226. Don’t Know If I Should Laugh Or Cry

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons


Kelly lay beneath her editing bench. “What are you doing under there?” I asked.

“I’m sick,” she said. “I need sleep.”

“Kelly! Caffeine me!” her editor screamed from his cutting room.

“I hate that asshole,” she said.


Every morning as I walked from MGM’s parking lot to the building, I passed the most beautiful young woman. Her skin was the color of creamy coffee and her green eyes seemed to double in size when we crossed paths.  The way she looked at me was both beautiful and intimidating, like she was silently accusing me of something.

One evening after work I found an envelope tucked beneath my windshield wiper. Inside was a brief note along with the lyrics to Faith No More’s “From Out of Nowhere”:

Tossed into my mind, stirring the calm
You splash me with beauty and pull me down
You come from out of nowhere
My glance turns to a stare
Obsession rules me-I’m yours from the start
I know you see me-Our eyes interlock
You come from out of nowhere
My glance turns to a stare

I hadn’t been on a date in almost five years. The prospect excited and terrified me, but why should I be afraid? Jody had moved on even if she hadn’t moved out, why shouldn’t I? I stopped at the Beverly Center and bought a jack-in-the-box. I wrote “Meet me at 11” on a sticky note and affixed it to Jack.

The next morning I left the toy on the hood of my car and walked to the MGM building. John Waters stood at the front door. Most famous people keep a sort of invisible force field around themselves, but not Waters. He looked at me with the eagerness of someone who wanted to chat. I imagined that the way he looked at me was how I stared at the green-eyed girl, but he was probably just being nice.

Upstairs, Kelly was curled up beneath her workbench again. “You okay, Kel?”

“Yeah, just food poisoning or something.”

I walked down the hallway to my cutting room. Kevin, my editor, was on the phone, trying to talk someone into sponsoring his race car.

“Dude, why don’t you just focus on racing?” I asked. “You’re an awesome driver.”

“I need the money,” he said. “Besides, sound editing is kind of the family business.”

“Yeah? Who else?”

“My dad worked on Star Wars,” Kevin said.

“No shit?”

“Oh yeah. What’s that little robot’s name? Some of his sounds are the power seats in my dad’s Cadillac.”

“R2D2 is a Cadillac seat?” No work would get done that morning. Kevin told tales from the cutting room, and I hung on every word. Between his stories and ripping through the desert in a Mustang with too much power and not enough traction, sound editing was shaping up as the coolest gig ever.

“Kelly! Caffeine me!” echoed down the hallway. Maybe it wasn’t the coolest gig, after all.

I checked my watch. “Gotta go meet somebody, dude. I’m late,” I said.

“Need a ride?”

“Nah, just downstairs.” I ran down the hallway and flew down the stairs. Maybe she came and left when I wasn’t there. Maybe she didn’t get my note. Maybe she just didn’t come. I stood in front of the MGM building, looking around like I lost my keys — now I know I put that green-eyed girl somewhere….

“Hey,” she said, back straight, confident stride, big smile. “That was cute, that little toy.”

“You showed up,” I said.

“You did, too.”

“Want to grab some food?”

“I’m not really hungry,” she said. “Can we just take a walk?”


We walked and made awkward small talk and I smelled her perfume and her face lit up each time she replied with an emphatic “I love —.” “I love Faith No More.I love movies….” Her laugh was musical, she was interesting and funny, she was interested in me, and all I could think about was Jody. A month had passed since she dumped me, but as long as she remained in the apartment I clung to hope.

The beautiful stranger left notes on my car for a few more days, but I couldn’t bring myself to call her. The last one read simply: “Okay, Jack-in-the-box. I get it.” That night when I got home from work, I found Jody sitting on the couch that once was ours but now had become my bed. She didn’t turn when I entered, didn’t say hello or look up from the television. She didn’t do anything beyond existing, but I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I stared at her long blond hair, and that line from “Sweet Child O’ Mine” ran through my head. I couldn’t handle anymore thunder and rain.

“You have to get out,” I said.

Categories: Memoir

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1 reply »

  1. Yeah, Jody needed to get the f**k out. Good. I physically got away from my first love, but he set up permanent residence in my head for YEARS afterwards. It was better to have food poisoning than think about him.


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