it really merits watching the march 24th episode of community, which is currently the third best sitcom airing, but:
it was my friend abed's birthday. i had met abed at community college almost two years earlier. his obsession with pop culture had always alienated him. he'd quote movies; pretend his life was a tv show; he'd watch cougar town. it was as if he didn't want people to like him.
when i asked him if he'd like to do anything for his birthday, he told me we should have dinner just he and i for...an "important conversation". it made me nervous. the resteraunt he had chosen wasn't his style at all. there were cloth napkins, no tvs. abed liked chicken fingers, video games, quentin tarantino. babysitting him through a full meal at a resteraunt for grown ups? i just wasn't up for it. but i loved abed -- everyone did. so i had come there with a surprise plan of my own.
abed was being weird. and by that i mean he wasn't being weird. he was hugging, smiling, making eye contact, and in 30 seconds he hadn't made a reference to anything. i had come in worried about him, thinking he needed help. but seeing him like this made me more worried than ever.
[they sit down to dinner. jeff gives abed his birthday present, a wallet that says 'bad motherfucker', but abed isn't interested in it. abed proceeds to tell jeff a story about his visit to the set of cougar town where he's given the chance to be an extra, and in that moment...]
that's when i really started to panic, jeff, because, if i'm a person that watches cougar town, how can i be in cougar town? you know, the more i start thinking about it the less any of it makes any sense at all, and i just want to turn and run, but it's too late, because the director's calling action. so, before i take my first step, i realize that i have to stop being someone who's ever seen the show, and become a character on the show -- become a man from cougar town. you know, someone born there. someone whose name i decide is 'chad'. and i take my first step, as a child might, learning to walk, as chad. and with each step it becomes easier. and with each step i start remembering things from chad's life, like, well... his first kiss under the big tree at cougar town field, playing soccer at cougar town junior high, finding my first chest hair in the shower, my first apartment, my first true love falling for my best friend, birthdays, weddings, car crashes, taxes, playing charades at thanksgiving. chad had lived, jeff. you know, chad had lived more than abed. and then they called 'cut', and the scene was over. but i wasn’t ready to stop being chad, so I said to the director, 'can we have one more take?' but they were already moving on. courteney had nailed it. my lips started trembling, and my--my hands and my feet went numb. my--my knees buckled, and as i fell to the floor...i pooped my pants. i did. because the truth is, jeff, i had been chad, and chad was dead. but as abed, i was still alive, so someone helped me up. and the wardrobe lady came over. she gave me new pants. i thanked everyone, i apologized, and then i just got on a bus and went straight to the airport.
well, of course, you know the real point of that story.
i don't, but that's okay.
the point is i had been a fool.
nah, everybody poops their pants.
no, no, i was a fool long before that. you know, i look back at my life and i think 'who was that? why did he care so much about so many things that didn't matter?'
yeah, who needs cougar town?
who needs any pop culture whatsoever? tv, movies, to hell with all of it! you know what i was, jeff? i was that wallet. on the surface a reference to some cinematic drivel, but on the inside, empty.
but...you love tarantino.
no, no, not anymore. that's why i wanted to have this dinner with you. this is the first birthday of my new life. you know, the wallet's cute, jeff, but i'd like to exchange it for a better gift. i'm not leaving here until you've given me my first real conversation.
listen to how we talk to each other! we're like robots, exchanging catch phrases and references.
you think pointing that out counts as a real conversation? you know how many fake people are talking about how fake the world is, right now?
okay, well i'm new at this, so can you start our real conversation?
i don't believe there's such a thing. conversation was invented by humans to conceal reality. we use it to sweet talk our way around natural selection. you want to know who has real conversations? ants. they talk by vomiting chemicals into each other's mouths. they get right down to brass tacks. 'blechhhhhh' 'which way's the picnic?' 'blechhhhh' 'that way'. humans are more evolved. we lie.
not all the time.
that's a lie.
we don't lie when we're alone.
biggest lie ever. nine out of ten lies occur six inches away from the bathroom mirror. we do most of our lying alone.
how is it even possible to lie when you're alone?
you can call a phone sex line. that's lying to your self.
no, that's just being honest with a stranger about being lonely.
what if you're dishonest about why you're lonely? what if you're a good looking guy who calls a phone sex line and tells them he weighs 400 pounds, just so he can hear a woman say she's attracted to him anyway?
well, i don't believe that happens.
[slams the table] wrong! that's me! i did that last week!
but, why would you pay a woman on the phone to think you're fat?
because i'm scared that if i were overweight, no one would like me. god, that feels good to admit. abed, the point being...you don't have worry about being normal, or real, or whatever this is tonight. the world is a sick place, full of sick sick people. [pauses, deep breath] can i tell you something i've never told anyone else?
[we cut away & cut back to] and i said, 'no, that's a girl's costume.' and my mom said 'it's fine, indian boys have long hair and braids, too.' there was only forty-five minutes left to trick-or-treat, so what could i do? i put the damn thing on and i went door to door. and everyone was going 'oh, what a pretty little girl.' and by the third house, i stopped correcting them! i mean why draw attention to it? and honestly, once the shame and the fear wore off, i was just glad they thought i was pretty. ... god, this is incredible. i mean, to be able to talk this openly. i mean, why can't people be like this? i mean, what's wrong with this world?
[pierce comes in & gives abed the realization that jeff's planned a pulp fiction surprise party so abed tells the waiter to bring the check. the waiter, befuddled, references my dinner with andre.]
abed, what's my dinner with andre?
...just a movie...about two guys talking at a restaurant...
[angry] so...this wasn't a real conversation. you were doing another movie?
a movie about a real conversation!
did you poop your pants on the set of cougar town?
that shouldn't matter.
[slams table] this is why we don't hang out!
[later, at the burger joint]
you're mad at me.
i spent a week planning a party just to make you happy. and then i bailed on the party and ruined it, again, just to make you happy. then, it turns out, while i was wasting my time trying to make you happy, you were making yourself happy all over everyone else by doing yet another stupid movie spoof.
i prefer the term 'homage'...
it wasn't about making me happy. i chose my dinner with andre because it's about a guy who has an unexpectedly enjoyable evening with a weird friend he's been avoiding lately.
you think i've been avoiding you?
you and i hung out more last year. it makes sense. everyone else is growing and changing all the time and that's not really my jam. i'm more of a fast-blinking, stoic, removed, uncomfortably self-aware type. like data, or johnny five, or mork, or hal, or kitt, or k-9, or woodstock and/or snoopy, of course spock probably goes without saying.
look, i don't need you to grow or change. and, take it from someone who just had a meaningless one, sometimes emotional breakthoughs are overrated.
everyone else is growing and changing all the time and that's not really my jam. i'm more of a fast-blinking, stoic, removed, uncomfortably self-aware type. like data, or johnny five, or mork, or hal, or kitt, or k-9, or woodstock and/or snoopy, of course spock probably goes without saying.