I was working late one night when some people from the office suggested we go out for a beer after work.  I remember it being kind of a rough day – by that time I absolutely hated my job, and wanted nothing more than to quit – and I was happy to find whatever distractions that could get me through the day.

Some days I’d go home and try to squeeze a few extra minutes out of lunch.  Other times I’d just get up and wander around the building – get on the elevator and ride it up and down, go lock myself in a bathroom stall and just sit there a while, or just walk around and “visit” people.  The company had a smoking lounge – it was more like a closet, maybe ten feet long by six feet wide, just off the cafeteria.  Toward the end of the day, the smoking lounge was so polluted that nobody would go near it – except smokers, of course, but even then it was a horrid place.  Sometimes I’d just go sit in there, since the likelihood of someone opening the door to see if I happened to be in there was slim.  Nobody even wanted to open the door to that place, so it was a good place to hide.

I would slip into the office supply closet and slip out with whatever I needed: pens, paper, staples, Post-it notes.  Again, to quote a great 20th Century literary work, I was taking stuff from work, and goofing off on the company time.  Rich had loaned me a book called Sabotage In The American Workplace, and it had become my manifesto.  I was well into my 30s by the time I used up the last bottle of White-Out that I took with me.

But I digress.  We went out for a beer.

I’m not sure I remember exactly where we were – sometimes we’d go to a little Irish pub in Saddle Brook, other times we’d just go out near the office in Paramus.  But we had been out for a while, when my cellphone rang.

“I’m so scared,” said the voice on the other end, which I immediately recognized as Sandy.  And she was petrified.  Her voice was cracking, and she was barely speaking above a whisper.  “Come home.”

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

Somebody’s trying to get into the house.”

These are words that will literally make your skin crawl.  I remember instantly calculating how long it was going to take me to get home, and thinking of all the things that could happen between now and then.  

“What do you mean?” I asked.  “What do you mean?” is the expression I use when I know exactly what you mean, but I’m hoping if I ask you the question you’ll tell me something different than what you just told me.  I got it from my mom.  I’d say “I’ve had too much to drink, mom, so I’m going to stay at Frank’s tonight.”  She’d ask “What do you mean, ‘you’ve had too much to drink?'”

“I’m at the top of the stairs.  All the lights are off.  Buca is going crazy.  Somebody is at the front door, jiggling the knob, trying to get in.”

I was out of the bar like a shot, racing to my car.  It was night, and I lived in the ass end of nowhere.  It wasn’t the greatest neighborhood. I figured my car was gone, the lights were off, and it would be easy for someone to think that Sandy and I were out. Break into my apartment, find someone actually there – that’s how people get killed.

“Call Frank,” I said.  Frank lived a block away.

“I did.  He’s not home,” she told me.

I kept Sandy on the phone.  “I’m on my way,” I said, as I flew into the car and peeled out of the parking lot (of wherever I was – like I said, I can’t remember).  “Is he still out there?”

“I think I can see someone on the steps,” she said.

“Did you call the police?” 

“I don’t know if I should call the police,” she said.  “I don’t know if they’re trying to get in, or if maybe it’s one of the neighbors, drunk, trying to get into the wrong apartment.  I’m afraid if I call the police they’ll hear me and leave, and then come back later.”

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m at the top of the steps.  I have a big knife in one hand, and the dog’s leash in the other.”

“Okay,” I told her.  “You stay right there, and stay on the phone with me.  If you see that door start to open, I want you to run into the bathroom and lock the door.  Take the dog with you.”

We lived on a second-floor apartment with no fire escape.  If you were trapped in there, you were trapped – going absolutely nowhere.  There was no way to get out besides the front door.

I drove like a maniac and kept Sandy on the phone the whole time.  I remember thinking – insanely – that if I didn’t have free cell service, the call would have cost a fortune – it was fifty cents a minute or so to make any cellphone call in 1993.

Eventually I got home.  I drove slowly around the circle, and saw there was nobody on my front stoop.  I pulled my car around into the back parking lot, slowly got out (keeping Sandy on the phone the whole time), and snooped around the entire building, looking for the asshole.  I found nothing, so I slowly made my way to the front stoop.

And then I saw it.

Wedged in my screen door was a package that obviously contained a demo tape.

“You have got to be kidding me,” I muttered into the phone.

“What?!” asked Sandy.

“It was someone dropping off a demo tape.”

The name of my street, as I’ve explained before, was Marion Pepe Drive.  However, the Post Office would also deliver mail addressed to Circle Drive (the road was a big circle).  So I never had any qualms about publishing the label’s address as “50B Circle Drive.”  Nobody would ever find it.

That night, one motherfucker found it.

I don’t know what he was thinking.  Maybe he thought our apartment was an office, and the he could just walk in.  I don’t know how he could have thought that, especially because it was the middle of the night, but maybe he did.  He had clearly tried to open the door, and when it didn’t open, he tried to jimmy it open.  If I remember correctly there were marks on the doorjamb where it seemed like he actually tried to pry the door open.  I was raving, like a maniac.  

I thought about calling the police to file a report, and then I thought of Officer Friendly hijacking my living room months before, sitting there with his gun on his hip, playing me his demo.  Then I thought maybe it wasn’t the actual artist on the demo who was delivering it, maybe it was a manager or a fan or a roadie or something – if I called the police and filed a report, I might be getting the wrong guy in trouble.  I was frantic.  I was freaking out.  I imagined my wife home alone while some psycho tried breaking into the house to deliver his demo.  Then I opened the package.

The artist’s name was Milan.  His bio and head shot were laughably silly.  His music was even worse.  Within an hour or so, after the adrenaline had worn off and I was no longer ready to tear someone’s head off, I actually read the bio, and listened to the demo.  And laughed – almost as hard as I did with the “Tangoed With a Hallucination” guy.


Really, I swear.

Really, I swear.

It was like this lame, mid-80s club garbage, delivered with no emotion and these gratuitous, cheesy orchestra hits, occasionally punctuated with this semi-evil sounding cackle.  And the bio was just as funny as the music.  It was printed on black paper, with silver typeface, and it was laminated.  It began:


It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while an artist arrives ready to break through all barriers.

Oh, wow.  It continued:

His vision combines deep, dark lyrics with sensuous “out of this world” music, and touches on all current subjects, no matter how taboo.

First, I was amazed this his two-song demo could touch on all current subjects.  More importantly, though, I’d never seen the word “taboo” actually used in contemporary language before.  Then, it said this:

Milan writes songs that deal with the rougher side of love, where there are no restrictions and where society’s rules can be broken.

Holy shit.  You can’t make this stuff up.

It closed:

With the help of music, Milan is working towards opening the minds of his listeners.  We are all capable of making a better future, a future where a person’s race, color, sexual preference, and nationality won’t matter.  

A future where we can just jimmy the lock, and break the fuck in!

Finally, when we thought we could laugh no more, we did it.  We cracked open the tape case and popped it in.  Here you go:

I’m sorry, you needed to hear it.

For weeks, Sandy and I would walk around the apartment and spontaneously snarl “I’ll get my way” at each other. But the next morning I woke up and wrote a nasty letter to Mr. Milan, telling him whoever tried to break into our house was an asshole, and that breaking and entering was not the best way to deliver a demo tape.  I told him that our apartment was clearly not an office, and that anyone trying to get in the door in the middle of the night was insane.  I also told him his music sucked.

He never did apologize.  But I saved his shitty package anyway.

~ by Al on January 28, 2009.

2 Responses to “taboo.”

  1. […] Drive” and the mail would get to us, but no psychos could find us (Officer Friendly and psychotic techno-crap […]

  2. […] The Milan bio. […]

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