Tuesday, January 31, 2012

my dad... wishes he was black.

I live in constant fear that my father will do something to embarrass me. It's not really fear that he will embarrass me exactly because I am not a teen anymore. It's more the fear that he will do something that will turn heads and not in a good way.

My father is a true individual. He is a quarter of an inch shorter than myself, bringing him to the statuesque height of 5'7 and 3/4 and still considers himself a body builder. He, like myself has the you can't put your arms down because you lift weights syndrome. He considers himself an amateur boxer and has worked out/boxed at the Broadway Gym in South Central LA for the past 27 years. He, like most Russian men and Wayne Brady, thinks he is black. He is the only white, Jewish man that was in the middle of the LA riots because he he needed a pack of cigarettes. While he has been bald since turning 27, he would have a flat-top circa 1989 if he could. He listens to hardcore gangster rap.

The first time my father saw me do stand up is one of those moments that I will never forget. He comes to see me at the wold famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard and in a lineup with about a million comedians. At the end of every comedian's set, my father proceeds to stand up (keep in mind he wearing what can only be described as MC Hammer pants with neon squiggles) and he throws his arms in the air. He then lets out a barking noise because hasn't received the memo that Arsenio Hall hasn't been on the air in over 15 years.

After my set he tells me "you were great, but no Richard Pryor."

More recently, this past week, my dad comes to see a show which I am both in and the producer of. He gets to the show and is moderately behaved through the first half of the show. I do my set and he is calm, he smiles and gives me a hug as I get off the stage. It's a Kodak moment! He is doing great and behaving!

The show keeps going and 2 more comics go after me. Then it happens. It's like watching a car accident. There is nothing I can do, but sip my cocktail and watch it unfold. My father isn't much of a laughter. Comics find this easy to take jabs at. The comedian on stage takes this opportunity to make a joke in my dad's direction to lighten the mood. The joke is HARMLESS. My father proceeds to shout out, "YO MAMA!" Who the fuck is he? Shaft? At this moment I am looking for sharpest, most blunt object around. Luckily I booze comes to the rescue and I guzzle down my entire Kettle Soda in one gulp. This causes me to choke and the people sitting next to me just stare hoping someone else will have to do the heimlich maneuver.

The comedian who my father has the audacity to hackle comes off the stage and walks in my direction. She asks, "who is that guy?"

My response under my breath, "my dad... he really does think he is black."

Monday, January 23, 2012

laid off and determined.

About three years ago, during my last year at the bar, I started to go through a crisis. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. After I graduated college I had several career jobs where I used my degree doing advertising, PR, marketing and was pretty successful at it. I did this while keeping the bar job on the side. Three years ago I was laid off from my last day job, which was relevant to my college education with the 401K and the stuff you’re told you’re supposed to want. Near the end of that job, on a daily basis, I wanted to stab myself in the eye working there (metaphorically and not literally). I was hoping they would add the shotgun or knife to my stock options. That never happened, which was good because while I love a good suicide joke, that was not what I wanted. I was feeling numb to working there and not sure how other people did this and found happiness. I would come home while financially successful, buying stuff, helping my mother, father and anyone who needed it when I could, I would cry almost every night and not know why. I was making enough money to be happy. I grew up poor so anything above the poverty line was rich to me. After a year at a good company, working 40 hours a week for good people, daily pushing papers I was laid off. The day I was laid off, it happened in the middle of the day. It was after lunch oddly, 2:30pm to be exact. I was sad but not lost like I should have been. I went to a happy hour that day and drank. After an evening of drinking sarrows away, I went home drunk, alone, a bit teary, but not sad and wrote. I wrote about my life. I realized that all the books I had read about San Francisco talked about an idealistic world that may or may not have existed in the 60s, 70s but nothing like what I had seen there. I wrote until I couldn’t write anymore. This was about a 4 day period. I didn’t really shower much during that period, only to go work at the bar and to eat a half-gallon of ice cream.

I went back to full time at the bar again and entered crisis mode again. I go through one of these every 3 or 4 years depending on the economy of course. I decided to go see a therapist after having a moderately unsuccessful time with one on campus during my last semester of school, I decided to give it a go.

This time around the question I focused on with my therapist was “what now?”
He asked me one of those hippy, therapist, granola, I shop at Whole Foods and sold out years ago questions. “Yuri, in an ideal world, what would you be doing with your life?”

I told him write, but there is no money in that so how would I live? He pried more. I then told him I would like to be a comedian, but wasn’t funny.

He suggested I start a blog and post some stories. This way I could see people’s reaction to my writing and see if anyone even likes it. The following week I enrolled in a comedy class.

That week I started a blog where I posted stories about my life in San Francisco and the bar I had known as home for 5 years. The stories, while based on truth were what I created blending different experiences together to create a good story. It was my story through my big eyes and my journey to be told. I instantly got good traffic to the blog and people were emailing me all the time trying to figure out what was real from the stories and what wasn’t. If my grammar were better I would have figured out a way to finish a book from the stories right then.

The first open mic was like the first time having sex. I got lots more laughs than expected. After the first laugh I had the courage to keep going. It was the first time I felt at home. It was like the way the junkies on intervention made heroin sound, but without the track marks.

After a few months of both the standup and the writing, there was a buzz about the bar apparently about my blog. People would ask me, “does Charlie know? He won’t like it”

I didn’t see the big deal. What was Charlie Big Brother? It was like they thought he was a part of the mafia. I have been raised with that mindset so wasn’t phased by it. My Russian father, like most Russian men and Wayne Brady thought he was black and a member of the mob. Second, I never really talked negatively about the bar. The stories while based in truth were about my life, my experiences that happened at a bar I happen to work at. It was and is my story and no one else’s.

Ironically I was “let go” from the bar that I worked at for 5 years almost 2 years ago. I was sat down by Charlie himself and told that while I was an amazing bartender that they were making changes and my services wouldn’t be needed anymore. I was laid off with a severance from the Labirinth. It would take six months before I heard a rumor that my blog had to do with my dismissal. I didn’t think it did, couldn’t care less, but would like to entertain that idea. In my mind it would just add another layer to the story to eventually be a best seller.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Puerto Vallarta was fun, but I'm back!

I recently completed a week of All-Inclusive-Vacation at Puerto Vallarta University. This was my first time going the all-inclusive route. All-inclusive translates to a week of binging without the purging and waking up slightly hung over with a subtle Pepto Bismol after taste and a black tongue. Word to the wise, Pepto, or as I call it, the vacation vitamin, will in fact turn your tongue black if taken prior to bed in a drunken stooper. The trick never let yourself completely sober up and which adds to the excitement.

Many interesting things happened on this trip. I learned that lime and Chili goes apparently with everything, Paulina Rubio announced her divorce according to Yahoo Mexico, and I am a huge klutz. I tripped on the uneven pavement that is Puerto Vallarta at least 400 times. Which ended poorly. I learned the art of riding Mexican busses. The lesson was to hold on tight cause the bus shakes so much, you feel like your having a seizure. On one of the six lovely evenings, while moderately sober, I ran in the direction of the bus to catch up with my boyfriend who was getting ready to get on it. Another thing, Mexican busses don’t seem to wait for anything. You may be half way on the bus and it will start going full speed ahead. As I was running to the said bus, I tripped on the step in the pavement and slid directly into the cement in front of me. Watching this show must have been like getting to the bottom of a tub of ice cream sad and tragic. I ended up scraping the skin off of my left elbow, which sucked, but I got over it with a few Pine Coladas. Mexican pharmacies also do not sell big Band-Aids.

Since I am the classic pasty Jew, it was a week of searching for the highest SPF and shade. While I tried to tan, by the end of the week, my body ended up looking like a Neapolitan ice cream. Parts went from white, to pink and pinker. My boyfriend of course didn’t use sunscreen much and soaked the rays and turned to an even golden caramel, which caused more arguments. If there wasn’t free booze at every turn, I would have been more upset.

We did lots of tourist trap stuff. Snorkeling near a little island called Yelapa was amazing. I went without telling my boyfriend of my awkward fear of sea creatures. It was great. I get the midget flippers on (my feet are really small), goggles, snorkel and get into the beautiful water. I swim about 40 feet away from the boat and enjoy the tranquil sound of the water, the sun on my face and made eye contact with my beautiful boyfriend a few feet away as we each enjoyed our own version of bliss. I then look down into the water and see all the fucking nasty ass creatures, I mean beautiful fish swimming around us. At the moment that I did this I choked on the salty water and let out what could only be called a lady-boy scream. Everyone on the boat and in the water turned to see if I was okay. I pretended to be okay while still coughing up salt water and slowly swimming okay. It was like when walking somewhere and tripping on your own feet and pretending no one noticed.

Then a little boy, no older than 12, in the water asked me “It’s okay, are you 20 yet?”

I replied, “almost 30…”

The kid, “I am soooo sorry.”

This kid looked like the type that played with matches. On the hour boat ride out there, he applied sunscreen at least 5 times and sat there squinting with old man face the whole time. Upon hearing the question, I assumed that it meant my eye cream was actually working. We went on to kayak, which was less interesting.

We then ended up on a tour of the island of Yelp itself. We walked up to a hill there, to this beautiful waterfall. Right when we got there to see the beauty in front of us, this little black dog hopped from the top of the hill where the water fall started to his death in the water. It was odd. While it didn’t stop me from hoping in the water, it was very sad.

From eating on the beach to shopping for cheap European chocolates at my favorite corner store “Oxxo,” it was a great trip all around. The rest of the week included a few tours, much drinking and feeling bloated. Essentially it was the American dream.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stupid questions/ joke dump

Whoever said that there is "no such thing as a stupid question," was a fucking idiot. People ask dumb questions all the time. For instance, I'll bump into an acquaintance at the gym. The type of person you make plans to go to a dinner with all the time that you both know you'll never go to.

They walk up to you at the gym and ask, "what are you doing here?!"

I respond, "trying to figure out world peace, what do you think I'm doing?"

Then there is the odd thing of how men say hi to each other at the gym. Many men go beyond the customary head-bob, waving or even saying hello. They walk up to each other and start talking about their workout routines for no reason, when no one asks. I'll be working out minding my own business and a guy will walk up to me and start talking.

"Today is legs day. I was out of the gym for the gym for a while cause I was sick. If it wasn't for the cyst..."

Shut up men, no one asked you or cares. You aren't an athlete any more, get over it. Move on. You're retired. Workout to work on your daddy issues just like everyone else!

After the gym, the next annoyance is going to a restaurant and bumping into someone there. The same stupid questions follow.

"Oh my god! What are you doing here?!? You eat?"

Then there are the questions people ask me personally around the holidays. I have lived looking the way I look my whole life and know I look Jewish. Other people pretend they don't notice it, but I'm not that dumb. Anyway, people ask us Jews the dumbest shit around the holidays. They tell us Happy Holidays, but what we all mean is Merry Christmas. They always ask me what Santa got me for the Christmas and I always get sick of explaining so I came up with a new answer.

My new response, "nothing, he's an anti-semite."
My mom is obsessed with fixing me up now. She always sends me profiles on Jdate for people she wants me to date. It's like mom, he is 55, 450lb and lives with his parents! How'd you know what I wanted?

She is on this new kick too. She always asks, "what about grandkids?"

I try to explain to her, "mom I'm gay, kids don't come out of there, trust I've tried."

My mom is always in my business about who I date. She was upset when I was dating a Mexican guy. When she found out he was Israeli, she proposed to him!

Truth be told I have been in a relationship for a long time. So long that technology has invented new ways for other peopel to get laid besides the customary "hello" us gays have gotten used to, Grindr. It's an ap with essentially GPSdick. The idea is okay, until you go to a bar and see 5 men not talking to eachother but on their iphones messaging each other. It takes the fun out of bar hopping, flirting and hoping to get date raped.

My boyfriend and I have been together so long that it's brought new meaning to the word celibacy. Sorry, I meant monogamy. Just kidding about that... We are essentially like male lesbians, but we still have sex.

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