Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't Listen

David and I work as event technicians for the JCC in Rockville. Among other assorted duties, it means we run lights, sound, projections, and generally babysit the theatre during programs. Sometimes this can be incredibly busy if there are a lot of light and sound cues to run. Sometimes it can be really interesting - like in the case of a recent talk by Jeff Zaslow about Randy Pausch, an incredibly inspiring former professor who passed away from pancreatic cancer after touching the nation by giving what would literally be his Last Lecture.

However sometimes the experience is a mind numbing, thought paralyzing experience in tedious boredom no human should ever have to endure without access to Wikipedia. And it was during one such trial of our spirit that we noticed that the reel to reel player mounted on the booth sound rack looks EXACTLY like an evil robotic frog muppet face. We named him Kermecha Insidio.

And now, during programs, he talks to us. He tells us to do things. During these horrible programs, he is the voice in our ears. His eyes stare into our soul. He tells us we need to stop them at all costs, by any means necessary. During the Jewish Historical Society meeting, as we listened to the first update of the group's bylaws since the early 1980s, it was hard to argue with anything Kermecha said. He had so many valid points about how this just. had. to. end.

But so far we've been strong. We've made it through without incident. Kermecha Insidio is the voice in our heads that we have to ignore, because as good as it may feel, it would cause great harm in the long run.

Which reminds me of the time I listened to that voice.

In senior year of high school I found out from a friend that there was a girl that was pretty into me. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the same way. I just was really not into this girl in that way at all. But she was a friend, and I've been in her place WAY too many times that I had no interest in making someone feel like I had felt so many times before. So I managed to avoid the situation altogether in classic Schlafstein fashion - by being completely oblivious to everything she did or said. I used to be really good at pretending not to know things I did, a skill which has lessened over time after learning so much more and watching people hurt each other for years. But in my heyday, I was the KING of just not knowing quite what was going on. She'd say something obviously flirtatious, and I took it completelly literally. I was as dense as a brick. And equilibrium was maintained.

Until the cast party for Les Miserables. It started innocently enough - paper plate awards, massive amounts of chips, more soda than should be legal. But then there was a very public hookup between two people who had no business ever locking lips, much less around other people, and suddenly the floodgates were open. It was makeout city. And this was new to me. We're not talking about head in the doorway, sex on the floor - but there was a lot of making out. And coming from a group of friends more likely to hear the word "skank" and think of a dance and not a girl, this was a bit of a different scene than I was used to.

I had a small thing for a girl at the time my friend Ami nicknamed "The Infidel" because I'm Jewish, she was Muslim, and Ami has never really been one for social graces. I meandered through the couches filled with lapping tonguage and awkward onlookers, trying to find her - likely to have one of my trademark 'meaningful conversation.' But I was found first. By Ana.

Now Ana was very attractive, and at the time topped the list of people "I'd like to be friends with but aren't really." I'm not sure we had ever talked before. Out of her whole group, she was the one I knew the least. So it was a little wierd that she would stop me very deliberately in front of the basement door and say "Jason, you should come outside with me."

I looked out the window and saw the girl who liked me standing on the porch looking a mix of frustrated and nervous. I looked to my right and saw tonguefest 2003 continuing around me and I put 2 and 2 together pretty quick. Mama Schlaf didn't raise no fool.

So I kept up plan A) act like I have no idea what's going on. Hey, it's been working, why mess? So I said "oh cool, but I'm gonna go downstairs."

But Ana looked at me again, and looked outside and I could tell she knew exactly what I was pretending I didn't know - so she said "Jason, you should really come outside." I dropped the sherade and just said "I really don't want to."

That's when Ana held my hand - did I mention she was really pretty? - looked me straight in the eyes and said in that way "I really want you to come outside with me."

and a little voice inside my head said "maybe you'll get with both of them."

I had never heard that voice before, and I have never heard it again. But that night, I did. And I went outside. What I couldn't see from inside, blocked by the wall? My friend Mitch, also standing on the porch. I walk outside and see him and realize immediately - it was a setup. A trade. A you get one and I'll get the other. As soon as we step out into the open air Ana runs to Mitch, encircles him with her body, and proceeds to engage in what can only be described as epic passion. Mitch has just enought time to give me a big thumbs up over her head before he is totally enveloped.

That's when I turn around and see the other girl coming straight at my face.

I'm in a dilemma - on the one hand, I really don't want to do this. On the other, more people have shown up and I don't want to push this girl off of me in front them and really embarass her. Turns out fear and confusion is a pretty good motivator, as it was one of the better kisses I'd given to that point.

When it was done she just said "damn."
I just said "I have to go." and wandered back into the hormone fest, searching for The Infidel, as we all are, I'm sure.

Ana apologized later that night, which she really didn't have to do because she had done nothing wrong, but I had proof she was in fact using her feminine wiles to seduce me outside.

It's one of the few times I ever made out with someone I didn't really like that way, and in the scheme of things it's wholly unimportant. But I care about stuff like that, only being with people I really WANT to and who really want to be with me. And in that way, it's a mark on my record of me not holding up to my own code of conduct.
And it never would have happened if I hadn't listened to the voice I now know to be Kermecha Insidio.

Damn you Kermecha. Damn you to robot muppet hell.

As a coda to the story, Mitch had about the best weekend ever. He had hooked up with the girl I was into either earlier that day or the day before. There was being ambushed by Ana (they were on their way to the basement, and I presume a closet, when she stopped to talk to me again). And later that night he stopped by another girl's house - who he started dating that very night, and they were together the solid part of a year.
So whatever voice he's got, listen to that.


Adam Z. Winer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nevie said...

oh, mitch lerner.