Simon Pegg: Writer/actor star of “Shaun of the Dead” and British TV series “Spaced.” More proof that funny is all that matters.
Alan Cumming: I have no explanation for this. Look at those big doe eyes capped by dorky Groucho eyebrows. That prissy, fey smile. I don’t know. Is he the Forbidden Fruit?
William F. Buckley: Ha! Just kidding. I’d like to meet the person who could agree with this.
Pete Postelthwaite: Not even going to try to explain.
Mickey Rourke: See Buckley. I’m not blind. What am I? Hard of smelling?
Current favorite TV commercial: Spam. There’s a Spam jingle that has the addictive refrain of “Spam up!,” like fueling up or tanking up or checking up or fucking up. Spamming up consists of consuming huge gelatinous quantities of Spam. The verses consist of things like “When you need a lift: Spam up!” My favorite is: “When you could eat a horse: Spam up!” Really. Who knew such honesty could sell Specially Processed Assorted Meats? I think horse would be an improvement.
The thing I’ll miss least about my time here: The appalling lack of attention and care paid to customer service, especially in restaurants and bars. Most American college/high school students have done a stint in the food-service industry. Having been on the other side of the apron, those who have served know how to serve. They know just how difficult it is, yet how well it can be done. When one enters an American (non-fast-food) restaurant, one is usually greeted and seated (or there is a clearly visible sign that says “Please seat yourself”). You don’t have to guess if you wait or seat yourself and risk doing the wrong thing and having your food spat into. In a full-service restaurant, the glasses of water (with ice!) hit the table as your asses hit the chairs. Instead of taking your drink and food orders simultaneously, American wait-persons take a drink order and allow you time to peruse the menu while your cocktail is being shaken. There is a carefully choreographed dance that leaves you with something to eat or drink or read always before you. (I understand that this is the ideal, and that many have had horrible service experiences. My point is that those horrible experiences stand out because they are well beyond what you expect. They are Unusual. Not usual.) American restaurants train staff people so that they know which salad comes with which meal, how many sides you get with option A, and what you can substitute for what else.
In contrast, the Greggers and I went out for Italian food one night in Oxford. I had a hankering for pizza and all of the restaurants on my end of town were closed because it was the week between Xmas and New Year’s Day. So it didn’t matter that people were hungry and there was money to be made. Fuck you, hungry people. Go visit your families. Oh, don’t have one? Should have thought of that before you decided to be an orphan.
So we went downtown to a chain Italian place. We were seated eventually. No water. No menus. After about 15 minutes, menus arrived. The waitron left, not interested at all in whether or not we wanted a cocktail or some beer or wine. Ten more minutes pass. Eventually, a different waitron arrives, takes our drink and food orders, and disappears. The wine arrived with the food. That was the last we saw of service personnel until we had finished the wine and most of the food. We waved someone down for the check. It came. I asked for a takeaway box for the ½ pizza that was left. The waitron left and came back. With a plastic garbage bag (bin liner to some). Not a takeaway container at all, unless you live out of a shopping cart, wear gloves with the fingers cut off, and have a little mangy mutt puppy tied to said cart with a piece of laundry cord. A feckin trash bag. “Sorry. No foil.” Sorry. No tip.
Then, of course, there are the times when you DO leave a tip and are looked at like you are a turd on the buffet table for having done so.
Here’s my dream homecoming: I come down the jetway, not smelling of funk and stank, my hair not scaring very many people. There are loved ones waiting to greet me. Kiss, kiss, hug, hug, love you, mean it. We collect my bags and head to my home, where I am jubilantly greeted by my well-trained, well-adjusted dogs, who sit obediently and wait for an “OK” before swarming over me and nibbling my extremities. Katy does NOT lick the insides of my eyelids or my nasal passages. She consumes no underwear or socks. My luggage unpacks itself and in a Fantasia-esque LSD sequence, launders itself. None of my cats have disappeared. None of my cats is pregnant by her brother. After some couch time with the critters, we head off to StoneWerks or La Fogata for margaritas and spicy Mexican yummies. Eventually, tired but happy and sated, I fall asleep in a big pile of pets and much-loved people. The next day, the Greggers and I head up to Austin, to the San Jose with Katy and the B-man. Blah blah wine, blah blah cheese, Old 97s or Jesse Dayton or Bob Schneider. I then go on to inherit a bazillion dollars, but not because someone I cared about died. I start a commune somewhere in Waring, Texas. Our beliefs center about Steak Nite and dogs. We eventually rule the world, but it’s a benevolent dictatorship.
My actual (projected)homecoming (in 20 days): Taxi home. Dogs have crapped everywhere in deep resentment for my absence. Katy latches her jaws onto some body part of mine, pit bull-style, and shakes. The child molester across the street glares at me. Even the spayed cats are pregnant.