Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
Greetings from Philadelphia where I am writing this to you instead of scouring the ravaged streets for bottled water. The commitment, the shortsightedness, the lack of executive function--it's truly breathtaking! Why do I need bottled water? Well, we're in a real crisis in this city and I know very little about it beyond "we need bottled water" but that will not stop me from reporting to you right now from the City of Bottledly Love where I am presently parched.
Earlier this afternoon I was sitting in a coffee shop, sipping a cup of coffee that supposedly tasted like baked peaches and vanilla, and casually eavesdropping on the baristas as one discussed his DVD double feature from the night before: the live-action Speed Racer and Misery. Sometimes I think baristas are doing a lil show. Y'know, a casual art happening for their own benefit and for the benefit of nosy people like me who like to procrastinate the work they're supposed to be doing (on a Sunday!) by minding other people's business. What an interesting life this barista has, I thought to myself; what a great show! I had a lot of questions about this cinematic double feature, though. Were there parallels in the two films? Was the primary intention to dive head-first into two camp aesthetics? Which film was more intentionally campy, I wondered. Which was scarier?!
The baristas did not entertain these questions. Instead they switched topics when one of them declared, apropos of nothing, how much she liked ska music. See? A show! A lil show! Anyway, the performance was interrupted when everyone in the coffee shop got the same emergency message on our phones at the same time which is... what's the word? Apocalyptic!
I read the notification, I took a sip of my coffee, realized it was made with water, looked at the time, realized it wasn't yet 2pm and so the beasties weren't there yet, and then looked around to see how other people were responding.
I felt the urge to jump and race out to the nearest store rise up in me so strongly! I am absolutely not built for the apocalypse but I am absolutely built for a running on the bank scene. It brought back--I hate to say it--some of those early pando feelings. Trying to outthink everyone else in the world so that I could find a place with a surplus of canned goods (that, it turns out, would take me a year to finish eating). Hand-sewing a mask like I was Disaster Movie Betsy Ross. Betsy Lost.
Stressful! I told myself, calm down; there will be water. Plus, you're supposed to go to the gym after this and it's an arm day and do you really want to be toting a couple gallons of panic water home from the gym with you on your floppy lil spaghetti noodles when they're all hurty?
Reader, I did not. So I decided to wait on the water.
I finished what I was doing and walked up Passyunk to the gym. As I neared the Acme market, I encountered a barrage--truly!--of people carrying cases of water. It was like The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I was particularly tickled by the people whose arms were heavy with cases of flavored Bublé water. That is also, obviously, a valid choice, but I imagined them making the pasta for their Sunday Gravy with a can of coconut pineapple sparkling water. A choice!
As I passed, I ear-hustled every conversation, all of which were about water.
"So, you can't shower?!" one guy exclaimed to his exasperated-looking friend. I think we can shower. I really don't know. I'm not a scientist! I'm a person at peace with his lack of water.
"Water fountain water is safe though, right?" another person asked a friend. I think the assumption was either that water fountains are somehow filter or that the water from water fountains comes from a different place. I'm very curious what that place might be!
"It's unfair that I can't just boil it!" a third person declared. I appreciate that this crisis has upset this person's sense of justice. If life were fair, we'd all be able to boil our chemically-tainted water! You know what? Amen, friend. Amen.
After I finished at the gyms--arms hurty, throat parchy--I tried to buy a bottle of water from the front desk but the guy told me that it was cash only because he'd already closed the register. I didn't have any cash because, again, I am not in any way ready for an apocalypse or even a minor inconvenience. Then the guy reconsidered. "Everyone's all turned around because of the water," he informed me, like Prospero. "You come here a lot; just tell them you have an IOU for the bottle when you're back."
"You come here a lot" is not something that anyone has ever said to me in relation to a gym, so truly we are in the end of days. I took the water, stepped out into the chaotic streets, guzzled it in one breath... and now I'm right back where I started. Bottles: zero! I am not in the champagne room!
Anyway, I gotta go. I'm driving to a random Walmart in Conneticut and casually buying up are their La Croix before anyone is the wiser.
Let's hang out!
My play, Mrs. Harrison, opens at Williamston Theater in Michigan this Friday! Get more information here!
In conversation with Nicole Chung for the launch of her new book, A Living Remedy at Greedy Reads, Baltimore - April 12, 7pm - REGISTER HERE
In conversation with Zachary Zane for the launch of his new book, Boy Slut at Greenlight Books Prospect Park, Brooklyn - May 8, 7pm - REGISTER HERE
In conversation with Chasten Buttigieg for the launch of his YA memoir, I Have Something to Tell You at Sixth & I, DC - May 16, 7pm - TICKETS HERE
Random thing on the internet
I remember when I first saw this ad, on a billboard in Times Square, and I stared up at it for minutes on end because I didn't understand a single word of it. I still don't! What is the story of what is happening here?!
I am not in the champagne room!,