For those of you who don’t know Patrick Benjamin, he wears khakis, sunburns easily, and runs social media for Trop. His official bio reveals that he is a “writer” based “near Los Angeles” who “lives with his sister and grandmother.” His unofficial bio reveals that he is a “man” who lives “on a hill” and spends a “disproportionate” amount of his “money” on “cigarettes,” high-end sparkling water like “Pellegrino,” and “one-man poker.” Nobody knows what one-man poker is, but that can wait—we have a Sweatpants Wedding slot to fill, and we’d like to welcome Patrick, our brand new antagonist, to the show.
Sweatpants Wedding, in case you’re wondering, is a meta-musical of infinite length, spawned by Tom Dibblee, written by Stephan McCormick, and running here in The Weather. It began as just another unfinished musical. Problems mounted, however, and in time we realized it might never become finished (SEE PREVIOUS SW POSTS). Then, sensing opportunity in adversity, we transformed it into the meta-musical you’re reading right now, which so far includes one lively and very nicely produced song, the opening number from Stephan’s first draft of Act 1, which is available HERE.
Patrick Benjamin’s official Trop job title is “Publicity,” which means that half his job every Wednesday is to promote SW and encourage people to read it. And given that SW in its meta form consists of little more than promotion for SW, it’s imperative that Patrick do his job right—failing to promote a play about its own promotion threatens a type of spontaneous combustion that none of us here at Trop want. (PLEASE VISIT OUR DONATE PAGE.) So, with that in mind, we set out to interview Patrick and ask him what we could do to help him like Sweatpants Wedding more, because here at Trop we value integrity, and we don’t want Patrick to be lying when he tweets to the world and tells you to read us.
[End “we”; start “I”; abandon merger of Jake and Tom’s voices that’s always seemed somehow imprecise anyway; Jake is writing regular text from now on; Tom has been relegated to the role of “editor” or “guy whose writing falls within the brackets.”]
I, Jake, emailed Patrick last week and asked if he was ready to talk. His reply, unabridged and without his permission, appears below:
How do I put this? I don’t think I’ll be “ready” to talk about SW at any point. Every time another “installment” goes live I want to wring Tom and Stephan’s necks.
I really don’t mean to be difficult, but I think any further discussion of SW could prompt more benders in Sausalito, more agony, more broken hearts. I know mine’s still on the mend.
I’ll be back in the States soon. If you want to meet up and talk about doing the cover band (assuming you’re still interested) I’d be happy to oblige. However, let’s try and forget about SW. Meaning: Don’t bring it up. Please.
Receiving this confused me, of course.
Not only does Sausalito sound like far too expensive a place for a bender, but doing a cover band is several steps above my musical pay grade.
[Hey Jake—Let’s insert a joke here about how much money you’d have to be paid to be able to “do” a cover band without upsetting your wife too much in the short term. Long term seems too tough to plan for. Thanks, Tom]
Having read the email closely and repeatedly, however, I feel that I can make two assumptions:
1. Patrick is out of country, a member of the Jet Set, and thus someone who considers himself too fancy for sweatpants. I believe his logic is flawed, and I believe it is only a matter of time before Jet Setters, as a group and as a rule, embrace sweatpants. I mean what kind of pants would you wear if you sat on planes all the time? Right? In fact, my own personal favorite (and only) pair of almost sweatpants are standard-issue, kangaroo-stamped grey pajama bottoms acquired from Quantas, for free, on a trans-Pacific flight.
[Hey again Jake—That’s awesome about those pants. You’re going to be a great father. Thanks, Tom]
2. Patrick has some kind of romantic involvement with Sweatpants Wedding. Not like he has a crush on the play or anything. That wouldn’t make sense. More like there’s a girl in the Bay Area for whom Patrick once played a Sweatpants Wedding song, and either it drove her away immediately, which would be unprecedented, or, more likely, it became their song, and, when the girl left Patrick (possibly for Stephan McCormick, possibly in Sausalito), all Patrick could think about was the song, and now it won’t stop popping back into his head and making him cry. And rage. And drink.
Have you ever listened to a song called “Fee” by Phish? It’s about a stowaway chimpanzee who tries to kill an old Buddhist weasel on a cruise ship because he—the chimp—is in love with the weasel’s girlfriend (who is still quite beautiful, despite her advanced age).
Stephan is the weasel. Patrick is the chimpanzee. And shit is about to get dangerous.
[Ok wait let me make sure I get all this. Stephan is supposed to be writing the actual musical Sweatpants Wedding but isn’t. You and I are writing the meta-musical instead. Patrick is cheering against us and possibly even tweeting against us, secretly, right in front of everybody. Most likely, Patrick is doing all this to get back at Stephan for something expensive and romantic that happened late at night in Sausalito. And there’s nothing you (Jake) nor I (Tom) can do about it but make the meta-musical good enough to mend Patrick’s broken heart. You know what, Jake? I’m grateful for the sense of purpose Patrick has given us. Thanks, Tom]
Patrick, this is Jake again, outside the brackets and addressing you man to man. I know you’re reading this. I know I’m on to something. And you know I have sources. So what do you think? Do you want this to continue? Do you want me to find out who she is and where she is and whether she’s still seeing Stephan? Or are you ready to talk to me about Sweatpants Wedding?
[See you guys at poker night up at Patrick’s grandma’s place. Can’t wait to hear what Patrick has to say. Jake—If Patrick doesn’t say anything, let’s just either run Act II or write something else. The best thing about sweatpants is how free and loose one feels in them. Thanks, Tom]
Jake de Grazia is Trop's Musical Theater Correspondent.