The pot calling the kettle drunk

05Dec09

If you think it sounds like a bad idea to invite me to read aloud to a class of kindergarten students, (1) I agree with you and (2) you’re obviously not my girlfriend, who is actually probably my girlfriend because she has a lot of bad ideas.

The book I read aloud yesterday was not the one in my hand when I walked into the room, Chuck Klosterman’s new collection of essays, Eating the Dinosaur. (I simply brought it to read on the bus.) This disappointed at least one five-year-old boy who got excited when he saw a dinosaur on the front cover. This also spared a five-year-old boy from learning about Chuck Klosterman’s theories about why Rivers Cuomo prefers having sex with Asian women, which is really nothing anybody wants to think about except Chuck Klosterman, Rivers Cuomo, and some (but not all) Asian women.1

Anyway, despite his occasional misuse of “i.e.” and “enormity”, I’ve made it through 85 percent of the Klosterman book without my usual recurring impulse to punch him in the face. But the even more surprising thing about the book is this:

I’ve mentioned this before but got so many of the details backward that it bears repeating: I once watched an old episode of Friends with my brain-damaged housemate’s boyfriend, who was waiting for her to finish getting ready. It was the episode in which Joey and Chandler have an extra Knicks ticket and are lukewarm to Monica’s suggestion that they take her boyfriend Richard (portrayed by Tom Selleck) until they realize they might get a chance to drive his sports car and fall all over themselves to invite him.

At this, my brain-damaged housemate’s boyfriend burst out laughing and blurted, “Who wouldn’t want to go to a basketball game with Tom Selleck?!”

This is something that has stuck with me for a long time because it was simultaneously true and idiotic. On one hand, yes, it would undeniably be a good time for anyone2 to just hang out and catch a major-league sporting event with Tom Selleck, a famous person who seems nice. On the other hand, this guy was clearly misunderstanding the very nature of a fictional television program and that Tom Selleck was playing a character on said program rather than himself.3

By sheer coincidence, in the essay contained in Eating the Dinosaur about the stupidity of laugh tracks and how they’re meant to condition people who are too stupid to decide if things are funny for themselves to laugh when they’re meant to, Klosterman cites this exact scene out of the ten seasons and 236 episodes of Friends. It’s like he specifically wrote this piece for me, intentionally reminding me of the single dumbest audience member I’d ever seen laugh at something at the right time for the wrong reasons. It’s uncanny.

1. On a similar note, yesterday I suddenly laughed out loud very hard after imagining a five-year-old returning a copy of Finnegans Wake to the library while sobbing inconsolably because it turned out to have nothing to do with Mr. Dressup.
2. Except Rosie O’Donnell, of course, but who wants to go see a WNBA game with her?
3. This raises the question of what this guy even thought Tom Selleck was famous for in the first place, if not playing fictional characters such as Thomas Magnum, Quigley Down Under, and Mr. Baseball. Or did he somehow know Tom Selleck in his capacity as a high-profile member of the National Rifle Association?

* * *

On the subject of inappropriate utterances, my girlfriend wanted me to mention this, and while it didn’t seem to merit a post of its own, this seems to be a good place. The other day, we were in the LCBO — not our usual LCBO, but one in a seedier part of town that we’d gone to for something that wasn’t in stock at the other one. As we stood in a long, slow-moving line, the customer behind us got impatient and shouted at the lone cashier, “Shouldn’t you get some help?!”

I, my girlfriend, and most likely everyone else in line looked back at the red-faced, jittery man clutching three two-liter bottles of malt liquor and shaking in a fit of equal parts impatience and delirium tremens, and simultaneously thought the same thing: “Shouldn’t you?”



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