Prince in my apartment: A scene

[Prince] attends meetings at a local Kingdom Hall, and, like his fellow-[Jehovah’s] Witnesses, he leaves his gated community from time to time to knock on doors and proselytize. “Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they’re really cool about it,” he said.

The New Yorker, Nov. 24, 2008

Prince in my apartment

A scene

10 in the morning on a cold November Saturday in Wisconsin. The interior of a sparsely decorated but clean apartment is seen. Mount Eerie’s “Lost Wisdom” plays softly in the background. Jerry (bespeckled and semi-clean) enters stage left with coffee and a sugar bun. He is a thirty-year-old male slightly balding, but with great pecs and glutes. He sits down on a big seemingly comfortable chair and carefully arranges his sugar bun and coffee on the table next to the chair. He picks up a severely dog-eared copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing and settles in for a good late morning read.

A loud definitive knock at the door is heard.  Jerry ignores the knock, ensconced in comfort as he is. A single knock is heard again. Jerry looks up. Silence. He returns to his book.  A slow persistent knocking begins. Jerry jumps up clearly annoyed and goes to the door. He looks through the peephole. He steps back, clearly confused. The knocking continues.

JERRY Wha? [Jerry opens the door. Prince enters, pads into the kitchen. Prince is a small fifty-year-old man in yoga pants and a big sweater, wearing platform flip-flops over white socks, like a geisha. ]

PRINCE [Prince’s voice is surprisingly deep, like that of a much larger man.] Would you like something to eat?

JERRY Aren’t you Prince?

PRINCE [Opens refrigerator, pulls out a bag of carrots and begins to chop.] Who eye really am only time will tell/ 2 the almighty life 4ce that grows stronger with every chorus/ Yes give praise, lest ye b among the guilty ones

JERRY Hi, Prince. Why are you in my apartment?

PRINCE [Puts a pot of water on the stove.] I wanted to be around people, connected to people, for work.

JERRY Gr8.

PRINCE You know, it’s all about religion. That’s what unites people here. They all have the same religion, so I wanted to sit down with them, to understand the way they see things, how they read Scripture.

JERRY I don’t really read Scripture. Mainly just Cormac McCarthy books these days. I think I read them better than that munch at Paste. Are you converting people?

PRINCE  [Returns to the kitchen preparations.] I don’t see it really as a conversion. More, you know, it’s a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in ‘The Matrix.’

JERRY Okay. So you’re Morpheus?

PRINCE [Pauses. Blankly stares through Jerry.]

JERRY I don’t have food processor anymore, if that’s what you’re looking for. 

PRINCE [Limping slightly, Prince sets off on a walk around the apartment. Sound of platform flip flops are heard. ]

JERRY Hey, did you see that Sarah Palin turkey interview?

PRINCE  So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this. [Prince points to a Bible he pulls out from under his bulky sweater.] But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.

JERRY I don’t think that describe them very good.

PRINCE God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’

JERRY Kinda like what I was halfway through watching Graffiti Bridge

PRINCE [Tilts his head as if to hear better, geisha-like.]

JERRY That’s the new Mount Eerie album you’re hearing.

PRINCE People with money—money like that—are not affected by the stock market, and they’re not freaking out over anything. They’re just watching.

JERRY I don’t think Phil Elverum is doing that well. Hey, is that story Eddie Murphy’s brother told on the Dave Chapelle Show true?

PRINCE [Pauses. Blankly stares through Jerry. Licks finger. Speaks. ] I throw a lot of parties.

Later, in the dining room, Prince is eating a bowl of carrot soup in the big seemingly comfortable chair. Jerry is sitting on the couch opposite. While Prince speaks, Jerry slowly removes his glasses and closes his eyes as if in pain.  Jerry slowly massages the bridge of his nose between in thumb and forefinger while shaking his head.

PRINCE There was this woman. She used to come to Paisley Park and just sit outside on the swings.

JERRY You had swings?

PRINCE [Prince continues.] So I went out there one day and I was, like, ‘Hey, all my friends in there say you’re a stalker. And that I should call the police. But I don’t want to do that, so why don’t you tell me what you want to happen. Why are you here? How do you want this to end?’ And she didn’t really have an answer for that. In the end, all she wanted was to be seen, for me to look at her. And she left and didn’t come back.

JERRY I was really hoping to get some reading done this morning.

PRINCE [Sets his empty soup bowl on top of the Cormac McCarthy book.] I’m really proud of this. [Prince gets up, limps slightly while he pads around and exits through the apartment door that is still open. Jerry remains on the couch, still rubbing the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. Sound of platform flip flops slowly fades.]

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