Things to do before I turn 30: live on both coasts; fall in love; backpack around Europe; ride my bike the 50 miles from Rosarito to Ensenada; write a hit TV series, cast Phoebe Cates, and then marry her.
The steam is what I miss. The steam that rose from under my scarf, out the front of my pea coat, and clouded my vision. The trees are black in Connecticut during winter. Leafless, they set against the brown, construction paper landscape, placed there by an artist.
We lived two blocks from a movie theater. Wrapping our heads in towels and scarves and wearing long underwear we thought we'd be safe against the blizzard outside. Two layers of socks, two pants, three jackets, we busted out the door into the freezing, wailing wind. We bounded down the steps and set out in a sprint across the frozen sidewalk, crunching snow beneath our boots.
It was so cold that by the time we got to the movie theater, I had lost feeling in my gloved hands. While buying our tickets, Kim leaned down, looked at the teenager in his bright warm ticket booth, and asked him, "Why the hell would you come to work on a day like this?"
"Why did you come to the movies?"
Besides snow, San Diego also escapes the ennui of the dark months. When Kim was gone I would stand next to the radiator, covered in a heavy blanket across my shoulders, and hold my knuckles to the cold window pane. I always think of the black plastic phone she left behind that wouldn't ring when I wanted it to. Until the day I heaved it at the kitchen floor and watched its wiring and batteries and little silicon chips scatter across the dark tan tile.
The following spring was mostly spent sitting. Sitting on trains. Sitting on planes. Sitting on benches in parks, opening bottles of wine. For every country I visited, I bought a tiny flag patch and sewed it on my backpack. There were sunsets over Eastern European castles, Italian girls who lit one cigarette off the last, and the four of us walking arm-in-arm down the cobblestone streets of Galway. I thought I would turn my ankle and go spilling down and bring everyone with me, but we made it to the pub in one piece.
When is that bike ride to Ensenada? April? I'll check that one off the list a month before my birthday.
Phoebe, clear your schedule. We don't have much time.
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, October 20
Crazy People (1990)
COMEDY 8:00 a.m.
Dudley Moore should follow Vin Diesel and Ice Cube as the next XXX. They'll never see him coming.
Larry King Live
CNN 9:00 p.m.
When asked about her hardships, Martha Stewart complained to Larry King that her parole officer wouldn't let her attend the annual Pumpkin Regatta in Nova Scotia. I'm not making that up. Pumpkin. Regatta. Nova Scotia. Was she trying to piss me off?
Friday, October 21
Eminem's Greatest TV Moments
MTV2 5:30 p.m.
My friend Sam and I went to a teppanyaki restaurant last Friday. Whipping those blades around and catching shrimp in a shirt pocket is definitely a skill. We wondered if there were little kids in Japan who dreamt of being the best teppanyaki chef ever, and we pondered how restaurants found a good chef. I theorized that there was a competitive teppanyaki circuit and that potential chefs met in abandoned warehouses and had teppanyaki-offs. If someone wanted it bad enough, worked hard enough, and had the talent, he got the shoulder-tap from Benihana's.
Saturday, October 22
Bring It On Again (2004)
USA 10:00 a.m.
Good God! This is the 89th time this month either Bring It On or its wretched bitch offspring have been played. A program director at USA must have a "cheerleader thing." Please, sir, spare us the fruits of your compulsion.
Play Dirty (1969)
SHOWX 5:30 p.m.
Ron from North Park writes in with a new euphemism for that activity that takes up the time when every young man is alone. His phrase is, "playing the one-string bass," and Ron admits he is a virtuoso. I know a little more about Ron than I'm comfortable with, but I thank him for the addition.
Sunday, October 23
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
WB 1:30 p.m.
It's unfortunate to have this gift. This love. This curse. For me. To be. The Platypus Whisperer.
Monday, October 24
CBS 3:00 p.m.
Why are all of his guests and patients Southern? Sometimes at night if I listen intently I can hear the soft call of the Arkansas Lone-Toothed White-Belly, "Dockter Phil'll fix us! Dockter Phil'll fix us good!"
Tuesday, October 25
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
ABC 8:00 p.m.
It's a septuagenarian playing out his fantasies through the illustration of children, Charlie Brown! It's a little on the weird side when you think about it, Chuck.
Wednesday, October 26
OLN 8:00 p.m.
Survivor: Ocean Beach. Stay up all through the night bent on chemicals. First one to get served a cocktail at the Arizona Bar by 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning gets a soggy cigarette and a pat on the butt. Do you have the endurance?
Thursday, October 27
More Billionaire Toys
TRAV 8:00 p.m.
Pornography. Dangle the carrot in front of their proletariat faces so they daydream of gold-plated motor homes and diamond-studded lobsters instead of rioting, insurrection, filling the streets, and shutting down the 805. Pornography.