Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Gnarly Day: Part One

So as the title implies, this is gonna be a two-parter, the second part will be posted on Friday.

 It's hard to talk about this day, because it was one of the single weirdest days of my life. But I'm going to do it because some day one of these things may happen to one of you, and in that event, I want you to be prepared. Enjoy!


Alright, where to begin... I guess we should start at the beginning, in the morning, when I walk out of my apartment and retrieve the mail. Usually I never get anything except bills and junk mail, but on this particular day I find a big envelope addressed to me. The heading on the envelope tells me that it's from the law offices of someone and someone else.

Now, if a normal person were to receive such a letter, I imagine they would respond with apprehension. But not me. I respond with great excitement, because my brain is wired in such a way that every time I get a call from an unknown number, or an email from an unknown sender, or a package from an unknown lawyer, I honestly believe that this is the thing that is going to change my life for the better. Not once in my twenty seven years has this ever happened. But that has not stopped me from believing that it will happen the next time.

So I tear open this package with bated breath, thinking to myself that this must be either a large sum of inheritance from a great uncle or aunt (despite the fact that, as far as I know, I haven't had either in awhile), or maybe something even better, something that mysterious lawyers give to well-deserving people.

My hand plunges down into the envelope and I pull out the stapled sheets of paper and eagerly start to read.

As I read, my eagerness turns into confusion, and then my confusion turns into fear, and then my fear turns into terror, and that's when I decide to hightail it back to my apartment and find my roommate Cormac, so he can help make sense of this thing in my hand. He's a smart guy, I say to myself, he'll know about these kinds of things.

Seconds later, I'm a little out of breath and knocking on his door. I can hear him mutter to himself as he stumbles towards his door. As soon as the door opens I hand him the letter and ask him to read it.  He gives me a grumpy look as if to say that he's in no mood deal with this nonsense. But he takes the letter anyways and begins to read.

I watch his face drop as he reads the letter.

 "This can't be real." He says, more to himself than to me, as he sits down at his bed and grabs his laptop.

"I know right?! There's no way this is real."

I guess I won't keep you in suspense any longer. This is the basic gist of the letter that was freaking us both out (minus all the legal jargon, of course):

   { Dear Mr. Walker,
 several weeks ago we subpoenaed your internet provider and obtained proof that you illegally downloaded the video "A Night in Paris" starring Paris Hilton. The company we represent owns this video; therefore, we are going to sue you. If you try to fight us in court, you could pay up to 150,000 dollars. However, if you settle now for the sum of 1500 dollars, we will consider the matter closed. We suggest you find legal representation as soon as possible. We cannot represent you.}

For those who don' t know, 'A Night in Paris' is the rather witty title of the Paris Hilton sex tape.  Suffice to say, this was easily the most bizarre letter I have ever received in my life.

And I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that clearly this is some kind of scam. But let me point out two things. One, not that I'm an expert at this kind of thing, but the document looked legit, it had a bunch of back pages filled with lawyer mumbo jumbo; and two, a couple of weeks prior to this I had received a letter from my internet provider informing me that they were being subpoenaed and that I had to respond to their letter if I didn't want to be included. At the time I didn't really know what the hell they were talking about and I was far too lazy to go through the anguish of mailing a letter, so I went to my standard go-to plan for these kinds of things, and ignored it. 

But apparently, my go-to plan wasn't good enough to keep trouble away, because now people were asking me for 1500 hundred dollars for my supposed night in Paris. 

"Did you download the Paris Hilton's porno?" Cormac asks.

"Hell no!" I say, which is the truth. Why the hell would anyone download porn in this day and age? I mean don't get me wrong, I'm no saint, but there are a lot better options now than downloading some filth into your computer that is probably riddled with nasty viruses. Further more, of all the smut out there,  I can't think of one that is less appealing than the one starring scrawny, unattractive Paris Hilton. OK, I actually can think of a lot of smut that is less appealing, but that's neither here nor there. The point is that I have never watched or downloaded this trash and I wasn't about to pay the 1500 dollars that I didn't have.

"Well," Cormac says carefully. "It says that the video was downloaded from your wireless account, so that means anyone who has access to your internet could have done this."

"But that's only you and Alex [the other roommate]."

"No, it's only me and Logan [a former roommate], look at the date of the infraction. That was back when Logan was living here."

I check out the date on the paper, Cormac is right.

"Did you download the video?" I ask him.

"No." Is all he says. I study his face as he says it, trying to judge if this is the kind of face that would want to see Paris Hilton naked. I decide that it's not.

"Well, I guess I'll call Logan and see if he downloaded it." I say, even though I know the chances of him saying "Why of course I downloaded the video, Randy. Let me just write you a check for 1500 dollars!" were slim to none.  But I don't really know what else to do at the moment. As I start to call Logan,  Cormac tells me he's going to check online to find out any information that he can. I pray he finds out that this is an obvious hoax that is no cause for alarm.

 "Hey Randy, what's up?" I hear the distinct voice that belongs to my former roommate Logan and I switch into interrogator mode:

"Logan, how are you doing today?...Good. I am calling because I was just wondering, for no reason at all, if you may have downloaded that Paris Hilton sex tape while you were living with us."

"Paris Hilton sex tape?" He says after some pause. "No, I definitely did not download that."

"Are you sure?" I ask gently. "maybe you did and you forgot."

"No Randy, I would not have forgotten such a thing. I assure you, I definitely did not download that video. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, no reason. Hope all is well with you, I gotta go." I hang up on Logan before he has a chance to say goodbye. A bit rude on my part, but I'm a man who needs answers, dammit, and clearly he has none to give me.

"Logan says he didn't download the video." I tell Cormac.

"Yeah, well, he probably would have said that either way." He answers without looking up from his computer.

"Yeah..." I respond dejectedly.

"OK, so I have some news." Cormac says as continues to stares at his screen. "I googled the lawyer's name that was on the letter and it looks like he is a legit lawyer."

"Great." I remark miserably.

"Not only that, but it looks like he has a twitter account. And guess what his twitter handle is?"

"What?" I ask, even though at this time I could not care less. 

"Porn Law." Cormac answers with smirk on his face.

"You're kidding me." I respond in disbelief as I rush over to his computer.

But he's not kidding. Apparently the lawyer who's suing me works exclusively for porno companies and he is so proud of this fact that he goes by the name Porn Law on Twitter. Cormac and I spend the next ten minutes reading the thoughts and feelings of Mr. Porn Law. Apparently, most of his thoughts and feelings are about how awesome it is to work with porn stars all day, how awesome it is to date porn stars, and how awesome it is to drive a really nice car.

"This smug sonnovabitch." I say after tearing myself away from the leech's twitter feed. "He has pornstar girlfriends, a nice car, and he still wants my 1500 dollars?!" Cormac can tell I'm getting really heated so he tries to calm down.

"Look man, this probably isn't a big deal. We don't know anything about the law, I'm sure this is some kind of scam. We just need to get in touch with a lawyer and get some consultation."

An hour later, we find a lawyer who is willing to give us free consultation. We fax him over the documents and wait to here back from him.  As we wait, Cormac and I try to discuss our plans for scripts and comedy sketches, but it's clear that all either of us can think of is the thought of me being taken to court and being forced to pay 150,000 dollars. Suddenly an image pops into my mind, an image of me in court putting a 150,000 one dollar bills into Paris Hilton's thong as she dances and laughs in my face. I feel myself start to seethe as I picture this image.

Is she behind this, I wonder? Is Paris Hilton the one who is making this happen? I always thought she was a terrible person and a horrible influence on young girls, and I told this to numerous people. Had it gotten back to her? Was this her way of exacting revenge, by taking what little money I had? Did I stand a chance against the combined forces of the Hilton Empire and Mr. Porn Law?

 I don't have any answers to these questions, but there's a rage inside me that was growing by the minute.

Then the lawyer calls. He tells me that after going over the legal document, it appears that Mr. Porn Law actually has a case, and that we should begin taking the next appropriate steps as soon as possible. This, of course, means I have to hire him; which I'm not at all excited about doing. I try to think of exactly how much I have in my bank account, but I'm not sure. Maybe I just don't want to remember. I

I tell the lawyer I need to think about it and that I'll call him back later in the day.

I tell Cormac what the lawyer said, and he doesn't respond for awhile.

"This sucks." He finally mutters. I grunt in agreement, and then we sit in silence.

"What do we do now?" I finally say.

"I don't know man, you wanna go to the park?"

"The park?"

"Yeah, man. It's a beautiful day out, let's forget our troubles and just enjoy the sun and the grass."

I can't help but laugh at this, as it seems that after all the shit we have just been through, we are have come back to my original go-to plan that got me in trouble in the first place. But I have to admit, ignoring this sounds like the way to go right now.  

"Yeah man, fuck it, let's go to the park."


And that's where we stop today. But don't worry, there is still a lot more to happen on this day, and the best part has yet to come. I hope you enjoyed part one of A Gnarly Day, and I hope to see you back here on Friday.

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