Spotlight ON! Joey, Pt. 2
Installment the Second: Family Time
SB: So, while we went out, you spent a lot of time with my family, immediate and extended. Tell me what you remember most about that, and what you think my parents and brother thought of you.
JZ: We really did spend a lot of time at the Brown compound. I recall being pretty scared of your dad, and just praying to god that I don’t screw up somehow and have him yell at me, or, even worse, take me aside and speak very sternly and directly to me. But he was always real nice, though, he’d ask things like “So, what was your favorite part of the movie?” and “What was your least favorite part of this weekend?” I think he was just impressed that I knew the song “Devil With A Blue Dress On.”
Your mom was always very hospitable. Sometimes you two would fight, but like in a secret-fight way, and try to be quiet about it, but I could totally hear you from the other room. Your mom would kind of stomp in and be like “Joey, would like a Pepsi?” and I’d be like “um, sure, ma’am.”
I remember meeting your folks for the first time, right after Thanksgiving dinner. I was wearing some crazy Cosby sweater, but had this bright orange Jon Spencer Blues Explosion shirt underneath it, like I thought your parents would be impressed with my indie cred. They were just like “So, you’re Polish, right?” And I just kind of thought “This is gonna be rough, man.” As for what they thought of me, who knows. I tried to be real polite and use “ma’am” and “sir,” but I’m pretty certain it came off in a very Eddie Haskell-sort of way.
SB: See, what’s funny is that when my entire family remembers this meeting, what they talk about is the shirt underneath, because you didn't realize that your sweater was open just enough that instead of JONSPENCERBLUESEXPLOSION coming through, all we could see was sweater/SEX/sweater.
Anyway, once they realized you made me happy, my parents loved you. To this day, you remain the ex-boyfriend my whole family asks about, in a good way. In fact, both my dad and brother separately made a toast to you on their respective visits to New York. And my mom still puts up that Christmas ornament you gave her every year, and when I say that it looks like an angel with Down’s, she gets mad. She always liked you best.
JZ: With your brother it was kind of a different story, because it seemed there was a minute chance I might impress him in the way a college guy can impress 7th grader. But alas, I’d be like “Hey, Stephen, I hung out with Superchunk last night,” and he’d be all “So? I got just got tickets to see God Lives Underwater!”
SB: No way. I totally attribute my brother’s excellent taste in music now to your influences early on. He was the only 7th grader in 1998 who was pumped to go see Frank Black. And remember when my parents let us take him to his first concert, Beck on the Odelay tour, and he was so excited, only then he got beaten down in the mosh pit and you had to go find his other shoe in the mud afterwards? Who the fuck moshes at a Beck concert, anyway? Also, when he was in the hospital after his accident, I remember you got to interview Superchunk, and you had all of them autograph a promotional poster for Indoor Living for him, and that poster is still on his wall. Laura Ballance wrote him a fucking novel. He had no idea how lucky he was! You know, for someone lying close to death in the intensive care unit.
JZ: My favorite memories with your extended family are probably driving to Texas all those summers and hanging out by the pool, eating barbecue and drinking Coronas.
SB: That’s my favorite side of the family, but it wasn’t until you came with us for the first time that I realized despite how much I loved those people, I really had nothing in common with them. I mean, when we go down there, we always split up according to gender during the day, and the women end up shopping while the men do… it really never occurred to me until my uncle asked you if you wanted to go with them what the men do all day. Go to the liquor store? Something involving a boat? Surely nothing that my boyfriend in Converse who drove a Honda with a “Hagfish Rocks Your Lame Ass” sticker would be interested in doing.
JZ: Yeah, there were some moments where I felt extremely emasculated, but they were always pretty good trips, for the most part. I think that your mom, drunk in the hot tub, telling dirty jokes about Scandinavians, is the funniest memory I have. Not that the jokes were that funny, but her reaction, and just how funny and scandalous she THOUGHT she was being -- that was funny.
SB: Oh God! The Oli and Lena joke! The only dirty joke my mother knows! She would be mortified that that’s how you remember her. I love it.
Now tell me about how your family felt about me. I remember the day I met them all: we went out to eat and then back to your sister’s house, and you left me to play Scrabble with your mom and dad and sister and brother-in-law while you got on their computer and went into Pavement chat rooms or something. I could have killed you. I was so afraid they wouldn’t like me, but then I got the Q and the X and spelled QUIXOTIC and your dad loved me from then on out. Until I broke up with you, and I figured they hated me.
JZ: No, they were always pretty taken with you. My mom was impressed by the fact that you’d graduated high school with more than 200 kids in your class, and of course my dad liked the fact that you really wouldn’t take his shit. Looking in a drawer at my house, you once asked “Bob, where would I find a rubber band?” To which let out a long sigh, and started in with, “Well, you see, Sarah, you would start deep in the jungles of the Amazon, where rubber trees abound…” and you just turned before he could go any farther and said, “Janice, where do you keep the rubber bands?” My mom giggled and said “Oh, in the next drawer.”
SB: They were always so nice to me. I felt really bad when we broke up, like I was letting them down somehow. I guess they were just as confused as everyone else, probably because they thought we were going to get married. Along with the rest of the world.
JZ: I think they were just afraid that they’d somehow run into your parents and have to throw down or something.
SB: Once, like a week after we broke up, I saw your dad walking out of Best Buy while I was looking for a parking place, and I ducked down in my car because I was afraid he’d see me. I am not proud of this.