after my last entry i was looking forward to writing to you from somewhere in the city. alas, sarah has work--motion capture for some commercial--i have the dog, and new york city has the coronavirus. i listened to the sam harris podcast while making breakfast this morning. he had a disease expert on to discuss what we do and do not know about the virus. they proposed self-quarantine as an important public service. sam evidently pulled his <quote-01>kids<quote-01> from school over a week ago. Bonkers.
sarah and i have a theatre date planned for this thursday with eric and his wife. i took a look at the theatre’s webpage today: full refunds to anyone feeling under the weather, no questions asked; there was also a description of everything the theatre was doing to disinfect their facility between performances. eric and his wife are welcome to do what they want, but i’m thinking it prudent sarah and i cancel.
the pregnancy is at the forefront of our minds, especially after last year’s misscarraige. we’re now in the second trimester, which is better than the first as far as complications go, but because the virus is so new, women contracting the virus in their second trimester have yet to have their babies. so who knows.
and, of course, for sarah, there’s also cooper. can dogs get this thing? highly unlikely, i’d imagine. however, leave it to sarah to find reports of some pomeranian in hong kong that supposedly tested positive. cooper is gonna be one unhappy camper if he has to quarantine. we’re told he plays nonstop at daycare, doing his best to socialize all the more anxious dogs, evidently with great success. when he gets home it’s straight to bed. a couple turns, a couple fluffs of the blanket, and he collapses, out cold.
he’s lazing on the couch beside me now--daydreaming of daycare, i wouldn’t wonder.
hey babe, that corona virus pomeranian have a name? i text sarah. of course it has a name, stupid. who gets a pomeranian and doesn’t name it? she replies.
i had a couple of auditions yesterday: a blue bloods guest star and a voice over for ikea. i gave a hell of an audition for blue bloods a couple weeks prior (we got to write a part for that guy, producers were reported to have said after i left); unfortunately, that one didn’t go my way. this new role wasn’t as exciting as the previous one. i spent the weekend buried in the text regardless, determined to make the most of it.
sarah had a dinner date with a friend early saturday evening, and i wanted to get out of the house, so i put cooper in his crate with a bully stick and headed to lone wolf to shoot some pool. i ran lines with myself on my walk over, in dialog with the other parts i’d recorded on my phone.
lone wolf is my favorite place to shoot in the neighborhood. as the bar fills up--especially on weekends--so does the pool list, so early evenings are often great times to shoot. there’s seemingly always a shooter around looking to play. i know most of them by name. they know me as <quote-02>wib<quote-02>--that’s the name i write on the chalkboard.
lane was waiting for someone to play when i got there. lane’s a metal guy: blue collar, beard to mid chest, always in black and sporting multiple skull-rings; he’s about my size but shorter and stockier, good humored, loquacious. he brings his cue with him to the bar. i remember when he got it a few years back; he insisted i try it out, extolling its features.
i grabbed a drink, changed some singles, and went straight to the table to rack ‘em.
lane’s a decent enough shooter. he runs an APA team out of another bar in brooklyn; they play on sundays. i’ve never played on a team. i should; i bet it’d be a lot of fun. years ago he asked for my number, saying he’d let me know if a spot opened up on his team. unfortunately, texts from him had been more along the lines of, hey did you see that bag of coke i left on the table lying around anywhere? than, hey i got an opening sunday, you around?
anyway, we start playing, and while we’re at it, a young lady writes her name on the chalkboard before returning to her boyfriend seated on a bench along the wall. lane suggests we play doubles after our game. neither of them are very good, but they’re friendly enough. both are slight of frame and unkempt--ripped skinny jeans, faded black denim jackets. when they stand together, he drapes himself over her like an anorexic ryan adams strung out at the pinball machine.
lane and i are about to win when she makes a shot she didn’t intend to. i’m up next, and rather than point out the rules (shots have to be intentional), i let her continue to shoot. you’re just doing that because she’s a girl, lane says to me. i sink the eight ball after she misses her next shot.
the couple heads out back for a smoke before taking off, and lane and i get a few more games in before anyone else shows up looking to play. we recreate a particularly interesting position after a game in order to practice how to attack it. lane is really into this--he wants to better himself at the game. i’m enjoying myself as well. while grabbing us another round and a fresh stack of quarters, i replay moments of the blue bloods script in my mind.
one thing i appreciate about pool, especially in contrast to auditioning, is that when you win, you know why you’ve won. in the audition room, this isn’t the case; sometimes you win when you lose, sometimes you lose when you win--and you never know why. after fifteen years of auditioning in new york, there’s something comforting about the transparency of a game of pool.
our next contenders--lane again talks them into playing teams--are a fashion forward chubby dude in his early thirties (thick-framed glasses, kandinsky-esque sweater); a shorter, short-haired, compact woman--likely a power lifter--in her late thirties; and a tall beanpole of a girl--dorky, but attractive--in her early twenties at the latest.
skinny is new to the game, and her friends help her with how to hold the cue. lane and i win the first game, and during the second, a couple regulars saunter up to write their names on the chalkboard. the second game is more evenly matched: lane and i miss a couple shots we should’ve made, they make a few they probably should’ve missed. with only the eight ball left, skinny is up. unfortunately, she’s yet to pocket a ball. her friends help her line up the shot as lane and i standby.
she banks it in, and we all erupt in celebration. after writing my name and lane’s name on the chalkboard, i ask him if he needs another drink while we wait. i don’t know what your problem is, bro, but you’ve got some real thinking you need to do about your actions and the way you treat people, he says to me.
you just cost us the table, motherfucker. you just cost me the table. / she made the eight ball, lane, what are you talking about... / she didn’t call her pocket! and you know she didn’t call her pocket! / um, yes she did.
or if she didn’t her friends were behind her helping her aim the thing, so it seemed pretty obvious where she was going, but i don’t get any of this out because he’s mowing me down. this is all between us, mind you; this is not a big show.
she did not! you let her have that because she’s a girl! and you cost me the table! the fuck you think i’m out here doing? i’m out here to play, not to sit around on my ass. / there’s almost no one on the list, lane... / you realize i can’t trust you anymore, right? that i can’t play with you anymore. you just showed your true colors. / ……… / you’re fucking gross, bro. you would never have let that slide if it was a dude. / but she made the shot. / no. she. did. not. i fucking warned you! i fucking warned you about your sexism earlier!
you need to go home and think about yourself, he blurts before taking off for the bathroom. there is a huge misunderstanding here, but this dude is not open to hearing me talk. i suppose i could give ground on whether or not she actually called her shot, but i mean, christ, even then, who gives a shit? this isn’t a tournament, it’s a saturday at 8:30.
i figure i should probably just take off. after closing out, i try to approach lane again. to apologize? i don’t know, something. i just feel so bad. before i can get a word out, he starts into me again. you need to calm down right now, bro. i don’t want to listen to your excuses, you’re not going to talk your way out of this. i don’t want to hear any of your stupid logic. you’re a fucking sexist, bro. you’re not going to reason your way out of this. just get the fuck out of here. you’re a sexist pig. go home and think about yourself.
and that was that.
i called ozzy on my walk home to tell him about what had happened. lane’s complete refusal to verbally engage had hit me hard.
there was nothing performative about lane’s tirade; it was personal. for me, this eliminated the simpler explanation of <quote-03>virtue signaling<quote-03>. signalling to whom? he obviously cared more about keeping the table than he did about any of the women he claimed i was treating unfairly, but something about me was threatening to him. why else would he be that aggressive? there must be something he cared about even more than keeping the table.
i imagine you’d have simply guffawed to yourself and called him a little bitch to his face like you would with koontz, i told ozzy. fuck yeah, he said, exactly as you imagine he would.
i sighed. well, all signs pointing towards trumps re-election, no? i said. we chuckled in horror at the connection.
explaining what had happened to sarah later that night, i realized that i was hurt. we’re not, like, friends, but i’ve known lane casually for years. when he asked how i was doing, i told him how i had a kid on the way. he ordered shots to celebrate, telling me how he’s one of some eight odd kids and how his mother exclusively used cloth diapers.
the following night as i was making dinner, my back started to seize up on me. it started as a dull pain on the lower right but rapidly increased in intensity. after taking my temperature and doing a little web research, sarah concluded that it probably wasn’t organ related. must be muscular, we thought. i stretched my body this way and that, contorting myself on the floor and on the bed. nothing eased the pain. i wept, pacing the apartment. i was out of my head.
get this man his back pills, i can hear you say, murph. to qualify, hoke, i’ve never had back issues--never taken pills for pain. murph just entoned them as the perfect thing to endow me with needing for being such a little bitch when i’m hungry. low blood sugar used to really heighten my anxiety. luckily, this doesn’t seems to be the issue it once was. smoking probably exacerbated it, who knows.
four hours later, the pain was gone. i was lying in bed, wondering how much longer i could endure before calling the paramedics, when the pain just disappeared.
i moved gingerly about the city the following day, giving myself plenty of time to get to my auditions. i was terrified i’d make one wrong move and my back would seize up on me again. it was a little sore from all the kneading i’d given it--rolling around on the foul ball tom snagged for sarah at a <quote-04>dodger game<quote-04>; mccutchen off nicasio--but no acute pain.
the voice over went well enough; the blue bloods was a bust. the director’s focus was elsewhere. i met up with eric afterward for a couple games of chess at the black rabbit in greenpoint. i passed on tagging along with him to see a friend’s band at baby’s all right, preferring to get home and rest. come to think of it, i need to text him now and tell him sarah and i are a no-go for thursday.