Joe had invited me to a pot luck with a bunch of his friends. It was to be Sunday at noon, and I almost forgot about it, but looked at my watch(11:45a.m), remembering that he lived on a corner near Bayou St. John
and that I'd know it when I saw it.
I open the front door of his studio and step in. About a dozen pair of shoes are neatly lined near the door, so I sit down and pull off my boots. Still in my overcoat I cross the room towards the kitchen, where all the chatter is coming from.
I nod hello to the guy standing in the kitchen door, and before I enter to meet everybody I feel the urge to kneel and face the small speakers just ahead of me, playing nice music, some kind of psy trance I've never heard. I reach up and adjust them so that the sound moves, feeling almost like it's coming from me rather than to me. I don't know how long I stayed there, but eventually I got up and moved into the crowded kitchen, with its low ceiling and dim light. It smells wonderful: of eggs and casseroles, bacon and pungent salad dressings. Joe comes over and welcomes me, pointing towards his small bedroom area for me to leave my coat. When I come back he introduces me to the whole table, an even mix of men and women. Some of the women are really cute, I wonder if they can hold a good conversation?
I am so happy to be here: how amazingly cool to have this nice group arranged by Joe because the producers of my show asked him to . . .and of course paid for the flowers and the nice silverware.
I kneel besides a young woman, putting my hand on the top back of her chair, crouching like a baseball catcher. We start chatting, I can't recall what about, I was distracted by thoughts of the apartment that was being finished across the street. Of course they weren't working on it today, but I could see that they had gutted the inside of the second floor, and were adding posts to support a new balcony. Wow: that is it: that's where I'm going to move into after this show is over! This is so fucking cool . . .
I'm not saying any of this to her, this is just what's flashing through my mind, but I'm still enjoying my proximity to her and am apparently managing a coherent conversation.
Then Joe announces that it's time to eat, so everybody grab a plate and help yourself . . .
I'm in no hurry, and hate lines so I wait for a bit, still chatting, stifling the urge to ask this woman to join me on the coat pile for a make-out session.
Eventually I wind up on the opposite side of the table with a plate full of cheese grits, bacon, eggs, biscuits, and some southwestern-ish looking casserole. The first thing I try is the bacon, which I mix with a big fork-full of cheese grits and eggs. As soon as it's in my mouth though, I feel that something is very wrong. I am being watched. Somebody is very pissed that I am eating dead animals.
I put down my fork and knife, and look up; and it is her, the one I was speaking with earlier, straight across the table. She isn't staring at me, but I can feel her, there's no way she can hide her disgust at what I'm doing. I've dealt with these radical vegetarian types before, and I fucking hate 'em: puritanical, self-righteous pricks who can't see that animals have always eaten other animals, at least the carnivores and omnivores, which is most mammals . . .
There was a time when I would have just let this slide, ignored her. But she was broadcasting so strongly that I had to respond, so I picked up my steak knife and held it in front of me, pointing it towards my right eye, inches away, while staring at her, thinking, "Go ahead: you hate me for eating dead animals, then slam this knife through my brain so hard it stops against the back of my skull; c'mon, I don't give a fuck; I'd rather you kill me than sit there silently broadcasting your goddamn hate . . ."
I can tell she reads me loud & clear.
"Whoa, Richard, what's going on? . . ."
The room is suddenly very quiet. Joe repeats himself:
"Richard, what's going on man? What's wrong?"
I don't move. I keep the knife aimed like a laser straight through my right eyeball, daring this bitch to jump up and drive it through my brain.
"Dude, put down the knife, this is not cool . . .c'mon man . . .
Put the knife down, Richard. "
I don't mean to scare everybody, I'm just establishing a boundary, y'know? Nobody's going to pitch their psychic vomit towards me without me taking em on, those fuckin days are done . . .
So I place the knife back on the table, still staring her down so that she knows, without a doubt, that her shit will not float with me . . .
"Richard, you need to go, c'mon man . . .you need to go . . .
Richard, this is so not cool, you need to go!"
This is good: everybody is doing amazing work; I can feel the danger crinkling like wax paper throughout the kitchen. Up until now I haven't said a word, but now I turn to Joe and look into his eyes. Something about his 'anger' doesn't ring quite true to me, so when he looks at me desperately and says that I have to go again I shout:
"C'MON JOE, COMMIT!!!!!!"
"Arrite, that's it, let's go . . .!"
He comes over and motions right beside me; he knows not to actually touch me, but like an usher, moves me out of the kitchen and across the studio. I don't remember getting my boots. That could be where I lost them . . .
But I do remember sitting on the front step with Joe.
"Dude!, something's wrong man . . .what's going on?"
"I don't know . . .I'm just staying as true as I can to this thing . . ."
(". . .very nice, Rick, excellent. Just stay with it ; I'm here for you . . .") says Xerxes in my earpiece.
"You need some help, ok? You've got to get some help . . .is there anybody you can call? . . ."
"No, no . . . it's ok, man."
And I try to give him some acting pointers: like how when you're really angry you want to *ground* it, like I really believe you're going to come at me, y'know?
But he's not into taking direction right now, and that's cool; maybe later when we talk about the scene with Xerxes.
I'm just surprised at how adamant he is; this part he's really committed to: he's not going to let me come back inside.
"Don't worry Joe, it's cool . . improv goes all kinds of directions". I smile and pat his knee, proud to see him so connected to his scene objective.
"It's all good . . . we'll talk later."
And I stand up and walk. I don't know where to . . .if I had to guess I'd say back up to my room.