of a woman I had seen in line at a Chinese food restaurant last night. Even the immediate past is somewhat dream-like in my memory, and I'm always surprised to learn that certain events actually occurred.
If you ever want to mess with my life, and I mean seriously mess with my life, master my handwriting, and leave little notes around my room telling me to do things. Although, I have to warn you: as a natural defense mechanism against said manner of attack, I do almost nothing that I set out to do.
A list. Because I feel like you secretly wanted one.
1. I've started washing my dishes in the shower. Think about that the next time you're eating food in my room. But seriously, it just makes sense. I need washing, the plates need washing, itjustmakessense. Yesterday I managed to get raspberry jam all over the side of the jam bottle, making the glass container impossibly sticky. So of course I brought it in the shower with me. Except I made the mistake of leaving the bottle on the floor of the shower. And while there's no damage done, I can't help but wonder what went through my hallmates' minds when they saw that. Shampoo. Conditioner. Smucker's Red Raspberry Preserves.
2. I got another job today. This time delivering pizza, inspired by my adventures delivering chinese food. I know I've alluded to this before, and I know that I sound like a jerk saying so, but I'm really good at getting jobs. I'm better at getting jobs than keeping jobs. If I could make a living getting jobs, if becoming hired were a position in itself, I would do that for a living.
So many ridiculous things happen and I never have the time to write them down.
Have you ever heard of singer/songwriter Graham Colton? Neither have I. Except that's his signature on my arm.
Leigh and I went to see the Counting Crows on Friday night, and Graham Colton was opening. But that didn't matter to us, because: A. Graham who? and, B. we were impossibly late, and we missed his entire set.
We showed up in between bands, and wandered around for a bit, looking for something to hold our attentions. We ended up at the souvenir booth, where I committed all of my resources to trying to steal a Counting Crows thong--which is what I was doing when Graham Colton got in my way. "Hi there. Do you want me to sign something?" "What?"
It's important to note again that I've never heard of Graham Colton. Nor had I ever seen his face before that moment. For all I know he could be the next Beethoven, I don't know, I've never heard his music. But at that moment, he was just one more person getting in the way of my stealing a humorous, commemorative thong, and his presence upset me. I didn't even figure out who he was until the girls next to me started flipping out, the way girls do.
"Do you want me to sign something? I'm signing CD's." "What? Whatever. Yeah. Sure. Here, sign my arm." "Are you sure you wouldn't prefer I sign your chest?" he asked, laughing. "Sure, whatever, just sign something."
But Graham Colton, who brought the idea up, was actually bothered by the idea of signing my chest, and signed my arm instead. I thanked him kindly, as if he'd done me a service by writing his name on one of my limbs, though because I'd never heard his music, the signature of the girl behind me in line would've meant just as much to me.
The worst part was that as I walked away, I turned to him and kindly said, "I'm really looking forward to your set." Except we had missed his set. He had already played for over an hour, meanwhile Leigh and I were busy at Wendy's.
Granted, she's cute in a your-website-and-everything-you've-written-in-the-past-year-has-been-deleted sort of way, but I'm not the sort of gentleman who prefers blondes.
Especially home(page)wrecking ones.
So Doteasy, my "cost-free, banner-free business hosting network," wrote me an e-mail about a week ago, regarding certain costs that needed to be paid. And in my unquestioning, American manner, I threw money at the problem to make it go away. Except according to Doteasy's customer service representatives, I accidentally paid them not to continue my service, but rather to delete my webpage and replace it with a smug-looking blonde woman. Imagine my surprise. "I love women!"
But after four days of staring at her face, I grew tired of her sharp features, and longed for the gentle curves of sans-serif fonts. I broke things off. I brought things back. But still I write to fill the space created by her absence.
But answer me this: If Doteasy, my mostly-faithful provider and host, is the "leading cost-free, banner-free business hosting network," then why do they keep charging me money? Is it that I'm not a business? Should I become a business? Fine, I'm a business now. Hear that, Blondie? Give me back my eighteen dollars.
Everything went wrong, and I'm working on restoring it. I'll explain later, and I apologize for making you stare at that Doteasy woman for the past couple days. Believe me, I hate her more than you do.
To understand my dilemma, you must first understand my shaving process. But let's get back to that.
I hate shaving. I hate it. It's not something I enjoy doing, it's not something I want to do, it's something I have to do. Because no matter what I do, no matter where I go, thick hair continues to grow from my face. If I abstain from shaving for a week, if I go seven days without pressing sharp, rotating blades hard against the sensitive skin of my face, I find myself bearded and uncomfortable. Which is how I am now--bearded and uncomfortable--and which brings me back to my dilemma.
My shaving process: First of all, I use an electric razor, which is nice because: A. you never really have to worry about cutting yourself too severely or being too drunk to shave, and B. it really is the laziest of the alternatives (which is fittingly how I would describe myself).
I generally shave when the hair becomes uncomfortable, but in the rare instance that I feel the need to shave sooner, I use the standard rotating blades of the razor. Fine. However, if I wait more than about four or five days, the hair becomes too long, and the rotating blades stop cutting the hair and start ripping the hair--out of my face, mind you--which hurts in ways I can't describe. It's a horrible pain, sort of like having thick hairs ripped out of your face. Anyway, I don't recommend it. In that former case, which is usually, I have to use the mustache-trimmer-attachment-dealie to cut the hairs down to a reasonable length before cutting them off with the rotating blades. Which is also fine, though it takes considerably longer.
But the mustache trimmer has apparently decided to stop working. It was a painful process figuring that out, pushing the trimmer attachment against my cheek and not having it do anything. Normally tiny blades move back and forth, but not anymore. Now they just poke me really hard.
I can't believe you've read this far. So here's the dilemma: I don't know how to shave now. Without the mustache-trimmer-attachment-dealie, I can't shorten my beard hair. And without shortened beard hair, my world of shaving will be considerably more painful than it ever has been.
"But Ben," you ask, as if I hadn't thought this all out, "couldn't you just use scissors to shorten the hair manually?" I tried that, it didn't really work. "What about crying like a bitch, did you try that?" Soon my darlings, soon.
And until I come up with a solution to this problem, the hair will just continue getting longer and longer, and there's nothing I can do about it.