I’d Rather Be Playing Castlevania [Friday Thoughts W/ TeeCoZee]

Good Moleman. Buy me Bonestorm or go to hell! It’s Friday, November 15, Two Thousand and Nineteen. The weather in Brooklyn is 50° & Pantone 15-3817 and somewhere, somebody is discovering the true meaning of the holiday season. It’s not about the giving. It’s not about the getting. It’s not about the movies on Lifetime. It’s not even about eggnog, the Beach Boys or Alvin and his rodent cronies. It’s about the Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes [the vanilla ones, not the chocolate or gingerbread, you goddamned monster]. And as he sinks his teeth into that pillowy delight, he realizes that he has something to live for. Magic is in the air and he might as well drop his grand, elaborate scheme and get sucked into the holiday spirit. And me? No, I really don’t give a shit about what’s going on in Area 51. I also have some things on my mind.

– Yep, I know, it’s been a couple of months. I’ve been slacking a lot, you were worried, yadda yadda, whatever. We go through this at least 3 times a year. Except this time, there’s been some actual consequences to my hiatus. When I opened up my laptop, I came to the horrible realization that:

a. I hadn’t opened it since the day after the wedding, when I wrote my last post
b. Based on how long it took for my screen to unfreeze, this thing is going to die on me any day now
c. The air coming from the fans reek of hobo. This is because
d. The inside of my laptop is completely infested with small bugs

And no, this is not a plug for the defunct BfD short, “Bedbugs” [which you should probably watch, anyway]. This has actually happened to me in real life. My computer is straight bugged. Without my knowledge, they built an entire kingdom inside a dark metal box under the coffee table. And now I’m stuck writing this on my wife’s Chromebook, like some faceless poor. This is what I get for procrastinating. My apartment is a living, breathing organism and it is punishing me for my laziness. I guess I should write more frequently. If I miss another week, the bugs might take over my Playstation. Then who knows what else. The fridge? The Cat? My wife? Quite frankly, I don’t wanna know. So I have to keep typing.

– In middle school, we had to do a job shadowing report. I’m assuming this is something everybody did, where you had to pick an adult that did an adult job and ask them about their adult tasks. Fun stuff, a real crowd pleaser. I didn’t know who to pick. My parents both worked in stores, my aunts sat at desks drinking coffee and I had absolutely no clue what my uncles did, if they did anything at all. So when my mom asked me who it was going to be, I shot from the hip and said I wanted to interview an elevator repairman named Keith. The look of confusion on her face is still burned into my memory. Of all the professions, why would I choose elevator repairs? Instead of speaking from my heart and giving her the real answer, I relented and interviewed her instead. She was right, I had no interest in repairing elevators. What I was really interested in was Keith, the man behind the elevator. Or above it. Or below it. I’m not sure how that shit works, I never got to do the interview.

Growing up in rural Michigan in the 90s, adult men weren’t very relatable creatures. They drink, smoke, hunt, golf, watch weird TV shows that you don’t understand, gamble, do yard work and other indiscernible things in garages/basements/pole barns/anonymous brick buildings. This is what I had come to expect from any adult and I had already resigned to the fact that I won’t understand them until I become them. And then one day I was dragged to visit my mom’s co-worker, Rita. Upon entering the dimly lit, smoke-filled house, I saw a sight that I would never forget: an adult man, playing Tomb Raider. My jaw dropped to the floor. Back then, video games were written off as “kids stuff” and I had never met an adult that actually enjoyed playing them. That was, until there was Keith. We became instant friends, or at least I tried my best to seem like a chum. I couldn’t resist. He had a Playstation [actually, TWO Playstations?!?], while I had a chump ass Sega Genesis at home. I didn’t really have friends at the time and my cousin was in his “asshole in JNCO Jeans” phase, so most of my afternoons after school were spent at Rita & Keith’s home. He had no problem watching me struggle to play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and I had no problem with watching him breeze through Resident Evil. We’d do that for a while, their son would come by and jokingly try to convince me to smoke, Rita would sit in the kitchen and roll her eyes at the dumb scene unfolding in front of her and I would head home for dinner. The same thing usually happened the next day. It was a fun routine for an 11 year old. It almost felt like I had a second family, albeit one that’s a lot wonkier.

But it wasn’t just the gaming that interested me about Keith. I was also fascinated with the dynamic of his marriage. Before, every parent I knew were exactly alike and if they weren’t, they’d get divorced. They both thought alike, acted alike and any subtle difference that they might have were ignored by the fact that they loved each other very much. But with Rita and Keith, I saw something very polarizing. Rita was a hard-boiled, boisterous and sarcastic tornado of a human that always kept me on my toes [or on edge. I don’t really know the difference]. Keith was much more reserved and relaxed. He always thought hard about what he was going to say and he said it in the gentlest voice you could ever imagine. With that voice, he could have easily had a career as a hypnotist or child counselor or insurance salesman. There was something in his tone that assured you that everything was okay and he was comfortable as hell. As a matter of fact, he might’ve been the most “comfortable” person I ever met. It didn’t matter where he was or what he was doing, he looked cozy doing it. They really were two starkly different people that somehow found each other. They were a literal representation of Yin and Yang. They lived on such extreme edges of the human spectrum that they needed to be together in order to fabricate a centrifugal force to balance them out. I had never met a couple like that and I probably haven’t since. It seems like a daunting task, but they complemented each other so well that their love never ceased.

It’s not my place to tell you about what happened or what will happen. But I will tell you that I got a phone call last night that broke my heart. And of all the places I wish I could be right now, I would love to be back in that dim living room, sitting in a La-Z-Boy adjacent to Keith, trying to find a damn green herb before the badly-pixelated zombie eats me.

– My cousin, who I previously referred to as a JNCO wearing asshole, has been writing a lot more than me. You can find his stuff here. It’s much better than mine. He’s been writing a lot of poetry and it seems really easy. So here’s my crack at it:

Pedal pedal pedal
In a large group
I lower my head
“You’ve gotta want it”
I want it

Clenching clenching clenching
Staying towards the front
I cross the line
“I’m proud of you”
A Coke

Chugging chugging chugging
The bottle it empties
I savor the sweet taste
“Who’s your coach?”
My Dad

Coke Is It.

Try this trick over the weekend: Wear a hat. Now turn it backwards. Congratulations. You are now cool.

Have a bossa nova weekend, everyone!