Comedy in Black Lipstick

31 Mar


Comedy in Black Lipstick



            My friend Andrey called me recently, in the middle of making a second short film with material stolen from my memoir; he was on set, hysterical, semi-drunk (a part of his process), frustrated by some girl that left him unceremoniously.

            “I mean she did it with a phone call.”

            “Well, how long were you two going out?”

            “Six weeks.”

            “Six weeks? Meh. Phone call is harsh, but acceptable. Child of middle, upper middle class, probably frightened by commitment. Analysis once a week since the time she had her first period, late bloomer. I prescribe six days of cheap vodka, followed by two days of milk and fast food, delivery only. Bed rest. Watch a lot of brainless, campy action flicks from the big coke decades: 80s and 90s. A lot of Stallone: Over the Top and Nighthawks are great choices.”

            “That doesn’t seem very healthy.”

            “Well, that part is coming.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “Well, after the vodka destroys the necessary amount of those brain cells designated for rational longing – the next day gets hard: you’re pure and hungover, but vulnerable, you can have her hit you at any time – and besides, the bile in your stomach is going to start burning through the lining of your intestines and will start turning into bad acid reflux, so what you have to do is drink that milk to layer your stomach, cook yourself a lot of Kraft Mac & Cheese, get a quarter ounce of some decent weed – call that little Asian girl Chelsea that I introduced you to, she’ll hook you up with some purple urkle for $75 (that indica will lay your ass out) – and then we can move either into early Woody Allen or some cartoons, Family Guy and shit like that…”

            “Early Woody Allen? That’s not a bad idea. Lucy always reminded me of that great Woody Allen joke from Manhattan, when he described Diane Keaton’s character as being the recipient of the “Zelda Fitzgerald emotional-muturity award”.”

            “That doesn’t sound like information carelessly gathered across six weeks.”

            “Well, it was just six weeks now – really it was somewhere between six months and six years – depending on who you ask.”

            “Damn, brother! You better make it two full weed days.”         

            “I’ll try it out after this shoot is done.”

            “Hopefully you’ll be writing your own material from now on.”

            “I don’t even know if I can write anymore – my DP on the shoot says that I can’t write a script in the appropriate format, giving him an excuse to not read it at all. Apparently it’s hard for his eyes to adjust to words in any alternative pattern. I guess that’s valid for what it is. But, it seems like everyone I know starting out in this industry has gotten completely spoiled by assimilating format, time, structure, not enough coffee to ease the tension, everybody wants to work instead of working on having something to say. I know this sounds like the whining of a happy martyr or some shit, but it seems that they no longer care about the potential of making art, but rather only want an opportunity to work in a clearly designated arrangement, a conforming box with all the right angles. No more surprises, no risk, no getting out of the comfort zone of the stable and sane and similar. They’re spoiled and don’t know the roots of the industry: Cassavetes early guerilla shoots across the city shot chronologically; no permits, filming the reaction of an unwarned passerby when a staged shooting occurs in front of them. Early Woody, too – reading a book on directing (no two years at the New York Film Academy) a month before shooting Take the Money and Run, after he was appalled by how they cut Casino Royale. Early no budget Jarmush in the late-80s post-punk scene, young impetuous Copolla, fuck. Scripts – if the writing is good – they want the words, even if it’s in an improper format: Kushner handed Spielberg an 800 page play instead of some normative script for Lincoln.”

            “Hey, man – stop complaining. All those people showed up and shot for you for no pay. The no pay pays for taking on a few patronizing headaches. Everyone has to eat a little shit from time to time.”

            “Nah, man – you’re right – the whole thing with Lucy just got me a bit dispirited. I just told her that after all I wrote about her, that thing that inspired me to write it all was almost gone, like her ass via the kind of weight loss usually only reserved for a Liberian teenager (not that I was insinuating that her ass was where she kept her inspiring attributes), and I didn’t know whether I’d be able to find it again, I wanted to look, but why disappoint yourself over and over. She used to inspire me with just a little gesture, a simple word, or some Dylan tune that I’d catch her humming along to when I came to see her.”

            “Which song?”

            “She liked the break-up songs: something like “Girl from the North Country” or “If you See Her, Say Hello”.”

            “I dig it. Good records. I’ve always had a fondness for the history behind Blood on the Tracks.”

            “Anyway, whatever is going on with her – I’m tired of trying to get her out of it. Especially, if she doesn’t fucking listen to me. After all, there are so many ways to fight it, to get stubborn against it, without going numb. Without going cruel. Without becoming normal. I would know. I’ve spent too much time there.”

            “I get it. I get it. Go see Chelsea and get that weed, homey – it’ll be alright.”

            “I’ve got to finish shooting.”

            “Fine, after the shoot. I’ll call ahead and get you set up. She’s probably smoking through her product somewhere in Central Park right now. Maybe I’ll come by after writing for a while and have a drink with you, school you on how I got past Lilia.”

            “You didn’t get past her, you drunk bastard. Who do you think you’re lying to?”

            “Nah, fuck that. I’m over it – you know that the memoir is nearly done, I’ve just got to get the rest of it out on paper. Besides, there’s a girl out west that I’ve been dying to take out to dinner. She likes to draw, watch zombie flicks and seems to really love my writing.”

            “Well, most like your writing if they can understand it.”

            “Few do nowadays.”

            We hung up and I called Chelsea. Hopefully he’ll be alright. The kid seemed to get shyer and more soft-spoken by the day – almost like he was transitioning into a quiet Dostoevsky out of the Hemingwayian cocoon. While I’ve always though that that was the wrong direction to take – always thought he was just a fellatio from a stranger away from writing his own magnum opus, but he was too genteel and chivalry-obsessed to take advantage of a skank on dollar-beer night. He knew I wasn’t, so I let him live and write vicariously through me.

            In my perspective, love is an all or nothing negotiation. It commences at the passionate beginning and either last a short time or draws on and recycles itself to become a mutating eternity. One that isn’t always happy, but one that works. One that lasts.

            Like home sickness. Like needing to return. Even if it’s to a place you don’t particularly like, you simply know that you have to get back there because it’s where you belong.

            Regardless, I’m sure he’d be alright.

            And if not, I could always introduce him to Mephi and really get his fires going. .

            Doesn’t matter anyway – this is a comedy: all the heroes will survive at least until the end, and we might have a wedding to look forward to. Hopefully, not any one of ours.


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