“Don’t know how to ask you this question without sounding condescending,” she said. “Don’t worry about it,” I said, “it’s perfectly okay to come at me like I’m an addict. And you’re concerned.” She drove for a while, along Sunset Boulevard, in her lime green VW Bug, heading back to where I was staying, at The Standard Hotel, in West Hollywood. Finally, she said, “What are you doing?”
When I was shoved down an escalator by two gigantic security guards in Minneapolis for confronting Andrew Breitbart, I didn’t know what I was doing, besides following an impulse to confront the guy who’d destroyed the career of a liberal politician for the crime of playing with his penis on Twitter, which is what you do on Twitter, kill a little time by jerking-off. When I jumped into running a restaurant with my younger brother in Chicago, I didn’t know what I was doing, besides following an impulse to re-connect with my family and leave New York City before I lied to myself completely by taking-on cynicism as a sophisticated world-view. When I took Robert McKee’s “Story Seminar,” for the second time in 7-years, I didn’t know what I was doing, besides following an impulse to crawl inside my writing process, like a plumber, to see if my sewage pipes were leaking bullshit.
I tend to be full of shit.
A friend I knew once described me as X+2. Meaning I exaggerate to make my ordinary life seem extraordinary. He wasn’t wrong. That is to say, he wasn’t wrong back when our friendship was day-to-day. But I’ve changed: X=X. I’m not looking to fool anyone, not anymore, least of all myself. But it’s hard. The work is hard. It’s hard work.
I don’t mind a condescending question. I was raised in a household where condescending questions were launched at the dinner table like emotional grenades. You couldn’t duck. You couldn’t run. You could only brace yourself, “Incoming!”
When you grow-up in an Italian-Jewish Household, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is called your 20’s and 30’s. It’s the time in your life when you have enough distance from growing-up to try and figure out the difference between who you were raised to be and what you were meant to be. But you have to ask a critical question. Here’s the question:
Why do I believe what I believe? Not what do I believe? But why do I believe what I believe? Which leads to a follow-up question: do I believe it, or was I taught to believe it? Which leads to a follow-up of the follow-up question: if I was taught to believe it, does it still make sense, knowing what I know now?
So as we were driving along Sunset Boulevard, in a lime green VW Bug, being asked a condescending question, which I couldn’t possibly answer, without sounding defensive or hostile or completely nuts, felt like home.
She had the right to ask me a condescending question because she was the last girl I dated in New York City, before I left, suddenly, with nothing but a guitar and regret and tears on the West Side Highway, which is the only way your allowed to leave New York City.
Speaking of regret, do you think Jesus Christ regrets the Sermon on the Mount? If he meant it when he said it, do you think he would still mean it now? Especially with the knowledge his resurrection didn’t save humanity but instead created an eternity of justification for going to war. I ask because I’m writing this on Easter of 2012. If you’re listening, Jesus, allow me to ask, please allow me to ask, when you said, “Be Perfect, As Your Heavenly Father Is Perfect,” were you talking about cheesy noodles mixed with edameme? Because it’s divine, something otherworldly, created by my brother, at our restaurant, in Chicago.
Anyway, in all seriousness, Jesus, from one completely lost wanderer to another, from one silly savior wannabee to another, from one Jew to another…
Happy Easter, Happy Passover, L’Chaim!