‘Fair’ Indulgence

When you go to The Great New York State Fair, there are a few things that cannot be passed up. The sand sculpture has taken a turn for the miraculous, and the butter sculpture has opted for the mundane. The buildings, which contain any animal, are worth popping into. Suppose the Center of Progress is worth a quick walk-through, because it’s necessary to see how far As-Seen-On-TV! products have come or stayed the same.

While at and in the Dairy Building, aside the butter sculpture, Byrne Dairy milk is the top priority — whether you’re lactose intolerant or not. My count currently sits at three (3) chocolate milks, which is no where near record breaking.

The highlight this year falls in line with the “fry everything” craze, and The Defibrillator, a 1,605-calorie (three quarters of the recommended daily intake) monstrosity, is weighing in as a crowd pleaser and colon cleanser. The sandwich has two grilled cheese sandwiches as “the buns.” At the center of everything is an angus beef burger that is topped with (hopefully New York) cheddar cheese. Throw in deep-fried pickles, deep-fried cheese curds, deep-fried bacon slices and you can have a nice coronary.

I have not had it, but it heard it’s worthwhile or entertaining. I cannot remember which.

My favorite place to eat is the International Building. It has New York craft beer, New York wine, and there are plenty of local, small restaurants that specialize in a variety of offering. There is a deli, sushi, Mediterranean, and there is vegan.

Strong Hearts Cafe, which is located on E. Genesee St. in Downtown Syracuse, specializes in vegan food. The also have some of the best milkshakes around. As an omnivore, I even have a difficult time comprehending what I’m eating isn’t meat. It’s delicious, and — importantly — healthy.

Rochester (I’m calling her that, because that’s where she lives and until a better pseudonym is chosen — it’s better than a series of number signs/hashtags), we dined at Strong Hearts, after finally coming across the vendor; I originally thought that they were in the Horticulture Building — nope. She got tofu, and I got the “chicken parm,” which is actually seitan. The picture is above.

For $9, it hit the spot.

At our table, thinking that they were going to leave, we were joined by a family of four. Sharing tables is kind and necessary when at The Fair. I couldn’t pinpoint where they were from, because the patriarch of the family spoke clear English … and then he spoke Spanish … and then he spoke broken English before transitioning in reverse to Spanish and then blatant ‘Merican.

If that what it takes to keep your kids bilingual, keep up the great work. I’m not disliking it. The kids were cute: the daughter — struggling to eat with chopsticks — was young and the son was younger. (That’s all I got. I cannot tell ages.)

Then the woman decided to breastfeed.

That’s fine, in my opinion. She covered herself up. The kid went to town for some calcium. That was that.

Rochester and I looked at each other, thinking she could have turned around to a more open area instead of whipping it out as we ate. But as stated: I’m fine with it. Rochester and shrugged our shoulders. There are ways of doing such things in public without doing it a foot away from strangers and making eye contact.

As soon as the boy was done, however, he came out from under the blanket. As he placed one hand on the indoor picnic table to balance himself, he just gazed at me. He had a half smile, but it was a smug did-you-see-what-I-just-did glare.

He was proud, and full. He didn’t have a drip falling from his lip.

But at that moment, if it was any guy who accomplished something — let’s say throwing two of three darts in the center bullseye — and then he comes over and nods as if to say: “It’s your turn.” or “You want to have at it?”

No, thank you. I had my fill of milk this year. Thanks, kid.



It’s amazing what a short little conversation can and cannot lead to.

“Nah, you’re coming with us. We’re going to the ‘Hippie Bar’, and you’re…” This statement faded, his loss of thought floated into the air. He asked: “What are you drinking?”

I replied, Water.

He continued. His train of thought rolled up State St. in Auburn and narrowly missing the pedestrians.”You’re… we’re going to drink Bud Lights the rest of the night.”

Aaaaand, no I’m not, I said. The point needed to be made. The audacious putting-a-foot-down had to have been done.

[If this was some sort of prank reality show or sitcom, everyone would have come running out right now, screaming with maniac-esque faces, and confetti would fall from the sky. This was not one of those moments.]

To this I found strange. I appreciated the invite to essentially party until the break of dawn — I haven’t done so in a long very time, and, mind you, there was no way I was going to start back up now.

[C’mon, boys, help grandpa to his walker. Although, Plaid is seven years my senior.] 

For a guy, who donned glasses and a snap button-down short-sleaved plaid shirt, drinking a 1911 hard cider, he should have known better.

I’m enjoying a finger of Scotch and about ready to smoke a cigar. This was a treat to myself. After this time is up, I’d eventually go back inside and enjoy the rest of the evening with friends and pints of water on the rocks. All that did happen, but the collected chorus of responses was along the lines of: “Where the heck did you go?”

I made new friends, I said. They wanted me to hang out with them at the ‘Hippie Bar’ down the road.

They pushed their confused silence to the middle of the table before the big reveal of the story of what happened, the Cliff’s Notes version, was then relayed to them.

Plaid was sitting outside and accompanied by his cigar and cider. I was using matches to light, and some bystander reached into her purse and pulled out a long nose lighter.

(Yes, the kind of lighter used to light grills.)

Another guy comes up and immediately comments about my shoes. “Whoa, you got some big feet. You must be packing.”

The kid, who looks younger than his 32 years of age, was decked out in golf gear bearing the Under Armour logo. “Not too many guys can pull off squared toes,” he said. So much for quiet time. “Skinny jeans? How can you wear those?”

“Those aren’t skinny jeans,” Plaid said. “Those are straight leg.” Going back to what I said before, about him not knowing better, maybe he is, because “Holmes” must have had me pegged as soon as I used that grill lighter.

Plaid gets up and starts talking to us. We discuss fashion. I’m also wearing jeans, a blazer, and a button down shirt. I dress to be presentable and for work, but I still need to be comfortable in what I’m wearing. .

Golfer was definitely a college-esqe “Sports Bro.” He loves his group of friends, and would do anything for them. Seemingly, as an outsider, I was assimilating well.


Shots of Fireball will yield magnificence. (Said no one ever.) | Source:

Plaid spoke up, to Golfer: “You have one thing that we don’t have.”

Golfer then lathered up and spread his best confusion across his face to cool off. He looked at me, and I gave him a view of the fading patch in the back of my head.

“Hair,” Plaid said. How he picked up on that is beyond me. It was a straight shot in the dark since yours truly is taller than he and our youngish counterpart donned a cap.

“Oh,” said Golfer, surprised.

Of course, the conversation traveled into the great debate about what guys think women want in a guy. Money, style, confidence — the list could go on. It actually wasn’t womanizing, which adds nothing to the conversation. It boiled down to confidence. We had to keep Golfer on track a little, but he was harmless.

Golfer’s bros ended up coming by. They were actually cordial.

I explained to them that I wasn’t looking to pick anyone up since I had been on dates with #######. And she is very nice. There wasn’t any desire to have Karma get involved in this.

“Only a couple dates?” (I’m not sure where/from whom this originated from.)

It got to the point where the decision had to be made: Go to the Hippie Bar, drink Bud Lights, and a have a night out with the boys as they pick up women. Or the second option of probably heading over to Parker’s to enjoy extra crispy wings and feel the slightest guilt that is generated from eating after 10 p.m.? The last time I had to chose my own adventure gave me goosebumps, because, well, the last choose-your-own-adventure I read was of the Goosebumps series.

I did what any sensibly awkward person would do at that point: The Irish Goodbye.

I have to go to the bathroom, I said.

“We’ll wait out here for you,” said Plaid.

I did go to the bathroom, because committing is committing. Luckily for me, by the time we left, they had as well. When walking back to the car, they were outside the Hippie Bar, having a good ol’ hootenanny (with an emphasis on the hoots). I walked on the other side of the street, because they probably downed more Bud Lights than I did pints of water.

In a sense, I had a definitive moxie — something I thought abandoned me. They, Plaid and Golfer and The Bros, had different blends as well.

But the best personality I admired that night was that of an Airedale Terrier mix outside of Prison City Pub.

The middle-aged owners rescued her, not knowing what she was mixed with, and the dog was docile and slightly conservative about who she approached. The dog was a great size, a medium-sized animal, and she was a real sweetheart. Not recognizing me as a threat, she approached me and our group. She was a

As an animal lover, it kind of sparked my interest to adopt. I cannot now, but down the road I would. I think a cat and dog companion would be fine and suitable. ####### has animals herself, and she chose the rescue route as well.

Of course, I asked for her name. The dog’s mother replied: Moxie.

This was closest lookalike I could find. | Source:

This was closest lookalike I could find. | Source:


This Post is About Monkeys

(While spending time at the Seneca Park Zoo, there were plenty of things that went through my head — more thoughts than expected.

There was one deja vu moment, which felt like a deja vu moment, but it definitely wasn’t a deja vu moment. It was hearty reminder — that sudden pithy and cutting reminder — of the book that I have yet to finish.

It’s probably not going to happen now. I’m fine with it.

It’s because one of the chapters takes place in a zoo. The scene features baboons and commotion that goes on in the cage. In real life, there was commotion that did take place in the baboon compound — family issues. However, the less relevant moment came earlier at a totally different primate nook.

Instead, to compensate, the focus will be short stories and novellas. Not because these are shorter, but because of the preciseness and detail that can go into it.

Just like the memes say: The first minutes of the movie Up were a greater love story than the entire Twilight series.

But this is not a post about my fiction failures.)

A baby orangutan is definitely a crowd stopper. The look of her — her name is Bella, because I looked it up — the two-year-old’s impetuous and blossomed (acknowledged, but not fully understood) curiosity. She addressed the gathered crowd. All she did and had to do, was glare. 

She was aware.

(The question was and still is — Who is in the cage? Who really is on display? Are we trapped or is it the monkeys? We’re both primates, that’s one thing for certain.

But this post is not about philosophy.)

She walked over to the corner of the cell and slid her hand through the space between the wall and the post. Her fingers twirled the air of the other cage, the home of the black-handed spider monkeys, which didn’t take too much of a liking to this. 

One of them howled and squealed, and it yelled an effort to get their neighbor out of their yard. “Get off my lawn!” — but feebly.

(Or were they messing with us? Were they giving us a show?

The tension seemed pretty real, true, honest. The neighboring monkey, which was later assisted by its associate, approached the orangutan with great concern. Eventually, Bella left to tag in parental intervention. This is an adult-only conversation.

But this post isn’t about monkey intent, the definition of trespassing, or the legal action that is to follow.)

Whether it was Kumang (a.k.a. Mom) or Dena (a.k.a. Pops) — (I’m pretty sure it was the latter.) — they slowly strolled over. Clearly, after a primate-speak argument, Mom told Pops that it was his turn to deal with “it.” 

Denda came over and just leaned on the fence, showcasing his strength and the pressure of dead weight against the chain-linked barrier, which bulged outward. As the spider monkeys argued about the impish child sliding her hands into their home — as if it was similar to cartoons: A character takes the fresh, out-of-the-oven pie off the window sill. 

Denda didn’t complain or fuss, but just looked at the neighbors as if to say: “Really?” 


“Tell your kid to stop monkeying around.” … “No.”

(This is all to similar to real life, but this post isn’t comparing neighborhood interaction and life experience from ago.

It’s just fitting that these types of interactions are similar to that of our own. And the uber-religious say that there is no such thing as evolution.

For those tuning in: My spirituality lies with the fact that we all have to evolve to reach that perfection. Religion and science mesh. Something, which is beyond our true understanding, had to create something that created something — this something is the chain of events that exploded from the Big Bang.

It’s said that *God* created us in “his” own image. And it’s said that *God* is divine and perfect. Clearly, none of us are perfect, so we have to learn and grow and develop to reach that perfection. It’s similar to learning a new occupation, learning how to write in cursive, learning how to speak or mumble, learning how to ride a bike and learning how to walk before that, and learning how to crawl after learning how to roll over, and all this comes after you’re out of the womb.

But before we reach perfection, we die.

But this post isn’t about religious beliefs.)

By the time the zoo trip was over, the orangutan confinement was revisited. The spider monkeys had retired. Bella and her parents did as well. We saw her on the back of one of her parents. It was almost nap time. She looked up as she got comfortable.

(I wonder if they know they have a limited space to live in. The nook is limited.

I feel lucky to freely visit Rochester. There is no frustration of having to leave through a door, walk down a hall, and then enter another door. Although I-90 does feel like a long hall/haul at times. Instead of hanging pictures and sconces, there is natural and cement beauty. There’s a guy eating a burrito in the car that’s passing, and there is a child asleep against the window — buffered by a pillow, of course.

We can’t really talk to the primates, but we can probably get a gist of confusion. Sometimes our own communities and cities feel confining, but we make the best of it. Social media, as bittersweet as it is, gets us through it — we get to interact with others from other places. They help coax us to get out and explore, not just squeeze our fingers through an opening.

We’re lucky to try new things. We’re lucky to fall in love, too, and make little monkey-like children, who we will dedicate our lives to protect, and they’ll grow older and amaze us. Our tastes will develop and change, but our dedication and integrity and roles should not.

And bananas aren’t all that. Luckily there is other fruit to enjoy.

After all, this post is about monkeys.)


What We Deserve

At the forefront of everything: It seems the consensus is that people are mixed with the second season of True Detective, which is also known as “California,” respectively after the location of the season. There aren’t any spoilers here, so if you’re looking for them, well, you should locate the IMDB or Wikipedia page.

(There will be no linking to the specific sites either, because that kind of instant gratification that society craves and has come to “appreciate” — in my opinion — played heavily into the mixed reviews of the second season of this HBO show. No, this isn’t a show you can binge watch when compared to the Netflix or Amazon or Hulu originals: Boo. Hoo.)

The tagline, after all, is: “We get the world we deserve.”

The entire season was very morose up until the end. Instead of taking place in three or four moments in the lives of the protagonists (and also antagonists in their own right), The story was told straight through with a couple of flashbacks positioned in there.

Similarly to the self-destructive natures of the characters in the first season, that’s the biggest quality that branches the seasons/stories of the anthology. The second season was less meta than the first. The first season, “Louisiana,” featured actors with more who are applauded more than despised. “California,” on the other hand, featured actors/actresses with a mixed track record. I’ve always been a fan of Farrell, and I’ve enjoyed Vaughn’s past efforts more than his current characters; I have more more respect in the latter now, and I hope he takes on more dramatic roles.

The second season did take on more characters, which did become distracting and detracting, but kudos for taking that risk. We got to know the characters until the very end of the season, and the story was told (most importantly).

And sometimes the bad guys win.

And if there was bad blood between writers and production: They are adults, and they’ll get over it. Stop using hypothetical issues that are not factually known as a crutch and basis for personal opinion. What it doesn’t take away from the fact that these writers were not going to tell the same story with similar tactics as the first season. Please be reminded that this is an anthology series.

Who knows: The next season could have a fair amount of humor — not slapstick or Will Ferrell-esque nonsense — but dry, dark humor. Then again, the humor could be a ruse and a perception by the third person or one of the characters themselves. A character could break the fourth wall and spout out soliloquies.

The characters could speak in iambic pentameter, and the story could take place in Ireland or Italy or Poland.

I cannot wait for the second season for Fargo. It takes place years before the first season, which did tie back to the movie.

Hi. We writers like to mess with you. We’re succeeding, judging by your frustration.


But as real, true life should have it: Everything still is as unpredictable.

In the last month, for me, the superfluous joy yielded from a wedding was abruptly countered by a sudden onset of illness. After that storm passed, after a series of positive events, an even more abrupt onset of despair revealed itself.

Without going into specific detail, because I have respect for the family, it’s depressing to see a life taken so quickly. It’s been on my mind for a while, because I’ve known (knew) the person from a young age. Due to life and different routes taken, we never really kept in touch aside the secondhand updates from our parents.

Of course, there is that moment of reunion, a face-to-face yet brief encounter where everything makes sense. In the moment, there aren’t any words that can be formed when you reacquaint with another from the past, especially if there is no ounce of bad blood in between.

That pact of wanting to meet up and to run into each other again is verbalized, but life — you Trickster — shows its distracting abilities and meeting up doesn’t happen.

When I got the phone call about the random fate, I was idle in my bedroom. Had I been doing something, the news would have stopped me in my tracks, and excusing myself would have been necessary. But I was in my bedroom, and there was time for the impact to sink in.

I was also alone when I got the call about my maternal grandmother’s death and when the second plane hit the World Trade Center Tower. Oh, the brevity — impact sinks in and buries itself deeper when alone.

This parallels an element in regard to literature or media: There is always that episode of a television show where everything is going really well for a character, especially a secondary one, where the viewer knows something bad is going to happen. In this case, of course, I did not.

Mind you: This is not to make a joke or parallel life to fiction.

It was his time even though it wasn’t (shouldn’t have been) this person’s time. But Fate or God or whatever higher power saw the good that they were generating and used the innocence as an example for the rest of us.

I can only imagine that this guy is in a better place. That’s comforting to me.

The sadness in this person’s family members’ faces was captivating, because I could not grasp — although I had a slight understanding — of what they were experiencing.

After kneeling by that casket, the notion was even more instilled that we do have to take care of ourselves, be conscious of what we do and what we consume, and others important to us: to be honest, constructively upfront no matter how blunt the words are, because people are different and things don’t sink in as quickly as others. We deserve support, and we should be open to it.

The next day, an addendum to the common two-word statement consistently positioned at the end of a goodbye, my mother said to me: “Now do you see why I always tell you to be safe?”

[Author’s Note: There has been a cavalcade of events that have been on my mind the last week; hence the lack of writing. But similar to the first part, sometimes the endings are not always happy. We have to accept that. As I — and some of you who read this blog — have to be willing to write about pain. It’s a part of being honest, and I can’t deny myself or anyone of that. Not doing so would be, well, dishonest.]

[The above picture was taken from True Detective series opening credits.]


The Speech

There were several people at my brother’s wedding who told me that I did a great job with the best man speech. I appreciated the applause, there were a lot of laughs, and thank you to everyone for the post-speech support.

However, I’m hypercritical of myself.

I’m not going to cut and paste the entirety of the draft on here. A speech is a speech, and it should be designated as a you-kinda-had-to-be-there moment. Some of the key talking points were as follows:

  • Emphasizing my being older, emphasizing my looking younger.
  • Talking about my brother’s Jeff Goldblum-like nervous laugh as Erin walked toward the altar.
  • Davy Crockett hat.
  • “My brother always dressed well. He wore a suit of intoxication to his semiformal.”
  • Bonding while being “grounded” for two hours at a time.
  • How/When they met. How he kind of annoyed her.
  • That my brother is a romantic at heart.
  • That Erin has the baton of officially taking care and looking after him.
  • Thanking my parents and Erin’s parents.
  • “It’s about damn time.” (Because the priest wasn’t there.)

Still, I don’t think I did enough justice, and I don’t think I gave my brother enough credit. I was nervous, and that fact was fully admitted at the beginning of my oration. Although it wasn’t my first best man speech, it was blissful to realize that I cared about what I was going to say and how I was going to say it.

Mike is my one-and-only brother after all, and I’d do anything for him.

Due to nerves, I didn’t read my speech fluidly. Thoughts in the beginning, middle, and end were shuffled. Some things that I wanted to say were left out. Since they were left out and not read in-the-moment, I may as well continue here.

There was no desire to be comical either. I took some real tidbits and mentioned them. There were no elaborated or embellished stories about getting injured or drinking or anything crass or anything grossly tongue-in-cheek. I’m not a stand-up comic and neither are many people I know. The ones who are comical, have a natural wit. The others, those who try to be funny and adhere to the culture of modern slapstick and embellished humor, fail with flying colors.

It’s about being honest.

Without further ado:


Now that Erin and Michael have gotten married, Tara and I can be grateful that the pressure is taken off of our shoulders for a little bit longer. Although most of you are thinking that the pressure is actually still on and/or as pressing as ever, you might be wrong. Where our friends might be the source of this so-called pressure to find someone and get hitched, we won’t be hearing it from our parents.

No. We won’t. Since this wedding was so beautiful, the bar has been set pretty high. The memories of this will be reflected on for years and years to come. Even if there are three or four years as a buffer, there will be a lot to live up to.

But this isn’t a competition, of course. It’s an expression of love. Every wedding and moment is definitive as each is an expression of love.


Mike and Erin know how to throw a party. Between their 2TG (2nd Thanksgiving) and Parade Day Brunches, there really are no comparisons to how these days are celebrated. For those who are regular attendees, you understand and realize why you keep coming back. For those who have attended twice or thrice, you want to keep coming back and you pinch yourself when no one is looking. For those who attended once, you should feel lucky … and there is probably a good reason why you keep forgetting to come or why you were never asked back. For those who have attended, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

It’s clear that there are large families here. It’s difficult to get everyone together when they’re dispersed all over the country. In order to entice everyone to make the trip, this couple decided to go big. They sat around one night and thought: “Hey, why not have a wedding? That will get people to come.”

They’ve been together for 12 years. They could have gone another seven years easily.


If you don’t know these two people, well, just watch for how they look at each other. Then you’ll understand.


There were several moments where I think my parents liked Erin more than my brother. This may be one of those moments. However, regardless if it is or isn’t one of those times, they now and officially have her as a daughter.

[Look over at parents] You guys can rest easily now.


This love is the yield of living ‘through thick and thin’ and patience and acceptance and arguments and resolution. This is the relationship that I’d like to have.


‘And the tide …’ & Other Random Thoughts

I was writing an update at the end of last week, and there was hope to post it on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the piece was taking a turn as a rant, propelled by negative feelings and disdain toward various instances, which suddenly decided to glob together and congeal into something ugly and spits fire. Instead of forcing something, it was set on the back burner for maybe another day. But to keep up with updating each week, well, I’ll resort to my ol’ Sunday routine.


And as the tide pulls me to west, I extend my arm with a grasping hand. And after fingertips continue to graze, I give up and accept the drifting.


The guy in the gray suit, which has somewhat of a sheen to it, and that completely clashes with the plastered sheen of his matted-down, parted-on-the-right coif.

He doesn’t smile. He keeps pivoting on one foot before taking one step-by-step-by-step, and he’s slowly moving to wherever the hell the barista is bringing his coffee (but four steps or so behind). His odd walking makes the rest of the coffee shop think he has to fart or he has a stick shoved up his ass.

I prefer to think the latter, because he keeps petting his tie. Two fingers, pointer and thumb start at the top and right below the knot, and they slide down both sides of the tie. He keeps doing so, looking around and still not smiling. It’s as if he is being watched or being filmed and he wants to be.


The contemplation of incorporating plastic vending machine rings into the wedding ceremony. Might fly with some, not others. Best to tread lightly …



OK. Let’s shave, and let’s see how long it takes to grow back into a comfortable shadow. And then, the specific number of days before the wedding I won’t shave. If it doesn’t look good — clean shaven might be the right approach, and that can be decided morning-of — the stubble will have to go.


Finding a parking spot when you don’t have to. Finding new language when you have to find a parking spot.


What’s with the slowed traffic, I think. As my car edges closer to the next, it’s soon clear to see that a mother duck and her five little ones are crossing Genesee Street in Auburn.

Panic went through my head. Desire to stop the car was there, desire to step out and assist, but there was fear of scaring the animals and — sigh — tragedy. It’s not tragic in the sense that they’d get hit — the cars were very aware of the situation and, surprisingly, very patient, but there was a sickening feeling she would leave the ducklings.

People exited Hunter Dinerant, and they almost stepped into traffic. Hands covered mouths in awe. Fingers pointed.



Ghosting: The beauty of ignoring and letting a relationship fade into nothing. No Swayze, no Casper. It’s supposed to be guilt-free. But how can it be when guilty of it? Just don’t do it. Cut it, cut it out.


Of all the things to spot, a heart-shaped leaf in the middle of the road. Out of everything to pick out during a night run, a heart-shaped leaf in the middle of rolled-out lamplight. It’s slightly shredded, so being careful is necessary.

I laid it down in another spot and out of the way of traffic, in a spot I could easily remember and return to. After finishing the loop, the Heart of Nature I picked up and ran home with it.


Cliched truth: But, oh! Her eyes! She speaks softly, but her eyes shout.


The reflection of light dances, jitterbugs, in her eyes.


When perfect sleeping weather hits the snooze button for you. Waking up to a fizzy foggy haze of morning light, and there is nothing but birds whispering to each other. And there’s a cat cuddled up in between your calves.

When did I start sleeping on my stomach? It’s probably one of the best changes I’ve ever made.


I almost second-guessed and dismissed her falling: the older woman, late 70s. Amidst Thursday’s pouring rain, she took a tumble outside of Doug’s. Her husband struggled pulling her up.

I almost second-guessed helping her, but I paused the interview I was conducting, and ran over. After finding the husband in the Skaneateles restaurant, I helped him pick her up, and steady her, and we made sure she was OK. She said she was.

I almost second-guessed acting. Why? Proof that listening to my gut is a great thing.


Part Four: Chicken and waffles. Cookie Dough Pancakes. Fancy beverages. Birthday celebration. And 16 years of friendship celebration.


Meticulous Mannerisms

Last Two Saturdays ago, the rainy day was a bit distracting. To cure it, the best bet seemed to go see a movie. The Landmark Theatre had kicked off its summer classic film series, and seeing a flick in an actual theatre was more than fitting, and it could not be resisted.

Running into fellow improvisers, Stef and Matt, well, validated my decision and the ability to choose wisely. It’s reassuring to have those little nuggets of reassurance now and again (but not to the point where you’re spoiled and become dependent).

Breathless is a 1960s French film by Jean-Luc Godard. Petty thief and antagonist, Michel, is the Humphrey Bogart-obsessed character I grew to love and despise. After a rash decision to kill a police officer, he finds himself on the run and dealing with the trickling in of public, media clues that he’s a wanted man.

The writing was very well done to generate those feelings, and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo played the role fittingly and with a cigarette hanging out of his seemingly blistered lips the entire time. The cigarettes are thick and obtrusive, but they look flimsy aside staying balanced.

When the cigarette is out of his mouth, Belmondo’s Michel runs his thumb back-and-forth over his closed lips. He clearly does this in times of critical thinking, when he is surveying the area or thinking of a person. In the latter case: Patricia (played by Jean Seberg) ends the movie with the same gesture, as if there was some understanding and melancholy after … Well, there will be no spoilers.

Technically, because of her actions — in light, she did the right thing — and the conclusion proves that Michel would do anything for her, save the fact that he was at fault.

At the same time, there is reasoning for Michel’s actions as he is a fan of Humphrey Bogart. Where his standing in front of a movie poster for The Harder They Fall may foreshadow the conclusion, the admirable antagonist constantly imitates the movie star.

In Scrubs, Dr. Perry Cox, played by John C. McGinley, has a habit of touching his nose and then crossing his arms. I forget which season it is, McGinley explains in the behind-the-scenes segment that he developed the habit for his character after Paul Newman’s Henry Gondorff in The Sting.

It’s the go-ahead sign that Gondroff shows, saying that everything is right on target — on the nose? — or that the “con is on.”

Cox uses it a little differently, almost as a preemptive notion to let J.D. or any of the other characters that he’s listening and understanding, an “OK, go on.” But that nose touch could precede an infamous Coxian rant and a forehead vein bulge or the seldom blatant reassurance that he gets whatever is going on in the scene.

Even in the movie Face Off, Travolta’s character touches/caresses the face of his son and loved ones. But that gesture of endearment is what it is. It’s as tactful and clear-cut as John Belushi’s zit routine in Animal House or Michael Keaton’s crotch grab in Beetlejuice. 

And then there is Colin Farrell’s character, Ray, in In Bruges. He quite often touches his face with his fingers, moving the skin around his mouth and jaw. The in-pain hit man shows his vulnerability, adding to the fact that he’s not cut out for the life of a professional killers.

His two extremes of defense mode emphasize innocence and quick to retaliate. He cannot come to terms with the accident at the beginning of the film, and when it comes to matters of the heart — love. There is a clear understanding of his knowing the difference of right and wrong.

He’s a natural on and off the job. Could Ray’s character be the perfect human being? Might be a stretch to say, but it’s entertaining to consider.

I have tendencies to touch my face, my mouth — “pull a Ray” (for lack of a better phrase). I’ll also rub my fingers in times of nervousness, or break eye contact. Sometimes I’ll contemplate shaving later that day.

In times of admiration, my hands will make their way into trouser or jean back pockets.

As for others, sometimes it’s difficult to tell nerves from satisfaction from irritation. You have to really look someone in the eyes.

Sure, the girl sitting (practically lying) on the couch as she is participating in a date may not be too enthralled to be on it; her following and walking him out may be out of pity. The person looking down into the deli counter may simply be indecisive despite not making eye contact. Perhaps the person talking through their hands could be holding back a vomit.

A woman may express interest by teasing and twirling her hair, but maybe her locks are greasy and she really does enjoy sliding the follicles through her pinched fingers.

We take what we are given — writers. How can we utilize what’s around us, what we see, the interactions to find their way into our work and characters. At the same time we critique and criticize ourselves.

In the moment, a reaction and action could manifest itself. It could be something new and unique, and  this is all depending on how the situation plays out. It depends on how we’re moved.

However, eye contact does say a lot. Answering a question honestly and confidently, directly at an interview. The hesitation before the first kiss that may or may not happen. The painful look of a child’s teary-eyed gaze when they scrape a knee or know they did something wrong. What the road looks like when you look up from texting. Yeah, all of this is important.

What are your mannerisms?