What Makes You Smile?

Be very, very quiet.

I’m hunting a wabbit.

Er, more specifically, I’m braising a rabbit.  An entire rabbit.

I’m going to bake this bunny into pie.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, Michael, did you buy a frozen rabbit from the butcher, make him cut it into 1/8 pieces with his band saw, braise it, and then pull out the bones, like you would for pulled pork?

Yes.  That’s exactly what I did.  I braised it with scallions, onions, and celery.

Yes.  I feel bad about it.  But only because today is opposite day.  (no it isn’t – I’m late by a few days – GET OFF MY BACK)

It was a special occasion.  I had a tech rehearsal for my sketch team, Thunder Gulch.  We put up a new show every month on the first Monday.  It’s hard work, and I usually bake something simple for tech rehearsals, because they’re long and arduous.

But this one was more like a party.  It was Shannon O’Neil’s  birthday, first of all.  And then secondly – one of my team mates (he’s shy and doesn’t want me to say his name)  was offered a job as a writer on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Both of those people are actors on my team, so it was party time.

My friend Kris came over.  He helped me braise the bunny and bake it into 20 miniature pies.  I’ve known him for almost a year now.  He’s got a good head on his shoulders and he learns stuff quickly.  Also, in case you don’t have eyes, he’s super cute.  So pretty.

So, this is the first time I’ve tried to make mini-pies.  There’s about 15 people involved in making Thunder Gulch happen every month – 6 actors, 7 writers, a director and a tech person.  I wanted to make at least 20 pies.  I wanted there to be more pie than people could eat.  Usually that doesn’t happen if I make a single pie for 15 peeps.

I braised the rabbit etc at a reasonable temperature.  400 maybe?  I don’t remember.  I don’t cook my pie fillings from recipes, I just go by instinct.

We added potato after the bunny had braised for a few hours in its own juice.

My butcher said it would thicken up the filling without using cornstarch or a butter roux.  He was right.

For good measure, flavor, and texture, I also added some collard and turnip greens i was making for this week’s lunches.

Give them some fiber, right?  Let the funny idiots have a little fiber, I say.

Look at that guy.  What an idiot. But not a constipated idiot.

Fiber.

(Not-Opposite Day:  Get your fiber, guys)

Me:  Come on, Kris – you’re the boss.  You’re the boss of that bunny.  Get that meat off the bone.  Pull it.

Him:  I just want to do it right.

Me:  Okay, but quickly, huh?  Aren’t there sweat-shop workers in your family?  Aren’t you Chinese?

Him:  Great.  A sweat shop joke.  Made by a white person.  Just what the world needs.  More of that.

Me:  Touche.  I shall think of a good poop joke.

There was a carefully staged spill!!!  We got some bunny bits on the floor!!

Kris was nice enough to clean it up.

Look at those socks.  Cute.

So, Kris is currently working on a really cool project for his thesis.

He wants to know What Makes You Smile?

Him: Smiling is one of those innate reactions in human life. This isn’t to say that happiness is the only reason why we smile, in fact, it isn’t. There are an infinite amount of reasons to smile and there are various types of a smile. I am fascinated, however, by what makes others smile. The kind of smile I am looking for is a Duchenne smile, or simply put a genuine smile. I see this thesis as a way of being able to change someone’s life by simply talking to them. In a world where digital interaction is on the rise and physical declining, the act of having a conversation in-person can be seen as refreshing. By asking people I have never met “what makes you smile?” an unfamiliar experience is made which can then inspire those to talk to those around them and re-create the experience.

Um.  Isn’t that the nicest thing you’ve ever heard?

You should contact him, and get interviewed.  Unless you’re too cool for that sort of thing.  You’re probably too cool for that.  You’ll probably hang around on Data Lounge all day complaining about stuff that doesn’t matter, instead.

Well, as long as you’re having fun. That’s my philosophy.

No, scratch that.  That’s not my philosophy.  I’m pretty sure the Columbine kids were having fun.  And Stalin.  He had a blast.  Manson was a good time Charlie.

New philosophy:  Don’t have any fun, if you’re an online hater.  Just hate.  It’s what you do.  It’s who you are.  Have fun!  (Opposite Day)

Anywhore.

Contact Kris, if you want to interview with him about what makes you smile.

Contact me if you want to hear sweatshop and poop jokes.

Or if you have a question you’d like me to answer.  Like, should you leave your  boyfriend?  Or, why does your younger brother act homophobic around you?  Or, how can you smile through dinner (and serve pie) when your condescending hipster friends say things like ‘you should put that in your comedy routine?’

Reminder:  Poop comes from my butt.  It’s where half of my sex happens too.  (The other half happens in YOUR butt).

Calm down.  WE WASHED OUR DIRTY GAY HANDS FIRST.

(Opposite Day – we never wash our hands because we’re filthy homos!!)

Kris liked tidy little flat top pies.  I favored bulging, abundant ones.

We put an egg wash on top of them and sprinkled with coarse sea-salt.

We spiced the filling with French Tarragon and Cumin.

What’s that hater?  Those two spices don’t work well together?  You’re wrong.  Go fuck yourself.

(Opposite Day – no sex for you.)

Big thanks to Thunder Gulch for a great tech rehearsal and a great show last night.  Big thanks to Kris Louie for helping me with these 20 pies – THEY TOOK FOREVER!!!

Big thanks to the Data Lounge for being massive Jerks this weekend.

As for the rest of you?  I love you all and don’t think you’re Jerks.

(Opposite Day)

SaturDATE: Vinny’s Deli

Him:  My friends say I’m self absorbed but I don’t think I am.  I just like focusing on myself, and what I’m doing, and I get wrapped up in it to the extent that I don’t notice other people.

Me:  That doesn’t sound self absorbed at all.

Him:  You’re an idiot.

Me:  You’re adorable.  Hey, let’s duck into this deli.  I want some coffee.

Him:  Okay.

Vinnie:  Hey, Mike!!!  What-a can I a get for you?

Me:  I’ll have a large coffee – milk, no sugar.

Vinnie:  And-a you friend?

Him:  I’m good.  Unless.  Do you carry Four Loko?

Me:  He’s kidding.  You’re kidding, right?

Him:  Jerk –  It’s the middle of the afternoon.  You’re not the only funny person in the world.

(I smile.  I love when people call me a Jerk now.  I also consider that he might be right: There might be other funny people in the world.  Nah.)

Me:  Just the coffee, please.

Vinny:  Comin’ right up.

(Another Customer enters.  He’s clearly old friends with Vinny.)

Another Customer:  A!!!!!!!   O!!!!!!!!  Look who it is!!!  It’s Vinny.  Vinny the fuckin’ HOMO!!!

(Vinny is not a homosexual.  He has a wife and children who I am well acquainted with.  His deli is next door to my apartment and I’ve been going there for years.)

Vinny:  You are!!!!  You a fuckin’ HOMO!!!

Another Customer:  You!!!  You’re the fuckin’ HOMO.

Vinny:  All the dick you suck, and you think-a I’m a HOMO???

(Pleasegivememycoffeepleasegivememycoffeepleasegivememycoffee)

Vinny:  Hey-a Mike!  You think-a I’m a big HOMO?  Or this-a guy?

Another Customer:  Yeah!  Who’s a bigger faggot, me or him?

(Long pause.  I consider saying something diplomatic.  I consider just walking out.  Instead:)

Me:  Why don’t we try this?  Why don’t you two bend over and pull your pants down?  Then, I’ll take turns fucking you both and we’ll see which one enjoys it more?  Then we’ll know who’s a bigger HOMO!!!!  A!!!!!  O!!!!!!  On second thought, maybe I’ll just take my coffee and continue on my date with this attractive, polite young man, since you two are both dumpy, middle aged idiots.  Capiche?

(Silence.  I pay for my coffee.  There is a long pause.)

Me:  Now is where you tell me to have a nice day.

Vinny:  Have a nice day.

Me:  Thank you. O!!!!!!

Surprise Ending!!!  I’m never going back to that deli!  It’s the closest and most convenient to my house, and I won’t ever set foot in there again!  I’m not humorless and I know Vinny was joking, but I still won’t do it!  I don’t need that energy in my life and I don’t need to associate with people that put that energy out into the world.  I don’t wish him ill, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to send his kids to college with my candy bar money.

P.S.  The rest of the date went really well.  He’s so sweet and cute, and kind!  You can’t let someone steal your joy, kids.  Don’t let your whole day get ruined just because of the actions of one –

Jerk.

The Easter Lamb

This is Jonathan.  He came over on Easter Sunday.

He contacted me online, because he saw my post about Cups baked goods.  Sometimes that happens.  People send me emails saying, hey, can I bake with you?  Sometimes I say yes.  He sent me a really cute pic of himself but this is the pic that sealed the deal:

I mean, right?

This guy sent me a picture of his dog, through the kaleidoscope of a frosted pink donut.

Clearly this guy is a weirdo with a sense of humor.  Just like me!

Also, he’s pretty easy on the eyes.

We wanted to make a savory Lamb pie, in honor of Easter.

You know.  Cause we’re so into Jesus and stuff…

He’s a great guy (Jesus) and his followers are always so kind and non-judgemental!!!

His followers do a lot of good for the world.  Except for the Crusades, and Imperialism, and West-ward expansion, the Genocide of the Native Americans, the Genocide of the South American Natives, the financial enslavement of Africa and Colonization in general.  (Dont forget Asia – they did a lot of fucked up shit there too). They’re good people, if you except all that stuff.  While we are forgiving them, let’s forgive how the Catholic church’s stance on condom use contributes to illnesses like AIDS and such.  And how they try to reprogram homosexuals to hate what they are.  That’s not just Catholics, that’s Christians across the board for the most part.

BUT IT’S OKAY CHRISTIANS!!!  WE SARCASTICALLY FORGIVE YOU.

Wow.  Tangent.  Sorry.

We braised the Lamb of God in Guinness beer with mixed veggies.  Jonathan brought over fresh herbs for us to chop into the filling too.  Thyme and Oregano, I think.  I took the juices and made a gravy to thicken the filling.

Yeah.  I braise now.  It’s kind of how I roll.

Here’s some interesting things about Jonathan:

I’m 24 years old, a resident of Crown Heights and moved to NY from GA in July. I grew up mostly in Georgia and Tennessee, where I attended an all boys Presbyterian high school. I’m now pursuing my masters, work part time for a nonprofit and part time as an urban design consultant, and I also do illustration/sculpture as a hobby and occasional income source. I run far more than would typically be considered healthy, but I can’t help it. I cook 5 or 6 days a week and splurge on baking whenever I can. I love music and performed for years with a chamber choir and an ensemble whose repertoire consisted largely of gospel and spirituals.

Jonathan.  You forgot to tell them that you’re incredibly hot.

Jesus!

Maybe hotter than Jesus, now that I think about it.

He is risen indeed.

What?  Don’t roll your eyes!

I had to show him how to roll the dough out.

It’s all perfectly innocent.

Perfectly.

We did a shitload of cocaine.

I’m kidding.  That’s flour, dummy.

Jonathan didn’t believe that I’m a total idiot.  So I got out the old uke and proved it.

I mean.  We had to do something while the pie was in the oven…

Holy moly!  I spiked the crust with Smoked Hungarian Paprika that I bought at the Brooklyn Meat Hook.

Good call?  Yes.

Great call.

We put an egg white wash on the pie, then sprinkled it with coarse sea salt.

It made a savory coating on top.  Crunchy, on top of my flaky recipe.  NOICE!!!

We ate the Lamb of God pie.

We didn’t share any with our Christian neighbors.  Mostly because I don’t think my neighbors are Christian, either.

Look.  I changed my mind.  If you’re Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim or part of any major religion that causes war and suffering and judgmental self hatred in the world, I forgive you.  NOT sarcastically.  I forgive you, just because I love you.  And if you don’t believe in religion?

Well, then, I love you even more.

You’re all perfect, wonderful creatures.  You have God inside you.  You don’t need religion to know that.  You are loved.  You are loved.  God is love, as they say.

Can I have a kiss?

Enjoy the love and forgiveness.

Jerks.

ThursDATE: Flash Back

Place: Inverness Florida, a Rural Town

Time:  My Senior Year of High School

Him:  Thanks for coming over.

Me:  It’s just so weird.  It was a weird phone call to get, in the middle of the day.  Just some guy asking if I’m gay.

Him:  Was that the first thing I asked?

Me:  You asked if I was Michael Martin, and then you asked if I was gay…

Him:  And you said yes.  I can’t believe you said yes.  Just like that.

Me:  Yeah.  Well.  I don’t lie about my sexuality.  It makes me feel uncomfortable.  I stopped lying about it a few years ago.

Him:  How many people know about you?

Me:  Whoever cares to ask, plus all of the people that my friends just mention it to.

Him:  Do you think your friends are telling people a lot?

Me: Well, yeah.  I’m friends with all the actorly types.  They love to talk.

Him:  Yeah.  I hate that about actors.  They’re always talking about other people.

Me:  It’s kind of our job.  To find out about people, what they’re like.  We’re not usually judging.  Just perceiving.  We’re interested.  But yeah – my actor friends like to talk.  How did you know to call me?

Him:  One of your actor friends told me about you, and gave me your phone number.

Me:  Weird.  So weird.

Him:  So I looked you up in the yearbook to see if you were cute.  Then I called you.

Me:  Such a strange way to meet somebody.

Him:  So what do you think of my place?

Me:  I like it.

Him:  I kind of live here alone.  It’s a long story.  My mom got a good job in Orlando.  So I’m here by myself about 5 days a week.

Me:  Sounds like a bunch of trouble.

Him:  I keep busy.  My friends are here a lot.

Me: I’ll bet.

Him:  Hey can I kiss you?

Me: You’d better.  How else am I going to prove that I’m as gay as my friends said I was?

(He kisses me.  It’s good.)

Him:  I couldn’t do that.  I can’t tell people I’m bi. 

Me:  You’re bi?

Him:  Don’t laugh.  It’s a real thing.

Me:  I know it is.  I just always thought a kiss from a bi guy would only feel half-interested.  But as I say that out loud I realize how ridiculous it sounds.

Him: But you tell people when they ask you.  Inverness is small.  It’s a small town.  People must hate you.

Me:  You know I’m class president, right?

Him:  Yeah.  But still.  I asked around.  Some people don’t like you much.

Me:  I suppose some people never will.  This is a redneck town.  There’s only what?  400 people in our High School?   In the only High School in town?  I think I’m doing okay, being openly gay here.  I think things are going  better than I expected them to when I started telling people.  Lots of people like me a lot.  Some people really can’t stand me.

Him:  You’re controversial. 

Me:  You’re hot.  I’m not controversial.  That makes me sound important, or something.  I’m just getting by, and trying to play by my own rules.

Him:  Maybe that’s what pisses people off. 

Me:  It might be.  Any chance I can get another one of those bisexual kisses?

Him:  Every chance.

(More smooching.  It’s good)

(There is a sound of a car pulling into the driveway.)

Him:  Oh shit.  That’s my friends.  Shit.  My friends are here.  Will you hide in the closet?  I’ll get rid of them.

Me:  Will I what?

Him:  Hide.  In here?  Please.  PLEASE.

Me:  Yeah.  Fine.

(A long time goes by as I hide in his closet.  I lay down on a pile of his dirty clothes.  I can smell him in his closet.  I feel comfortable and angry at the same time.  Eventually I hear the car noise again.  He comes back.  I debate whether or not to fake having slipped into a coma while he fucked around with his friends in the living room.  I decide I’m classier than that.)

Him:  Sorry about that.

Me:  You should be.  You made me feel ashamed.  I don’t like being made to feel ashamed of myself.

Him: I’m sorry.  They know you’re gay.  People kind of know that you’re gay.  It wouldn’t look good.

Me:  This isn’t going to work out.  I’m going to leave.  You can’t be wanting to date me, properly, if you’re going to shove me into a closet when your friends come over.

Him:  Come on.  Stick around.  I really am sorry.

Me:  I know, but now I don’t feel comfortable here anymore.  It’s not you.  I’m kidding.  It is.  It’s you.  But I’m not angry.  I’m just not interested in starting a relationship like this.  On these terms.  I have too much self respect.  It really gets in the way.  I’m not being sarcastic, or joking.  It really gets in the way of things, my pride.

Him:  That sucks.

Me: You’re cute.

Him:  You are.

Me:  Can I get one more of those kisses before I leave?

(We do.  It’s great again.)

Him:  (Under his breath) Fuck…

Me:  Yes.  We should probably do that.  Just so you know what you’re missing.

(We do.  Now he knows what he’s missing.  We lie there for about 20 min.)

Me:  Okay.  I’m going.  This was not the best date in the world.  You need to work on your dating skills, okay?

Him:  Okay.  I’m sorry.  I don’t know what else to say…

Me: It’s okay.  You’re nice.  It’s fine, really.  You’re good at sex.

Him: Thanks.  Will you come over again?

Me:  Probably not.  You’re cute, but I don’t let anyone make me feel ashamed.

Him:  Well.  Thanks for coming over.  You’re a great guy.

Me:  You’re not so bad yourself.  Just get over that shame business, and you’re kind of a catch.

Him:  Well thanks again for coming.

Me:  Well thanks for having me.  It was a wonderful time.  Except for that one part.  Thanks for the make outs.

Jerk.