I went to my uncle's funeral yesterday. He was 58 years old. I mostly didn't know who was there. Someone I used to work with at Denny's was in attendance. His name was Danny. He always wore a hat with an alligator on it. I walked up to Danny and said hi. He said "what's up hey sorry about your uncle." I said "yeah, thanks." There was then a prolonged silence. He then walked away. It was a very unfulfilling conversation.
My uncle and I were never close, but there was a profound sadness knowing that the chance was gone
The chance to go to the baseball game. I love baseball. He loved baseball too. He was once a semi-professional baseball player. We rarely talked about it, but he played with a lot of the greats. Tony Ray Jackson. Pete Shortstop. Tim Capello. Brack. Needles Johnson.
Brack was a wildcard. Terrible on the field but a monster at bat.
He did the Monster Mash. It was a graveyard bash. The Monster Mash. Hell on earth.
Baseball is hell on earth. But it beats working at Denny's. Do you know how many times someone poured syrup on me on purpose? And I had to stand there and just take it like nothing happened. Syrup all over my dress pants. That shit never comes out in the wash. You think it does but it doesn't. You know what does come out in the wash?
Ennui. A little bleach and a hot cycle and the ennui just glides off your clothing
One day when I was walking out of the Denny's I ran into this old witch. She was 158 years old and wore a big black hat. I asked her what her name was. She said "my name is the Denny's Witch." And I said, "hey I work at Denny's." She said "yes, I know"
Moons over My Hammy was her creation. Originally a curse to the villagers who slighted her, now a curse to your arteries. The witch knew this well
She was a renowned film director who worked with famous actors like Dwayne The Rock Johnstons and Brack, the baseball player turned film movie star later in his career. She said, "I was hoping that you would join my next feature film project, starring Brack"
“I would be delighted”, I squealed, imagining what Dwayne was like in real life. Brack, I knew like a brother…but Dwayne? The mystery was tantalizing
She said "stand over there, all sexy and stuff" and I said "sure" and struck my sexiest pose. She said "that simply will not do" and cast a hex on me. She said "you can never be in my films" and with a poof, she was gone
This happened several more times over the next few weeks, with different filmmaking witches
First it was the Denny's witch, then it was the McDonald's witch, then it was the Wendy's witch. I was never going to break into the moviemaking business. I was ready to give up
But I had one shot left to fulfill my dream. It wasn’t going to be pretty though...
I must consult... the KFC Warlock... or my dreams of starring in an anti-drug PSA are gone
The KFC Warlock was lying in wait outside the Denny's after one of my shifts. He said "hey kid, come here." I said "not one of you again. I keep getting rejected. I will never be in the motion pictures if these fast food witches and warlocks have anything to say about it." He said, "I have something you will be grateful for. Come closer." I came closer. "Come closer." He said again."
“Loot boxes”, he whispered in my ear. “The future of film is in the freemium model!”
"Wow," I said. "Tell me more." He said "no further questions. Manage your expectations, I have a long way to go in thinking this through. But kid, you're gonna be working with me. You're gonna be a star."
I packed up my nicest pair of chinos and my business Minions suitjacket and prepared for the calls of Hollywood to come in
The calls came and before I knew it the day of my first film shoot was here. The KFC Warlock was there. Brack was there. My dead uncle was there. They were all looking at me as I stood in front of a green screen with my Hulk hat and broccoli-patterned pajamas
"Showtime!", I screamed
"We can barely see you because of the green shit all over your clothes" bemoaned the KFC Warlock from behind the camera.
I removed my pajamas, but insisted the Hulk hat must stay on. I need to keep my dignity, you know. Standing naked in front of my deceased uncle and the warlock, I exclaimed...
"I am in a constant rivalry with myself. I know nothing about myself. All I know is that this is the best day of my life." I began crying hysterically. My dead uncle approached me, his decaying feet slopping against the green screen floor as he came nearer and nearer.
Though he stood there stoically, I could see a slight ghostly tear forming on his transparent cheek. His left thigh slooped off as he whispered “I’m proud of you”.
They filmed the whole exchange and posted it on TikTok. That was it. That was the film. That was all the footage they needed. TikTok users the world over avoided my video with my uncle. Interactions were low. We had like 20 likes and 400 views. Nobody cared. Nobody cared at all. And yet I felt extremely fulfilled.
For it was never about the views.
It was for baseball. For baseball. For love of the game. The hot dogs and stories. The singing of songs.