Andy Schneider was a decent man, a swell guy. Yeah he had some alcohol problems back then, but so what? I mean he ain’t no Christian at the time but he was certainly into guilt, which made things much easier. Whether it was a stroke of luck or a twist of fate (so to speak), Andy eventually met Jesus at the bottom of a Cutty Sark bottle and married a meek Asian woman named Susan Cho—a good woman. Why, the first time I saw her she kinda reminded me of that song—your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock n roll—which was a good thing of course. There’s a lot to be said about a woman’s clothing in relation to her respectability after all. Not to mention, Susan was very progressive—she buys coffee beans above their market value, observes “No Meat Mondays,” and bags her groceries using recycled materials.
Andy was indeed a very lucky guy.
So anyway, Andy and I were sitting at this reading, you know, like a writing workshop except it’s a buncha screenplays. We just got done with this horror flick written by this guy from Beijing called, “Space Chicken Porno,” or something of that sort (the guy was definitely one of those anti-Hollywood-tortured-artist types who hides messages in twirling trash bags). And now we’re doing another horror piece but this time with a romcom spin to it.
Debbie Turrell was passing her scripts around while animatedly talking to people she used to ignore during the ice breakers, and was now forcing everybody to give sincere lies to formal questions like: “how was your weekend?” or “how you’ve been, good?”
You bet your sweet balls I’m good.
But Andy on the other hand—due to the powers of the much maligned Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior—had more courage than most to refuse reading for the part of SEBASTIAN, the zombie killer.
“Sorry, Debbie,” Andy said putting up his palms. “I’m not comfortable participating in this. We’re all artists here and we should know better.” Of course she passed this off as if nothing was said.
Andy and I looked at each other and we understood. See Debbie was one of those women who constantly update their Facebook page with vile obscenities like, “my boo made me Shcarffenberger nib souffle pancakes for breakfast,” or “babies are enchanted creatures,” or “I have the most wonderful man in the world.” Debbie was one of those people who brag a lot so people will not know she’s miserable.
But either way, we still had to sit through the whole damn thing:
INT. SCHOOL LIBRARY – LOBBY – NIGHT
Larry the exploding zombie was finally dead. Vincent stood with his back turned against the camera, the wind grazing his hair. Sebastian is decapitated on the floor… but wait! He’s still alive. Something is keeping him alive… and it was his love for Cassie.
You’re crazy about her aren’t you, Vince?
Sebastian… I… I didn’t mean to…
Man, you just don’t get it do you. She loves you. Just don’t break her heart, man. Don’t break her heart.
Nobody wanted to look up. The harvest of shame was excruciating to the point where people started praying for weather conditions like those in the Bible—floods, pestilence, and the bathing of fire—but eventually we got through it.
Next up was Benjamin Hassanzadeh, and as soon as he stood up and volunteered himself, Andy shook his head with a fish hook in his mouth. Ben was this dark-Lucifer type of guy who was convinced he was the next Federico Fellini because he watched the special features on his DVDs. But for the most part, it was only because he had money to throw around and hire people who were broke. I mean this asshole bought himself a writer, director, cinematographer, grips and an editor. He even hired the same set of talentless actors on all his shorts just because they’re from his country (I remember this one guy with a permanent facial expression that looked like he’s having stomach flu or something, and a girl who lamented as though she was suffering from egg backup).
So Ben was introducing his next project to the group and the next thing you know, he was talking about a political plotline where the protagonist supposedly exposes a mainstream special interest group, that fights for intolerance instead of injustice, so they can get sponsorship from some hoo hah corporation.
And I was like, Oh hell no!
We can handle an asteroid crashing into the earth, a zombie apocalypse, an alien invasion, monsters, mutants, terrorists, gangsters, and even homo-demonic minions permeating American families, but don’t come here talking about socialism. Why, that’s only for the rich! If it doesn’t feed the existing social order it ain’t gonna work. Besides, for presuppositions not to be questioned it has to serve some sort of public interest. You know like, save this so we can kill that; ban that so we can sell this. I mean, didn’t this heathen know that God sent Jesus to be one of us so Jesus can subsidize the corporations to keep us in line?
Get your act together, goddammit!
In any case, the scripts weren’t passed around because our moderator didn’t like him either. “We should really give others a chance because of time constraints,” he said, which the group gladly supported by panning their heads to the person next in line: Fred Hernandez, the guy who smiled too much.
“Uh actually,” Fred began, his eyes moving as though two flies lived in his head. “My next film is about this hillbilly cannibal, visiting his brother who’s also a hillbilly and a cannibal and…”
There was a nudge on my elbow and I heard someone say, “He better get back on Prozac before he misses his coloring class at the Nervous Hospital.” It was Charlie Carter, another indie dude who always writes about sex and violence. I chuckled at this and told him, “You’re an elitist bastard, you know that?” Then he said, “Hey if you’re not an elitist then you’re a conformist, or worse you’re just another guy in the assembly line.” At first I thought about it since it kinda made sense, but then I saw Andy make a face at the corner of my eye and that straightened me out. Charlie’s a cool, hardworking guy but he’s obsessively delusional. He had done more projects than most of us, and he was always talking about current things he was working on like books, scripts, gigs, etc, etc.
I mean, shut the fuck up! Don’t come here and assault my self-image. Don’t come here telling me you’re stepping up your game. No one wants to hear that shit. And you know what, to be honest, I could do exactly what he was doing. I could work just as hard and be just as motivated if I really wanted to. It’s just that I’m not selfish, you know, or greedy, or self-obsessed or boisterous. I’m not a douche.
Nodding my head, I smiled a knowing smile at Charlie’s remark and turned my back on him to face Fred.
“…and then he killed his brother who was visiting from Arizona, but he didn’t wanna cook him because his conscience bothered him and he thought about their mom and what she’s gonna think when she finds that he killed his brother and they’re out of onions…”
You see, nobody knew where Fred’s parents went wrong but 24 hours is a long time to be stupid. I mean someone as dumb as that shouldn’t be living. I was thinking about this when Andy suddenly cut Fred off and said, “Look. I’m really not comfortable going through another gore-fest, guys. It’s just not my thing. And if we have to continue then I’m afraid I’m gonna have to leave because—”
“Actually, Andy,” Fred said. “I was gonna give you the part of the brother who lives in Vegas. So, if you can just read from here and like just be all serious and—”
Without warning Andy threw his hands in the air, stood up and left.
Just like that.
The footsteps went, jaws dropped to the floor and the door swung and shut. I mean what a move! He just bailed. And everybody had to look at each other and make sense of it amongst themselves.
And that’s what I’ve been talking about.
This country could use more people like Andy. If only we got more people like that the world would be a safer place. More minorities will organize, go to protests, boost their moral superiority, go home and be satisfied. Politicians won’t even have to explain anything the next day since nothing changed. More people will drive hybrid cars, buy products with different awareness ribbons on them, and send aids to children with faces worthy of grief by buying coffee from Starbucks. Nobody has to worry about anything because no one has to give up anything. Anyone can have whatever they want—choices without consequences, beer without alcohol, ice cream without fat, cigarettes without smoke, pets without balls, love without mercy. Everybody wins. The government, the military, the cops, the people and the poor. After all, you gotta take care of the poor otherwise they’ll take care of themselves and come over here.
We have to keep everything intact, safe and, most importantly, PC. And pretty soon decency will be in the streets again.