@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Ass Pats & Strange Chats
“Couldn’t quite seem to escape myself
Far from Florida
We were all drowsing in cruise control
Far enough, far enough
Wasn’t far enough
Oh my God, I’ll probably have to carry this whole load
I couldn’t remember if I tried
I couldn’t remember if I took my brain out, threw it so directly at the goal
I couldn’t remember if
I could have my mind erased
And still not know exactly what I don’t already know
The floor of an airport is as good as an office as any.
There’s a young man sleeping on the chairs that reminds me so much of my brother with shaggy dirty blond hair, I hovered above him for a moment to get a better look at his face. He looked lonely to me.
The sun hadn’t risen yet, but it would before boarding. As for me, I’m too tired to be fully functioning. For all of humanities faults, people in the airport in the wee hours of the morning generally keep to themselves, empathizing that we’re all exhausted, a bit cranky. The same is true for NYC subways during the morning commute. Thousands of us ride quietly, headphones in or reading material. Yes it’s true there’s the occasional asshole who thinks it’s okay to talk on the phone but that person always gets deserved homicidal looks.The man behind me on the TSA line was muttering to himself and when he took off his shoes he asked me, “would you wash my socks for me when they get dirty.”
Not sure what the fuck that’s supposed to mean, but I pretended to not hear him and avoided eye contact. So much practice ignoring people is a honed skill I could put on a resume.
Driving to the airport my eyes were completely bloodshot. When I got home after the fourth and final gig on Saturday, I wished I had a 3am flight instead of a 7am flight. I’d rather have just driven straight to the airport and been home earlier. Instead, I was in that weird time gap where if I slept it would be for roughly three hours. Not enough time to sleep yet too much time to stay awake.
The producers of the Florida gigs were unique and funny characters who loved comedy. I know this seems rather ridiculous, but trust me, there are far too many producers, bookers and club owners who do not love comedy (often treating comics like we’re disposable freaks). It’s refreshing and revitalizing when a booker is so appreciative that you’re there.
Friend and funny guy, Jim Florentine, was headlining these gigs with me as feature. One of the producers, a tall skinny middle-aged Howard Stern look-alike with the cadence of Cheech or Chong was giddy with delight about Jim being there, it was so sweet to see anyone that stoked about anything at all.
“Isn’t this great!” He said to me backstage of a small theater while Jim was on stage with the biggest smile on his face, “I can’t believe he’s here! This is so great!”
The night before, he was singing my praise like some sort of celebrity, “You’re so funny, Lori. I’m so thrilled you’re here. You’re the real deal!” They even made me a movie sized poster for promotion. The guy who made it didn’t want to show Jim, fearing as the headliner he might not care for a feature with a featured sized poster. “Are you kidding me?!” The hippie booker bounced back at him, “Jim brought Lori down here! They’re friends! Of course he’s going to like her poster! He loves her comedy!”
His happiness perplexed me some. How does one maintain that level of being so wildly excited about life after so many years? Though my writing partner, who isn’t so great at words of encouragement, said he’s actually less cynical than he used to be (this is somewhat hilarious if you knew him). He said thinking everything sucks was somewhat the mindset of a younger person. There’s hope for me yet.
Someone told me there was a tornado warning near Port St. Lucie, where I was staying at my parents house. Jim’s tour which I piggybacked on circled where my folks live. Finally, I was happy to get gigs in Florida near them. When I called to tell them the good news, they said, “oh, we’re going to be in Alaska that week.”
My mom left me a small handwritten novel on instructions to keep the house. Several of the pages outlined what to do in the event of a hurricane.
“What did it say?” I was pressed about the hurricane instructions.
“I don’t know! I skipped that part because I thought it was unnecessary and stupid!”
From the moment I landed in West Pam Beach airport, I didn’t realize how much I’d miss them, conditioned to the fact that I always left this airport to see their smiling faces. Their empty house, walls decorated with memories serving as a timeline of our laughing youth didn’t feel like a home without their banter. I hate missing people, I thought, I absolutely hate missing people.
This set the stage for a strange disposition. Displaced and lonely, I’d be in somewhat rare form from recent happenings, or I guess more accurately, no happenings whatsoever. Only expectations. Disappointed, as always. You can always count on people to disappoint you.
Such as this mood goes, it didn’t seem to hurt me on stage. In fact, on stage was the only time I felt of semblance of myself. One morning I woke up from a dream that I got pulled over by a cop for a DWI and I actually thought it happened. Waking up in my parents bed, I was so confused. Am I in jail? Man, this bed is so comfortable for jail.
Sleeping pills have become my favorite vice. They are going to kill me.
In what was supposed to be a jovial reunion with my aunt, I split at the seams, crying. I don’t think she’s ever seen me cry like that. Not many people have. Though leaning on someone you love every once in a while is healthy.
My cousin came to one of my shows with his girlfriend (or ‘unlawful wife’ haha) whom I adore. They had yet to see me perform. His girl told me after the show that on their way over she was worried, “what if Lori isn’t funny? I’m not going to be able to lie to her.” Ah, a quality we share! When I came off stage, they were impressed with my “natural” ability. I assured them there was nothing about my ability that was natural. I worked hard. But she said something that connected to me. She said that on stage I was bold and my true self. Yet offstage, I was shy and timid but also my true self. “You are both of these things. You have to merge the two,” she said, “merge them and magic will happen. You’ll see.”
Off stage, I wasn’t my best self— whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean anyway. The gigs felt a little more like home. Florentine, as my friend Tim Gage put it, “is authentically Jim both on and off stage.” I told Jim this and it made him smile. “It’s true. I just don’t give a shit.” He doesn’t.
Jim’s disposition was healthy for me to be around. Having veteran status as a comedian didn’t grow with the slightest taint of bitterness for Jim— a certain rarity. He still loved being a comedian. He still thought it was one of the best jobs in the world. He still did not give a shit what anyone else thought or said.
While selling merch after a show, this guy who was clearly not going to buy anything hung in front of Jim’s table asking him irritating questions and sharing mundane and not at all relevant anecdotes. Florentine’s stare was so uninterested it made me laugh because I thought about how frequently I blankly looked at people. When Jim lamented dealing with fans who were well intended, but annoying with their stupid stories, I commented that I was glad he got to experience that. “Now you know what it’s like being a girl in a bar.” He thought about it for a second then smiled and nodded, “I guess so. I never thought about it that way before.”
When I woke up on this Monday morning, I was also confused. When is it? What day? What time? God, why the fuck am I always this tired?
And then I remembered I set my alarm for three hours before work because I had a writing submission due. Then work. Followed by comedy. How could one person have so many jobs and still be this poor? I’m so fucking tired.
Back at work, I’d enter my bosses office and walked directly into a chair. I do this every day I’m there. I walk into the fucking chair. It’s so stupid. How many times am I going to continue to walk into that chair? My boss must think I’m an idiot. In fact, I’m sure that when he’s explaining a new task to me he’s confused as to whether or not I’m confused. Because I have that same vacant, “I don’t give a shit about this” stare that Jim has when an imbecile chews his ear off after a show, but I still manage to complete my tasks with little or no help so my boss would probably relate to almost anyone I’ve dated who has said, “I have no idea what you’re thinking or feeling right now.”
How do I tell you… everything? How do I tell you how overwhelmed I am at all times?
My boss asks how my little Florida comedy tour was.
“It was a lot of fun! A little tiring.”
What was I supposed to add? That after the first show we did a drunk lady pat my ass like we just won a football game and said, “great show.” When I told Florentine I thought she did it by accident he said not to be so sure. Or should I have told my boss that when a 65 year old man going through a divorce asked me if I wanted to do cocaine with him, I replied with, “coke isn’t really my drug. You don’t have ketamine, do you?” Or what about the drunk couple who was trying to get me to go home with them, the husband practically begging me to fuck his wife (geez, never thought I’d say, bring that 65 year old dude with the cocaine back to get me away from these people). This is my actual life. My reality is warped.
Oh, Florida. You really are a special needs state. Does anything good ever happen there?
Avoiding the cafeteria small talk in a corporate building in NYC, I eat at my desk. How am I supposed to relate to anyone who works here in this office?
You’re not. The voice inside me says. You’re never going to relate to anyone here. And for some reason, today, that doesn’t feel so lonely.
That’s the part I seem to hide”