Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Brokeback Doorman

Writing the Craigslist Roommate series has had me reflecting on more stories in my past that involve meeting strangers on the Internet:

It was back in Oscar season of 2005. I was in college, and in one of the worst bouts of depression in my life as a result of Accutane, an acne medication that needs to be taken over a six month span. It works for many people, but it turned me into an irrational, suicidal lunatic. 

One of the side effects of Accutane is "suicidal tendencies". Meaning that to achieve a non-pizza face, I would have to fend off urges to slit my wrists in the bathtub. My inner voice used to say things like: "Hey, Doorman, wouldn't it be funny if you grabbed that kitchen knife and ran around the neighborhood till the police gunned you down?" Fuck pimples, right? 

Back then, I spent a many of nights doing what most college kids did instead of studying- fucking around on MySpace. Remember MySpace? You know, that thing that was Facebook before Facebook became Facebook?

Unlike Facebook, which is geared more towards keeping in touch with people you know, MySpace was all about how many people you were able to friend. I was one of those whores who had over a thousand friends and wrote really shitty blogs about stupid college bullshit. I had a "top 20", with my closest friends and favorite celebrities. Wasn't that fun? Ranking how important your friends are in order for all the inter-weebs to see?

In my miserable state, I was impossible to be around, and none of my friends wanted to hang out with me, so I spent that winter hibernating in my parent's basement. I didn't have a lady in my life at that point, and I was too young for online dating, so I spent lots of time scouring MySpace for single females... with zero success.

You mean, no one wants to hook up with a pimply-faced, unstable, theatre major? Impossible!!!

One day, after spending weeks getting ignored by every girl on Staten Island (and a good chunk of New Jersey), I had a girl MESSAGE ME!

MySpace Girl: "Hey."

This is progress. "Maybe things were turning around" I thought, as I rocked indian-style, while facing the wall in a corner and picking a dried-up pimple on my face. 

She was okay-looking and her profile didn't impress me at all. If I were feeling a little more confident, I probably would have blown her off, but I barely had any human interacting outside of class for weeks, so I responded and asked her out on a date. 

I have a thing where I need to see every Best Picture nominee before the Oscars. Up for the top award that year was Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, a phenomenal film that was beat out by 120 minutes of people being biggots in Los Angeles. It was last on my list, because like any immature, 20-year-old straight male, I was intimidated by going to see a gay cowboy movie. 

Since I didn't know this girl from a hole in he wall, and I wasn't planning on taking this date seriously, I suggested we see the gay cowboy movie: 

MySpace Girl: "Wow, really? That's really cool that you would wanna see a movie like that!" 

Whatever. Let's go see the movie so I could put moves on you in my parent's new car when it's over. 

I picked her up in the Old Man's brand-new Honda Accord. At twenty, you do whatever possible to avoid having to go to the door when picking up your date. I pulled the classic "I'm calling you because I think I'm a little lost but... OH! I found it! I'm outside" move. She came outside, and her entire family, Grandma and all, followed. They all waved at me. I waved accordingly. 

She gets in my car and was exactly like her pictures- nothing special to look at, not very well-kept, and had a really crazy eepy smile. As I pulled off with her family waving behind us like the Beverly Hillbillies, we got to chatting. She wa nice enough, but again, didn't really bring anything exciting to the table. She went on and on about her friend's boyfriends and hanging out at Country Donuts. By the time we got to the theatre, I was bored. Not that I was contributing to the conversation or anything. I just stared at the road, miserable, giving her one-word answers. It was painfully awkward. She was at least trying to make this a pleasant date. 

We get to the theatre, and I pay using free movie passes from Costco that I got for Christmas with no shame. I buy a fucking popcorn and soda and Goobers, because she liked Goobers. I told her that I needed to use the bathroom and to go ahead without me, then went outside to smoke a cigarette. As I puffed on my Parliament Light, I considered just hopping in my car and driving it through the Home Depot across the street, for no reason at all. 

I plop down next to her, where she's munching away on Goobers. She babbled on about work and going to school at night and blah blah blah I didn't care. All I wanted to do was get lost in a film, so I didn't have to think about how worthless my life was and how I wasn't going anywhere and how I didn't deserve to live. I just kept grunting and giving her one-word answers. 

The lights went down, and I was finally at peace. For the time being. 

Before The Dark Knight came out, I had always said that Heath Ledger was going to be the best actor of our generation. When he was cast as the Joker, I was one of the very few people who were able to say "perfect, that's absolutely perfect". Those sentiments started that evening. His performance in Brokeback Mountain is absolutely flawless. As someone who was just realizing his passion for performing, that was all the inspiration I would need. 

In my unstable state, I got completely lost in the character and his inner-anguish. During all of the melodramatic, intense scenes ("I wish I knew how to quit you"), I was able to hold it together. Then came the moment that would break me: 

It's the scene towards the end of the film where Linda Cardellini's character, distraught, approaches Ledger in a diner, asking why she blew him off. He's his usual, bottled-up self, with a stifled pain in his eyes, just eating a slice of pie, by his lonesome. 

Just eating a slice of pie, by himself. 

A man in his late 30's, divorced with two children, broken and alone, just eating a slice of pie in a restaurant, by himself. 

He's pushed away everyone who's ever loved him because he can't be with the one person who makes him happy. Now he's in a diner, eating a slice of pie, by himself.  

My eyes welled up with tears. 

Am I going to turn out that way?!? No one wants to be around me now because I'm miserable. Am I going to be that guy, eating a slice of pie, by myself, because I've pushed everyone away?!?

Tears begin streaming down my face. 

Am I on my way to becoming the 40-year-old, eating a slice of pie by myself in the diner, because of my actions?!?

My mouth opens wide, my eyes shut, and I let out a long, silent cry. Like one of those little kid cries that looks like a cat yawning. I start fucking BAWLING. Inconsolable, heartbreaking, sobbing. 

MySpace girl kept it together the whole time. I tried to hide that I was having a complete mental breakdown. When she glanced over and saw my howling, she did a double-take. I tried to hide my face, but my cheeks looked like I sprayed them with a garden hose. She immediately went into her purse, grabbed a tissue, and handed it to me. Then took my hand, pulled it towards her, and assured me that everything will be okay. 

So here I was, sobbing uncontrollably during a gay cowboy movie, with my date consoling me and feeding me tissues. 

By the end of the film, I had calmed down, with one little hiccup when Ledger decides to blow off work to go to his daughter's wedding. (His daughter in the film is played by Kate Mara, who is a descendant of the Mara family, who are the owners of my beloved New York Football Giants. Just an fun little trivia.) 

Cut to the car ride home, which is mostly silent. My eyes are puffy and red, and I keep breaking the silence by sniffing tear snots, loudly. I'm too embarrassed to look in her direction. 

We pull up in front of her house, and I put the car in park, which is something I didn't bother to do when I picked her up. 

MySpace Girl: "I had fun! Thank you so much!" 

Doorman: "Yeah, me too!" 

I lean in for a kiss, and she's reluctant and backs up. I pause and look at her. 

Doorman: "What's wrong?" 

MySpace Girl- "I think It's time to call it a night." 

Doorman: "Are you sure?" 

MySpace Girl- "Yes, I'm sure. I had a great time, though!" 

Doorman: "Okay. Can I call you sometime?"

MySpace Girl: "Yeah, we'll see. i have a lot of stuff going on, so... we'll see what happens." 

She got out and disappeared into her split-level home. 

I sent her a message on MySpace a couple of days later, asking if she wanted to get dinner and hang out. She never responded. Our paths crossed again, years later, through a mutual friend. She's married with a kid now. Good, I'm happy for her. 

I stopped taking accutane about a week after and returned to my normal self. My skin eventually cleared up, and I became a handsome young man. To this day, I get choked up whenever I watch that scene with Heath Ledger eating the pie in the diner. I still consider him to be one of the greatest actors of our generation. 

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