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Berger

By 4:41 AM ,

I'm cautious not to simplify life's incidents and people down to stereotypes, especially based on what's available in popular culture. Having said that, I know I do it an awful lot. Such references are a staple ingredient for keeping one's self-absorbed stories interesting to any listener. If your story provides a hook when placed within the context of an episode of The Office or Mad Men (sitcoms and melodramas work best), your listener is less likely to drift off as your lips flap away about yourself ad nauseum, provided that you and your listener share the same pop-trash lexicon, of course.

Just this afternoon, when Miki and I were catching up, I described Will, an old ex, as being just like "Berger" from Sex and the City, Season 5. I swiftly distilled a flesh and blood person down to a flat one-hit wonder of, "that weenie that broke up with Carrie on a post-it note."

Well, as unjust as it may be, this technique allows you to lay down the proper groundwork fast, so that you can spend more time on the juicy bits. And because we were both familiar with all of Carrie's failed dalliances, we got to the heart of the matter and wrapped up our coffee klatch in a timely manner.

I then headed down to Soho to run a couple of errands. It was a gorgeous spring day and the streets were noticeably crowded. When I'm in NY, I have this I-can-neither-stop-nor-slow-down-for-you walk. I have no control over this. The land simply dictates. Picture a video game character that must keep moving or it will be vaporized. This is my motivation.

Anyway, I came upon an urban cluster (street vendor+dog+clueless pedestrians) that I couldn't scoot around, so I made a b-line to the south side of Prince and Greene. I almost got blocked by a guy on the corner just standing there on the lookout for a cab. But again, without slowing down, I tried to walk around him only to realize that he was Ron Livingston, the actual actor that played Berger in SATC, also the guy that I called out as a heel only 15 minutes earlier.

It most definitely was one of those moments that confused me deeply.

Bonus Round
As if the Soho incident wasn't enough...

Two nights later, I was invited to dinner at Andrea and Lance's apartment in the West Village. There, I met their new puppy, a carrot-colored lab that does a perfect "lean". What's better than a dog that knows how to lean. The moment I bent down to greet him, he gently lay his chin on my knee and pushed his shoulder against my leg and stayed there. Melt my heart.

Anyway, I nearly lost my mind when Andy called for the pup.

I had to check, "Did you just call him Burger...as in 'would you like fries with that, sir?"

But then Lance intercepted my question and said,

"It's a little embarrassing, but he's actually named after Berger, that one boyfriend from Sex and the City..."

What is going on here this week in downtown Manhattan? 

How did I end up in a Berger vortex - a man, or more accurately, a fictional character with stunted confidence, resistance to change, and persona imbued with general reluctance and malaise. Or are the real life apparitions to remind me that people are dimensional and full, and not to be reduced to silly caricatures. As disappointing as Berger's weaknesses were to Season 5, he was also exceedingly charming, funny, kind-hearted and sincere, which made him impossible to villainize. I guess, so was Will.

I never know how to decipher these episodes when they're this concretely in-your-face. It's not like a Burger/Berger homonym episode. It was the exact reference with the same GPS three times over.  As Philip always says "There are no coincidences.", so there must be something to today, but I'm left scratching my head. I'll make note of it, put it in my back pocket and pull it out when it finally clicks.

But thank goodness for two things:
  1. I've never been broken up on a post-it note.
  2. I appreciate a good leaner, man or beast.

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