how mid-thirties angst came to be

It started with Wing Bukkake.

Yep – Wing Bukkake.

Let’s stop right there. If one of those 2 words is foreign to you, just let it slide – please don’t Google it, else you’ll probably hate me.

Okay, moving on:

Right around the start of August, my job led me to a massive strip mall in Buford, Georgia – one of those towns that would barely even have a gas station if it wasn’t for the fact that Atlanta’s sprawl had spread into the city limits.  It might have been more than one strip mall – all I remember was that, in every direction, there were examples of the sterilized suburban businesses that many folks in my generation have been trying their damnedest to get away from.  As I set about to work the area, I entertained myself by coming up with silly names and concepts for restaurants similar to Chili’s, Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, etc.

One of those was Wing Bukkake – a chicken wing place, a la Hooter’s, in which all the waitresses have wing sauce smeared all over the faces and hair.

Please don’t hate me.

Anyway, my mind drifted some more into an imagined scene from a movie where one character takes his friend to Wing Bukkake and treats it like just any other restaurant while his friend looks around in amazed horror.  It was a stupid idea – asinine, ridiculously perverse, and totally unworkable.  But it stayed in my head for a couple days, mainly because I’m an awful person and I couldn’t help but laugh whenever I thought of it.

It also got me thinking about screenplays – mainly, the fact that I used to come up with screenplay ideas all the time back in my college days.  I was entering the fifth month of traveling the east coast for work – surely, if I thought back hard enough, a screenplay could be fashioned from the experiences I was having while on the road.  All I needed was a way to connect these experiences so that they could form a story worth writing.

A week later, I was working in the heart of Atlanta.  After wrapping up work for the day, I drove over to Athens to visit a much-loved friend of mine from my days when I lived in Florida.  The events that ended up transpiring that night – and sorry, but I gotta keep this part vague – played out like an extended scene from a movie.  That’s how I thought of things as I replayed the evening in my head while driving back to Atlanta the next morning.  I would not have been in this cinematic frame of mind if it wasn’t for that dumb Wing Bukkake idea.

So I had two ideas for movie scenes – one good and one nowhere near good.  I started thinking more about my travels as a screenplay.  What else had I done that could make part of the story?  Who else had I visited?  How could I piece it all together?

A month earlier, my friend Jo Ann – who had been staying at my place in Nashville while I was on the road – called me to say that she had heard that my apartment was about to be torn down.  I was in a motel in Mount Laurel, New Jersey when she told me this, more than 800 miles away.  Thankfully, this rumor turned out to be unfounded.  For a stressful day or two, though, I thought that I would have to drop everything and rush home in order to grab all my possessions before the wrecking ball showed up, and then . . . well, I had no idea what I would do after that.

I thought about that night in Mount Laurel while looking back on my travels.  That got me thinking about the time in my life when I did have to hastily pack all my things up and move out of a place.  That was in 2006, when the apartment in a large house that my roommate and I lived in – located in the heart of a Nashville neighborhood that was gentrifying faster than one could say, “I’m sorry, poor person, but you can’t live here anymore” – was purchased by developers who intended to turn the house into fancy, overpriced condos.  We were given 10 days to grab all our things and take them to a less-appealing neighborhood.  I ended up spending three week’s living in a friend’s attic, until I ended up renting a room in a bug-filled hellhole where I’d be offered crack every time I’d go out for a walk.  I also had a nervous breakdown along the way.

That memory became the backbone that would connect all my ideas together.  The vague notion brought about by two ideas of disparate quality became a screenplay about a guy who has to come home from a thousand miles away because he and his roommate are getting evicted from their place.  Before heading home, though, he would visit some friends along the way in order to take his mind off of his situation.  Hanging over the entire story would be the various thoughts that swirled in my head during the many hours I spent alone while traveling, which mainly involved the fact that I was 34 and had yet to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

A month later, I had a screenplay.  It wasn’t too shabby, but it also wasn’t something that I could ever see anyone wanting to turn into a movie.  Not content with letting my work end up as a .doc file in my hard drive that I’d never open again, I decided to turn the screenplay into a book.

So that’s how I spent a good amount of my free time for the last couple months.  And that’s why that appealing picture at the top of the post will – if you give it a click – lead you to a page on Amazon where you can purchase a copy.

It was a screenplay, then it was a book.  There is no point in either that mentions Wing Bukkake.  But I doubt I would have written either without it.

The moral to this overlong, self-indulgent story: any creative idea you get is a good one. Even if you come up with something that you almost-immediately realize is stupid and unworkable, don’t dismiss it just yet – let the idea simmer for a little bit, because it’s possible that a much better idea can come out of with.

 

Thanks for making it this far.  And much, much thanks to those who have already purchased a copy – it is incredibly appreciated.

Leave a Reply