Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Mysterious Case of the Missing iPod

I know I never wrote Part Two of the Ventura Highway story, and I'm sorry. Frankly too much time has passed since then, and I've lost total sense of whatever pithy nuggets I had intended to relate those many weeks ago.

The bullet points are as follows:

• Ventura Harbor is beautiful.

• The show took a long time to get going; there were two openers BEFORE the host, and then one opener AFTER. So by the time the "first" comic took the stage, more than an hour had passed.

• I was the "fourth" comic to go up.

• The audience were mostly lesbians.

• Lesbians don't laugh very much when they're tired.

Just ask her.

The end.

In short, not the worst set I've ever had, but maybe the worst one in about a year. I was bummin', despite the efforts of the other comics: "What are you talking about? You were great!..." etc. Incidentally, this is the difference between Southern California comics and New York comics. In New York, they'd be like, "Yeah, you did suck."

In happier news, my solo drive from Camarillo to Palm Springs the next day was surprisingly pleasant. And Palm Springs was cool. I'll do a photo blog soon when I'm in a better location to do so. But here's a teaser:

Isn't the apron strangely flattering?

OK, on to the iPod story -- truly the strangest thing to happen to me in a long while. First, some background: BW bought me a new iPod for Chanukah. I already had two iPods, but the first one was damaged by a shitzu I once dog-sat, and it will no longer charge for more than 20 minutes of play time; and the second one has a broken speaker and will only play music through one side of a headset. (And yes, I've tried different headsets, shitheads.)

So BW bought me a new iPod -- an incredibly wonderful, generous, loving gift. And I managed to lose it within a month.

What happened was, I had just driven back from an L.A. gig with my friends Karson and Stephen. It was very late at night, and I was exhausted from the three-hour drive. I had had my iPod plugged into BW's car stereo, and Karson and I had been singing the entire cast album of "Wicked" at the top of our lungs while Stephen covered his ears in agony in the back seat.

After parking in front of the house, I proceeded to empty the car of all my stuff -- backpack, jacket, iPod, water bottles, etc. BW's car is normally filthy, but I didn't want to add to the filth. As I grabbed each item, I set it on the roof of the car. Then I gathered everything up in my arms and headed inside. Except I obviously missed the iPod. Either I left it on the car's roof or it fell out of my arms on the walk inside. In any case, I never saw it again.

Fast-forward to February. It's my birthday, and BW gives me my present: Another iPod. Is he not the best boyfriend EVER? And I should mention that we're not talking about some rinky-dinky iPod Nano, here. He got me two of the big, honkin' 120gb iPod Classics. I mean COME ON!

More than I deserve...

OK. I know this story's beginning to drag a bit, but stay with me -- it'll be worth it.

About a month ago, BW, CW and I moved to Hillcrest, San Diego's gayest neighborhood. Basically, we were tired of being surrounded by drunk, noisy straight guys who kept us up at all hours and didn't even have the decency to walk around their apartments naked. Plus, we found a rental in one of Hillcrest's most desirable locations -- a fabulously luxurious complex with a hot tub, pool and gym -- for not much more than we were paying in North Park. (Thank you, shitty economy.) So we moved in, and we've been loving every minute of it.

Except I lost my iPod again. (Have I mentioned that I don't come off very well in this story?)

What happened was, BW and I were working out in our little gym. I had brought the iPod to listen to while I did the elliptical machine. But then "Friends" came on the gym TV set. And as I've noted previously in this space, I really, really like "Friends." If it's on, I'm watching it.

A quick sidebar: "Friends" debuted in September of '94, when I was 23 and living in Atlanta, America's worst city. I was dating a sweet guy named Sean Fitzgerald at the time, and one night he started ranting and raving about this new sitcom he had seen called "Friends."

"It's awesome!" he said. "There's this guy on it, and he was married, but his wife left him because she's a lesbian. A LESBIAN!!!"

It's amazing to think how shocking a concept that was for a sitcom just 15 years ago.

I'll be there for you...


So I stuck the iPod in the little cupholder of the elliptical machine -- right in front of my face where I couldn't miss it -- and proceeded to watch "Friends." It was the one in which Ross moves into his new apartment and all his neighbors hate him because he won't contribute to the janitor's going-away gift. And after I was done huffing and puffing and watching "Friends," BW and I left the gym and my iPod behind.

It took me about 24 hours to realize it was gone, and of course I was sick over it. I immediately called the property management office to ask if anyone had turned it in. "No, I'm sorry," said the office assistant, a rather obese, friendly young woman whom I'll call Mallory.

"Oh wait," said Mallory. "It does look like someone turned in an iPod to Mandy, our security guard."

Mandy, not her real name, was a well-known and well-liked lesbian guard in our complex. She had knocked on our door to introduce herself the night we moved in.

"But I can't seem to find where Mandy left it," Mallory continued. "What you should do is call the security desk tonight after 9:30. They'll be able to tell you where they left the iPod."

This seemed like a bit of a hassle to me, but the important thing was: My iPod had been found!

At 9:30 on the dot, I called security. Mandy was off, but I spoke to the other guard, whom I'll call Saud. "I don't know where the iPod is," Saud told me. "But I'll call Mandy and leave her a message."

The next morning, I found a note from Saud at my door: "Please call the management office regarding your iPod."

Mallory answered. "We still don't know where your iPod is, Mr Sank. We've left voicemails and emails for Mandy, but she hasn't gotten back to us. I'm so sorry -- I know this must be a hassle for you."

I explained how important the iPod was, given that it was the second one my boyfriend had bought me in the past three months.

"Gosh," said Mallory. "What a nice boyfriend. I wish I had a boyfriend who would buy me things like that!"

Whatever, bitch. Find my iPod.

Days passed. No one could find the iPod. The complex manager, whom I'll call Pistopher, told me that Mandy had definitely left it in the office security drawer, but it was no longer there. The search continued.

Then, Saturday night, a knock came on the door. It was Saud, and he had a cryptic message for me: "Call the office tomorrow. They have news about your iPod."

"Did they find it?" I asked?

"Just call the office. They will tell you everything."

I spoke with Pistopher first thing the next morning. He sighed and then told me: "We have security video of one of our employees taking the iPod from the drawer. We're going to confront the employee tomorrow. They will be fired. And if we cannot locate your iPod, we will either replace it or give you the money to replace it yourself."

"Holy shit! Can you tell me who the employee is?"

"We can't," said Pistopher. "But he or she will be dealt with."

Sunday night, another knock at my door. This time it was Mandy.

"Listen," she said."I just want to tell you how sorry I am about this whole situation. I had no idea when I left your iPod in the drawer that Mallory was going to steal it."

I was aghast. "Mallory stole my iPod?"

Mandy nodded grimly.

"But she always seemed so nice!"

Mandy made a face that conveyed her sympathy for my naivete. "It's the nice ones you got to watch out for," she said. "The assholes you can trust."

As I pondered this, I asked Mandy: "So what happens now?"

"Call the office after 9:30 tomorrow. They're going to try to get Mallory to give your iPod back. If she don't have it, they're going to charge her with a felony. She could wind up doing a year in prison. Either way, her ass is fired."

The next morning, at around 8 a.m., my phone rang. It was Mallory.

"Hi, Mr. Sank!" she said, bright and sunny as ever. "Good news! I found your iPod! If you're home, I'll bring it to you right now!"

"Um, er, OK, Mallory."

A few minutes later she appeared at my door, holding my iPod in one hand and an enormous Starbucks frappuccino in the other.

"So, here ya go!" she said, handing me the iPod.

I feigned a smile. "Great. So where did you find it?"

"It was in a locked box inside Mandy's drawer," she lied.

"OK, well... thanks."

A couple hours later, my phone rang. It was Pistopher. "Um, we just want to make sure you actually got your iPod back this morning," he said.

"Yes, I did. Mallory brought it to me."

He paused. "OK. So we're all set, then."

I was dying to know what had happened with Mallory. "So... did you deal with the problem on your end?" I asked.

"We're about to deal with it now," he said.

And that's the last I've heard.

I'm still not 100 percent clear about what happened. My guess is that Mallory knew she was about to get busted and figured maybe she could return the iPod before the jig was up.

In any case, I hope she enjoyed listening to "Wicked."

Homo with my iPod back.

POST SCRIPT: I ran into Saud several weeks later, and I asked him if they had ever fired Mallory.

"Oh, yes," he said. And then he added, "She was so stupid."

So I guess that's that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't Give Up On Me

I haven't gone away forever, people. Truly, I haven't. And I will begin blogging again regularly soon.

It's just that in the past three weeks, I've...

1) Moved to a new place.

2) Turned 38.

3) Been hit with a massive flu that knocked me on my ass.

4) Started a new full-time job.

Suffice it to say, it's been a crazy time. I'm just getting into my new routine, so bear with me a little longer, and I shall return like gangbusters.

Homo overwhelmed.