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Last week, director Sally brought the film crew over the house to film a scene she’d come up with. The plan was to record me making a sandwich. No big deal for me. I’d already napped, urinated, played Scrabble, gotten drunk, wandered around half naked, made spaghetti and pretty much done everything else I normally do during the course of my life on camera for the Peep doc, so why not make a sandwich?
But of course the sandwich wasn’t the point at all. Sally promptly informed me of two little tidbits: First, I should gather the phone numbers of everyone I knew on the planet. Why? I asked. Because, she told me, you are going to call each and everyone one of them and tell them you are making a sandwich. After that, Sally happily informed me, fifteen or so strangers are going to come over and hang out in your kitchen while you eat your sandwich.
Oh-kay…I said, a bit put out that no one had bothered to consult me about this scheme. Sally’s vision became clear: a real life real time status update about the sandwich to everyone I knew, a kind of live action parody of the Twitter/Facebook paradigm that didn’t exist five years ago but is now considered the norm. Still, it was weird.
I started slowly. I called Mom. Hi dear, she said. Hi Mom. I’m just calling to tell you about this sandwich I made. Oh that’s nice, she said. I’m glad you’re having a nice lunch. Mom then began to talk about other more pressing issues – her ongoing recovery from a recent surgery, my grandfather’s return to a Montreal emergency room. We’ll talk about that later, I said, cutting her off. I just called to talk to you about the sandwich. Oh, mom said. She hung up, offended.
That went well, I said to Sally and the film crew. Keep dialing, Sally said. Next up, some friends of the family who have known me all their lives. This went much better. They weren’t at all surprised to have me call them and describe a sandwich. It’s a four meat sandwich, I explained, getting into the swing of the whole thing. Niagara prosciutto, farmer’s summer sausage, roast turkey and, just for the hell of it, some Hungarian salami.
I decided to focus on people who were both Jewish and old friends. I figured that they would give me the least trouble. And it was true. Most of them took the phone call in stride. An exception was my pal Jonathan Goldstein who I hadn’t talked to in a good year and seemed kind of worried. Are you alright? he wanted to know. Later on in the day, he sent me an email asking if I was going through a manic phase.
I was tearing through my list. No one answers the phone anymore. I had to go back upstairs and dig deeper. Who else did I know? Who else could I call? Desperate to please the scowling Sally, I started calling people I hadn’t talked to in 5 years or more – Hey, just, uh, wanted to let you know about this sandwich. I also called people more in the vein of associates and contacts then friends or family. The film director Peter Lynch seemed a bit nonplussed. The poet and musician John Samson took my call in stride, asking questions about the bread and the condiments.
The ridiculousness of the whole thing came to a head when I started arguing with a friend of mine in Vermont about my use of mayonnaise. He seemed genuinely disappointed by the application of Hellman’s and I was like, who is he to tell me how to accessorize MY OWN sandwich. Then I again, I called him, not the other way around.
Just another day in Peepvile.
For the record: The sandwich!