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Impractical Seriousness

Double Agents

My friend Jake T. Unclean (a.k.a. Amelia Giraffe Eberhardt) decided to throw a surprise party for my 37th birthday. She circulated invites to friends of mine to make videos (especially PXL-2000 tapes) for "THEE HUMAN VOLE" (yours truly) & lured me to her apartment the night before my b-day.

Given that I'd sensed various warning signs indicative of a surprise party (Jake's being pretty casual about my "just coming over" to her place rather than stressing that we "go out & have fun" (whatever that is) & my having seen a glimpse of a piece of paper on the floor of a friend's house with "THEE HUMAN VOLE" written on it, etc..), I was more or less expecting people to greet me when Jake & I arrived at her apt. Nobody did when we got there though so I was beginning to wonder if I was wrong.

Not long thereafter, Jake suggested that we climb onto the roof & I knew that that was where everybody would be hiding. Indeed, I was right. So, I wasn't surprised by the party, but I was surprised by the vaudeos that people made for me.

Some Queer made a take-off of the Crazy Glue Twins' "Neoist Guide Dog" entitled "Neoist Bad Dog - or the Birth of Heterosexuality" - a short tape of him being a bad dog by generally cavorting on a couch - culminating in his shitting on it & being spanked with a rolled-up newspaper (the shit having been primarily a previously inserted tootsie-roll). Amanda Pollack decided to do something that she hadn't had the nerve to do for many years - sliding down a dam. Unfortunately, Jake didn't succeed in preserving the image on tape. Neil Feather provided me with some "tENT FODDER" - ie: material for me to edit with. Rupert Wondolowski had the camera trace through the high grass of a park finding various small objects & then tracing up his body in full NETHERLIPS garb until it reached his mouth saying "You can forget the $10.00 you owe me, tENT" - after which he bought a strawberry shortcake on a stick from an ice cream vendor which he said he was going to give to me but before he got to my house he'd eaten it all. The graveyard shift at Kinko's made a tape of close-ups of a pustulently bifurcating foot (or some such). John Berndt did something I thought he'd never have the daring to do by taking his clothes off during the day on a downtown street & having a vaudeo shot of his walking 1 block - & Jake shot an instructional tape about the VOLE (somewhat of a variation on the bird-brain).

Less than 2 weeks later it was time for Jake & her twin sister Abigail's birthday & I wanted to surprise them too. The obvious problem was that Jake would expect a surprise party as much, if not more so, than I had. This called for extra sneakiness on my part. Reasoning that it was highly unlikely that she would be surprised by a 1st party, I decided to throw 2 or 3 instead.

Thinking that she'd expect something particularly convoluted from me, I told her that I knew she & her sister would never be surprised by a surprise party & suggested an alternate type where we'd surprise the surprisers instead. The plan I presented to her was this: I'd tell friends that I was going to have a surprise party for Jake & Abigail in the basement of my house. Then the twins would hide somewhere. Jake suggested that I build a big "modern art sculpture" down there which the party guests would be told was being made as an absurdist present for the twins. The friends would be told that they should hide behind the "sculpture" & that when they'd hear me coming down the steps at a certain time, ostensibly with the b-day girls, they should turn on some very bright lights that I'd hung on their side of the sculpture in order to shock J & A with the sudden sight of the "modern art" & by the "surprisers".

So, I got Jake & Ab to collaborate on the secret that the "sculpture" was really hollow inside & was to function as their hiding place so that they could eavesdrop on their friends while the partiers thought they were waiting to surprise them - all this in order to throw them off the scent of my throwing more than 1 party for them. The real reason for the presence of the lights being to enable Jake to video the surprise of the partiers after they'd switch the lights on & find me without the twins. The resultant movie was to be entitled "DOUBLE AGENTS" both in reference to the sisters & to the reversals involved in our scheme.

Of course, unbeknownst to J & Ab, my life was even more complicated. Given that the real plan was to throw at least 2 parties for them, I had to be very careful about what I said, in whose presence, when. For example: I could talk about the 1st party over the phone when the twins were around - but only without the people on the phone not knowing & without making reference to the 2nd &/or 3rd parties.

The "modern art sculpture" was built out of miscellaneous refuse already in the basement. I built a shell, surrounding 2 chairs for the sisters to sit in, made out of discarded kitchen cabinets, scraps of plywood, a picture frame, a kitchen sink, chairs, etc.. This was all wrapped with large quantities of muslin. Originally, I was planning to make it even more hokey with a sign reading: "MODERN ART: EVERYTHING INCLUDING THE KITCHEN SINK" but that was too stupid even for this so I changed it to: "EVERYTHING JUST THE WAY YOU LIKE IT".

In the meantime, Jake was "sleeping" upstairs & I asked my housemates to prevent her from discovering what I was doing in the basement - thusly using her as a decoy to prevent them from seeing what I was building before I'd have a chance to hide the hollow interior.

The night of the 1st party came & only 5 guests appeared. Jake wasn't getting along with many of our friends & there were 2 other conflicting birthday parties so the popularity schtick was looking bleak. I'd made a show of taking J & A out somewhere when what I really did was stealthily hide them in the basement - eventually sealing them into their "present". When I "returned" from "taking them out" I had a story prepared for my housemates in case they wondered how I managed to get Jake & Abigail out of the house so conveniently. It was all very believable.

An hour or so later I had the guests hide behind the "art" while I went out to "pick up the girls". Wanting to make the sounds of the descending footsteps believable as those of 3 people when I returned, I drove to the nearest phone booth that I knew of & called a friend that lived nearby & enlisted his help. Fortunately, he had a visitor at the time who was willing to go along with it too.

What I didn't know while I was out was that the waiting partiers had turned the lights on so that they wouldn't have to wait in the dark & that the intense heat from them had caused some of the material of the "modern art" that was too close to catch on fire! Jake & Ab, being nailed into this predicament & not in a good position to even know what was going on, never knew what hit them before it was too late. Whose surprise did this turn out to be?

The 3 of us trekked back to my place & walked down to where the "surprisers" were waiting with me making conspicuous small talk to make it seem like I was luring J & A down there. The lights flashed on, the partiers sang "Surprise!" & then noticed that I was with the wrong 2 people. I explained with a deadpan expression that I figured that the only way that I could really throw a surprise party would be if the person that it would be a surprise for wouldn't even be there. My friends looked pretty confused & a bit miffed - thinking that I might actually be serious - thusly having wasted their time -given that their intentions had been to please the people that they thought the party was for.

So far, they hadn't noticed that Jake's arm had snaked out from under the "sculpture" with a camera in its hand. Alas! The PXL tape had fallen out seconds before & been reloaded backwards so that no shooting was accomplished. The party was a success! The partiers were completely surprised & the b-day girls had no suspicions about the party or parties to come.

The next night I'd invited the twins over to my place for their birthday dinner. This was to be their real surprise party. But, alas, only 1 guest came - Courtney McCullough. Feeling frustrated & tired, I asked Courtney to go upstairs & hide in my loft bed. Then when Jess & Ab (finally) showed, I told them that their present was up in my bed - so they excitedly scurried there. As Jake's head appeared at the top of the loft ladder, Court shouted "SURPRISE!" at the top of his lungs to make sure that the girls would be at least a little shocked.

Unfortunately, it worked all too well & Jessica lost her balance & fell backwards on top of her sister. Perhaps I should explain at this point that the twins aren't identical twins. In fact, Jake is 6 feet tall & weighs 160 pounds but Abigail is only about 5 feet, 10 inchs or less & only weighs about 120 pounds or less. Still, all in all, it wouldn't've been so bad that Jess landed on Ab if Jessica/Amelia hadn't been carrying around a memento of her & Abigail's childhoods together as Islamic flying giraffes pretending to die in flash-floods in the desert. This small toy, that the 2 had fought over so many times as children, was a propeller on the end of a riding crop that the kids had sharpened to cut their wrists with when they went through their 1st "blood-brothers" ritual. As Amelia flew down on top of poor Abacus, the propeller cut in deep - causing someone to count their last blessings.

This 2nd party being somewhat of a flop, I decided to go ahead with the 3rd party. Telling Jake that I would take her out to 1 of my favorite restaurants, Haussner's - a place covered from floor to ceiling with "kitsch" art, with a museum with a giant ball of string, & a huge menu (including frogs' legs), etc.., as her final present, I arranged for 2 other friends to meet us there at a certain time. The plan was that the 2 people. Neil Feather & Laura Trueseal, would go there 1st, get a table & tip the waitress that 2 eccentric looking people should be led to their table. But Haussner's wouldn't permit incomplete parties to be seated so Neil & Laura had to wait in the bar.

Jake was late & I couldn't hurry her without giving the last surprise away. She got to my place & I took over the driving so that I could drive like a speed-racer in an attempt to get us there somewhat close to on time. I was worried that L & N would start having trouble with the management if they waited there too long (I didn't know that they had already been forced to deviate from the plan). Meanwhile, Laura & Neil were thinking that maybe this was yet another twist in the plot & that I'd just sent them to the restaurant to play a joke on them while Jake & I went elsewhere.

Amelia Giraffe Eberhardt & I (finally) arrived & I went to the hostess who offered to seat us. I tried to whisper under my breath so that Jake wouldn't notice: "There are 2 people already waiting for us. A tall semi-balding guy with a motorcycle jacket & a woman with dyed hair - I don't remember what color it is right now." The hostess looked nervous: "No. There's nobody here that meets that description. You can look around if you like." "Ok. Maybe they're in another part of the restaurant."

I made up some justification for looking around a bit &, as we did so, we stumbled on Neil & Laura. "SURPRISE!" Jake was surprised, but not too much so since I hadn't been able to hide my conversation with the hostess very well. We went back to be seated & met with a different woman: "I'm sorry, but we have posted a sign outside that says "PROPER ATTIRE ONLY" so I won't permit you to sit in the dining room." (I was dressed in a modest suit made from zippers at the time - with 1 side of my hair died blond & the other side died black) "Look, this is a birthday party for my friend here - I've been coming here for years & I've never had any problem." (&, indeed, this was true. I'd been there many times looking at least as "weird") "You can sit in the bar if you like." (The bar being a very small, usually stag, room that men passed through on their way to piss - without even tables big enough to ac-commode-ate our party of 4) "Fuck You!" (I guess you can figure out who said that) "Fuck you too, sir." (Yes. She really said that) We left.

We went to another restaurant nearby, Ikaros, where the people were much nicer & 1 of the workers even came over & talked to us in a friendly way because he recognised us from different circumstances. We ate, we drank, we were merry, I paid for it, & I was nearly broke in more ways than 1.

Still feeling extremely angered by the unfriendliness at Haussner's, & considerably drunker by now, I decided to take revenge on the waitress for her being the last straw in a long series of repressive abuses from petty minds. Being too drunk to even be careful, I went straight to the nearest service station & got a few gallons of gas. Picking up some Thunderbird empties & some rags from off the streets, I made some sloppy Molotov cocktails & returned to Haussner's with them.

Haussner's was just closing & I could see that the waitress was still there. A few flung bombs later the place was substantially ablaze & I stood there chortling as I saw that I'd managed to hit the hated woman head on with 1 of the bottles. Minutes later, her grotesquely gyrating & fantastically aflame body came running out of the restaurant screaming to the best of the ability left to her already partially destroyed vocal chords. As I walked toward her to let her get a good look at me before I'd shit the diarrhea I'd been holding in onto what was left of her face, she turned toward me & recognized me with the 1 eye that could still see. I bent over her to enjoy her last words.

"It's you! I'm so glad you came back! I deserved this didn't I? Please, I'm glad you did this to me, & I know I don't deserve any better, but will you grant me 1 last request?" (I just laughed) "Will you write a story about the birthday party you tried to throw & insert some total cow dung bat with lots of death in it just to throw the reader off & make the story more interesting & appealing to the type of pop sensibilities that helped form my pathetically weak mind?" With that she croaked.

The uncanny similarity between the nature of her last request & the deceptive "Double Agents" strategy used in the surprise parties was all that I needed to finally decide on an appropriate structure for this telling. Breathing a formal sigh of relief, I walked whistling away, got in the car, & drove off into the scorpio rising.

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