Lost Angeles

Being back home was weird. I haven’t been back since I started the Project and only now do I realize how inter-related the Project is to the city itself.

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I know a lot of people. Most of my high school friends still live there and when I went out to the supermarket or the gas station I kept running into people I knew.

So it occurred to me that it’s probably that way for most people in the world. Even in the 21st Century, most people still live in the same place where they grew up. And the idea of talking to strangers would probably seem weird to most people in that situation. Because first of all, there aren’t that many strangers if you live in a small town in Indiana. And second, when there is one, of course you talk to him, if not to make a new friend, then at least to ask, “What brings you to Indiana?”

But in Los Angeles (or New York or any big city for that matter) it’s different. No one is from here. Or at least it seems that way. Everyone is a stranger. And especially in Lost Angeles, people live in their little cocoons, driving to work, sitting in an office or cubicle, living in a faceless apartment complex. Only in places like this does the Project even make sense.

I’m not saying I want to move back home. I like it here. It’s just that living in Los Angeles feels like the first day of college every day. You don’t know anyone but it seems like everyone else already knows each other.

But I think I’m finally starting to feel like a native. I’m finally making friends, dating, going out into the world and seeing what happens. Not only am I planting roots and growing a community of people who I like and who like me, but I feel like I’m starting to become the person I want to be.

I’m sure this all seems very lame but I guess the Holidays do that to you. Makes you reflect on your situation and what you have to look forward to in life.

Scott Is Here To Stay

Scott found a new apartment to live in but suddenly the thought of him leaving made me sad.

I’ve grown used to having him there. It’s fun having a friend around all the time. And as much as I miss my privacy, it’s also nice never being alone. So I told him he could be my roommate for as long as he wanted to. We worked out a rent agreement and now he’s officially my roommate, not just a temporary guest.

I’m going back to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving and Scott is headed out to Arizona to spend it with his sister. Be back next week.

All Good Things…

Marny dumped me.

She said, “I love you” again and when I didn’t respond, she went off on me.

I had to be honest with her. I said, “I really like you, and we have fun together, but I just don’t see our relationship going in that direction.”

She called me an asshole. She said she only agreed to date me in the first place because she thought I was a nice guy. She said she usually dates guys much hotter than me. She said I was bad in bed.

I suppose these insults should have hurt but I didn’t really care and had basically no reaction. Somehow, that made her even more mad. Like she was so insignificant to me that nothing she said could get any rise out of me. Marny is actually pretty perceptive sometimes.

She left and Scott came in, having heard the whole thing. He asked, “Are you all right?”

I said, “Whew. I’m glad that’s over.”

He smiled and said, “Let’s go grab a beer.”

Parking Lot Lady

I went to the drug store tonight and there was a lady crying in the parking lot.

I could hear some guy yelling at her from across the lot. Then he drove off without her.

I stopped and asked if she was okay. She was in her thirties and she was extremely embarrassed. Apparently, she and her husband are going through a divorce. I offered to drive her to a friend’s house or something but she said no, she’d be okay.

But when I came back with my Sudafed, she was still there. I guess she was trying to reach a friend to pick her up. I offered again to take her to her friend’s house and she finally agreed. I guess it’s a little weird to get a ride from a stranger but I think I look pretty harmless and besides, didn’t people use to hitchhike all the time in the 70’s?

On the ride back to Beverly Hills, she told me her husband has rage issues and that their three kids are the ones who are suffering the most. I mostly just listened. I dropped her off at her friend’s house and told her that if he got violent, call 911 right away.

On the way back to Brentwood, I felt terrible for this poor woman. But I also felt something else that was kind of weird. I felt good about myself. Not because I was a good Samaritan by taking her home, but because I know I’d never fuck up my marriage like that.

Don’t Talk to Girls at the Gym

It’s not like I was hitting on Miss Elliptical.

I was just making small talk. The TV was on CNN and she didn’t have any headphones on, so I said, “Nothing like a G-20 Summit to motivate you at the gym!”

She gave me a prissy look and said, “I don’t think they play the news to motivate us. You have to bring your own motivation.”

What does she work for, Nike? I said, “I must have missed that sign on the door. I saw the one that said ‘Be prepared to show your membership ID’ but the one that said, ‘Be prepared to bring your own motivation’ must have been at the sign repair shop.”

She said, “Wow, that was a really long and complicated comeback.”

She had me. All I could think of was “So’s your face,” but I didn’t say it. Instead I just said, “Looks like you’re busy here so I’ll just leave you alone. Go South Korea!” And I walked away.

At the free weights it was all guys. I bet they would have appreciated my comments about the G-20 Summit.

Moral of the story: Girls at the gym are apparently members of the “Don’t Talk To Me, I’m Working” Union of Waitresses, Exercisers & Airplane Book Readers, Local 545.

Elevator Girl

Michelle usually leaves work on Fridays late and I’ve been able to schedule my departure to match hers before (but not in a creepy stalker way).

So I took a chance and it worked out. The door opened and there she was.

I could tell immediately that she was hoping not to see me. But I got in anyway and tried to diffuse the situation right away.

“Hey. I’m sorry about Halloween. I was drunk, but that’s no excuse.”

She thought about it for a minute, letting me stew, then said, “I’m glad you said something.”

“Look, I like you. I’m not going to deny that. And I think you like me, too. But it’s bad timing. You’ve got a boyfriend and I’m dating someone, too. I guess the alcohol just kind of wore down my impulse control.”

“Yeah, it can do that.” She laughed.

We rode for another few second before I added, “I hope things work out with Adam,” (lie!), “But if they don’t, and I’m single, too, maybe one day we can see where things go.”

I looked at her with as much sincerity as I could muster. “Until then… friends?”

The elevator reached the lobby and the door opened. She actually got out before answering, then turned back–intentionally or unintentionally dramatic, not sure which– and said, “Friends.”

We both smiled and she took off.

Meet Our Panel of Experts

Here’s what our panel of experts had to say, weighing in on the situation with Elevator Girl:

1. Janet in Reception: “Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t email her. Just wait until you see her, shrug it off as an embarrassing mistake and move on.”

2. Neil at work: “Marny is much hotter than Michelle. After you break up, do you think she’ll go out with me?”

3. Gunther: “Whatever is meant to happen will happen.” [Thanks, that’s real helpful.]

4. Scott: “You made your move, it didn’t work out, why are you still thinking about this? You should dump Marny and start dating Marny 2, 3, and 4.”

5. Monica: “Just be honest with her. Apologize, but don’t downplay how you feel.”

I have a feeling that I’m going to go with the girls’ advice on this one.

Back from the Brink

I’m off suicide watch and back talking to strangers.

If and when I run into Elevator Girl I will try my best to explain what happened but until then I am going to move forward. I mean, it’s not like I killed anyone.

Actually, what kind of got me back on track was yesterday at the Farmer’s Market in Brentwood. I started talking to the nuts and raisins guy who was really nice. He makes a home-made trail mix and it’s unbelievable. The raisins are like six times bigger than the kind you get in those little boxes. He uses three kinds and mixes them in with almonds and walnuts. It’s $5.50 a pound but it’s worth it.

I talked to him for a while. Mostly about grapes. Still, I felt a little better about myself afterward.

Part-C

The party on Saturday was a blast. Even on late notice, a lot of people showed up. It was a Halloween/costume party/housewarming for Scott and he invited so many people that it was impossible to get from one side of my apartment to the other. I haven’t had a party like that since college.

I was dressed as David, the sculpture. (Don’t worry, I had a gray marble-colored body suit on.) Marny was an Orion slave girl so we kind of matched in a weird way, which was totally a coincidence since I forgot to coordinate with her. Anyway, Scott dressed as a Centaur, but the best costume was Gunther’s Tom Bosley.

Anyway, like I said, it was packed. Lots of women in sexy outfits. I was hanging out with Marny for a while but then she said she had promised to stop by another friend’s party. I couldn’t leave my own party so she took off at around 10:00 and said she would come back later and stay the night.

At 10:01 (it seems) Michelle showed up with Adam. They were dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Brady and it was kind of cute, I guess. I had been drinking (duh) and went right up to introduce myself. Adam is some kind of famous surgeon but all I could think was that he was way too old for her. I talked to both of them for a while until Adam went off to get them drinks.

I talked to Michelle for a long time. But I didn’t make my stupid move there. No, I waited until much later. I was dancing with Monica (platonically) and I kept looking over at Adam touching Michelle. I mean, not like groping her, just you know, putting his hand on her back and stuff. For some reason I was getting really jealous. I know I had no right to be but the alcohol was making me crazy.

At about 1:00 am the party had thinned out and Michelle said she and Adam were leaving. He had rounds or something in the morning. I said, “Can I talk to you in private?”

She went into my bedroom with me and I just blurted out, “I think I’m in love with you.”

I don’t know why I thought this was going to go over well, like she was going to say, “Oh, my, God, I feel the same way.”

Instead, she turned white and said, “I have to leave.”

I said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak you out. Wait.”

She stopped and I took her hand. Then I just kissed her.

I know. It was totally stupid. All the signs were pointing toward “Don’t do this.” But I did anyway.

She pulled away. I looked up. There was Adam. He said, “What’s going on here?” and then he just punched me. Hard. In the stomach.

I didn’t throw up but I wanted to. Michelle took off.

And then Marny came back.

I don’t know how I could have fucked this up any worse than I did. I am totally screwed.