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  1. I saw someone at an open mic who I haven't seen in quite a while.  He's a person with many personal problems, the biggest being his unawareness and lack of ownership of those issues.  (I'm not putting anyone down for having problems, as we all do have our share and then some.)  When he got divorced, I wanted to send flowers to his freed ex-wife.  By then, I felt I had had a small taste of what she had endured. 

    Unless I'm totally projecting, I always sensed a warm beating heart in him.  But he seems to have major issues with women and people in general, but mainly women -- a great lack of respect.  His behaviors are often repulsive.  When I knew him, his driving was extremely rage-filled.  I often felt I'd be safer on the NYC subway.  Each time I accepted a car ride from him, I felt I was taking a risk with my safety.  That scared me about myself.

    We met while we were each going through the end of our respective marriages.  (I wanted mine to end; his wife wanted theirs to end.)  We lived in the same borough.  I was just getting started in comedy.  He'd been doing the comedy open mic circuit for a number of years and been in a few shows.  There seemed to be some ingredients for a friendship.  He'd done some friend things like ride his bike from the Bronx to Manhattan to attend a poetry reading where I was featured.  He attended my comedy debut as did many other friends.  I went with him to open mics before I participated, so I was considered actual audience which is appreciated by open mic comics.  When I ran a poetry reading series with an open mic, I'd let him perform even if he wasn't there to hear the feature or the other open-mic-ers.  It seemed it could be a mutually beneficial comedy pal relationship.  I knew it couldn't be more than that.  I would have welcomed another friend, but he was at the point in his journey where he made fun of his wife's use of the term 'emotional abuse.'  So since he couldn't see he was doing it by making fun of her real complaints, I knew our depth of friendship was very, very limited. 

    Then things started getting weird and uncomfortable.  One summer day, he picked me up to go to an open mic.  When he saw me, he scowled and said, "You look nice."  His tone sounded pissed off like I'd done something offensive to him.  I didn't even know how to answer.  I felt defensive.  I had to remind myself that most people aim to look nice and not crappy.  So if that was a compliment, this relationship had a short life.  Another time he may think he complimented me was when he told me I looked like I could be Angelina Jolie's mother.  He's quite suave with the ladies, as you can see.  When his not-yet-ex found weed in their car, he, a man in his forties, told her it was mine.  He told me after the fact and wanted to know if I'd agree in case I was ever asked.  He was going through a divorce and she didn't approve of weed.  (At first I felt her as too straight-laced, but in all fairness, he had told her he would stop when they got married, so she had every right to expect he didn't indulge.)  I figured he had a lot at stake since they had a young child.  I didn't feel okay with this, but I agreed to say it was mine in spite of my insides screaming at me not to.  This was rapidly becoming a relationship that was bad for me.  In a way, I think because I was weaning off of my bad marriage, it may have been part of that process.  He was showing himself to be another person I shouldn't be with.  But I didn't love him or feel attracted to him, so in a way, it was like a much lighter version of bad-for-me situations.  Emotionally, it makes sense to me that it was part of a detoxing process. 

    I ignored strange things (which was part of my problems).  Like the one time I went as his guest to a show he was in, he sat with me separated from all his comedy friends.  I thought that was weird and wondered if he was ashamed of me or of them.  Yet he wanted to be with them.  He asked if I minded.  I didn't.  I wanted to see the show.  I was weeks away from my own comedy debut, and I appreciated every free opportunity to see comics in action.  But I found it very odd that he kept us separate.  He went and sat with them at times and then with me.  Had it been a 'date,' it would not at all have been acceptable to leave me alone for periods of time.  I thought it couldn't be any clearer that it was not a date.  Plus my ex was still in my house, and I didn't do the cheating thing, so if this guy was someone I'd have wanted to date, I wouldn't have hung around with him at all.  It would have been too difficult for me. 

    After seeing me perform at my debut, he said that I killed.  For those of you not involved in stand-up, the language is like sports and war since it's a very male dominated arena.  I don't connect with the language at all.  Bomb, kill, disarm, hit them, etc., etc.  I see it more as a party.  If everyone's laughing, we're having a good time at my party.  I don't make the folks sitting up front feel regretful at all.  I have a very different view.  I was happy that he enjoyed my performance.  I considered us comedy pals, and this was my first public stand-up performance, so it meant something.  But I assumed he enjoyed it when that wasn't really what he said.  He said that I killed which was a comment on how the audience received me, not necessarily that he enjoyed it.  And that hadn't occurred to me then.
 be continued...

  2. 9 comments:

    1. RHC said...

      This guy is a real prize package.

    2. Oh yes. Wait 'til next installment.

    3. Melinda said...

      Listen to your inner voice. It will guide you TO AND FROM PEOPLE. This guy, and learn.

    4. This was mostly 6 to 7 years ago. I'm speaking of it in hindsight. Seeing this person at an open mic recently brought it up for me.

    5. Mary said...

      This is so disturbing to read. I feel anxious when he speaks to you. I am happy to know this was in your past. She So Funny? He So Scary.

    6. Mary, it IS disturbing. I guess that's why it is a story I need to write. Yet more disturbing things were going on in each of our lives, but instead of our 'friendship' being a place of nourishment, it became something awful. I actually once wrote him asking if we could just be neutral with each other and not make things worse since we will meet again as we are in some of the same circles. I guess that didn't appeal to him.

    7. Edward Ayres said...

      This guy sounds like a real prize. Mindy, I have always found the stand up comedy business to have more than its share of socially maladroit people. We're all nuts to some degree. I mean, what kind of normal person decides he/she wants to stand up in front of a room of strangers and try to make them laugh? He sounds clueless as what is and is not appropriate social behavior. It's a shame too because he did do a couple of really nice things. BTW, I was wondering if you would hold heroin for me.

    8. Hi Edward. I noticed you are a friend of Jerry Shack. I like him so much as a human and a comic. But yeah, your observation about the comedy community -- I was so puzzled when I first began. People like Jerry helped me on a number of occasions to feel better. I hope you tune in for part two though it won't be the final installment. Thanks for stopping by. Oh, you really made me laugh about the heroin.

    9. Edward Ayres said...

      Jerry and I had the dubious distinction of being the two oldsters hanging around the stand up comedy business, trying to get an act established. He's a very nice guy. Can't wait for part two.

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