my life

A curious lad, was I

paris dumb eric

One of my mom’s favorite stories about me as a child is the tale of the children’s book author, his name escapes me, who came to visit my kindergarten class. For some reason, he instructed us to get into a semi-circle and only then, asked if anybody knew what a semi-circle was. I threw up my hand and replied “a broken oval”. At which point, he supposedly erupted in laughter, so impressed he was with my reasoning skills.

Again, this is coming from my mom, so who knows if this really tickled him to that extent or not.

One of my earlier memories came a year later, sitting at lunch in first grade. I raised my hand and the principal came over to me and I told him that I had just figured something out. No, I’m not sure what the hand-raising was for, I just remember doing it. Anyway, he comes over and I hurriedly related how I had stumbled upon something of great importance.

He feigned interest as I explained that a phone number was like a code. Each number, when entered, went only to one source: the phone that you were dialing. Which is to say that each set of numbers corresponds to one physical entity, the residence which owns that phone number.

This is actually much more profound and not necessarily as obvious as it seems.

For instance, if you dial Ted’s phone number, it goes to Ted only. It doesn’t go to Ted or Mark or Billy.

I remember sitting in an advanced math class in college when I heard the name for this. It’s a one-to-one correspondence, also known as bijection.

What was my principal’s response to this? He said, “You’ve cracked the code!” in a patronizing way. Then he walked off. He probably went home and told his family about what the little fruitcake said to him at lunch that day. He wasn’t impressed.

If you’re small-minded, like my principal, you may not be impressed, either. But keep in mind, I didn’t hear anyone mention this until I was in a 300-level university course for math majors. It’s a fairly specific sort of function that doesn’t come up that often.

But if you’re still not impressed, when I was a few years older, I came to my dad with a really big idea.

Simply put, I postulated that if you were able to drop a rope from a spaceship down to earth, you could create an elevator that climbed the rope, instead of having to launch a rocket to get into orbit.

I was a little sketchy on the details, because I think I thought that the lack of gravity would somehow counteract any forces pulling the rope back to earth. In reality, I think that a weight on the end of the rope would accomplish much the same thing, like a yo-yo on the end of a string swung aroud your head.

I remember being very excited about this and going to my dad and telling him we needed to patent my idea immediately.

Of course, we didn’t.

Well Dad, as you look around your 1700 square foot condo, I want you to take a deep breath and then read this.

That’s right. Even if it never panned out to the billions and billions of dollars it almost inevitably would have… I’m not sure how to finish that sentence.

So I could be rich and famous. Not for something stupid, like being on a reality TV show, but for something noble. Something that would benefit the whole world and would make people think I’m really smart!

Because that’s what this blog is about. I know that it’s pathetic to brag about how smart you used to be, especially when you’re clearly a moron now. But that’s the level I’ve sunk to.

This is like those old men who sit around in a rocking chair at the end of their lives, reliving their glory days, through tales of old. But the sad thing is, I peaked at age 8. I have a sneaking suspicion that something went wrong in one of my early heart surgeries that nobody ever told me about, where I got (relatively minor) brain damage and my gifted abilities went down the toilet to the Normal Town Sewage System.

I should write a book about my bucolic childhood and how everything went to shit when I turned ten, but I can’t. Because I’m too goddamn stupid and lazy to do it! So one of you do it. Just make some shit up and put my name on it and I’ll split the money with you.

Did I mention I was on TV?

My weird eye

Photo 56

This is a picture of me and my new hair cut. It’s also a picture of my weird eye.

The problem isn’t my eye, itself. It’s the lid. There’s too much skin there, or something.

This was confirmed by my eye doctor. There is a test and when half of your vision is obscured by your lid, you qualify to get it fixed by your insurance. Mine is at 30%. So it has to get worse before I can get it fixed.

It’s not lazy or anything, seriously. In pictures like this, it looks like it is because I’m trying to compensate by opening my eye really wide.

I think this is what’s wrong with Forrest Whitaker, too. And look at him! He did alright, you know?

That’s not terrible company to be in, right?

You could do worse, no?

I mean, as far as I know, he’s not the guy most women dream about while they’re banging their husbands and boyfriends, but I’m sure there’s a percentage. It might be small, but when you play the odds, that’s what? Thousands? Hundreds, at least?

I dunno.

He’s rich, right? That covers the gold digger contingent. Those are usually hot, right?

“Hey wait, don’t you have a girlfriend?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Shut up. A guy can dream.

Remembrances of lameness past.

parents

Continuing on with Will Smith Week, here’s a true story from my youth about how his music was a defining factor in my artistic development. Enjoy!

So you’re all familiar with Will Smith’s (nee the “Fresh Prince’s”) breakthrough hit song, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, are you not? Here’s a link, if you need a refresher.

For some reason, the first time I heard this song, I thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. I was probably 12? Maybe 13 years old? That might explain it.

For some reason, around that age, I thought it was “rad” or “keen” to play songs like this for adults who were visiting my parents. I famously alienated my aunt’s best friend by playing “One In A Million” by Guns N Roses for her, but that was a little later. Consider this a warmup.

Now, you would think that a novelty joke song by the whitest black rapper the world has ever seen wouldn’t offend anybody, but you would be wrong.

My mother’s best friend was over at our house and I thought it would “23 skidoo” to play this new Fresh Prince song for her on my audio cassette boom box.

What was the reaction I was going for? I’m not really sure. I don’t remember. I think it was something like, “Oh look at how out-of-touch these adults are and not at all cool like me because I listen to the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff” (or as my mom once called him “Jeff the Jazz”).

Did I mention I’m white and from Connecticut? That might help.

Anyway, to my surprise, this 40 year old woman friend of our family was not offended by the first half of the song, the one dealing with the shopping trip to the mall where mom buys all the outdated clothes. On the contrary, she found it amusing and charming!

I was about to hit the stop button on my boombox when the second verse came up, the one where the Fresh Prince steals his mother’s expensive German sports car and gets arrested for going 90 mph while in the process of having sex with a 12 year old runaway girl, portrayed in the video by a 33 year old woman.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: that actually does sound pretty bad. But c’mon! This was Will Smith. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It’s a joke song.

Well, this woman didn’t see it that way. It was one of those times when someone’s face changes from warm, inviting, even jovial to straight-up pissed off in about 3 seconds.

“I don’t find that very funny at all. I think that’s an awful message to send to children.”

I think at this point I retreated from the kitchen with my boombox while my mom got chewed out for her lapse in judgment.

I went up to my room, confused. It didn’t seem fair. I guess the Fresh Prince was right: parents (or adults in general) just don’t understand. So we need to make them understand.

I discreetly fished out the Polaroid camera my family kept around for vacation photos and snapped off some pictures in my room. Then I snuck down to the friend’s car and hid them in the glove box.

As she was outside, saying her goodbyes to my parents, I made a tearful phone call to the police, telling them how this woman had sexually abused me, in graphic detail. Why, she even kept some photographic evidence of said heinous deeds in her car’s glove compartment, Officer!

Oh sure, eventually they figured out she was innocent, but not before she lost her job and I got yet another free Disney World vacation out of my family!

My Big April Fool’s Joke!

cheers

I had always been envious of people who pull off a good April Fool’s joke. This is probably due, in no small part, to my love for the television show “Cheers” when I was growing up.

Unfortunately for me, the key element of these jokes is usually that you be a good liar, which I am not.

The most success I had came early on in my career when I threw some boxes down the stairs and started yelling so that my mom thought I fell. Boy, you should have seen her face when she came running!

But then, April 1, 2003 I had an idea. It was spur of the moment, but I was inspired. I sat down at my computer and I typed out this email to everyone on my contact list:

i’m quitting hollywood 😦

That’s right folks, I’ve had it. With everything going
on in the world, I can no longer pretend like any of
this matters. It’s time for me to go home. I can say
the usual “well I’m gonna go back for a few months,
make some money and come back with a new attittude,
ready to tackle the world” but we both know that
probably won’t happen. Thanks to everyone who’s helped
me along on my journey, I will never forget you and I
promise to keep in touch. To those of you trying to
make it, don’t be disheartened by my example. If you
believe in yourself, truly believe in yourself, you
can do it. Maybe one day I will find that belief.
I’ll be keeping this email address so you can keep in
touch with me this way, and I’ll probably have my cell
phone through the end of the month but I’ll be out of
my apartment by the fifteenth of april.
Take care everybody and wish me luck, because I wish
you all the best in whatever you do.
Eric

Then, a few page lengths down at the bottom, I wrote “APRIL FOOL’S!”, because I am a pussy.

I would never commit suicide, but I have to admit that the whole, “I’ll show them!” thing has appealed to me.

At that point, I lived in a two bedroom, one bath apartment in Valley Village (which isn’t as nice as it seems on the Sarah Silverman Program) with four other people. I didn’t have a real job and my “acting” career certainly wasn’t playing out the way I had expected, so I guess there was some wish-fulfillment going on here.

Well, fortunately for my joke, but unfortunately for me, it seems that most people didn’t bother to scroll down to the bottom, because I was inundated with heartfelt emails from people, some of whom I didn’t even know that well, pouring their hearts out to me.

People said really nice things. They persuaded me to stay. Told me how funny I was and how I had such a bright future ahead of me (well, I showed them!). They talked about how I was a great guy and they were going to miss me so much. Trust me, when I say this isn’t really what you want to hear when you’re pranking someone.

I immediately started feeling really guilty and wrote back to all of these people, apologizing profusely. I hope you can see now why I had never pulled off a very good prank before and why I am ultimately not cut out for this line of work.

Nobody held a grudge for too long, people were pretty understanding. There was no long-term damage, just a few restless nights of sleep for me.

Except for one person.

He was someone I didn’t know that well. I had a brief part in a video he had produced or shot or something. The details are lost to time and my damaged brain.

Re-reading it now, the email he wrote still gives me knots in my stomach. I’ve changed some of the details to protect his identity, but all the important parts are the same.

I sort of have this fantasy in my head that he was fooled, started writing a shorter, less personal email and then realized he had been tricked, wrote this one instead to stick it to me and decided to never speak to me again as his own, retaliatory April Fool’s joke in revenge.

But that’s probably just because it’s six years later and I still feel guilty about this. Anyway, here it is:

Eric,

I don’t know what to say. It is sad to hear but only you know what is best for you.   I don’t know where your “Home” is but I am sure it is a place where you will feel more comfortable and support.   Now about you never coming back. Don’t worry about that right now.  Just like you didn’t want to say you would never leave LA before you arrived.

I work at a rest home now and spend most of my day talking to people about their lives so I have a rather informed perspective on the whole “meaning to life” thing.  Not necessarily the right perspective but an informed one none the less.   One story that I hear alot I call the caught in the rain story.  It is often when a family takes a trip together an gets caught in the rain which seems to ruin their good time.  As you might imagin when they look back on it that is the fun time they had together.  That is what they remember because they were all united by that adversity.  It doesn’t rain in LA like it does in Seattle.  It doesn’t snow like Chicago and it doesn’t honk like New York.  The adversity in LA it each person and their dreams.  The weather gives us that.   We actors, writer, producers and strippers are brought together by a common goal and that is to get into the stories that  inspired us when we were young.  You faced that challenge… most people in this world don’t have the courage to even try.  You did much more than try.  I am proud to know you and expect to get a lot of feedback from your twisted perspective on all future projects.
I hope you come back some day if nothing else than just to visit and have a good time.  You are always welcome wherever I live.

Take care my friend.

Worst date ever.

chilicheesefries_side

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t know many people, so in a misguided attempt to help me out, this older woman I had worked with at Connecticut Public Television set me up on a date with her daughter.

Things went off the tracks almost immediately when she resisted meeting me at the restaurant, instead suggesting I actually pick her up. And this was even though she lived on the west side and I lived in Hollywood. For the non-Angelenos, that’s about 15 miles and it takes almost sixty minutes in rush hour traffic.

So after driving all that way, waiting in her living room for almost ten minutes with her stupid dog while she “finished getting ready”, we finally left around 8 o’clock.

When we get to Carl’s Jr., she doesn’t even try to pretend she’s not shallow and totally disappointed. “I suppose you expect me to take you to some fancy restaurant, huh? Yeah, sure. I drop thirty bucks on dinner, for what? A peck on the cheek? No thanks.” I didn’t actually say that to her, but believe me, I was thinking it.

I spared her my “letter of intent” speech, because she seemed like the kind who wouldn’t sign it anyway, so I walked up to the front and ordered my meal. I turned around and told her she should order now if she was expecting me to pay.

So she orders a combo meal and I immediately put the brakes on that, explaining that I already ordered chili fries and don’t really want the fries, so she should just order the burger by itself. Then I will scrape the chili off of the fries, take the fries into the bathroom and rinse them off.

Voila! I’ve just saved almost two dollars!

Well, she gets this look on her face like I just punched her grandmother in the crotch, but I ignore her and repeat the order back to the girl at the counter, this time, without the unnecessary extra fries.

I hand her one of the water cups and she tells me that she actually wanted a Diet Coke. So I say, “Hey Princess Diana, you’re getting Sprite!” Again, I didn’t actually say that, but everybody knows that if you put Sprite in a see-thru water cup, nobody can tell that it’s not actually water. Try that with Diet Coke and see what happens.

We sit down with our food and I start scraping all the chili off when she has the nerve to ask me if I’m serious. Here I am, going to all this work so that she can have fries and she’s going to be rude to me?

Well, I showed her. I told her I wanted to eat my chili first before I went and washed off her fries, which I kept just out of her reach. Then, when I was done, I took the fries into the bathroom and ate them all by myself on the toilet.

I didn’t really feel like making small talk anymore, so I snuck out the bathroom window, walked the long way around so I wouldn’t pass any windows and took off in my car.

That was easily the worst date I had ever gone on.

Regrets. I’ve had a few.

emmanuel-lewis-and-waitress-at-cathouse-co-cathousejpeg

Chief among them is that I can no longer find “The Webster Home Page”.

What is “The Webster Home Page”, you ask?

Back in the early days of the internet, I stumbled upon a poorly made Geocities website titled “The Webster Home Page”.

In case you’re wondering who/what Webster is, in this case, Webster is Emmanuel Lewis.

Just the fact that somebody would name a fan page after a fictional character played by an actor, when they were clearly intending to pay tribute to the actor himself was enough to make me giggle.

Not to mention stating that it’s the “home page” of said fictional character. That’s rather presumptious, I think.

But the best part of this whole thing is the lone, grainy, color picture of Emmanuel Lewish riding on a float in a random, unidentified parade, waving to the crowd. It looks as if it was shot by the author himself. This was clearly not a publicity still taken from somewhere else. It looked like the Zapruder film.

And under the photo, the caption read, “This picture reminds me of his childlike spirit.”

That was pretty much it for the whole “The Webster Home Page”. I think there may have been one of those cheesy hit counters at the bottom. It was probably on 150 or something and I would guess 140 of those visits were mine.

But it’s gone now.

I remember saving the picture, but I can’t find it.

It really does drive me crazy. I mean, Henry Darger wrote a 15,000 page book because he lost a picture he had clipped out of a newspaper. I’m not saying it has driven me that crazy, but I do get the feeling people think I just made this whole thing up.

OK, I will go on record and say that the loss of “The Webster Home Page” haunts me. I think that’s a good way to put it.

I know that the chances of someone reading this and going, “Oh shit, I remember that! I totally have that picture, I’ll send it to Eric!” is right around the same odds of winning the lottery at the exact moment you are also getting struck by lightning and attacked by a shark, but I figured I’d put it out there.