Let me tell you about Denise.
You got your girlfriend flowers for Valentine’s Day? Ha.
You got your boyfriend tickets to a basketball game? Psh.
Denise hired someone to come to her boyfriend’s place at 8:00 AM and serenade him with a rendition of “Kiss You” by the band One Direction.
Now let me tell you about me.
You think it’s bad when you sing? Ha.
You think your high notes crack and your low notes grumble like Jabba the Hutt? Psh.
I am the guy at karaoke who clears the floor. The guy who gets to the mic in front of a room full of people– people who had been dancing and singing along to the act that preceded me– and sings with a voice that sends them flocking to the restrooms, that reminds them to return that text from their friend, that encourages them to just sit silently and wait for the horror to be over.
This is the story about the day Denise hired me to sing to her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.
Denny The Dentist’s office was about what you’d expect from a company with such a classy name. Their door was adorned by a cartoon tooth triumphantly holding a toothbrush and giving a sparkling white smile. It was the kind of picture that was cute and charming until you started thinking about the idea of a tooth with teeth. The poster in the window advertised X-rays, cleaning and a checkup all for the low low price of $57, because apparently they didn’t think anyone would find it disconcerting to get oral care from a dentist who advertises specials like a mattress store run by Crazy Larry.
My friend and I stand in the middle of a convention center, the two of us squeezed into one jumbo-sized T-shirt, playing the role of conjoined twins for the amusement of the passersby.
At this point I don’t even find these gigs strange. They are just normal. This is my Friday.
The real victims of the time I learned how to make balloon animals were my roommates. Our apartment overflowed with deformed flowers and guitars that looked like strap-on dildos. The constant nails-on-chalkboard sound of balloons rubbing against each other was only interrupted by the gunshot sound of balloons bursting. The place stank of rubber. But perhaps most annoying was my newfound habit of giving away my practice creations as gifts. Not just to my roommates, but to everyone I could find.
You may not believe this, but I’m not famous. I know what you’re thinking: A 27-year-old who spends a rather inordinate amount of his time in pajamas, cranking out blog entries that are primarily read by his friends and family, how is this guy not famous? I know. It’s crazy.
“So what is this?” A mousy woman asks as she peers into our display at a local Whole Foods.
“It’s called Origins,” says Pete, the man training me for my latest odd job. “We sell cold-pressed, organic, non-pasteurized juices.” Cold-pressed means the beverages are formed by applying an extreme amount of pressure to produce, then bottling whatever juice comes out. Organic means we can sample the product at Whole Foods without fear of being stoned by their clientele. And non-pasteurized is another way of saying incredibly expensive. Like $10-a-bottle expensive.
Odd Job: Participating in the student-faculty basketball game
Pay: When you consider my hourly rate and how long we were on the court, probably about $12
It was one minute to game time and my heart was racing. My hands shook and my stomach turned. I hadn’t felt this nervous in years. I was moments away from a showdown with the eighth-grade girls basketball team.