Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday in the Moving Van with George

It began with a frantic Saturday afternoon phone call from my friend KindSoulJim. He asked what I was doing on Sunday- I asked why, and he wondered if I would help his roommate move out. Would I? "I'll be there with bells on," I replied. "That might scare the neighbors, and besides, you did that at Christmas", KindSoulJim reminded me.

Let me explain. KindSoulJim is the type of person who looks for good in everyone, even when it isn't really there. While this seems admirable, it does create some difficulties in everyday life. Like, for example, when you start dating someone with no job, no money, no aspirations, no social skills and no sex drive. If you happen to be KindSoulJim, you'll then allow this person to move in with you. Let's call him "George".

Some people bring home a bird with a broken wing. In this case, the bird had two broken wings, a club foot, serious likability issues and possible brain damage. And it may have also been a vulture.

Fast forward a couple of years. "George" has now made a permanent lump on the sofa and redecorated the house to look like a bad Victorian funeral parlor. Heavy drapes, gloomy statues, and somber colors. Of course, he contributed little in rent, instead working around the house to earn his keep. He started dozens of jobs, none of which were completed past about the 75th percentile. A handyman who never finishes a job always has work....KindSoulJim has long since had the good sense to break up with him, but now there is the matter of how to get him out of the house.

Which was the point of the call. Jim had helped "George" find an apartment (okay, actually, spent months talking him into one and then finding it) and Sunday was moving day. I was asked to come along to lend an extra hand and make sure everything went smoothly. What this really meant was that I was supposed to be the alpha dog, the heartless bouncer who had to hurl poor "George" homeless into the street with a cold winter fast approaching. "As long as you buy drinks afterward" was my condition. After all, a Los Angeles winter isn't really that cold and shopping carts can be acquired quite reasonably on craigslist.

I showed up on KSJ's door bright and early Sunday morning, unshaven and dressed in my best US Marines T-shirt. He and I cheerfully began tossing objects into the moving van while "George" watched and made a begrudging effort to assist. Soon the van was full and we drove over to the new digs. In all honesty, it was a nice place- bright and cheery with big windows, lots of light, and even a small balcony, which would come in useful in case we needed to toss someone off of it.

"George" immediately began complaining about the new apartment. He looked up at the ceiling and whined "This is not nine feet. It's supposed to have nine foot ceilings". "Well, sport, there's not a lot we're gonna do about that today" was my response. "Where do you want these things?"

Through out the day we played our respective parts. "George" scowled and fretted and I believe was deeply surprised that he was actually moving out, KindSoulJim felt guilty, and I kept up the steady flow of earthly possessions via the moving van. At one point during the second trip, I opportunely seized George's key ring from KindSoulJim's front door and retrieved the house keys from it. Amazingly, this went unnoticed at the time.

Finally the van was empty for the last time and to our utter astonishment, especially that of "George", the move was complete. On our final check of the moving van, KindSoulJim asked for his garage door opener back. "George" replied that he didn't know where it was. KSJ reached past him and removed it from the sun visor. At that moment, "George" yanked the key ring out of the ignition to dramatically remove the house keys and hurl them at us - too late! At that moment he noticed that I had pre-empted his program. "Now I see why YOU were here all along", he barked.

Is he slow or what?

That night, the Martinis were especially satisfying, as if they had been specially made at the Cocktail Bar of Justice and Goodness. Congratulatory calls came in from as far away as the eastern seaboard. Good news travels quickly in our information age.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sweat Shop

I recently returned from a visit to Seattle with my friend UberKen. He was going up to visit his I-can't-stand-LA-anymore house, and invited me to tag along. It was a great change of pace for me, and I was able to explore some local color. A short road trip to North Bend (filming location of Twin Peaks) necessitated a stop at Tweedy's Cafe, home of the infamous Cherry Pie and Damn Good Cup of Coffee. A quick stop there and all seemed normal, no one was wrapped in plastic as far as we could ascertain. At least no one stood out. Another local favorite was Jak's Grill in Issaquah, where they make what is perhaps the most perfect Martini in the state of Washington. Delivered with an impressive swirl of ice crystals floating on top, it sparkles and seduces. Okay, perhaps I am easily seduced.

One afternoon I opted for the Seattle Underground tour. A bit of history- the city founders opted for some rather extensive urban renewal in 1889 as much of the original downtown burned to the ground one June day. Seems they took the opportunity to elevate the streets approximately one story, meaning that what had been the second story was now ground level. As a result, there is a secret and amazingly well preserved underground which had been the original ground level, and it makes for a fascinating tour.

One of the important lessons shared with us was the legend of the seamstresses. There was one notorious street that, in the 1900 census, housed no fewer than 246 single women who reported their occupation as "seamstress". This came as somewhat of a surprise, as most of the doors on that block had red lights above them. The city fathers, eager to learn the truth, apparently sent a posse of volunteers to investigate. They later reported back that there was not one sewing machine in all of Founder's Square. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "sweat shop".

For the balance of the trip, UberKen kept pointing out individuals and asking- "Do you think he might be a seamstress"?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sweet Sticky Dog

Valentine's day was this week and the impending trauma of it forced me to come up with a plan. I decided to tackle it head on. Calling Will (who is alternately Sacco to my Vanzetti or Cybill to my Mary Ann), we assembled a group of friends to meet in West Hollywood in pursuit of a Stunning Martini. The only requirement was to wear black, head to toe. I used a vintage tuxedo jacket and bow tie to create a dashing flair, Will did a tone on tone number with a black silk tie, bad boy Tony chose a biker jacket and black denim to set a completely different mood within the same color statement. It's all about our personal flair.

Our mourning party progressed to the Abbey where we found ourselves at a table in the wind tunnel (many of you will know where I mean- its like a covered outdoor bowling alley with wall sconces) next to a totally fun lesbian couple- they were chatting with us about a fashion show they were planning to help launch a line for a designer they were unfamiliar with. David-who-knows-everything was already familiar with the event and was lobbying to score a spot on the VIP list (I was on the VIP list once at a Cemetery, but that is a story for another day). Anyway, somewhere in the second round she shared that the designer was named Honey Labrador.

Honey Labrador? I burst out- I knew her in the 90's in Chicago. My friend crazy ass Ron (the one who thought he was Joan Crawford) used to hire her for Spiegel photo shoots. We would drink heavily and think of alternate names for her with the same cadence- Lobster Thermador, Sunny Ecuador, even Crosley Shelvador. I guess the drinks made it seem clever. Anyway, the fun couple were amused and actually relieved that someone had heard of Honey. So relieved that they bought us a round. Very cool girls.

Of course, I had to call Crazy Ass Ron in Chicago and tell him the news. I left a message on his cell phone from the Honey Labrador Fan Club. He called back a few minutes later snickering. "Honey Labrador- that was 1993! How the hell did you remember that?" "You know me", I replied. "How could I ever forget a girl named sweet sticky dog?"