It's an apartment complex of unremarkable red brick buildings in suburban Houston. The sign in front of the lease office is cut into the shape of a space shuttle and reads, "Have a problem, Houston? Let us FLY you into your new apartment SPACE." You get out of your car and walk across the picnic area, your feet crunching over neglected scatterings of mulch.
On the second, and highest, floor is Jeremy Lin's apartment. You knock on the door.
"Heyyyy! Come on in, I'll get you a beer." You walk with him to the kitchen, and he opens a cabinet. "Check out this glass I got. It was from a tasting." It's a pint glass with a Coors Light logo etched on the side. It is the only glass in the cabinet, which is otherwise full of red plastic cups.
"I don't drink Coors Light, I'm more into craft beers these days. But you know, it's a pretty good glass. Hey, there's some beers in the fridge, pick whatever you want. I'm pretty stocked up."
"Yeah ..." he says as he leans back and peers into the fridge. "My beer tastes are kinda all over the place. You ever had Blue Moon? I think there's one left." There are none left. "If you've never had one, you gotta have one. If that's the kind of beer they make in Belgian [sic]? Uh, buy me a plane ticket right now." He holds up an index finger. "A-one ticket, if you please."
You pull out a Guinness, and he smiles. "Niiiiiice. You know your beers. Here, lemme open that for you. I'll show you a trick, watch." He places the top of the bottle against his laminate kitchen countertop and smacks the lid with the base of his fist. The cap fails to pop off, but drives a gash into the counter. "Hold on." He tries again and again, with increasing force each time. Chunks of the counter begin to fall on the floor. "Not a big deal. They have to replace the countertop when I move out anyway. It's renter code. Hold on."
Finally, the cap flies loose, and overcarbonated Guinness pours out of the top. "Crap. Hold on. Crap. Uh, crap. Crap." He dunks the remaining two-thirds of the beer into the glass and hands it to you. "Bottoms-up!" It is 90 percent head. "Hold on, I gotta clean up what I spilled on the floor." There are no towels in the kitchen, and he leaves the room.
On the refrigerator door, he has affixed a collection of fliers that appear to have been tacked on his front door.
Jeremy returns and sops up the beer on the floor with a Homestar Runner T-shirt. "Oh yeah. See, this is my first apartment I've had all to myself, and I wanna make sure I keep all the documentation. I still gotta ask if I'm supposed to clean the gutters." He rises to his feet, and appears enveloped in uncertainty, not knowing where to dispose of his beer-drenched shirt. At first, he appears to consider tossing it in the corner before eventually draping it over the kitchen faucet. "Anyways, go chill out in the living room while I cook us some grub. Be there in a few."
The room is dimly lit by a single floor lamp in the corner. Its touch-sensitive switch erratically brightens and dims its bulb of its own accord. Behind it sits the lamp's original packaging, collecting dust; a ring of cardboard is still looped around the base. The room's eggshell-white walls are modestly decorated. On one wall, a fold-out map of San Andreas that came with his copy of Grand Theft Auto V is sticky-puttied.
On another, a calendar hangs on the wall by a drywall screw that was apparently nailed in. It features a photo of a nondescript sports car. The days are blank, save for today's date, on which he has scrawled, "PARTY WITH [first letter of your first name]-DOGGGG."
There is a bean bag with an afghan blanket draped over it.
There is a television that has displayed the DVD featurette menu of Road to Perdition on loop since you arrived.
You walk back into the kitchen and ask Jeremy if you can help prepare food. "Aw no, I'm good. Got a really good beer-braised chicken recipe I wanna check out." He flips the lid of his George Foreman grill, turns it on and pulls a bag of frozen chicken breasts out of the freezer. You notice that they have not been deboned. He places a piece of meat directly on the grill; chips of frozen liquid crackle and spatter. He presses the lid down against the chicken. "For the first part, you sear the fillet," he explains with elevated voice over the meat's tortured snapping and whistling.
He slices a knob of butter into a soup ladle, fills it with a splash of Honey Brown ale and pours it over the chicken. "So now you braise it. The beer will help to caramelize the meat." Smoke begins to billow out of the sides of the grill. "And now, we wait. Just let it cook low and slow for a while."
Back to the living room. "Yeah," he says, "I put the blanket over here with the bean bag because I thought it would be kind of a cool chilling spot. Like, a place to study or whatever. But I don't know, the other day I sat on the bean bag and put the blanket over me, and after two minutes I was like, 'uh, fail.'"
Smoke begins to fog the entire apartment.
"I'm still kind of putting this place together. I might get some nails and hang the blanket over the inside of the front door. So like, you have to walk through it to get in. Could be cool -- oh, no, it's cool, I took the battery out of the smoke alarm. I only had one 9-volt, and I had to use it for the carbon monoxide detector. I saw it at Target and decided to just get it. The box said it was great for homeowners, which I basically am even though I just rent."
After 20 minutes, he opens the lid of the Foreman grill. It rips off a layer of charred meat and reveals an uncooked center. "I should have bought organic," he says.
Later, the two of you eat Bagel Bites off paper plates while playing Road to Perdition trivia. He knows all the answers, but coyly pretends not to. "Hmm." He reads from the screen. "'And you, Mr. Sullivan, have nothing to trade. Especially not for anyone as valuable as Connor Rooney.' Jeez, who said that? Well, we know it's not Sullivan ... and not Connor Rooney."
Three minutes, 12 seconds of silence. A couple times, he takes a bite of a Bagel Bite and kind of looks at you and nods.
You go home.