and ladies and gentlemen. The summer has come to an end. Yes, it came to an end about 48 weeks ago - but it's over, nonetheless.
i had set a goal - a goal to sell four more fans. and guess what? That very day I sold some. How many, you ask? Well, that'd be four--- wait for it--- teen. FOUR FUCKING TEEN. FOURTEEN MOTHER FUCKING FANS!
i only had 2 clients.
one being my room mate, phoebe, who had been off gallivanting in Canada for the whole summer, leaving me all alone to deal with all of the people who buzz our buzzer and ask if we are the super. i'm still not convinced that phoebe is not the super. there is always a flash of guilt on her face when she replies "wrong apartment" and I found a tool belt underneath her mattress, with her initials engraved on a hammer and a piece of red construction paper with sharpie writing on it that reads "If found - please return to the super, Phoebe."
Butever. Her being gone gave me loads of extra room for my 8.4 drillion unsold fans.
I don't know if she was staring at my blog constantly hitting refresh or what, but pretty much as soon as I hit PUBLISH on that last post, Phoebe asked if she could buy 4 fans.
For those of you who can't find a calculator, that is 12 dollars. That's a meal at Texas Rotisserie OR 4 cans of tennis balls if there's no tax.
So then that night I went to a birthday party at a bar, no fans in hand, and a friend of mine named Max sat on a couch away from the party.
"What's wrong, slugger?" I asked with a heart of concern and a tone of confusion. "I'm fine. No nothing."
He slumped in his seat. I knew there was more to this story.
"Now don't lie to Mr. Paul. What's wrong Max?"
His arms crossed tighter. His teeth clenched harder.
And then - with an outburst - socially unacceptable but still probably very therapeutic - he yelled - "I WANTED A FAN!!!!!"
"Oh - well buddy - I didn't bring any." "Everyone else had fans this summer. I didn't even have ONE!" "Well why not?" "YOU DIDN'T GIVE ME ONE!" "Did you ask for one?"
He looked at me, saddened but also relieved. "No..." "So what have we learned?" A stare. "Maaaax?"
His eyes welled up. A smile across his face. A weight off his shoulders and some air in his lungs. He opened his mouth. He revealed the answer. The answer he knew all along.
"Ask and ye shall receive."
[Max - if you read this - I know this is not at all how this happened - but I just wanted any publishing companies that stumbled across this blog to realize it could be a kids book too. And If I throw in a few more "ye"s, I bet we can get in in the CUSTOMERS WHO LIKED THIS BOOK ALSO PURCHASED list when people do an amazon.com search for the bible - the best selling book in the world.]
In reality, Max wanted to buy some fans for his nieces and nephews. So what happened? He gave me thirty bucks and requested ten fans. thirty dollars. shall i count that for you?
I went to 34 cause I knew that 4 of them would probably break immediately since I'm a first class pawn shop selling total pieces of grade busted plastic shit.
And then, kids, the adventure came to a close. For 2010, that is. I've got no house in the hamptons. But what I've done is built an excellent foundation for 2011. These three months were used to get people to stop thinking "that dude is fucking nuts" and start thinking - "I could use a fan. where the hell is paul?"
and i've done that.
AND - on top of it all. I broke even.
So for next year, I'm thinking about upgrading. To non shit-grade fans. Something a little more durable. Something a bit more like this.
Cause let's face it. Nothing is more refreshing than a fan blowing right in your face. Right guys?
let's call a spade a spade, alright? i haven't sold any more fans since my fantastic night at the party. something happens. something bizarre. on the heels of accomplishment comes a total inability to hit the road again. this is why i shouldnt own an ice cream shop. because as soon as i sell enough ice cream to finish one bin of vanilla, i'd probably close shop and go home for a nap and a naked juice.
also - i'm not taking the blame off of myself in the slightest - but I should just paint a full picture here. It's been rather cool in New York this month. I don't mean like - this is where all the cool shit happens. i mean temperature wise. it's been a bit pleasant - and that's really ruined my market.
though perhaps it was a good warning. everyone asks me what i'm going to sell once the hot wears off. if you believe in opposites, the obvious answer would be to sell personalized mini travel heaters, but a google search for "personal pocket travel heaters" just comes up with a list of recalls - which shouldn't surprise anyone.
but in the meantime - there is supposed to be a heatwave this week. i don't know where. i don't know how. and i don't know when. But I want to sell at least 4 fans this week. A low goal? Yeah right. you try selling just ONE.
I will say - I did wear my I'll Sell You a Fan cutoff shirt to the gym one day this week. I got no weird looks (any weird looks I did get I just attributed to my unique form of exercise that involves dumbbells and hanging upside down on the pull up bar - hello obliques) but I did go buy some food afterwards and the woman who rang me up said "I'll sell you my fan?" then a pause, and then "that's funny." I politely smiled and laughed with her but inside i was thinking - how do YOU know.
something's happening. something good. and something weird too.
I'm rehearsing for this show right now called Veritas - it's part of the Fringe Festival at the HERE Arts Center --- and I put a little line about this blog in my bio.
The other day I got to rehearsal and the director, Ryan, asked me what was wrong.
"I was trying to sell one of my fans and all this guy at dollar pizza wanted to do was talk about sharper image. And then he was like - 'you should sell other things too!' - like he was on his way to being the first person ever to think of the concept of a "store." i'm sure if I had let him go for a few more minutes he would have come up with the idea of being located in a 'building' and having 'customers.'" "You were trying to sell a what?"
Ah yes. The hiccups of being self-centered. Talking about everything in your life as though it's been tweeted and read by everyone you meet.
"Oh - I'm selling these fans for three bucks." "I'll take one."
I'm almost certain that this cast things I'm bat shit crazy, but - hey - I sold a fan and that's what's important here.
Cut to Friday night --
There was a fundraiser party for the show. In New York, when a bunch of poor people put on a show, they call one of their rich friends and ask them to throw a party for all of their rich friends and charge them at the door, and give the money to the poor show people. Then the poor people buy a bunch of alcohol that rich people would never drink, and charge the rich people what sounds like a lot of money to the poor people but is not that much for the rich people, and then it's all you can drink - but only the poor people drink cause they are poor and sad and are used to drinking the cheap shit and all of the rich people are on coke anyway. So it's basically a party where rich people pay to watch poor people drink. And then the show opens, no one makes any money, and you still have a degree from one of the best schools in the country, though whenever you say that, the school as a collective sort of turns away from you and every one from that school with a real job at the same time mouths the words "I don't know that person."
I arrived at the party with a self-imposed limit of 1 drink and a bag full of 11 fans.
3 drinks later I had sold all 11 fans. That's right kids. All of them.
By chance, by a stroke of fan God luck, the air conditioning in this palatial west village apartment was bronx busted. I couldn't have been happier.
The first fan I sold was to a man named Michael R. Jackson. I usually don't include last names, but the man's name is fucking MICHAEL JACKSON. He was wearing a backpack turned backwards at the party, so I knew the cool factor wouldn't be an issue in his mind when it came to considering the purchase of a pocket fan on a lanyard.
He was talking to an old friend of mine Billy. Billy saw that Michael Jackson had bought a fan, so just like a bunch of screaming fans from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, he just had to have one. He was fan sale number 2.
Then my cast mate Matt, or as I referred to him that night - Mr. Smiley (hello open bar), was doing his best to sell fans for me. I could tell that he was both making fun of me and helping me at the same time, and because in my childhood, whenever my brother or I would fall, one of our parents would say "God did that." I (a) spent a good deal of time angry at God and (b) learn that people that love you can also make fun of you.
So I let Matt sell. And sell he did. Aside from the fact that he kept introducing me as "Kramer", he was pretty good. He introduced me to his two friends - Robb (with two "b"s - I know this because I thought he said his name was Rom and we had one of those awkward introductions where the first person goes "I'm Paul." and the second person goes "I'm Robb." and the first person goes "Rom?" and the second person goes "Robb." And then the first person goes "Rom." and then the second person goes "Robb. R-o-b-b. Robb.") and another friend. After 15 minutes of convincing, they too bought fans.
Then there was this girl - Maria I believe -- who held a fan in her hand, looked at the blog address on the side of the fan, and busted out with "Wait - this is you?!" Oh God. Another crazy person. Miss Edie light. "Yes. This is me. These are my arms. This is my hair. All of this is me. Are you going to buy the fan or not, because -" "No. illsellyoumyfan.blogspot.com? that's YOU?!" "Wait. What? Yes. Why?!" "I've seen this before!"
Before you get too excited, turns out that she made the website for the show, and the link to the blog in my bio was what was ringing a bell for her. She'd never clicked on it. But she had, in fact, seen those words before.
Then two cast mates - Morgan and Joseph - asked if they could buy a fan. There was a bunch of sweet glory in this. And Morgan really needed one because for reasons only Morgan knows, he was wearing not only a blazer but also a scarf. And it got back to me that he didn't want to take off the scarf because it would ruin the outfit. And then that asshole only gave me two out of the three dollars, and then I blogged about how he wouldn't take off his scarf at a party in the dead of summer with a busted air conditioner because it would "ruin his outfit". Don't fuck with me, people. And hey - Morgan Karr (that's K-A-R-R) - keep your dollar.
Then there was a man named Ian. He was sober because he was a rich person. He bought three fans. The first two he bought for ten dollars each. Why? We still don't know. "We" being any one on earth. Maybe he's just nice? Call it generosity. Call it kindness. But I called it a new shower curtain and a liner cause I had a coupon to Bed Bath and Beyond and my bathroom gets mildewy FAST.
And then there was Carlos. Carlos is a man from a country that offers accents. Carlos took the publicity shots for our show. My favorite moment of the photo shoot was when one of the cast members was standing in the corner of the room and asked if he should be smiling. Carlos, in his A for effort English, said to him "Ok - behind you is a corner and this corner is UH and UH you know? And that - that is exactly what I want."
He ended up smiling.
So there I am - sold out of fans - looking around to take in all of the red fans in use by all of the party goers. They're sharing them. They're loving them. They're thanking these fans for every single burst of fresh house party air. And then - like a movie -
Snap "HEY!" clunk "NO! fwip "What the fuck?!"
All of the fans - or at least all of the fan in the room I was in - broke. At the same time. And people. Were. Pissed.
I addressed the evil eye.
"I told you they break!" And I did. Before every sale I'd say - be very careful - they break very easily and there are no returns.
You know what you can get at McDonald's for $3? Like - nothing. Like fucking NOTHING. A Mcflurry. That's it. I think a 4 piece Chicken McNugget costs more than that in New York. So the fact that you paid 3 dollars for a fan that kept you from not looking like a wet mop in a ralph lauren shirt for two hours - that's a pretty fucking good deal.
Ok - but guys - that's not the crazy part. Everything is taking a turn.
This blog is at about 1600 hits for the last month. It's no Perez - and I'm sure it's not even close to the number of daily hits that something like the google search for "How do I tell my mother I'm pregnant" gets - but it's becoming it's own thing - and i'll explain.
My friend Robert (remember? The idiot who advertised how loud the fans were and got wasted when Cuervo the dermatoligist wouldn't buy a fan?) broke change for one of my customers at the party. After he said to someone "He's selling those fans" he turned to me and said "I'm being good, right? I'm helping, right?"
"Yes, Robert. Yes you're helping. Next time I make a cake you can crack the egg all by yourself."
"But are you going to write about this? Are you going to write about how I"m begin good this time?"
Whoa -- wait ---
Morgan: Paul - my batteries are dying. Paul: You're wearing a fucking scarf. Morgan: My batteries are still dying - I'm not going to pay you that final dollar. Paul: You bet your sweet candy ass you're going to pay me that last dollar. Morgan: I know. I just want you to write about this.
What is going on?
Ryan: Now that I bought this fan are you going to blog about it? Me: Yeah - Ryan: Oh good - cause then I can tweet about it.
It's almost like WRITING about someone is an incentive for them to BUY a fan.
This is a lesson.
I need to use this moving forward.
How do I branch that out? How do I write about EVERYONE at ONCE?
"Hey Paul? It's Benj. I'm going to the Soho House to lay by the pool. Wanna come?" "No. I'm a fucking idiot."
"Yes, Benj. I'll be right there."
The Soho House is a mark of class - so I dug through my IKEA hamper to the bottom of the dirty clothes and found my old navy swimsuit that was still wet from jumping in that puddle in the Bronx and I put that fucker on. I thought - you know what - maybe I should bring some fans. So I packed three fans into my backpack - which was already stuffed with shit, much like a closet owned by a budding hoarder or like Rachel Zoe's husband when he pretends to watch football (did anyone else notice that he was looking through a magazine and that the only football term he was able to yell at the tv was "Miss!"?).
I jumped on the subway -- which is slowly becoming a joke -- like a friend that you're like -- i'll see you in 5 minutes? and they're like - yeah totally - and then they show up 25 minutes later and they're like ok let's go and you want to be like fuck you and do something else but they're your only ride to the Semisonic concert and Closing Time is one of the best songs you've ever heard and you bought your ticket already and you don't want to go home because your parents are fighting so you get in the car and try to maintain a level of anger but somehow being mad has become your fault and then you doubt your right to have negative emotions and you grow up to have some damaged self respect so you spend your life selling fans and waiting for the subway? You know what I mean? Oooo - it's a vicious cycle.
So there we are at 14th street. My friends Benj and Andrew. Standing side by side, Andrew, Benj and I look like those Russian Dolls that hide inside one another. Andrew is petite- and as a 25 year old actor, he often portrays children born post 9/11. He was actually just doing a show in Texas where he was playing a 17 year old, and one day he came to rehearsal and they were like SCRIPT CHANGE, and the only change was that his character was now 13. Benj is normal sized. And then there's me, who hits his head on car ceilings and retrieves things for giraffes when they cant reach it themselves.
So as we Russian Dolled down 14th street, Benj spots some gray hair ahead of us. Benj is the mayor of the West Side and must secretly be a pharmacist cause this guy knows every person over 60. We caught up with his friend - who was a very pleasant old lady and she knew it. Who else responds to "So what's new with you?" with "Well both my cats died, it's almost my birthday, and my life expectancy is 13.4 more years. So I'm getting my apartment painted! I can see you don't read my emails. What's new with YOU?"
As we boiled in the ball sun, we approached the magical doors of the exclusive club with the exclusive roofdeck with the exclusive pool where cool people go when they're hot and hot people go when they're banging someone cool.
The Soho house. Nestled quietly and subtly in the eloquently named Meatpacking District, the Soho house provides a getaway for New York's elite --- and up to three of their poor, drunk friends at a time.
So for affect's sake - picture the three of us entering the lobby - with sunscreen on our noses, Andrew decked out with goggles, a snorkel, and flippers, me shirtless with one of those big tin foil things people use for tanning their face already in place around my neck, and Benj with the ability to share it with both us - happy to be there for his friends.
"Hi Benj!" They say as he enters. "Hello! Hello there!" "Are these your friends?" "Who? These guys who are beaming ear to ear? Ready to escape the testicle heat and be hand fed grapes while rocking on a hammock? Yes these are my friends." "Great. Welcome." "We're just going to spend some time by the pool." "Pool's closed."
Straight out of a sitcom. Apparently they do renovations on the pool once a year, and seeing as it was summer and fourteen frying pans hot outside, I'm guessing the Soho House completes all of their scheduling by throwing darts at a calendar.
We go up anyway. There are about 4 people around the empty hole in the ground and a bar tender who wanted to shoot himself.
And it was hot. Did I mention it was hot.
So we decide - no this is cool - let's bake a little bit - my organs are feeling a little underdone. But that turned out to be a good thing for me.... you see two more of Benj's friends showed up - Brian and Helene - and somewhere - someone had the great thought to ask - Hey Paul - do you have your fans?
Why yes pool-less friends. Yes I do.
And look at that - I have three. I think Helene wanted one but she was too late on grabbing her purse. I had already made the sale PLUS a one dollar tip.
So time goes by, and Benj heads to the bathroom when I hear a mature woman yell "WHERE?!?!"
Benj enters with two women - two classy broads in their 50s I'd say - who want a fan and they want it now.
"You're selling those!?" "3 bucks!" "I'll take two!"
Dammit Paul - not again.
"I think I might have one at the bottom of my -" "NO! It's two or none!"
Ok, lady, I know you made your money SOMEHOW. But that two or none shit is fucking reet.
"Benj! Give her your fan! I'll get you another one!" And Benj kindly extends his arm. The she says to Brian "Give me your fan too."
This bitch is sort of a bitch.
"Can't do it." "Come on." "Nope. Need it. Sorry."
Hold on a second. Let me get this straight. There I am on the subway, losing sales to WHISTLE MAN on the hottest day of the God Damn year, but here I am at Soho house and there might be a fist fight over these trinkets?
People who are used to treating themselves. What have I been thinking. Only a self-hating masochist would live in New York City and go through all of the New York City shit everyday. They'll never buy something to make life easier. They're in it for the pain.
well, kids. I've sold one more fan. I already knew the person but it was still a sale so get over it.
her name was kate. it still is kate, but it was kate also. i arrived at some place in midtown that was further west than i knew existed, and it was, of course, scorchballs hot out. as i approached, kate yelled "PAUL! Do you have your fans?!"
Now I never told Kate about these fans. That question was a solid product of dot com blog tweet face space. And that gives me hope.
I reached into my backpack and pulled out a fan. I may not be pushing them on people like those fuckers in times square with the gangster rap CDs, or the upper middle class Cornell kids who beg the question "Do you like comedy?", but I keep a few on me.
As a kind gesture, as Kate dug out 3 big ones from her purse, I offered to put the batteries in the fan - which - even after preparing like 20 fans, figuring out how to put the batteries in is an episode of LOST every time.
"How does it work?" she asked. Stupid Kate. "You hold this button up and-"
Holy shit. The fucking thing exploded in my hand. The blades went fucking flying. The front flew away like a man in Murray Hill the morning after. Little pieces of green plastics grazed the hair of a one miss Kate whose slow motion face was shock surprise delight and sweaty.
I am sure they teach you a BUNCH of things in salesman school - but i doubt there is a chapter on what to do when you're selling a battery fan and it atom bombs on the customer.
"I have another one!"
I didn't want to lose the sale. I quickly produced my second and final fan (for the time being) from my backpack.
"Here! Hold on here! Here's another one! Don't you worry I've got another one!"
Maybe if i keep talking there won't be a pause for her to say "It's cool just give me my money back."
The second one worked much better.
And then you'll never believe what happened. Someone came up to me and said "Are you selling those?"
My new agent Kate chimed "Yep - he's selling these fans. Feel how good." What a champ. Even after the first fan titanic-ed on her face, she was still swooping in to help a friend.
"I'll take one."
Well - that's great. That's what I've been working towards and waiting for and guess fucking what? I don't have one for you. Why? Cause I'm a fucking idiot. I don't have a Brita, Obama pays my rent, I've got two poppables on my face, and these fans are my ticket to a house in East Shampton and I can't pack enough fans to sell because I couldnt' fit anymore in my backpack because apparently it was much more important for me to have Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead in there which - let's face it Paul - it's been in there for 3 years and you're on page 8 - it's not gonna happen.
I didn't say that, though. I said "Ugh - I'm all sold out!"
"You're sold out?" "Yep. (I have 78 fans at home but I'm going to tell you that I'm) All sold out."
Is it worth it? Maybe those Cornell kids are asking with compassion and concern. They look at my life - at my filteredless water - at my Clearasil Before face - at my fan business - and they can't fathom why I would choose this life - and so they all get together in Times Square, and they pick out corners along my path, they separate, they wait for me, and as I pass them, they look me in the eye and sympathetically ask "Do you like Comedy? Because your life is one big joke."