Category Archives: Friends

I Called Mitch….

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Some of you have expressed skepticism regarding my previous post.
I would like to double confirm the truth of it, with one more juicy tid bit.

I called the anecdote line.
Mitch answered.
I asked for an anecdote.

He seemed only moderately flustered by the call.  I did not mention knowing Heather.
I asked for his best material.

Mitch started in on a story about staring out a window.  Judging by the convoluted blather-tale that followed, I came to two conclusions:
1.  Mitch does not understand the concept of a story arc.
2.  Mitch has a severe case of ADHD.

I completely understand why Heather did not want to pursue things with him.  I’ll never understand the whole – offering a stranger a foot rub bit – but I do relate to her finding Mitch boring.  It was like listening to mulch.  I thought the story might have potential, when four minutes in, he said, “And then, out the window…I saw it!”   But, I was wrong.  He saw a cloud.  Clouds don’t make good protagonists.  Unless, they have been sent by an evil wizard named Darken Rahl, but even then they’re not that scary.

I had to interrupt Mitch at the nine minute mark.  I’m a relatively busy person.  I don’t have time to listen to someone ramble on about their blossoming existential crisis.  I have goats to play with.

“Mitch,” I said, “I don’t think this is going to work.  I don’t sense a climax coming, and I have to be honest, I’m not particularly interested in clouds.”

Mitch tried to hold onto me.  He pulled out every used car salesman trick in the book.  I think I heard him growing a mustache through the phone.  His pleading was difficult to listen to.  I might have felt some empathy, had I not known that he was a dirt bag trying to get a friend of mine to pose nude for him.  (That she agreed is beside the point)  He wanted another chance to prove he could tell a good story.  I should have suggested he spice up his own life, to spice up his stories.

For someone looking for anecdotes to tell…I can think of no better person to spend time with than Heather.  He would’ve had stories (and glitter) coming out of his ears.

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Stalker or Romantic – You Decide

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You know how sometimes you watch a movie and think, “This is unrealistic.  Things like this don’t really happen.”  Like a woman is prancing around her house wearing a thin nighty at 3 a.m., investigating a noise she heard in the basement that sounded like a werewolf because it actually is a werewolf.  Well…

I’m about to tell you about a friend of mine from New York.  When you catch yourself thinking, “This is unrealistic.” – Stop.  I’m not making anything up.  I’ve seen this friend, we’ll call her Heather, do things that would terrify and confuse even a werewolf.

Heather saw a man one day in a building.  She thought he was handsome.  I’m sure most of us can relate to this.  Nothing weird right?  Heather went home and thought about the man for a few days.  He was really handsome.  Instead of being passive, Heather grabbed life by the face.  She made up a poster.  It said:  ‘To the man with brown hair and a guitar, who was in this building on such and such a date at such and such a time:  Please, call XXX-XXX-XXXX.”  She hung it in several locations around the building where she had first sighted him.

She never received a call.  Obviously, he never saw the poster.  Heather let him go…for a while.

Several weeks later, she had a few minutes between classes, so she did an internet search.   He was really handsome.  The building in which the original sighting had taken place was a hub for graduate students in the local university’s music program.  With some perusal of college records, graduate student photographs, and class schedules, Heather found him.  His name was Mitch.  Mitch had a website with contact information.  Beneath his email address there was a phone number with the caption ‘Call for anecdotes.’

She called the number.  When Mitch answered, he didn’t bother asking who was calling.  Instead, he began a long winded tale of his visit to Poland.  (Incidentally, Mitch had never been to Poland)  Heather was smitten.

I’m trying very hard not to insert my personal opinions about this story, but I can’t resist.  What? 

Every several days, she would call the number.  Mitch would tell a story, she would listen, they would both hang up.

Heather spent a great deal of time thinking about Mitch.  In her defense, she was taking Organic Chemistry.
The next logical step (obviously) was to find out where he lived, so that she could walk past his house on occasion.  Through a series of unusual stalking techniques, she discovered a photograph of his residence on the internet.  She jotted down the description of the building, then began to systematically explore New York City to find it.  It’s sort of hard to believe, (if you don’t know her), but she succeeded.

A couple of times a week, she would walk past his house on her way home.  She began to fantasize about ‘accidentally’ bumping into him.  They would hit it off, and begin seeing one another.  She would not mention to him that she was the one calling for anecdotes.  Never mind the likelihood that he would recognize her voice.  Once they became a little more serious, she would begin to get jealous of the girl he was always talking to on the phone (her).  She would ask him why he spent so much time telling stories to strange women. She would accuse him of cheating.

I’m not postulating here.  Heather mentioned thinking all of these things.  She explained, “How could I not think of the possibilities?  An opportunity like this may never again arise.”

Eventually, Mitch asked to meet her.  Heather didn’t want things to change.  She liked listening to the anecdotes, and she liked her anonymity.   According to her, anonymity prolonged the period of time between meeting an attractive man, and when he vanished.  Mitch was firm.  He suggested that he bring his camera to the meeting, for some nude photography, which Heather was not fundamentally opposed to.  In fact, Heather had suggested something even more unusual.  She had suggested that he wait for her on the roof, blindfolded, so that she could give him an anonymous foot rub.  I can’t express how gross this sounds to me.  I can’t imagine offering to touch a total stranger’s feet.  I’m nauseated writing about it.  Even Mitch found her suggestion creepy.

This is where the story starts to lose believability, or perhaps you think that might have been several paragraphs ago…  But, Heather agreed to meet him at high noon at the top of a building for a photo shoot.  She waited for him there, wearing a mask elaborately decorated with fake flowers and birds. (photo below)

Heather

In addition to the mask, she wore a furry vest, hat, scarf, and gloves, and a neon pink muppety-jacket recovered from a dumpster.  When he arrived, slightly past noon, she threw glitter and balloons at him, and pretended to be an animal.

Mitch didn’t bring up nude photography, which was slightly insulting (according to Heather), but he did take an entire roll of film.  She posed in cat-like crouches, lunges, and acted like a coy animal-creature.

Up until this point in the story, I had assumed that Mitch was a predator, despite how strange I found Heather’s fantasies, in the a game of cat and mouse, I would have called Heather the mouse.  I worried about her ending up in a terrible, scary situation, like cut up into pieces and wrapped in plastic.  Mitch, in my mind, was a dangerous cat, ready to pounce.

The surprise ending to this tale is that Heather was the cat.  The face to mask meeting left her disappointed.  Mitch was boring.  She thought his conversation skills were poor, his spontaneity muscles weak, and his outlook, dull.  The chase was over.

Today’s lesson:  Sometimes, when you think you’re the cat, you’re the mouse.  Be careful out there.  It’s a strange world.

Are You My Cadaver?

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I have a friend living in New York City.
She and I met in Kolda, Senegal, while serving in the Peace Corps.
We’ll call her Heather, which may or may not be her name.

She is one of the most colorful, generous, lively women that I know.  She is also, in the best possible way, a little crazy.  I love this about her, because it means I can never know what to expect from a phone call, or a visit.  The last time I saw her, she was almost dragged from JFK airport by security for throwing party favors in baggage claim.
I once received a six minute voicemail detailing her intricate and horrifyingly grotesque halloween costume.  The fact that it was a costume managed to slip her mind, so the whole time I was listening, I thought she had been seriously injured.

Are you wondering why this blog is entitled:  Are you my cadaver?  I’m almost there.
Heather has gone back to school for her doctorate.  She is studying physical therapy.
This morning, I discovered a note that she hastily jotted, and sent to me in a package almost two years ago.
It got me reminiscing.

In said note, Heather was excitedly confessing her latest morbid fetish.
She knew that within months, she would be entering the cadaver lab at her school.  She would be assigned a body, donated to the school in the name of science.  To say that she was excited about the opportunity to see the inner workings of a human body would be a colossal understatement.  She was overwhelmed with curiosity, jittery with anticipation.
She was so excited that she had begun following elderly people around New York City, watching them, analyzing the way their muscles moved, wondering to herself, “Are you my cadaver?”
She couldn’t tear herself away from them.  She confessed to having followed an elderly man for almost six blocks past her apartment door.

I realize that this may sound really disturbing to some of you.  Keep in mind that Heather is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.  I have no doubt that if any of the elderly people she was stalking stopped her and asked what she was doing, she would have made a full confession.  She would have wormed her way into their hearts, I have no doubt at all.

Regardless, I did make a phone call after receiving that note.  I left a message because she was probably too busy tailing a retired person to answer.  I kept it simple.
“Hey Heather, I just wanted to leave a quick message to let you know that I got your note, and also to tell you that you can’t follow elderly people around hoping for them to die.  It’s not right.  It’s creepy.  I think you know that.  Anyway, I’ll talk to you later.  Bye.”

Algorithm of a Rubik’s Cube

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I’d like to tie this story in with my previous post.

Almost two years ago, I drove across the state to visit Nathan in Olympia.  I had Red Sox-Mariners tickets for the two of us to go to the game.  Nathan couldn’t make it because his parents surprised him with a visit from Vermont.  Instead of trying to hawk my extra ticket online, I asked Nathan if I could take one of his friends on a friend date.

He was uncomfortable with the idea.

I’m not sure why, maybe because he couldn’t imagine himself in such an awkward situation.  Maybe because he knew who I had in mind.

I had heard a story from Nathan months before, about a close friend of his in Seattle, who I’m sure would prefer to remain anonymous so we’ll call him Doug, doing something VERY unusual.

Sometimes Doug drank a little too much.  When he did, it was inevitable that he would seek out a dark place like a sleeping bag, or a tent… maybe the backyard.  Then, he would strip down.  He would prepare himself for a performance, completely naked.  No one knew when it was coming, or from where.  It didn’t matter how many people were at the party, or whether he knew them.

When he was ready, Doug would reenact his own birth.  In real time.

Sometimes it would take him twenty minutes.  Sometimes two hours.

He wiggled slowly, painstakingly, through the opening of whatever space he was in.  A sleeping bag head-hole, a tent flap, a kitchen doggy door flap.  As Nathan tells it, the performance was always very believable, and very disturbing.  No one within earshot could stop watching, no matter how much they wanted to.

With the final ‘plop’ of Doug’s naked body hitting the floor, or the ground, someone would realize that the sleeping bag he had just spent forty five minutes worming his way out of, was theirs.  As you might imagine, that never went over well.

Apparently, Doug did this often.

I never got to see it happen, but naturally I wanted to.  Who wouldn’t?

So, I invited Doug to that baseball game, on a friend date.

We had a great time getting to know one another.  I chose not to mention the reenactments.

Last night Nathan and I went to see Doug.  He made us chili, and we discussed yoga, business ideas, parasitic brain infections, book editing, vandalism, and the algorithms required to solve a Rubik’s cube in under two minutes.   I was reminded of how strange we all are.  How wonderful it is to know people who know themselves.