keys to the castle
Thursday, April 20 2000
Matchbox 20 sucks. Why won't they just go away? Today I figured out that they're actually a white boy R & B band masquerading as alterna-pop. That's got to be the worst possible music genre combination of them all!
It's 4/20 yet again, and as if to celebrate, Kim and I finally got the keys to our new home, the first home to which we've ever owned the title. I went to storage and, using my squeaky old bike as an imperfect pickup truck, symbolically moved a swivel chair and a ghetto blaster into my townhouse. I resembled a third-world junk scavenger as I negotiated the streets of my upscale West Los Angeles neighborhood with my overloaded Huffy no-speed, its wheel rubbing loudly on a recalcitrant fender.
Kim showed up as I was surveying our new castle. The first thing we did in our place was have an enormous fight about absolutely nothing, our words echoing painfully against the barren walls and floors. Later on, Kim neglected to notice that it was street-sweeping day on our side of Rochester Avenue, and she wound up with a parking ticket on her window.
My new place of employment is a total improvement over Collegeclub.com in more ways than it would make sense to enumerate, though I probably will get around to enumerating them at some point anyway. By way of example, though, today my boss Linda, an attractive youngish blond woman, invited me over to the Nebraska Avenue office to partake in celebration of 4/20. So I agreed to go. But then the hour grew late and I just went home instead. To my way of thinking, it was the thought that counted.
In celebration of our getting our new home, tonight Kim and I did dinner with Pat (our loan broker) and Charlie (our real estate agent) down in Marina Del Rey, directly south of Venice at a French Restaurant called 12 Washington. It was a fancy place with a B health inspection placard, white table cloths, and an outgoing "hell of a guy" owner who was chummy enough with Pat for us to score a free round of deserts.
In this, our first purely social engagement, Kim and I got along well with Pat and Charlie. They're both in their 50s, but they're socially young for their age and, judging from their stories, have partied more than either of us ever did and probably will continue to party more than either of us ever will. Pat, for example, lived in all the hippie hotspots of San Francisco back when the hippies weren't nostalgia. Then she lived in Topanga Canyon (near LA), socializing with the Manson girls back before they carved swastikas into their foreheads. And now, as old, rich and established as she is, she expressed impish sympathy for "MafiaBoy," the Canadian hacker who supposed crashed a series of major websites with a campaign of denial of service attacks.
For his part, Charlie seemed to have lived a fairly crazy life himself, but for the most part he lacked the attention span necessary to tell the story. His attention span was so limited, in fact, that he felt the need to complete our sentences for us and not even bother to confirm whether he'd done so correctly. I've been aware of Charlie's poor attention span for some time, but only today did this trait get to the point of warranting subsequent discussion between myself and Kim.
We also talked a lot of shop talk, particularly about the economy, real estate, stock options, and (of course) the backroom tricks necessary to win us the loan for our townhouse. As we'd suspected, Pat had shielded us from many of the scarier turns through which she'd somehow navigated our loan. It's all highway in the rearview now, and in retrospect it doesn't even seem like such a harrowing experience.
Pat paid for the meal (it wasn't cheap), and after that Charlie was all set to go out for a nightcap, but Kim said we had to be going home.
What made 4/20 extra special this year was the Discovery Channel, which was featuring yet another endless looped rerun of Walking With Dinosaurs. Every time I see that show, it might as well be 4/20, and I always find myself thinking that it represents a paradigm-smashing development in television. For example, though it's a dinosaur show seemingly geared heavily towards kids, all the advertisements are for luxury products, the sort rich adults buy for themselves without any concern for the kiddies. And though it's rated G, much of its content is subtly shocking by the standards of American broadcast television: dinosaurs defecate, hump each other and lay eggs in all the gritty splendor possible with modern computer animation. What's more, though much of the programming has the feel of a nature-documentary, many of the clichés of that genré are systematically broken down or subverted. For example, in fights between "good" plant eaters and "bad" carnivores, the carnivores usually win. Indeed, most of the killing portrayed is not the result of deliberate aggression; instead, it's the result of the sort of accidents that grow out of poor social skills. The show is too big to just be about dinosaurs; in metaphoric form it often spills into the realm of social and existential commentary.
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