Friday, October 08, 2010

In Finer Fashion - The Fall of Autumn


-If you’re a Chilean miner who has been trapped beneath the Earth’s surface in a cramped mineshaft for the last two months, for how long after your liberation will you think of every day as divine? Remember that woman who missed the ill-fated flight from Brazil to France, the one that plunged into the ocean, only to die in an automobile accident two weeks later?

-Lobster Bisque from a can is never going to be as good as you hope, even if it says “Gourmet” on the label.

After the improv class finished, I immediately began a freelance job doing administrative work for the website Howcast. It provided structured 10-6 hours, a cushy office with free cereal and coffee, coworkers who choose to communicate over gchat even when sitting directly next to each other, and no questions asked when I headed home for two weeks in August. My college friend Luke was getting married in the Upper Peninsula. Watching him tear up at the altar while he watched his bride descend the aisle was like witnessing a redwood cry. It caused me to well up before I could detect what was happening.
“Who rubbed horseradish under my nose?” I asked aloud, searching for the culprit amongst my friends.


Man, do I like the band Frightened Rabbit. All three albums = stellar. After hearing an interview with the lead singer I found myself mimicking his Scottish accent in the shower last night. Once when I was drunk I thought about penning them a fan letter before quickly coming to my senses. There was in fact nothing quick about it, rather I was too drunk upon returning home and passed out right away. The last and only fan letter I've written (excluding pornstars) was inexplicably sent to MMA fighter George St. Pierre following his shocking upset loss to Matt Serra back in 2007. He seemed like such a classy guy...and that French-Canadian accent.


Though it seems like a distant dream of a different person nowadays, I attended Interlochen Arts Camp as a youth, from ages 10-13. My subjects of focus were piano and acting, the former of which is a non-entity in my present, whereas the latter persists as but a fantasy unsubstantiated by action - the kind where I star in the film I write and direct that becomes a hit at Cannes and propels me into the annals of greatness and onto the cover of Vanity Fair, the masses and fashionistas hailing me as the next iconic sex symbol who will single-handedly end the reigns of Taylor Lautner and Angelina Jolie.
I bring up Interlochen because today at work I used google and Facebook to track down one of my closest friends from that period, David M., grandson of the camp's founder. We were both scrawny little late-bloomers, though he bloomed earlier than I. One summer he showed up and was so proud of his development that he pranced about the cabin showcasing his mangina. I laughed nervously, praying to God I wasn't next on the chopping block. My pubes wouldn't come for several more years, a fact my brother never lived down. Once in a fit of desperation I glued hair from a fake beard to my underarms, and as I kissed my father goodnight, lifted my arm in exaggeration so he could glimpse at my manhood. He didn't care. My brother on-the-other-hand made me pay with ruthless insults and slapping, not fooled for a second by the foolish ruse.
David continued right along in pursuing the talent he began cultivating during those early summers. He's currently getting an MFA in painting at Indiana University. We laughed (via LOL's) about how our first counselor stood us shoulder to shoulder, examining our backs and telling David he would be scrawny as an adult while I would be muscular due to my v-shaped back; this same counselor who transformed into a rageful tyrant after his hero, Jerry Garcia, died that summer. Who knew Deadheads could be so mean? I believe this was the same summer David fell out of the top bunk and his leg caught in the metal frame. He writhed in pain while dangling upside down as I looked on from the bottom bunk. We reminisced about another boy, Elias from Mexico, who always had a pack of chili candies and perpetually stained red lips (probably from popsicles). And then there was the older Aquinas who was extraordinary at ping-pong and chess. Aquinas once had me stand between him and another boy as he screamed into my ear as the other boy attempted to hear the scream pass through my head and out my other ear. The tinnitus lasted for days.
I always wonder if the people I remember from long ago will remember me, for many of the people who remember me I fail to recall. As a boy, all the kids at Interlochen seemed as they might as well have been from faraway lands. When you're 9, there's no difference between living an hour away and residing in China - they're both insurmountable distances.
Two of my best friends from Interlochen similarly attended the University of Michigan. We were unsuccessful in refurbishing our bond. I always remembered the fact that Jens had been bitten by a brown recluse spider and nearly died an infant. He had struck me as fearless, much like my schoolboy pal Danny Demay who taught me to do standing front flips as an 8 year old, shaking off failed attempts of landing on the head like a gossamer on the shoulder. I can only assume the quality of genuine fearlessness, reckless abandon, is one that resonates with me for it is so far from my natural state. At Michigan, Jens joined a frat and we ran in different social circles.
And then there was Marc R. Marc had been my hero at Interlochen. He was a Mexican-American of European descent, tall, swarthy, good-looking, and with a freckle in his eye. As an 11 year old, he drove the girls wild before we even knew what girls were. No idea what he attended Interlochen for, but at Michigan he would captain the crew team, and while we never reunited in person, he was material enough for lore transferred by way of friends. As campers, the only spat we ever got into was over taking turns at playing a cabinmate's violin. We had to catch the bus and one of us didn't get a fair turn. I called him a 'big bitch.' He didn't much care for the insult. I impulsively issued it again. That's when he cracked the handle of a broomstick against my elbow. And then what did I do? I called him a 'big bitch' one final time before taking off in a sprint. As we reached the bus, being that he was taller and drastically more athletic, he caught me with one final shove that sent me careening into the vehicle's side. I'm sure we reconciled, but that's my most definitive memory of Marc R.
Interlochen. I don't want to say I was a poseur, because at that time I was talented in regards to piano and acting, but what became of them?


And now for some Fitzgerald quotes:

"By her three minutes of utter unwavering indifference the girl had lifted herself from a high but somehow casual position in his mind, to be instead his complete preoccupation. However much his wild thoughts varied between a passionate desire for her kisses and an equally passionate craving to hurt and mar her, the residue of his mind craved in finer fashion to possess the triumphant soul that had shone through those three minutes. She was beautiful - but especially she was without mercy."
"The growth of intimacy is like that. First one gives off his best picture, the bright and finished product mended with bluff and falsehood and humor. Then more details are required and one paints a second portrait, and a third - before long the best lines cancel out - and the secret is exposed at last; the planes of the pictures have intermingled and given us away, and though we paint and paint we can no longer sell a picture."
"There was one of his lonelinesses coming, one of those times when he walked the streets or sat, aimless and depressed, biting a pencil at his desk. It was self-absorption with no comfort, a demand for expression with no outlet, a sense of time rushing by, ceaselessly and wastefully - assuaged only by that conviction that there was nothing to waste, because all efforts and attainments were equally valueless."
"With a stray boyishness he saw himself a power upon the earth; with his grandfather's money he might build his own pedestal and be a Talleyrand, a Lord Verulam. The clarity of his mind, its sophistication, its versatile intelligence, all at their maturity and dominated by some purpose yet to be born would find him work to do... With no record of achievement, without courage, without strength to be satisfied with truth when it was given him. Oh, he was a pretentious fool, making careers out of cocktails and meanwhile regretting, weakly and secretly, the collapse of an insufficient and wretched idealism."


Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Funny Crux Never Goes Away

If this city didn't have 8 million people, I would've run into you by now and articulated with laconic speech and genuine charm how you caught me during a funny crux in my life; explained away that angry tirade I made on your bed about hipsters being dead (  While I've kept busy and upbeat, the thought of you still tugs at me here and there some months later. 
In my last email it was hard not to sound petulant.  And curses to John Cusack in "Say Anything" for holding a radio above his head outside Ione Sky's window and teaching kids like me that persistence was a good thing.
That about sums up my thoughts on this damp Thursday morning.


"Dude, you romanticize the old days too much!  There were always games... It's just that women had less choice about who to pick."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Improv & Premiere Party Crashing: Late July, 2010

Another day of improv intensive at The Magnet Theater.  The class and Armando affectionately (or so I hope) refer to me as sugar tits since I wore a tight polo revealing my larger than average mammories.  It's not that I'm particularly huge, it's just that everyone in the improv community is particularly puny.
I'm coming along nicely in my improv development, though I still feel awkward and tend to play it safe in my scenes.  I signed up for this three week class to get more comfortable on stage and ignite the creative juices within.  I needed to get unstuck, and I also needed the structure during a stint of unemployment.  It's been nothing but watch and perform improv, day in and day out.  I have an inordinate amount of respect for the theater's regular improvisers.  They're mini-celebrities to me these days, and it seems they all live in Clinton Hill.  It feels rather fateful running into them on the train rides back to Brooklyn, especially when I'm drunk.
Tonight was another episode of awkward film mixers.  I used it as an opportunity to catch up with pals Matt and Aaron from GreeneStreet.  We chatted with a girl named Courtney.  The four of us together crashed the premiere party for The Disappearance of Alice Creed at the posh Crosby Hotel in SoHo.  We passed Gemma Arterton on the way in.  She inquired if I was single.  I politely declined to comment being that her husband was present.
GreeneStreet's President came over and hugged me in his political way.  He asked me about the beard fuzz on my face.  I told him it was laziness. Then he shifted his interest to our friend Courtney before returning to the crowd.  I talked with the COO and his wife for a good while about the same topics he and I used to discuss: books, higher education; life paths.  I wrote him not long ago asking for a letter of rec for grad programs in the humanities/creative writing.  He wrote back expressing doubt about such programs.  I told him doubt was my best friend.
I swore I wasn't going to drink tonight since I had McDonalds on Monday and Tuesday and haven't exercised in over a week.  That plan went out the window as the clock ticked past 11 and there was fancy free wine to be had.  Servers paraded around with gourmet appetizers: fancy sliders, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese, mushroom pastries, and other delectable goodies.
I felt like a somebody again, for a moment.

Favorite Discussion Topics

Jared's favorite discussion topics (according to Leah):

- everyone having derivative opinions; reading the same media and regurgitating it for show, rather than inventing original thoughts
- the ethical perils of NYC's social anonymity
- "that kind of girl" who every guy wants because he thinks she's really nice and JUST shy of cover-model-hot to be gettable; but therefore she gets lots of male attention
- rampant infidelity
- girls like bigger guys... growing up skinny... hipster look vs. muscles...
- dilettantism - jack of all trades, master of none
- feeling compelled to say something - anything - to beautiful women
- mean girls and how you love them
- the allure of a status job

Other thoughts:

1.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to realize how tasty and easy broccoli is to cook with a little salt.

2.  Cereal gets soggy way too quickly in milk.

3.  If we know how to compress files into a .ZIP, why can't we teleport people?

4.  Seems inefficient that humans are biped.  Evidence: nobody knows what to do with their arms while standing waiting for the train.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dear Max/Dear Jared - June, 2010

Dear Max,

I'm drowning in a maelstrom of self-pity. The cause?
Amanda Setton came into the office again today. The mean-looking brunette from TV shows I’ve never even seen, Gossip Girl and One Life to Live. She’s beautiful and I’m only moderately good-looking.
I really do want to see the first season of Gossip Girl, though maybe I shouldn't. Entourage used to be so much fun, but when I turned it off I got depressed. It was like, here is this really glamorous life that's not yours, now go back to your mundane existence. Some people enjoy seeing good-looking people. For me, it's a painful taunting of greener pastures.
I have never talked to Amanda Setton. Through Google stalking I discovered we share a mutual friend - my good friend's ex-girlfriend attended college with her - but I cannot mention this for obvious reasons (read: stalking, ahem, internet research, is a tough sell), and even if I did, I would have to make such a confession in front of the other models/actresses waiting for auditions. That would be beyond awkward.
The helplessness I feel with the Amanda Setton situation only exacerbates the crisis of joblessness come 6pm tomorrow. I’m 25, without riches, without dynamo girlfriend, and without creative masterpiece. Now I shall be without job. The goal of becoming a complete intellectual who expresses himself through film and writing (read: dilettante) has proven ripe with pitfalls, abstraction, and ambiguity of financial viability. When there is no structure, all frightening existential fears come to an overwhelming head.
Damnit, pretty girls kill me. This solipsistic mind of mine can only wrap its tentacles around death and girls, girls and death, death and girls, and once in a while, creative output, which it doesn't take a genius to tell me is merely a means of getting the girl and avoiding death.


Dear Jared,

Amanda Setton came over last night and gave me head while I finished my novel. I told her we had a mutual friend in common at the distribution company, but she was more concerned about using her tongue correctly and when would be a convenient time for her to come around tomorrow. Read: fellatio.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kristen Bell - May, 2010

Reunited with Kristen Bell in the office today. After some memory jogging she remembered me.
It was hard to do anything but name drop and reminisce of people from our past. We acted in two plays together 15 years ago. I still have a paper plate award from her that reads: "Most likely to call when he turns 16." Her number's on the back.
At one point I said, "I guess it doesn't make much sense for me to ask you what you've been up to."
I tried to be cool but my voice kept quaking.
My expectation was that she would say, "You should totally come out with me and Dax tonight."
It never happened.
I eventually excused myself after we hit a lull. Duck-out classy.
My expectations were high, so I left disappointed. She remained reading on the couch in the lobby for another 45 minutes but I dared not to leave my little hole again.

I can't even remember what she looked like now.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Flash Fiction - "Father, Forgive Them"

He was a freshman in high school: boyishly good-looking with high cheekbones; tall, lanky, athletic, red-haired, and already 16 - not uncommon in Texas where boys are held back in Kindergarten to be more developed for football. The son of a Pastor, he bore the name Luke: a good, solid Biblical moniker.
One pristine summer afternoon, having recently acquired his license, Luke was taking full advantage of his new-found freedom, cruising around in the Red Dragon, a '96 Chevy truck, windows down and a grape popsicle in his mouth. He pulled up to a stoplight singing along to "All My Ex's Live in Texas," lost in a trance of youth, song, or summer.
A rapping at his window pulled him from his state. A large black woman of indiscernible age, twenties or thirties, was talking to him through the window.
"My car just broke down around the corner," she said. "I live down the street. Can you give me a ride? Please. It would really help me out."
With beads of sweat clinging to the corners of her eyes, forehead, and upper lip, she appeared innocent enough. George Straight crooned how Texas was a place he'd dearly love to be. Luke figured her to be harmless enough.
After all, she is a woman. Woman, not a man, he thought.

She gets into his car and they start driving. Out of the corner of his eye he notes her broad nose and round face. He doesn't know what to say to her. She rubs her thighs through jean shorts tight enough that they produce unflattering protrusions of fat. Assuming she's not a George Strait fan, he turns down the radio.
"It’s hot outside," she says, breaking the silence. "Can we roll up windows and turn on the air?" It comes out more command than request.
Luke, mildly put off, agrees.
At the next red light, she turns to him again.
"Man, I just lost twenty dollars, can you help me out?"
've made a mistake, he thinks. She wants money. They always want money.
In an amiable tone, he says, "I'm sorry, Ma'am. I don't have any money. I'm already doing you a favor. I'll just drive you to your destination and be on my way."
She looks down at her lap, thinks for a moment, then returns her gaze to him.
“I’ll suck your dick,” she says. "$15 and I'll suck you off real good."

Mortification. Yes, that would be the word to best describe Luke's reaction at that exact moment. During his short 16 years, nobody had ever spoken to him in such a way. He pulled off to the side of the road and demanded she get out. She might have continued to beg and offer but he was done listening. He couldn't even look at her. With the car stopped, staring at his thighs, he ordered her to be gone. His only refuge was to be found in a quote from the Gospel bearing his namesake: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’

Flash Fiction - "Heart Stopper"

It was dark outside and drizzling. I was on my way home from work, messenger bag draped over my shoulder – the modern man’s briefcase. It didn’t protect its contents very well, and considering there were some important reports inside and I’d left my umbrella at Jenny’s, I decided to pop into the nearest restaurant, one I always passed but never actually regarded until now.
The place was unassuming from the outside. Inside, it was a throwback burger joint with pink vinyl booths and a jukebox. A large grizzly bear of a man stood behind the counter tending to a sizzling grill. The lone patron was a brunette in a business suit sitting on a stool up at the counter reading Gulliver's Travels. She turned to look at me as I entered. Her face was pretty and mean-looking – just my type. I took a seat up on a stool near her but left an empty one between, far enough away to not seem needy.
The grizzly bear tossed me a menu, which was no more than a single page with three options: fries, regular burger, and The Heart Stopper Challenge, underneath which read “If you finish this burger it’s free.”
“What it’ll be, friend?” the grizzly bear asked.
I inquired about the last option.
“It’s four pounds of pure beef.”
“Ah,” I responded stupidly. My stomach was rumbling, but even if I hadn’t eaten for 40 days, I still don’t think The
Heart Stopper would be fathomable.
“I guess I’ll take the regular with fries, please.” Beat. “Does anybody ever go for The
Heart Stopper?”
“You’d be surprised,” he grunted.
And that’s when he plated the most brobdingnagian burger I’d ever seen and set it down in front of the brunette.
I gasped. She looked at me and all I could do was point at her meal. She flipped her hair, placed one napkin on her lap, one next to her place, then proceeded to neatly cut the cow in half…and then into quarters…and then into eighths.
I stared in awe. There were no feelings of inferiority or inadequacy, just unbridled, utter amazement. And she was proper about the whole matter, politely dabbing at her mouth with a napkin in between manageable bites.
I’m not sure how much time passed before my burger arrived, but its delivery was marked by the entrance of an older man with owl-eyed glasses. He took a seat up next to me at the counter and ordered a coffee, which wasn’t on the menu but grizzly bear served up anyway.
We finished our burgers simultaneously. Well, to be fair, I had one bite remaining and was still picking at fries. Her plate was clean – four pounds of beef down the hatch of a girl who didn’t weigh a hair over 110. She collected her Coach handbag and stood up to leave.
“Thanks, George.”
The grizzly bear nodded. “Pleasure as always, Suzy. You’re single-handedly going to put us out of business.”
She laughed. “See you tomorrow night.”
After she was gone, as I was paying my bill, I couldn’t help but ask George, “What the hell just happened there? With that girl and the burger?”
“What do you wanna know? She just ate a pound and a half burger. That’s all.”
“That’s all? What did she mean ‘See you tomorrow night’?”
“Just what she said – she comes in here every night and does what you saw her do tonight.”
“But how? How does a girl that small eat a burger that big and still look the way she does?”
“How the hell should I know?” George was getting annoyed, so I took the hint. I nodded at him, then owl-eyes, and proceeded on my way, mystified.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eulogy - February 29th, 2010

My grandpa liked to say, “This is the hand that shook the hand that shook the world.” I never totally understood what it meant, but to me, it was his hand that shook the world. Lord knows it was big, his grip fierce enough to break my own hand. He had that grip to very end. “I still got it, kid!” You do, you do.
He was born while Central Park was still a flower pot. You’ve heard the story before: kid drops out of school in the 8th grade to support his family. Poppie always said it’d be scary what he could’ve done with an education; it’s scary what he did without one.
He was a man’s man, a woman’s kinda man, a real gentleman. He was cool and tough; handy and earnest. He boxed, played baseball, golfed. He was a marine, a butcher; he ran a luncheonette, spanned nearly a century, produced educated kids, and used to send pigeons home from Yankee stadium with a piece of paper bearing the score tied around their foot.
He was awesome. I felt awesome having the same blood as him coursing through my veins. He was Italian. He was American. He was vibrant. He was strong. He loved life. Sure, everyone says that, but from his lips to God’s ears: “If I had to do it all over again, kid, I’d do it the exact same.”
Well, Poppie - I wouldn’t have changed a hair on your head, full as it was till the end.

This is the hand that shook the hand that shook the world.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Might've Been Colgate" - Early January, 2009

They gathered around a table in the nurses' room at the retirement home for a send off meal consisting of sandwiches from The Bread Basket, Michigan's premier deli. Poppie barely touched his food, which was rare when it came to Corned Beef. A month shy of his 97th birthday, he swore that he'd already eaten dinner. This was clearly not true being that his grandson, Jared, had been at his side since 4pm and witnessed no such business. Poppie, who'd been telling stories on loop for years now, every once in a while curiously shared a story with which nobody was familiar. These were moments to be cherished, like a rare meteor shower, regardless of whether they were valid or mere products of his dementia. Today featured one such moment. It was about his sole experience playing in an organized football game.
"I'll never forget it, boy," he said. "I can't remember what team it was for - might've been Colgate."
"What position did you play?" Jared asked.
"Cornerback, maybe."
"Did you win?"
"Who can remember?"
When Jared relayed the story to his aunt and mother over dinner, they dismissed it as rubbish. "Eat your sandwich, Poppie!" they ordered.
"I told you - I already ate dinner" he exclaimed.
"No you didn't," everyone rejoined in chorus, then burst out laughing.
"I paid for that, you know," Jared's mother reminded him. She was happy to remind people when she was paying.
Jared was moving to NYC in two days for a film internship with GreeneStreet. Metro Detroit had proven to be a creative vacuum. His mother and father made no big deal of the move. It was his aunt's idea to treat the dinner as a sendoff. She even bought a cake of which Jared only ate a meager slice.
At some point the family contracted the sillies, all except for Jared and Poppie, who looked on with blank expressions. The family giggled contagiously and hysterically. That's how it usually went: everyone except for one person (and Poppie) would be on funny pills; and most times, that one person was either Jared or his mother. They took turns. Jared prayed that it spoke to no greater similarity of character. That's not to say other family members couldn't be the non-laughers. Everyone played the role once in a while. They were a family of opportunists and
shifting alliances. Not that it was impossible for everyone to be in on the laughter - those were the good times. Even Poppie could be susceptible to the chuckles, though it remained a mystery what he was actually laughing about. But most of the time there had to be someone remaining
sober; someone not laughing, to keep the situation in check, reality anchored, if reality meant being unhappy or unamused.
Jared's father asked him if he would write about this incident after the fact, like he did many things. Jared said no.

A few days later, Jared was in New York. He'd arranged an apartment living with a friend of a friend in Clinton Hill. Her name was Emma.
"Why did your former roomie move out?" he asked her while sharing their first subway together.
"Umm. Hmm," she stammered. "She got mugged on our stoop. I wasn't trying to keep it from you. I figured it just wasn't, er, necessary for me to bring up. And that I'd tell you about it if you ever asked, which you just did, sooner than I expected. I hope you don't feel cheated. The rent is $650. You can't beat $650." She smiled impishly with a shade of nervousness.
For the first week, Jared made it a point to sprint the distance between the subway and his apartment. That went on until the discomfort of running in dilapidated hi-tops proved too great. While it lasted, it was good for burning off beer calories, and inducing nausea.

In their third week of living together, Emma sent Jared this email:

Subject: Roommate bonding appointment scheduling

Hello good sir,
Instead of perpetually saying no I'm not free to your wonderfully kind offers and/or spending vast amounts of time roaming the night when I say I'll be home early...
I wish to propose times when I am free. To take the guesswork, spontaneity, and maybe hopefully not the fun, out of our hanging out. Cuz spontaneity,while enticing, is hit or miss. in this case, miss.
Would you ever be free/ interested in a breakfast date at Outpost (the wonderful coffee shop down the street)? They have terrific food and coffee and I'd like to share my love of the place.
How about Tuesday morning, the 19th? like... 9am...earlier later... depending when you have to get to ur internship?
Then laundry, we will do that too. it has been a long time for me... but i go home to CT often and do a bit then, so don't judge me too harshly.
anyway, thanks for coming to live with me. there are three free shelves in the medicine cabinet if you need them. and let me know if you want me to clear out one of the standing shelves in the bathroom.


They went on to share a wonderful breakfast together at a quaint little cafe mere steps from their brownstone, ironically named "Outpost", being that its clientele was mostly white in a predominantly black neighborhood.
As January neared its end, Jared felt satisfied with his first month in NYC. He had gotten to cover some scripts at work, drive around his boss' 7-series BMW (mostly to find alternative parking during street cleaning), answer the phone once to find James Gandolfini on the other end,
and ogle the models coming into audition for casting agencies sharing office space with GreeneStreet. He earned some cash doing data entry for and serving as a production assistant on an intimate shoot with JP Morgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon. There was even a gig in the works shooting a music video about wine for a friend of a friend. Socially, he had reconnected with old friends and given bar trivia the ole college try, several times, without great success.
There was still the issue of why he continued to pee jet yellow despite drinking adequate amounts of water. Getting healthy amounts of fruits and veggies was also proving a challenge. And well, laundry, of course.
All in all, there was a palpable taste of promise in the air.

Adventures in Substitute Teaching: October - December, 2009


Giggly Student: Do you know who Run DMC is?
Me: Yes.
Giggly Student: (turning to friends) See, I told you he had to be over 30. He knows who Run DMC is.
Me: Are you over 30?
Giggly Student: No.
Me: I think your logic is flawed.

2 hours later

Giggly Student #2: Do you know about 8 tracks?
Me: Yes.
Giggly Student #2: You've gotta be over 30 then?
Me: Do you know about 8 tracks?
Giggly Student #2: Yeah, because of my mom.
Me: Maybe I know about 8 tracks because of my mom.
Giggly Student #2: You're not over 30?
Me: Nope.

The student with strawberry-blonde hair, pale complexion, and jeans too short they fall an inch above her bright pink tennis shoes, paces back and forth on her toes in front of my desk, like some sort of exotic zoo animal; a modified ostrich. When I finally look up, she flashes a big smile gleaming with metal.
"Do you want to see my drawings?" she asks, eager for an audience.
To decline would kill her. She drops a binder on my desk filled with drawings and character biographies and backstory.
"There's six of them. They're all 12, and they live in a small Montana town. I've never been to Montana. I've never even been out of Michigan, so I had to do all sorts of research. See -" She pulls out a satellite image of Montana.
"Uh huh," I say.
"These kids live normal middle school lives, until one day, they fall through a wormhole and end up on this planet Gorgonzole, which brings out their special powers they must use in order to stop an evil ruler and get back home. This character, Torza, is modeled off my dad. See -" She points to an anime-style picture that resembles no human I know.
She flips through the pages, and when she gets to the end, she starts flipping in reverse. I'm surely the most attentive audience she's ever had. I notice that every character stands 5'2".
The bell rings and it's hard for her to let me go. I grab my belongings and cruise out the door. She chases after me clutching the binder in one hand and her bookbag in the other. She wants to know when I'm subbing next. I say I don't know and wish her luck in one day traveling outside the state of Michigan.

The next day, strawberry-blonde-aspiring-George Lucas finds me in the hallway. She presses something into my hand - a crumpled piece of paper containing various questions.
"I want to base one of the characters on you," she says.
I debate whether it'd be a terrible idea to satisfy her eccentricity. Sample questions include: Favorite genre of movies; favorite sport; preferred computer activities; style of dress; day or nighttime person.
"Do I have to be 5'2"?" I ask.
She looks confused. "I guess not," she says.
"Let me get back to you."
I walk into the teachers lounge for lunch. My mind is preoccupied with one student in particular, Roger. I had him in two classes throughout the morning and he was atrocious. Apparently I look drained, because the football coach, Mr. Roop, demands names. "Spit out the culprits," he says.
In truth, there had been several difficult students responsible for sucking the pep right out of my step; but Roger's name is clearly at the forefront. And when I say it, Mr. Roop cuts me off.
"Say no more," he says. "That's all one needs to know. Roger Muss is a Grade A ass-clown. He's a despicable little runt and you don't get paid enough to deal with turds like him. Hell, I don't get paid enough to deal with turds like him."
Everyone present issues a corroborating "Hear, hear," and I realize adults are no better than kids.

Five minutes until class starts. The first student enters. When the second student enters moments later, the first student exclaims: "Avery, I beat you for the eleventh million time!"
Avery looks at him and replies: "We haven't been in 8th grade that long."

In 6th hour, a student pops his classmate's zit and eats the whitehead for a pool of money amounting to $2.64. I try and stop him without success, then wonder if in a court of law I could be tried for contributing to the delinquency of minors.
The bell rings and I collect my belongings. Another student approaches me.
"That's Nautica, right?" he asks, referring to my shirt.
"Yeah," I say, looking down to make sure.
"You know that brand is racist? It is. I read it somewhere. Something to do with the slave ships."
"I didn't know that."
"Well now you know."
Later on I do some google research and find no credible support for his statements. I do find an interesting Maya Angelou poem highlighting corporate racism.