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February 26th, 2010

Off The Grid

For those of you who don’t know, I have a new job. I’m working on a pilot with some of my old “ER” pals, as well as some new folk. At this job, I share a small office and field calls and set up meetings and do all sorts of other assistant-y tasks.

Yesterday, a crazy man arrived to deliver a package. He looks to be in his late 30s and was wearing a large, grimy sweatshirt and some fabulous, giant glasses that screamed 1980s Repeat Sex Offender. Honestly, when he walked in, I was afraid to take the package he was holding because the only possibilities I saw were that a) it was a bomb or b) it contained the mangled phalanges of someone I hold dear.

As my officemate signed for the package, the man told us, “You know, I’m gonna be famous soon.” The way I see it, there are several kinds of fame. I just assumed, by the way he looked at us and said “soon,” that he meant the bad kind of fame. The “Kenmore Freezer Full of Heads” kind of fame. So I was relieved when he said, “I’m a comedian.”

But that high quickly wore off when he went on to explain: “I do sound effects that no one else does.”

“Oh,” I said, nodding. “Sounds great!” I clicked my mouse a few times and frowned at my monitor in an effort to look busy.

“But first,” he announced, “I’m going to move to Illinois.” This was because the houses were cheap, he told me. Then we played a fun little game where he stared at me over the top of his Rapist Glasses until I correctly guessed the asking price that the real estate agent had quoted him for a house in Southern Illinois. (Correct Answer: $30,000.)

He wanted to share some of his fame-worthy noises with us. I put my finger to my lips to indicate the need for quiet and said, “People are on the phone, so we have to keep it down.” I should not have said that because he leaned in about 9 centimeters from my head to give his performance.

And guess what? He can do the sound of a dog squeaky toy. He can do the sound of “the ice cream man.” Here’s the thing: They sound the same. Both were sort of melted, low hooting noises. Alright, I’ll be fair. There were some minor differences. For instance, his “dog squeaky toy” was not unlike one of those mournful sounds the bonobos make when they are in the zoo alone at night, thinking of the jungle, while the “ice cream man” sounded exactly like what I imagine it would sound like if you were to murder an owl. Which is a sound I do not recall from childhood.

Both were followed by a hearty round of snort-laughter. I don’t know if that was part of it or not. I didn’t ask.

Paul calls these kinds of people “off the grid.” When I told him about the messenger, he said, “You’re always wondering if those guys are gonna try something if they’re that off the grid. What if they have a gun or bite you?”

I told him I was more worried about him leaving a lasting odor.

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