RW244 - Combined Desires

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to John and Ken Jennings together having the desire not to get Ken sick with COVID because he has to record Jeopardy.

Dan sounded a little different to John and Dan is happy about that because it is time for change around this place. He is not sick because he would have to leave the house to get sick. His kids were off for Christmas and he saw them, but they were cooped up, too. Unless it is getting in through the walls, which is what his mom used to think.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Trying to avoid COVID (RW244)

John’s kid is back in school in person and yesterday they got a message that the sister of her best friend has the COVID. Dan’s kids are in school as well and he gets at least two or three of those messages per day. John’s mom gave her a PCR test this morning, everybody feels fine, but it is just marching inches by inches until it gets through the keyhole into John’s little private sanctum here. He is not looking forward to it! There were 3 different times in the last two years where he thought he probably had COVID right now, but not with a high degree of certainty. He never lost his taste or smell, he never had 105 degree fever, he just had vague discomfort in his chest and unexplainable week-long fatigue with aching, which sounds like it.

Dan called his doctor and had a conversation with him about COVID, but most of it was for his mom's behalf because she is a combination of very factual scientific data and complete hysteria, depending on which question you ask her, either up to the minute, the latest that the CDC has come out, or something that is completely fear-based and has no logic whatsoever. Dan is far more evolved now of a person to think that he will ever change anyone, let alone his mom's opinion about anything, but he does like to know what the reality is so when she says something he will be able to know which is a CDC thing versus which is completely fear based that has no grounding in reality.

Dan asked his doctor a bunch of questions, things like: ”How come everyone that I know who currently has COVID also had a booster?”, and most of his answers were: ”We don't know!” He is very up on this, he is studying this stuff regularly, and he answered almost everything with: ”We are not really sure. We don't really know!” Dan knows at least 2-3 people who currently have COVID, the Omicron one, and they were all boosted and everything else. It seems like a surefire thing now that if you go out socially and everyone including you is not masked up and being careful, you are going to get it.

These are people who Dan believes when they say that they were careful because he knows them pretty well. It seems like if you are going to go out, you are going to get it now. If you just go hang out with some friends at lunch, you will come back with COVID, too. It seems like that is the way it is now.

John feels bad because he sees Ken Jennings every week, they spend the whole day together in John’s recording bunker, and Ken has to fly down to record the Jeopardy program sometimes the day after, or certainly within a week, and he is desperately trying not to get COVID, although he and his family also want to go out and do things. They have this combined desire to not have him get sick just because what a disaster that would be. They would have to get Buzzy Cohen out of retirement!

The people that Dan knows that have it are very different physically from one another, both of them double-vaccinated and boosted, but it doesn't sound that bad, it sounds like a crappy cold.

The thing about Ken is that he has to go down there on an airplane and he has to take 25 tests and they are not going to let him record the show if he has got it, no matter how mild it is.

It used to live in your nose mainly, but Omicron is not going into the nasal passages as much and now you have to swab a throat. This second person got it probably from her friends, and her friends all tested negative until the very end when they got another test, and then they were positive at the end. The latest stuff that is coming out now is saying that one of the differences in the Omicron is that it is in your throat mostly, so the instructions that are coming now are saying to not just swab your nose, but swab your throat, and then you will get a positive test from your throat and a negative test from your nose.

John feels fine today, he is getting on with life, he is not going to go breathe on anybody or go to a pizza parlor and cough on people, he is just going to sit in his house, like he has been doing for the last 2.5 years.

John’s ravine being replanted by AmeriCorps (RW244)

John has a lot to look at when sitting in his house because finally the quickening has arrived in the form of the team of 20 AmeriCorps volunteers who are highly trained planters and they are swarming over his ravine after two years of removing invasive species, the first year and nine months just John and then his mom helping and for the last five months the AmeriCorps people. Now all of the invasive species are on the run, they are starting yesterday and today and tomorrow, and they are planting 900 plants in his yard.

There are all these hale and hearty people in their early 20s wearing Helly Hansen fishing rubbers over the top of their dirty Carhartts and they all have some kind of thing on their belt that has probably a knife and a compass and a fishing line, equal boys and girls, a very diverse group gender-wise, you never know especially with the Helly Hansen stuff on. All their fishing gear is green and brown. The ravine is full of people, and sometimes somebody will move from behind a tree and John will think: ”Ah, that is a person and not a bush!”

There are hundreds of little ferns and fir trees and all this stuff going into the ground all around, which is very exciting, although John is also very apprehensive about it because they are down in his area. He knows every inch of this property now and these kids are just like: ”This is where a fern goes!” John doesn’t want to be this guy, but he is definitely going to get down there after they have gone, he knows how to replant plants, he is going to look at what they have done and he is going to go: ”Yeah, I feel like this needs to be there!” He is not going to screw up any of their stuff, he just has a better sense than they could possibly have of what things are.

John and the chief lady Ashley walked around the property many times, and yesterday John said: ”Not here! There! This is a thing! That is a different thing!” and she very definitely appeared to know what John was talking about and understand what he was saying, but then she has to communicate it to these 20 Helly Hansen land fishermen and it is never going to translate all the way, but it is very exciting. It is raining out, so they are all out there living their best lives, 22 years old, covered with mud and soaking wet, planting plants, that is what those people want and John is helping them in a way.

A woman from the city came out because John’s next door neighbor, one of his problematic ones, the one who for 30 years just threw her garbage over the fence… When John first started cleaning up the property he was just pulling bags and bags of garbage. Her son would have a party, they would fill up three garbage bags with red solo cups and beer cans full of cigarette buds and just toss it over the fence. The people who owned John’s house before were in their 80s, it is a big property, they couldn't maintain it, and the back half of it over by her house had become blackberries and overgrown and looked like a crazy, overgrown ravine, but John doesn’t care if it is a lava pit, you don't just toss your trash over the fence in any universe!

They did it for years and you could tell that it wasn't just her kids, it was her. She claims to be a master gardener, but she would plant plants in her backyard and then all the other stuff, the plastic pots and the little tags and the plastic bags she just tossed it over the fence, that is not her teenage kids doing that, and for the last two years John has just been pulling her trash out of the yard and she won't quit, she is still doing it. Not garbage, but yard waste.

Every time she has somebody come work on her property they are just dumping their lawn mower bags or their brush over the line and John is saying something to them every time. For a long time he would say: ”Hey, don't do that. The property line is here!” and they would look at him weird. There is no fence there yet and it is going to be expensive because it is on a weird slope, but John had a guy come out to give an estimate on the fence, but not gotten any reply yet. It will be six months before he could get out to do it.

In John’s survey with the fence guy he came upon a place where there was a brand new drainage pipe on his side of the property line, draining her drains down the slope. There are some old grandfathered ones, but this one was ten days old, it was new since he had been up there last. Part of the project of restoring this ravine is that the city of Normandy Park has declared it a critical wetland. That was a big part of the whole thing! John was down there working and the city got mad when they discovered that he made changes, so the King Conservation District people really saved his bacon with the city because they said: ”Look, we understand critical areas, we will take over from here!”, and they got all the permitting figured out for John.

John’s neighbor is draining God-knows-what down the side of the hill into the critical habitat that John has created. The city of Normandy Park sent their code and compliance woman to take a look at the drainage pipe. She said: ”Oh, this is no good! This is bad! This should not be like this!” and she took a bunch of pictures and she was talking to John: ”It is a long and involved process to come after somebody for a code violation, so nothing is going to happen in the next week, let's just put it like that!” - ”I don't want to go to war with this lady, but she just has made it impossible…” When you meet her and talk to her, she is extremely friendly, she brings you fudge on Christmas, she is a nice lady who wears frosty the snowman earrings in the winter, she runs a daycare, but she is just completely disrespectful. When you say: ”Don't throw your stuff over the fence!” she looks at John like he is telling her not to flush her toilets.

As John was walking back up the hill with the code and compliance woman from the city, she said: ”You are the podcaster, aren't you?” - ”What do you mean?” - ”Well, one of the City Council people here in Normandy Park loves your shows!” - ”Oh, no!” At some point in time John has talked about the City of Normandy Park and the ongoing process of his life here. She said: ”He came into the city offices one day and said: ’You have got to hear this!’ and he played a show that you did where you talked about going down to Normandy Park City Hall and interacting with some folks at City Hall!” - ”Oh!”

John was trying to remember what show it was and what he said. ”Yeah, it was really funny! You were talking about the city manager and how she looked at you with Sheriff's eyes when you were talking about your new property, and you felt like she was right away trying to City Hall you with her Sheriff eyes!” (see RL362) This whole time that John has been living here, trying to negotiate with the people at the city of Normandy Park about all these permits and all the trouble that he is in and all of the great turnaround that happened when he got the county and the Conservation Corps people to come in, and now everybody is friends and everybody is psyched, they gave him a really nice letter at one point saying that by doing this he had gotten the county and the city to cooperate finally and they were all so happy that they knew each other now.

Dan suggests that John should run for the City Council or some kind of office, but the City Council of Normandy Park voted decades ago to make their positions pro-bono. On the Seattle City Council you make $180.000 a year, but the Normandy Park City Council is just something that you do out of the goodness of your heart. Come on! If it was even a modest stipend! The Mayor of Normandy Park, which would be a job John would love to have, is picked by the City Council from their own ranks, so the Mayor an honorary position on top of an honorary position, although it is competitive, you have to run for City Council, there is a vote, but then the Mayor is just the person that os on the City Council that the other people feel like would be the good mayor for right now.

She said: ”The woman that you called Sheriff Eyes, we all thought that was hilarious and we all started calling her Sheriff Eyes and then somebody got a little Gizmo that when you push it, it plays a little 8-bit song and it got the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and every time she comes into the office we would push the little button because she was Sheriff Eyes!” John thought the other shoe was about to drop in this story and she was going to hit him with a non-compliance fine for $50.000, but no, it was just a light-hearted story from her perspective.

John went from feeling like: ”I am just down here living in the suburbs with a bunch of regulars, and I am trying to stay out of trouble and I got a little bit sideways with the city, but now we are all back and friends!” to being like: ”Oh, everybody at City Hall freaking is down there. I am not anonymous!” and John did it to himself because he talks about his life so openly on his podcasts as if he were in his own bubble.

John’s girlfriend from the debate team in Anchorage (RW244)

The other day John was thinking about the girl that he had a relationship with right outside of High School (Her name is Debbie, see RL156). She went to a different high school, she was a beautiful person that he knew from the debate team because she went to Service High, and John went to East, and she was a much better debater than he was while he was a clown. She was really put together! She went to Notre Dame and became a lawyer and she was really together. One time they ran into each other, John was with a friend, she was with a friend, their two friends knew each other, Downtown in Anchorage in the middle of the summer, and the two friends were like: ”Oh hey!” and started talking and then she and John were standing there: ”Do we know each other? Oh, from debate!” and they started talking.

She was beautiful and so elegant and at that time John was neither beautiful nor elegant. For some reason she clearly was interested in him and they went on a date to see the movie Born on the 4th July and then they were in a relationship. John was so over his head because she seemed like somebody that was going to be President of the United States. She is half Korean, she had a way, a gravity, but she was light! She invited John to a party at her house during summer in Anchorage.

He went to this party and lo and behold there were a bunch of people at this party he knew, some of them from his High School, but they were not his friends. She was friends with people from his High School who were the rich and beautiful people that were Soshes, not Conserves, they were fancy people. One of them, Peter Bland, was a kid John had known when he was a little kid, they were friends when they were 3 years old. Peter is such a handsome guy, so handsome, so charming, somebody that the bullets just bounced off of for the rest of his life. Last John heard he was working for the Utah Jazz as some front office person, who even knows what that life is? John always liked him and his brother Wiley, he liked him a lot, but they were not in the same world.

John was at this party at Debbie's house and there was Peter Bland, he looks at John walk in the front door, and it is clear that Debbie has said to her friends: ”I have a new boyfriend and he is coming to the party!” John had long hair then it and he looked like a dirty pile of clothes. As he walked in the door Peter looked at him and his face fell like a look of horror. He actually said: ”No!”, but not in a funny way. He was appalled. If he hadn't been standing there, he wanted to take her and go: ”No, Debbie, you don't know! You don't understand! Not him, not him! Whatever you do, anybody but him!”

At East High there was a clear line between rich, sociable people that one day will go work for the Utah Jazz, and the smart wooly sweater crowd that was going to go to Johns Hopkins, but at Service High where Debbie went to school there wasn't. There were some rich people that were going to go work in professional sports, and Debbie was going to go to Notre Dame, and they were friends with each other. Somehow you move the slider one way or the other.

John was at this party, he was so fish out of water, and he was just embarrassed! ”What am I doing here? Why does this girl like me? Why am I at this party with people that don't want me here, and yet this girl does want me here, and I want to be with her, but I don't know how!” and he went out into the parking lot and smoked some heavy pot, that dank heavy trippy paranoid mind-fucked pot. As he came back into the party he was tripping balls, he was paranoid, everybody was looking at him, he would have a cigarette, put the cigarette up to his lips, and think: ”When you put a cigarette up to your lips, do you keep the hand there or do you put the hand down? I forget! Do you leave the cigarette in your mouth and put your hands down at your side and then take a drag and then put your hand back up, or do you keep the hand there while you are taking a drag? I don't remember how to smoke a cigarette!”

As soon as you are that baked and you start wondering where to put your hands you are screwed! You don't know where to put your hands, you are thinking about your hands, you look down at them and your hands are like two balloons, you don't know what is going on! John was walking around this party, not sure whether his hands were connected to his body, and that is not the right way to be chill! He was being chill, leaning on the Banister, but the Banister is unscrewed or it is not even a Banister, just somebody's wrapping paper tube that they balanced on a lamp and it all falls. It was not good!

Debbie came over at some point and said: ”Let's get out of here!” - ”Let's get out of here, yeah!” She wanted to get out of her own party, and they went together out into the woods behind her house. There was some raging party, and she wanted to be in the woods with him. As John was standing there looking at her, he was so tripping about: ”I don't belong here, I don't know what to do with my hands, and I am not sure, are we out here in the woods because we are going to have sex in the woods?”

John didn’t know enough about sex at this point to know how to do it even in a bed really. Much later on in life you can manage to have sex wherever the opportunity arises, but at this point in his life he would rather be in a bed, and he was not even sure if that was what they were doing there. ”Are we just standing in the woods making out? Do you have something to tell me?” There was some element where she was: ”I have something to tell you!”, but it wasn't clear. Was she going to break up with him? But then she would not take him out into the woods.

They went back into the house, they were lying together on the couch in her father's office or den or library, it was a big house out in the sticks, somebody comes in and sees them in there and makes another gagging sound or something: ”Oh my God! I can't believe you are with that guy!” and then John started drinking and that doesn’t mean it gets bad, but it gets wild.

At the end of the summer she was going back to Fort Wayne, Indiana, Notre Dame, and John was going to hitchhike across America and he was going to go there as one of his ways stations. He was still in freight hopping mode, he was jumping trains, it was his Hobo days, and he was in the Midwest, leapfrogging from thing to thing, and he had a friend in Ithaca who had a job for him: The Cornell Reunion Association needs bartenders because it is reunion season (see OM117). John was somewhere on a trajectory to Western New York within 300 miles of Northern Indiana, and he just kept going, he didn't go visit Debbie in Indiana without a good reason. Going to Cornell to get a job as a bartender was not a good reason.

John didn't go because he felt unworthy and it was only a matter of time and he was going to get to Notre Dame and every girl there was wearing a plaid wool skirt, a Navy blue crewneck sweater, and a short string of pearls, and they all had their hair super-duper done, and John was going to roll in with his scraggly ass, smelling like Creosote. When you look back at it clearly she was slumming, but maybe it was a side of her that she didn't get to express otherwise, and almost certainly their conversations were something that brought stuff to her. She wasn't slumming like found somebody asleep under a bridge, it was not that outrageous, but to John it felt completely outrageous and if he was going to show up at our campus he was going to look like a total dork.

They were corresponding by letter, he wrote her a letter and dropped it in the mailbox in Lexington, Kentucky, or something, saying: ”I am going to Ithaca! I will come back through on my way back. I will see you soon! I just had to see a man about a horse!” and after Ithaca John ended up in Washington DC and he never went back and he never saw her again. After that he didn't go back to Anchorage for a while, she probably was still going back at summers, but they weren't members of the same crew and John didn’t know how to… He knew her address, but for whatever reason they didn't see each other ever again.

She is one of the people that John thinks about as not as somebody that got away, but as one of those things where you look back and go: ”I have lived a nonlinear life. I can't look back at my life and say: Well, I dated this girl for a year and then we broke up and then I dated this girl for a year and then we broke up, and then I married the third girl.” A lot of things could have happened if he had just been a little bit more on his feet. Who knows?

John is old enough that a lot of people his age are not on the Internet even now. The difference in age between Dan and John is the difference between 50% of your friends being on the Internet and 15%. Probably half the people in Dan’s graduating class are at least on Facebook, and for John it is miraculous for how many people you can put in their pretty detailed information and get back null, nothing, no reference whatsoever. John is sure she got married and has a married name, but John is pretty good at searching the Internet and the trail is dead, except for one thing:

John’s friend Sheffer, who went to West High, his sister Mollyn knew Debbie, they were friends. Mollyn and John wouldn't have been friends in High School, they would have known each other, she was totally wearing crew neck sweaters and a string of pearls, she was a ski racer, but she would have looked down her nose at him socially. Sheffer didn't because Sheffer was a world-class fuck-up, and he and John were friends since they were little kids because he was a world-class fuck-up and John was a second-class fuck-up.

A couple of years ago, Sheffer listens to this show and he said: ”Oh, yeah. I was talking to Mollyn the other day and she said that she always had a crush on you in High School!” - ”Really? That is sweet!” Mollyn was a little younger, and she absolutely gave no sign of it because she was the younger sister of his fuck up friend and every time he would come over, she would be like: ”Hello, John Roderick!”, that kind of thing, which he still gets from most people. If John had asked Mollyn to go to the dance she would have barfed in her Penny loafers.

Somewhere along the line Mollyn started listening to this podcast, and John told a story somewhere, God knows where, about Mollyn’s mom and dad, because they got into a banking kerfuffle in the late 1980s in Alaska, and it was in the newspapers and it involved John’s uncle and his dad and Karen Corn's parents. It was a big scandal. John told the story of it somewhere, but he has never listened to any of their shows and who knows what he is talking about?

The other night John is laying around, before the woman from Normandy Park told him that everybody at City Hall now listens to the shows and is finding out what his neighborhood problems are, and giving each other cute nicknames, he was sitting in his room and thought: ”I have not had very good luck reaching out to girls I knew in the past and saying: Hey, I haven't talked to you in 30 years, but I was thinking about you, and I just wanted to say Hi!” He has done it a few times and almost always the response is: ”I am happily married!” The question of: ”This guy from the past is looking me up 30 years later, and what does he want?” is like a trope. ”What does he want? Well, he got divorced or his wife is dead, and he is going through his memories trying to think of all the pretty girls that he might get married to so he doesn't die alone!”

It is hard for John to explain: ”No, I am just an extremely melancholy-sentimental type and I am always thinking back and replaying episodes and thinking: Oh, God!” It is not a ”What if…?”, so much as a: ”God, I wish it all made sense! I wish all the stories tied up somehow!” and Debbie is one of those people that not a week has gone by since 1986 where he hasn’t at least briefly thought, and it is all part of the song that he sings to himself that goes: ”You are a dumbass! You have always been a dumbass! Fucking it up again and again! Dumbass, Dumbass, Dumbass!” It is a refrain.

He is thinking: ”Oh, Debbie! That was so bungled!” and now, later on in life, he realized there was an easier path for me, there was an easier way, or maybe there wasn't, maybe this is the path, and God had his little pill box where he was putting one pill in every day and as he went by the box that was John he either left a pill out or he put a pill in. Maybe this is the only way! But that vision of: ”Debbie! If only I had been a little less self-recriminatory then, maybe I wouldn't be so self-recriminatory now!”

John doesn’t go on Facebook anymore, he hasn’t for a year, but every once in a while somebody will send him a link to a news story, and as he clicks on the news story it takes him to Facebook because that is where they got the news and he didn't look at the link and all of a sudden he is on Facebook, sitting there at his Facebook page. Every once in a while he goes on there and posts a link to something on his Patreon, but otherwise he is not there. He ended up there and over the little icon that says Messages he got dozens of messages from people who are like: ”Hey man! Hey buddy!”

John read this news story and he decided to read the messages because he was far enough away from it that a half a dozen of them are going to be like: ”Why don't you feed your kid, beandad?” ”I know. It is fine!” There was a message from Sheffer and Sheffer is living in San Francisco and for a while he was working at a bike repair shop. He has continued to arc through the cosmos like a flaming star, he is really one of a kind. They have talked over the years back and forth.

Mollyn listening to the show and being mad at him (RW244)

John was thinking about Debbie and he wrote to Sheffer on Facebook if he could ask Mollyn if she can put him in touch with Debbie. He has never asked this before, he has never asked Molly for anything, he hasn’t asked Sheffer for anything, frankly, because one time many years ago they were on LSD and Jägermeister together and John got jumped by a bunch of guys and got beat up and Sheffer high-tailed it (see RL328, RL50, the story about John gotten beaten with axe handles) and John has always been mad at him about it ever since, that was more than 30 years ago and he is still mad at him about it.

Sheffer writes back and said: ”Mollyn is mad at you!” John was operating on the assumption that Mollyn had a crush on him and that everything was right in the world. Sheffer says: ”Well, apparently you talked about my dad on a show and Mollyn heard it!” - ”God damn it, what are you talking about? A show you are not even listening to anymore, but Mollyn who lives in Connecticut is listening and heard a show where I talked about her dad?” What are the chances?

But the chances are 100%. If the people in Normandy Park City Hall are listening? ”Hello everyone! Hello Sheriff Eyes! Hello Mollyn!” For the last ten years John has been podcasting as though he is in some kind of bubble, in some kind of alternate reality, even during Beandad when those trolls were scouring Twitter, they had a list of 40 keywords that they were using to scour everything he had ever said. No-one ever came over to the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of podcasting he has done and pulled really anything.

There was a brief moment in 2014 where John said something on Roderick on the Line about equal pay for equal work that didn't sit well with some people and it was early days of people forwarding it to people he didn't know who were like: ”How dare he!”, listening to a two minute excerpt of a podcast and saying: ”He has no idea!” (see RL65 for the original story and RL165 when John mentioned it again), but other than that no-one has ever gone through the podcast and hit him with the 500 things he has said that don't square with the current world, let alone what Merlin has said. Who knows!

Even Jesse Thorn and his Max Fun World of Righteousness. If you go back and listen to every episode of their Sound of Young America and all those shows? Bullseye? Those guys said every kind of terrible thing and maybe one day that will come home to roost for them, too. It always does.

John talks about everybody, he uses their real names, he tells stories from his life, and not everything is flattering, and now Mollyn is mad, he is trying to get Debbie's contact information so that he can awkwardly write her and say: ”Hey, I haven't talked to you since 1986, but I am thinking about you every week for the last 40 years and wanted to say Hi and see how it is going!” and then get a reply from her that is like: ”Yeah, I have been happily married this whole time. My husband is sitting here with me while I write!”, or whatever. What she is going to say is: ”I had three kids. They are all in their 30s!” Who knows! Maybe she will write and say: ”I have been thinking about you every week for the last 35 years, too! Maybe we should meet at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City!”

It turns out that Mollyn and Shepherd's dad is super-sick. He is in a wheelchair, so John’s light-hearted story about how they were investigated by the FBI in the 1980s apparently really is still a very sore topic with them and it really hurt them and John felt terrible. He didn't mean to hurt you, guys! He just talks about stuff as though he and his life are a puppet show that he has been watching. His life is like a Mummenschanz performance on the Muppet Show and he is Statler and Waldorf!


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