Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Mysteries Of The Universe... And Paul, My New BFF


As promised, here is a real post.  I apologize for the recent stink bomb known as the three-and-a-half-legged cat entry.  I will attempt to make up for that at this time.

So I've been getting my rock and roll ducks organized into a row lately.  Which means a lot of things, including the fact that I have a rather exciting, last minute gig coming up tomorrow night.  I'm not going to hype it up too much until I know more details, but there will potentially be some important people there.  You better believe I'm already nervous.

In other news, I've spent way too much time lately thinking about The Meaning Of Life, The Universe, and The Role Of Humanity In The Cosmos.  I could probably blame that on the movie I saw the other day:

I don't know if any of you have braved "The Tree Of Life" yet, but it was one big beautiful artsy mess.  I loved the cinematography and the editing.  The film felt like something that Ingmar Bergman would have made if he woke up on the French New Wave side of the bed after taking acid while reading The Bible and watching "2001: A Space Odyssey" simultaneously.  Translation:  It was really, really strange.  I'm still not entirely sure what my overall opinion of the movie is.  I think I liked it and it was definitely worth watching but I don't ever need to see it again.

But its existential journey through time and space got my mind back on all of my favorite questions.  You know, the whole "If the universe is so big and we're so small, what are we doing here and why should anybody up there care?" routine.  This is a question that a two hour montage of Sean Penn walking through the desert could not answer.

Luckily, I have a new friend named Paul who can shed a little bit of light on these difficult questions.

I met Paul a few days ago when I was out with my friends.  Being a creature of habit, I always go to the same pub with the same people and order the same thing from the same cute bartender.  I even sit in the same chair at the same table most of the time.  It's all a little bit like "Cheers."

But our favorite pub was closed for a couple of weeks due to remodeling.  And when it came time for us to partake in our weekly night of PBR, artist's pool, culture bashing, gossip, and trash talk, we had to branch out and go somewhere new.  We picked an unassuming little bar down the road.  The decor was rather charming and it wasn't at all crowded.  We found a good table by the door and launched into our standard artsy-weirdos-at-a-bar routine.

Little did we know that we had walked onto the set of someone else's sitcom.  We had left the comfort of our own playground and would soon be at the mercy of an entirely different cast of characters.

It was very strange.  Multiple people said "hi" to us as they walked in and out.  Apparently it's a friendly place.  They were weird people, too.  An elderly couple, holding hands and grinning.  And a middle-aged man with a cell phone clipped onto his jeans.  He waved at us every time he walked by, regardless of the fact that we were deep in conversation.  Finally, The Poet asked the question we were all wondering:  "Do we know you?"

"Yes, you do," he said mysteriously.  "I'm Paul, and I've been around a long time."  He then walked out the door to smoke a cigarette.

I felt as though something in the atmosphere had shifted.  I could almost hear the eerie "Twilight Zone" theme music.

We sat at the table and tried to figure out if any of us knew a guy named Paul.  We had just decided that we definitely had no idea who he was when he came back and sat down at our table.

"You guys have a cool vibe," he says.  "I'm going to talk to you, because that's how I roll."

He told us about how he used to be on commercials for a local grocery store chain that went out of business over a decade ago.  Apparently, we were supposed to know who he was because of that.  He told us about his undying love for the band Yes and we nearly got him to recite "Roundabout" in it's entirety.  He confessed that he had a giant crush on Stella, the bartender, and was upset that she had a boyfriend. 

Just when I thought the moment couldn't get any more bizarre, Paul launched into a story about his "nefarious" past.

Yes, he casually dropped the word "nefarious" into the conversation.  Then went on to tell us about the time he hi-jacked top secret government signals using an Atari and equipment he bought at RadioShack. 

"What government secrets did you find out?" we asked.

Paul suddenly became very serious.  "You don't want to know," he said, shaking his head.  "Some of them are nefarious at best!"

"Oh come on, just tell us what you learned."

"No, I can't do that to you guys, you're better off not knowing!"

"We can handle it.  Just tell us your favorite government secret.  It's just like telling us your favorite band."

He continued to shake his head.  We weren't about to give up, though.

"Don't you know anything about the mysterious of The Universe or aliens or anything?" asked The Poet.  "What about the aliens?"

Paul perked up.  "Yes...they've been here the whole time!  The government doesn't want us to know, but we are constantly being watched by The Zeta Reticuli!"

He then launched into an epic conspiracy theory involving Hitler, Ancient Egypt, the government, and Nikola Tesla.  I think most people would have written him off as a schizophrenic freak, but he was way to fascinating to abandon for a game of pool.  So I sat there with my friends and listened to Paul's twenty-minute monologue about how we are not alone.

"There is undeniably an intergalactic presence among us!" he said, gazing off into space.  "There is something watching us, controlling us, knowing about us.  Maybe you call that 'God,' but I know it's the Zeta Reticuli."

I really wanted to laugh, but I refused to let myself.  Paul was completely serious.  "I have spent my entire life trying to make sense of those secrets I learned from the government signal that day!  You are better off not knowing the details," he said, a melodramatically grave look on his face. 

It was the strangest interaction I've had with anyone in a really long time.  Once my friends and I finally ended the conversation and got rid of him, we had a good laugh about the whole thing and moved on.

He was completely crazy, but his confidence in which he believed everything was astounding.

And as I sat in the movie theater and watched "The Tree Of Life" a few days later, I couldn't help but think that we are all struggling to define The Unknown.  Most of us just don't jump straight to alien conspiracy theories.

I think I'll wrap this up before I get too heavy.  I will say that we have plans to go back to that bar and look for Paul again though.

Except our standard pub is open again.  Nothing beats a dive with an endless Jukebox of Radiohead and two-dollar Pabst.  And there's a population of the crowd there that falls into the old, plaid-wearing, pony-tail sporting, Birthers with plumber's pants category.  Why talk to middle-aged men about aliens when you can have conversations like this:

"You don't like shuffle board?  I've been playing shuffle board since I was six years old!  And now I'm fifty six, so that's fifty years of shuffle board!  You know, if you're ever putting together a kitchen and you need a cutting board, all you need to do is find an old shuffle board.  You could cut up some meat real nice on that thing.  Oh!  Or maybe the floor of an old bowling alley!  Like from them 1930's or somethin.  Nice and smooth!  Great kitchen counter top.  Good for cuttin meat!"

I really wish I was making these things up.  I swear, there must be a sign on my back that says "IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING REALLY WEIRD TO SAY, PLEASE COME TALK TO ME."

Anyway, I am off like a herd of turtles.  I hope everyone has a fabulous Sunday.  And if anyone has any opinions on "The Tree Of Life," insight on The Universe itself, or any inside information on government secrets and the Zeta Reticuli, I would love to be enlightened.

Peace out, amigos.  There will be a more normal post in the near future.  I promise.


  1. I love that you said you walked onto the set of someone else's sitcom - that's so funny. It's like a cross-over episode.

  2. Hahaha. Your life is wild.

    I met a crazy guy like that once in a bar in Toronto. Never caught his name though.

  3. Off like a herd of turtles. Awesome.

    Missed you, glad you're back with more tall tales of truth. And break legs!


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