Monday, June 30, 2003

Drew has taken issue with my "DRUNK AGAIN" post. Here's an IM chat we just had:

drew: #1. I did not make you drink.
drew: #2. I am not a big boozer.
Jerry: [Eye-rolling emoticon]
drew: #3. I PURCHASED that beverage cup --
drew: it was not a FREEBIE
Jerry: What beverage cup?
drew: so don't let your readers think i chintzed out on you
Jerry: You mean the drink cup?
Jerry: You bought that?
drew: Yeah -- the one that would never hold all your puke!
drew: Of course I bought it!
drew: They keep their inventory the same way!
Jerry: They wouldn't just give it to you?
drew: I paid $3.25 for it.
drew: NO!
Jerry: You ARE nice!
drew: They only give out those teeny Dixie Cup cups
drew: for free
Jerry: I'll issue a correction
drew: Do it fast, buster.
drew: I will not be maligned in your blog.
drew: (Of course, now THIS will end up in your blog, but whatever. I have a repuation to uphold.)
drew: DRUNK!



Here's a phone conversation I had just minutes ago with the DMV:

[After being on hold for ten minutes...]

DMV: Hi, this is Albert, Operator #53. How may I help you?
[The volume is EXTREMELY loud, so I turn my phone's volume down.]
ME: I'm sorry, what was your name again?
DMV: Albert. A-L-B-E-R-T.
ME: Oh, hi, Albert.
DMV: Operator #53.
ME: Hi, Albert. I'm calling because I renewed my driver's license on May 17th, and I still haven't received it.
DMV: Well, it can take up to six weeks to receive your new license.
ME: It was six weeks this past Saturday actually.
DMV: I see.
ME: I'm just concerned because the temporary license is going to expire soon.
DMV: Do you have your license number?
ME: Yes, I do. It's --
DMV: Well, I am blind. So I cannot operate the machinery myself.
ME: Oh. Uh--
DMV: Please hold while I transfer you to another operator.
ME: Oh. Okay.
DMV: Just tell them you were talking to Albert, and my operator number is 53.

[After holding for another ten minutes --]

DMV: This is Stephanie.
ME: Hi, Stephanie. I was just talking to Albert --
DMV: And Albert transferred you? Of course.
[I should point out that Stephanie sounds EXTREMELY annoyed, whether at the blind guy constantly transferring people to her or at her life in general, I'm not sure.]
ME: I was supposed to have received my new license by now and it hasn't come.
DMV: Your license number...?
ME: [I give my license number.]
DMV: It was mailed on June 11.
ME: Oh. Well, I haven't received it.
DMV: It takes four to six weeks.
ME: Well, it's been six weeks already. And you're telling me it was mailed almost three weeks ago. It should've come by now.
DMV: Not necessariliy.
ME: But mail doesn't take three weeks.
DMV: I said it goes to the mailroom on June 11. They send it bulk mail. Sometimes it sits there for a while before it goes out.
ME: But my temp license expires on July 15.
DMV: You'll be fine.
ME: Well --
DMV: If you don't get it soon, call back. Thank you!

[She hangs up]

So, if you have to call the California DMV and you want the best service available, ask for Albert. He's operator #53.



On Saturday night, Drew and I went to the Grove to see Charlie's Angels. We were meeting Victoria and Other Drew, but those two couldn't make it for dinner. So it was just Drew and I at the Wood Ranch BBQ.

Given how long we had before the movie (we left extra time to line up, etc.), I figured it'd be okay to have a drink (which is SO unlike me). So Drew and I ordered fruity margaritas. Then the waiter said, "Hey, for $2 more, you can get an extra large margarita, which is 3 times as big." Drew's a big, big boozer, so within about half a second, he said, "Okay, sure!" We super-sized. So the waiter brings out these margaritas the size of my head. My head is fairly average-sized, but don't let that mislead you. By margarita standards, that's quite large.

Well, what the waiter didn't say is that this would also be BY FAR THE STRONGEST DRINK I'VE EVER HAD. You could barely taste the strawberry -- or even the ice. Did I drink the whole thing? You betcha. Did I need help walking out of the restaurant? Affirmative. Was my nightmare over? Not even close. We still had a movie to see.

The worst thing about being drunk is pretending not to be drunk. If you've seen "28 Days Later" (which I also saw, soberly, this weekend -- great movie), remember the camera trick they used to show how the zombies moved? You know, that jittery, fast-frame motion? Well, as I walked through the Disneyesque streets of the Grove, it was like the whole world was moving at that speed. I just wanted with all my heart not to stumble or sway. To everyone else, I was the zombie.

As we walked, Drew ran into some of his friends. Would the nightmare never end? He introduced me, and I smiled and tried to stand still. "Say as little as possible," my mind told me. "Whatever you say will come out sounding like drunk talk." At least my sense of shame wasn't drunk -- yet. "Nice meeting you," I told them (I think) as we walked away.

When we met up with Victoria and Other Drew, I made Drew explain to them why I was acting funny, and I was drunk enough that I insisted that he take all the blame for my condition. (Now that I've sobered up, I give him only about 90% of the blame.) Victoria made my night by telling me she had no idea I was wasted. "You just seem a little more talkative than usual," she said.

Big news. I could "pass".

And then we went into the movie. I asked Drew to get me an empty popcorn tub from the concession stand in case I needed to puke during the film. "They can't give away empty tubs," he said. "That's how they keep their inventory!" (He used to work in a movie theater.) He brought me an empty drink cup instead. A small drink cup. It was obvious Drew had never seen me puke. He had no idea I also puke super-sized. (I'll deflate the tension now, though. It was a regurgitation-free night. Whew!)

Do I remember a single thing about Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle? Negatory, my friends. I took the old $9 nap and fell asleep during the flick.

Which, from what I've heard, is probably the best way to enjoy the movie.

Thanks for making me drink, Drew.


Friday, June 27, 2003

Now Dave's gone, too.

All my friends keep moving away. First Adam left, because he was sick of LA. Then Janice left, because she was sick of LA and because she was in love with Dave. (It's okay. Everyone knows about it now. We all got it out in the open. It was very cathartic.)

Now Dave's gone. We had a going away party for him last night and this morning he hit the road.

Other people I know have left, too, like Robb and Luke, but I wasn't really good friends with Robb or Luke, and I'm not gonna pretend like I was just to give weight to this blentry ("blentry" = "blog entry" -- see, it's like a contraction of a contraction -- aren't I clever?)

This is about the 1,000th time Dave has threatened to leave the city, but it's the first time he's had a good reason. He got a job on the new Whoopi Goldberg sitcom, which is shooting in New York. Okay, but we all know how TV works, which means Dave's job isn't guaranteed past Thanksgiving. So we all want to be optimistic (Whoopi Goldberg fail? Is it possible???) But it would've made sense for Dave to at least hang onto his apartment... just in case. Only he didn't.

Adam never came back, and Janice never came back. Dave's not coming back.

People really hate LA.

No, this doesn't surprise me. Believe me, I get it. I hate LA, too. The smog. The shallowness. The segregation. (Ask yourself how often you meet people outside of your race or social class. Or someone who isn't in the entertainment industry.)

So why haven't I left?

Well, I'm not going to live up North -- it's too cold. And I'm not going to live in the South. They only recognize gay rights when the Supreme Court forces them to. I'm too much of a city boy for the suburbs. I need to be able to walk to Blockbuster. Vegas? Nah, too much secondhand smoke. That leaves a few other choices -- San Diego or San Francisco maybe. But I couldn't go to those places.

I'd miss my friends.

Yeah, there are a lot of jerks and losers in LA, but you know what? There are a lot of cool people, too. I've never in my life had more friends -- close, real friends I enjoy spending time with and talk to regularly -- than I have right now. I blow people off now not because I don't really like them but because I have too many other people I want to hang out with.

I love LA.

I just hate that everyone's leaving.


Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Drew and I met each other's families last week. We didn't plan it originally. It's kind of soon in the relationship, and ordinarily, we probably would've waited. It just kind of worked out that we were both going to be back East at the same time. I was going to New Jersey to see my sister's new baby, and he was going to New York for a company retreat, after which he was going to spend a few days at his parents' house upstate. The timing just made sense. He came out a weekend early to stay with my family, and then I stayed a weekend late to see his.

Our families couldn't be more different. My family was never very familiar with homosexuality. It wasn't some right-wing hate house where people cursed "those damn perverts and their special rights"; homosexuality was just something nobody ever talked about. Ever. I only came out to my mother six months ago, and this was going to be the first boyfriend I'd ever brought home to meet her or my sister's family.

Drew's family is not only comfortable with homosexuality, it's practically exploding with it. Drew's younger brother is also gay, and so is his mother, who lives in the house with her partner of many years. Drew had brought his ex-boyfriend Gregg back home with him countless times for family gatherings, and Drew's been out to his family since he was a teenager.

Bringing Drew to meet my family was like watching a suspense film. You could hear the creepy, tingly score music crescendoing with every introduction, every question they asked him leading to a stinging atonal clang from the soundtrack.

"So, Drew, what do you do for a living?"


"How did you and Jerry meet?"


"How serious is this?"


When I met Drew's family, it was more like a sitcom. His family is comically nontraditional, everyone's constantly cracking jokes, and everybody always enters the house through the kitchen door. There were scads of storylines going on -- from the loopy shenanigans of the dogs to Drew's sister Susie bringing her boyfriend home (his name was also Drew -- just imagine the possibilites for wacky mixups!). When I was feeling overwhelmed, I could just blend into the background and let the family's usual activity play out around me. I was in a world where a son bringing his boyfriend home wasn't even an A-story. All weekend long, I felt like the special guest star. I was desperate to get some laughs in hopes of scoring a recurring role with this motley crew.

Overall, everything went about as well as could be expected on both fronts. After Drew left my sister's house, I got comments like, "Drew's really nice" and "Drew's good with kids" and (three times) "He was so personable! It was like he'd known us forever!" And Drew's family seemed to like me as well -- well, that's what Drew says, at least. The suspense proved anti-climactic, and the comedy had no big payoff. Now that it's over, it's just kind of a relief and it's good to know that next time one of us goes home with the other one, we won't have to worry about first impressions again.

And all I can think about now is what will happen someday when our two families meet each other. That's when the real suspense -- and the real laughs -- will begin.




Yes, that was my friend Adam (the very same guy mentioned in the "Circuits?" entry below) on Project Greenlight on Sunday night, pitching his script "Odd Jobs". Adam was one of the ten writing finalists, and as a result, he got to fly to Sundance, pitch to Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and the rest, and be on TV. But unfortunately, Adam's script didn't win. And he's spent the last five months worrying about how he'd come across on television. Would those cruel editors turn him into Puck from Real World or Jerri from Survivor?

Well, he did fine. He had nothing to worry about. And he got a good chunk of screen time, too.

Now somebody buy his script already!



I just got back from my trip, and easily the strangest thing that happened to me occurred when I was walking down 23rd street in Manhattan with my friend Adam. A shady-looking character walked up to us -- you know, the kind of guy who usually opens his jacket to reveal a dozen dangling Rolexes -- only this guy was hawking something different.

Extension cords.

He had two of them -- a white one and a brown one -- both neatly coiled in his wrist, and as he held them out for sale, he gave a one-word pitch:


He stood patiently as we inspected the goods and waited for our response.

Was I missing something? Was I in the extension cord district? Was this some kind of cover that drug dealers were using? Was he a spy looking for his contact and using a code word to get the top-secret instructions for his next assignment?

"Uh, no thanks," I said, and Adam and I walked away, shrugging.


Friday, June 13, 2003

Bang improv theater is raising money for a couple of people affected by the plane crash described in my PLANE post a couple days ago. They held a fundraiser last night, but if you'd like to donate, you can still help out. Check the info on their website:


Thursday, June 12, 2003

David Sheehan is quoted on the poster for JUNGLE BOOK 2.

"Pure Joy!" -- David Sheehan, it says.

David Sheehan gets quoted a lot in movie ads. No matter how universally reviled some movie is, you can bet if there's one critic who likes it, it's David Sheehan. And he's not some fake critic on the studio payrolls, like so many others who say nice things just so the studios have something to put in their ads. He's a real guy with a real job. I've seen him on the local news.

As hard as it is to believe, I think David Sheehan really likes everything.

Sometimes I wish I were David Sheehan.

I wish I could watch SAVING SILVERMAN and think it was "A laugh riot!" Or tell the world that I found TWO WEEKS NOTICE "A real charmer!" I wish I could find something positive in every single aspect of my life.

If I were David Sheehan, I'd think my lousy job was "Thought-provoking!" That my neverending struggle to free myself from my mountains of debt was "An over-the-top comic delight!". That the stress of taking Drew to meet my family this weekend was "A real nail-biter!"

I wish I could just blurb away all my issues David Sheehan-style. David Sheehan would find my apartment's disgusting moth infestation "Whimsical!" He'd see my ongoing struggles with coming out to my relatives as "A magical fairy tale for the whole family!" And he wouldn't mind my occasional bouts with adult acne. He'd simply declare my complexion "Unpredictable!"

David Sheehan baffles me. He's like the people in airline safety videos. There they are, preparing for every traveler's worst nightmare, inflating their life vests and strapping oxygen masks to their suffocating children... yet they seem so happy. Nobody's panicking, nobody's scared. What's wrong with these people? If a plane has to go down, I'm glad it's going to be theirs, because they seem to be handling it awfully well.

On second though, no. I don't want those people to die. They're too valuable to society. Somewhere out there, there's a whole airline full of people who can handle anything life throws at them. Let them take on my problems -- the fears and regrets, the moths and the acne. Let them contract SARS and get swindled by ENRON and have planes crash into their apartment buildings on quiet Friday afternoons. Let them scope out suicide bombers and child molestors and racists and rapists and that obnoxious cashier at the Starbucks in Century City. Let the passengers in the airline safety video live, and make them suffer. They wouldn't mind, and it'd spare the rest of us a world of hurt.

And instead, put David Sheehan on that plane. He'd not only be as calm and collected as the people in the videos, he'd still be enjoying the in-flight movie as the airline plunged into the ocean.

"An edge-of-your-seat thriller!", he'd proclaim.


Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I love my new XM Radio.

I'm a big music fan, but I've gotten really tired of radio lately. They just play the same 20 songs over and over.

XM has a station for just about every kind of musical taste. A couple of my favorites are the 80s station and the 90s station. (The first station I turned on was the 90s channel, and they were playing "Girls Night Out" by Tyler Collins, a song I'd totally forgotten existed. I practically hyperventilated.) There's a station that plays movie music, one for Broadway music, a standup comedy station, a station with live recordings and one that's all acoustic. There's U-POP, which plays hits from around the world. And there are tons of news and talk stations.

But my favorite station is the one that plays the same 20 songs over and over.

Top 20 on 20 counts down the top 20 most requested songs over and over all day long. But what's great about it is that the list is constantly changing in response to listener requests. You can even vote for the countdown on their website. (I've been stuffing the ballot box for Clay Aiken, who for the record is kicking Ruben's ass on XM, and "Fighter", the new one from Christina Aguilera, which I shouldn't like, but I do.)

It's obviously not a scientific countdown, since XM has a very specific audience (mostly truckers) and the charts are at the whims of jerks like me stuffing the ballot box. But there's one big benefit. A few years ago, after I first stopped listening to commercial radio stations, I realized I didn't recognize any of the songs in the Billboard Top 10. That's right: ANY of them. A lot of them, I didn't even recognize the artist names. My friends couldn't believe I had never heard J-Lo's "Jenny From the Block" or Eminem's "My Name Is..." (that's right... NEVER).

This was devastating for a pop music trivia machine like me. Just try to stump me on any 80's hit. You can't do it, foo! (Well, okay, unless the song is "Key Largo". I once lost $16,000 on a game show because I couldn't identify who sang it -- but that's another story). The Billboard charts were mocking me, telling me I was old and losing touch.

But now when I see Thalia and Fat Joe storming the countdown and I wonder "Who are Thalia and Fat Joe?", I know exactly where I can hear their song. And I'm no longer out of touch. I know just what it sounds like.

I think it sucks. But I know what it sounds like.


Monday, June 09, 2003

It's not every day a plane crashes on your street.

I first heard about the freak accident (well, let's hope it was an accident) when I was at work, about 5 miles from where it happened. It was just a few minutes after the crash was reported on the news, as details were still trickling in. I have no access to television or radio at work, so the information came in the form of an IM from Drew:

"Oh my God, a plane just crashed into an apartment building in the Fairfax district."

I live in the Fairfax district.

A few seconds later came another IM:

"On Spaulding Ave."

I live on Spaulding Ave.

And then, immediately:

"I'm not kidding!!!!!"

As if this were anybody's idea of a joke. Not these days. Not in this part of the planet. Not in the middle of a Friday afternoon.

I started mentally calculating the odds. Millions of people live in Los Angeles. Apartment buildings in this city probably number in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. There are probably over a hundred buildings on my street, which only runs for a mile or so. Now, one in a hundred still makes for slim odds, but when you started with one in a hundred thousand, the chances seem a little more real. It's like I had matched five numbers on my lottery ticket and was waiting to hear what the Mega Bonus Number was. Could this really be my apartment?

People would worry about me. Everyone knows I work at that time, so I wouldn't have been near my apartment when it happened, but you know how people get. They'd freak out. "Maybe he took a sick day." "Maybe he got fired recently and was too ashamed to tell us." "Maybe he went home for lunch at 4 o'clock in the afternoon."

I'd have to change the outgoing message on my answering machine to tell callers I was okay. "Yes, the plane hit my apartment building, but I was at work at the time," I'd say, probably choking back tears. "So although I've lost everything I own, I still have the most precious possession of all: my life." I'd never say such sappy things before, but now that I had cheated death, I'd probably go all corny like sitcom characters do when they cheat death. "Thanks for your concern, but let's pray for the rescue workers and for a swift cleanup of the area."

Wait a second, that didn't make any sense. If my apartment was gone, my answering machine would be, too.

This was serious.

I started thinking about losing everything I owned. My TV, my computer... my Gamecube! No, wait, maybe the Gamecube would survive. I mean, if a plane hits your apartment, it's bound to cause some damage, but something's gotta survive, right? I've seen photos of disaster scenes in the newspaper. There's always one thing that sits there undamaged and totally recognizable, usually a child's toy -- a teddy bear or a Spongebob calculator or something, a morbid irony among a sea of charred, smoke-damaged debris soup. The Gamecube could easily survive. It's just a small black box. Black boxes are made to survive plane crashes. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope of the Gamecube surviving.

But not the games. The games would never make it. Shit.

I thought about how stupid I was never to have bought renter's insurance. I wondered if insurance people even covered you if a plane crashed through your living room -- those bastards, they probably didn't. A plane crash is probably an "act of God" or something. Well, I don't believe in God. I do believe that the standards for pilot licenses should be stricter so that pampered billionaires can't turn themselves into amateur pilots and go plowing their private jets into residential neighborhoods because they're not sure which lever to press to make it go up. But the insurance companies wouldn't care. They'd stamp "Act of God" across claim form in bright red ink, and I'd go away empty-handed. I was really glad I didn't give those lousy rat insurance companies my money.

But now I was broke for sure. I don't have much money in my bank account, and my only worldly possessions that aren't in my apartment are my car and the clothes that I'm wearing right now. I wish I'd worn something nicer today. I'm going to be wearing it for at least the next week. Then I remembered I still had my tennis racket, which is in my car. It's been in there since my tennis league ended last month, and I've been meaning to bring it inside, but I'm just such a lazy bastard I've never bothered. Lucky thing, too. It's worth about $100, and that's going to be a lot of money to me now that I'm destitute.

Then I tried to cheer myself up. It won't be so bad. I have too many people who care about me to ever go hungry. I pictured my friends and coworkers taking up a fund to help me start over. It would be totally heart-warming. It'd make me realize how loved I am and make me think about what's truly important in life. I imagined my George Bailey moment, where my friend Dave -- I just know they'd put him in charge of it -- would dump a huge basket full of cash out on my cot at the YMCA, and I'd start bawling my eyes out. "Thank you, everybody!" I'd exclaim. "I love you all!"

They'd probably do a story about me on the Channel 9 News. I'd cry on TV as I told the entire metropolitan area that possessions didn't matter as long as you had love. And all throughout the Southland, thousands of people would be inspired by my story. I figured I was pretty well-loved and would fetch at least $120,000 from well-wishers, including anonymous donors who saw the Channel 9 News. That would be more than enough to get back on my feet. In fact, I could even use the leftover dough to pay off my student loans.

No, that wouldn't be right. That's not why those people gave me all that money. I'd have to give the extra money to a deserving charity. That's what my benefactors would want. But which charity? There's no charity specifically for people who've had planes crash into their living spaces, so I'd have to choose the next closest thing, to make sure the money was spent as it was intended by the kind, kind Samaritans who'd given to my cause. Maybe the Red Cross. Or maybe not -- I had a crappy part-time job there nine years ago, and even though they're good and all, I'd begrudge them the donation just to get revenge on my mean old boss. I'd probably interview charities instead, let them make their case and tell me how they'd spend the money, then go with the most deserving one. Maybe I'd split it up over a few different causes. I'd have to see how convincing the charities were.

Interviewing charities would take a lot of time, so I'd have to take a leave of absence from my job. Man, that'd be sweet. I'd also use that time to search for a new place to live, and to shop for furniture. My new apartment would have drapes or curtains, not those cheap-ass vertical blinds my old one had. Man, I always hated those things. I hope the plane totally vaporized them. Cheap pieces of crap. And my next TV would have picture-in-picture. TV prices have come down since I bought my $650 set. I could get a much better one now for the same amount I paid when I bought that outdated piece of junk last year. I figure there's nothing wrong with upgrading on other people's money as long as I'm not spending more. Maybe I could even find one on sale for $600 and then kick the extra $50 over to my charity of choice. Look at that -- I found a way to give even more money to charity. My misfortune and frugal shopping combined would make the world a slightly better place.

It was going to be tough, rebuilding my life after a devastating freak accident so suddenly shattered my world. But I could do it. It would make me a stronger person in the end, and for the rest of my life, I'd tell the story of how I once lost everything I had and, as a result, realized how much my life was worth.

Then, my phone rang. Drew told me the crash was on Spaulding and Clinton, three blocks away from my building. Still remarkably close and really creepy and disturbing, but my apartment and all my stuff was fine.

Then I started thinking about the people inside the plane and the people who lived in the building it hit. I started thinking about all the things that they and their relatives had lost. I thought about how hard the weeks ahead would be for the survivors.

And then I thought about how much I hate those damn blinds.


Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Is there anything more humiliating than clogging the office toilet?

How about being witness to said clog?

I won't describe what I just saw in the men's room at my office, but by now you've probably figured it out. As for me, the image is permanently fused in my brain. When I'm at my grandaughter's college graduation from Mars University sixty years from now and the robot school provost beams her degree directly into her head, I'll still be flashing back to the swirling soup of swill that confronted me on June 3, 2003.

And let's just say that when I stepped into the stall, the bowl was filled to the brim, just barely contained from breaking loose and making a disgusting situation even worse, and as I backed away in disgust (note: time elapsed between the two actions, about 1/100000000 of a second), wouldn't ya know it...? The automatic flush sensor sensed me stepping away from the toilet, and, well, it automatically flushed.

And then there was a splash, and a rapidly expanding circle of water followed me as I raced outta there.

It must be humiliating for the guy who did it. He probably flushed at least three times, praying to his God of choice that it would all be sucked down the drain into blissful excretory oblivion. But instead, the water level just got higher and higher each time he attempted to flush. Then, he quietly slipped away and left the mess unreported so no one would know he was the perpetrator.

But he's out there. There are a limited number of suspects. This idiot (hello, if you've got a big cleanup job, how about an intermediate flush or two?) is roaming the halls of my building, hanging his head in shame and hoping no one will ever know. But I've got something on him. I've seen his poo.

Yuck. I'm going to go throw up now.

... but where?



Drew wouldn't give me any ideas of what to get him for his birthday, but there was one thing he told me he DIDN'T want: tickets to see Sam Harris.

It was a little surprising, as Drew had made clear to me that he's a bona fide Sam Harris fan. Who's Sam Harris? Well, you may remember him from his stint on the original Star Search, where he charmed the judges with his hammy, over-the-top rendition of "Over the Rainbow". Or you may remember him from -- well, no, actually, that's probably the only place you'd remember him from.

But Drew bought Sam's self-titled 1984 album, which featured the non-hit single "Sugar Don't Bite". He even played it for me. (It stinks.) Tickets for this awful show seemed like the perfect birthday gift -- it was something Drew would clearly enjoy, plus I'd score points for offering to suffer through something I hate just for his sake.

Only about two weeks before the big day, we drove past the theater where "Sam." is playing. There was a huge, imposing marquee outside which said "Sam." in big bold letters alongside a black and white picture of Sam, prostrate and with his arms stretched upward as if he's just let loose such a powerful gush of song that he's at once collapsing from exhaustion and praising God for the glorious gift of shmaltz that has made him so joyous.

"Ugh, how embarrassing," someone in the car said. And surprisingly, it wasn't me. "Can you believe that?" Drew continued.

"But I thought you liked him," I said.

"I like him, but that looks just awful. I'd be so humiliated to be at that show."

Then he glared at me. "Do not get me tickets to that for my birthday," he said.

"Aw, c'mon, if you actually went, you'd probably--"

"Do NOT!"

Well, if you know me, you already know where this is heading. At that point, I had to get him those tickets.

Okay, so I wouldn't actually make him go to a show he didn't want to go to, but I was definitely going to make him think he was going. I ran some actual tickets for a concert we're going to later this summer (R.E.M. and Wilco at the Hollywood Bowl) through my scanner, and with some help from Photoshop -- voila! They became Sam Harris tickets for Monday June 2, 2003. (Thankfully, Drew doesn't pay very close attention to detail, like the fact that there's usually printing on the backs of Ticketmaster tickets as well -- oops.)

I gave the tickets to Drew on Sunday night, and a master class in acting began.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I bought them before you said you didn't want to go."

"I'm such a jerk," he said. "God, I'm so sorry I said that."

"It's okay. We can skip it. We can totally skip it."

"No, you spent a lot of money on these tickets."

"Only $90."

"We're going."

"I mean, plus the service charge."

"Really, I want to go. It'll be fun." Now I was watching Drew give the performance of his life.

"Really? You really want to?"

"I do. It was such a thoughtful gift. I do really like him. I don't know why I said I didn't want to go. It's gonna be great. I'm excited."

Then Drew took another look at the tickets. "It starts at 9:00? That's a strange time."

"Yeah, I thought so, too," I said, then I quickly changed the subject. Since I knew there was no show, I wanted to be able to take him to dinner without him wondering how we were going to be done in time for an 8:00 show.

That was my first mistake.

I let Drew hang all day, and he told everyone he knew what a jerk he was by ordering me not to get him a gift that I had already bought for him. And all day long, he secretly dreaded going to the Sam Harris show.

Don't I stink?

I wanted to play the whole thing out, to take him to dinner, wait until he said we needed to leave to get to the show on time and then take out the tickets and tear them up in front of him. "I know you don't want to go, so we're not going!" I'd say. Riiiiiiiiip!

But along the way, I was sure he'd found me out. He told me he spoke to a friend of his, who said that up until last week, I'd been making plans with her for Drew's birthday night (something I wouldn't do if I knew we were going to a concert that night). Then his assistant secretly told me, "He says you're going to a show tonight, but he doesn't know if it's real."

I tried to figure out how to play out the prank at this point. It was like the Friends episode where Rachel found out about Monica and Chandler (or maybe it was the one where Phoebe found out -- God, am I really making a Friends reference?) Sure, he knew... but now I knew that he knew. Of course, what if his assistant told him that she'd tipped me off? Maybe he knew that I knew that he knew.

So I bailed. I told him the tickets were fake and we weren't going.

Only he didn't know. He didn't know anything.

"Come on, we're going, right?" he kept saying. I had to convince him it was a prank. Sure, he thought the curtain time was odd, and he noticed the lack of legalese on the back of the tickets, but he believed me anyway. Even at dinner, he wasn't sure. It wasn't until 9:00 came and went that he finally accepted that there was no concert -- and he was very relieved that he was still sitting with me at the restaurant and not listening to Sam stretch his aging vocal chords for the high notes in whatever standards he was choosing to butcher in his new set list.

All that effort, and I could've gone so much further.

But I learned something that says a lot about our relationship. Drew trusts me. A lot.

Well, at least he used to.


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