April 11. Didn’t We All.

The two of them, off now by themselves, came in as a group of six, probably straight from the office, and even though they’re still sitting with the group you can feel how they’ve kinda removed themselves.

The other people in their party have turned inward toward their new grouping of four. It’s the kinda scene where you can tell that the other four have been trying to get these two together. Maybe it’s the whole reason for the happy hour outing.

He’s explaining something to her, longwinded, and at the end of it she seems more curious than impressed when she says, “You know a lot about bars.”

Lifting his beer he says, “Yeah.” Coy in a way that might or might not be sincere.

“Were you a waiter?”

Sets his glass down. Beer from the tap. Pausing to swallow. “That’s the part I actually don’t like to talk about so much.” He clears his throat and makes a gesture with his shoulders like he’s a guy with a troubled past or something. “I actually…” dramatic pause for a weary sigh, “I used to have a business…”

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April 10. Jazz.

A student comes into the lab where you work cuz her teacher says she has to, she’s your age, and from the moment she walks in you for some reason fall into this comfortable barb-trading, razzing one another’s outfits and haircuts and teeth, and when you sit to help her out with an assignment you get along great, joking and making headway through the work, and if there’s anything flirtatious about the way you guys are joking it’s kept way beneath the surface because, apart from making a mess of the tutor-student thing, she’s involved with somebody, and you’re involved with somebody, both parties happy with those involvements.

She has a son. He’s 6. She collects and repairs and fawns over old cameras and would like to do more of it but for the fact that, as she puts it, she “just had to choose the fucking most expensive hobby, of course, and so…”

She trails off a lot, finishing her points with nimble-fingered gestures and, occasionally, a weight-lifter’s lunge. You go down to the cafeteria with her for a colada one afternoon and she does a pirouette at the register. Says she woulda been a great dancer if her parents had enrolled her.

The two of you meet at a music thing one night after the semester’s done, a couple of mutual friends in the mix. Later she drives you back to your car and in those couple minutes you both get uncharacteristically direct (a few months of casually insulting each other has made this weirdly easy) and the conversation culminates with one or the other saying, “So we’ve got crushes on each other,” and then quiet awkward yeahs.

“Bad timing.”

“Yeah.”

Something just barely mournful to your voices, like it sucks, but also something relaxed and contemplative, because it doesn’t suck.

You’re involved with someone, and happy; she’s involved with someone, and happy.

A relaxed silence between you, like a shrug, and then, smiling, you cheesy fucks talk about moments where one of you swooned at something the other one did. Back when the crush was a secret. That thing you wore, the way you said it, the lighting was just right…

You both laugh about it.

The road’s dark and empty, it’s late, and she drives like a mom with her hands at 10 and 2, her back straight as a board. So much respect for the speed limit.


Grayhaired, comfortable on the porch with a beer, you’re thinking back on old heartthrobs and passions, commitments, dreams.

And then, on a breeze, you catch a tune. Something from your youth. Know that song so well.

Follow it down the street to the gaping door of the old beatdown playhouse and upon walking inside you see a sign for

Thousand Movie Project

April 9.

These two guys are sitting close at the bar and they appear to be friends but it’s happy hour, people are coming in straight from the office, so who knows.

First guy says he’s got a date this Friday that he doesn’t even wanna go on. Says he’s gonna wear his “Trump hat.” Laughs. “Make a real impression.”

He laughs again at his remark and when he lifts his vodka soda he sips it from the straws and winces.


Last call. The lights go up, the bartender rings a big brass bell under the TV, and you notice suddenly on the chair beside you, it’s been here all along, 

Thousand Movie Project.

April 8. Talkative.

You’re back in the habit of listening to podcasts for the first time in years and find that it makes for pleasant company at bars. Kevin Smith in particular. If gab is a gift, he’s got it. You listen to his stuff when you’re sober and marvel at how seamless he is, moving from topic to topic, and how he just takes off, soon as he’s prompted, and talks without cease and with so much energy, urgency, humor, comfort. Then you drink and he gets funnier.

You wish you could do this. Talk so well.

Start thinking about talking and about the friends of yours who are good at it, and don’t you even sometimes find a bad speaker interesting? Sure. Often. You cross paths with a few of them at work or the coffee shop. They speak in cliches and they’re the bad kind of vulgar and they’re narrowminded and short on vocab — but they’ve got energy. Character. You’d like to hear them talk with an option to pause, and without actually having to engage.

It’s one of those weeknights where everyone at the bar is by themselves, dressed for work, scrolling their phones. Smirking at something they read. Place feels alive with the lighting and the music and the twelve TVs on blast.

Takes a minute, coming up from the podcast, to realize nobody’s really actually talking.

Which is fine. To have a place where you can go and relax and be respected without having to talk.


The maitre’d points you toward a narrow door you hadn’t noticed when you first came in. It blends in with the wall. Ask him where it goes and he gives you a tough look, hands you a card, walks away.

Cross the lobby and go through the door and inside there’s a phone on the wall.

On the card there’s a number. 0424. Dial it.

Phone rings twice and then, on the other end, the loveliest voice:

Thousand Movie Project.”

April 7. Crystal Ball.

You and this other guy who do standup have a seat at the venue, each with a drink, and he says he’s reached two conclusions about you. “And you tell me if I’m wrong.”

“Sure.”

“The first is that you’re pretty smart.”

“Thanks.”

“Second one, no offense, is that you’re probably the least successful of your friends.”

April 6. Hungover with a Guest.

Wake up before dawn because the house is getting tented in a few hours (termites) and you need to pack.

Last night you hosted an event in South Miami, took an Uber to the venue because you always have a few drinks during the show. A friend drove you home when it was over and after a quick argument she fell asleep in your bed.

Four alarms have gone off since 5 am and you’ve snoozed every one and lain awake the whole time, not wanting to get up. She’s a mannered sleeper who doesn’t snore, drool, toss or sprawl or mumble.

Take the dog outside where it’s quiet and the sky softly blue, kinda navy, getting brighter even just in the couple minutes you’re standing here.

Go inside, feed the dog, use the bathroom, start cleaning up a little. Shower.

Your friend wakes up and comes out and her eyelids are heavy and red, she never took her contacts out, and she’s holding her elbows and her shoulders are perked up to her jawline like she’s cold but really she’s just uncomfortable. Strange to see her in a dress and wedges at  7 am.

When she sees you she smiles but it’s tense. She makes a remark about her hair being a mess and you get her some water and then walk her out to her car and trade goodbyes.

Listen to a podcast while the hangover wanes and drink lots of water and write that letter you promised a friend last month and eventually make your way to the door, bag looped over your shoulder and a box in your arms with all your clothes in it, feeling like a nomad with the dog whining and circling on his leash beside you, excited about getting to ride in the car. But then you just stand here for a while, thinking you’re forgetting something, until finally you say fuck it, and leave, and later that night, as you’re sliding a key card into the door of a $105 room at a La Quinta in a shady part of town, a bag of fast food bleeding grease in your hand, your toothbrush will come to mind, and you’ll sigh.


In the morning you find a plate from room service with a lid on it. A receipt beside it on the platter says $4.24.

Reach for the lid and lift it up slowly, carefully, and find beneath it, on a bed of lettuce, a gateway to Thousand Movie Project.

April 5. Fans, Cooling Off.

Wouldn’t have thought college basketball was this popular but there’s a game on between Duke and some other school and everybody’s pretty tense about it, focusing on the massive TVs over the bar, even the servers and the bussers pausing to look, trade remarks. Everytime somebody’s closing in on a basket you’ll hear a chorus of muted “come on come on come on” and two bussers pause right beside you and one of them’s gripping his hair and sighing and talking about his bracket.

Whenever somebody makes or misses a basket the reaction is explosive, disappointment or joy, and all the tension along the bar melts off in a loopy uneven way. Like ice cream in a microwave. Then it all picks up again, just as slow.

It’s 7 on a Sunday and you’re only halfway through your first beer but you feel like this’ll be the only one and then you’ll go. Nothing to do with the game or the shouting. This just happens lately, in a way it never did in your early twenties. You’ll look at the remaining half of a beer and something in your stomach, some vague overhead cloud with mixed-up silent words about sleep and the next day’s responsibilities, tells you in no unclear way that you’re done. It’s time to go home.

And so that’s where you go.


You find a safe behind the painting.

04 left, 24 right, 91 left.

Pull the door open and you’re transported to the Thousand Movie Projects.