“Elliot Steingart prepares for his biggest challenge yet,” begins HBO 24/7: ‘Steingart vs Himself.’
“I trained for my move to Los Feliz like Marquez trained against Pacquio, minus drinking my own urine. I prepared mentally, and physically to live on my own. I did crunches and asked the guy from Time Warner for decorating tips.”
The dawn breaks and we see an excitable Elliot Steingart waking up from his first night in his new apartment to the sound of church bells. “Ding, dong. Ding, dong. Ding, dong.” Probably, a one time occurrence, he thinks. One hour later churchbells sound again. “Ding, dong. Ding, Dong.”
“Thank you, father, but I’m trying to sleep,” he cries.
Now awake, Steingart returns to the familiar routine of watching a Netflix under the covers on his laptop. He watches “The Fighter” a film about “Irish” Mickey Ward. It’s a story similar to Steingart’s own upbringing as the youngest of nine children living in the shadow of older brother, Dicky his trainer, who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard, but has since fallen to the depths of crack addiction. Mickey’s girlfriend, Charlene is the brash redhead Steingart dreams of. Though he would not want Charlene yelling at his mom about how he doesn’t need throw pillows from CB2.
Channeling Mickey Ward, Steingart does two sets of 12 push ups. After which Steingart finds a note that is left under his door:
Are you going to church today? I’m at Danielle and John’s, need a ride to church. If you’re going please call me.
After hearing the church bells and receiving a hand written invitation to attend services, Steingart waits for a phone call from Pope Benedict to formally introduce himself to Catholicism. The good Catholics of Los Feliz are unaware that days earlier Steingart declined to participate in his office Secret Santa. Out of 15 co-workers, Steingart was the only onlooker. Co-workers viewed him as Scrooge. He viewed himself as Jew.
Steingart re-reads the note, and wonders why Rose would need a ride to church since church is two blocks away.
Meanwhile the fight begins, the inner struggle of how someone lives by oneself. Every fighter has those standing in his corner training him for the challenge ahead. For Steingart, his camp is as important to his success as Dickey is to Mickey Ward.
Ryan, his roommate the last three years, had left for Pittsburgh for a month when he received a text from Steingart notifiying him he would be moving out of the house.
“Do what you gotta do, bro.”
Steingart tried calling, but received no answer. It was not the way he hoped to break the news to his friend and roommate. When Ryan returned, his hair grew longer.
“You shouldn’t cut it. It looks good.”
“Your face isn’t as fat.”
“Thanks! I lost 9 ½ pounds on Weight Watchers for Men.” A humble brag, indeed.
It was Ryan who helped Steingart carry his queen bed up three flights of stairs, and move the rest of his belongings into the new apartment.
Ben, Steingart’s friend and second roommate the last two years, continued to serve as audio/visual consultant, unplugging plugs for Steingart, and teaching Steingart the basics of plugging speaker wire into a receiver, and fielded calls once Steingart could not do so on his own, and promised to come over and to set it all up.
Richard, the office manager at his company, welcomed hourly interruptions from Steingart.
“Should I buy the couch from Jennifer Convertibles?”
“Would you get Netflix or Cable?”
“How does this tape measure work?”
Over the last couple of months Steingart has relied on Richard to build a basketball hoop, retrieve his Blackberry contacts, check his car engine, hide a Slim Jim at his desk so he won’t eat it and take bets on college and professional football. Steingart was amazed by Richard’s skill set and ability to take his money. Steingart was the only person in the office approaching Richard at his desk at 9am by saying “Want some action on UCLA?”
When the two made a $5 wager on the Cotto/Margertio rematch it was Richard who bet on Margertio, a fighter with only one good eye. Steingart, a victor for the first time, was grateful for his friend Richard who drove all the way from Wittier to mount Steingart’s new television on the wall, and then hang pictures and configure his wireless internet network.
And his parents, the two people in Steingart’s camp who’ve stuck by him the longest, visited the apartment and persuaded him to sign the lease. It was they who called from Target in suburban San Diego.
“How big of garbage can do you need for the kitchen? Make a list of stuff you need an we’ll get it here since these stores won’t be open on Christmas when we come up to help you decorate.”
“Thanks to the people I depend on I am able to live better independently. There will be struggles. It will be boring at times, and sometimes lonely, but it’s nice to have strong people supporting me. Plus I can always go to Church.”
In the next installment of 24/7 “Steingart Vs. Himself,” Steingart wonders how the Jewish Journal will respond to his upcoming conversion to Catholicm.