Wednesday, May 18, 2005

me in conversation


Red beans. Ground beef. Endless questions. Indulge in the mystery that is chili con carne.
Photo credit: Jon Sullivan. This image is public domain.


"would you please update your blog?"

"yeah, i know. it’s been a while. i was working on a post about jennifer wilbanks—"

"who?"

"the runaway bride."

"that chick with the big eyes?"

"yeah. i read every article i could find about that woman. i even watched that movie, runaway bride, just so i could make a joke about going to duluth and ingratiating myself to all of her friends and family while slowly embracing buddhism and losing my new york accent."

"that’s a terrible movie."

"it is a terrible movie, but i like terrible movies, so i enjoyed it. one thing i noticed when i was reading the articles about her, though, was that all of them mentioned that she had breast implants, ya know? it was always something like, ‘wilbanks, who had breast implants before she met mason.’ and they always had to say something about her sex life. always something like, ‘before she met mason, wilbanks had an active social life, dating men from the local gym and the firehouse.’ if you read the papers you'd think this chick saw more dick than a mohel in the catskills!"

"i really didn’t pay any attention to that. it just seemed kinda stupid. and i guess he still wants to marry her?"

"that’s what i’ve read."

"so what happened to the post?"

"well, the media stopped covering it, so it wasn’t really… relevant any more. and then i got depressed."

"because of the media?"

"no, i just got depressed."

"you could write about that!"

"yeah, i could. but i try to avoid stuff like that. what am i supposed to write? ‘oh, i’m depressed, here’s a list of all the things that won’t bring me an ounce of happiness, i suck.’ i’m sure that’s what people are looking forward to reading."

"what if i helped you come up with something to write about?"

"umm. i guess that’d be okay."

"okay. what did you do on friday?"

"i went out for dinner with a friend from work."

"where’d ya go?"

"this place called the coronado brewery, kind of like the coronado equivalent of a sports bar."

"i didn’t even know coronado had a brewery."

"yeah, neither did i. i thought they only had pizza hut, wendy’s, and the hotel."

"and the military."

"and the military. oh, did i tell you? we took my mom to brunch at the hotel del coronado on mother’s day."

"did she like it?"

"yeah, but it’s totally not worth it. it’s all buffet style except they have a dude who makes omelettes. but it was so funny. i actually saw black people there, and they had these expressions on their faces like they were as surprised that they were there as i was. and they were sitting very rigidly, and all their movements were controlled, like they were saying to themselves, ‘okay, be calm, just chew, don't make a scene.’"

"you should’ve seen the looks you got just now when you said ‘black people.’"

"did someone hear me?"

"dude, you practically shouted it!"

"oops."

"so—friday night."

"oh, right. so, yeah, i went out to dinner. it was good. but i didn’t do much talking that night because another friend came along and brought her friend, so they all talked and i mainly stayed out of the conversation. i was like the substitute talker. you know how that is, when you kinda stay out of things and then someone gets up to go to the bathroom, and suddenly all talking ceases and you’ve got to step up and pretend like you’ve been listening for the last thirty minutes?"

"no, i don’t really feel that kind of pressure."

"well, i do. so i’d bust out with the ‘so, what do you do?’ questions until the other person would come back to the table. and then every once in a while, someone would see that i wasn’t saying anything and they would try to get me in the loop by asking me something like, ‘how’s your chili vinnie?’ and then i would say, ‘it’s really good, thank you.’ and so we did that for a while. ‘how’s your chili?’ ‘great fuckin’ chili, thanks’ ‘chili good?’ ‘delightful really’ ‘it looks good’ ‘yes it does’ ‘but how is it? is it good?’ ‘you would be in awe of the things this place has done with beans and meat; this is the chili towards which all other chilis face when they pray to become better chili. it is the arnold schwarzenneggar of chili. someday, it will marry a kennedy.’ by the time the evening came to a close i felt like the fucking representative of the chili delegation. i should do radio spots for the chili, and people will go, ‘who’s this vinnie guy?’ ‘i don’ know, but that fucker loves him some chili!’ had we died that night, it would have been on my headstone. and then we went to extraordinary desserts, where i continued to not talk, except when people would say, ‘how’s the cheesecake, vinnie?’ and i would say, ‘for the love of god, why don’t you just have some?’"

"how was the cheesecake?"

"it was fantastic, how do you think it was?"

"i love that place. we went there for my friend’s birthday."

"i know. i was there."

"oh yeah, you were! maybe you should’ve talked more."

"oh, don’t worry. there was a steady stream of ‘how’s the apple torte?’ though almost no one used my name because no one knew it."

"that should be one of your bits."

"what should?"

"that whole thing with the chili."

"yeah, i tried it out on some people at work, unbeknownst to them, and they thought it was funny."

"maybe that could be your post?"

"we’ll see. i don’t know if it would be funny written down. it needs a lot of yelling."

"like when you say ‘black people.’"

"exactly!"

"oh, and i totally knew you were trying a bit out on me."

"oh did you? how did you know?"

"it’s pretty obvious. everything about the way you talk changes."

"changes how?"

"i don’t know. you just get more… i don’t know. it’s like you’re acting, not just talking."

"you make it sound like i’m not telling the truth."

"no, i don’t think you’re lying. but you’re not telling the truth, either."

"but what if you didn’t know me? what would you think then?"

"probably the same."

"hm. interesting."

"so what about saturday?"

"i worked."

"sunday?"

"my sister came up for dinner, which was nice. and she brought up these two plastic bags filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwich scraps."

"where’d she get those?"

"she was teaching a lesson and she used peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the activity."

"was the lesson to count the number of peanut butter sandwiches she could waste on one activity?"

"it was on ratios."

"let’s compare the number of peanut butter sandwiches to the number of people who could be eating them if we weren’t wasting them on one activity?"

"i don’t know. the point is, she brought up these sacks of sandwich scraps. so i’m like, ‘what are we supposed to do with all of these?’ and she’s like, ‘you could feed them to the dog.’ the dog? we’re trying to get the dog to lose 5 pounds, how many can i possibly feed him every day? two? three? we’ll be here for 3 months! so she’s like, ‘well, i didn’t want to throw them away.’ so i start thinking of how we can use these sandwich pieces, and i figure it out. we’ll put them in some ice cream!"

"is this one of your a bits?"

"no, this really happened. i went out and i bought two-and-a-half gallons of vanilla ice cream and mixed the sandwiches in. but then it hits me—who in their right mind is going to eat this? no adult would ever eat peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich ice cream! so i turn to my sister and ask her if she’ll take some home, and she’s like, ‘maybe i’ll have some here, but i don’t have room for all of that!’ and then she says, ‘why don’t you eat it?’ and i’m like, ‘i can’t eat two gallons of ice cream! i’ll be here for three months!’ so now we’re right back where we started, only now, instead of 2 bags of sandwich bits, we’ve got 2 gallons of ice cream."

"so what’d you do?

"well, i turned to my sister, and i said, ‘maybe we could give it to the dog?’ and she just looks at me like i’m retarded—"

"and she’s completely justified—"

"yeah—and then she says, ‘no one’s going to eat this, why don’t we just throw it away?’"

"and so?"

"threw it away."

"all that ice cream?"

"yep."

"you really did this? you really put sandwiches into ice cream?"

"yes."

"and then just threw it out?"

"yes."

"why didn’t you just bring it to work?"

"two gallons of ice cream? where was i going to put it?"

"did you even taste it?"

"yeah."




"how was it?"