Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Drawn Out Storytelling - Rebecca by Steve Zimmer - illustrated by Thomas Boguszewski

This is my second piece for Drawn Out Storytelling:  A live show based in Brooklyn, New York which combines live storytelling and live music with live illustration.

In this tale, performed at Drawn Out's "End of the World" show in June 2012, Steve Zimmer tells of his attempts to find love with a new neighbor.

Read the story in the form of an illustrated comic made with animated GIFs below:

By Steve Zimmer
Illustrated by Thomas Boguszewski

"2010. Flatiron. Gigantic penthouse loft for sale. Management cuts it in half with a temporary wall, and rents out the 2 halves – cheaply, until they sell it. I rent one half, someone rents the other half; but I don’t meet this mystery tenant since we enter from different streets.

"But, one day management forgets to use blind CC on a building-wide email , and I learn the mystery tenant’s name. Rebecca. Normally I wouldn’t care; but I’m at a funny point in my life. I’ve just lost my job. So now I’m home every day, sitting at my computer in sweatpants that purposely look like real pants while brokers take potential buyers through my place. I’m 47, and regret that I never got married and had a family. The buyers are successful, established couples with kids. It’s like a daily visit from the ghost of Christmas past.
"I start Googling Rebecca; nothing, except the White pages – which gives your age. Now I wanna meet someone who’s age-appropriate but young enough to have kids. So my dating target age group goes from 39 to 39. Rebecca’s 39. I logically assume this happy coincidence foreshadows more happy coincidences and wanna meet her.

"Interestingly, our sleeping alcoves are on opposite sides of the temporary wall, so we sleep only 10 feet apart.    

Not unlike my last relationship.

"But the only place we might actually intersect would be the roof. And I’m not gonna sit up there with a folding chair and a book stalking her, in February. But a few months later, I’m having a party so I invite her.

I compose her email on Word; tomorrow I’ll send it. I do this for all key romantic emails; it’s like the wait period on buying handguns, plus the ensuing rewrites capture my evolving feelings.
The final product reads: Hi, I’m Steve, from the building CC list. I’m having a party Friday, it might spill onto the roof. Consider this a warning/invitation.
She writes ‘Nice to meet you, Steve. I’ve never gotten a warning/invitation. Sadly I’ll be in Toronto Friday.
I write: ‘Canada’s fine, but the people at my party will be more interesting’.
She writes: ‘I’m visiting Canada because I’m Canadian.’
I stay up late writing a detailed apology - which requires googling Canada, and send it at 3 AM
Next morning, Rebecca responds: Steve – I’m actually from Delaware. Was joking. So sorry.
I write back: NP.

"Despair ensues. I call my friend, Jill who listens despite our agreement that I won’t seek advice on things I already did. She’s like: ‘Ok, so you intercepted her address, cyberstalked her, and freaked out over gentle teasing.’ When someone’s able to condemn your behavior by summarizing your behavior, you’ve got your answer.  

"I’m crushed. Which sounds silly given I barely know Rebecca. But, consider how paleontologists take a few small bone fragments and flesh-out 3-dimensional dinosaurs. That’s nothing compared to what I do with potential girlfriends.

Rebecca exists in detail, right down to our breezy MOMA conversations...

"...and the intellectual punk band she fronted back in Delaware.

"So I’m thrilled a week later she writes ‘How was the party?’. After some cautious volleying, I suggest we meet for dinner on the roof. She agrees.
The big day. I’m making a fancy salmon dinner - grilled on the roof. I’m fanning my mini-grill when a voice says...

"I look up. She’s prettier than I’d assumed. Then the setting sun illuminates her blonde hair. 

"It’s like the Lion King. 

"I’m like WTF. Listen, I have no right to abuse anyone’s hair, it’s just that I pictured her differently. I say ‘Rebecca?’

She says ‘Call me, Becky’ and hands me a bottle of Yellowtail. Shiraz.   

"It’s official; Becky and Rebecca are now 2 different people. I’m on a date with the real one. But I have a great connection with the imaginary one.

"So I do the sane thing. Probe for similarities. The one thing I know about Becky is I enjoyed our correspondence, but as we eat dinner I’m like huh, she was a lot funnier in her emails, I bet she types them out first in Word, and then rewrites them.
Finally I say: Were you ever in a band? She says ‘I was in band’ – and even before asking I know the answer: clarinet. We were both woodwinds.   

"I also notice we’re both dressed a little too nice for a casual dinner on a dirty roof; and that she’s equally disappointed and that we both had high hopes. And I wonder if she also feels like she’s running out of time. So I give Becky a chance on her own terms, and she’s great, but for some people the odds of connecting with a stranger are low. It’s hard, especially if you ask too many probing questions.

"After tiramisu and history’s awkwardest hug, Becky’s gone.
After that, it’s a 4-part standard evening: dishes, recycling, Hulu, existential dread.

"Then I brush my teeth, turn off the light...

"...and lie down next to Rebecca."

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