Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 8 -- Retreat

For two weeks I just lie in bed, balled up like a fetus who you knew was going to have a hard time getting through the birth canal. I was behind on my rent, and lost eight pounds. Even when I finally got out of bed, I was afraid to walk outside. I imagined that the rest of New York City was huddled out there – I envisioned it as a CGI-generated throng of eight million – dissing me. I had all my food delivered and hid behind the door, extending just my arm to take the food and pay the Mexicans who delivered it.

I had one last conversation with Katlyn. She called me one night to say she was sorry about the way things turned out, but that she had just received a copy of the edited program and that it looked fantastic – except that I could’ve used a little makeup. “But then, that would’ve spoiled everything, right?”

“You sadistic bitch –”

“There you go again. Mr. Negative.”

“Oh, I’m negative --”

“And Mr. Ungrateful. This is going to make you famous. At least more famous than you were, which was like you had a minus Q rating. One guy who got dumped by Shawna is a regular now on VH1.”

“Who gives a shit? He’s a moron.”

She sighed. “You so don’t have commercial instincts. Don’t you know that any publicity is good publicity? Besides, breaking up with you I’m doing you a favor. We would’ve just gone on being miserable.”

“I wasn’t miserable.”

“Well, I was miserable enough for the both of us. I was putting in misery OT. I was so miserable that when I’d see starving African kids I’d get resentful – like why weren’t they making a PSA about me?”

“So, you were fucking miserable? You couldn’t just tell me. You had to have some porn slut humiliate me on national television?”

“She’s not a porn slut! She was on ‘Two and a Half Chimps.’”

“Which chimp was she?”

“Look, this was a wakeup call. You’ve got to be more ambitious. I mean, you shouldn’t even have time to date.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t be. You’ve taken care of that.”

She sighed and I could hear her eyes rolling.

“This is about your folks. Acting out. A gesture of rebellion that you hoped would humiliate them in front of their Scarsdale club buddies.”

“I’m going to let you go.”

“No, you’re not going to let me go. I’m going to let you go first.”

“Take care.”

“Take care? Like you took care of me?”

“It’s every man for himself.”

I went back to bed for another four days, during which I only watched Turner Classic Movies. Nobody could’ve made a movie about a guy getting dumped by a porn star on national television in 1933. The past was safe. It was the future that you had to avoid at all costs.

Finally, my shame started to dissolve, like tear gas after a riot, and I needed to go out and look for work. I thought it might be safe to venture outside, and that by now, a week and a half after the show aired, Moron America would’ve shifted its attention to some other tele-boob. Then my mother called, and said one of her neighbors had seen a TV segment on me, that millions of people were passing around clips of my public humiliation, and that I was the hottest thing on the Internet.

I considered plastic surgery and wondered if there was a Witness Protection Program for the innocent.

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