Monthly Archives: January 2014

I’m going, man, I’m out of here

When the going gets tough, man, I’m going man, I’m out of here, OK, maybe if the going gets a little easier, maybe I’ll come back. Maybe, but probably not. Like when the washing machine broke down at my old place, my roommate Bill was like, “Should we call a repairman?” and I was like, “No, Bill, just call the super, OK, it’s not like it’s our washer and dryer, OK, that’s the owner’s problem, right, that’s what you call the super for.”


And the super, he didn’t live in the building, he lived somewhere else. I think he might have been the super for a bunch of buildings. I never asked him, but the few times that I did see him, he was always acting like he had to be going somewhere else, “I gotta get out of here man, sorry, I can’t really chit-chat, all right, I gotta get across town,” totally preempting me from even possibly asking a question, like hey man, maybe you could come upstairs and check out the sink, just, it’s not urgent, but you know, when you get a chance.

“Maybe if we call the repairman we can just have them send a bill to the owner.” That was Bill again. And yeah, it did suck not having a functioning washing machine. It was definitely one of, if not the reason we chose this place over all of the other apartments we looked at. Like that one six blocks closer to the subway. Or the one that had the lofted bedroom, the one with the spiral staircase.

“No way, Bill, come on man,” I remember making my argument, “we have to get this place. Do you know how many apartments in New York City have washers and dryers? Zero. None of them.” And yeah, even though Bill was like, “Well, not zero, I mean, what about this one? This one has a washer and dryer. So it’s got to be at least one, not zero.” I’m pretty sure he was joking. I mean, he’s thick, but he’s not that thick. And he wanted it too. How could you not want your own washer and dryer?

“Bill,” I tried to spell it out for him, “If we get some repairman to come in, you might as well get out the checkbook, because I can see it going down right now, the super’s going to be like, ‘I don’t know boss, I don’t think the owner’s gonna go for this,’ and we’ll be like, ‘Why not?’ and he’ll say, ‘I could have fixed that, all right, I was going to fix that. Why didn’t you guys call me up?’”

Because we can’t call him up. We’re supposed to go through the management company, even though it’s just the owner’s house up in Westchester, it’s not a real management company, it’s just him, I’ve called up, plenty of times, the pipes were clogged, or we needed the exterminator, it was always, “You gotta go through the management company,” even though, the first few times I called, it didn’t make any sense, it was clearly an old-fashioned answering machine at a residential house.

“You can’t just give me your cell number?” I tried to ask the super one time when I caught him in the hall, I wanted to ask about the heat, to see if there was any way to turn it down, I get it, it’s an old building, but this was just a really, really dry heat, non-stop. “Sorry boss, you gotta make an appointment, OK? I gotta get across town, all right? You gotta call up the management office.”

But the management office, the owner, whatever, he never picked up the phone, and that answering machine had to be full, and yeah, Bill kept telling me, “Rob, this place, it totally wasn’t worth it for the washer and dryer.” And that was all I had left to cling to, “Of course it’s worth it for the washer and dryer. You’re just spoiled. You don’t remember what it was like, putting all of your clothes in a big sack, you think, OK, this week I’m not going to put it off, I’m not going to make it like I’m trying to shove every piece of clothing I own into this sack that clearly doesn’t want to close, I’m going to carry that sack over my shoulders, I’m going to walk what, two? Three blocks? You want to go back to that? You don’t know how good we got it.”

Which, yeah, Bill must have gotten attached, even more than I was, which I didn’t think that was possible, “You want to risk putting your own money down on that old washing machine?” and he was like, “Yeah man, whatever, let’s just get it fixed, we can fight with management about the money later.”

Did he just say management? “Listen, Bill, there is no management company, OK, it’s just …” but I couldn’t, I couldn’t get myself to say management company one more time, I totally gave up. You want to figure it out? Figure it out. At least the owner never gave us a chance to sign that lease. I kept bugging the super whenever I’d see him, “You know anything about the lease?” I thought, these guys are going to try to kick us out, jack up the prices, I want this deal in writing, I want signatures. But now it’s like, man, I’m so glad we didn’t sign the lease.

“Bill, I’m out man, I’m going to go stay with my parents on Long Island.” He was like, “What?” Yep, Long Island, my parents have a washer and dryer, my old bed, I’ll just take the train to work until management figures it out. Too bad for Bill, his parents still live in Nevada. Arizona. Something like that. They came to visit once, but it’s a small place, I bailed last second, I said I had a family party on Long Island, but nah, I just didn’t feel like meeting his folks, keeping up with the fake smiling all weekend.

Nah man, too much, I’m out, remember what I said at the beginning? I was like, “When the going gets tough,” because you naturally think I’m going to say, “The tough get going,” but no, I’m out, I’m going, I’m going home to Long Island, I’m calling up the owner and telling him I’m not paying any more rent, nope, sorry Bill, you should get out too man, let me know if you find any cool apartments, I’ll borrow my dad’s truck and we’ll do the move in one swoop.

I’m not out of touch

Sometimes I worry that I’m growing out of touch. It’s not something that anybody does on purpose. It’s just like, you get to a certain point, you’re comfortable with who you are and the stuff you do, one day you’re ten years old and you’re listening to Pearl Jam, Vitalogy on your little boom box, everything’s cool, you’re cool, you’re music’s cool, then you’re in college, you’re still listening to Vitalogy, you’ve got all of these new cool friends, and they all love Vitalogy just as much as you do.


And then you blink and you’re almost thirty years old and you’re still listening to Vitalogy and, yeah, I guess if you really wanted to call up your old college buddies, get them on the phone, ask them point blank, “Vitalogy is still cool, right?” they’d be like, “Hell yeah, that’s such a classic CD. That’ll never go out of style.” And you’d be like, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” But honestly, when was the last time you even saw any of those guys? Do they still have the same phone numbers? Would it be awkward cold calling all these years later just to talk about Pearl Jam?

It’s not even about Pearl Jam. It’s about being in touch, or out of touch. Like I started seeing all of these posters for the HBO show Girls, season three. I wanted to be like, ha, what a dumb show. But I’ve never even seen an episode. Not one. I know that some people make fun of it. Or, I think I read something on Gawker one time three years ago that was making fun of it. Or the tone was snarky. I don’t even remember.

And then I think, what am I going to do, start ripping on a show that I’ve never seen, just because, what, it looks like something that for some reason or another I’d assume wouldn’t be my cup of tea? What does that say about me, that I find advertisements for this wildly popular show somehow worthy of me thinking I’m better? That I’m better than the HBO show Girls?

That doesn’t make any sense. I must be out of touch, maybe just a little. It’s like I can remember being a little kid, and anything that came out that was too girlie, all of the boys made fun of it, constantly. Barbies? Ha. Stupid girls. Boys play with action figures. We make fun of Barbies. About how stupid they are. Stupid Barbie dolls.

I hope I’m not carrying around that much of my snot-nosed brat former child inside of me still, but I get a gut-wrenching reaction to a poster of a show that’s for some reason not marketed directly toward me, and this voice inside is like, how dare they? Don’t they know that I’m the prime demographic? This offends me. Somebody, when’s the new season of Walking Dead coming out? Anybody. Tell me about a new superhero movie in theaters soon.

But I don’t want to swing in the opposite direction either. I don’t want to get so scared that I’m losing touch that I’ll just start clinging automatically to whatever happens to be trending at the moment. I remember I read some article in the New York Times a year or two ago. The title of the article suggested that it was about young people, how they prefer random hookups over serious relationships.

And then I read the article and it wound up being nothing more than a recap of the most recent episode of Girls. Specifically, the author referred to the show as a “cultural weathervane.” I was thinking, man, this person’s a journalist, they see one episode of a new TV show, they have no idea what’s going on and so they think, wow, I’m out of touch. I’d better embrace this lest I fall even further out of touch. They grasp desperately to the weathervane, please, point me back in the direction of what’s cool, teach me about this alien world of the new.

I thought that instead of making fun of a popular TV show, I’d make fun of someone else talking about a popular TV show, and that would somehow make me feel less out of touch. Because I’m not out of touch, I still get new stuff. I just bought a new CD a month ago. It’s the new Pearl Jam. It’s OK. It’s not as good as Vitalogy, but it’s still pretty cool.

If you were a BuzzFeed quiz, which quiz would you be? Take this quiz to find out!

I’ve been spending too much time on BuzzFeed. All of those quizzes, illuminating so many aspects of my personality that, until now, I just wasn’t aware of. Like which breakfast meat speaks most about my life? (Canadian bacon.) What’s your real favorite color? (Periwinkle.) Which Golden Girl are you? (Dorothy.) The amount of information I’ve learned about myself, it’s too much. All of those multiple-choice questions, I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore. Is this the real me, Buzzfeed?


It started out innocently enough. I took this quiz called, “What City Should You Actually Live In?” Right away, I started getting really anxious. I worried that it would tell me, “You should live in: Long Island!” because, and it’s nothing personal Long Island, that’s where I grew up, I love Long Island, but now that I’m living in the city, I’m very conscious of the army of “born and raised” New Yorkers lurking in the shadows, waiting for me to get involved in some sort of conversation about New York, and just as it sounds like I might know what I’m talking about, these people get right in my face, “I’m born and raised in Brooklyn Heights. What part of New York are you from?”

So yeah, I don’t even say I’m from New York anymore, I just say I’m from Long Island, to everybody I meet, chances are they haven’t even asked, because the minute I let my guard down and let a New York slip out, somebody shows up to out-New York me, “Sorry, Long Island doesn’t count as New York. You’re not from New York. I’m from New York. I just had Gray’s Papaya for breakfast.”

Anyway, I got to work on this city quiz, started answering multiple choice questions, asking me about my favorite snacks, what color socks I’d prefer to wear on a rainy Tuesday, I thought, I wonder where they’ll place me, Boston? Hawaii? New York? Nope, it was Albuquerque, New Mexico. Really?

“Yes, really,” it read in the little description afterward, “While you’ve definitely got a pretty serious mean streak, it’s not near-sociopathic enough to warrant a move to, say, an isolated homestead somewhere in the middle of Nebraska. You’ve never tried crystal meth, but you haven’t ruled it out completely. And you just love enchiladas, which is great, because Albuquerque has some of the best Tex-Mex food in the country!”

I don’t know exactly how they got the Tex-Mex answer. If I remember correctly, the question was something like, “If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?” And I looked at the selection of answers, nothing really spoke to me, it just seemed like nine food items placed on the screen at random, gummy bears, ramen instant noodles, steak. I don’t remember anything about enchiladas.

But I guess it must have been a really complicated quiz, all sorts of advanced algorithms and sophisticated programming, because who am I to doubt the power of the Internet? Some girl I went to college with posted that she should really be living in Barcelona. It was hard to judge her total reaction, but based on the, “OMG I knew it!” that she wrote on top of the results, it seems like these quizzes are working for other people.

I took another popular quiz, “What Age Are You, Really?” which, by piecing together character traits and behavioral patterns as deduced through yet another series of ultra-specific multiple choice questions, tells you what your real age is. Like, not your real, real age, but the age which you are really. Does that make sense? It didn’t to me at first either, but I saw on Facebook that all of my friends were really twenty-four, very adventurous, super carefree and full of life, even though everyone I know is either almost thirty or already thirty.

“You’re real age is …” I couldn’t wait to have the Internet confirm for me what I already knew, that I’m still as cool as I was in my early twenties, that even though I’m still young, I’m actually a lot younger, “three.” Three? I mean, I knew that I was youthful for my age, but this is pretty youthful. Do I really act like a three year old?

“You’re not afraid to take a knife and stick it right into a wall outlet, even though your fingers and hands are covered in electric burns, this time it’s going to be different, this time you’re going to find out exactly what’s on the other side of that socket. You’ve never outgrown your love of finger painting, and … what’s that smell? Is mom heating up some chicken nuggets for lunch? Mom’s making chicken nuggets for lunch! Yes! Extra ketchup please! No, I don’t want to wear a bib! Come on mom, I’m three years old, I can do whatever I want!”

This one was hit me a little hard, was BuzzFeed trying to tell me about some developmental disorder? Am I really this much of a handful to my friends and family? To my wife? I mean, doesn’t everybody miss the toilet seat once in a while? Those things are hard, man, and I’m so tall, it’s so far away. Why does that automatically make me a three year old?

But if BuzzFeed says so, then I guess I’ve got a lot of growing up to do. Which is nice, if you think about it, everybody else my age is busy worrying about unfinished dreams and graying temples, I can get back to basics, finally tackle those motor skills and basic social pleasantries. Because, yeah, I suppose it wasn’t really that nice when I grabbed that sandwich out of my coworker’s hand as he was about to take a bite. Even though I wanted it. That was his sandwich, and that was a really immature thing for me to do, to lick the whole thing so he wouldn’t try to get it back, and then to not even eat all of it, just the turkey really, I guess that wasn’t really grown-up of me.

And there are so many more quizzes, so much left to learn about myself. Thanks BuzzFeed, keep making quizzes, I’ll keep taking them, and I’ll continue to post the results on Facebook.

I’ll burn every bridge that I cross

Don’t burn your bridges? Fuck that, I want to burn every bridge that I cross. I want to go to work and storm out of there in a big huff, a huge, “You know what I really think?” type of berserker rage, my finger pointing every which way, “That’s what I really think!” I’m causing a huge scene, I’m flailing my arms around, plates of food dropping on the floor, the manager goes to call security, “somebody get the cops, he’s out of control.”


I’ll swing around to the dining room, I’ll take a bite out of some guy’s hamburger, sure, they’ll eventually drag me out of there, whatever man, you’ve got to sedate me? Whatever, bring it on, chain me up and throw me in front of that judge, “Listen son, you’re obviously very disturbed, so the state’s going to go ahead and offer you a choice: hard time in prison, or a treatment facility a couple hours north of the city …”

And I’ll cut him off, I’ll burn that bridge to the ground even before I cross it, I’ll be like, “Hey asshole, don’t call me son, OK? You’re not my dad. And what, you think I’m interested in your plea bargain? Get the hell out of here. You’re a joke. This system’s a joke.” And they’ll have to wheel me out of there, I’ll be screaming the whole time, little specks of foam flying out of the corners of my mouth.

After the sentencing I’ll be in prison orientation, maybe some public advocate will try to appeal to my more reasonable side. But I don’t have a more reasonable side, so he’ll be wasting his breath telling me all about how, “You might be able to shave a couple of years off of your term if you show a little good behavior.”

Good behavior? This guy won’t have any idea who he’s dealing with. I’ll play nice, for a while anyway, I’ll tell him every time he revisits my case or comes to check up on me, I’ll be like, “I’m being really well-behaved. Just ask any of the guards or the warden. I’m like the model of a well-behaved prisoner.”

And he might be skeptical at first, because honestly, it’ll be hard to hide my smile, that sinister grin just waiting for him to offer me the slightest inkling of trust. It’ll take a little bit, but I’ll wait, a couple of weeks, how often do those guys visit the inmates, once a month? More than that?

Finally he’ll feel like he might be getting through to me, I’ll contact his office and tell the  secretary that I need to see the advocate. He’ll show up to the meeting room and I’ll ask him, “Hey man, did you get my letter?” And he’ll say, “Letter? I don’t think so. When did you send me a letter?” And I’ll look down and say, “Oh … I guess I forgot to …” and then I’ll slam my foot down on top of his foot, like as hard as I can, and I’ll scream out, “Stamp it!”

A classic prank, but taken to the extreme, because listen buddy, I am where I am because of me, not because of some stupid guy in a suit claiming to be on my side. You know who’s on my side? Me. You know who else? Nobody. And he’ll be screaming in pain, hopefully I’ll have at least knocked a couple of toenails off.

I’ll have the maximum sentence, no time off for good behavior, it’ll be the absolute worst behavior that you can imagine. They’ll tell me to shut up and I’ll keep talking. They’ll scream out, “Lights out!” at the end of the night and every single time, I’ll scream out, “Lights on!” in reply. For meal time at the cafeteria, I’ll always cut the line, I don’t care how big all of the other inmates are, I’ll cut, every single time, I’ll go right to the first person in line and say, “Hey man, you mind if I back cut?” and I’ll just do it, I won’t even wait for a response.

Eventually they’ll have to let me out, I mean, it’s not like I’ll have killed someone or anything. And even though at my parole hearing I’ll get a lot of warnings about staying away from my old job, about not trying to make contact with my old boss, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Day one, buy a nice suit. Day two, go back to the restaurant and ask for my old boss.

“Hey boss,” I’ll still call him boss, even though I won’t have worked for him in years, it’ll be like an added layer of discomfort, just like that crazy grin I won’t really be trying that hard to suppress, “I just wanted to say … I’m really sorry.” And I’ll extend my hand, knowing that he’ll take it, if only to get me out of there.

And right as he goes for that handshake, I’ll pull back, really dramatically, I’ll do a really obnoxious laugh, “Ha! Sorry you’re such an idiot!” and maybe I’ll consider going on another rampage, but no, I’ll just laugh and walk out of there. And if my parole officer calls? Fuck that guy, he thinks he’s doing me a favor, telling me he’s on my side? He’s not on my side. I’m on my side. That’s it. If you’re thinking about helping me out, help yourself out, and stay out of my way.

Billy, sweet Billy boy

Dear Bill Simmons:

Panel & Screening Of "Beyond Playing The Field" 2010 Tribeca Film Festival

Bill, what’s up man? Am I getting through to you? Do I have a job at Grantland yet? Maybe this is all part of the process, like, week one, you saw my first letter, you were like, big deal, I get crazy letters from people all the time. And then week two, you saw that second letter and the beginnings of a smile started to form at the corners of your mouth, you thought, OK, maybe this guy’s serious. Probably not, but maybe. And here we are, week three, I’m imagining you reading this paragraph, this very sentence, and maybe you’re not directly thinking about personally giving me a call to say, “Welcome aboard, kid,” but there’s a part of your brain that can’t help but think about that spot over in the corner, you’re saying to yourself, “Well, maybe I could fit an extra desk there. And yeah, I guess we might be able to scrounge up the money to pay another full-time writer.”

I get it Bill, I know that this is a process. We’re still getting to know one another. Well, that’s not true exactly, because I’ve been reading your stuff online for a while now, I’m sure I know you about as well as you want all of your readers to know you. But you’re just getting to know me, through these letters. Assuming you are reading these. And yeah, I’m not blind to the fact that you might not be seeing them in real time. It’s hard to attract the attention of famous people on the Internet. It’s even harder when the sole purpose of attracting that attention is purely trying to get something out of that famous person.

Am I making that clear enough Bill? I just want you to give me a job. I don’t want to go through the whole traditional trying-to-break-into-the-industry route. I just want it to happen. I just want to magically say the name Bill Simmons three times in a row, and then you’ll appear in my inbox. It’ll be a letter that says something like:

“Hey Rob! I just came across all of your open letters to me on your blog. I’ve got to say, I’m really impressed with your style. Although it doesn’t take a lot of guts to just put stuff online, I’m more interested in the fact that you just kept writing to me, every week, posting links to your blog posts on Twitter, linking them to my Twitter, hoping that eventually I’d see something and offer you a job. Well, here it is Rob, the offer you’ve been waiting for. When can you start?”

You can use that letter if you want, I know you’re super busy, writing your own stuff. You probably don’t have a ton of time to respond individually to every aspiring writer seeking employment through your web site. I can start on Monday by the way. Any Monday. You call me or email me on any day of the week, and I’ll be there that Monday. Unless you get in contact with me on a Monday, in which case I’ll be there the following Monday. You understand, right? Same-day notice is a little tough.

But yeah, I do understand, there’s a lot of noise out there, everybody wants a cool writing job, it’s statistically improbable that I’m going to get your attention just by writing these letters. It’s tough out there, getting a job that doesn’t involve waiting tables. And writing? Forget about it. If I had any success nailing a writing gig, well, I wouldn’t be begging you from the Internet for a long-shot chance at a job.

Most of the stuff I send out gets no reply, which is almost worse than a flat-out rejection, because even if I did get rejected, at least I’d know that my stuff was getting through. With the no response, I can’t even imagine that my email or my resume is ever opened in the first place.

Except for this one time, I applied for an editorial position on some video game and comic book web site. I really wanted it, so badly, so I had an Edible Arrangement sent their office with a note that said, “Please, please, please, please, please hire me.”

And yeah, they called me in for an interview. It was crazy. Seriously, I started worrying that it was actually crazy, that I had put myself out there in a way that was abnormal. I pictured these people reading my note and thinking, did this guy actually send us a bouquet of fruit? I guess we should have him in here, just because, you know, he sent us the fruit.

I didn’t get the job, not even a callback. The whole interview was so awkward. When I got face-to-face with the editor in charge of hiring, I totally froze. I was sweating through my button-down. My answers didn’t make any sense, and I forgot to bring up the Edible Arrangement entirely. I mean, he didn’t bring it up, and I didn’t bring it up, and the next thing I knew, I was outside on the corner, little speckles of foam accumulating at the corners of my lips because I was so nervous and my mouth got really dry. And even though for a second I felt like I’d cracked some sort of code, like a “how-to-get-a-guaranteed-interview” life hack, man, those Edible Arrangements aren’t cheap. If only I had a ton of money, I could send you an Edible Arrangement. You and everyone else I’d like to work for.

Hey Bill, can I borrow fifty bucks? What do you like better, pineapples or strawberries? Can I please have a job?


Rob G.