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So ever since I got hired, my boss has been something like the father figure I never had --- right down to the screaming matches with his wife, complete with thrown objects.

Note to self: never get married. And especially never become a small business owner.

Addendum: so, I come into work today, only to be told that the place isn't opening, due to more of the same. I am considering looking for a new job. The only reason I held on to this job was because of my respect for my boss, who usually is a sensible and wise individual. I don't need to put up with this; I've got a semester till I graduate and the last thing I need to deal with is a weekend spent in the crossfire.

Problem is, while I'm not indispensible, I'm afraid that my quitting will encourage others to do the same. The consequences to me will be minimal. I can live off student loans till I graduate, and there are a couple of decent minimum-wage jobs around here that can get my rent paid and my belly filled until I leave for the Peace Corps. I personally have nothing to lose by quitting, save money for beer and cigarettes, both of which I should quit doing anyways.

Others don't have that luxury. About forty or fifty jobs will be lost if the place goes under. About thirty-five of them need that job just to make ends meet, and don't have a huge chunk of money coming to them every five or six months. We have single mothers on staff, and I have a very soft spot for single mothers, as I was raised by a saint of a single mother. I understand financial struggle; it's all I've ever known until recently.

The plan for now: hold on, and don't be the first rat to jump ship if it starts sinking. This is just foolish optimism on my part, and I doubt things will change for the better, but it's hard to turn my back on a man I've respected and held to be one of the wiser and cooler heads in my life. Recent developments have caused me to reevaluate my opinion of him, and caused me to sympathize with the very people I unfairly despised.

I'm not a saint myself by any stretch of the word; I've slung my fair share of harsh words and spatulas in the course of my working there. I'm just a temperamental young man, and it bothers me that a man twice my age reminds me so much of the father I never knew, right down to the Vesuvius-scale flareups. I spent my entire childhood and adolescence trying to find safe vents for my anger issues (running really helps keep the inner demons at bay), and I haven't struck a person in anger in ten years. So it scares the fuck out of me when I see a man twice my age act out like I did when I was thirteen.

It's just hard to turn my back on my second family. We really are one big, usually-happy dysfunctional family at my work, in a fucked-up Chuck Palahniuk sense. The hostess I flirt with (God, I'll miss her), the cooks I've smoked many a bowl with, the waitstaff I've cursed at one second and moved mountains for the next, the guy I live with right now: we're one big fucked-up family. I turned my back on one family, now I feel the need to turn my back on yet another.

Joe had invited me to a pot luck with a bunch of his friends. It was to be Sunday at noon, and I almost forgot about it, but looked at my watch(11:45a.m), remembering that he lived on a corner near Bayou St. John and that I'd know it when I saw it.

I open the front door of his studio and step in. About a dozen pair of shoes are neatly lined near the door, so I sit down and pull off my boots. Still in my overcoat I cross the room towards the kitchen, where all the chatter is coming from. I nod hello to the guy standing in the kitchen door, and before I enter to meet everybody I feel the urge to kneel and face the small speakers just ahead of me, playing nice music, some kind of psy trance I've never heard. I reach up and adjust them so that the sound moves, feeling almost like it's coming from me rather than to me. I don't know how long I stayed there, but eventually I got up and moved into the crowded kitchen, with its low ceiling and dim light. It smells wonderful: of eggs and casseroles, bacon and pungent salad dressings. Joe comes over and welcomes me, pointing towards his small bedroom area for me to leave my coat. When I come back he introduces me to the whole table, an even mix of men and women. Some of the women are really cute, I wonder if they can hold a good conversation? I am so happy to be here: how amazingly cool to have this nice group arranged by Joe because the producers of my show asked him to . . .and of course paid for the flowers and the nice silverware. I kneel besides a young woman, putting my hand on the top back of her chair, crouching like a baseball catcher. We start chatting, I can't recall what about, I was distracted by thoughts of the apartment that was being finished across the street. Of course they weren't working on it today, but I could see that they had gutted the inside of the second floor, and were adding posts to support a new balcony. Wow: that is it: that's where I'm going to move into after this show is over! This is so fucking cool . . . I'm not saying any of this to her, this is just what's flashing through my mind, but I'm still enjoying my proximity to her and am apparently managing a coherent conversation. Then Joe announces that it's time to eat, so everybody grab a plate and help yourself . . . I'm in no hurry, and hate lines so I wait for a bit, still chatting, stifling the urge to ask this woman to join me on the coat pile for a make-out session. Eventually I wind up on the opposite side of the table with a plate full of cheese grits, bacon, eggs, biscuits, and some southwestern-ish looking casserole. The first thing I try is the bacon, which I mix with a big fork-full of cheese grits and eggs. As soon as it's in my mouth though, I feel that something is very wrong. I am being watched. Somebody is very pissed that I am eating dead animals. I put down my fork and knife, and look up; and it is her, the one I was speaking with earlier, straight across the table. She isn't staring at me, but I can feel her, there's no way she can hide her disgust at what I'm doing. I've dealt with these radical vegetarian types before, and I fucking hate 'em: puritanical, self-righteous pricks who can't see that animals have always eaten other animals, at least the carnivores and omnivores, which is most mammals . . . There was a time when I would have just let this slide, ignored her. But she was broadcasting so strongly that I had to respond, so I picked up my steak knife and held it in front of me, pointing it towards my right eye, inches away, while staring at her, thinking, "Go ahead: you hate me for eating dead animals, then slam this knife through my brain so hard it stops against the back of my skull; c'mon, I don't give a fuck; I'd rather you kill me than sit there silently broadcasting your goddamn hate . . ." I can tell she reads me loud & clear. "Whoa, Richard, what's going on? . . ." The room is suddenly very quiet. Joe repeats himself: "Richard, what's going on man? What's wrong?" I don't move. I keep the knife aimed like a laser straight through my right eyeball, daring this bitch to jump up and drive it through my brain. "Dude, put down the knife, this is not cool . . .c'mon man . . . Put the knife down, Richard. " I don't mean to scare everybody, I'm just establishing a boundary, y'know? Nobody's going to pitch their psychic vomit towards me without me taking em on, those fuckin days are done . . . So I place the knife back on the table, still staring her down so that she knows, without a doubt, that her shit will not float with me . . . "Richard, you need to go, c'mon man . . .you need to go . . . Richard, this is so not cool, you need to go!" This is good: everybody is doing amazing work; I can feel the danger crinkling like wax paper throughout the kitchen. Up until now I haven't said a word, but now I turn to Joe and look into his eyes. Something about his 'anger' doesn't ring quite true to me, so when he looks at me desperately and says that I have to go again I shout: "C'MON JOE, COMMIT!!!!!!" "Arrite, that's it, let's go . . .!" He comes over and motions right beside me; he knows not to actually touch me, but like an usher, moves me out of the kitchen and across the studio. I don't remember getting my boots. That could be where I lost them . . . But I do remember sitting on the front step with Joe. "Dude!, something's wrong man . . .what's going on?" "I don't know . . .I'm just staying as true as I can to this thing . . ." (". . .very nice, Rick, excellent. Just stay with it ; I'm here for you . . .") says Xerxes in my earpiece. "You need some help, ok? You've got to get some help . . .is there anybody you can call? . . ." "No, no . . . it's ok, man." And I try to give him some acting pointers: like how when you're really angry you want to *ground* it, like I really believe you're going to come at me, y'know? But he's not into taking direction right now, and that's cool; maybe later when we talk about the scene with Xerxes. I'm just surprised at how adamant he is; this part he's really committed to: he's not going to let me come back inside. "Don't worry Joe, it's cool . . improv goes all kinds of directions". I smile and pat his knee, proud to see him so connected to his scene objective. "It's all good . . . we'll talk later." And I stand up and walk. I don't know where to . . .if I had to guess I'd say back up to my room.

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