Monday, September 21, 2009

The Night is Shifty or Happy Trees Done Dirt Cheap

I went to a birthday party for my friend’s two year old twins last Sunday. It made me momentarily re-evaluate the course my life has taken thus far(I do this a few times a day) when my friend who is my age has a birthday party for his kids and when I got the e-vite the first thought that came into my head was how it’s going to be hard to wake up before 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

In defense of my apparent laziness and seemingly twenty-five year old guy lifestyle(I’m in my 30’s), even though I do still go out drinking on the weekends , it is my night job that has altered my body clock. It’s gotten to the point that even on nights where I don’t work or when I get home before 12 a.m., I have become programmed to race the moon to sleep when I get home as I am wired and no one in my social universe is up to hang out or talk to after work. It’s a bizarro-world way to live your life that usually only emergency room nurses, people who work from home, astronauts and adult, out-of-work,daytime stoners usually experience.

Sometimes I’ll go on facebook at like 3 a.m. and I’ll actually see that I currently have no friends that are online and available to chat(including West Coast friends) and I’ll hear a whirling breeze against my window and look over my shoulder for a tumble weed to go tumbling by me in my fifth floor walk-up bedroom. So, instead of getting home and going to sleep by two in the morning, I end up doing non-productive things like reading about the Mets’ woes online, skimming through personal ads on Craigslist and watching the final hour of The Perfect Storm at 4 a.m. just because I’ve never seen the whole movie(it was kind of like Titanic, except without the happy ending.)

I realize that by extending my nights all I’m doing is shortening my days, which isn’t a good way to find another job. The only positive to getting out of of work after midnight, besides the short lines at Duane Reade is the people watching on my walk home. Every once in a while besides the various random drunk people that always seem to be staggering alone on third avenue in Murray Hill on a Sunday night, I will have the random encounter with the prostitutes that seem to occasionally leave their forbidden zone (which stretches from Broadway to Lexington Ave. in the upper twenties) and enter the suburban stretch that is third avenue.

They look kind of like lost puppies without their pimps as they realize that most twenty-somethings who live off of that avenue can meet someone at the Joshua Tree or other not-so-cleverly named bars in the area as it is not as deserted as Lexington Avenue is at night and therefore not ideal for their line of sales. I have had a few brief interactions with hookers in my area before and I was surprised and impressed that some of them now have business cards that they hand out to potential clients. I recall one industrious lady of the night used the Helvetica font and had a cool logo of a hotdog sliding into a bun.

One night a street walker told me to walk on the other side of the street after she realized I wasn't going to rent her for the hour and she thought I was hurting her business by walking near her. I obliged her request but it seemed odd considering A. she wasn't getting any business anyway on a residential sidestreet filled with people sleeping in their brownstone apartments, and B. I was walking my dog at the time.

You can’t really tell a prostitute nowadays from how they dress due to the fact that most 24 year old girls pretty much dress the same way. The difference is if you suddenly slow down while walking on a street late at night on the weekends a hooker will approach you and smile and a regular girl with a short skirt and heels will bump into you while crying into their cell phone. God, I wish it was the other way around.

I do seem to have occasional eureka moments of creativity at night, whether they stem from me staring at the way my dog is sleeping next to me on the bed and coming up with a perfect ad for for my portfolio or switching channels from a Showtime soft porn to become momentarily engrossed in something like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and realizing that the line “We seem to have a nervous slinky” is as brilliant a line and a concept as there can be in a movie that is set in a toy store that comes to life(actually, that would work in most soft porns as well). (1)

I have recently finished my copywriting portfolio and am ready to take on the world of advertising. I can’t wait to get paid for coming up with ideas and work as part of a team to create advertising campaigns that will lead to me winning awards, getting a promotion, crafting a life, meeting my wife, working too late, buying a home, worrying about bills, sleeping with pills, getting burnt out of the city and moving to L.A. , working even later hours before calling it a day, going on on my first book tour and having an affair, coming home to find my wife is no longer there, feeling down and feeling blue, feeling like a waste of a jew, bumping into my one true soul mate, having a second chance at fate, doing an exercise informercial with my dad, unexpectedly starting the next big fad, looking young at forty-five, and loving every minute of being alive. Or, I could try writing for an online magazine, but really, who knows where a job in that unstable industry will take you.

It could take a while to start my career with this whole recession thing going on, so taking any other day job would definitely help end my nighttime addiction. The only good thing about being single and living paycheck-to-paycheck in a recession is that you don’t really have to change your lifestyle that much. It’s not like I now need to cut back from two vacations a year to one, or sell my villa in France for a share at the Jersey shore. In fact, most people have actually begun living more like me. Sure doing your own laundry in the city sucks, but it saves you around forty bucks(sorry, I had one more rhyme left in me.)

At the birthday party for my friend’s kids, they had a singer whose job it was to sing to a room filled with two-year olds and their parents, who after a year and a half of watching Dora the Explorer cartoons, were numb to all things goofy and Disney. The singer was dancing back and forth with a guitar and swinging his hips violently as if he had just drank six red bulls and experienced seven flags of fun before showing up. He performed with a constant Joker-like smile that only overly-medicated schizophrenics and people who entertain toddlers possess.

As I stood in the back of the room of the party with my friends, talking sports and checking for any cute moms, I observed the man singing with glee to the kids and gained a momentary sense of glee myself in thinking there was a guy with a worse job than my night one. Until I saw the cute mom slip him her number at the end of the party, which broke the illusion that he was gay , but made me think he must either be a serial killer or a severe alcoholic.

While watching him perform I was able to somewhat decipher what he was singing about. I believe he was singing “Happy Trees, Happy Trees, Happy, Happy ,Happy Trees . Who wants to climb a happy tree? Have you ever seen a happy bee? They make really sweet honey.” The two year olds were dancing and bopping their heads like those flowers with sunglasses that were popular in the early 90's that shook back and forth when put next to a speaker. As he was singing I realized that this guy doesn't need to be singing about "Happy Trees". He could easily be singing “Crack. It’s whack. It’s whack, it’s whack, it’s whack. I sold the TV for more smack and my wife’s not coming back." Or, even better, “Beat on the brat with a baseball bat, Oh yeah, Oh yeah Uh, oh."

Well, I guess I’m not the only one in this economy who is doing a job that is more 5-to-9 than 9-to-5, and I’m sure the toddler party singer also aspires to be maximizing his skill set on a grander scale. To become a star in his chosen industry. I’m sure just like I will one day soon be creating ads for an advertising agency, he will be working the really big arenas. I’m talking the Woodcliff Lake Hilton or if he has the right connections, Tavern on the Green. I’m talking the Bar Mitzvah circuit.

The Bar Mitzvah circuit has to be the dream job of child party entertainers. Forget performing in dive bars, you can make more cash in one day singing in front of Grandma Sylvia than in a month of playing clubs in the east village. You just have to keep 13 year old Seth Weinstein and his friends dancing and happy and you can ride the wave of good parent reviews all the way to a new condo in the Upper West Side. I’m sure he could put himself on the path to success with some new business cards. I happen to think a sharp font and an photoshopped image of a rabbi breakdancing would really stand out. But what do I know? It’s 4 a.m. and I’m awake, the dog is asleep and the moon is right on my tail.

1. True story. When I used to work as a set production assistant on independent films in New York during the golden era of NY independent films, otherwise known as the late '90s, I somehow ended up working for two weeks on a film with Marilyn Chambers called “Marilyn Chambers’ Desire”. This was a soft porn, but the sex was simulated and it was basically made to end up on Skinemax. Now for those of you who do not remember the late, great Marilyn Chambers, she became famous because she starred in “Behind the Green Door”, which was to the porn industry in the 70‘s what “The Wizard of Oz” was to colorized films. It is quite bizarre to hang out at the craft service table eating chips and dip with top-less stripper/actresses. The movie was only memorable because it had the greatest line of porn dialogue ever written down (I somehow doubt Marilyn improvised it).
A man complains to Marilyn ”I have a case of acute angina” and Marilyn says ”You should see mine.” Although Marilyn delivered the line in perfect May West form, it took the male actor around four takes to pronounce angina properly. It was a surreal, Living in Oblivion/indie film moment in a movie that did not warrant the description of "indie" or even "film."

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