Check out how much better Blake looks in this photo than me. This is a perfect example of where I could learn from friends. Photographer: Rex Bang (April 2016)
Nobody’s perfect. But you can be better than you were.
To recap, I was existentially damaged/drifting/trampolining in a low-ceiling celestial chamber and now I’m as wide-eyed as I used to be on uppers with a healthy brain that would’ve suggested identity theft as recently as last year. [For further reference, you can read about my journey’s inauguration in I’m Trying to Not Be an Out of Control Mess This Year — and It’s Workingand how it’s all going thus far in 5 Things I Learned Once I Got Proactive About My Mental Health and General Existence.]
Now, I’m leveling up — and it’s actually me settling an old score with myself.
You see, years ago, in my late twenties and heyday revival of party mode, I emailed ten dudes about The Perfect Man/Needs A Better Title Project. Born out of a running joke that I would forever dirty my hands with ink over oil, the idea was to show up to with booze, drugs, and/or snacks of a friend’s choosing and we’d wile out while I learned something from them. It was a way to explore avenues of perceived masculinity while also picking apart the particular sections of my chums’ brains that weren’t exactly readily and regularly presented in social outings. My plan was to assemble the experiences into a short story collection with each one wrapping up in a legitimate step-by-step how-to of random skills.
I got good responses! Chase would show me how to shape a surfboard, Tony would show me how to season a humidor, Grant would show me how to replace a hard drive, Rex would show me how to rock climb, Jason would show me how to break down a film, Jeff would show me how to brew beer, Scott would— *ahem* — teach me “how to play the theme song from The Incredible Hulkwhile illustrating Japanese tentacle porn, dressed as Gerard Butler,” and so on.
Alas, I lost all my money in a pyramid scheme called Honestly Just Being Generally Bad With Money and nothing ever materialized but debt.
Later, when I was living on the road, I had a similar creative outlet of the initial notion. It was to be calledYour Favorite Podcastand I was going to interview every friend, relative, and stranger I crashed with about whatever they absolutely loved, from a hobby to a place to a piece of art. But I put it off and a year later was informed by my friend Jay it had basically become The Outline’s video series “Extremely My Shit.”
Flash forward to this year, at a springtime baby shower, where my sober ass looked dressed for Easter a month early / junior high promotion 20 years late, as if brunch needed a mascot to go pro, I chatted up my buddy Dave, a renaissance dude-sir who once outdrank me the same weekend he completed a century ride up Big Bear Mountain.
Dave revealed he’d gotten more into woodworking — Dave is also someone who could casually go to the moon, whereas I am someone who would run a half-marathon and talk about it until I died, assumedly from that same half-marathon — and, after I asked a half-dozen questions (a personal best for lowest count), he invited me to come over some weekend to craft my own fancy wooden pen and his wife Emily suggested we make a delightful brunch of it. [They honor my affinity for b-words.]
So I’m taking them up on the offer, and I realized how familiar this whole prospect sounded. It dawned on me that I’ve got more time, energy, and money than I’ve had in years, and I’ve never been saner, calmer, and more prepped to actually absorb new information. Truly, this year has felt like Limitless if Bradley Cooper’s character simply showed up to things on time and successfully maintained a calendar.
So my proposal for The Perfect Person Project is this: I’ll be a pupil/sidekick of yours for pretty much anything, and I’ll show up with whatever we need for the project or activity and whatever you want in order to be properly and non-financially compensated. The focus can be whatever — a song on guitar, a cocktail you dig, a tabletop game that doesn’t mind a new member, the entire skill set of pottery; hell, we could both be curious and just take a photography class together — truly whatever you’re good at or interested in. You don’t have to be an expert. Everyone knows something someone else doesn't, and I’ve never been more ready to absorb the new.
Tell me what you’re keen on and I’m there.