Deadpan Joy...

"Somehow everything will be a little different than you thought." - The Posies "Somehow Everything"

I am a victim of my own need to always have an enemy. For the entirety of my existence, I have flailed (mostly unsuccessfully) against this Great Unseen Nemesis: some would call it a product of my own social ineptitude; and others would believe I am instantly antagonistic against our entire civilization, relishing my own form of untargeted misanthropy. Still, others would believe that I am merely battling my Villain of the Moment, whether it be a government whose record of deception in all matters I cannot reconcile in my own mind; bosses whom I feel are lucky they wear slip-ons because they would never be able to handle this whole "shoe-tying" fad; or even railing against the ridiculous higher beings of others' belief systems. I am battling Brando's "Whattya got?"; I am shoulder to shoulder with Groucho against "It", whatever "It" is; and with apologies to Sir Edmund, I rail against things, because they are there. I grouch, therefore I am...

If something goes wrong, or even has the slightest whiff of wrongness about it, I am not shy about screaming about it. (Someday I will go on about this weird confluence of things going right just after I have thrown something across the room and cursed profanely about somebody's mother, to the point where I now manufacture instant personal anger to get things tilting immediately back onto their axis. But this is not the time...) But, I am often so busy tilting at windmills that I really don't know what to do when something does go right.

Recently, amongst other things, I grouched about an online company that sold invisible goods through Amazon.com. I put up a series of posts regarding my anger at this issue, received a response from a person who has encountered similar problems (time and again, it turns out), and posted their emails regarding a call to arms. My anger abated with this display of online aggressiveness, and things turned out, ultimately, fine.
I did get my money back, and recognized that this is not really Amazon's fault (though I suppose their lax user placement rules did lead to the problem in the first place). I yelled, I cursed, and I did battle with what weapons I had at hand. The world righted itself again, and I was waiting for the next battle.

A couple of weeks back, I was made the recipient of a reward from the board of my company for a job well done. They were happy with my work on a huge project in which I had a major role, and they rewarded me with a sizable donation to the Cinema 4 Pylon DVD Fund -- namely, they gave me a fairly large gift certificate to Amazon.com. Money, shmoney... nothing says "thank you" to me faster than the open ability to order whatever the hell I want on a site where I have about a hundred DVDs lined up for future purchase. After spending several hours figuring out on which combination of things I wished to blow my admittedly hard-earned prize, I ran into an item that had edged further and further back on my list, mainly due to my reluctance to spend that much cash on a big ticket DVD item. It was an eleven-disc box set from Kino Video called The Art of Buster Keaton, comprising all 11 of his silent features and over 20 of his silent short films.

The sort of friends that are reading this blog to begin with don't need to be reminded of my love for silent comedy, and especially for that of Mr. Keaton. My cat of some twenty years is named after him. Case closed. Part of my reluctance in purchasing it is the fact that I already owned about 90% of this material on VHS, either prerecorded tapes or taken off PBS, AMC and TCM over the years. I had wanted to start collecting Keaton on DVD, but didn't want to go disc by disc, preferring to save money by getting the set. But I had been putting off getting the set for a couple of years, and here was the perfect opportunity. And so I ordered it (along with the big Harold Lloyd set, as well), and because Amazon generally operates in a timely fashion, I didn't have to wait very long to receive.

This past Monday it arrived, and after I retrieved it from our manager's office, I ran back to our apartment. I danced, I did -- I danced about the place, a huge smile beaming from my normally placid face as I cut open the box to remove the Secret Toy Surprise inside. Jen watched me, not really knowing how to react when I act like this, but not remarking on it either, letting me have my moment. The set now sat in my lap as I removed the plastic, noting instantly that the set looked a little worse for wear, like it had sat on a shelf for a while and had gotten jostled here and there. One of the cases was a little chewed up, it seemed, and the box was had taken some slight squishing. But I was ready to forgive all that: I just wanted to open up the disc containing The General and his short masterpiece Cops (the first Keaton that I ever saw at the age of 10 or so), and pop them in the DVD player.

The problem was, there was no disc in that case. No disc. A nearly $200 set, and there is no fucking disc in the case! Forgive me for getting all Penn Jillette here, but WHAT THE FUCK?! I couldn't handle it. I would have yelled and screamed like Cheetah at a chimp orgy, but my energy, due to my initial burst of unrestrained joy, was sapped.
I sat there stunned, and then told Jen what happened. I made plans to get online and contact Amazon, but I put it off for a couple hours, so wiped was I from the letdown. Not my normal way of doing business, but this was an uncommon situation. My joy had been fucked with, and I lost it to the point where I lost my ability to lose it.

I finally contacted Amazon late that evening, and they said they would have someone pick up the damaged goods, and that another set would be sent out straight away, no charge to me either way. At best, I figured that I would see my new set in a week's time. Three days, people. Three tiny little days. So swift was Amazon's response that I scarcely had time to even think about it. Early the next morning, UPS picked up the bad, and 48 hours later, I came home to find a new, complete set of Buster Keaton's greatest waiting for me on our table. Jen didn't even tell me about it when we spoke on the phone that day. I'm guessing she wanted me to have another moment when I got home. And I did -- I danced about again, and sang to some very confused dogs about my joy, and then sat down a while later to rip into that disc that had previously gone missing. I went to bed with visions of The General and Cops freshly played in my head.

And, still, I recognize that I didn't know how to react -- in either situation. When something like this goes wrong for me, I usually yell, but all I could do was moan and pout. And yes, when three days later, a clear resolution was reached in a most satisfactory fashion, even though I danced and sang about the place, I still didn't know how to react to Amazon's timeliness. I suppose I should send a thank you Amazon, but it would likely only go to some phantom department in a major corporation, and I doubt it will reach anyone's eyes or ears. I would go onto their site and actually post a positive reaction, but I am far too lazy to do that, so the best they will probably get it is my sincere thanks here on my own blog. Besides, I am horrible with gratitude. Not that I am ungracious; I am just bad at getting about to thanking someone, or wishing someone well.

But, I am terrific about yelling about something not going right for me.

And that Harold Lloyd set still hasn't arrived. Hmmm...

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