DOWN THE DRAIN

DOWN THE DRAIN

The most mentally disturbed thing I’ve ever done is probably when, in the weeks after 9/11, I went water-crazy.

The news was filled in those days with stories about how we were going to be attacked next — crop dusters, dirty bombs, shoulder-fired missiles, stealth strikes on power plants, nukes smuggled on cargo ships. It would’ve seemed like the typical attention-getting fear tactics of the news media if not for the fact that we’d all just seen two commercial airliners bring down the motherfucking World Trade Center. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, that shit was terrifying.

I didn’t work on the docks or own a crop duster, so mostly, like all of us, I felt powerless. Then I heard how vulnerable our water supply was. The way I understood it, just a thimble full of botulism could contaminate the entire LA reservoir, and 20 million people in Southern California would just shrivel right up and die. In a way, it was the best news I’d ever heard. This, you see, was a problem I could do something about.

I wasn’t going to let myself become one of those shriveling losers. I was going to make sure that, in case anything happened to the water, I had plenty of it ready to go. I started stocking up. Big time. Whenever I went to the store, I’d buy another couple of gallons of bottled water. I kept picturing the shelves, which were now full of the stuff — my God, it’s even on sale! — one day depleted and empty. People would fight over the store’s last bottle, which cost nine thousand dollars, clawing and kicking at each other, reduced to feral savages willing to kill for their basic human needs, even though one gallon was only enough to sustain one person for one more day. And I’d just push my cart right past them, spend my money on microwave popcorn and ice cream and go home to bathe in gallons and gallons of crystal-clear Arrowhead spring water.

At some point, I realized I was slowly going insane. I was turning into one of the same people I made fun of in the Y2K hysteria, those paranoid goons who holed their family up in wooden shacks in Montana with ten years worth of canned soup and a thousand rounds of ammo. That’s it. No more water, Jerry. You’re not going to be Crazy Water Guy.

… but what about my friends? If the water attack came, I had plenty of water to last until the shipments began to arrive from Colorado or Oregon or wherever water comes from. But only for myself. I knew my friends weren’t as forward-thinking as I was. They weren’t stockpiling water, the fools. What if Janice came knocking? Or Julie? Or Frank? Sure, I hardly ever hear from Frank, and I’d know he was only contacting me because he heard I had water. Oh, hi, Frank. What brings you by? You need water? Why, I never would’ve guessed! That Frank, he’s a pure-water friend. But I wouldn’t want Frank to shrivel up and die, would I? No, I’d share my water, of course — even with Frank — and that meant I needed more of it, pronto.

I bought so much water that I began to worry that the people at the supermarket might notice me. They probably had a nickname for me, and I was as memorable as the old guy who came in just for free samples at the deli counter or the thirteen-year-old girl who knocked over the tampon display because she was too embarrassed to ask for help reaching the ones on top. They were talking about me in the break room, I knew it. “Did you see Crazy Water Guy today? He bought five more bottles!” “I hear he uses it to drown his rape victims!”

Besides, if you buy enough of anything, it makes a dent in your budget. I had to stop buying water. But that didn’t mean I had to stop stockpiling it. Figuring that in the water crisis nobody would be picky about what they were drinking, I started filling old Coke bottles with tap water. This didn’t cost me anything at all, so I’d be crazy not to make sure I had as much water on hand as possible. And in case of emergency, I’d give the Coke bottles to Frank. Drink up, Frank. Does it have a slight caramel color and taste vaguely of corn syrup? So sorry. Hands off the Arrowhead. That’s mine, bitch.

Gradually, as my anxiety ebbed, I returned to my normal relationship with water. And I put the stockpile, like the fear, out of my mind. Then, last night, while bringing over the last few things from my old apartment, I came across my water stash. I had stopped adding to it two years ago, but it remained in my pantry (with the overflow located in the hall closet when the pantry filled up), ready to quench me should I ever need quenching. It was easy to keep it there and ignore it. I wasn’t Crazy Water Guy anymore, but if, you know, we ever did get attacked, well, there it was. Oh, no, I don’t really think I’ll ever need all this water. I’m just too lazy to throw it out, that’s all. Well, last night, I had a choice. Move it or lose it.

So down the drain went the Coke bottles, every single one of them. It was a big victory for me. Jerry, 1. Crazy Water Guy, 0. I proved I could take water for granted again. I could waste it. I was no longer paranoid that a drop I dumped in my sink today could’ve saved my life tomorrow.

Of course, I kept the bottled water. There are always earthquakes to worry about, and who knows what else might happen? I still believe it’s good to be prepared, just not crazily prepared.

And obviously, if anything happens, Frank’s on his own.

WAITING WEEKEND

WAITING WEEKEND

I was hoping to call this Winning Weekend, but unfortunately, my trip to Vegas deserves the title “Waiting Weekend”. Normally, the biggest wait is just getting there. Depending on traffic, a drive from LA to Vegas takes somewhere between three and a half to nine hundred hours. If you’re leaving on a Friday afternoon, expect it to be more towards the upper end of that range. Ditto for returning on Sunday. As this was a Friday to Sunday trip, Drew and I plunked down the bucks for some plane tickets, skipped out of work early and headed for the airport.

It turns out the drive would’ve been quicker. Due to high winds over the desert, we got stuck with a flight delay that was originally supposed to be eight minutes long. But due to a series of other delays, we ended up boarding about half an hour late. So three minutes turned into thirty, then forty-five, then sixty, and ultimately about three hundred. Somewhere in the middle, we were let off the plane, but we were told not to go too far because if the plane was ready before we got back, it would leave without us.

There was plenty of outrage among the passengers. One guy was screaming at the flight attendant, “I have ‘O’ tickets tonight!” I don’t think she had any connections at Cirque de Soleil, so all she could do was nod politely. “DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO GET ‘O’ TICKETS????” Drew and I decided to be the nice passengers who didn’t complain. The benefits of this strategy cannot be overstated. First of all, you can count on other people doing the complaining for you, so you’re likely to share in any benefits that come of the complaining (i.e., flight vouchers, free booze). And second, the abused staff members will be so grateful to you for being cordial that they’ll treat you extra-nice. Plus, most importantly, you won’t have to live with the fact that you’re an obnoxious asshole who made life miserable for an underpaid flight attendant who had nothing to do with the problem and who was probably just as eager as you were to end the nightmare.

Hanging around the airport for five hours wasn’t fun, and it was hard to stay nice when the pilot’s announcements always started with, “Okay, boys and girls…”, which is too cutesy a way to address grownups under normal circumstances, let alone when everyone’s so on edge. If that were me, I would’ve started with, I don’t know, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” or something. But I’m the nice guy. The pilot, on the other hand, was a quality jerk.

The whole thing led me to concoct a new movie pitch, “National Lampoon’s Flight Delay”, wherein a family going on vacation ends up getting stuck in the airport and has more of an adventure there than they would’ve if they’d actually made it to their destination. (Mom goes off her nut trying to get the brood switched to another flight, only to encounter typically byzantine airline clusterfucks, Dad makes an off-hand comment expressing his anger at the airline and ends up being detained, poked, prodded and interrogated by security all day, Sis has a whirlwind romance with a non-English-speaking Swedish hunk in the international terminal, and Junior thwarts a hijacking plot.) Of course, this would be nothing like “Jerry and Drew’s Flight Delay”, which mostly amounted to me teaching Drew how to play blackjack with a deck of cards I bought in the gift shop while he swapped text messages with his assistant. The only part of the actual story I’d keep for my screenplay would be that somebody should definitely have “O” tickets. That’s what we in the screenwriting biz call “high stakes”.

We wouldn’t allow ourselves to eat in the airport because we figured a nice dinner would be our reward when we finally got to Vegas. When we finally checked in at the hotel at 10 p.m., we found out that all the good restaurants were closed, and the crappy Mexican restaurant was our best option. Somewhere between the margarita, the fajitas and the lingering airport anxiety, I started to feel really sick, so we cut dinner short and returned to our room. I took a couple of Tums and went to sleep. That was the end of our first day of our vacation.

On Saturday, all my friends were arriving, but most of them were driving, so they wouldn’t be there until the afternoon. Drew and I used the time to go to my casino. (And just for the record, I’m avoiding printing my last name merely to avoid a situation like this.) The cab driver took us through seedier and seedier parts of the seediest city on Earth. He was baffled as to why we would go to such a place. “It has my name in it,” I said. “Jerry M.’s Silver Nugget. Is Jerry M. a big guy in Vegas?” I asked jokingly. “Like Steve Wynn?”

The cab driver shook his head. “You see that guy over there pushing the shopping cart?” he said. “I think that’s Jerry M.”

As we got closer to our destination, I saw a big, surprisingly nice-looking casino on the left called “Jerry’s Nugget”. It had a large flashy new neon sign that displayed the shows that were currently running in the theater as well as the latest buffet specials. “That’s not it,” the cab driver said, and then he pointed out a dilapidated chipped-paint shithole on the horizon. “That’s where you’re going.” I figured that maybe if the actual casino wasn’t something I’d want my name on, Drew and I could just walk up the road to Jerry’s Nugget and take some pictures there instead. “You don’t want to walk around in this neighborhood,” the driver warned.

When we first entered the Silver Nugget (through the adjoining bowling alley), I figured I’d lay low on the name thing, but Drew had fun telling everyone we met that I was Jerry M., as if they might be momentarily fooled into thinking I was the same guy who signed their paychecks. No one was. Nor were they the least bit amused, curious or interested. We had breakfast in the coffee shop (the average menu item cost about $3, and the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Turkey Dinner was $5.95). Then we played blackjack at one of their two blackjack tables. I also dropped some money in a slot machine before I left, just in case there was really some luck to be had from having your name all over the casino you were gambling in. I played the nickel slots because that was the highest value machine they had.

For regular patrons, the casino offered a slot club. The redemption counter looked a lot like a skeeball prize bin, with fake jewelry and crappy casino souvenirs. All the employees were wearing Jerry M.’s Silver Nugget t-shirts, and I just had to have one for myself. Unfortunately, the casino was in the process of dropping the Jerry M. from its name, and almost all the merchandise available had already been converted to the new logo. All they had available with my name on it was a baseball cap for $3, or a windbreaker for $50. I bought the hat.

After taking a few pictures, Drew and I were ready to go. It turns out that cabs don’t line up at Jerry M.’s Silver Nugget the way they do at the Luxor, so that meant waiting again, outside, on what local news said was Vegas’ coldest day of the year.

Back at the hotel, we met up with the rest of our posse: Chuck, Meredith, Eric, Julie, Nick, Mary, Mike’s friend Rick, Mike and Victoria. A couple of the couples had show tickets, so they went off while the rest of us hit the town to gamble. Victoria wasn’t feeling well, so she went up to her room to take a nap. Later on, we were all hooking up for dinner, and I called Victoria to wake her up. She told me she was in the hospital. Right after we had left her, she started throwing up, and when she called the hotel operator, they brought up a wheelchair, carted her through the casino and sent her off to the emergency room in a taxi with a trash can to barf in.

Knowing Victoria wasn’t one to overreact about these kinds of things, Drew and I went over to the hospital to see her. You might be able to guess what kinds of people typically populate a Las Vegas emergency room on a Saturday night. Let’s just say that on the way in, we overheard a nurse asking a patient “Do you know why you’re being restrained?”. Once again, we got to be the nice people, and the nurses were extremely gracious and friendly to us. They said Victoria probably had a bad flu, but that it would be a couple of hours before the test results came back. So we pulled up a couple of chairs to keep her company for a while.

We had just come from the Imperial Palace, where some of the blackjack dealers are celebrity impersonators. So to pass the time, we tried to see if Victoria could guess the celebrities who they were impersonating. She was heavily under the influence of demerol at the time, but that was part of the fun. Victoria is a very smart, naturally funny person, but the great thing about pain medication is that it can make anyone into Emo Phillips — spacy, funny and weird. At one point, I think Vic asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. She grappled with each new clue we gave her, eventually got most of the answers and a good time was had by all.

I told Drew we’d hit upon a great idea for a game show. “Demerol Jeopardy”. You take smart people, drug them out of their minds and then watch them struggle to come up with the answers to simple questions. He told me he’d heard about a variety of similar ideas, which had all failed for a variety of reasons. And he explained exactly why the show wouldn’t work. “Demerol Jeopardy” was dead before it even began. As someone who’s gone on lots of failed pitch meetings, this kind of rejection always stings, but I do appreciate the fact that dating a TV executive allows me to cut out the middle man.

Around midnight, Victoria was released, and we called another cab and waited for it to come pick us up. Vic felt much better, and she went up to her hotel room to get some rest. Drew and I were exhausted, and we wanted very much to go to bed. But we hadn’t had enough Vegas yet, and we were leaving early the next day, so this was our last chance. We decided not to let some dumb circadian cycle screw up our fun, and we took another cab over to the Sahara to meet our group. It was 1:30, and there was still plenty of drinking and gambling to do. We’d spent most of our weekend at the mercy of airports, taxis and viruses. For now, at least, sleep would have to wait.

WHY BE PRACTICAL?

WHY BE PRACTICAL?

Pop quiz: Where is Jerry going this weekend?

A. New York City

B. Paris

C. Venice

D. Ancient Egypt

E. All of the above

If you guessed E, you’re right!

With the new apartment in complete disarray, the old apartment desperately in need of cleaning and huge Christmas debt just around the corner, what’s the last thing I need right now? How ’bout a weekend in Vegas?

Don’t mind if I do!

I’m in for two full days of 21 Madness at the Sahara, Dance Dance Revolution at the New York New York game room, getting drunk on watered-down free margaritas and, for a change, no strip clubs! Yippee!

If I have time, I may finally make a pilgrimage to this place. See what kinds of things you learn when you google yourself? Sure, it’s cool to have a casino named after you, but why couldn’t it be the Bellagio?

Fun link of the day: This is the kind of internet geekdom I wholeheartedly support (and wish I had thought of first). This guy is reviewing every #1 R&B hit of the 1980′s. I hope he’ll be kind to Gregory Abbott.

I HAVE SOMETHING I’VE BEEN MEANING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT…

I HAVE SOMETHING I’VE BEEN MEANING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT…

Earlier this week, I came out to my stepmom, which means I’ve pretty much checked everyone off my list now. Thus ends what was possibly the clumsiest coming out process gayhumankind has ever known, and definitely the biggest anticlimax of my personal life.

I remember exactly where I was when I finally admitted to myself that I was gay. I was 20 and walking on the boardwalk in Asbury Park on my lunch break from a summer job transcribing historical documents. (It was further down that same boardwalk that I had decided, earlier that summer, that I should major in sociology. That boardwalk was quite the place for making big life decisions, I guess.) I don’t remember what came before my admission, what provoked me into finally telling myself, “Yeah, I’m totally gay”, but I remember very clearly what my next thought was: “… and I’m going to be okay.”

Just saying the words in my head made me feel infinitely better. I’d just confronted my most intimidating critic. I’d revealed my big secret to myself, and to my great relief, I was extremely supportive of me.

But the thought of telling other people still terrified me. It was several years before I told anyone, and at first, the only people who knew were the ones who figured it out and asked me about it. It wasn’t like I could just send out a memo or gather everyone I knew and make a big announcement. Coming out to people would mean having awkward conversations, uttering the same words over and over again for everyone I cared about…

“Well… um… uh… you see… heh, heh… er…”

But I did it. Sure, lots of people found out through someone else or through some half-assed way, but the ones that’ll stick out were the ones who didn’t know it was coming, the ones who, at some point, I’d decided needed to know, now, even if I had to do it the hard way. Chris, Adam, Dave, my sister, Chuck, Eric, my mother, Nick, Greg, my stepmom.

In the three and a half weeks since I came out to him (and then he came out to me), Greg has amazed me with his own coming out process. He told his mother and sister a week later. And last weekend, his friends were taking him out for his birthday, and he was going to announce it to all of them at once. Everyone has a different process, and I really admire Greg, whose courage even helped me place the call to my stepmom the other day.

But the main reason I was ready to end my days in the closet, of course, is Drew. The Big Move is a big step for me, something very new and exciting and overwhelming. It’s not just that I didn’t want to lie to everyone about why my address and phone number were changing. I wanted them to know that this was a huge, fantastic change in my life. When you’re happy, you want to share that with the people you care about. And finally reaching the end of my coming out list helped me realize why it took me so long to get through it in the first place.

Coming out wasn’t just about telling people that I’m gay. In the end, it was also being able to say, “And I’m okay.”

KEEP ON MOVIN’ DON’T STOP

KEEP ON MOVIN’ DON’T STOP

Well, there’s a couch blocking the hallway, and there are books piled up all around the TV. And there are 5,000 unpacked boxes taking up every available inch of floor space. But from a purely technical standpoint, the Big Move is done.

I wouldn’t say it went “smoothly”. But that’s fine with me. When things go smoothly, there’s nothing to remember (and therefore, nothing to write about), so who would want things to go smoothly? Well, maybe Drew did. There were moments when I thought he might lose it. But for a guy who went from having a nice, orderly apartment to an apartment where his junk and my junk were intermingled and piled high from wall to wall, I’d say he handled it all very well.

I thought I was smart to reserve a truck in advance, but the truck rental place was closed when we showed up at 9 a.m. On the internet, it said their hours were from 9-3. The sign out front said the hours were actually 11-3. Suddenly, Drew and I had two hours to kill and a lot less time to complete the heavy lifting. When we came back at 11, the lady informed us that in fact, their hours were 11-2, which meant we’d only have three hours to complete what was originally supposed to be a six-hour move.

My friends Chuck and Eric both offered to help, but Drew figured two more helpers wouldn’t hurt, so he hired a couple of Mexican-American Day Laborers (and if I’m not using the politically correct term, please note that I at least tried to). I was nervous about doing this, but Drew had done it before, so he handled it like a pro. Marco and Juan were very nice and extremely good workers. They were finished packing the truck before Chuck and Eric even showed up. Suddenly, we were on schedule again.

Our moving men also gave Drew an opportunity to practice his Spanish. I took six years of Spanish in high school and college, but when called upon to use it, I panic. As I was trying to explain which items were going, all I could come up with was to point at various things and say either “Este, si” or “Este, no”. And I said “muchas gracias” about ten thousand times. When they left, Marco and Juan complimented Drew on his Spanish. To me, they said, “Adios… do you know what this means?” Uh, yeah. I knew that one.

Since I was moving into Drew’s already fully-furnished apartment, I got rid of a lot of my stuff ahead of time. But one of the things I wanted to keep was my couch, mostly because it was one of the few things I had bought new, and I paid way too much for it. When I get ripped off on something, I’m reluctant to part with it. So even though Drew already had two couches, I wanted to keep mine for the spare bedroom. Well, couches aren’t good at bending around corners, and the spare bedroom is unfortunately located around a corner. Marco and Juan tried every type of pivot and partial-lift, scrape-against-the-roof-tiles, halfway-into-the-bathroom-and-out-again, but-what-if-we-take-the-legs-off strategy imaginable, but could not get that big couch through that little doorway. After about the fifth time I heard “no lo hace”, I knew it was time to give up.

We really had nowhere else to put the couch, so we just left it sitting in the hallway. This is supposed to be a temporary solution until we figure out who to give, sell or donate it to, but I can already see us getting comfortable with having the couch there. It’s been three days, and I barely notice it anymore. I squeeze past it every time I walk down the hall, and it no longer seems like much of an issue. It’s a minor inconvenience I’ve learned to ignore. Some people have noisy neighbors or a leaky roof. We have a couch blocking our apartment’s main thoroughfare. No biggie. We deal. I have a feeling that couch will be there a long time.

ANOTHER MILESTONE

ANOTHER MILESTONE

I thought I’d noticed a sharp spike in the number of hits I’ve gotten lately from people searching for the phrase “naked penis”. In fact, 4 of the last 100 people visiting this site have found me through a Google search of just that phrase. I’m not sure exactly how. I don’t remember writing about a lot of naked penises.

So I decided to check into it. It turns out if you type “naked penis” into Google, Why Jerry Why is the ninth site listed.

If you’re thinking that’s pretty high, if you’re thinking, “I’ll bet you’d get a lot of hits on ‘naked penis’,” you’re right. I’m #9 of 3,710,000. You know what this means?

I’VE MADE THE “NAKED PENIS” TOP 10!

When I started this website eight months ago, I never dreamed I’d make the Naked Penis Top 10. A humble little website like mine? Why, I’d be happy if one in a thousand people looking for naked penises ended up here at my picture-free, porn-free site. If I were in the Naked Penis Top Million, I’d be flabbergasted. But the Top 10? Wow. I mean, how do you even deal with an honor like that?

Sure, I’m #4 on “‘jerking off’ UCLA”, and I’m even #1 on “misshapen penis”. But the “Naked Penis” Top 10 is an elite group. And I am among them. I’m just two spots below “Hairless Boy Penis Pics”. Just five spots below “Giant Black Penis Giant Cocks and Giant Dicks”. And just eight spots below the leader of them all, “Penis Amulets”.

This entry can only help my standing. I’m number nine with a bullet now.

And I’m not stopping until I get to #1!

I LOVE YOUR NEW WINDBREAKER, GUS!

I LOVE YOUR NEW WINDBREAKER, GUS!

As someone who’s never had a garage sale before, let me say that I learned two things from the experience. First, garage sales are a mutually beneficial way for people to clear clutter out of their homes and turn a small profit while allowing other people to purchase items they may need at extremely low prices. And second, people who go to garage sales are freaks.

Some examples:

The Early Bird. At 7:45 AM, as Drew and I were putting up our last homemade garage sale sign (oh, we had fun making those signs!), a woman spotted us, read the sign and followed us in her car back to my apartment. We were a little behind schedule, as we hadn’t even started setting up yet. But she didn’t mind. She got out of her car and waited in the driveway outside my building while we brought down boxes from upstairs, one after the other. We’d bring down a box, she’d rifle through it. We’d come down with another box, and she’d be waiting for us. From the amount of stuff she set aside, we got the impression she was going to buy everything. She practically did. After ten or fifteen minutes of pawing through our things, she had stacked up about fifteen CDs, books and videos, which we sold to her for twenty bucks. Freak rating: 6.

DVD Guy. A leather-faced older man with a goatee and a gruff voice, clearly from years of chain smoking, he was one of our earliest customers. He wobbled up with a cigarette dangling from his lips and inquired, “Ya got any a’ them DVDs?” I told him no, but at that point, we were still bringing stuff down from upstairs. So he didn’t believe me. He kept looking through what we had, searching through each new load we brought down as if I might have been lying to him. “What’s this?” he asked. “That’s a Playstation game.” “I don’t want that. I’m just looking for DVDs.” “Sorry, we don’t have any.” He walked over to Drew. “You got any DVDs?” “No, sorry.” He shook his head in disbelief. “Everyone loves them DVDs.” Yes, that’s why they keep them for themselves, rather than selling them at their garage sales. He finally left. But an hour later, he drove up again, smoking another cigarette. “I just wanna see if you brought down any DVDs.” Freak rating: 9.

Knife Guy. During our first big rush, which started about five minutes after we were done setting up, a really creepy-looking guy with one eye that stared right at you and one eye that was rolled back in his head picked up a handful of the knives I was selling and asked what they cost. Having no idea what a knife was worth, I shrugged and told him they were a dollar each. He said he’d only pay fifty cents, and I declined his offer. (I was a hard bargainer.) But he didn’t put the knives down. He stood next to me, holding them up and, while I tried to deal with other customers, kept saying, “Fifty cents! Fifty cents!” It suddenly struck me that I was haggling over an item I was planning to throw out anyway with a cockeyed weirdo who was brandishing knives. He got the knives for fifty cents. And I got to live. Freak rating: A solid 10.

Ebay Vultures. We got at least 3 or 4 of these guys. All of them were guys in their 20′s and 30′s, and they would show up, stack the CDs, videos and video games in one big pile and say, “I’ll give you twenty dollars for all of these.” We turned them all down, and when they couldn’t get a ridiculous bargain, they snorted and walked away. It didn’t matter, because we sold all our CDs and videos anyway, individually to good homes. Yes, even Jesus Jones. Freak rating: 3. Loser rating: 10.

The Wacky Gay Neighbor. One of the three groups heavily represented among our many customers was Older Gay Men. It turns out the building next door to mine has its own Mr. Furley, a flamboyant older man who jogged up the sidewalk toward our sale dressed in bright 70′s pants and a new agey-looking pajama top. He said he was planning on having a garage sale, too, but since we had already set up, would we mind selling a couple of things for him? This will make no sense, given what a hardass with the knife psycho, but I gave right in to Wacky Gay Neighbor. He brought down a Tacky Lamp and a Tacky Painting. We sold the painting for $28, and he gave me a $5 commission. Nobody bought the lamp. Freak rating: 2.

The Wacky Russian Neighbor. Since I live in a heavily Russian neighborhood, one of the other groups represented in bulk among our customers was Russians. Many of them speak little or no English, including the guy who lives downstairs from me. Apparently, in Russia, when someone has a garage sale, you just walk into their home and point at the things you want, because that’s what Wacky Russian Neighbor did. As Drew and I were setting up, he followed me up the stairs, walked right into my apartment and pointed at my couch. “Hyow… myuch?” “Not for sale!” I said, and wheeled him around and escorted him outside. Apparently, he had done the same thing to Drew two minutes earlier, and Drew told him to get lost. Freak rating: 4.

Early Riser. The third heavily represented group was Mexican Men. A very nice Mexican man wanted to buy my Saved By the Bell clock, which a friend of mine who worked on the show had given me as a gift. (I hope Julie doesn’t read this blog.) I had priced it at $2, thinking that someone who liked the show might buy it for kitsch value. I’m pretty sure this guy had never heard of Zach and Screech and pals. He just needed a clock. “Does it work?” he asked. I explained that it was a wind-up clock. Very old school. It worked, but you had to wind it every day. I even demonstrated for him. Crank, crank, crank. See? “But it works, yes?” He clearly had no idea what I was talking about. “Well, technically, yes, it works, but–” He pushed the clock in my face. “Can you set it for 5:30?” I took the clock and set the alarm for him. “I get up at 5:30,” he said. I thought about this guy relying on my piece of junk clock to get him up for work in the morning, and I couldn’t bear it. I tried to talk him out of the clock. I offered to sell him a nicer, Mickey Mouse clock, which actually worked, for the same price. “This one works better,” I assured him. “And it’s got Mickey Mouse!” “No, I like this one better,” he said, pushing Mickey away. Then, he handed me two folded-over dollars and started to walk away. “It’s set for 5:30, right?” “Well… yeah.” “Good. I wake up at 5:30.” And he climbed on his bicycle and rode away. This one will haunt me forever. Freak rating: uno.

John Hughes Boob Woman. I can’t decide whether this woman’s defining characteristic was her nostalgia for the 80′s or her enormous cleavage. She told us she was glad to see us because she just moved to the neighborhood and she was starting to think there were no young people around. She went through all our videos, many of which dated to the 80′s, and shared her memories of each film. “Pretty in Pink! I can’t believe it!” (I want to note that most of these videos were Drew’s and that he was parting with them only because he now owned them on DVD. I mean, who would willingly give up Pretty in Pink?) She was going to buy my George Foreman grill, but then she remembered that her mother was going to give her one for Christmas. She stayed for about half an hour and bought about ten dollars worth of stuff. Freak rating: 2.

People vs. Larry Flynt Guy. The second-most common mode of transportation that brought people to the sale was bicycle. (#1: pickup truck.) The guy who bought my Larry Flynt script arrived on a bike. When he opened the book, he saw the autograph inside. “Who’s Jerry?” he asked. I raised my hand. I then told him he could have the book for two dollars, but if his name was also Jerry, it would cost him five. He wasn’t amused. He gave me two dollars and proceeded to stand there and read the book for a good fifteen minutes before he hopped on his bike and left. Freak rating: 1.

The Clown Car. This tiny car pulled up in my building’s driveway, and four men with enormous asses climbed out, all at once. They were very methodical. They swooped over our goods, each of them bought one or two things, then they climbed back into their car and disappeared as fast as they had come, off, presumably, to the next sale. It was like a ballet, beautiful in its way. Freak rating: 4.

The Russian Brady Bunch. They came towards the end of the day. Mom, Dad and about sixteen kids. Almost immediately, they circled my dining table, which was the only “big” item (i.e., priced higher than a dollar) I still hadn’t sold. Most people throughout the day had been turned off by the fact that it only came with one chair. You would think for a family of eighteen, this would also be a problem, but apparently not. A teenage daughter, who had a very thick accent herself, stepped up to translate for her parents. She offered me $15. Earlier, I had been telling people I wanted $25, but since the sale was winding down and I was desperate to sell, I told them they could have it for twenty. “Syevuntyeen,” she shot back. No, twenty. She ran it by the parents, who said something to her in angry-sounding Russian. Syevuntyeen, she said again, more insistent. Nope, twenty. Was I crazy? Yes. Did they turn me down? Nyet. I got the twenty, and though he had about syevuntyeen helpers who could’ve pitched in, Dad lifted the table over his head and carried if off alone. Freak rating: 2.

Amazingly, we sold every single piece of crap I listed in my entry last week, including that leather strap of unknown functionality. (The only exception is Drew’s TV, which he decided not to sell after all.) The total take was over $400, which was about $350 more than Drew and I expected. I should be happy, but now that the sale is over, I have this weird feeling. I keep thinking about how my belongings are scattered around a hundred different homes in the Los Angeles area. I keep picturing that gross guy who brought my windbreaker. He’s wearing it everywhere he goes, and it’s breaking hiswind now. “Hey, don’t I look great in this windbreaker?” he’s saying to all his friends. “I got it at a garage sale for two dollars!”

And that gets me thinking about how I forgot to check the pockets of that windbreaker before I sold it. Maybe there was something valuable inside: a wallet-sized picture of an old acquaintance, or a winning lottery ticket, or another piece of crap I could’ve sold for a buck or two. I wish I had checked the pockets. I wish I had dubbed my CDs before I sold them. I got fifty cents for Jesus Jones, but if I ever have a craving to hear “Right Here Right Now” again, I’m going to have to pay a dollar to download it. And most of all, I wish I’d wiped my fingerprints off those knives. I got rid of a thousand pieces of junk and picked up a thousand little neuroses. But that’s just me.

My freak factor: off the charts.

SALE

SALE

With the Big Move scheduled for Sunday and with all the junk I’ve turned up in my cleaning and all the furniture I failed to sell on Craig’s List, I’ve scheduled my first-ever garage sale for tomorrow morning. Yikes. I posted about it on Craig’s List, and already I’m getting emails from the eBay vultures looking for an advance peek at my CDs and DVDs. I hope they show up tomorrow just to learn that the only CDs I’m selling are ones the Wherehouse won’t accept because they have too many copies of them already. Jesus Jones is like styrofoam. Once it’s served its purpose, you don’t really need it, but you can’t recycle it. We need a landfill specifically for them and Del Amitri, too.

Among the things I’m selling:

My guitar. This is the one thing I own that’s spent more time in the closet than I have. I bought it when I first moved out here, thinking, “I should learn to play guitar.” I answered an ad in the Recycler and ended up in the apartment of a college kid in Santa Monica. He was selling it for $60, and he clearly needed the money badly. Prying the guitar from his hands made me feel like the Nazis in Sophie’s Choice. His supportive roommate was sitting by his side, helping him to let go. Like a jerk, I tried to talk him down to $40. He said no. The fact that I used his beloved instrument for about a week before I got bored with it, then hid it away for nine years makes me feel like even more of a jerk. I figure I’ll ask $25 for it.

Renee Spearman and the Prosperity Crusade Choir. I bought this CD after a gospel brunch at the House of Blues. They were a good choir. (Their version of “Oh, How I Love Him” was a highlight of the brunch. Sadly, it was not on the CD.) And I guess I figured some honest-to-goodness “blah blah blah Jesus” gospel would be a nice counterpoint to the rest of my collection. I maybe listened to it one time. Liked the blah blah blah, but not the Jesus. Bought it for $17, selling it for a buck.

Ugly Metal Folding Chairs. My old roommate bought these one day with the joint apartment fund. I think he spent $20 on them at Target, and I was furious. He said they’d be good if we had company over. I said, “Yeah, if we’re hosting an assembly for fourth-graders.” Somehow when we went our separate ways and split up the common goods, I ended up with these. I’ve never had anywhere to store them, and they’ve sat in the corner collecting dust in two separate apartments now, never ever used. I think I’ll sell the whole set for $5. And if nobody buys them, I’ll HURL them in the trash.

Knives. When I first moved out here, my parents gave me a bunch of stuff to get me started. Among this stuff were about 25 extremely sharp knives. Many of them are rusty. I don’t know what (or who) they thought I’d be cutting up, or maybe they thought my Sociology degree wouldn’t leave me qualified to do much more than become a butcher or circus performer. I’ve kept these knives under my sink in the same paper bag I used to transport them out here. Keeping knives in a paper bag is about as smart as giving your son this many knives in the first place. I think Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents learned the same lesson, only the hard way. Price: probably a dollar each. And that’s a bargain any way you slice it. (Those knife jokes, they slay me.)

Some sort of leather strap. Much of the stuff I’m selling has some kind of memory attached to it. Some of it is difficult to part with. Then there’s stuff like this. I have no idea what the hell this is or where it came from. It has a ring on the end of it, so I think it’s intended to be used as a keychain. It came in a fancy box, so I think it was a gift. It has a pricetag on it, but the price has been torn off. My price: 25 cents.

The People vs. Larry Flynt: Screenplay. I only bought this because the writers were speaking at Borders and autographing them. I thought the movie (like all their movies) was just so-so, but I got caught up in the moment. I wanted the cute one to sign it, but instead, I got the other guy. He wrote “Jerry: Free speech ain’t cheap!” In theory, I still support any event that makes writers feel like celebrities whose autographs are worth something. I guess I’ll ask $2 for this.

Drew’s TV. Drew has two TVs. I have two TVs. Two TVs for one person living alone may be a bit excessive, but four TVs for two people kinda makes you the weird TV couple. With picture-in-picture, we could watch eight channels at once. Just the fact that I even thought about that makes me realize how important it is for us to jettison at least one TV. I don’t know what Drew’s asking for this, but probably about $50.

Gettysburg on VHS. An old boyfriend loaned it to me against my wishes, claiming it was one of his favorite movies and I guess that it would be good for me or something. Of course, I never watched it. It’s a period piece, it’s a TV movie, Parker Posey is nowhere near it. I mean, really. Who would think I’d like something like that? After we broke up, I offered to give it back to him. He told me he’d rather have me throw it out than see me again. I’m asking three dollars for it, which is what I would’ve paid for postage. (He also “loaned” me “Harold and Maude”, which I’m keeping.)

Dining Table and Chair. Adam sold this to me when he moved to New York. I don’t know why there’s only one chair, but that’s all I needed at the time. I hope I sell this late in the day, because that’s what I’m putting all the other stuff on. I don’t want to put anything on the ground. Who would buy stuff that’s been on the ground? Ants crawl there. Dogs poo there. Phooey on the ground. For both table and chair: $25.

Q*bert watch. I wanted this so badly when I saw it on eBay. Of course it’s a piece of junk and it plays nothing like the arcade game. But that’s not the point. Wearing a Q*bert watch lets everyone who asks you what time it is know how much you like Q*bert. I guess I grew to resent those no-watch people more than I liked to show off my love of Q*bert. Don’t mooch off my time-awareness, people. I mean, either learn to live with not knowing what time it is or get your own damn watch already. Perhaps I could interest you in a wonderful Q*bert watch! For you? $3.

A WHALE OF A TIME

A WHALE OF A TIME

Since I have about 5,000 people to buy for this year, I’ve started Christmas shopping early. While looking for toys for the little girls on my list (oh, and there are MANY little girls on MY list), I came across the following five-star Amazon review for this interactive doll.

This baby is adorable, cute, obedient and most importantly, she is fun!!! When you feel down, you can have a whale of time with her. She will let you forget all your problems, and make you just relax and play with it. You can even talk to her, just like with your best friend. When you feel happy, you can share your happiness with Jasmine.

Besides all those things regarding your moods, of course you must remember to feed her, don’t you agree? Maybe you will think that it’s just feeding her because she is hungry. I don’t agree if you are thinking that way, i only agree that you are feeding her because she is hungry. Why don’t you just spend a little little time looking at her drink? She look so cute, more than any other things. Haha…if you really did so, i know that you will thinking i’m lying. Well, imagination! I imagined that Jasmine was my real baby, my very own cute baby, that was how i imagined that she was really drinking her milk, looking cute.

I started learning knitting. After i had ‘mastered’ knitting, i actually knitted diapers, shirts… for Jasmine. I thought that she looked totally adorable, fantastic! Now, for things she could do. She could crawl, sing and many many more. Jasmine has this milk bottle so cool.

There is much too many great things about her that i really can’t tell you all. But tell you what. If you really want to know more, be like me, go and buy one baby. Even if you don’t like Jasmine, you can choose others. No regrets for you, if you bought it. But don’t blame me for not telling you, you will regret if you don’t act fast, to go and buy it…I might be just a 12 years old girl, but it didn’t stop me from having a toy, a toy just like a real baby. I had loved babies when i was young, till now. I had a dream, to have children when i grow up, after i marry. But, because of the person who invented ‘my little baby’, my dream had ‘come true’…

Please: please, be kind to your ‘my little baby’. Don’t throw it aside when you got tired of it bacause, you should think about this: when you grow up, marry, and have your own child, will you treat him/her nicely? Think about that before you throw it aside, just because something new came out, and you like it more than your ‘my little baby’. I’m confidence that i would take care of ‘my little baby’ really carefully but i also hope that you would.

When I got to the part about her only being twelve, I heaved the biggest sigh of my life. I don’t know why, but I was picturing a middle-aged woman with 35 cats.

I mean, she’s still creepy at twelve.

In other news, PETA is going after Clay Aiken with a campaign that has Triumph the Insult Comic Dog saying “Get Neutered—It Didn’t Hurt Clay Aiken”. PETA apparently declared him fair game because he did an interview where he admitted that he doesn’t like cats. It’s one thing for a puppet dog to impugn your masculinity, but a nonprofit organization? Man, that shit’s cold.

I don’t know what bugs me more, that PETA has reached a new low, or that they’ve put me in the position of defending Clay Aiken.