Thursday, August 06, 2009
It's not ideal, but I have a silly restaurant job again. I hate working in the restaurant industry and I would prefer a job where I use my brain and possibly my college degree. But it pays the bills and it was the location for the following story.
I was forcing small talk with my coworker today who is 23 years old and has a lame mustache. He asked me what I do. This is an appropriate question because if you have white skin and work in a restaurant in New York City there is a 99 percent chance you are an "actor" or "musician," using both of those terms loosely. If your skin is not white and you work in a restaurant in NYC there is a 90 percent chance you are an "actor" or "musician" and an 8 percent chance you are working in this country illegally while being paid under the table.
I told him I am not sure what the hell I am doing in life and I guess that's why I am back in this silly industry. He told me he is musician, came to NYC in a band, they broke up, he still plays guitar, etc. He lives with his girlfriend, who is an performance artist. He told me his girlfriend was getting paid to get her performance artist graduate degree from New York University.
"Is she having any luck finding gigs?" I asked.
"No, she's a performance artist, not an actress, she does not do theater," he responded.
"What does she do?"
"For example a performance artist will sit in a museum and starve herself for seven days. That's not what my girlfriend does though. My girlfriend is actually kinda famous."
"Cool. What is something she has actually done?"
"Don't tell anybody in the restaurant this. I don't want people to know. Her last project was having nine abortions." (note: What I wrote above was the extent of our small talk, excluding the standard 'Where are you from?' 'Did you go to school?' I do not have a clue why he felt he could confide his secrets with me.)
"Wow," I said with the same deadpan expression I use whenever anybody says anything that ridiculous. "So you got her pregnant nine times?"
"No this was before we were dating," he calmly replied, acting as if nine abortions were the equivalent of twisting your ankle. "Her senior thesis was that she would get pregnant and then purposely take medicine that would make her miscarry."
"Oh, cool man," I said. Then I decided that was enough for today and I found an excuse to walk away.
I thought about his ridiculous story for a while. I'm not wildly pro-life or pro-choice, but I am pretty sure nine abortions is crossing some line.
I didn't tell anybody at work except for my friend Big Ra, the dishwasher, who happens to be the only person I really talk to at work.
In Arizona all the dishwashers were Mexican and spoke little, if any, English. I understood this as most of them were living in the country illegally and with a heavy communication barrier, washing dishes was the best job many of them could get.
I have no idea why able-bodied, English-speaking African-Americans wash all the dishes in my current restaurant. I keep waiting and hoping for them to make an ass out of me and tell me the entire history of BMW a la Jamal Wallace.
"Nine abortions! I ain't never heard of anything like that. Man that pussy must be tow' tha fuck up," Big Ra said.
"It's gotta be," I responded, withholding my it's-not-your-fault-but-society's-fault-for-raising-you-in-centralized-poverty-with-an-terrible-education-system-that-never-gave-you-a-fair-chance diatribe for yet another day.
I walked out of work thinking that perhaps my abortion-freak-dating co-worker was just an incredible bullshitter with a sense of humor far more deranged than even my own. Maybe the kid was just as bored as me, fabricated the grossest story of all time and laughed at me the whole night for actually believing it.
I got home. Googled "nine abortion performance art." The motherfucker was telling the truth.