August 23rd, 2008



I'm not really a hard guy to live with, but I tend to get pissed off in a hurry. I still think the best living situation I've ever had - outside the dorms and my year on the couch at Steven's Court - was in New York with the girls. I wouldn't say they were my best friends, but the place had an extremely positive vibe, even with the cockroaches and the mouse in the kitchen and the holes in the ceiling that dripped and the ginormous dog upstairs who'd run all around and the crazy super downstairs with his yelling and screaming jags. If I really had to judge my Living Experience on one particular criterion, it would have to be my Irritation Level. The ol' IL was verrrrrry low when I lived in New York.

I don't get irritated very easy, it would be most hypocritical if I did. I mean, let's face it, I'm not the cleanest guy on the planet. But, I've justified it this way since I was a kid: if it's only MY room that I'm keeping messy, then nobody else really has a reason to complain. Of course, if I'm leaving my Legos, Hot Wheels, or Ninja Turtles all over the house, then you have a right to yell at me and make me put them away. But, my room is mine, you don't have to live there, so just leave it alone!

I do get stressed out when the entire living room is covered in shit. And a messy kitchen really doesn't make things any easier. And the BATHROOM, forget it. I won't stand for tons of shit all over the bathroom.

But, I'm an easy guy to get along with things. I don't REALLY need much, as I can attest by my experience living in Astoria. Aside from a room to sit in, all I really need is quite simple:

I need the last person to use a roll of toilet paper to put the new TP on the rack. I hate seeing an empty roll with a new roll just sitting on the counter.

I just need a LITTLE counter space in the kitchen that goes unblemished. There can be dishes and shit all over, but you've got to leave me a little 2-foot by 2-foot space where I can make sandwiches and open up tin cans to prepare my 30-second meals.

If there's a living room, I need a place to sit. I'm like that princess in that fairy tale, I can't sit comfortably even if there's a little pea under my ass. I need direct contact with couch cushion.

And I need to live with someone who doesn't use the entire bathroom counter and bathtub area for their "products". That fucking hygiene industry has seen more suckers buy into their claptrap! This is all you need to be clean: (1) bar of soap, (1) bottle of shampoo with conditioner, (1) toothbrush, (1) tube of toothpaste, (1) package of dental floss, (1) can of shaving gel, (1) razor, (1) roll of deodorant, (1) box of Q-tips. Sounds like a lot, but really, compared to many boys and girls I know, it's a drop in the metrosexual bucket. Now, I'll abide mouthwash, cologne, and maybe one of those liquid soap dispenser thingies, but they're REALLY not necessary. Hell, I've been complimented at work for my scent and you know what I told them? "Irish Spring, baby!"

Between that, and a little fridge and freezer space for my iced tea and White Castles, a little cupboard space for my Top Ramen and crushed red pepper, and I'm good to go.

Easy. Living with me is a fucking dream in the park. Hell, now that I like to cook once in a while, I might even make a dinner every once in a while. And a houseguest is a houseguest for one week. After that, I'm charging rent.

Oh, and if I find one pair of underwear on the bathroom floor, I'm gonna set the building on fire ...
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Fiction: Staying Busy, part VI.III - Fight Club

A couple days later, with Kirk playing spectator alongside a semi-circle of his closest schoolyard associates, they got Johnny Carter back for stealing the stolen candy. Of course, by that time there was nothing to recoup, but Aaron enjoyed having Johnny's lunch money presented to him everyday for the next two weeks, with Johnny's right arm twisted around behind his back. Aaron also enjoyed giving a quarter of that daily stipend to Kirk for being such a good sport.

"25 cents?" "Yeah 25 cents! I did all the work while all you did was get beat up in the street! You're lucky you get that much."

That's how it went over the years. Kirk and Aaron continued onto their projected bodily sizes until eventually the other thugs just stayed away from Kirk altogether. With a two-year headstart, Aaron was easily bigger than everyone else in their grade and by the time high school rolled around, Aaron was bigger than everyone in all the grades.

With such an intimidating presence constantly by his side, there was a noticable change in Kirk's stature as well. He wasn't strong or imposing by any means, but he acted as if he were. In his post-puberty years, he got Aaron into more fights for being a complete dick than he did in all the time spent being the neighborhood doormat.

As Aaron smoked a cigarette on the outskirts of the school grounds one day, Kirk kept his chest puffed up high as he strutted around like a cocky little pug dog off his leash who tried to nip at the pitbulls and rottweilers around him. "Hey Fauntleroy! Come over here," Kirk said, waving his index finger in an aggressive come-hither manner. Danny Fauntleroy - standing a foot taller, wider, and fatter - looked at Kirk like he just took a shit in his bed. He would've dismissed Kirk entirely, but it was always customary to scan a 360 degree perimeter to see if Aaron was around. Sure enough, there he was about 30 yards away, staring indifferently off into the distance. With an exhasperated sigh, Danny marched over to Kirk, angrily saying, "What do you want, pissant?"

"You got a smoke?" "Why don't you get one from your bodyguard over there?" "Because I'm gettin' one ... from you," Kirk said, emphasizing his point with a poke to Danny's chest, which was nearly eye-level. "Get fucked, little man," Danny said, walking away.

A byproduct of his burgeoning confidence, Kirk not only decided he'd no longer take shit from people anymore, but he absolutely would not stand for ridicule of his small stature. Red in the face, quivering with rage, Kirk picked up the nearest palm-sized rock he could find. Aaron noticed this as he stamped out his butt, "God dammit." He started to jog over while Kirk rared back and hucked the stone at Danny. Aiming for the back of his head, Kirk managed to graze Danny's left forearm. An abrasion, nothing more. Nevertheless, this incensed Danny enough to turn around and charge Kirk like a rhino. The intent: to use his proper football tackling form, wrap up, and drive Kirk into the ground. But, before he could get there, about three feet from contact, Aaron came charging in like an unseen offensive lineman, popping Danny at full boar and knocking him off his feet. Danny fell on his side and immediately stood back up again. "Easy hoss," Aaron said, sizing him up like a boxer. For as big as Danny was, he posed no match for Aaron. Before he turned and skulked off, he yelled, "Keep your bitch on a leash!"

And so on and so forth. Halfway through their Junior year - the last Aaron would subject himself to - Kirk finally got himself into a mess from which he couldn't have his ass saved from the Aaron Defense. The delusion had finally sunk in to a point where Kirk - all of the 95 pounds of weakling as advertised - figured himself to be invincible. He also tired of the fistful of quarters jangling around in his pockets from ill-gotten lunch money penance; Kirk longed for crinkled dollar bills. So, he sought out the only masculine presence in his weight class: Samuel Tinkerbean.

Aaron was embroiled in a pick-up game of basketball one Saturday afternoon with some of the other behemoths down at the park. Generally, these games attracted quite the audience of interested girls, along with male hangers on who wanted to be seen. Kirk sat on the edge of the adjacent baseball field, overseeing the action on the court as well as the action in short-shorts and halter tops standing around cheering the guys on. He noticed Samuel walking on the sidewalk about twenty yards away, on his way home, completely uninterested in the athletic events unfolding around him. Kirk called out, "Hey Tinkerbell! Come over here!" Kirk stood up and walked towards Samuel, who noticed but continued walking on his intended path. "Tink! I said come over here!"

Kirk jogged over and met Samuel, who finally stopped. "What do you want, Kirk?" "Give me some money, I want to go buy a Slurpee." "Forget it, I'm not buying you anything." Samuel held the straps of his backpack tightly. Kirk lunged for Samuel's pockets, jamming his right hand in. "Stop! Get off me!" Samuel pushed Kirk back, nearly knocking him over; this drew the attention of everyone at the basketball game, including the players who wandered closer in hopes of seeing a fight. "I said, give me your money!" Kirk said, attempting to get Samuel in a headlock. They struggled for a moment until Samuel finally spun away. Facing the crowd, Kirk looked over Samuel's shoulders for Aaron, who remained on the court, emotionless look on his face. Kirk swallowed the saliva in his mouth, content in the knowledge that help would not be forthcoming. Everyone else looked at Aaron, wondering when he'd step in, but he simply replied, "What?" before they turned back to the fight.

"Give me the fucking money before I kick your ass," Kirk said. Samuel slid out of his backpack, dropping it to the ground behind him, and said, "No."

As he figured was customary, Kirk put his dukes up; Samuel did the same. Kirk jumped forward, stiff-armed, pushing with his right fist rather than punching. Samuel batted it away and landed a clean shot on the side of Kirk's right shoulder. Kirk countered this by getting low, running headfirst into Samuel's stomach. They wrestled on the ground for a bit, rabbit punches landing with increasing inaccuracy. Finally, they rolled around some more until Samuel found himself on top. He landed two good shots to Kirk's face, bloodying his nose and blistering his bottom lip. Kirk put his hands up to his face, screaming, "OK! OK! Get off me! Get off! You win!"

Breathing heavily, Samuel stood up, retrieved his backpack, hocked a loogie on the ground near Kirk's leg, and resumed his walk home.

Kirk wiped running blood from his face. He sat up, looked at everyone - the guys smirking, the girls laughing - and ran in the opposite direction towards his own home.