This week's Fresh Story is below. This is part two of the series Asymptote.
Also, I have something very special planned for the end of the month - a first for reecedaniel.com! Subscribe to my newsletter Transmissions from the SPAM Folder for more details (link below).
Anyway. That's all for this week.
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Asymptote (part 2)
Bill came back out with the beers. I don’t remember what they were, but they were cold and we clanked our bottles together before we took our first sip. We talked a little while longer and my back started hurting from resting up against the corner of the step so we moved up to the chairs on the porch. I liked to sit sideways in these chairs, with my back up against one armrest and my leg draped over the other. We finished our beers and Bill went and grabbed two more. We stayed up late that night drinking beers and, when the beers ran out, we drank the homemade apple cinnamon mead that my downstairs neighbor had given me a couple of bottles of.
Bill had a daughter, Annabelle. Bill was getting a divorce and today was his divorce-move-out day. This was the day that I met Bill and told him that he looked like shit.
We stayed out on the porch, reclining in the faux leather chairs and drinking mead and beer and smoking joints. He told be how they had Annie to save the relationship. He talked about his soon-to-be-ex-wife, about how they met. How they’d been in love. How they’d fallen out of love. He talked about being a dad. I listened to all of it. I was interested in his life because it terrified me. It was exactly the series of bad decisions, and the consequential fallouts from said bad decisions, that I had pretty much dedicated my life to avoiding.
It was a Halifax summer night and the breeze came off of the water and made its way inland to Bland Street in refreshing pockets of salty air. Bill and I stayed up until we were out of mead and then we stayed up a little longer. He used the railing as he wobbled down the steps and out to the driveway. ‘Goodnight,’ I said, as he walked away. Without turning around, he threw a single hand up in the air and held it there momentarily before artlessly wedging himself through the gate and disappearing into the night.
That evening was the closest that Bill and I would ever get.
About a week later he came by and brought his friend Amanda and we smoked a joint and drank beers out on the back porch. What can I say? It was love at first sight. But not like a lame, storybook, boy meets girl kind of love. No, this was much more special than that. Amanda was my Plutonic soul mate. I felt kind of bad because Bill and I had only hung out a few times and he brings this chick around and she and I end up reenacting SNL skits and quoting Wayne’s World all night and barely even noticing he’s there. I guess you tend to get a little carried away when you find your exact female equivalent.
A couple of days later Amanda invited me out to the Bus Stop Theatre with her friend Alison to see this local talk show that they did live every week. We watched the show and the three of us headed back to my apartment to smoke a joint. We were hanging out on the porch when Bill came home. I had just met Amanda two nights before and here we were going out to see a show and having an after party at my place without even inviting him. He joined us on the porch, but he was quiet and every now and then I would catch him staring at Amanda. Bill and I would remain friends, and so would he and Amanda, but I think that there was a part of him that regretted introducing us to each other.
Amanda and I had identical senses of humor. She was exactly two years younger than Edith, which meant that she was exactly 358 days younger than me. We both watched way too much TV when we were kids and, consequently, could quote verbatim many of the same movies and TV shows. We were at just the right age to truly appreciate the golden years of MTV. Back when Carson Daly used to host TRL and we would get our news from Kurt Loader and Tabitha Soren. Amanda hadn’t missed an episode of Saturday Night Live since she was like twelve years old.
I think that I am only now realizing how much of a crucial role TV played in my childhood. People always have negative shit to say about watching TV, especially about kids watching too much TV, but, looking back, I really do think that it was a positive influence in my life. When I was very young, maybe until I was like eight or nine, I used to believe that TV was real. I thought that the family on Full House was a real family somewhere in San Francisco and that I was watching candid footage of their day-to-day lives. My little child-sized brain wasn’t capable of complex thoughts such as where are all the cameramen at? or how does this family not know they’re being filmed? or why do I only ever see one half of every room? No, none of those questions occurred to me at the time. Just like the Tanners seemed to be filmed seemingly without their knowledge and broadcasted out in half hour episodes once a week for my entertainment, I thought that I too was living in a sitcom and being secretly filmed for some other family (maybe the Tanners?) to watch. I remember thinking that there was always some hidden camera somewhere recording me. I remember being hesitant to ever be completely naked when I was a kid, even when I was all alone, because I didn’t want the viewers at home to get a full-frontal shot of my child-penis. After all, this was a family program. I was convinced that I was the comic relief on the show and I would often cause my mom no small amount of concern over the mental stability of her only son by breaking the fourth wall and looking over to where I thought the camera probably was and saying little asides to the audience like that’s what she thinks or uh oh, I know what that means. Eventually I found out that TV wasn’t real, but I think that the feeling of being on camera never went away.
I told all this to Amanda and she shared with me that she had gone through the same thing when she was a kid. She said that there was actually a psychological condition called the Truman Show Delusion where people thought that they were living in a TV show. Maybe that’s why we got along so well. We both had a tucked away, subconscious belief that our lives were actually a sitcom and we were the main characters.
Amanda waited tables and I was a grad student and classes hadn’t started yet, so we both had pretty flexible schedules during the day. She would come over in the morning a few times during the week and we’d grab breakfast somewhere, usually Laura’s, and go on long walks and smoke a joint by the waterfront. Then she would either go to work, or we’d go back to my place and hang out and watch a movie and drink beers. I’d text her when I was headed home from the lab and she’d meet me over at my place and we’d hang out all night and watch stand-ups or episodes of Portlandia and we’d talk about how we were a younger version of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. We were joined at the hip and, whenever she wasn’t at work or I wasn’t on campus, we’d pretty much be hanging out together.
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‘Oh, I remember one time, we threw this crazy party, like tons of people. It was insane. And we had this band playing there. We didn’t really plan it that way, they just, like, showed up and happened to mention that they had their instruments out in the car and they brought them in and started playing.’
It was Sunday morning and Amanda and I had already smoked a joint and gobbled up a breakfast platter at Laura’s and were now out walking around. We were headed up Barrington Street, towards the Citadel.
‘Whaaat?,’ I said. ‘Are you serious? That’s the kind of shit you see happening at college parties in the movies, but I didn’t think it ever happened in real life.’
‘Yeah, it was pretty fucking awesome.’
‘Were they any good?’
‘Uuhh…’ She squinted her eyes and looked up to the left, ‘honestly, I don’t really remember. I mean, I remember loving it at the time.’
‘Yeah, so, these dudes left all of their equipment there when they left that night. I guess they told me that they were going to come back the next day and get it or something, but I didn’t remember any of that shit. We just woke up and there are all these guitars and amps and shit there.’
‘So Sasha and I rolled up a fucking double-long joint,’ to which Amanda held up her two index fingers to show me the approximate, and surely exaggerated, length of said joint, ‘and we pulled the futon into the bathroom upstairs, which was the biggest bathroom in the house, and we brought up the instruments and my little four-track recorder and we got high and started playing these dudes’ instruments and making up little songs.’
‘Oh shit, really? That sounds fucking awesome! Why’d you guys go into the bathroom? Acoustics or something?’
‘I don’t really know why we did that. I guess it might have had something to do with the acoustics, but I feel like it was mainly because it just felt like the right place.’
‘So we’re in there, jamming out, fucking smoking, and we hear this knock on the bathroom door. We open it up and it’s these dudes from last night.’
‘Shiiiiit. They just showed up like that? At your bathroom door?’
‘No,’ she said, as she slapped my shoulder with the back of her hand and held it there, ‘they’d been knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell for like half and hour and we didn’t hear them. But they could hear us upstairs jamming out so they knew we were home. So they let themselves in!’
‘Your door wasn’t locked?’
‘Alex, please, this was pee-ee-ai*. Nobody locks their doors in pee-ee-ai.’
‘Yeah, there’s like five traffic lights in the whole town.’
‘Yeah, so, uh… where was I?’
‘These dudes show up at the bathroom door…’
‘Right, so, they show up and we’re there in the bathroom playing their instruments and they’re like "what the fuck?" And we’re all like "aw man, we’re coming up with some really good shit, man," and they were all like "uh, can you give us our guitars back please?"’
‘Ha!’ I laughed as I did a slow, low-energy hand clap out in front of me. ‘Brilliant!’
‘Ha, yeah,’ she said, as she shoved her hands in the pockets of her hoodie, ‘but that’s Thirty Second Records. That’s what it was like there. Shit like that was happening all th--’
DOOOUUNNG… DOOOUUNNG …
‘Here, let’s cross.’
‘Is that really fuckin’ necessary?’ I said, as I looked up toward the bell-tower of Saint Mary's Cathedral.
‘I know, right? It’s like…’
‘…like, do any of these people not have smartphones or like watches or something?’
You could hear the hum of the bell dying down in a damped harmonic oscillatory rhythm, becoming almost inaudible just as the next strike came.
‘Yeah, yeah, like, who’s out there like…’
‘…like, fuckin’ listening for these bells..’
‘…being like, "oh, shit. Time to go to church"?’
We waited for the next doung but nothing came. Then, when I knew another one wasn’t coming, I listened and tried to hear the reverberations of the thick, poured-metal bell as they died down. I imagined how it would feel against my palm if I touched the bell just after it was struck. I listened until I could no longer discern the humming from the background noise. I didn’t count how many rings there were but, judging by the people headed into the church, I assumed it was eleven o’clock.
-- to be continued...
* Prince Edward Island - For those interested, here' s a link