I have never found it to be true that when it rains, it pours. I HAVE found it to be true that good things and bad things come at you full force all at once, each trying to distract you from the other, each succeeding intermittently. You would do well to focus on the good, but you would also do well never to expect a world where the good things will not bring their bad counterparts, who will shit on your sofa and steal your roommate's prescription drugs. The best you can do is really appreciate the good things, and hug them in the entryway as they leave, and point to the bad things and say, "Thanks for not being that guy."
When it rains, the sun shines. When it rains, it suns?
A short story I originally posted a few years ago: "Friday Night For An Aging Campus Werewolf"
After my swim class I go to the Memorial Union Dining Hall and get dinner. People like to bag on the fish sticks they serve there on Fridays, but in my six years here I’ve gotten sorta fond of them. I say “hi” to Luz at the register and Phillip and Jaime in the kitchen. I get twice as much as I would usually get and I eat all of it. Gotta be ready. Tonight is game time.
I see Chris from my Stat class as I’m walking across the quad.
“Hey dude!” I say.
“Hey…Mark,” Chris says. It doesn’t look like he’s going to stop walking, but I stop, so he does too.
“Party on Franklin Street tonight, man! You goin’?”
“I dunno,” Chris says. “Yea, maybe.”
“Awesome,” I say. “Full moon tonight, man!”
“Oh, really? Okay.”
“You know what that means!”
“Right. Well, I’m late for class…”
Class at seven thirty on Friday night? Man, Chris has got to get his schedule changed. I don’t say anything, though. When you’ve been here as long as I have, you learn a thing or two, but some stuff, like when to have classes and when not to, you just have to learn on your own. Anyway, I let Chris go, because the sun is setting and it’s almost game time.
I used to be real embarrassed about it. Like, Freshman year, I had this roommate, right in the room because it’s Freshman year and there’s no WAY you’re getting a single, and he thought it was pretty weird I’d kick him out like once a month for a whole evening when he knew I didn’t have a girlfriend. Then again, he used to lock himself in the bathroom like four times a day to masturbate, so he didn’t have anything to feel superior about either. Anyway, he’s graduated now, along with everybody else my age.
Then one night Freshman year I got into this frat party, you had to bring two girls but it was Freshman year when everybody still hangs out together so that was no problem, and I saw this big fat guy. He had a backwards neon visor with highlighters tucked in the hatband, and he had his shirt off, and he’d let people write all over his beer belly. “TOMMY THE HIGHLIGHTER GUY!” Everybody knew him. There were these blacklights at the party so you could see everything people had written. He didn’t give a shit. He took his fat and turned it into a positive. So that’s what I decided to do with my thing.
I still wouldn’t do it in front of anybody, though. Transform, I mean. It’s as big a deal as it was Freshman year. I’ve had my own room, the same room in the same house on Oak Street, for four years now: Junior year, Senior year, second Senior year, and this year, which I’ve decided to call my Victory Lap. I’m even thinking of making up t-shirts for it.
Speaking of t-shirts, when I get back to my room, the first thing I do is take mine off. My pants, too, underwear, everything. At first you think having ripped-up clothes on is cool and more, like, authentic, but then you realize, Holy shit, I tore up all my back-to-school clothes, and if I have to take the train back to Connecticut and get Mom to take me to TJ Maxx again… Basically, like I said, you learn a thing or two.
I put on my transformation soundtrack (“Legend: The Best Of Bob Marley”) and raise the blinds to let the moon in. If you’ve ever seen a werewolf movie, I probably don’t have to describe what happens next. If it gets really bad and painful, I turn up Bob Marley to cover the noise. But it hurts less and less every time.
Then I look in the mirror. Shit, I look fucking sick. I don’t like how I look normally, but when I’m transformed, I look fucking awesome, and I don’t mean to be conceited. Yellow eyes, big pointy ears, big fuck-off fangs: if I didn’t talk more or less like I do when I’m normal, you’d have no idea it was me. I am starting to get kind of a gut, though. Even transformed it shows. I thought this swim class would take care of it but we’re still doing real basic stuff like breathing and plus it’s only one hour a week.
Then I go to my drawer labeled “WOLF CLOTHES,” which is all stuff a size or two bigger than I wear normally. Most of it is t-shirts from parties from my first four years. Greek Week ’02. Tip-A-Canoe ’04. A lot of them are signed in permanent marker, a thing I sort of stole from Tommy The Highlighter Guy. “TAKE IT EASY, WOLFMAN!” “U MAKE ME ‘HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF!’ LOL!” Great memories. Most of the people that signed these shirts have graduated. But it doesn’t make me too sad. It’s not like they’re dead or anything.
By the time I get dressed, “Legend” is on track eight, “One Love,” like it usually is around this time. It’s almost eight o’clock. The party won’t get started ‘till like nine, so I take out a joint from the Altoid box in the top drawer of my dresser. It’s like impossible to roll a joint with big claws like I have, but handling a lighter is pretty easy. It isn’t like you see in the movies, where you don’t remember anything and you can’t control yourself. Doing wolf stuff seems like a good idea, but not irresistible or anything. Weed usually smoothes it right out.
I’d play PS2 to kill time but it’s like crazy hard to play Madden for the same reason rolling a joint is hard. Instead I just space out to Marley, save my energy for game time. Tonight is going to be a good one, I can tell.
Game time: I walk to the party house. I have pretty good hearing when I’m transformed, and from two blocks away I can tell exactly what song is playing. Kind of a fast one, kind of a loud one. I wait a couple houses down for it to be over. Then a Sublime song kicks in: slower and softer and perfect for my entrance. I run up the lawn, leap onto the porch, and burst in the front door, and my roar is fucking wicked, I’m in really good form tonight: “RRRROOOAAAAR!”
Four girls I’ve seen around but don’t really know are standing in the front hallway. They all turn to me. One girl says “Oh, hey.” Usually people, especially girls, will play along and give me a really good scream, like they’re scared. Maybe these girls are in the Theater program and they’re saving their voices for a play or something. One of the girls says, “Nice costume, again.” I decide to forget the front hallway and try my entrance again in the living room.
Barely anybody even turns around, and it’s not like there’s nobody here, either. This is one of the biggest houses on campus and the living room is almost completely full. The music’s pretty loud because there’s an actual DJ here with an amp and everything, so maybe they didn’t hear me. They still have the Tiki christmas lights strung up from the jungle party they had a couple weeks ago: I didn’t go to that one, because it was an off week. No full moon means no party for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy parties, it’s just that I don’t want to ruin it for other people by letting them see me at a party all normal. It’d probably be like seeing a Disneyland character with his cartoon head off. It’d probably be pretty traumatic.
I’ve been at the party for sixty seconds and I still don’t have a beer in my hand. If this were Freshman through Senior year, somebody would have DEFINITELY brought me a beer by now, and probably tried to get me to do a shot with them, too. I guess the parties have gotten lamer. Maybe kids just don’t know how to party anymore. Some things you just have to do yourself, I guess. I duck into the kitchen and get in line for one of the kegs.
The kitchen is pretty packed too. People are chanting: “GO SHOT-MAN! GO SHOT-MAN!” A kid from this house, Ian, has an arm-length glove on that he’s attached four shot-glasses too. Three girls and a guy are bent over about to take a shot of something clear from Ian’s arm. He leads everyone in a countdown: “THREE…TWO…ONE…” He tips his arm and they all drink. Everybody cheers. I don’t think it’s that cool. I don’t see what’s so great about hot-gluing shot-glasses to your mom’s old winter glove.
When I finally get up to the front of the line, I see Chris from my Stat class is working the tap.
“Hey man!” I say while he pours my beer, “You made it out for my big night! Nice of you to ditch class for me!”
“What?” he says.
“YOUR CLASS,” I say.
“Oh,” he says. “Right! Yea, um, it got cancelled.”
“Nice!” I say. He finishes pouring and hands me the cup. I get him to pour another one by saying it’s “for a friend.” He hands the second one to me, and I chug it straight off. “Friend…I’m man’s best friend, right?” That’s one of my classic moves.
“A wolf is…a dog is man’s best friend, right? Ha!”
“Oh! Well, I’ll see you, man.” He abandons the tap and walks off.
Now people are cheering for Shot-Man again. This time he’s set up flaming shots. “THREE…TWO…ONE…” Four people drink the flaming shots. Camera-phones flash. Everybody cheers again. Ian raises his shot-arm like he’s king shit. I see my moment and step up.
“Hey SHOT-MAN,” I yell. “Meet WOLF-MAN! RAAAAR!” I go after his shot-arm like I’m gonna bite it, just playing around, but he pushes me back, hard.
“Dude!” he says. “Not cool, man. Not fucking cool.”
“Boo,” says a kid in a Hawaiian shirt.
“Wasn’t he on that list of things on campus that are OVER?” one of the girls that took the flaming shot says to her friend. It’s true, I was on that list, but nobody reads the school newspaper anyway, the school newspaper fucking sucks. It used to be cool, back like Sophomore year where they ran a half-page article on me. In the article, they asked where I got the wolf suit and I played it off like “What suit?” I didn’t have to lie because it’s not like anyone would believe me. Anyway, fuck the school newspaper and fuck the kitchen. I go back into the living room. Kitchens have bad energy. The living room is always where I make my scene.
First I ask the DJ if he has “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon. He says he’s never heard of it, which I can’t really even believe, because it’s a fucking awesome song that they play at practically every hockey game and also because it’s basically my theme song, and anybody who goes to this school knows that. But maybe he’s a townie or maybe he’s a Freshman. Either way, I don’t recognize him. These younger kids are really ignorant about music, I guess.
Fuck the song. I HOWL and hop on the couch. I say, “Does anybody have a LAMB I could SLAUGHTER?”
Some people look over, but nobody really responds. I say, “I said, DOES ANYBODY HAVE A LAMB I COULD SLAUGHTER?” Back, like, Sophomore or Junior year, if there was a party people knew I was going to be at, they’d steal a lamb or a goat from the Agriculture Center and bring it to the party. I only actually slaughtered it once, which some of the guys thought was cool but girls got pretty grossed out by it, so from then on, I’d just chase it around and everybody would laugh. It was a big hit.
“No!” says a girl who got up from the couch when I jumped on it. “Nobody has a lamb!”
“I got something you could slaughter!” a big fratty-looking dude with a pookah shell necklace says. A bunch of people laugh. His buddy gives him a hi-five.
I say, “LET’S GO DOWN TO THE AGRICULTURE CENTER AND GET A LAMB I CAN SLAUGHTER! Wouldn’t that be cool?”
“They closed the Agriculture Center like two years ago,” says one of the maybe-Theater girls I saw in the front hallway. “It’s a computer lab now.”
I know it’s a fucking…I know it’s a fucking computer lab now, I know they closed it down, but I just wanted to, I dunno, I thought maybe somebody, that that would give somebody an idea, like, maybe there’s a cat in here I could chase around, that would be funny, or, I dunno, something I could slaughter, or just pretend. I get an idea and jump off the couch. I run into the kitchen where Ian is taking a break from being Shot-Man to flirt with three girls from Phi Delt. I nudge one of the girls out of the way and open the fridge.
“Looking for something, man?” says Ian. I ignore him. I’ve been at this school longer than him and I’m a fucking lycanthrope and I know what I’m doing.
Back in the living room, nobody seems impressed when I gnash my teeth into a whole package of store-brand bologna. People actually seem kind of upset, because I got meat-juice on them. Sophomore year, they’d save the clothes that the real life campus Wolf Man spilled meat-juice on. I guess nobody knows how to have a good time anymore.
“Boo,” says the same kid who said “boo” before. Yea, good luck with that, kid. Good luck with getting saying “boo” to be your thing. I really doubt you’ll ever have five or six t-shirts that people have signed with stuff like, “KEEP IT REAL, BOO-MAN!” I really doubt that the campus newspaper will ever do a half-page article on a kid who says “boo.” The newspaper sucks but they’ll never suck that much.
Fuck this party. They want Shot-Man? I’ll show ‘em fucking Shot-Man.
Back in the kitchen, I snag a plastic bottle of Vodka and post up in a corner by the spice rack. I don’t recognize anybody in this kitchen. I don’t recognize anybody anymore.
The next morning, I wake up on a floor, human, in clothes two sizes too big for me. My head hurts like a bitch. I’ve been in this house before so I recognize it as the upstairs hallway. I don’t know the kid standing over me. He’s wearing a Welcome Week 2005 t-shirt. Some Sophomore with a really poor goatee.
“Hey man,” he says. “You got up to some shit last night.”
“Oh yea?” I say. “What crazy stuff did I do this time?” This is my favorite part, sometimes. I think a night sucked, then I wake up and somebody tells me I did something amazing while I was blacked out, another Wolf-Man classic.
“You grabbed Katie Peters’ boob and when she slapped your hand away, you started throwing up everywhere.”
“Who’s Katie Peters?”
“This girl,” he says, helping me to my feet. “You better find her and apologize. You probably wanna find Raj too, and apologize. He cleaned up most of your puke.”
“Is he here?”
“Nah, he’s at work. Where’d you stash your suit?”
“No suit,” I say. “I’m a werewolf.” I’m standing now and the daylight hurts my eyes.
“Right, whatever,” he says. “Anyway, Raj’ll be back around five, if you wanna-“
“No, I’m serious, dude, I’m serious, what’s your name?”
“Andy,” the Sophomore says.
I tell Andy that next time there’s a full moon, he can come over and see, him and everyone, they can come over and see me transform. I’ll wear boxers so I won’t have to be completely naked, but seriously, as many people as can fit in my room, he should bring a video camera if he has one, when’s the next full moon…Third week of November, I think, the whole house should come see⎯
“Third week of November?” Andy says. “I uhm. I think the house is going up to Ithaca for a charity event. That weekend. So.”
“Well, the month after that, then,” I say.
“That’ll be Christmas break.”
“Oh,” I say. “Right.”
“Alright, so,” Andy says. “Could you like…move, I need to get into the bathroom.”
“Sure,” I say.
The daylight is brutal. They used to have brunch on Saturday mornings in the MU but they haven’t had it in like two years, so I just go home. When I get back to my room, I go online and start looking around. Did you know that for some grad schools, you don’t even need that good of grades? If you go for the right thing, I mean. I mean, I can’t be a doctor or a lawyer, but some of the computer science things. And some of them are four-year programs. Four years in a town where this is all totally new.
A cool thing happened the other day, and like most cool things, it would not have happened had something extremely uncool happened immediately beforehand.
In December, I was driving home from a record release party for a band called Hi Ho Silver Oh. I am friends with almost all the people in the band, in addition to being in love with them. (They contributed a song to the "Boy Who Couldn't Sleep" mixtape, available here) I had a blast. I was jamming their freshly released CD and thinking about how much I liked them when I was pulled over by a cop and ticketed for being on my cellphone (which I'm almost certain I wasn't - I definitely wasn't talking on the phone - but I just went with it, like I tend to do with cops) and for not having a California license though my car is registered in the state. (Apparently you are supposed to get a California license within ten days of registering your car. I had been living in the state for six months at this point.)
Last week was the date I was scheduled to appear at the courthouse. I spent all morning at the DMV getting a California license, and then drove, in merciless rain, to a big gray law monolith. I parked my car in the subterranean garage underneath the courthouse. I stood in a line that ran out the front door and into the rain to go through a metal detector. Once through the metal detector, I contemplated two very confusing signs directing me to one bank of windows, or possibly another bank of windows. I ended up betting wrong and spending forty-five minutes in the wrong line. There was a man at the front of the line who would tell you if you were in the wrong line or not. The reasoning for having this man at the front of the line as opposed to the back was not printed anywhere, on any sign, in any language. I got in the other line. Once at the window, the woman told me I was to return on a day in April at 8:30 in the morning. I'd assumed I would be done with the whole ordeal that day, but the legal wrangling will drag on through April, meaning that I will not think about it again until my phone alarm goes off three months from now, twenty-four hours before I'm supposed to appear in court, and I'll say, "OH! Right. Shit."
I rode the elevator back down to the parking garage. Some employees were listening to a radio and the music was echoing off the drippy cavern walls. The song was "Having A Party" by Sam Cooke. I thought about how much I liked the song and how you often hear "Twisting The Night Away" but you don't hear "Having A Party" near enough. I got in my car and drove up the ramp. It was now completely sunny outside.
That night, I went to a Hi Ho Silver Oh show with my friend Ben in a neat art space a few blocks from where, a couple of weeks prior, I had waited in my car for a seemingly endless procession of hip kids on bicycles to ride beneath an underpass before I could keep driving, causing me to feel like a reactionary old crank as they kept coming and coming and coming, streaming out of Silverlake, occasionally holding up their hands as if to say, "Be cool and don't kill us with your car!"
The band got on-stage, or rather, moved to the section of the floor where the bands were playing at this show. Casey announced that the first part of their first song would be a sing-along. He started to instruct us on how this would go. He would sing a line, and we would repeat after him, so it would sound like this:
"Havin' a party..."
"HAVIN' A PARTY!"
"Dancin' to the music..."
"DANCIN' TO THE MUSIC!"
"On the radio..."
"ON THE RADIO!"
It was the call-and-response part of "Having A Party" by Sam Cooke, the song I had heard earlier that day in the parking garage underneath the courthouse when I was in an entirely different mood, while dealing with a ticket I got after the last performance I saw of this very same band, and it kicked off an excellent show. A pretty bitchin' coincidence.
I'm not saying there's a cosmic ribbon that runs through everything, but if there is, there's no reason it wouldn't be Sam Cooke.
Looking out the kitchen window at the guy playing violin on the porch,
you looked like a forlorn space princess gazing out from the bridge of a starship
at a guy playing violin on the porch of the starship.
If a waiter is incompetent and when he walks away from your table, you make a comment about it that makes your date laugh, you should tip him well. For all you know, he's doing it on purpose, making you look good, a food-bearing straight-man.
He may be an incompetent waiter but a super-competent Cupid.
In which I put forth my somewhat elaborate tour for a book tour:
Book comes out on Tuesday 1/26. Pre-order now for cheap: Click here
original songs inspired by the novel by DC Pierson
Available for free download right this second: DOWNLOAD
Book is out Tuesday 1/26, pre-order now.
The author would like to thank the artists for making this amazing art for him and letting him give it away for free. He insists you support these artists by clicking the links below and throwing them some dough in exchange for their awesome tunes.
1. "What We've Got" - Emilyn Brodsky and Anthony Da Costa
Written by Emilyn Brodsky and Anthony da Costa
Produced by Emilyn Brodsky, Anthony da Costa, James Frazee
Emilyn Brodsky- Vocals
Anthony da Costa- Vocals, Banjo, Guitars, Typewriter
James Frazee- Shaker!
2. "Goin' Back" - Jason Anderson
Written and performed by Jason Anderson
3. "Sleep" - mc DJ
Produced by mc DJ (Donald Glover)
5. "Cavemen" - mc DJ
Produced by mc DJ
6. "Can't Sleep" - Matt Berger
written & produced by Matt roi Berger
Matt roi Berger: Lead vocals & all instruments
Backup vocals: Melissa Lusk
7. "Run" - mc DJ
Produced by mc DJ
8. "Gone Straight From My Head" - Hi Ho Silver Oh
Words and music written by Casey Trela, except for violin improvisations by Daniel Hart.
Violin performed by Daniel Hart
Group vocals and claps performed by Wil Donegan and Katie McNeill
Other instruments performed by Casey Trela
Recorded and produced by Casey Trela
9. "TimeBlazer: Theme to TimeBlaze: An EVILution: The Return of the Man: The Offical TimeBlaze Video Game" - Matt Berger
written, produced, & performed by Matt roi Berger
Released by Fifty People's Favorite Thing, a fake record label. This is FPFT001, for those of you keeping score at home.
More to come in a few weeks.
Let's talk dreams! My friend Chelsea is moving to New Hampshire with her boyfriend Liam, and it will be a base from which they will travel up and down the East Coast selling antiques!
Not one of us has an excuse to live a life of timidity or convention.
Go! Go now!