Wednesday, January 21, 2009

L.A. '84 weirdos aplenty

I wrote what follows in 1984. I don't remember this guy (hope he's not a visitor here), but I do remember he commissioned the illustration above for the back cover of a little magazine he published. It was at a time when my career still seemed promising! I thought you all would enjoy this bizarre story that I'd written in my sketchbook. Came upon it yesterday. Here goes:

When I first met Brian, he came in the house with a yellow telephone. I thought it was because he didn't want to miss any calls. But he'd brought it along so I could autograph it. He thought it looked like something I'd designed. (? I hadn't designed it!)

Autographs mean a lot to him. He collects first editions signed by William Faulkner and would collect signed first editions by other authors too but his vacuum cleaner collection takes up too much room already and it's either give up one or the other and the vacuums won out.

He keeps them arranged in a semi-circle around his desk in his office. I said I'd like to see them.

His girlfriend Brink, who's breathy and beautiful, was very enthusiastic about the Kirby vacuum cleaner Brian had given her. She said it has all kinds of wonderful attachments including a paint sprayer and a massage unit.

You can't just buy these Kirbys in stores, they both explained, nodding their heads. Kirbys are the Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners, as they put it. You have to call the company and then a salesman pays you a visit. But does he demonstrate the massage unit?

Brian is very good friends with his vacuum cleaner repairman. They invite the repairman to their parties. He used to work in the aerospace program but when that went bust he switched to vacuum cleaners.

I told Brian I'd seen a wonderful exhibit of carpet sweeper in London, in the basement of the Science Museum, but he said carpet sweepers didn't interest him. "No suction" he explained.

He and Brink have told me that they are into dream control and have an EEG but so far I've let that pass. I've also heard sketchy details about the time travel party they held with lectures by three people famous in their fields.

We went outside to pick apricots from my tree and he was excited. He'd gotten fruit from two science fiction writers already that week. "And now, apricots from you," he said. "Celebrity fruit." I wondered if I should sign the bag.


Namowal said...

Interesting guy. Did he inspire the vacuum cleaner antics in "Whinsey on Your Phone?"
The neatly arranged collection of vacuum cleaners makes me wonder if he had a touch of Aspergar's Syndrome.
And what's with this "when I thought my career was going somewhere?" you're way ahead of me!

Sally said...

Namowal, it was weird to read this and reflect. I remember the guy was a slender model type, and the quick friendship left an impression, but since then, when I write animation stuff, I keep tapping in to time travel, appliances, vacuum cleaners. But I never do anything with autographed apricots.

Linda said...

You couldn't make up something this good if you tried. A great piece of writing, too! It's your best.
...Yeah, give us a break with this career going somewhere stuff; you're only the goddess of animation.

stray said...

I love this story. My brother sold Kirby vacuum cleaners briefly (a couple of weeks?). Said he got flustered giving a demonstrating at a beautiful woman's house and actually ruined a bit of the carpet; she kindly offered she could just cover it up with a plant. I've never understood collections and why people enjoy collecting; someone told me it was about wanting to have some control over something.

Linda said...

Stray: What an interesting comment about people collecting things and why.

Sally said...

yes, being someone who's tried to make sense of collecting for a lifetime, your comment, stray, really rang a bell.

Also interesting to get another view on the Kirby life. So funny about the floor damage, I mean can't you just picture that nice Southern lady looking down at her floor that's just been ruined?

stray g said...

And she'd been rather flirtatious up to that point so he really wanted to impress her!

Yes, my friend said he'd read that collectors might be people who feel that otherwise they have no control over their lives (if I remember correctly).

Sally said...

I was making the same base line zero around 1984, BUT I had an agent, at caa no less, and I went to meetings. woo woo.