My First Drink, or Regis Philbin Strikes!
(Originally published in Mongoloid Moose #10, November 1994)
Many people have warm recollections about their first drink, usually involving a close relative passing them a beer at the tender age of eleven, or an underage group of fake ID bearing classmates on a Friday night rite of passage into adulthood and functional alcoholism. Mine, however, is a darker tale, involving mystery, intrigue, and quite possibly celebrity sabotage. When speaking of the latter, of course, I am referring to the heinous attacks made against my car by Regis Philbin.
This traumatic experience occurred when I found myself working as a production assistant (see: piss boy) for the television production crew in charge of the 1994 Miss America Pageant. While there are many tales that I could spin about these events, quite possibly enough to fill a book, I find that it is much easier to break with narrative tradition and start at the end, my last night on the job.
The day in question had started out on a bad note, with the willful desecration of The Bulletproof Hyundai by Regis Philbin, currently spreading his evil to American households as host of the mind-numbingly popular “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” game show.
Parking for all those involved behind the scenes of America’s favorite flesh-peddling beauty contest masquerading as a scholarship drive was made available within the convention center itself, so the overpaid people involved would not have to expose themselves to the perils of Atlantic City casino parking. There were not too many cars filling the vast indoor space in the beginning of pre-production, but as the night of the event drew near, the lot became increasingly overcrowded with plenty of expensive luxury automobiles. My dirty white Hyundai hatchback clashed rather violently with all of the high-end rental vehicles and polished trophy cars. You could easily pick it out from a distance, which most of the other car owners reluctantly did, frowning and shaking their heads in dismay.
Indeed, it seemed that the more crowded the parking area of the convention center got, the more attention my brave little hatchback attracted. Security would occasionally hassle me upon entering, despite the daily appearance of both the car and myself with enough repetition to imprint us on the psyche of countless test chimps, and the occasional suit clad passerby would politely recommend that it be taken in for a wash sometime in the next decade. Of course, it would have been gratifying to explain to mister smartass how working twenty-hour days as a PA allows very little time for washing myself, let alone my transportation. But being young, eager, and at the bottom of the industry food chain, my motivation to identify assholes on site was somewhat low. That motivation would grow rapidly over the next year, however, and force me into what I now consider an emotionally and spiritually fortuitous career change.
One little happenstance with me and my car still sticks in my head, when a rather snobbish and rude individual that had no immediate connection to me and my employers approached me out of the blue and began chastising me like a naughty ten year old. He had happened to notice that my car was parked with the windows down, and he seemed very concerned that someone might try to steal my parking pass out of the car. I felt the desire to point out that since we were inside the production building, the only people with access to my car and parking permit were people who no doubt had permits of their own, but instead I simply nodded in agreement until he finally walked off with a self-important stride. Though the years have passed, and my car and I have no doubt faded from his memory, my hope is that karma someday leads him to read this little tale and remember our little discussion, so that I may dedicate a line of text on these pages and tell him to go fuck himself.
But even with such open displays of disapproval and disdain, I did not expect a rash act of vandalism from a well-known television personality. Sure, the car may have been a tad grimy and a stone’s throw from swanky, but imagine my shock and horror when I came in that morning and discovered a soda can resting on top of my hood. Shaking heads and derisive tones might be bad enough when taken on a daily basis, but for me the ultimate insult was to find that someone felt my car was more deserving as serving as trash receptacle than the garbage can located ten feet away. The Bullet Proof Hyundai may not have been desirable to most, but neither it nor I deserved such a lack of respect and courtesy.