Days 6 and 7
No matter how nice and big a house is, being cooped up in it for a week can drive you crazy, especially in a place like Auschwitz. I’m pretty much immune to that feeling since I’ve been to artist camp so many times but yesterday Abraham and Lennon and Agnes got this wild look in their eyes like they’d had too much coffee or something. They were pretty much clawing at the walls and whining about losing their minds, so I said Geez Louise why don’t you guys go for a hike once in a while? I know there’s ticks and stuff but Mt. Harvey’s RIGHT THERE, you can see it from the flipping window. LOOK! But they just rolled their eyes and said we don’t want to hike, we want to drink. (So typical, Diary!!) I said well you guys drink all the time but if you want to do it with a different backdrop we could go to Great Barrington, it’s pretty great, there’s this little bar/restaurant called Gypsy Joynt and they have beers and pizza and stuff and they do a cool open mic every week that I always get a real kick out of, some of the singers are real young and talented, like John Wall but white and they don’t shoot hoops. So the alcoholics and I made plans to go to Great Barrington and then I invited everybody else with this hilarious evite that had a pizza on it, and they RSVP’d yes and that’s what we did tonight, Diary, get settled into your seat and hold onto your hat because I’m going to tell you all about it.
Since I’m the only person at artist camp with a car (way to come prepared, guys!!!!!!) and I don’t drink, I drove Laurel and Heather in my pickup truck while Agnes drove all the alcoholics in the colony car, which is a little green car that anyone can use as long as they fill up the tank after, which no one EVER does which is why I ALWAYS bring my truck to artist camp. Anywho Laurel was sitting in the middle and Heather in the passenger seat, and it was a real nice little drive, super scenic of course like Auschwitz always is, and we were listening to Explosions in the Sky which is this sweet band I like even though they don’t even have a singer, just a bunch of guys who play the heck out of their instruments. If you ever need a band to listen to when you write but can’t listen to music with words in it but also think classical music is a total snoozefest, well Explosions in the Sky is the band for you. Heather had never heard them before but she seemed to really like them, of course maybe that was the pot talking. I’m also wondering if she was laughing at my jokes because of the pot or if it was because she thinks I’m funny, I will keep you posted, Diary, as you know the opposite sex can be a real puzzle sometimes but I am on the case.
So we got to Great Barrington which is in Massachusetts WHOOOOOOOA how did we cross over into a different state so fast?!?!!!? That was my reaction the first time I came to artist camp, it really wrinkled my brain but it’s simple geography, Auschwitz is right by the Massachusetts and Connecticut borders so you’re pretty much always crossing into and out of these three states, no bigs, just a little interstate travel. We went into Gypsy Joynt and got a table a little way’s back from the stage because it was kinda crowded. I really like that place because it’s run by this real nice family and the pizza’s real tasty and I like their decorations which are pretty colorful and fun, but Abraham and Lennon were totally laying into the place. When we first walked in Lennon said “Oh my god,” and they just thought this place was so tacky and lame, it couldn’t hold a candle to the fancy cocktail lounges and top secret speakeasies they probably frequent in “The Big Apple,” wearing top hats and smoking long skinny cigarettes like Cruella de Vil. Gimme a break, Diary, I think there is something to be said for little family-run businesses with reasonable prices and genuine people. Obviously those guys disagree, except Jason I think, he just sat in the corner and wrote the whole time, downing water after water like a madman. (He didn’t go to the bathroom once!!!! WHAT’S HIS SECRET, DIARY?) He’s so quiet sometimes I forget he’s at artist camp, but it was cool to see him working so hard even though this was supposed to be kind of a group bonding experience or whatever, I guess he’s just real focused on his art and that is something I really respect. I still can’t tell if he’s Italian or Spanish or what, though, it’s driving me bonkers.
Of course Abraham and Lennon and even Agnes got pretty drunk, they were drinking these fancy beers and cocktails I never even heard of, I thought for sure they’d just made them up on the spot but frankly I don’t think they have the imagination for that, Diary, and the waiter seemed to know what they were talking about so there goes that theory. They drank a lot and spent all night ripping on the singers, like these three old guys playing bluegrass who I thought were real good and lively, these snooty artists couldn’t get over the old guys’ beards and overalls, I guess because Abraham and Lennon haven’t seen a beard that big that wasn’t ironic in about a hundred years. They made fun of pretty much every act that went up there, even this high school couple that took turns singing real sweet kind of poppish countryish songs. They were probably about seventeen and they could both sing like the pros, but I guess the lyrics weren’t up to Abraham and Lennon’s Grammy Award-winning standards because they kept predicting the next line of the song and snickering whether they got it right or not. That really made me steamed because these two kids were giving it their all, so at one point I shushed the alcoholics but that just made them laugh harder. Laurel and Heather and I made sure to applaud these high school kids extra loud though so they’d know they did a good job and had a bright musical future, who knows maybe Explosions in the Sky will decide they need a pair of hot young front people, they’d definitely sell more records that way.
I am realizing more and more that these snooty artists are impossible to impress and I really really really REALLY don’t ever want to be that kind of artist. I was thinking the other day that if we had an undercover mission at artist camp that required someone to go into town disguised as a regular person, I would definitely be the guy the higher-ups chose for the mission because I’m not an alcoholic or a snob or a wackjob. I mean even after the open mic stuff ended Abraham and Lennon were still making fun of everything. Abraham went off on this crazy Twitter rant, he said it was “unspeakably irritating” and that it “stands for everything I oppose.” Strong words, Diary!!!! He acted like people on Twitter don’t read, which is about the stupidest thing I ever heard since I find some of the best articles and stories and things on there. Personally I think Twitter is real cool and much funnier and more creative than Facebook but I’m not gonna say Facebook is a waste of time either because I’m not a my-way-or-hit-the-highway know-it-all. I sort of argued with Abraham about Twitter (Lennon was on his side too, he’s SOOOOOOOO above social media stuff) and I told him I get on it all the time, even here at Auschwitz in the evenings after I’ve finished writing. Well that is when all heck broke loose, Diary, courtesy of a tall angry poet named Agnes.
Apparently Agnes has a real big problem with the way I pronounce Auschwitz, she finds it totally offensive for some reason. So when I said it at Gypsy Joynt tonight she made me repeat myself like eight times, and she kept trying to correct me but she was so drunk and her German accent was coming out so thick that I still have no idea what she was trying to say. Even though I’m young I don’t hear so well because I got my dad’s ears and he was in the Air Force for like twenty-five years so he has hearing aids now from standing next to jets all the time. I don’t usually stand next to jets but my ears are almost as bad as his, it’s genetic, so whatever Agnes was trying to say just went in one ear and out my nose, which just made her madder. Finally she called me a “[beeping] idiot” and said she had no idea how I got into artist camp once, let alone every year. Well at that point I had about had enough, so I paid for my pepperoni-and-sausage pizza and grabbed the last slice and walked out, which would have been a pretty strong statement except the place was closing so everyone else walked out right after me, and I was sitting on the curb with a mouthful of pizza, and it’s hard to look upset when you have a mouthful of pizza because pizza’s delicious especially when it’s covered in meat. But Agnes and those guys didn’t really acknowledge me anyway, just got in the colony car and drove off. Jason had taken the keys from Agnes which I thought was real responsible and cool of him, I also like that he doesn’t seem to like those other three, then again he doesn’t seem to like us much either.
But get this, Diary: on the way home Laurel sat in the passenger seat and Heather sat in the middle, right next to me. (!!!!!!!!!!!!) I dunno how much you know about Ford Ranger XLTs but my cab is small enough that when someone sits in the middle seat our legs touch, in other words Diary I’m pretty sure Heather and I made it to second base on the drive home, which pretty much wiped all the stupid stuff Agnes had said out of my brain. Laurel was falling asleep in the passenger seat so Heather and I did most of the talking, and she smelled real good the way girls do and I don’t think she could still be high off pot because we’d been at Gypsy Joynt for hours, but she still laughed at all my jokes and seemed to like hanging out with me, so maybe this puzzle is coming together and forming a nice little picture for ONCE. I don’t like to count my ducks before they’re all in a row and hatching healthily but Heather and I are really getting along, I can’t wait to ask Laurel what she thinks about all this tomorrow, she should be able to tell me if Heather likes me back since she’s pretty much the romance expert, especially when it comes to the ladies. Obviously I will keep you posted on this situation which could either fill me up with confidence or make me feel like one of those piles of deer turds I always see on my hikes.
Thanks for listening, goodnight Diary.
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.