(10 november 2006)
today, i gave my first autograph.
but let me begin at the beginning.
i hate umbrellas. almost as much as i hate birds.
but, no. i should go back further.
i should go back to my irrational fear of electrocution. yes, that’s the beginning. i used to have this irrational fear of electrocution. every doorknob held the threat of a shocking death. static cling left me quaking in my zippered boots. a logical hysteric, i developed a slew of preventative measures to delay my inevitable death by doorknob shock.
at some point, i wised up and transfered the irrationality to the more obvious threat: umbrellas. because, by God, umbrellas are frightful. as does most everything else, this comes back to my loathing of eyeballs. umbrellas have spikes. eyeballs-on-spikes. horror.
because i hate umbrellas, i ventured out into the icky chicago blustery rain this afternoon bundled in the green coat, the yellow scarf and the blue hat, and wearing the HUGE sunglasses because waterproof eyeliner has yet to be invented. (ed. note: it now has.)
walking down clark street, i was innocently bopping to brian eno’s “baby’s on fire,” savoring the dramatic irony that baby’s firey plight was unfolding while i was being drenched, when suddenly a hand clasped my arm.
fearful of an umbrella encounter, i lept back, only to see a benign kid. a girl of maybe 15 or 16 (i’m old. ages blur. she could’ve easily been 22.). this girl, wearing those pants where you can tell- even from the front- that there’s writing on the butt, stood there clutching my arm.
i looked for weaponry. because the sidewalk in front of The Weiner’s Circle seemed as good a place as any to be assaulted by a teenybopper with HOTT STUFF written on her ass. but no. hott stuff brandished nothing but a pen.
hot stuff seemed short of breath. she seemed to have a desperate need to speak to me. i shut up the eno and looked at her.
DAMN. NICK. hott stuff exclaimed, spitting the words as though she couldn’t get them out fast enough. both syllables dripping with unmitigated hate.
obviously, hott stuff had been electrocuted by the doorknob at The Weiner’s Circle and what i was witnessing were the residual twitches of the electrical currents combined with a mild case of tourettes.
hott stuff reached to pull something out of her bag. an umbrella?! i wondered, with furrowed, fearful brow. when a battered back issue of STAR emerged, my relief was visible.
still recovering from the stress of her recent electrical shock, hott stuff fumbled through the magazine, increasingly frantic as the raindrops dashed across the glossy pages. finally, she heaved a sigh of content and thrust the open page toward me, pointing at the headline, Jess To Nick: You’re a Girlie Man!
hott stuff leaned closer. she offered me the pen, which i took for fear she might activate a button, upon which the harmless-looking pink sparkly writing utensil would explode into one of those umbrellas for cocktail drinks. eyeballs-on-balsa. ouch.
hott stuff thrust the magazine at me and leaned in, as though she were confessing a deep secret for which she had spent weeks ratchetting up the courage. hott stuff looked deep into my sunglasses.
she looked deep into my sunglasses and said, i just love your sister.