This week on Will and Bobby Know Everything, Bobby and I welcome my sister Kristen Rogers onto the show to discuss Crazy People!
A few minutes ago, I glanced over at my phone and saw that I had gotten a couple of text messages. I tapped on my inbox and saw that I had received both messages at the exact same time from two different phone numbers, neither of which are in my phone book. Just random digits.
I tapped on the first one. It simply said, "Like."
Then I tapped on the second one: "Love."
Weird. Really weird. The likelihood of receiving two anonymous texts from two different numbers with similar messages has got to be slim.
I sat up straight in my chair. It was time to play detective.
I'm always down for a good mystery. Always. I'm not a conspiracy nut, really. I'm just a big fan of having something odd happen, as long as it's harmless. I seek it out.
There's a huge book store in New York called The Strand, which boasts an inventory of "18 miles of new, used and rare books." When I was 18 or 19, I walked into the deepest darkest corners of the store on the off chance that I might find a creepy old tome hidden behind some Sue Graftons. No luck. Bummer.
It's exciting, though. It's fun to think that that there's something taking place that relates to you, but you're not privy to all of the information. I love the idea of Urban Legends that have some basis in reality. Fascinating. Why couldn't there be a magical book laying flat on a low shelf in a dark basement corner of a bookstore? I've seen that shit in movies MANY times. It happens!
One of the biggest events of modern history to be enshrouded in mystery was the JFK assassination. Thousands of people believe and investigate numerous theories as to how and why he was killed, as well as who did it, and whether or not the government was involved. There's even a theory which suggests that after he died, his body was taken, and his wounds were modified to make it appear as if he were shot from a particular angle. Why? Well who knows. We'll find out the truth in 2017 when the documents regarding the event are released.
I should say, before I get back to the mystery of the friendly texts, that I'm no stranger to high stakes intrigue.
About four years ago, I was leaving a class at Rutgers with my messenger bag over my shoulder. It held a few notebooks, a pair of headphones, and my Sony PSP (one of the most advanced handheld gaming systems the world has ever known [it kind of sucks]). I walked to my parking space, and put my bag on top of my car while fumbling with my keys. Ten minutes later, I pulled into my driveway and realized I had driven home with my bag on the roof of the car.
I got out of the car, but obviously, the bag wasn't there anymore. I quickly drove back to Rutgers, and looked around my parking spot. No luck. I then took the same route home as I had earlier, desperately looking for my bag. It was gone. Maybe for good.
The next day I was sitting in one of my classes which took place in a large lecture hall. About ten minutes into the lesson, the professor was interrupted by a student who addressed the room and held up a bag. My bag. He said he had found it on the side of the road the previous night, and based on a schedule inside one of the notebooks, he figured out that the owner must be in the room. Excited, I claimed the bag, thanked the guy, and he left. I walked back to my seat and checked the bags contents.
As I expected. the PSP was gone. Being that I had expected to lose everything however, I was pretty fine with it. Especially considering the PSP kind of sucks (as I mentioned).
So there I was sitting in class with my stuff again, talking to a friend about how lucky it was that the guy thought to check for a schedule, and how it was cool that he actually bothered to do a decent thing such as bring the bag back to it's owner. I assumed that he wasn't the one to steal the PSP, based on how helpful he was, and that someone else probably found the bag first. Realizing that, I said this:
And seriously, I actually said this. Honestly. I swear. Here's what I said:
"Y'know, it's weird, but how cool would it be if there was a message scrawled on a page of one of my notebooks, like an old detective story."
My friend basically rolled her eyes at my geekiness. So I just sat there. But then my curiosity got the better of me, and like how I actually looked for an old cursed book in The Strand, I childishly checked my notebook for a secret message.
And I found one.
As of when I'm writing this, I can't post the proof, but rest assured that I'll update this post TONIGHT with a picture of the message.
But anyway, what I found was a message lightly written in pencil on the last page of a marble notebook. It was a phone number with the instructions to "Coll Pedro" written beneath it.
I told you I'd give you proof. I just took a picture of the page and the message, but I scribbled out the guy's address and phone number:
I was stunned. And really fucking excited. This was exactly what I was hoping for.
So obviously I pretended I didn't care for a couple of days. Because as much as it was thrilling, it was also kind of scary.
Eventually, my curiosity go the better of me, and I called the number. Pedro answered. I explained that I was the guy who had lost the bag. I said I got his message.
He told me he had something that belonged to me.
Like a fucking film noir! Awesome/terrifying!
He asked me if I knew what it was. Also scary.
I said it was a Sony PSP, and he confirmed that was what he had, he just needed to verify that I was the owner.
Now I realize that this whole thing doesn't make any goddamn sense, but I hope the insanity of this story is itself proof that the tale I'm telling is true. Truth is stranger than fiction.
I know that it's illogical that somebody should find a bag, take the expensive gadget out, leave a scrawled message, and go. How would he know the bag would ever get back to me? How would he know that somebody else would find the bag and be smart enough to check for a schedule? How would he know that same person would also be decent enough to go looking for it's owner? Finally, how would he know the owner would be a goofy man-child who goes looking for secret messages?
There are so many variables at play there that you can't truly expect those events to play out properly. It's incredible.
But fortunately they played out EXACTLY right for me to be on the phone, getting quizzed about what he had in his possession. This means that he also thought it likely that someone would find a bag and go looking for secret messages and phone numbers, and care enough to call. Mind you, the message in the book said nothing about recovering a lost item. It merely said to "coll" Pedro! Very bizarre.
But I passed the test. He gave me his address and told me when I could come by to pick it up. I questioned whether or not it was worth it. His house wasn't exactly in a bad neighborhood, but it was certainly a strange enough situation that I was considering letting him keep it. After all, I had already thought it to be gone forever.
Then I realized I was only half way through Crash Bandicoot. I grabbed my coat and ran out the door.
(That's a joke, I actually talked about it with a friend who said he'd come with me. Curiosity got the better of me once again so we went.)
I called Pedro from outside his house, and he told me to come right in.
I said I was running late for a class, and so I wasn't coming in. Instead asked if he could meet us outside. A couple minutes later, who I can only describe as a human version of Super Mario walks out of the house, with a dirty grocery bag bunched up in his hands, which, by the way, are completely covered in white powder up to his elbows. Got the image? Mario. Short, fat, mustachioed. Arms covered in white powder. Dirty grocery bag.
He quizzes me again to confirm that I'm the owner of the bag. The odds of me being some crook who correctly guessed that he had a PSP are unreasonable, but whatever, I confirm who I am, and he hands me the dirty bag. My PSP. Great. Let me get the fuck out of here now.
He explains that he found the bag in the street, looked inside, and took the PSP because he didn't want anybody to steal it. It doesn't make much sense, but I just want to get out of there, so I thank him again, take the PSP (battery completely drained...I hope you enjoyed Crash Bandicoot, Mario!), and my buddy and I take off.
Mystery solved, although I had to wonder why that guy's arms were covered in white powder. I asked my friend what he thought, he quickly answered, "He's probably a professional gymnast. He was in great shape."
Another riddle un-riddled. And it's this experience that has made me a master detective.
So now all that's left is to reveal who those texts ("Like," "Love") were from. Well it's simple, really. They were messages accidentally copied to me intended as responses to a picture Bobby had mass texted to his friends. This is the picture:
All this bullshit because of a picture of a cat. An awesome cat, yeah, but all this crap I wrote is because of a picture of a cat. Sorry.
I'm jumping right in. So Allie found out that the local theater is putting on a production of Sweeney Todd. The only background you need for this, essentially, is that Allie and I were in plays together in high school. Once she found out that they were doing this, she immediately told me that I should audition.
That I NEED to audition.
It was said with that very specific urgency, that makes it clear that that this isn't a suggestion. But it's not an order, either. It's something else. It's a strongly encouraged opportunity that, if you don't take it, you're making a big fucking mistake.
I'm not auditioning.
Not out of some look-at-how-cool-I-am bullshit. I think. But I'm definitely not auditioning for the show. Why should I?
My viewpoint on the matter is that, yeah, I was in TWO WHOLE SHOWS in HIGH SCHOOL. Who cares? I enjoyed them, sure. They were a really big deal at the time, but now it's not something I'm interested in.
(Full disclosure: I'm pretty intensely interested in performance and storytelling and stuff. So I definitely understand the reasoning behind the strong suggestion. For example, I recently auditioned for an acting agency. I'm irrational, but nonetheless...)
Sweeney Todd is a really really entertaining play. I'm a fan. Not a huge fan, but I like that show. I've always thought it would be funny if I could produce a version of the play expressly based on the movie. From memory. For the sole purpose of having the audience think, "why are they adapting the movie into a play? Are they stupid?" That's what I want.
I bought the soundtrack to the movie on iTunes. It's not because I think it's superior to any play version, but just because the movie is my main exposure to the show and I like it. I sing the songs. Even when I'm not actually playing the songs from my iPod. I like this show.
Allie knows ALL of this. I still don't want to be in the damn show. But I have very specific, very valid reasons.
I'm 24 years old and fat. Those are the facts. The plot of this show revolves around a barber who was young and married a young beautiful woman, but the town's judge (the villain) cooked up a reason to have this barber exported so that he could steal the wife. The man returns at least 18 years later as Sweeney Todd, and along with woman who owns his old house, he plans to kill the judge. Sweeney Todd and the woman are insane, and now he'll pose a barber to practice killing people so he's ready for the judge, and she'll repurpose the bodies by making pies out of them to keep her business going. Win-win. Great show. But again. I'm a fat 24 year old.
This show is comprised almost exclusively of middle aged men. Who aren't fat. Specifically. Very specifically.
I brought this point up. It was waved away.
I enjoy singing. I personally think I'm a decent singer, but I'm also socially conscious. It doesn't happen much, but when it happens, I pay attention: if I happen to be singing, anybody nearby turns away, politely. It's no big deal, I don't care, I sing for no reason other than fun, but clearly other people aren't impressed. Sweeney Todd is a musical.
Again, this argument is nothing.
I can't do a British accent. Non-issue.
I don't want to do this fucking play. I'm perfectly happy to be on stage or talk in public, but I don't know how well I can act for a couple of hours. I'd LOVE to get up in front of people to say whatever I want, but acting? Being dramatic and singing? I'm not interested.
The way I see it, even if I audition for the experience, the best case scenario is that I have another story to tell. At best. The most likely, most boring scenario is that I audition, it's generally fine, but there's no place in the show for an "actor" of my caliber and age/physique.
What I would LOVE would be for them to watch me act and sing, and have to acknowledge amongst themselves (producer and director) that I have no place in the show, but to somehow really covet my talent and wish they could get me in somehow. They'd fruitlessly argue to each other that I look old...maybe I could be Sweeney Todd. Maybe Sweeney can be fat...no...no...Yeah, you're probably right, no good...The judge. Maybe...yeah! Maybe the town judge can be 24 years old....Right? Yeah! Ugh...no. No. Shit, where can we put this guy...?
Here's where you put me. This is what I want. I say this without a shred of comedy:
It's local theater. It's a local playhouse. Create a new character for me. But not a good character. What I want is for the producer to be so enchanted by me that they're willing to remodel the script to accept a new character. But oddly enough, the character they create to accommodate me is a village-idiot type.
Fatso the Village Asshole. That's my character. With a throwaway line of dialogue it's explained that I'm American. They write it so that I don't have to work for it at all. So I'm American and stupid and rude and fat. I barely have to act. They just want me in the show. I don't even sing. I'm just Sweeney Todd's idiot sidekick. And even though the role is written for me, because they love me, it's totally offensive. I'm constantly tripping over myself and farting and eating and shit. That's all I want. That's what I'm asking for.
Allie didn't seem interested. More than that, I'm pretty sure she stopped paying attention once I started laughing at my own jokes.
Doesn't she get it? Listen man, this blog has several readers from foreign countries. Several from Russia!
I'm a big shot.
So local theater? Not for me. Although I think the real reason is that I just don't like acting. I like writing or performing the crap I write.
Also, I can confirm that my Russian readers come here because of a weird mistake result on a Russian search engine.
C'est la vie.
I thought more about my created role. In addition to having to play a total slob, I also want to be some sort of sidekick to Sweeney Todd. I'm totally involved in the murder and involved in using the bodies for pies. But every now and then, my character will stupidly pick up one of the pies and take a bite as if oblivious to what's going on and mention to Sweeney how good the pies are. Sweeney rolls his eyes at me, and the play moves on.