Eats, Learns and Scratches
Last Wednesday I attended Discover DoubleClick, a day-long orgy of corporate catering and team-building exercises, occasionally interrupted with bursts of useful information: lots of detail on all the training opportunities available to us (my boss later declared, “What’s cool about all that stuff here is that it’s actually real,” which is different from, say, STV, where we had a tuition reimbursement program we weren’t allowed to use), an overview of the business, a history of DoubleClick that included a reference to Mahir (the discovery of viral marketing on the web) and described 2002 simply as “Grown men cry.”
But so the food. We arrived to find breakfast burritos in steam trays, and on our tables were piles of mini-candies. Then, at a mere 11:45, we headed downstairs to the Google cafeteria for the monthly DoubleClick lunch they’ve been letting us have (at which we do not mix with the Google people). The cafeteria lived up to its reputation. It is not the best food I’ve ever had, but it is by far the best free institutional food I’ve ever had. There was seared tuna and marinated steak and fried chicken and tacos, not to mention a raw bar, a vegan bar and chipotle chocolate mousse. Then it was back to more Discovering DoubleClick, with the soft pretzels and the cookie trays arriving by 3.
DoubleClick is interested in enhancing not just our skills, but our skillz: after work, we Discoverers were taken out to Scratch DJ Academy, founded by Jam Master Jay, for a one-hour lesson in scratching, which was seriously fun. I now know the baby scratch and the scribble. I asked the head of my department about using the tuition reimbursement for more DJ lessons, but I accept her judgment that perhaps DJing is not entirely applicable to my job as technical writer.
I am not, it must be admitted, a wrestling aficionado, Mexican or otherwise. But when my friend Leah invited me to her Lucha Libre-themed birthday, I felt this was an occasion not to be missed. And when, after dinner with a friend earlier in the evening, I found myself trying on an absurdly apropos (and reasonably priced) hat/mask at Search & Destroy on St. Mark’s, it seemed fate was on the side of my inner luchador.
What I didn’t realize was just how serious Leah was about the wrestling. In her tiny apartment near Union Square, she and her friends got into some pretty serious pitched battles (tons of pics here). I didn’t join in, but pledged to dress more appropriately for battle next time. (And yes, that is a unicorn behind me in that picture.)
It may not surprise you to learn that a number of these people are Burners, or that I ran into one of them the following night when I went to see a friend perform at the España-Streb Trapeze Academy in Williamsburg.
The performance — an impressive show of aerobatic skill set to a campy nautical theme — was quite impressive, but it gave me the familiar heebee-jeebees I get around the hippie sports (for lack of a better term). I have a hard time putting my finger on what freaks me out about it, but it seems to pull together a number of threads of childhood alienation: my own physical awkwardness, the sense that hippies should but don’t embrace me, the feeling that I’m in a subculture that devalues my own particular gifts (verbal acuity, encyclopedic knowledge, trivia, intellectual rigor), the fear that I am going to be chastised over some poorly thought out moral stance I dare to disagree with (“Really? You use anti-bacterial soap?”).
I’m glad I stuck around and sat with those fears instead of letting them ruin my night. After the show, my friend invited me out with a number of the performers to a vast German beer hall (I hoisted my stein of die seltzer vasser), and they were really cool people. I had a lovely chat with one woman who is not just an acrobat, but also an opera singer and a former ESL teacher.
Then I took a cab home, which is something I can now actually afford. That too was exciting.
So life is good right now, and I’m doing my best to enjoy what’s good in it.