[EXT. A PIER ON MANHATTAN’S WEST SIDE, OVERLOOKING THE HUDSON RIVER – SUNSET]
HER: [NERVOUS] I have to tell you something.
HER: You know [GAME SHOW HOST]? I dated his son.
HIM: Really? That’s pretty cool. Honestly. Was he nice?
HER: I mean, I say “dated,” but it was really a one night stand.
HIM: Oh, okay. You know, that’s cool too.
HER: I don’t want you to think I’m crazy or weird because of it. Or a slut.
HIM: [LAUGHING] Why would I think that? That’s just…life.
HIM: It doesn’t change my opinion of you.
HIM: You wanna get some fried chicken?
…In addition to fishing unused jelly packets out of the trash to rinse off and put back on the dining room tables (previously referenced in this post); what a feeling it is to watch an oblivious diner fiddle with a little plastic bin of grape jelly you rescued just fifteen minutes prior from a muggy grave of chewed hash browns and sausage upchuck.
– the dish washer who was obsessed with Dream Theater and tried to convert me every night
– the dish washer who was obsessed with Canibus and was constantly complaining about ringtone rappers
– the regular customer who always brought his own tiny briefcase of specialized condiments
– the other bus boy who exclusively addressed me as “James Bond Jr.”
– my employee evaluation; the only negative bit was “needs to smile more”
– the day I wore Converse to work instead of my regulation grease-proof boots to prove some kind of point (i.e. I won’t CONFORM to YOUR WORLD, oppressors); I slid around on the kitchen floor the entire night
– the Billy Drago-esque manager who raced Kawasaki motorcycles in his spare time and who could never walk out the back door without taking a deep breath, looking up at the clouds, and saying, “What a beautiful day to die!” (he was later fired for sexual harassment)
– being scheduled weekday mornings and having jack shit to bus
– being scheduled on Sundays and feeling like I was in trench warfare
– never being too mad about the servers not sharing their tips because they all had families to support and I was just some bozo in college
– the in-store satellite radio playing the craziest post-grunge (deep cuts from Green Day’s Nimrod, the 1999 Alice in Chains “reunion” song, etc)
– getting pied in the face on my last day of work by one of the servers (it was a hearty apple pie and I had pieces of fruit caught in my hair for hours)
– running into the lead manager at a nearby Waffle House several weeks after I quit; she told me I was a great employee and that I could come back any time (this was very nice to hear)
I’ve not set foot in that Perkins or any other since hanging up my bus tub.
In 2004 a co-worker invited me to a party at his house to “celebrate” the season premiere of “The O.C.” You remember that show. In all the early commercials, the main kid gets roughed up and one of the bullies says something about 8 Mile. Either “This isn’t the 8 Mile, punk!” or “You’re not living in The 8 Mile, punk!” or “God, stop watching 8 Mile every day, it’s rotting your goddamn brain, punk!” I don’t remember exactly.
Never one to refuse an opportunity for social interaction and free finger foods, I agreed to attend this little soirée. I don’t remember what time I showed up but nobody was there when I did except the co-worker who invited me. There was an awkward pause after I stepped in the door.
“Where is everybody?”
“I lied. There is no party. I thought if I just invited you over to watch ‘The O.C.’ you wouldn’t come.”
He had me there. It was around this time I noticed the floors were concrete. I looked around for a small drain. The kind blood might seep down.
“Look, if you buy me Chinese food, I won’t call the cops.”
My co-worker agreed and I’m happy to report I did not get murdered or molested during the subsequent “O.C.” viewing (although the program itself almost put me in a coma). I think this guy meant exactly what he said: he thought I’d like “The O.C.” and wanted to hang out but didn’t want to seem weird (despite fabricating a party). We’ve stayed pals, he’s a good dude.
Yes, this all really happened.
when I was a kid
they made an oatmeal
with packets of sugary red goo
you could squeeze
on your oatmeal
a smiley face
it always looked
like blood-laden slugs
tasted like it too
happy national oatmeal month
where were you
when you found out
enjoy this box
of novelty cereal
4 Christ’s Mass
For Halloween this year I finally answered the question what would it be like if Michael Myers went on a Florida vacation? No way he’s wearing the mask in this humidity. I don’t need it anyway—I’m pale and shapeless enough.
The aerobic figure to the right is actually Laurie Strode herself (click here for proof), though her appearance here is coincidental. My roommate is involved in legitimate theater and as such has an enormous print of Jamie Lee Curtis from Perfect. We stuck it on the side of the fridge a long time ago for reasons I fail to remember. Forgot she was there when I snapped the above pic.
Hope y’all had a spooky ooky Samhain. I sat around the house listening to Slayer and eating pierogies, because I’m an American and that’s my right.
Splendid China: one of Central Florida’s more noteworthy theme park failures. “Failure,” of course, is a relative term. The seventy-five acre space that recreated in miniature some of mainland China’s finest attractions (the Great Wall, the Leshan Buddha) managed to remain open for ten whole years. That’s twice as long as Boardwalk & Baseball.
Unfortunately, for more or less its entire existence, Splendid China was plagued by controversy. Critics lambasted the park, which was purchased by the Chinese government before its 1993 opening from Taiwanese American founder Josephine Chen, for appropriating from other Asian cultures, pushing Communist propaganda, and financial mismanagement (the gov’t owners insisted on importing building materials from China, often at sixteen times the cost). Once Splendid China closed its doors permanently it became a hotspot for ne’er-do-wells, who snuck in through the poorly sealed entrance to steal and/or destroy the abandoned miniatures.
What was left of Splendid China was allegedly demolished last year, but there’s still a large satellite monument to the deleted park’s existence. On West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee you’ll find an entire shopping plaza that mimics the architecture we all associate with the Far East (though only in Florida will you find turquoise pagodas). The plaza’s centerpiece is a Winn-Dixie, but you won’t see that grocery chain’s familiar logo anywhere on the building exterior. The only signal anything occupies this space is the presences of Winn-Dixie’s less recognized subtitle, “Marketplace,” above the entryway.
The photo above depicts what you see the moment you enter Kissimmee’s Splendid China Winn-Dixie. Three tiny figures on the balcony of a more realistic-looking pagoda, beckoning you in with warm off-brand “It’s A Small World” charm. As you can see, this store also makes extensive use of track lighting. I’m not sure how true that is to Chinese custom but it certainly gives a grocery store an otherworldly atmosphere.
What’s most interesting about the Splendid China Winn-Dixie is how it seems to cater most exclusively to a British clientele. At any given moment I’d wager a third of Kissimmee’s population is British tourists killing time between laps around the Magic Kingdom. This supermarket is one of the closest there is to Disney, and their selection of imported English products is staggering. Entire endcaps overflowing with big blue cans of Heinz Beans, Lion bars, and slim glass bottles containing a creamy liquid identified only as “salad sauce.”
I didn’t engage any of the employees about what their professional lives are like at the Splendid China Winn-Dixie, but you can sorta see it on their faces. They know they work in a store that’s still modeled after a theme park that closed in 2003. Talking about it isn’t going to make stocking shelves under track lighting any easier.
And yet the place somehow seems decidedly less bizarre than the Planet Hollywood that continues to thrive on Disney property, that drab grey globe surrounding itself with a moat(!) and the miserable spirits of ’90s Hollywood hubris. A restaurant venture between Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis is something that should have remained relegated to the margins of Last Action Hero, not formed fully in our three dimensional world.