A nother thing about being a famous columnist is that everybody starts treating you real nice, but in a phony kind of way, like it”s pretty obvious they want something back. Fame attracts leeches. Around every corner is the “old friend” hitting you up for money or the next usurper of the throne, the next challenger. Ask MC Hammer. Or better yet, watch his made-for-TV movie on VH1, “Too Legit.” Yeah, the Hammer could definitely back me up on this one.
I”ll give you an example. A couple months ago I decided to take a few dozen of my closest friends to a well-known Italian restaurant on Main Street I won”t say which one it was, but it starts with a G and it”s fairly pricey. It was payday at the Student Publications Building, so yeah, everything was on me. We didn”t have any reservations or anything, we just thought we”d roll in, grease a few palms, and see if they could work with us. The moment the maitre d” or main host guy or whatever sees me, he”s all “Right this way, Mr. Goldstein, sir, we”ve already set up several tables for you and your entourage.” So he”s helping me off with my fur coat and I”m thinking Wow, not only did we not have to wait or bribe anyone, but he”s already set up enough tables to accomodate like 30-35 people, and we just got here! And he called me sir!
Long story short, we”re finishing our meal and the first thing this son of a bottom-feeding bitch says (after the whole “your money is no good here” thing, of course) is “Mr. Goldstein, I was wondering if you would be kind enough to mention us in the next installment of “Sick!” We do fairly well at the moment, but I think if you name-dropped (name of restaurant) sometime in your column we”d really take off. So, what do you say?” This jackass has the nerve to ask me this in front of all my friends and some of their friends and relatives, some of whom were still working on their crme brle when we were hit with the sales pitch. And here I thought we were being treated nice just because he was a fan, or maybe, just maybe, out of the goodness of his heart. Yeah, right. What a fool I was. Everybody in this cold, cold world is looking out for No. 1, and I mean everybody there”s no exception to the rule.
(Quick side-note, I later found out that the rows of tables at this restaurant-that-will-remain-unnamed were set up not for us, but for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was in town promoting or protesting something. He had made reservations for 40 people, but the restaurant gave us his tables before he arrived, and after a long argument he and his people were given gift certificates for dinner there another night. I heard they ended up going to the Mongolian Barbecue, although an anonymous member of BAMN told me it was Shalimar.)
The moral of this story being that when you get up on that mountaintop, you realize that everybody else is climbing up after you with their hands out, asking for “help.” I started thinking about all of this the other day when I received a flood of e-mails (like thousands, almost all from total strangers) asking how my break was. “Did you have a fun break?” “How was your break?” “Did you enjoy the holidays?” “What did you do over break?” And invariably, there”s the P.S. hiding there at the end that reveals their real intentions. Hammer knows about the P.S., you can bet your ass.
“P.S.: Can you review my band”s CD in the Daily?” “P.S.: I want to ask my girlfriend to marry me, and I thought if you could put like my marriage proposal at the end of your next column that would be real romantic for her, and I could be like “Oh honey, why don”t you open that Weekend section up to page 6B?” “P.S.: Do you really know Lyle, Luke and Andy personally? Can I meet them?”
People are shameless. You go through life wanting to be a well-known and respected writer. And then one day, poof, it happens, you got it. The world is yours. Following the classic Scarfaceian arc, first you get the money, then you get the power, and then, then you get the woman. That”s how it works in this country. You start with nothing, growing up in desperate poverty in some rat-infested tenement, or worse, in a communist (no, I will not capitalize that word) country and then suddenly men want to be you and women want to be with you. And it can all be a little too much to handle sometimes, I won”t lie to you. No, I never lie to any of you.
So you want to know how my break was? Do you, you filthy bloodsuckers? It was fine. I hung out with my parents and high school friends. My girlfriend “D-Town Dana” visited me for a few days and we did Chicago, my way. Both my mother and father bought me an XBox for Christmas, which was embarrassing, considering the fact that I don”t like video games. I drove around my neighborhood at night on a nostalgic whim, passed the houses of old friends, realized that as a senior, mere months from graduation, this will be the last time I am allowed to drop everything for two and a half weeks to visit my family. From now on, I”ll have to be back at work from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 after taking Christmas Day off, and return on Jan. 2 after New Year”s. This is all assuming I will find a job eventually.
No I will not review your CD. That”s the stupidest idea for a marriage proposal I”ve ever heard. Yes, I do know Lyle, Luke and Andy. They”re not as snarky in real life.
Ben Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com. Rest in peace Dave Thomas.