100daysoff

Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 51

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So, today I started my second half of my 100 days.  It has been my experience that second halves of things go faster than first halves: summers, baseball games, life, dessert.  I remember after my first semester at the University of Pennsylvania packing my bag to head home for a couple of weeks and seeing my next door neighbor, Dave Landsberg looking really depressed.  I asked what was wrong and he told me, “The first half of Freshman year is over.  Before you know it, all of Freshman year will be over, then college will be over, then we’ll be 40, then we’ll be dead.”  At the time I wrote it off as bitterness because he wasn’t going skiing over winter break, but now that I have checked off three of those four boxes, I see what he means.  So, with that, I have humbly adjusted my goals for the second half of my 100 days.  I want to lose 5 more pounds, organize my basement and get a job so I can gain 15 pounds and buy more crap to put in my basement.

Day 51 was a mixed bag.  Late Friday afternoon I received an email from my buddy whose pilot I had been helping out on.  He said that we would be having a run-through today at 2:30 and would be working until tonight and appreciated my being there.  I responded, “I never signed up to do more than two days.”  He responded, “Yes, you did.  If you can’t do it, let me know.”  I responded, “Fine, I’ll do it.  But just so you know yours is the ONLY pilot I’m working on this season.  And not just because you’re the only one who asked me.”  I then got a follow-up call just after sundown Friday (the equivalent of calling an agent during lunch– you want to log in the call, but you don’t want to speak to him) saying that he wouldn’t be needing my help.  They had overbooked writers and were going to keep the room small.  So, needless to say, today I was pissed and my feelings were hurt– especially when my other friends texted me to ask where I was.  This could be a call for self-reflection: maybe being the guy in the room who gets laughs at the showrunner’s and show’s expense is not the high percentage career move.  My wife and I have always said that our son is cute enough to stay alive.  I have always operated under the theory that I am funny enough to not get fired.  In fact, when I was younger, I was the camp clown at Camp Potomac and was told by my Group Leader that someday my jokes would either make me really rich or that someone would kill me.  It’s a hell of a thing to say to a 10 year old, and while neither has come true, I see what he means, too.

After my day freed itself up, I decided to retry one of the scariest things I’ve done over this hiatus: buy pants.  If you recall, last time I tried to buy pants, about a month ago, I sat in the dressing room like the girl in the Cathy cartoons, with a squiggly frown surrounded by a mountain of pants that did not fit.  In fact, I had to sneak out of that dressing room in Bloomingdale’s so that I wouldn’t be shamed by the guy who “helped” me.  I say “helped” because all he did was open the dressing room door.  I refuse to take help from someone offering to find my size.  To me, I feel like I’m at the Guess Your Weight booth at the amusement park.  It’s a no win situation: if they guess high, you feel like the slob you are, if they guess low, you are forced to squeeze into pants that you know you will not fit into unless you buy a chainsaw first.  My biggest fear in these confrontations is that the conversation goes this way: “Hi, can I help you find a size?”  “No, I’m good.”  “Well, there are a lot of sizes shuffled in there, why don’t you just tell me what you’re looking for.”  “Fine.  I’m looking for a size 34.”  “(Eyebrows raised) A size 34?” “Yes.  34”  “34… waist?”  “Yes.  I want a size 34.”  “American size 34?  It stands for inches.”  “I KNOW WHAT IT STANDS FOR.  I WANT A PAIR OF 34 SLIM FIT JEANS.”  “Slim fit?”

That’s why I never ask for help.  So, today, with a little time to kill, I trepidatiously walked over to the casual pants section at Nordstrom.  I was there to buy a tie, but I figured while I’m here I’ll see if my diet of eating only raw meat and no dairy, soy, grains or sugar, combined with a workout schedule that would make a convict throw up, had helped me to fit into pants with a waist that doesn’t look like a blood pressure reading when compared to the length.  (Why the hell wouldn’t want my friend want that sort of verbal artistry in his script?)  Anyway, I fished through the jeans– looking for key words like “relaxed” and “roomy” and “lardass” as my guide– when the very skinny, very effete Joshua approached me.  “Finding everything okay to–”  “Yes!  Just looking for pants.  I know exactly what I’m looking for and what size they should be.”  Now, a rational person wouldn’t care about size if he actually needed pants; he would want pants that actually fit and looked good.  But you know me well enough by now.  I reached for the first pair of 34s I saw– didn’t have any of the keywords I was looking for, but also didn’t say anything like “Narrow Waist” or “Straight Leg” or “European” or “Proportionate” so I thought I had a decent chance.  I also grabbed a couple of pairs of shorts just for cover.

I got into the dressing room, got completely undressed– even took my hat off for some reason, didn’t want any extra weight, then looked down at the pants– the same way I looked down at the Mediterranean Sea the one and only time I went cliff diving.  I took a deep breath and slipped the pants on– one leg at a time, just like everyone else.  We were past the calves– a good sign, but not really a trouble zone.  Then came the thighs– this was where the chubby men were separated from the fit boys– I closed my eyes and pulled them up and… clearance!  But like any good horror movie, the last obstacle would be the hardest– the posterior.  Generations of Astrofs working as potato farmers had developed the perfect butt for hauling their day’s work through the fields back to their small towns in Russia and Poland, not a single one of them imagining that one day 300 years from then one of their descendants would be trying on pants in Nordstrom’s in The Grove of Los Angeles.  But alas, here I was, the moment of truth, hands shaking, self-loathing ready to spring me into a hissy fit against poor Joshua and any of the other manorexic employees.  And then… silence.  I pulled the pants up, like a normal human being and zipped them up.  The button closed and I yelled with joy.  Joshua responded, “Is everything okay?  Do you want me to get you a 36 or 38?”  “No, Joshua, I’m fine with the 34s.”  “The 34s?”  “Yes, the 34s.”  “Hmm.  Are you su–”  “Yes, dammit they fit!”  And after the tailor came to remove the extra foot of pant off each leg, I became the proud owner of a lime green pair of pants.  That’s right– they’re awful, but they’re 34s and they fit.

I was hoping that my tremendous victory at Nordstrom’s wouldn’t come at the expense of my son’s health– yes, sadly, that’s how I sometimes think, about life being a zero-sum game.  I know it’s not true, it’s just what my anxiety breeds.  As I mentioned yesterday, I think, my son has had a problem having accidents.  My self-diagnosis was too awful to even print here, so I took him to the doctor.  My son said he didn’t like the doctor to touch his privates.  I tried to calm him by telling my story of how my old man doctor grabbed me by the testicles and had me do yoga for him.  It didn’t calm him down.  After giving a urine sample, my son sat on the exam table, looking so small.  The doctor came in after a few minutes and said that his urine was normal– clear, no sugar in it– which ruled out the big possible concerns (yet didn’t stop me from guessing other things it could be).  The doctor finally said that he thinks there is nothing physically wrong with my son, thank God, and it’s probably just mental.  The best thing I could do as a father is just to be reassuring and carry an extra pair of underwear for him.  On the ride home I asked my son if anyone had ever touched him inappropriately.  He said no.  I asked more questions until we were both uncomfortable then drove him back to his school’s book fair where he bought my wife a candle.

So, to summarize the start of my second half: No work to go to, fit into pants, son is not sick, still have money to buy candles.  You know what?  I think the bar is set pretty high for the next 49 days.

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Written by 100daysoff

April 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. very happy to hear it’s nothing.

    David Kopp

    April 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm


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