This week, Jake goes out with actor, comedian, and writer Jimmy Fowlie. The two discuss the concept of “best friends,” the dynamics of dating in AA, and the politics of who gets the booth side at restaurants. Tune in for more.
Or Check Out the Conversation Here
Jake Cornell: Just figuring out the logistics is ridiculous.
Jimmy Fowlie: I know this is such an annoying thing for an actor to say, especially because you’re like whatever. But things that are any sort of logistical information, I feel like my brain just turns off and I’m like, “Am I dumb?” Because people would be like, “Write a paragraph about your project” and I’m like, “Ugh, I can’t put it into words. You just have to watch me.”
JC: We have to do that. Literally every week we get sent a new interview that’s like, “Hey, here’s 10 questions about your project.” And it’s the same 10 questions over and over, just worded slightly differently. And they’re like, “Please don’t copy and paste from previous interviews and also write 600 words.” And I’m like, “I’m losing my mind. I’m losing my full mind.”
JF: That’s insane.
JF: Yeah. Chris would say, my boss for the other two, he would be saying how if you applied for any of these GLAAD Media Awards or any sort of awards show that’s based on LGBT people, they’d be like, “Explain why your show is important to the community.” So you’ve already created seasons of a show and a story and a character and now you’re putting down in this huge essay why it’s important. It’s just so weird.
JC: It’s also when they’re like describe the audience’s thoughts on the show. That’s the audience’s job. It’s like, “Why is my show important?” That’s not for me to decide. I made it, you guys tell me why it’s important.
JF: Yeah. That’s so good. Yeah. Describe the audience reaction. That’s a question that you need to take directly to them.
JC: That’s sort of between you and them and not me at all.
JF: In fact, any sort of thing about your take on the audience reaction would be skewed anyways, so.
JC: It would. So on the show, basically we talk about whatever we want, but it mostly skews. We try to focus, but I sometimes fail at focusing on going out, so food, restaurants, our history with parties, going out, anything of that and-
JF: Okay, cool.
JC: But we can kind of talk about whatever. But I guess my first question, so you were just in New York, you’re back in L.A. We’ve hung out once and it was honestly a really lovely time and we went to my-
JF: It was great.
JC: We went to Walter’s, one of my favorites.
JF: And also, should we tell the context where it was like we both, this is probably going to sound gross, but maybe not.
JC: No, I don’t think it will.
JF: We both followed each other and I DMed Jake was like, “This is so weird to say, I think you’re hilarious. I would love to grab a coffee or dinner with you and I promise I want nothing from you and I promise I won’t ever ask you to be on a podcast or anything like that.”
JC: And then I said, “Yes, and I will ask you to be on my podcast.”
JF: And here we are.
JC: And here we are. No, but you sent the DM that I often want to send or want someone where it’s like, it’s just like, “Hey, I think we would get along if we hung out in real life. Let’s not wait for that to happen organically and just do it.” You know what I mean? And it was very nice. We had a great dinner.
JF: Yeah. And there’s also the opposite where you see someone or you hear, “Oh, we should totally hang out,” and it’s never going to happen. Or it’s not that maybe you don’t want to, but it’s the actual, it’s more of a lip service. Like, “Oh, we should totally hang out.” And it’s not like, let’s actually do it. And that to me has become my hell where you don’t really mean it. And then this plan is in the background that you’re always trying to do. And I’ve started to say to people, “We either hang out the next time or I never want to talk to you again.”
JC: I really respect that because I haven’t actually thought about this, but you’re right. I do have a handful of people who now, when I see them out, it’s awkward because for the past six years, every time we’ve seen each other, we’ve been like, we should get drinks. And it’s like we have to acknowledge now that that conversation has happened for six years and has never led to anything.
JF: Yeah. But I think part of it is you do genuinely like the person, so when you say it, it is like, “Oh I really like you, I really enjoy spending time with you.” And I feel like the truth is that what you could also say is like it’s just so nice to see you. It’s just great. And let it live and die there. I’m saying this to myself because I also, I’m actually the king of that. That was my thing. People told me in college, they were like, “Stop saying we should hang out. You don’t actually mean it.”
JC: You don’t mean it. Do you feel like you’re someone — because I would guess this about you — are you someone who has more friends than you can handle a little bit? Because I feel like you’re just so nice to everyone. I feel like you’re one of the nicest people I’ve met.
JF: Oh, I love that. That’s such, I love hearing that that’s how I’ve tricked people. No. You know what, it’s funny because actually I always felt like I had a ton of great friends, but when the pandemic happened, I feel like a lot of my closer friends didn’t want to be in a pod. They didn’t want to see each other, socially distanced. They were very on the safe side. And my boyfriend Josh, he has five core friends, a small group, but they’re super tight. So for basically two years we would hang out with his friends and I was like, this is actually it. To have a smaller group and you’re really close and no shade to my friends who are probably listening to this going like, basically fully dismissing. But I think that-
JC: They’re like, “What the f*ck?”
JF: Oh my god, I would love to see my friends’ faces listening to this. No, I have amazing friends who I love. Some friends are family, but I think I had a lot of medium-size friends.
JC: No, totally.
JF: And like, what about you? Who are your best friends? If I’m like, who is your best friend?
JC: So my friend David, I’ve known since I was 12 and he still lives in New York. We’ve lived together in the past. So he’s my best friend for sure, and he has his own tier because when I talk to him about my family stuff, he was there when I was a child. You know what I mean? So there’s a level and vice versa. There’s a level of understanding and closeness that won’t, I think, ever be matched just because of the time. But then our friend, our best friend Holly, who I’ve known at this point now since I was 17, she’s almost just as close, minus the fact that she wasn’t really there for my high school, middle school experience, which David was. So I’d say the three of us, those are my closest friends and they’re also, neither of them are comedians. So it does feel like I kind of get to step out of this social professional world that has this really, as you know, this really blurred line of working and socializing, á la what you were saying about having to caveat an invite to dinner being like, “This is to be friends, not a work dinner.” Do you know what I mean?
JC: I never have to do that with them. That feels like I’m very much stepping into my normal life. And then I have, I’d say a tier below that is then I have a handful of friends who are very, very close. And then I have a lot of people I care about that I don’t see all that often. I guess I do have a lot of friends, but it’s like I don’t have anyone that I hang out with, because I have a lot of friends, I will say earnestly, I don’t have anyone at this point that I hang out with because I feel obligated to, but don’t actually want to. Those people had to kind of fall off the list at some point because there’s just not enough time.
JF: Yeah. Isn’t there a study that says you can only really have, this is going to be such a worthless point.
JC: No, but I know what you’re talking about.
JF: Where you can really only have six friends or something. Oh no, it’s probably 20. I’m like, you can only have 400 really close friends.
JC: No, but I think it is true after some point. And I feel like over the years I have a couple people who they always are introducing me to a different best friend and I’m like, “This is a red flag.”
JF: Oh God.
JC: Actually, this is a huge red flag for you that you have. You might think it’s a good thing that you have 25 best friends. To me, it’s actually a huge red flag.
JF: Yeah. I’m in AA and there was a friendship that I had that was so fast and intense and it ended in the flame. But it was funny because I kind of had, I’m like you where a lot of my friends go deep.
JC: Yeah, Yeah. Yeah.
JF: It’s like 17. My best friend Matt, we met each other when we were 14 and we’ve been friends ever since.
JC: So you get it. Yeah.
JF: Yeah. But we met each other. We just got along so well. There was probably a little bit of codependency, which I don’t hate a little bit of codependency, but we were a lot. And yeah, he was introducing people as his best friend. I liked it because I was like, “Oh, that feels very comforting to know, I don’t know to have that intense label.” But I was also like, “We don’t know each other super well.”
JC: What do you mean people other than your best friend?
JF: Yeah. He would introduce me to his friends. “This is my best friend.”
JC: Oh, yeah.
JF: And then we were getting ready for, my birthday was coming up and he was like, I don’t know what it was. He was like, just his vibe was like, he hadn’t even met my group of friends.
JF: And he was just like, my friends were hearing about him. They’re like, “Who is this person?”
JC: Oh, okay.
JF: I was like oh, he’s my friend. It was just very much like, by the way, this is a conversation that a seventh-grade girl is having at this moment. It is not an evolved dynamic.
JC: In a weird way.
JF: It’s so basic.
JC: No, but in a weird way.
JF: I’m like, “Okay, so my best friends. I met this person. They’re seriously my new best friend. And then my other best friends were so weird about it.”
JC: No, but I think it is interesting to talk about the concept of a best friend because I think it is a thing to achieve. Oh, I have a best friend. Do you know what I mean? It’s just innately almost capitalist to have to rank your friends. Because it’s like, I have David, who is my best friend, but there are things that I will go to a different friend to talk about because I don’t think David’s the best person to talk about them with. Do you know what I mean? It’s not.
JF: I know exactly what you mean.
JC: And so I don’t know that it is necessarily; I think maybe the concept of best friendship is maybe not as evolved as we think it is because it is innately comparing your relationships.
JF: Totally. And it also puts pressure on the relationship. I had a falling out with one of my really good friends, and I knew her since college. And I think because for a long time she was my best college friend, my best friend. It was like we felt obligated on certain things to like, I don’t know how to say it, but it was just putting too much on it. It’s like they’re your friends. You like hanging out with them and that way you can give yourself room to evolve or change or have a group of friends that doesn’t involve them and not feel like it’s a big deal.
JC: It’s almost the same version of when you see a couple where they’re sort of saying their boyfriend and girlfriend or boyfriend and boyfriend before they’ve actually developed that relationship. It’s more important to them that they have a boyfriend, then they’re dating this person. It’s like that energy. And it’s always scary to see that.
JF: It’s hollow.
JC: Yeah, it’s hollow. And I’m like this is going to combust because it’s very flammable.
JF: You can always tell it. It’s also- Oh, Sorry.
JC: No, no, no, you go, you go.
JF: I was just going to say, it’s also very telling. I feel like social media is the great, like, so when someone’s personality or identity starts to become their relationship or,
JC: And you see that with, yes, you see that with friends and couples where it’s like, “Oh, Jimmy’s just started posting a lot of pictures with Beth.” You know what I mean?
JC: You can tell that it’s like that’s the thing.
JF: Yeah, 100 percent.
JC: I was going to ask, I was curious, and if this is not a great question, forgive me, but in AA, is it encouraged to date or to make friends through that program or?
JF: Oh, it’s totally encouraged. They really kind of encourage you to hang out with people after the meetings and just get a support group. Because I think a lot of times people who are coming to AA have usually developed a friend group of usually people who drink like they do or party like they do.
JF: So like meeting people who they could go out and not have to get, like that’s at least my experience. I was so used to getting obliterated every time I went out that I didn’t know and no one was like, all my friends at the time drank like me, so I didn’t even have, well, I guess some people didn’t. But the point is, yeah, they do encourage it. I think the one thing is when you’re new, they don’t discourage it, but dating can be a hot-button issue if you’re dating in the program.
JC: Right. Yeah. That makes sense. Sorry, I have to leave this AA group because I f*cked my way through the whole thing.
JF: If you think that doesn’t happen in West Hollywood AA It’s insane.
JC: I’m sure that’s a real scene.
JF: It’s a scene. Oh my god. You know what was happening, which I want to tell you, I feel like you’ll appreciate it.
JC: Yeah, please.
JF: It’s the weirdest thing. At my home group, which is a 7:30 a.m. meeting and the Friday is huge, hundreds of people-
JC: What does home group mean? Is that the one you go to the most often?
JF: Yeah. And it’s like I have a commitment there and all this stuff.
JC: Got it. Got it.
JF: Oh God, I hope this is okay to say. I’m not going to say anyone’s name.
JC: No, can you say their names and do you have pictures?
JF: I’m like, here’s their first and last name and their amount of times-
JC: And here’s how I ranked them in terms of being my best friend.
JF: Yeah, they’re all my best friends. People were saying this guy got up to share and he was in his 50s or 60s. And he’s like, “First thing I want to tell you is, I used to be hot.”
JC: Oh God.
JF: It was just so odd, because I’m like, “Sir, it’s 7:30 a.m., we’re here for AA.” It was so bizarre but I think he was feeling insecure, whatever. He was like, “I’m looking out on all these handsome faces and I want you to know.” And then someone else came to share later when we opened up the meeting for sharing and he was like, “I need to tell you, I used to have a 12 pack. I was a gymnast.” And it was like, what is happening right now? It’s scary.
JC: That is scary. And that is also sort of illuminating to… I was just on Fire Island two weeks ago and so naturally I’m thinking-
JF: Oh my God, how was it?
JC: It was a little bit of a disaster, because the other half of the group we were going with booked a hotel that they thought was on Fire Island but was in Hell’s Kitchen. It was the hotel with the same name, but they booked it in the wrong place so they had to leave.
JF: You are kidding.
JF: Did you already talk about this on the podcast?
JC: I talked about it last week, but it’s truly fine, and that’s most of the story.
JF: Oh my God.
JC: That’s basically the story. So basically me and Nate, my boyfriend, didn’t fully have a group and my friend Steven adopted us into his group and it was just a whole thing. But overall, it was a fun time for sure.
JF: How did they not realize that? People must have been pissed.
JC: It was the kind of thing where my friend who did the booking and f*cked it up, it’s like you couldn’t be mad at him because he was so sad. He was so sad he had done this. It wasn’t like he was our sloppy friend who was like, “Oh, booked the wrong hotel.” He was devastated. And so you just can’t be mad. You look at him and you instantly forgive him. You’re like, “This sucks that this happened.”
JF: Oh no.
JC: Wait. You would’ve loved this. And the reason they couldn’t stay with us is because Nate and I just Airbnb’d a room in this guy’s house and he was this older gay man who had a house in Fire Island for 45 years. He has a dog named Princess Lily. And every time he came home, he’d be like, “How’s your night? What’d you do? Tell me everything. What’s going on?” And he’d just be on the couch with his dog. It was incredible.
JF: That’s so nice.
JC: It was cute. It was really cute. But what I was going to say was, being on Fire Island, especially for the 4th of July weekend, it was like I was inundated, surrounded by a lot of men who are that 12-pack psychotically hot muscle ripped, 600 grams of protein a day bodies constantly around. And just what happens when you get old? Because that’s your full-time job, making your body look like that. And I do just wonder, what happens when you slip a disc and start… I don’t know, because you just can’t stay that hot when you’re 65.
JF: I think about that all the time.
JC: It just feels like you’re siding up for a crisis.
JF: Yeah. It also feels like, at a certain point, you’re just chasing it. I’ve also, I personally have felt even just as I get, I’m 36, so the difference in my face to me from 33 to 34 and how your iPhone will be, “Remember this memory.”
JC: It’s an attack. It’s an attack every time.
JF: It is. It’s haunting. It’s like, what? This is making me feel bad.
JC: Okay, well you look great.
JF: Oh, thank you. Well, but no one is going to outrun aging and I’m trying to mentally prepare to be that old wrinkled gay guy at some point who’s like, “Moisturize!” I fully want to be that crazy gay guy.
JC: I think there is an element, maybe what you’re talking about, of when community is based on something like that, that can’t last forever. Do you know what I mean?
JC: Where it’s if your community is that you all look this certain way, that does have a time cap on because at some point your body will change and you will fall out of that standard. That probably does lead to potential loneliness.
JF: Yeah, totally. You saying that makes me think, I also think we just put different values on stuff. I see groups of gay men who are a little squad and there are older and totally just these sweet men in their whatever age they’re at and they’re best friends and they’re walking around.
JC: Oh my God.
JF: That’s cool.
JC: I know when you see a-
JF: That’s so cool.
JC: When I see old queer people in community, a group of old gay people hanging out, I could sob, because that’s really special. You know what I mean? That there is-
JF: That’s really special.
JC: Yeah. It’s the most pure thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
JF: But also I feel like we don’t put value on it. We’re all youth, body, to your point.
JC: A hundred percent.
JF: And then not to get too deep, but especially when you think about the AIDS crisis so many people went through, now people are fighting about their pronouns on TikTok, but before that, people were dying of AIDS and people couldn’t… you know what I mean? They paved the way, they are the courage that they have. Anytime I hear someone’s story-
JC: I literally go back. I think about that’s what I — I don’t want to say used — but whenever I’m feeling really overwhelmed or hopeless or frustrated with the times we are living in, I think about the ’80s and what our gay ancestors went through and I’m like, “Oh, we can do this.” Whatever’s coming, we can figure it out, because Russia was going to nuke America. There’s all of this horrible stuff. And then on top of that, they were alone. The government wasn’t helping them and all their friends were dying. I just can’t imagine. And it’s one of those things, I feel like this is going to be a podcast where you and I bring up really conceptual ideas that we can’t fully articulate or cite, but there’s some concept of, part of what makes human… A fatal flaw of humanity is that we can’t fully understand how bad something in the past was. It’ll always seem not as bad. Slavery won’t seem as bad as it actually was. The AIDS crisis won’t seem as bad as it actually was, because we actually can’t fathom it. And so then we don’t have the appreciation for what we went through as a people. When I really sit down and try to think about it, I can make myself cry in two seconds thinking about it, but to your point, it’s like, did you watch “Pretend It’s A City?” I didn’t talk about this.
JC: When she was saying all the good artists died. All the artists you’re seeing from the ’80s were the JV team that got their sh*t out there because the best died. And it was like, that’s crazy to think about.
JF: That’s really, yeah, I forgot about that one detail. It’s insane. And it’s insane that the homophobia too, it’s so traumatic. But then on top of it, you have this horrible disease that people are almost wishing on you and there’s no support. And imagine you had just come out, you had to come to terms with it, you’re like, “It’s not that bad.” And then gay sex is the thing that’s getting people this disease. In a weird way, it’s your greatest fear in-
JC: Well, yeah, if you’ve been told your whole life that God’s going to punish you for it and then suddenly it feels like he was. I can’t imagine.
JF: It’s so insane. I forget, did you grow up religious or no?
JC: I grew up New England Catholic, so barely. I was able to take it off a sweater, you know what I mean? What about you? Similar, right?
JF: It was actually my parents were atheist and my aunt was Methodist, so I would sometimes go with her to church. But yeah, I never had a weird religious connection to my inner homophobia.
JC: But can I ask another… wait, so can I ask another question about AA with that?
JF: Oh yeah, totally.
JC: Because there’s a religious component to AA, right?
JF: There’s a spiritual program, because you have a quote, unquote “higher power.” But the idea behind it is that the higher power can just be anything that’s not you.
JF: It could be literally the program, the people in the rooms. It could be the ocean, a doorknob, just the idea of you’re just not controlling the entire universe.
JC: It’s like a release to something else?
JC: Gotcha. Okay, cool. That’s interesting.
JF: And you can totally be atheist and sober. And also I feel like it’s worth saying, I’m just a member of the program. If you’re listening and you’ve never heard about AA, I’m not the president of AA who knows all the rules. So hopefully I don’t say anything that’s not kosher.
JC: Yeah, no I don’t… Yeah, I’m just curious, because I feel, I think you’re the first person I’ve had on the podcast that is in AA or at least openly.
JF: Oh, that’s cool.
JC: Or that openly was, you’re not the first sober person. You’re definitely not the first sober person. But I think you are the first person that’s in AA. And I do think it’s interesting, because I think there’s so many misconceptions about it. I knew you were allowed to make friends at it, but I think when I first learned about AA, I thought it was truly just everyone shows up for the anonymous part. I truly thought it was like everyone shows up, they don’t acknowledge their lives outside, and then they leave again and aren’t allowed to acknowledge each other in real life. That’s truly what I thought it was for a long time, but that’s wildly wrong.
JF: Well I think actually that’s kind of what it was based on, is that the anonymous part was because this social stigma of being an alcoholic was so insane. Now it feels like it’s trendy and celebs do podcasts about Dax Shepherd and all these people talk about it and they’re so open. And I do think the anonymous part is still important, because I think the idea of going to a room and sharing your story or looking for help, it’s nice to know that no one’s going to out you. But I think that it used to be like you couldn’t get a job if people knew you were an alcoholic, because they’re like, “Well what if they start drinking?”
JC: Yeah, that does make a lot of sense. And you’ve been in the program or you’ve been sober for over 10 years, right?
JF: Yeah. I got sober when I was 22. So 2000 and.. 8. I have my sobriety tattoo on my arm for people who obviously aren’t watching me showing, I’m showing it to Jake.
JC: I’ve seen it before.
JC: So do you enjoy going out now?
JF: Yeah, it depends because there are times where I’m out having the time in my life and there are times that I’m like, “Oh, get me out of here.” When I was in New York, I don’t know if we talked about it, but I started going to The Eagle with my friends from work and my other friend John. And I was up until 4 a.m. and I was like, “I am living.” And I was just drinking Diet Cokes and seeing people be so insanely sexual. And I was like, “Yes.”
JC: Yeah, it’s fun.
JF: That’s amazing. It’s super fun, but there are times where I’m at-. I went to this drag show a few weeks ago and after a while I was like, “Get me out of here.” I think it was just because it was so long, but I was like, and not that I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to drink.” It’s just, if I’m uncomfortable to be around, it just gets a little sketchy. Not that I’m going to relapse, but I’m uncomfortable, so I just don’t want to have my mind go there.
JC: And what is the value of being there, if you’re not comfortable? You know what I mean? I think that’s probably the thing. And I feel like I can empathize with that because I feel like as I get older or something where there are situations where I would’ve been, “I’m uncomfortable, I’m going to go get a drink.” Whereas now I’d be like, “I could just leave.” You know what I mean? What am I staying here for?
JC: And I think that is a healthy delineation for sure. Growing up was going out or restaurants, was that a big part of your life?
JF: Going to restaurants was kind of an event.
JF: But my family was middle class, so we really went to… Have you heard of the… Oh, you’re from Massachusetts, right?
JC: I’m from Rhode Island and Vermont. So Massachusetts being between the two, I’m familiar.
JF: Okay. So I’m going to say a restaurant and I want you to tell me what comes up.
JC: I’m really excited.
JF: The 99.
JC: “You’ll always come back for more.” Yeah. I was obsessed with The 99, and The 99, when we moved to Vermont, there was a Red Lobster that had gone out of business, and it was this gigantic dead Red Lobster in the middle of town. And then one day, the construction plastic went up, and everyone was like, “What’s coming?” And then one day it came down, there was a 99, and it just revolutionized the town. Suddenly there was a 99, and it was-
JF: Was it popular? Was it like a hub?
JC: I mean, to me, back then, I would have told you that that was one of the greatest restaurants in the world, and one of the nicest restaurants in the world. I didn’t know. I was like, “Yeah, this is incredible.” Because I was only really familiar with Applebee’s, and so then for something to be a little bit different than Applebee’s, do you know what I mean?
JF: Yeah. Absolutely.
JC: In terms of that vibe of a restaurant, where it was really fun, and it felt… I think it’s also when you’re a kid, and those restaurants are very kid-friendly, but you’re not perceptive to that.
JC: So you just think they’re nicer. I think I thought an Applebee’s or a 99 was nicer than an actual adult restaurant, because it was nicer to me.
JF: Oh my god, Jake. That’s such a good point that I’ve never thought about, where just the fact that they, I’m going to say, “cater” in quotes, to a child, and there’s a coloring book or crayons.
JF: Suddenly you see it in a world where you’re like, “Oh, this is fun, and this is for me.”
JF: And it’s also weird how you think things are nicer when you’re a kid, and then you revisit it. We would go to this restaurant in my town — I’m from Bedford, Mass. — and there’s, it’s a restaurant that’s still open to this day. It’s a Chinese restaurant called the Great Wall, and it’s in a mall. It’s three stores down from a Stop & Shop grocery store, and it’s sandwiched between a liquor store and the paper store, and it’s just a buffet Chinese restaurant. I guess it’s medium, below medium, but the way we would talk about it, it was like we were going to Nobu.
JF: It’s like, “We’re going to the Great Wall. Everyone get ready. The reservation for the Great Wall. We gotta get in the car to get to the Great Wall.” And then we’re there. And my parents, one of the ways that my family bonded was by complaining about things being too expensive. So you would always be like, “Oh,” and then you complain. And that was how you connected.
JF: I realized that. I was actually shopping with Matt, who I mentioned, when I was in high school, and I was at Banana Republic with him and I was looking at a vest, and I was like, “$40 for a vest?” And he came up to me really close, he’s like, “You have to stop doing that. It’s so embarrassing.”
JC: There’s nothing like when someone suddenly snaps about something you’ve done your entire life, and they’re like, “Can you just gotta f*cking cut that out?” And you’re like, “I had no idea it was an issue.”
JF: Yeah. Do you have something where someone was like, “You have to stop doing that”?
JC: One time, this is restaurant-related, I guess, one time with Holly, who I mentioned earlier, one time we were going to a restaurant. We’d been friends for 10 years at this point, and they went to seat us, and they brought us to the table, and it was your standard restaurant table where one side was a booth and one side was a chair. Do you know what I mean? It was a two-top table.
JC: And I just go to sit in the booth, and as I’m moving around the table, Holly snaps, and she’s like, “I want the booth side.” And I was like, “What?” And she’s like, “You have taken the booth side every time we’ve gone to a restaurant, every time I’ve gone out with you, since we’ve become friends.” And I was like, “Have I?” And she was like, “Yes.” And I was like, “Take the booth side.” I had no idea I did this, but apparently I just always swiped the booth side.
JF: That’s so funny.
JC: And I don’t know why, because I don’t think I prefer the booth to the chair. I don’t think it’s a hard preference for me, but apparently I just always take the booth side.
JF: Yeah. My guess would be, if people did a scientific experiment, and sent human beings into a two-top and there’s a booth, I think you naturally just-. There’s something more inviting. It’s like a cushion. It’s kind of set.
JC: Yeah. I also probably walk faster than her, so I’m just getting to the table first, and then I’m like, “Well, I’ll go in so that you don’t have to then go around me to sit.”
JC: But I agree. The booth is just like, you want to go on… Also, I think if you’re going to sit alone, you’re going to sit on the booth side and look out at the restaurant. You’re not going to sh*t at the chair and face an empty booth.
JF: Did you just say, “Sh*t at the chair”?
JC: I meant to say sit. I meant to say sit. Jimmy, god damn it.
JF: I don’t know. I’m still getting to know you, so I don’t know what you do.
JC: I sh*t in restaurants without getting up. Yeah. That’s what I do. So stupid.
JF: So yeah.
JC: Wait, no, what were you going to say?
JF: Oh, no. I was just going to say, just wrapping up the Great Wall story. My family was not a huge… We would just go to medium restaurants, but it always felt like an event.
JF: So to this day, my favorite thing is to go out to a restaurant, a nice restaurant, and just spend money. Because the other thing is I felt like there was always this feeling of, “Oh, it’s bad to spend money.” Or, “It’s this much?” I took my mom and my sister out, and they were doing that thing I told you, where they were complaining about how expensive things were, but things that weren’t even overly expensive. They were just the normal price for the restaurant.
JC: It’s just a habit for them. Yeah.
JF: Yeah. They’re like, “$4.99 for a lemonade?” But that’s like, isn’t that what it would be?
JC: Yeah. That’s how much a lemonade costs.
JF: Yeah. Totally. Literally, that is the cost.
JC: That’s the cost of a lemonade in New York.
JF: Yeah. Yeah. It’s probably cheaper. $4.99 is probably a deal, compared.
JC: Yeah. Depending on where you go.
JF: But yeah, it was just so irritating to hear them complain about the prices. So yeah. I love it.
JC: Wait, so what was the 99 connection? That was another space that was really important to you?
JF: That was probably one of our go-to places. The 99. And people where I’m from call it “The Nines.” Have you heard of that?
JC: The Nines? No. That was not… The Vermont one was not referred to as “The Nines.” It was strictly The 99.
JF: They’re like, “We’re heading to The Nines.”
JC: Oh my God. I love that.
JF: And yeah, I think I was also very anxious, so I knew… Okay. I feel like I spent so much time being starving as a child. I don’t know what that’s about, but I have intense memories of… And maybe I’m actually so dramatic and sensitive that it probably was just me feeling like I was hungrier than I was, but I had so many times where I was like, “If I don’t get food in the next 10 minutes, I’m going to pass out.”
JC: “I’m going to die.”
JF: And so I would go to the restaurant, and I would know, “Okay, the server has to greet us, then they drop off drinks, then we’ll get to order.” So I’m clocking it, and I’m so anxious. I’m watching him, and then they finally take the order, and I’m like, “Okay. As soon as he puts it into the computer, we’re off to the races. It’s just a matter of time. It’s in God’s hands. He just has to get it in.” But I remember this one time, I swear I saw the waiter. I saw him. He took our order, and then he got busy with a couple tables, and I’m watching him, and I watched him for 10 minutes, and I was like, “He has not put our order in.” And the time passed, and finally he turned and he looked over at me, and he saw me staring at him, and he was like, “Oh.” And I saw him turn and put the order in.
JC: You saved the day. You did that.
JF: Yeah. I was trying to manifest control.
JC: You’re telepathically telling him, that is the thing. You saying that really brings up those memories, yeah, of sitting down, and being hungry, and knowing the steps of service before the food will even be ordered. And I would ask, “Can we just order as soon as he gets here?” And they’d be like, “No. We want to do the ritual of a restaurant.” I was like, “I need food right now.”
JF: Yeah. I wonder if it’s just, as a kid, I feel like you didn’t have access to food as much. There were snacks, but it was always such a big deal to feed yourself.
JC: Oh my God, Jimmy. I could launch a whole separate podcast about this topic, about how I think the ways I was raised in terms of control around food were what… In terms of how I relate to food now. I feel like kids should be allowed to just… And this is one of the, I’m sure that parents are going to listen to me and be like, “F*ck off and die. You don’t know what it’s like to have a kid.” And I never will, because I’m not going to have them. But I just think we should let kids learn what it feels like to eat too much and feel sick. Do you know what I mean? And then learn for themselves.
JC: Because I spent so much time when I was a kid being like, “I’m hungry, and I want food, and I’m being told I can’t have it.” You know what I mean?
JC: And I think that was what was initially exciting about restaurants when I was a kid, was like, “I’m in control of what I eat today. I can order whatever I want.” And granted, for the first few years, it was like, “Buttered noodles, no parsley. If you put parsley on it, I’m not eating it.” But then I think it’s a control thing. And so the server becomes the thing that’s out of your control, is, “I get to order whatever I want off this menu, as long as this f*cko doesn’t biff it.” You know what I mean?
JF: Yeah. Totally. I love it. Oh my God.
JF: Because I’m in control of everything except the server. That’s so funny. I’m powerless over the server’s ability.
JC: Yeah. It’s the one variable in this situation. Because otherwise I get to look at a menu and pick. Because when else… I remember my mom used to do this thing. I was so food obsessed. I guess I still am to an extent, but my mom used to do this thing that actually caused psychological damage to me when I was a child, where I’d be like, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” And she would list gross things as a joke, but wouldn’t tell me what was for dinner. And it probably was because she hadn’t decided yet, but she’d be like, “We’re having pig’s feet and mud.” And I’d be like, “Tell me what is for dinner.” And then she would just be like, “Caterpillars.” And I’d be like, “I’m going to have a psychological break.” I have a vivid memory of driving down the road in Rhode Island, being in the back of a Toyota Corolla, being like, “I’m going to dive bomb out of this car if she doesn’t tell me what we’re having for dinner.” It was also probably 11 a.m. Do you know what I mean?
JC: I just would eat a meal and be like, “Okay, what’s the next one?”
JF: Yeah. But I feel like that’s the joke. That’s always the meme of what it is to be an adult, or in a relationship, but it really is such a bonding experience, just to be like, “Okay, what is next? What are we going to eat?”
JC: I know. It is very animalistic, but it is true that it is sort of the baseline of community on a small scale between two people, and even large groups, is, “What are we eating?”
JF: Yeah. That’s why it sucks if you have weird food allergies, or things where it feels you can’t participate, and that’s the other thing. Not to go back to AA, only to mention AA for the fifth time, or anything.
JC: Bring up AA as many times as you want, Jimmy. I’m down.
JF: That, I think, is the hard thing about getting sober. If your personality is about being drunk, being at bars, being at clubs, you basically have to refigure out how you fit in a social way. And so it’s like, yeah. I think we all just want to connect and feel like-
JF: You know what’s also weird to think about? This is a crazy segue.
JC: No. Go.
JF: All we used to do is walk around looking for food for thousands and thousands of years. That was all we did. We hung out and we looked for food. Isn’t that so weird?
JC: I think about that all the time, and then I also think about it with drinking. Where I’m like, drinking a beer at the end of the day makes sense when you have been laboring to the edge of your body’s capacity, and you just need a little release so you drink a little alcohol. But it’s like, I walk down New York City streets now and I’m like, “You guys sent six emails and then went to lunch and had three Martinis. This isn’t what it was for.”
JC: Do you know what I mean?
JC: It’s the same thing, where it’s like these mechanisms, all we used to do was forage for food, and that’s why when you ate, that’s why our brains give us this serotonin rush that is so high, when it’s like, “I didn’t earn this that much. I microwaved something.” Do you know what I mean? We’re not programmed for it the way it is now.
JF: Yeah. And it’s also, it’s weird, because I think that’s sometimes why, if you think about it, how lucky we are for the access we have to food and water, not every single person, but as a country, as a whole, the fact that we have… Or just even personally, if you have shelter, if you have food, if you have water, if you have clothes, you start spiraling out about really f*cking dumb sh*t.
JF: Because everything is taken care of. So it’s like, think about if all you were trying to do was survive. You don’t even have time to worry about the drama of, “Who’s my best friend?”
JC: No, exactly. So many of these issues that I think we deal with, and these fears and these anxieties. I just tried to merge “anxiety” and “insecurity” into one word. “Anxicurity.”
JF: Oh, that actually sounds great.
JC: Yeah. But all these insecurities, all these anxieties, it’s like, I think those only have space to move, but all these insecurities, all these anxieties, I think those only have space to move into your brain because your brain’s not occupied with being like, “It’s raining and I don’t have shelter and I’m starving.”
JF: Yeah, I know. It’s weird because you’d think that, oh, if we had all this stuff, we would come together and-
JF: I don’t know. This sounds so cliche, but we’d have world peace or something and I feel like we’re rotten. We keep getting worse and worse.
JC: Yeah. Maybe it’s just because, yeah, it’s that need to get shelter and get food just then lends itself into the capitalism of just, “I need to buy more and consume more.” This is real and dark. Honestly.
JF: This is, it’s so dark.
JC: It’s so dark.
JF: I find stuff, in a weird way, soothing. It actually relaxes me to think about things that are almost like, what’s the word when it’s not apocalyptic, but when you start getting into… There’s a word.
JC: When you start getting into what?
JF: You start getting into things that are… The world as a dark .. I can’t think of it. It’s like…
JF: Maybe that’s what it is. What is it called? I’m sorry, I’m Googling it.
JC: No, please Google it.
JF: It’s called when… I’m literally putting, “What is it called when the world is dark,” and then I’m writing “Bo Burnham.” I feel like… I forget. I don’t know what it is, but it’s like when you feel the end of the world is coming and it’s like you’re in this like-
JC: Oh, now I know what word you’re trying to say and I can’t think of it.
JF: What if you edited everything out of this podcast except me trying to find this word and you blackmailed me and you’re like, “I’m going to release this.”
JC: I tried to record a podcast with Jimmy and he tried to think of one word for an hour and we never talked about anything else. No, but it’s like the entire concept of “Melancholia.” Did you see that movie?
JC: It’s good. It’s very sad. It’s like Kirsten Dunst, and the world is ending and it’s just about that feeling of foreboding and-
JC: I guess it is nice to think about. I’ve been thinking about it because the world feels so bad right now, but my favorite thing to do is go to a restaurant and those feel really crazy too… So I’m, even last night, my friend Melissa is leaving town for two months and so she just had some friends get dinner together to hang out before she leaves. And just being in a restaurant with 10 people, just eating a bunch of really delicious food and hanging out, I was having… I was so happy and I was like, “I’ve been so anxious and depressed up until this moment because the world feels bad.” And I’m going to go back to that probably tomorrow. And it’s just a weird thing to the juxtaposition of the two things and I don’t really know how to reconcile it.
JF: Yeah, I’m sure you’ve been to this restaurant, but what you’re saying makes me think of this restaurant in Brooklyn that was Dim Sum, I think it was called Dim Sun or… Does that sound familiar?
JC: I know what you’re talking about. I haven’t been yet, but I know what you’re talking about.
JF: Oh my God, Jake. It was seriously my favorite restaurant I’ve ever been to. It was so delicious. I went there every chance I got. But we went with a big group, some of the writers and one of the writers, Gilly, a bunch of her friends were visiting from California and it was just such a good bonding experience, you know what I mean?
JF: Something that happens when you’re, especially sharing food. And we had one of those tables that spun.
JC: Oh, the best.
JF: Yeah, it was really the best.
JC: I think so, yeah, whatever that is the joy of coming together and sharing those things. Even if the world does end and it’s bad, I think that I’ll still have people over to my shelter to share a box of Cheez-Its I found or something. You know what I mean?
JC: Just that community will still have, I guess what I was thinking was the, it’s the joy of coming together and doing that. Obviously the food being delicious and the room being gorgeous help but it is about just a group coming together and doing something as well.
JC: I think that there’s an innate magic to that. Having lived in L.A. for a long time and then coming out to New York and living here, what were the differences you felt in terms of your social life in stuff like that?
JF: Well, it was an interesting time, because — I think I told you this — I got to New York in early February when the omicron variant was at a 10. So I got off the plane, immediately got Covid and so spent 10 days quarantining. But then actually it was kind of the best thing that could ever happen. Because then I could go out and people were still going out and doing things. But I think just the vibe of New York socially is, “We’re doing this thing. It’s happening. Do you want to come?” Whereas L.A. you can actually — maybe that’s why I have an aversion to plan that never happen — because L.A. is very much like, “Hey love, I miss you. Dinner soon?” A week has passed. It’s like circling back, got to, it’s just never happening. And in New York, I felt like I was a different side of myself. That was not planned. And partly because I didn’t have as many friends or my relationship, my boyfriend was back home. So I remember one time someone was, my neighbor, was like, “Hey, I’m going to this dance party at Union Hall at midnight. Do you want to come?” And I was just like, “Yes.”
JC: It’s immediate.
JF: It was “Yes.” It was not “Let me check.” “Oh, that could be fun.” It was just like, “Yes, yes, we’re doing that.” And it felt really just freeing.
JC: Because it is. Yeah. I do. Yeah, I think that that’s my biggest… I mean I love New York for a lot of reasons and I don’t think I’ll go to L.A. unless I have to for work. But I think that’s my number one reason, the lack of spontaneity would crush me a little bit.
JF: And you almost have to be, because you’re just out with the people and doing things and it’s just the energy in New York. I totally see why people love New York. Because growing up, anytime I went to New York as a kid, because Boston we’re only four hours away.
JF: It always felt scared, not scary, I’m scared, but it just felt-
JF: And maybe that’s because it’s like I would always go with a trip and I wasn’t seeing New York culture. It was like I was in some tourist trap, but I really get how it feels like you’re at the center of the whole universe when you’re there.
JC: I know.
JF: It’s so cool, the people are so cool.
JC: Yeah. It’s funny to say that because it’s New York, it feels like you’re at the center of the universe and L.A. feels like you’re in a microcosm universe. L.A. feels like this incredibly insular little planet you’re entering. At least as an outsider. When I go to L.A. I feel like I’m on a different planet a little bit. I’m like, “Oh, okay. Everyone here works in the same industry and vaguely knows each other or knows someone who knows someone.” And New York doesn’t feel like that at all. You know what I mean? There’s like 100 different industries, industries going on. It just feels like a very different thing.
JF: Yeah. L.A. is a city of filmmakers, artists, and everyone in entertainment. It was so fresh to be in New York and you’re meeting just interesting people and backgrounds. I also felt, if I was at a bar in L.A., when you’re single, people are very passive. Someone might be standing far away and kind of look at you and then look away and then look at you again and you just, out of frustration, you’ll go over and talk to them. But in New York, someone will come up to you and be like, “Hey, I want to introduce myself. My name is Jared. I work in finance. I would love to dance with you and buy you a drink.” And it’s like, “What?” New York guys are so aggressive.
JC: I think cocaine is more popular here, to be honest. That’s probably part of it.
JF: That’s so funny. So good.
JC: Okay. I could talk to you for hours, but we’ve come to the end. I like-
JF: No, I love it.
JC: I like to end by planning our next night out together, which will probably be when you come to New York or when I go to L.A.
JF: I love that. Oh my God, that’s so cool. Yeah. By the way, what is your next L.A. trip?
JC: I think I’m going to try to do one… So I’m in Scotland all next month and then I’m back and I think I have to figure out what my work schedule is with my two projects I have. I’m not sure what my work schedule’s going to be, but once I know that I’m going to schedule an L.A. trip for either sometime in the fall or the early 2023.
JF: Okay, cool. Well I think I’ll be there in September. So should we just plan-
JC: Let’s do September.
JC: Okay, gorge. Wait, do you want to go to Dim Sun?
JF: Oh my God.
JC: ‘Cause I’ve never been.
JF: Yes, I would love to take you there. I hope you love it as much as I do.
JC: Okay. Perfect. So you’ll come, we’ll do Dim Sun and then maybe a dancing moment after. Because we didn’t do any dancing or anything. We just did a very nice mature dinner.
JF: I feel like it’s only fair that we go to The Eagle.
JC: Perfect it. We’ll do Dim Sum and then go-
JF: I mean, that is the worst combo. It’s like being so filled to the brim.
JC: Just like reeking of MSG.
JF: And then dancing. I love it. That will be super fun. I would love that, Jake.
JC: Okay, perfect. We will do that in September. Jimmy, thank you so much for doing the show.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shout-out to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.