Tonight I was out walking and I heard a little girl yell at her mom:
"When do I get to have a sleepover?”
And her mom yelled back:
"YOU’RE HAVING ONE!"
I completely understood.
Sometimes we are definitely NOT having a sleepover. Which sucks, and every human being ought to have the right to sleepovers, sleepovers are awesome.
Sometimes we are having a sleepover, and we recognize it as such, but it’s not exactly how we pictured it all week at school when the thought of the impending sleepover was the only thing keeping us sane. Our parents are being a little more observant than maybe we promised our friends, or a little less chill about the noise we are making than they were last time, or Kevin who’s extremely charismatic talked everybody in to renting a video we ourselves had no interest in watching instead of Monty Python And The Holy Grail which we know everyone would like if they would’ve given it a chance. And the superficial differences between the sleepover we were having in our heads all week and the one happening all around us is bugging us, until around eleven PM we start panicking, it’s almost lights out and here we’ve spent the entirety of the time since everyone got dropped off at seven noticing how this sleepover is not measuring up to our mental one, not at all, and it’s completely prevented us from enjoying the sleepover in front of us, and we’re not gonna get to have another one until next year if we’re lucky, our parents are cool enough but not that cool that we can just have everybody over again next Friday night if we so choose.
And then sometimes we are having a sleepover and we can’t even bring ourselves to recognize it as such. We are having a Tuesday middle-of-the-school-day feeling and here it is, a Friday night when everyone’s over. And we might even find ourselves saying out loud that we wish we were at a sleepover and somebody might remind us that we are. And we might think “how dumb or messed up am I that I was longing to have a sleepover in the middle of what everyone agrees is my sleepover.” And we have to fight to make ourselves enjoy the pizza and soda and the just-ever-so-slightly-too-mature movie and feel the airy freedom of the oversized t-shirt and novelty SPAM boxers we’re wearing as pajamas. And everyone else is having the greatest time and we feel very alone.
I hope that ten years on when that mom echoes back to that girl what she said tonight, that she longed to have a sleepover when she was in the middle of having a sleepover, a rare one on a weeknight no less, I hope the boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend or whoever is there that the mom is telling the story to in hopes of mildly embarrassing her daughter, I hope that person goes, “I totally get that. I too have longed to have a sleepover in the middle of having a sleepover.”
Today on the plane the pilot garbled his weather forecast and I’m pretty sure he told us that on the ground in Los Angeles we could expect “light winds out of the past.”
Goodfellas 2: My Gangster
The movie Goodfellas ends with its hero, Henry Hill, entering the Witness Protection Program and moving from New York to Arizona. The sequel opens as Henry meets an elementary-school-aged DC Pierson and immediately becomes his mentor, guardian, and friend. Without further ado, I present to you selected narration from Goodfellas 2: My Gangster.
Henry and I liked each other immediately. I think Henry identified with me, because he had skipped rising through a normal society of suckers and opted for the fast track with a life of crime, and I’d had the chance to skip second grade because of my advanced reading level, though my parents decided not to do it because they thought socialization was important.
My father was always pissed off. He hated Henry, ‘cause my father was a software engineer. Henry was also a software engineer, but he was shitty at it, because it was a Witness Protection cover job and he had no training and no experience. Like a bum, my father sweated anonymously all day and all night over subroutines and decision trees, while Henry would walk in the door and all the cubicle monkeys would go wild. He’d slip a hundred to the HR lady, two hundred to the guy who refilled the snack machines just for keeping the Mountain Dew cold. The most work he’d do all day was sitting down at his computer terminal and slipping a hundred dollar bill right into the floppy disk drive. Who knew you could bribe a computer?
In third grade they built a new school near us, Kyrene De La Esperanza. The kids got to vote on what the mascot would be. Our choices were something to do with cacti, the Estrellas (which means “the stars” in Spanish) and the Sharks. The proposed Sharks logo even featured a cool 90’s shark wearing awesome shades. In our hearts and minds, it wasn’t even a contest.
But the fix was in. The teachers were going to ram through Estrellas, and there was nothing we kids could do about it. We just had to sit there and take it. They thought the Estrellas name would prepare us for a multi-cultural, multi-lingual education that would be essential in the 21st century. Nothing against our brothers and sisters to the south, but there’s one thing a rapid transition to a globalized economy would never change: kids love sharks, especially ones with sunglasses.
Henry found out about it, and he gave those teachers a lesson they’d never forget. He walked right into the teacher’s lounge and pistol-whipped the ringleader. As this was Arizona, he was able to charge through the school with a firearm, and people just assumed he was a good guy with a gun on his way to neutralize a bad guy with a gun.
“The kids can have whatever mascot they want!” he screamed, then he kicked the guy out onto the street and right into an open fire hydrant that was gushing water. That was one thing Henry taught me that I’ll never forget: after brutally beating their enemies, real wiseguys always kick them right into the spray of an open fire hydrant. The double wetness, blood and water, really does a number on their self-esteem. It was so important to Henry that he’d unwrenched the thing himself seconds before walking into my school with a gun.
The fire hydrant treatment was extra humiliating in Arizona, since we were a dry desert climate and water conservation measures meant that not only was this beatdown painful, it was ecologically unsound.
Another teacher, he beat with his own mug. It had raised lettering reading “World’s Greatest Teacher” on it, which the guy imprinted on his forehead for a week. Because of what it said, we all called him rehcaet s’dlrow tsetaerg, something my brief flirtation with learning Klingon had left me uniquely prepared to pronounce.
It might sound insane, but here’s what the FBI could never understand: Henry was for people who couldn’t go to the teachers, because the teachers hated sharks.
Then there was the time me and my friends got harassed by the teachers for playing Magic: The Gathering at lunch time. Some kids had complained. They didn’t have Magic: The Gathering cards, so they couldn’t play, so by playing the game ourselves, we were being exclusionary.
Henry blew his stack when I told him. The next day, he put a spell on these kids they wouldn’t soon forget. I mean, he really tapped their mana. I mean, he played a Black Lotus on these kids, a card that hasn’t been legal since First Edition.
What I mean is, he beat up children.
After that, the kids who complained carried my red/green combo deck to the lunch table FOR me. You know why? It was out of respect.
Everything Henry had ever taught me really came to fruition when Pizza Hut started offering their “Book It!” program. It was the perfect scam. What made it even more perfect was that most kids wouldn’t even read the books, they would just say they had and get their allotted one personal pan pizza per week anyway. My angle was to actually read the books. This way I scored not only the pizza, but a smug feeling of mental superiority.
Now any time Pizza Hut needs a book read, they can call DC. Sounder? They can call DC. The Westing Game? They can call DC. But now Pizza Hut has to come up with DC’s pizza every week. Ran out of ranch dressing for crust-dipping? Fuck you, feed me. Teenage dish-washer accidentally put the drying cycle on extra-hot and melted all your red pebbled drinking glasses? Fuck you, feed me.
And then, when there’s nothin’ left, when you’ve fed him absolutely every personal pizza in the joint, and he’s still got a whole Ironwood Public Library full of Michael Crichton novels to slowly read and BARELY understand, you light a match.
This will distract DC, as he is fascinated by fire and will soon go through a brief phase of burning newspapers in a flowerpot in the backyard after school. Then sneak out and buy more pizza stuff.
One of the things that makes Settlers Of Catan a great board game is, you’re never “out.” You never get fully eliminated before the game itself is over, so even if you have zero chance of winning you can still hang out in the game and be a headache for the person who has a ninety percent chance of winning.
I wish life was like that. That no one ever died, that instead of dying you just became not-really-a-factor, but you could still hang out and crack jokes and, more importantly, mess with some asshole who’s still kicking.
I was checking out at Trader Joe’s. I was wearing my Google t-shirt.
The older check-out lady said, “Wasn’t Google on the Internet yesterday?”
"… It’s always on the Internet," I said, maybe too affronted for someone that has no personal or financial stake in Google.
"No, not Google,” she said. “What was it? They had a billion dollars or something?”
"Twitter," I said. "Twitter had their IPO yesterday."
"That’s it," she said. "They went on the Internet yesterday."
I didn’t correct her again. We all knew what we meant. And at some point during this exchange, two people clarifying for each other who exactly has billions of dollars and why, I had the following thought:
I am going to be broke forever.
A predetermined total amount of sex is going to be had in the world tonight.
Some of it will either be had by you or it won’t.
Now stop agonizing over that text message.
Most of those well-styled smiley sexually attractive financially stable people who seem like they’re never gonna actually do anything are never gonna actually do anything.
At the end of my Freshman year of high school our theatre teacher announced the plays we’d be doing the upcoming year. It was so exciting. I read all the shows and narrowed down which roles would permit me maximum triumph.
Over the summer, the principal fired our teacher for letting us play laser tag in the auditorium. His replacement then scheduled a different, shorter slate of plays.
The principal’s name was Dr. Mosher.
That fucker still owes me a Brighton Beach Memoirs and I intend to collect.
1 Slot Left In My Writing Class Starting Tonight
Come kick it with us for the next four Wednesday nights, starting tonight. You will write things you’re proud of.