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

Day 88

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Long before the Adam Sandler movie, “Click”, I thought of a short story about having a remote control for my life, but the thing about it was that it only had Play and Fast Forward.  In the short story our hero started Fast Forwarding through all the tough parts of life: dental visits, job deadlines, yoga, then started Fast Forwarding through the boring parts of life: waiting rooms, traffic jams, reading through some pedantic a-hole’s blog, until finally our hero had zoomed through his entire life.  I know, the Adam Sandler version where you can watch a girl’s boobs jiggle in slow motion seems better, but the point of my short story was, of course, that we– that is, I– often wish away most of life in anticipation for the “good parts”.  There has never been a script that I have started where I haven’t wished that someone would come back from the future and hand me the final draft so I could just copy it.  The same thing with this journal– I want to skip to Day 95 and find out what job I took or Day 97 to find out if my garage ever got clean, or even the end of Day 88 so I can go to bed.  But then I would miss all the painstaking details– the tiny victories and subsequent defeats– that actually create my life.  I had a friend come over today who is an A/V guy–not the nerdy A/V guys from school who turned the film projector knob when it beeped, but a cool former model who installs “kick ass home entertainment systems”.  My friend, I’ll call him Dino, came by because the $2700 sound system I bought to go with the free tv I won last year, was not living up to the first part of it’s name– ie: it wasn’t making any sounds.  Of course, like the AAA guy whose mere presence caused my car to start, Dino turned on the tv and it made sounds.  He had allotted more than 15 seconds for this job, so we had time to talk (he and his family had recently moved to Oklahoma).  He asked me what I had been doing with my time off.  I told him I was writing a blog.  “What’s the blog about?”  “What I’ve been doing with my time off.”  “Okay.  So, what have you been doing with your time off?”  “Writing a blog.”  He was as confused as I was until I told him that I was also cleaning my garage– eventually, and getting into shape– ditto, and spending more time with my kids.  Having no more to show for my 88 days than that, we watched tv until his next appointment.

After Dino left, leaving me feeling like crap about myself, I decided that I needed to do something that I have been putting off for awhile– cleaning my closet.  Using the pregnancy analogy, I am now in the final phase– the “nesting” phase where I instinctively want to clean and organize my home.  Our oldest daughter is 119 months old and my wife still has not gone into her “nesting phase.”  I had decided that I would get rid of any article of clothing I hadn’t worn in over a year, along with anything “novelty” or “ironic”.  This would normally be an activity I would Fast Forward through, but there’s something a little bit sublime about getting rid of clothes.  Each item of clothing represented something: there were the four different team jerseys from each team sport that I coached and forced Caleb to play even though he hated– gone.  Four Tommy Bahama Hawaiian print silk golf shirts– see ya.  Then a variety of tight thermal shirts and flannel jackets that looked so good on the mannequins but made me look like a lesbian pastry bag.  Certain things were harder to throw out– three college reunion shirts featuring the names of the guys I lived with my senior year– one of whom died in Central Park, and I still speak to him only slightly less often than I do to the 8 other guys.  And certain things I couldn’t give away: like the Mets jersey that my father wore when I got him Mets fantasy camp for his 60th birthday.  Some day, that jersey will hang unworn in my son’s closet.  And there were things that I couldn’t get rid of fast enough: my skinny jeans.  I realize that it is a sign of defeat to give away the jeans, but I couldn’t justify keeping them.  For fun, I tried a pair of black straight-leg slim fit 32 inch waist Levi’s on and I was only able to pull them up high enough so that if I took a picture of myself wearing them you would think I was taking a dump in the woods.  Ditto my two other pair of skinny jeans that I would only fit into if I got the Big Sick– at which point I wouldn’t be wearing jeans anyway, I suppose.  I did however, keep one pair of skinny jeans.  I’m not sure if they’re a memorial, or if they’re motivation, but I keep them in the back of my closet like the Small Pox vaccine, never knowing when I’ll need them.

Fast forward past the closet clean-up to my one and only meeting of the day.  As I mentioned, going on meetings when you have a job that may come back is like dating someone just in case the girl you’re currently dating doesn’t work out.  I mentioned yesterday that that happened to me with my Horrible Ex- and I would like to extend the analogy.  Today,  I got a call from my current and maybe future or perhaps former boss as I was pulling into the Guard Gate at a studio on my way to a meeting.  He was on speaker phone, talking about our show which got a bit of good publicity today, when the guard at the gate asked me for my ID.  “Who’s that?”  “No one.  Radio.”  “The radio just told you to park in the main structure then go to building 103?”  “It’s KISS FM, they’re doing a thing–”  I then confessed that I was going on a meeting for another show.  “Obviously, if our show comes back, I’m delighted– and obligated– to come back with it.”  He said that I should probably not to say too much about our show in my meeting and I mistook that for him trying to give me advice on how to get another job.  It was the second time in my life I have had this type of miscommunication.

I met my Horrible Ex- in a bar on the Upper West Side of Manhattan called “Mingles”.  It was the type of place that unapologetically sold Jello shots and I was the type of guy who liked getting drunk on a Tuesday.  After slurping down my fifth cup of cherry courage, I made my way over to Cindy, who was beautiful after only the second shot.  Cindy in fact was so beautiful, even after sobering up, that I ignored the fact that she had the same last name as a famous Nazi.  Anyway, Miss Cindy Goebbels was playing Pop-a-Shot surrounded by a group of random douchey investment banker guys when I approached her and told her my favorite joke in the world.  It’s a three minute joke that starts out: “Kermit the Frog goes into a bank to get a mortgage…” and ends with the punchline, “Why that’s a knickknack Paddywhack, give the frog a loan!”  Cindy was immediately smitten and we had an amazing relationship for three months, which lasted for two and a half horrible years, ending the night in our apartment that I was paying for when she came back from a date at 5:19 in the morning.  A month after that horrible night was my birthday, and since Cindy and I were still friends– ie: she still used my American Express card– I invited her out to my birthday getaway at a small hole in the wall bar called Molly Malones and she asked if she could bring along a friend, “Her name is Jennifer and I think you’ll really like her.”  Now, my dear friends, at the time I was young and naive and thought that you could maintain a relationship– nay, a friendship– with a recent ex and I assumed, as you would have if you were as stupid as I, that she was bringing her friend along to set me up with her.  Here’s what happened:

We all crammed into a booth where Jennifer happened to sit between me and Cindy Himmler.  Everything was going great: we were all laughing and drinking and laughing some more and drinking some more and Jennifer and I seemed to be really hitting it off well.  Setting her up with me was the first nice thing that Cindy Eichmann had done for me in over two years.  I then asked Jennifer if she liked jokes.  The next part happened in slow motion– as if whomever was controlling the remote wanted to see every last bit, and I don’t blame them: I turned to Jennifer and said, “Keeerrrrrrrmmmmmiiiiiiiit theeeeee Frrrrrooooooogggggg goooooeeees innnnnto a bannnnnnk….” and we went back to real time as Cindy Goerring slammed down her drink and shouted, “You piece of S—!”  I defended myself as best I could: “What?!  I thought you were setting her up with me?!” One month later Cindy ran up a $2,500 tab on my credit card buying her fiancee a new suit.  And that’s all I’m going to tell you about my Horrible Ex.

Fast Forward through my meeting which was quite good but which I can’t tell you about until tomorrow because of a secret thing that happened.  I’m home with the kids, feeling bad that I had scheduled my meeting during their parent-teacher conferences, but since these are the kind of stressful meetings that I usually Fast Forward in my head through, I’m glad that Shawni went.  And you know what, the news was… FANTASTIC.  Both kids are doing remarkably well: Sasha has turned a corner in math and more importantly, seems really, really happy.  Caleb is one of the best readers in his class and is more importantly a real mensch although I think Shawni mentioned that he has trouble focusing– the truth was I was answering an email while she told me, but the overall gist of it was that he was doing great.  It seems that our children our hitting their stride, and maybe, just maybe they’re going to be okay.   I don’t know if it’s happening because of something I did, or more likely, something I didn’t, but I really feel like I’m in a good place with my kids right now.  And because I know it can change over night, I know I’m going to want to take it slowly: frame by frame, and enjoy every last bit while it lasts.  Because the one thing I know for sure is that the remote doesn’t have Reverse.


Written by 100daysoff

May 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. The cliffhanger installment. Fast forward to tomorrow.


    May 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm

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