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  1. The Worst Workout Partner Ever

    February 2, 2012 by Nathan

    Last night I drank a bottle of wine over the course of watching “Top Chef: Texas”, “The Daily Show”, and “The Golden Girls”. Nothing big. To me it was one, insignificant bottle of affordable chardonnay that gave me a comfortable buzz and would be forgotten by breakfast.

    The first warning sign that something was amiss was that “breakfast” came at 6 AM, when I bolted up wide awake with no alarm. Since my coffee was set to be brewed at 8:15, until then I found myself in a no man’s land of odd TV programming and even weirder status updates. Who *starts* watching a movie at 4 AM, and then throws that info on Facebook? At 4 AM, I would expect myself to be posting much more colorful status updates. And they’re usually the ones I have the good sense to delete before anyone besides the smattering of responsible morning people can ever see them.

    The worst part about all this was the insane and–dare I say–disproportionate hangover I was experiencing. I repeat: ONE bottle of wine, and I felt like I had cleaned out half the liquor cabinet and floated Jaegermeister for another financial quarter. Granted that happens sometimes…but this was not a dramatic breakup. Or Christmas. Or Flag Day. It was just 750 mL of wine on a Wednesday night.

    My original plan was to go to the gym like I always do, and put in a good 1 ½-2 hour workout to get me jazzed for the rest of the day. However, the hangover had me over a barrel, and I’d never worked out with one before. I decided to see if it was even possible. I Googled “Can you exercise with a hangover?” and found an article from Men’s Health that addressed the issue. Setting aside the fact I was starting to feel like a massive douche just by reading this article in the first place, I pressed on. Apparently, you can, and according to one trainer, it can actually be a hangover cure. I was sold. I loathe making up excuses and how bad could it be?

    The drive to the gym went well, and I thought I could feel myself returning to normal when my friend texted me a hugely embarrassing incident he had just endured. I felt as if laughing out loud at his unfortunate situation had jump started the endorphin flow, and I was quite thankful for that. Sorry, Eric.

    I could tell I would be dragging ass, but the hour ahead didn’t seem terribly insurmountable. In fact, the worst part about getting started was this man and woman who had clearly just met, and were having one of those tacky “gym pickup” conversations. They were just standing right in front of the towels, not moving or paying attention to anyone, so I had to sort of duck around them to get what I needed. It was then I heard the guy drop the words “Bulls” and “Michael Jordan” while she enthusiastically nodded her head. That topic seemed awfully outdated. One long patented Nathan Eye Roll later, I was on the treadmill.

    I set up shop between an old man who was leisurely walking, and an Asian lady who was just absolutely killing it; I did so because this was my only option, unless I wanted to be too far away from the TVs to watch “The View” on mute. One click of the iPod later, and I’d begun my hungover workout with A-Ha’s “Take On Me” and all the optimism in the world.

    Trouble began almost immediately. Five minutes in, and I’d accidentally hit the emergency stop button with my uncharacteristically flailing hands. A minor inconvenience, it could happen to anyone. I made note of the 40 calories I’d burned and reset the program for 60 minutes. Or so I thought. Six minutes later, and I realized I forgot to hit the “0” after the 6. OK…so I’m a little off. I made note of the additional 50 calories I’d burned, and set the program for the third time.

    As someone who can power walk 7 or 8 miles a day with ease and has been exercising consistently for over a year, I started to feel like I was coming across as a moronic newbie to my fellow gym patrons. I even felt obligated to explain the situation to the people around me so they wouldn’t have that impression of me, but thankfully I didn’t. I began sweating profusely and starting to feel dizzy.

    Usually I zone out by a carefully selected combination of watching TV and listening to music, but the former was especially troublesome at this time. I wasn’t sure if it was for real or the hangover playing tricks on me, but even with Will.I.Am riding an elephant on the moon in a music video, the strangest thing on the televisions had to be Dr. Oz standing in front of a huge screen that boldly read: “HAIRY NIPPLES”. Squinting, I realized that this was indeed for real. Some lady in the audience giddily bounced onstage and started putting on a lab coat. I swear to God, they *must* be paying these people; who in the hell would go on national TV to be Dr. Oz’s lab assistant for the “hairy nipples” segment without some sort of suitable compensation? I made a mental note to research this more fully in my spare time.

    The segment was distracting, but not distracting enough to hide the fact that I was not power walking, but slogging away while dripping like I’d been sprayed with a garden hose for good measure. The Asian lady hadn’t even broken a sweat, and the old fart next to me had traded up to a light jog and was kicking my ass. Meanwhile, I was still in warm-up speed and about ready to faint on the spot. I had these awful visions of blacking out while watching Whoopi, and then waking up to the hot guy trainers gently slapping my face awake while they also realize I was two songs into the “Pretty Woman” soundtrack. This shit couldn’t go on. I cut my losses and hit the Stop button, this time on purpose.

    I name my running accomplishments after celebrities. For example, 7 miles is a “Katie Holmes” (Joan Rivers said Katie runs 7 miles a day, and “almost makes it to the gate to escape”), and 8 miles is an “Eminem” (after the movie). How many miles did I get hungover? A whopping 0.99. Dumbfounded, I decided to name that distance after some fat celebrity, and it’s still officially a toss-up between Val Kilmer and Dog the Bounty Hunter’s wife. The absolute worst part was that as I was leaving, that couple was STILL standing by the towels. I hadn’t even run long enough to outlast an insipid, ridiculous, straight- person gym conversation. The shame was palpable.

    As I entered the locker room, heaving and sweating as if I’d rolled a giant boulder up Mt. Everest in Hell, I finally came to a conclusion. Wine may be a lot of things: icebreaker, dinner companion, and therapist…but it was definitely the shittiest workout buddy one could ask for.

    F*ck you, Yellow Tail; you’re not invited back to the gym with me ever again. I’ll take back that 7-day visitor’s pass now, thank you very much.

  2. Teenage Dream

    August 1, 2011 by Nathan

    There are some artists who blow through town that you may hear about and think “Well, that’d be nice if I won tickets” or “Maybe a friend will invite me”, or “Who gives a crap? I only know one song, and it kind of blows anyway.” Katy Perry is not one of those artists.

    She doesn’t know it of course, but Katy Perry’s musical repertoire–that runs the gamut from the fun, flirty pop of “California Gurls” to the more longing “Thinking of You”–has become an integral part of the soundtrack to my life for the last couple years or so. I can’t begin to tell you how cheesy I think that the words “soundtrack to my life” really are, but I can’t think of a better way to put it at the moment, so deal with it. With this being the case, when I found out she was coming to Austin on the California Dreams tour, it was the same question as Lady Gaga: Not “if”, but “where would we sit?”

    I bought the tickets on pre-sale in February using my dad’s Amex again (they *must* know he has a daughter or gay son by now, based on concert ticket purchases alone), and the first person who responded to my invite was Brian. Come to think of it, Brian was the perfect friend to take, seeing as on our many rides to retrieve my car from downtown, he’s endured my singing of “Teenage Dream” for almost a year now. He’s also someone I could see gaying out more than me during the concert, which does wonders for distracting from my own silly concert behavior.

    I won’t lie: for the next 6 months, it was nice driving by the Erwin Center on the way downtown and seeing the sign flash up Katy Perry; it reminded me the whole time that even after the high of seeing Gaga wore off, good times were yet to come.

    We arrived at the concert to the typical Erwin Center clusterf**k, except this time more pedestrians were wearing blue wigs. After parking, we entered in exactly where our section was located, so that was convenient. $7 beers were also convenient, but still the usual rip off. We walked inside and attempted to find our seats. Based on the ticket price, I fully expected to be directed to the nosebleed section, but Brian and I had already determined we were OK with that; we just wanted to see Katy, even it meant sitting on top of Mt. Everest. Imagine our surprise when the ticket lady said we needed to go CLOSER to the stage. Our seats were even past the second usher; you know, the one holding the chain. Holy shit–we were crazy close. How the hell did that happen?

    The next 10 minutes were spent geeking out over how awesome the seats were, and I got my first look at my fellow concert goers. In addition to both some clever and horribly tragic costumes, the audience could be broken down into 4 categories: 1.) Straight girls, and lots of them; 2.) Their hot boyfriends who clearly did not want to be there; 3.) Moms and daughters (Really?); and 4.) Gays. And somehow, we ended up sitting next to a slightly embarrassed dad who had brought his son. A son I suspect may be part of group #4 in about 8-10 years.

    Robyn was the opening act. She’s one of those artists I was hoping would open for Katy, but whose music in all actuality I had very little familiarity with. Apparently she’s huge with the gay dance scene, and has had a hit in the 90’s. In fact, according to my Facebook feed, some gay guys’ only motivation for the concert was seeing Robyn. Her music was OK, and at some point she deep-throated a banana. After that, I kinda wished I knew more about her.

    One more round of beer, and I wanted to see Katy. And then it began. And just like at Gaga, I went into a trance. The stage was reminiscent of the “California Gurls” video, adorned with candy cane ramps and lollipops. She had integrated a video of herself running around chasing a kitty or something, but none of that mattered when I heard the first notes of “Teenage Dream”.

    This was by far the most important song to me, for several reasons, most of which make my friends’ eyes roll back in their heads. I’m also pretty sure that projecting my own boy-related shit onto this tune has probably ruined the song for at least three people, but I don’t really care. It’s also the song I listened to when I was starting my rapid weight loss regimen on the treadmill. When I heard “Teenage Dream”, the incline went up, the speed got faster, and I was power walking my way to being svelte so he really could put his hands on me in my skintight (well, Dior) jeans. And eventually, he did. So in a way, thanks to Katy Perry’s inspiration, I got skinny and got the guy who previously blew me off. The 10,000 things wrong with everything I just said has been noted, and is not up for debate or explanation. Just know I’m self-aware enough to realize it, and I’ll deal with it later. Of course hearing it live, I flipped out like I knew I would, and you can hear me belting it off-key in both video clips Brian and I have from the moment. It was beautiful.

    Brief reactions:
    “Waking Up In Vegas”: Waking up hungover, broke, losing a motel key and needing an ATM is just as easily done in Austin as Vegas. Just saying.

    “Ur So Gay”: A confusing song that I can only see being about some old boyfriend who combines all the worst traits of indie, emo, and metrosexual guys in one person. It’s like describing a trendy Frankenstein-like monster. One you’ve never heard of, I’m sure.

    “I Kissed A Girl”: Ah, the one that started it all. I guess it’s more catchy than my version “I Kissed A Girl And Was Completely Ambivalent About It, But It Wasn’t As Gross As I Thought It Would Be.”

    “Peacock”: “I wanna see your peacock, -cock, -cock; your peacock, -cock, -cock”…while she lightly jerks off a microphone. This is the kind of stuff that made me question the wisdom of bringing the kids, but maybe they’re not jaded enough to understand it. Yet.

    “Hummingbird Heartbeat”: Not a single, and I only heard it in Brian’s car that afternoon. I fell in love with it, just in time to hear it live. It stirs what passes as emotions inside of me, even though I’m pretty sure she’s alluding to semen through half of it.

    “E.T.”: What, no Kanye?

    “Whip My Hair” (Willow Smith’s Cover): Katy, please put an end to this now. I beg of you.

    “Thinking Of You”: She sang this standing on a pink cloud that went up to the audience. How cute! I want one.

    “Hot N Cold”: Describes every gay guy I know.

    “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”: Perfect song for our Fridays, because it pretty much sums up what a typical Friday night is for me (Remember, soundtrack to my life…). And nothing like an entire arena screaming “TGIF”.

    I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston’s Cover): It’s safe to say I lost my mind when Katy Perry unexpectedly covered Whitney Houston. That’s like, a whole lotta gay in one sitting. And also, another one of my exercise songs. The audience members (especially the young girls) who were lucky enough to be invited up on stage must have had the time of their lives. Those bitches.

    “Firework”: There were real fireworks. And we cried. Of course we cried.

    “California Gurls” (Encore): I thought of my best friend Jen who lives in San Francisco, since this was our Palm Desert vacation song. And a fabulous, upbeat note to end on.

    Another mind-blowing concert in the bag. The only way any of this could have been better is if Katy Perry took me up on my invite to come to Charlie’s and party with us the rest of the night. That would’ve been my real teenage, er…adult dream.

    5 Stars *surrounded by fireworks* for Katy Perry’s California Dreams Tour. We love you.

  3. Quick Trip To NYC

    August 1, 2011 by Nathan

    Recently, I was lucky enough to have been invited on a trip to New York City along with a small group of about a dozen people from my church, St. David’s Episcopal, and a few hand-selected friends we were allowed to bring. As soon as we had checked into our opulent Midtown hotel, we wasted no time hitting the streets and seeing the sights.

    I had been to NYC once before with my parents on an anniversary trip that they so generously invited my brother and me to join. It was easily one of the most memorable experiences of domestic travel, and this new trip was no exception.

    First stop: St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Our friend Kris was one of the few staunch Roman Catholics on the trip, and she was to be married to her fiancé, Greg. Kris was from Austin, but Greg was Norwegian (in fact, after the terrible tragedy recently, we were all hoping this trip would help to take his mind off things). Fortunately, Greg was in high spirits as he and Kris were slated to meet with the bishop to discuss St. Patrick’s as a venue for their upcoming wedding. Greg had converted with hardly any fuss from his nominal Lutheranism to Catholicism as soon as he and Kris were engaged.

    We had split into small groups at this point, so it was only Kirk and I accompanying them to the cathedral. The bishop was a nice man, cordial and extremely fond of the young couple. I sauntered around the massive church for a bit, before the bishop emerged with our friends. Giddy with excitement, Greg and Kris ran around the cathedral, already planning the big day in their minds. The bishop said he was excited for them, and said Greg was a good example of how one day, everyone would be making the Sign of the Cross in the name of Roman Catholicism. Kirk was not nearly as put off as I was after this rather arrogant and somewhat ominous declaration. I was also not too happy with the way the Church conducted itself during the gay marriage debate in New York, which thankfully already passed; a gay couple we knew were slated to marry before we flew back to Austin. As the bishop began to swing his incense below the crucifix, I quite boldly declared “Sorry, Rome, but you’ll NEVER get me.” Kirk agreed with me of course, but he didn’t want any trouble, so he ushered me out of the church. That ALWAYS happens; friends are always trying to get me out of places before I can verbally take someone down. Greg and Kris were out of earshot, so they weren’t mad in the slightest. They were still glowing about the wedding.

    Mere blocks from the cathedral, we found a frozen yogurt shop and as our other group members rejoined us from their mini adventures, we got in line and ordered our treats. I had a cup of chocolate yogurt, and topped it with colored sprinkles. As soon as I took a bite, the sprinkles and yogurt reminded of me of my childhood…especially those Friday afternoons after school in South Carolina when Mom would pick me up from school and take me out for a frozen yogurt at the TCBY near my private school. I’d get chocolate with sprinkles. Those were some of my favorite days. I’d have to include that in the Yelp review.

    Outside, a group of people I assumed were Jamaicans were playing dice on the sidewalk. We watched them for a bit, before they cleared out all at the same time to make room for a rather large woman who hooked up a microphone to a 90’s era boom box and began belting out show tunes. She was in very high heels, and so was her backup singer. As I finished my yogurt, I looked closer.

    These weren’t women, were they? Nope—they were drag queens, and not too passable at that. The backup dancer sort of smirked when she saw the spark of recognition. No one walking past, not even the Jamaican men from before, seemed to mind any of this was occurring. We listened to her sing a song by ADELE before we headed back towards the hotel.

    On the way, I begged Greg and Kris to re-think their church venue and use Trinity Church down on Wall Street. Irritated, they asked why they would want to, since neither of them was Episcopalian. I knew I was pushing it, so I dropped the subject. To get back into their good graces, I stopped in front of a jewelry store and the three of us ooh’d and ahh’d over the vast, sparkling array of watches in the window, including a featured Fendi display. I inquired if they wanted to try a few on for fun, but it was dusk and we had dinner plans.

    I entered the lobby, and there was my on again off again friend JB who had been part of the group walking home, but had somehow beaten us to the hotel. He was sitting in a chair next to a large glass window. Exhausted, I plopped down next to him. Greg, Kris, and Kirk had disappeared. And then I started to feel odd. I was hungry, yes, but that wasn’t it. Tired, of course, but I would manage once I had a cocktail. My stomach started to turn and the world started to not feel right. I looked over at JB, who seemed completely unaware of what was happening. But it was starting to wash over me. He asked me what my selections were for a prix fixe dinner, and if I really meant what he heard I had said back at the church.

    “J, we aren’t having dinner tonight. You know where we are,” I said.

    He looked at me, and as if by telepathy, he knew what that meant. Disappointed, he dropped the backpack he was holding, put his head back on the chair, and let out a deep sigh. He knew now.
    The lobby had grown darker as I could see less and less people. The buildings started to disappear and like a freight train, the recognition of the moment became louder and louder, until New York City had vanished in a flash…

    …and I woke up, with drool on my pillow and that horrible sense of disappointment you feel when you realize all those ridiculously vivid thoughts, events, and emotions were just specters. For those first few moments, that feeling sits in the pit of your stomach like a stone. And then the alarm goes off, and you desperately need to pee.

    The small comfort I took from my second “trip” to New York City was not the quality time spent with friends, my standing up to the bishop for religious freedom, the tasty frozen yogurt sprinkles, the unavoidable yearning for the shiny baubles in the window displaying all the materialistic treasures of this earth.

    No, it was none of those. My comfort was that even in my dream…I was still me.

  4. Diary of a Plus-One

    July 26, 2011 by Nathan

    This past weekend, I was invited by Brian to be his plus-one to the wedding of our mutual friend. This account will be written from the perspective of a plus-one experiencing the final product of what I assume was a mountain of planning from the parties involved. I think I can pull this off, mostly because my addiction to Yelp coupled with my insatiable need to observe everything around me compels me to do so.

    The wedding party was allotted the entire mezzanine level of the hotel, with the ceremony scheduled in the Jim Hogg Room, and the reception to take place in the Maximilian Room right across the way. I found that to be a perfect, streamlined setup. I was one of six of the bride’s “Gay Brigade”, who were easily distinguishable by Ben’s 3-piece suit (with fedora), Brian holding a perfectly color coordinated black-and-white-with-a-touch-of-fuchsia gift bag, and me in my favorite pink Chanel tie.

    The Jim Hogg room was the perfect size for an intimate wedding gathering, perfectly accentuated with a gorgeous fireplace. (Former President Lyndon B. Johnson waited to hear his 1964 presidential results from the Jim Hogg room, just FYI). Not only was the bride radiant, but I simply adore civil weddings. They’re just like law briefs: they pack a lot of meaning and information into a short amount of space (or time). As opposed to Catholic weddings, which would be the equivalent of a rambling, never-ending fantasy novel you regret picking up at the airport. Except your butt goes to sleep. But I digress.

    The following reception was held in the Maximilian Room, which was originally the men’s smoking room (oh please, how “Titanic”). Everything was set up beautifully, and we were surrounded by eight massive gold leaf mirrors that were meant to be a gift from the Mexican Emperor Maximilian to his wife, the Empress Carlotta. And while gorgeous, the audible gasp I emitted came not for the mirrors, but from the words “open bar.”

    Waiters offered an amuse-bouche of Mediterranean steak, as well as a lovely refreshing watermelon bite. I sipped Grey Goose as the wedding party filtered in. The mezzanine also includes access to the large balcony overlooking 6th Street, perfect for smokers, or if you want to feel like you’re looking down on the common folk below you. We photo-bombed a few tourist pictures, I’m sure. And Brian did his best impression of Evita. I learned so much that night: Madonna was NOT the First Lady of Argentina. Then again, I thought the Maximilian Room was named after a Tiny Toons character, but what the hell–open bar, right?

    It’s worth noting my friend Jeff apparently had a very lively conversation with one of the wedding guests, Carole Keeton Strayhorn. I wanted to see if she wanted to do tequila shots with me, but I could never really find the right “in” for that, you know?

    The food. Where do I begin? The Driskill knocked this one out of the park. The salad was a delicious combination of spinach, lettuce, poppy seeds, almonds, and strawberries. I was planning on hijacking the irresistible cheddar cheese grits, of which I could have eaten the entire pan. Out of the grilled steak, lamb, and scallops, the scallops were the breakout star: cooked and seasoned to utter perfection. The service from the staff was on the ball, and everyone from the waiters to the wedding coordinator were models for the hospitality industry.

    I didn’t eat so much as ravenously devoured the decadent chocolate groom’s cake, AND the bridal carrot cake. A photographer caught me shoveling carrot cake in my mouth like a beast. Then she said I had the cutest color scheme of the group. I was both horrified, yet flattered. And she retook the photo, of course.

    This ranks as one of the most flawless and elegant weddings I have attended. Of course, we were all so happy for the new couple. And I could tell The Driskill played a huge part in making their special day that much more special. I was lucky to have been a part of it.

    Did I mention open bar?

  5. Extra, Extra: Read All About It

    July 26, 2011 by Nathan

    Every now and again, I’ll stumble across an ad for Austin visitors that will slip in the line “You can be an extra in a big budget Hollywood film!” between the suggestions of yakking up on 6th Street, or frolicking in the buff around Hippy Hollow. They make it sound so easy, like you just form a queue, and the next thing you know you’re mouthing “apples and grapes” behind Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock for a quick $50.

    If only.

    Third Coast Extras is the Austin-based casting company used for movies and commercials. A friend of mine who is an actual actor had invited me along to two projects: A Verizon Wireless commercial (yes, I was a hard hat guy), and a Bank of America commercial. If you haven’t been an extra before, I’ll try and explain the process the best I can.

    First step: Get on their e-mail list, or better yet, add them on Facebook. They can be found under “Beth Sepko Casting & Third Coast Extras”. One day, you may see this: “Seeking paid extras for The LYING GAME to work this Wed. 7/13. All ethnicities, m&f, ages 18-22. Local AUSTIN only. Please email contact info, height, weight, and current photo,..” etc.

    Follow their instructions to the letter. Sometimes it will say “do NOT call”, and you’ll be amazed how many aspiring starlets will call anyways. Professional head shots aren’t needed in some cases (I happen to have some from my real estate career), but they certainly help. You will only irritate them if you contact them regarding a spot that you do not fit as described. If you are a petite Asian female in their 20’s, you will not fulfill the role of a muscular African American male in his 40’s, no matter how desperately you want in on the gig. Again, you’d be surprised how many people will attempt to fill a round hole with a square peg. The employees are all VERY professional and sweet, but have a very low threshold for people who can not follow instructions.

    You also MUST be able to work the entire day(s); there are no partial gigs or leave-and-return privileges. Clear out your schedule, and prepare to possibly stay late.

    So, you’ve got the gig. They all vary, but I’ll describe the Verizon experience. Filming usually starts early…like 6 AM early. For this gig, I had to wake up at 4, meet my friend at 5:00, and drive to Bastrop to be on the set at 6:00. Third Coast reps will be there to check you in and have you fill out your pay/tax papers. Another key word for extras? Waiting. Waiting can mean sitting, eating, smoking, gossiping…but you will wait for roughly 80% of the 12-14 hour day you’re slated for. That’s why I went with a friend; it can be a long day.

    Repetition. We had to do the same thing over, and over, and over, and over–dozens of times. To this day, I can’t see how it takes 14 hours to make a 30-second spot, but it does. It may seem ridiculous at first, but be prepared to do the same damn thing until you feel like screaming. You also have to reshoot if one of the principles (or a fellow extra) screws up. That’s always fun.

    You will be fed. Craft services will always be there to provide you with as many meals or snacks as it takes to get through the shoot. For the Bank of America shoot at Auditorium Shores, we got a particularly nice boxed lunch from Central Market. Stay hydrated, especially for an outdoor shoot. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to tinkle, and I still have PTSD from all the port-a-potty use that’s inescapable on the set.

    Your fellow extras…here’s where it gets dicey. A lot of the people already know each other in what is obviously a pretty tight knit community. “Yeah, I landed the Johnson & Johnson commercial” and “I got face time in that new Disney movie” are common conversations. However, some will be loners. And some are more outgoing, and naturally through such an adventure, you’ll make friends and have a fabulous time. You can also make enemies, especially among those who perceive you as a threat. Competition is FIERCE. I was rudely called a “little bastard” by a washed up old broad who took my seat; when confronted by a Third Coast rep, she denied it, claiming I lied and that she’d “always been professional on a set.” Yeah. Prepare for that shit.

    Then there’ll be the guy who claims to have taken Hollywood by storm, and yet you have no idea what his name is. He’ll regale you with stories of being given free luxury condos, limos, and casually mention hanging out with Ryan Phillippe “who’s really a pretty chill guy”. Ask him what movie he’s been working on that affords him such goodies, and he’ll answer: “It’s a working title.” The only people who believe him are the girls at his feet staring in awe who are even dumber than he is.

    Pay is approximately $150 for a commercial shoot. If you fit a certain type that gets more camera time (the ultimate goal), it will be more.

    Think you got what it takes? Give it a shot! And if you make it big, I get a cut for spurring your acting career. Read it–it’s in your contract.

  6. My third favorite color

    July 12, 2011 by Nathan

    I have three favorite colors: Red (when I was growing up); Black (for simple, elegant clothing); and Robin Egg Blue (for the illustrious gifts from Tiffany & Co.)

    I have a small cache of Tiffany jewelry for men purchased over the years, so I was glad Austin got it’s own in The Domain. Mostly because I was instructed that to have it cleaned, it must be done at a Tiffany’s using their own solvents. My stuff could start to look pretty bad in between trips to Dallas and Houston.

    I stopped in yesterday to have my sterling and 18-karat collapsible weave ring cleaned. It was looking dull and listless, and I kind of felt like wearing it this season. It always gets compliments (you know how I am about that), and on more than one occasion, offers to buy it right off my hand. People think I’ll just sell something like that? Like hell I will.

    Walking in, you’re greeted first and foremost by the security guy. He’s the one in the suit and the headpiece that made me peer around for President Obama. I walked down “The Gauntlet” of staff members who are staring at you with a palpable mixture of hope (that you’ll buy something), anxiety (that you’ll steal something), and exasperation (that you’ll waste their time looking at everything, even if you’ve got an overdrawn checking account). It’s awkward, to say the least. I’m trained to let them know right off the bat I’m just in for a cleaning, so the security guy gladly walked me back to customer service, and the staff exhaled a little.

    The woman at customer service was extremely friendly. She took the ring, verified it was one of theirs, and wrote up the order. She smiled the whole time and didn’t show a trace of the uptightness of her front-of-store counterparts. I was a little disappointed to find out Tiffany’s had changed their pricing from $5/ring and $10/bracelet for cleaning to a $15 across-the-board-fee, regardless of size. They kind of had me over a barrel on this one, but…such is life. She said it would be ready in 45 minutes.

    When I returned, the mood was definitely more relaxed. Some customers were browsing, but again I informed the nearest saleswoman whose lightning fast gaze landed on me that I was headed back to pick up the ring. I wanted to make sure she was apprised of the situation. Jesus, working in a jewelry store must be like walking on eggshells. I’d be on edge too, I guess. Especially since someone actually rammed a car into the front of Louis Vuitton across the street when robbing the place.

    I waited a moment while she finished up by reading a thick pamphlet on the Tiffany Engagement Ring. We really are all followers of the Cult of the Diamond. And as much as I firmly believe they are indeed a girl’s best friend, I don’t think they translate so well on men. Not even gay men. Maybe hip-hop moguls, but that’s it.

    Once again, the woman was personable and welcoming. And the ring looks 1000% better when polished.

    On the way out–for curiosity’s sake–I asked a salesman about wedding bands. I used the excuse that my brother was getting married (which he is) as a chance to get some schooling on what kind of bands for men and women Tiffany has to offer. I told him that up front, so he knew it wasn’t for me, but he gladly whipped out my favorites for me to inspect. We talked price and platinum density, diamonds and decadence, and he really seemed to know his way around the jewelry. It was excellent customer service, and a fun, informative mini-lesson for me.

    I skipped the men’s sterling jewelry. Out of sight, out of mind. Unless it’s Christmas, of course.

    Everyone loves a little something from Tiffany. Looking at all the glitter and glitz, I was reminded that my parents thank God every day I was born a boy. Even still, I find ways to indulge my insatiable appetite for conspicuous consumption. But if I were a girl, they said there’s no doubt they’d be broke.

    And looking around Tiffany & Co.–they’re absolutely right.