Human Furniture

January 7, 2010

posted and written by Caroline Picard

I read this last night as part of a fantastic reading series called The Rec Room–first Wednesday of every month. This one in particular was curated by Jac Jemc.

Human Furniture

In the aftermath of his film, Bruno found it (almost) impossible to get a job.

(I’d suggest making a comparison with American Apparel starlets who, submitting to the photographic gaze of the boss who, naked himself, takes such girls aside (they believe in him because he boasts moral credibility—his clothes are made in America—he sells cotton t-shirts for fifty dollars and is kind enough to venture into such dying cities as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Palo Alto—in which culture is amiss to the youth and the cotton haberdashery arrives, an oasis in the drought, saying SHOPLIFT ME PLEASE I am the grand POOHBA, your hip deliverance, come little girl, (early 20’s, like Bruno, waiting to be discovered, already dressed in the company uniform, flat simulacra cotton tye-me ups affecting the girl next door who happens to be sitting on the dryer that’s going, or watering plants (the hose a snake) or bending over to pick a dandelion without bending her legs—her sex ingénue, naive, devious in its marketability….) they smile at him, he smells like the city, he wants to legalize marijuana he offers some. Promises, the rest of America looking at you through his eyes, (he arrived in a pink Cadillac) FAME. Legitimacy. If the public sees you it is as if you have seen yourself in the mirror. You are America, he says. Let yourself see yourself. I’ll pay you. You’ll get rich. It feels good to be seen. He says your’re liberated. He is wearing a Hercules belt. He wears eyeliner and a trucker hat. He swats a young man on the ass behind the company counter, “Bend over that way,” the boss says eyeing his employee’s short shorts, “I’ve got my camera. Come in the back. Let’s make your ponytail like a rope and will you touch my….”

What then was Bruno left with? Not a job, certainly. Rather, Bruno met an old woman on craigslist. She needed a roommate. He moved in with her, (she was in her 80’s). She made him soup for dinner and bread for breakfast. He found a job at IKEA (finally). Thereafter woke up each day, ate Captain Crunch (because to understand America is eat a daily course of sugar, he’d decided. He didn’t like her bread). He took the bus to 1800 McConnor Parkway. He listened to Neil Diamond and German hiphop. When he was sad he listened to Sybil Baier. He stowed his things in a locker. He cried at the first break every day because he felt sure his soul only wanted to dance. He cried very quietly. When working, he stood behind a computer consol in the middle of a room full of domestic and purchasable sets; eating meatballs and anchovies (on the side) for lunch, he tried to understand his coworkers’ sense of humor—they did not get his. Sometimes someone asked him if he’d been in that movie.

In the end he (Bruno) gave up on trying to like people or be liked. He avoided questions, avoided work, researching instead the etymology of product names (BLAXMO, TICTAK, FJORDING, KELIG, JAKT, SEMVIK, LYSVIK, RILL, ULLUURT, PYSSLA). He started thinking about a new film. It would be the dramatic sequel to the old Bruno; in this, shot very boring, very pretty with soft, rich colors, shot on film—put out by Focus Features—very silent, as Bruno goes about his day to day a miscreant among peers, an outsider in the flat box furniture world. Aside from carrying a Swedish dictionary (with which he hopes to transcribe and translate the meaning of his surroundings).
The climax takes place when Bruno talks to Bill Murray in the very end.
Bruno spends each day imagining the conversation he’d have with Bill Murray.