In this week's preview for Discomfort Zone, I agreed to help popular/ist commenter Graham move in with his girlfriend. Graham moved all his shit the day before our agreed-upon moving day and said very obstinately that I could not unwrap plates. I expected this sort of thing. I mean, he’s Graham. He’s difficult.
Earlier that week I told Graham I could help him move anytime that weekend. He said he was hiring movers and asked if I wanted to go to the zoo.
"People are trying to get me to create some sort of fake situation in which to abuse you," he said, and quoted a fellow commenter:
"I'm afraid it's all true." Graham revealed, and proposed we collaborate on a Creepy Graham story to maintain his reputation. I said I'd give it a shot and we arranged to meet at 10 am Sunday morning. Graham got into his terribleness act by being ridiculously awake and spry.
"I'm supposed to take photos of your DVD collection," I said, rubbing my face sleepily.
"None of my stuff is here anymore. Not one thing in this house is mine," Graham replied, eyes wide.
"Oh," I said. “What are we doing then?"
Graham had a plan. He wanted to stage a basement bedroom stalker photo. I helped him carry an unexpectedly heavy twin mattress down two flights into the basement and arrange glamour shots of certain choice Mercury staff.
"But you ARE a man who has glamour shots of the Mercury staff," I said. We were using blue tape so that the staging wouldn’t lead to tears or unsightliness.
"I bought them all for a dollar. At the garage sale.” Graham explained. "I gave Ned's to Kiala."
"Why did she ask for Ned's?" I asked. "Was Ned's especially good?" I could imagine Ned's glamour shot being amazing. I have, as of yet, been unable to find it online.
"She asked me for it," he said again. There wasn’t anything to tell. Understanding why anyone would want the glamour shots wasn’t too hard. “Make sure you note my fanny pack is mint green and royal purple. My girlfriend really wanted you to stress that.”
We carried the other props downstairs and quickly began a disagreement over where to put the X-acto blade.
"Who leaves it like that? On a bed at an angle?" I said.
"Someone who expects a person to come in and photograph their bedroom. I’m trying to convince people I’m a creep here. Wait, I don't think the Mac screen case is in the shot." Graham said.
Among the fake props were the aforementioned X-acto, a bottle of Lubriderm, a pan/pot combo, and a small collection of army training manuals.
"I just find this stuff in free boxes and keep it for cases like this," Graham explained.
"Those are really great. What are we doing with that wig? Am I supposed to wear that and be Sarah Mirk?"
"That's my wig- the wig for the character."
"Okay," I said.
We took the photos and then returned the mattress to the second floor, arduously.
"In the blog, should you call this your cat bed?" I asked.
"How about loving platform?" Graham replied.
"Loving platform. Loving platform?" I said. Graham let me pull the bed the rest of the way up the stairs alone.
Then we went and had a coffee. Graham actually bought me a coffee and we talked about the Mercury staff, the commenters, the history of the Kalashnikova gun line (AK-47s) and interpersonal communication.
"I don't see the internet as the real world," he explained. “I’m like a history and news aficionado. When I’m not at school or at work the Mercury blog is my hobby.”
“It seems like a clever cast of characters.”
“It used to be better.”
We brainstormed more aspects of Creepy Graham's fake creepy-guy life and decided he was a lobbyist for the Flexible Film and Bag Division (FFBD), the most evil thing Graham could think of off the top of his head. Then we went to his new apartment and took pictures of that basement to be his new lair.
“Oh, and I’ll get a picture of your plastic bag catch-all for the post,” I said, trying to carry the joke.
“I guess the idea here is that Creepy Graham has hoodwinked this nice girl into living with him,” Graham sighed.
The joke was really losing momentum. The glory of comments is that they’re brief. In the comments section it does no good to belabor the point, no good to be prolific. The Creepy Graham joke, at least between the two of us, had unfortunately run his course.
“It is pretty creepy to have gone to all this effort to convince people you’re a creepy.” I said, trying to sound encouraging.
“Yeah, thanks,” Graham sighed.
“We could put your glossies up here.”
“No, it’s okay.”
We parted as we’d met. Graham has a solid handshake and a friendly smile.
Up next week for Discomfort Zone is everyone's cherub, Wm. Steven Humphrey! You have exactly two seconds to comment your ideas for his situational disturb. I'm pretty sure I have the best ones already. Go!