Joel and I recently moved into a house together. With the big move came big changes like free laundry, the stress of limited closet space for so many beautiful shoes, and seeing each other’s stupid faces every single day. We put our trash bins outside every Sunday and water the plants in the backyard. This morning over breakfast Joel told me what butt-chugging is and I said “boys are dumb“. There’s always beer in the fridge now and football’s on our television all the time. Oh yeah, our television. The 50 inch, thin, beautiful, Netflix-streaming monstrosity is the first big purchase Joel and I made together, and we celebrated it joining our little family by overpaying on football packages and HBO.
I haven’t owned a television in years. While this may sound like the beginnings of a condescending “Oh, I don’t own a television [pushes up glasses]” rant, please rest assured that I faced my non-television owning adversity with great courage, mainlining True Blood in its entirety in two months via HBO’s online HBOGo and the latest season of Arrested Development via Netflix in three days when I lived in my old studio. (I have a vibrant and fervant social life.)
For my three and a half year stint without television or cable, I had forgotten how awful television is. You can have 900 channels with there being absolutely nothing on. The commercials are even worse. Recently, Love Connection host and conservative blowhard Chuck Woolery tried to sell Joel and I quick and painless home catheters, leaving us wondering if we had just seen a new Saturday Night Live sketch for robot insurance. And still, you will soldier your way through the loop of channel after channel, refusing to believe you spend that money on cable only to have to open a book or talk to another human person.
Joel and I made a rule to not become channel flipping zombies, cut ourselves off early and figure out other ways to spend our evenings together. Last night, I told Joel about how much I want to write more, and how I sent a call out to all my friends on Facebook asking if I could use them to crowdsource inspiration for new blog posts. I was so blown away by the response I got and so excited and inspired, that I was disappointed Joel couldn’t take over my body for even a second, just to feel what I was feeling. During the discussion, Joel shared with me something that I didn’t know about him despite our being together for 4 1/2 years. Joel loves to draw.
“You do?” I asked.
“I’m not great at it or anything and I never do it, but yeah.”
He suggested that it might be fun for us to draw together. After some discussion, we thought we might try something that combines things we each love. For Joel, drawing and story telling. For me, writing and improv.
So we made up a game of sorts. Each of us took a notecard and a pen and drew a scene. Then we passed that card to the other person who would pick up the story by drawing the next scene (or “frame”) on a new card, and so on and so forth. We did this back and forth until we had two stories and each story had five cards.
Story 1: Black Cat
(a tribute to 1994 David Duchovny because he shouldn’t be, but totally is, dreamy.)
We open at a comedy club, and I hope that you will note that my first frame is a comedy club/bar and Joel’s first frame is the great outdoors.
A comedian is on stage performing. It is 11 p.m. Someone is in the bathroom while people line up in wait.
A woman is crying at the bar. What a hot mess. Maybe the bartender is her friend, maybe he’s just a good listener, or maybe he made her cry.
Or maybe she’s just a stupid, dumb idiot because someone blasted her in the face and left her to die. Escándalo! Here she is, lying in a pool of her own blood, after everybody else apparently left and someone cleaned up the joint. That escalated quickly.
There’s also a cat now. He looks a little shifty.
Finally, someone has called the police, and they’ve got forensics on the scene. The woman’s body appears to have grown three sizes post-mortem and the policemen appear to be diminished in size. They are roughly the size of a big black cat, sitting on a bar, staring down at the dead with judgment.
That dead woman must have been a real bitch because nobody bothered to come to her funeral. Except one guy, and he doesn’t look happy to be there at all. Is it because she cried all the time? Even in the picture of her big stupid face she’s crying. She was probably a total killjoy.
Why is that guy wearing sunglasses? Is he an oddly attractive, Fox Mulder-type FBI agent? Could he have been called in because her body grew after she died and that cat showed up out of nowhere? Or maybe he’s just some dude who had a rough night the night before because he was butt chugging with his fraternity brothers.
Whoever he is, I hope he doesn’t break the second rule of funerals by opening the casket.
Holy shit! He did it! He opened the casket and her body is gone but the cat, still alive, is there. TWIST ENDING!
Story 2: Viking Funeral
Just a typical, quiet serene day at the lake. The sun is setting, and a boat approaches.
Night has suddenly appeared! And it seems the boat holds the body of a fallen viking. See the body wrapped in linens, his friends looking on from their own ship, another viking preparing to shoot the flaming arrow into the boat to set the body alight.
BUT WAIT! The dead man’s ghost shows up, riding a lightning bolt, and he’s like “you guys. seriously. I was a handsome, muscular and often shirtless man and I led a good life. Do you not see my majestic beard? Or this fucking lightning bolt that I am, no big deal, riding? You should be celebrating my life, not mourning.”
Getting down from his lightning bolt stallion, Thor the sexy Viking then shines a great light into the night sky as a giant mirror ball lowers, music begins playing, and all his sexy viking friends start dancing and making out and celebrating. Because that’s what you do when life is short. It’s what Thor would have wanted.
And now suddenly we’re in a room with an alarmed older gentleman who appears to also be a Viking, but whose sexiness has yet to be determined.
Me: What’s going on in this last frame here?
Joel: Oh, that old viking man just woke up and realized it was all a dream.
Joel: I didn’t know what else to draw!
Me: ….So you decided to just Charles in Charge the ending of the gay viking party?