The highlight of my day, no bullshit, occured in the vicinity of 8:56 AM EST this morning. It was all uphill to that, then downhill from there. So sad, right?
So there I am at work, bullshitting my day away on the internet upstairs, looking at whatever it is I look at online, and as I turned down the sound on the headphones, I hear these bizarre KKL KKL KKL sounds coming from behind me. And then a screeching sound. And then the unmistakable sound of a man exclaiming, “Motherfuckerface!”
I round the corner and find the elevator doors open and a man standing there. Except he’s not in the elevator, as in the familiar dingy elevator car that’s seen many an awkward moment of the conversation, stare, smell, or embrace kind. He’s just standing there in the empty elevator shaft, and as I take a step closer, I find that he’s actually standing on the top of the elevator car which is one floor down.
"Interesting," I say as I approach.
He seems me, gives me a customary male head nod and a “S’up, dude.”
"Yeah," I say, "you too." And I keep approaching, looking past him, into the shaft.
"Be careful," he says.
"Right," I say. "I’m not going into get into your way, I just want to see what it looks like in the elvator shaft. That’s wild."
He gets all his tools out to repair whatever it is that he was called into repair and looks at me for a moment like I was born yesterday. “You’ve never seen an elevator shaft before.” It’s not even a question. It’s like he’s trying to place me in the universe.
"Not this one," I say immediately, thinking that clarifies things. "I mean, on TV, yeah, but I don’t crack this one open regularly or anything." I look all around. It’s not all that big. And is extremely dark. "It’s kinda really fucking filthy in there, isn’t it?"
"Yeah," the dude says, nodding his head.
"So, if I was down in the elevator car itself, could I actually pop open the top and climb out?"
The repairman gives me the most bizarre look. Sure, I’m probably annoying him, but after a second, he shakes it, maybe realizing that it’s not like he gets to make a lot of conversation in his job as it is. “How do you mean?” he asks me.
"Like in the movies," I say. The hero gets trapped in the elevator, the phone doesn’t work, so he pops open a panel in the top, somewhere above the lights, and climbs up into the shaft."
"Oh, oh, oh, right," he smiles. "Yeah, I know what you mean now. And no, you can’t."
"Really?" I have a frown on my face saying that. The possibility of excitement in an otherwise boring modern working experience thwarted by reality.
He points to the panel itself. “See, it’s right there,” he tells me. “That’s where you’d climb out. But you see that lock? That’s why you’d never actually get the panel open.”
"Interesting," I say, crouching down, getting a better look.
"Yeah, that thing’s really just for firefighters, actually."
"They open that thing and lift up trapped people in a massively heroic gesture?"
"Yeah." He pulls out his flashlight and does that thing where he holds it up to his own face before turning it on. And then turns it on, momentarily blinding himself and grimacing. And a moment ago, he thought I was stupid.
"That’s a shame," I say. "So you can’t climb out of an elevator. Damn."
“‘Afraid not,” he says. “People get trapped in them all the time, too. Sometimes they suffocate in there too.”
I turn this over in my mind for a moment. “Wow,” I say. I probably scrunched my nose and then shrugged. But then it was hands into pocket and single nod of the head. “Sometimes, real life is a lot more interesting than the movies, I guess.” There’s a sadness in the statement that was birthed meaning to be sarcastic but now just dabbles with a vibe of No shit.
"Yeah, man. And sometimes the smell in one of these things…"
I cut the guy off with most polite wave of a hand that I can muster. “I should really probably go start working at this point.”
He starts putting all of his tools back into a weathered leather bag. “Almost done here,” he tells me, and mentions that I can ride the elevator down.
"No, thanks," I tell him. "I think I’ll take the stairs."
when it’s the food on your lips with which it’s in love
I think that this song is one of my favorite examples of what I like about Fiona Apple, not so much her skill as a composer/piano player, but her lovely sing song couplets, so vibrant with that just perfect tone. For example:
I took off my glasses While you were yelling at me once more than once So as not to see you see me react Should’ve put ‘em, should’ve put ‘em on again So I could see you see me sincerely yelling back
So beautiful. You can picture that clearly. It’s the exact end of a relationship. In this case, hers with P.T. Anderson, yeah?
(A brief aside: I always wonder what it’s like for someone like, for example, Maya Rudolph, who dates/marries a guy like P. T. Anderson, whom I’m sure has some good qualities as a person, not just as a director, when there’s angry art about him out there. I mean, everyone has a bad relationship or two, a disappointed ex left behind, but just imagine that you’re person who’s dating and/or married to the guy that Carly Simon wrote “You’re So Vain" about, this gorgeously true and melodically venomous song quite possibly accurately villifying a lover. Ah…)
But then, I love this next bit far more, the part where you see the end of a relationship from the most mature and understanding eyes:
Oh you silly stupid pastime of mine You were always good for a rhyme And from the first to all the last times, all the signs Said ‘Stop’ - but we went on whole-hearted It ended bad, but I love what we started…