Thursday, March 31, 2005

Strippers and Acid 4: Freedom and Enterprise

The sound of glass breaking in the next room was predictably answered by a stream of rather burly men, and I began to make my goodbyes. Nurse Girl seemed irritated, although I couldn't decipher whether it was because I was leaving or because she'd bought me a beer. Whichever the case, I had the feeling that I'd better prepare to beat feet, lest I have to stick around til 2am and rely on her to give me a ride home. Another six hours of this place didn't sound very appetizing, as you can imagine, so off I went.

As one might expect, our bachelor had been up to mischief in the bar area. The Rumple shots had gotten to him, I imagine, and he'd somehow managed to tip over a tray full of drinks. The exact situation was never clear to me, as there was lots of shouting and pushing and bouncers simultaneously forming a cordon around our party and hustling us towards the door. It looked like we were going to be followed into the parking lot as well, so I think the drink tray must have landed in someone's lap.

I've seen a lot of things in my life, but I can't think of many things I've been happier to see than that white limousine pulling into the parking lot. What looked like a nasty brawl immediately turned into getting everyone's attention (some of the brawnier boys were already taking off their watches) and piling them into the car before the oilfield crew inside could get at them. Jim and I were the last ones in, and as I slammed the door, I turned my head--and immediately fell into a pair of lustrous brown eyes.

No, not Jim's.

"Hi," she murmured in that hoarse, sultry sort of voice that certain women MUST practice in front of the mirror every day, as if Monroe had strep throat or something.

"Hi," I responded, with substantially less grace. My mind was still a chaotic colloid of "Closer," the Nurse Girl, bouncers and brawling.

"I'm Nadine," she said, "what's you're name?"

I told her mine, and then grunted as a firm little bottom landed in my lap and some straight blonde hair found its way into my mouth. The hair flipped away, presenting a full pair of very red lips and blue eyes, and a giggly voice said "Hi! I'm Shanna!"

Strippers. Dammit.

Shanna was exactly what you would imagine her to be--the center of attention and loving every second of it. Nadine had black hair, and seemed content to let Shanna do all the talking and flirting. The boys, meanwhile, were evenly divided between getting beer out of the cooler, ogling the girls, and hollering out the sunroof. The groom was conked out again.

Shanna ground her butt into my crotch and batted her eyes at the guy with the "Holley" shirt on the next seat. I tried not to look at Nadine. Things were all happening rather fast.

After some period of driving, I managed to get Shanna off my lap and noticed Jim gesturing furtively at me. I swayed my way across the limo floor, avoiding cigarette ash and Reebok high tops, and plopped down next to him--facing Nadine across the length of the car.

"Dude," he said, "these guys want to take acid. I told them you had a sheet of it, and they want to buy it."

Well, shit. How bad an idea is this? Very, very bad. But I was a drug dealer, after all, and we hadn't yet gotten to the horror that was Fernando and Jesus [which you'll find in the archives, good Reader], and it was Saturday night in the limo. And, yes, I'd just fallen in love.

"Fine, fuck it," I said. "We'll have to go back to my house." Jim nodded and handed me the bottle of Turkey (god, I hate Wild Turkey). Five minutes later, we pulled up at my house.

The crew stumbled their way one by one out of the car, and immediately began pissing on things and shouting to each other. Now, this is the LAST thing I wanted in my neighborhood, but Jim was pretty helpful in getting them back in the car (where the beer was) or into the house, where the actual facilities are, although the groom had one of them all tied up while he vomited into the sink.

I grabbed three beers from the fridge and gave one to each of the girls. We stood out in the back yard for a time, talking, and I scanned the garden area for flowers for their hair.

I have a vine back there specifically for that purpose, it turns out. Well, that's not strictly true--I bought the plant because the flowers were so incredibly intricate and irridescent purple that they made me have little flashbacks--but they're very beautiful, so they make very good gifts for girls. The flowers only last a day, though, and girls at my house last even less than that, so I was pleased to find a very nice specimen of the passion flower (no, I'm not making this up) for each one of them. Nadine looked like a Polynesian dancer. Shanna looked like a stripper with a plastic flower in her hair. Both of them squealed and ran inside to find a mirror. I followed, got another beer from the fridge and grabbed the foil full of LSD for Jim.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Strippers and Acid 3: The Playas

[Damn fucking Blogger, ate my shit again. Ah well. Today's will be better.]

The contents of the limousine had already visited several topless bars and pool halls, where they accomplished their dual goals of making their pool buddies jealous and convincing a couple of strippers to ride around in the limo.

To tell you the truth, they weren't a very impressive lot--only one of them (the groom-to-be) was our age, and the rest were in their early 20's. Most of them had the look of an early 80's high school football player, with blond mullets and tight tshirts emblazoned with logos like "Holley" and "Hemi." Typical Midwest City kids, out for their first bachelor party.

Frankly, these folks make me tired. They hadn't done anything I haven't done five hundred times, except rebuild a carburetor, but they were convinced they were tearing the galaxy a new one every day they woke up with a hangover. The only reason I didn't jump out at the end of the block was that they were in utter awe of Jim, who as you can imagine absolutely LIVES for stuff like this. And while I felt kind of greasy riding his coattails to the approbation of a bunch of recently graduated wrestling fans, it was a nice limo and I didn't have anything else to do. It was a Saturday, after all, and you only get one of those in a week.

So we headed on off to the next strip club, drinking Budweiser from a battered blue cooler and doing a lot of shouting and picture taking. The groom was already passed out, but recovered somewhat during the long drive to Valleybrook.

Valleybrook is a bit of an anathema in staid old Baptist Oklahoma. It's a one-street town that has been engulfed by the Oklahoma City metro area, yet like most of those towns (Britton and the old downtown come to mind) it retains a lot of the feel of being a small town. It's an anathema because the entire main street is lined with topless bars--at times so close together they look like some sort of skanky strip mall, with gravel parking lots and dusty, blacked out windows. I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say the only structures on the main drag that are NOT topless bars are a couple of gas stations.

The town seems to survive solely on the revenue provided by the taxes provided by the bars and the tickets they write for DUI and PI, plus whatever they get from the speed trap I imagine has to be in place on the east side of town. There's no school, no fire station, and the jail, I've been told, is actually a double wide trailer. Plop this thing down in the wilds of Nevada, and you'd have a Quentin Tarantino set just bursting with character.

So we arrived, and I realized that I was almost broke. Jim had promised to buy my drinks, but I really don't feel comfortable with asking people to buy my booze, so I did my best to sip the beers and watch everyone's back. This particular place had a separate "restaurant" area, which is the requirement for serving anything other than low-alcohol beer, so the majority of our crew was generally in transit from the bar, where shots would be held aloft every few minutes, to the strip club part, where dollar bills would be held aloft even more frequently. Since I wasn't really a part of the bachelor party (I just couldn't integrate, kids--despite what you may have gathered from previous stories, I do have some modicum of self respect), I spent most of my time at an out of the way table, nursing a beer and keeping a count of party members, strippers, and bouncers.

With big drunken groups like this, I have to mention, it's important to keep track of everyone's whereabouts. I learned this in a narrowly averted disaster, when a bunch of flight-jacketed hoodlums and I visited a bar on the city's south side. As it turns out, they did this primarily to tear the place apart, and as we were making our getaway we realized that one of our number was still inside the club. In fact, he'd been in the bathroom the whole time, unaware of the ruckus. But that's another story--I've just been anal about counting nodding heads thereafter.

Pretty soon I noticed that our party had indeed dwindled, and collared Jim to find out what the deal was. After much shouting and gesturing, we learned from the rest of the crew that a contingent had been sent, in the limo, to fetch a couple of girls from the club they'd been to before visiting my house. There I was, stuck in Valleybrook, with no money, no drugs, and no ride home. I retreated to the bar, where I purchased my last beer. Shit, you can always talk to the bartender.

But I was immediately set upon by a woman in a pink spangly pushup bra and matching panties. I didn't mind this, particularly. I told her right off I was broke, and was just along for the ride with the crew in the next room. She squinched up her face rather charmingly, and we began to talk.

She gave me the Part Time Stripper Story, pretty much verbatim. That is, she was just doing this to work her way through college (or hair school, sometimes), and really hated all the guys she had to deal with. And I didn't really look the type to be in there, what did I do?

[I learned a long time ago (after an evening on acid in one of the bigger strip clubs) that topless bar small talk is actually a highly stylized ritual, a sort of verbal flowchart where only a certain number of choices are actually presented. In this case, she was presenting herself as "Good Girl Fallen on Hard Times," as opposed to the "Sexy and Evil Bad Girl," who is a lot more raucous and exhibitionistic, if that makes any sense. Maybe you could think of them as the Nurse and the Biker Chick. Perhaps more on that later.]

Well, I just don't like to hand out personal information, boys and girls, so I told her I was a student too (I had, in fact, recently retaken calculus, so I wasn't completely lying) and, again, that I was with the bachelor party in the next room. Not being very good at socializing, I let the conversation lull, and she went out to dance.

She returned, after a decent attempt to aerobicize to "Closer," and actually bought me a beer. Shit, maybe this is no game after we talked for a while, about school and bars and vodka, and I'd almost forgotten where I was when I heard the crash in the next room.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Strippers and Acid 2: The Deal With Jefe

Given Beardking's comment, I guess I'd better give you my theory on bachelor parties, and where it came from. I'm going to skip over all the obvious rationale for not behaving like a drunken asshole because, well, I am a drunken asshole. I don't need a reason, and I also don't like seeing a bunch of fucking amateurs run around and get killed (or kill others) just because Billy Ray is gonna get hitched. This is the same reason I don't go out on Halloween and New Years (at least not in this city-being able to flee to NYC for the ending of the year has really given me a new appreciation for the holiday, but that's another post) either. Amateurs. And many, many more cops looking to make busts.

Furthermore, I've already done what I consider my time in strip clubs, and I'm over it. A sculptor I'm not--the female form begs little study from me, unless it's actually in my bed. Or on the couch, or in the shower, or wherever--but I never got any gratification out of just seeing a girl naked, especially once I realized that this is her job, and I was paying her salary. That put me at loose ends, because I tend to want to leave people alone and let them get their job done, whereas the whole point of her job is to keep me in her face.

Anyway, once you realize that no stripper's going to go home with your randy drunk ass without a serious amount of leveraging with drugs I've always considered too precious and dangerous to waste on strangers, the whole situation begins to pall. Let's face it, you don't get the best crowds in these places anyway (on stage or off), and it didn't take me long to realize my taste for slumming was pretty limited.

Oh, and then there was that stripper I took out of The Midway and attempted to make an honest girl of (in the loosest possible definition of that term-not marriage, but not rolling drunks, either). We nearly killed each other, her bartending nights and me working my ass off during the day, and during that time I got to see an even seedier side than most people get to see.

So by the time all THAT was said and done, and I crawled out of the cave I had half intended to die in, I pretty well felt like I'd seen the whole "get fucked up and take strippers home" scene come and go. No mas para Jefe, ladies and gents. It was depressing.

Not that I'm not against bachelor parties in general--I just hate the "this is the last time you're ever gonna see another chick naked, dude" mentality so prevalent around here. And frankly, the whole "men behaving badly" thing is a lot easier to slide into if you're in a place where men are already being encouraged to do just that.

My purpose, then, is this: make that boy GLAD he's getting married. Make him so scared of his friends that he flees to a different city and won't be in the room with you alone, ever again. Make him ingest more of anything he's ever been inclined to do than even I would think wise, because given the penchant we have towards dualism, he'll think twice once he gets married about falling back on a safety net. "Fuck that," he'll say after the first big argument about the checkbook or whatever, "I'm never sleeping on THAT guy's couch again."

A bachelor party, then, should be half sendoff and half warning to Never Fucking Come Back Here, Ever. And you can't accomplish that by going out and having what's basically a slightly above average evening with your friends--it's only accomplished by careful planning and subtle abuse. Preferably for three or four days, close enough to the ceremony that the fear doesn't wear off beforehand, but early enough that all parties can be out of jail and cleaned up for the rehearsal (or at worst, the rehearsal dinner).

[For what it's worth, Dan's bachelor party went pretty much how I wanted it to, except that I still had to give a toast at the wedding. Ideally, you're disinvited completely, but I guess there's some small part of me that's too cute and cuddly to exclude completely. And to all you poor wedding guests that heard that shit ad nauseum, I apologize. I don't do well in crowds.]

Anyway, besides the brutal beating my liver and brain take on an AVERAGE weekend, I KNEW that a bachelor party for someone I didn't know was going to be a nightmarish affair, full of abused limo drivers, strippers, and sticky limo surfaces. There's never enough ice, the mirror's never big enough, and it's always very loud.

But it was too late, kids. As you know by now, my motto is "give me one good reason why not." And I was kind of bored.

I got in the limo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bachelor Party 1: One Dose of MDMA

Within a month of escaping the clutches of Sketchy Bill, I was back on my feet and no longer having weird flashbacks of guys named "Razor." The acid was still plentiful, so I generally had a sheet of the stuff laying around the house (ah, those were the days). I also had a single brown pill, the sole survivor of my stash from SF. I was in a bit of a quandary:

Ecstasy, really, should be taken with a single member of the opposite sex, in a space full of red fur, strawberries, and Cocteau Twins. Trust me on this one: you can have lots of fun on it in other ways, in other settings, but this is the way it's meant to be taken.

LSD, on the other hand, should be ingested in large groups, preferably with dwarves and clowns in abundance. If you can, Jaygo and Seej should be hired to do weird video shit on your walls, and lots of Severed Heads should be played at top volume.

Under no circumstances should you do acid around strangers, especially strangers who aren't tripping with you. If you do, you'll regret it. You can trust me on this one, too.

Anyway, my quandary was that I had no female to split this tab of ecstasy with. And it was burning a hole in my pocket. It continued to do so during the rest of the winter--no situation seemed right, no opportunity presented itself.

It was springtime, then, when the difficulty was ended. A white limo pulled up to the curb, and Jim lurched from the dark, smoky interior with a bottle of champagne and a fistful of one dollar bills. He pounded on my door, howling three words that strike fear into my heart:


Sunday, March 20, 2005

This Is A Reminder

OK, dammit, I've forgotten about this story more times in the last three weeks more times than I've locked my keys in my car the whole time I've been driving (now I've done it, dammit--note to self, make someone else drive to church), and I'm finally at a place where I can write it down (the reminder) AND remember what I'm supposed to be writing down.

Next up: the perils of LSD and bachelor parties.

Diana and Joe 3: Innocent Treachery/The Bet

At the end of August, the golden summer came crashing down. Bob moved out, Jim moved out (in the middle of the night, no less), and I had to break down and go back to my job (for most of the summer, we'd been living off of LSD profits, Taco Mayo tacos, and whatever we could find in the fridge). This final bit was the death knell, really--everyone else could stay up all night, but I had to be at work early in the morning, and worked til late, so I began to secede from the social scene.

This wasn't so bad, actually--I've found there are times in my life when I'll ingest prodigious amounts of illicit substances, act crazy, and generate fodder for these pages. At some point, however, that urge wears off, and I feel the craving for a bit more...structure (or at least a bit of a paycheck).

But the result, most mornings, was that I would wake up in my bed to find Joe crawling into his--or nobody in the house at all, since they had the decency to not tempt me while I was trying to re-adjust to Asian garment worker hours. Most of the parties moved over to Waynerd's place, which was a tiny, tiny efficiency (literally, a living room/bathroom/kitchen) about a dozen blocks away.

So it was that I awakened one day and found the purple head of Joe, face in his hands, elbows on knees, shaking back and forth in the early Tuesday morning sunlight. This was a man plainly in the grip of some sort of Trouble. And, despite my well documented misanthropy before 10am, I had the compassion to ask "hey, Joe, what's the matter?"

His head stopped, and without looking up, he muttered, "I fucked Diana last night. Shit, what am I gonna do now?"

The problem, of course, hies back to one of the other things I've been talking about here and on Seeing in the Dark: casual sex is NEVER equally casual for both partners. And given Jessie's belief that sex is The Ultimate Price You Pay For Love, you can understand ol' boy's feeling that maybe he'd stuck his foot in a bear trap. Because despite Diana's more casual feelings on sex, we had all seen the googly eyes, and been afraid for him.

Well, shit, I thought, I guess I can be a little late for work. I have got to hear this--because Joe was a clever quarry, and I didn't think Diana (hey, classical scholars, don't miss the Roman allusions here) would be able to bring him down.

Turns out the afternoon had begun like many others, with a case of cheap beer and some kind bud on the front porch. Waynerd was present, and had arranged to meet Diana and Jessie there as well. Upon arrival, and the exhaustion of beer, the four moved to Waynerd's place, the girls stopping off to get another case or two of beer. As I said, they were good girls.

Now, for some reason, Joe had been playing a lot of cards recently, teaching us how to play hearts. He was the "King of Hearts," I think he said, and was apparently pretty good--definitely better than me, but I have little attention span for that sort of thing. Anyway, his hearts playing was filled with reminiscences about his time in jail, which he'd apparently spent, uh, learning how to play hearts. Now, Joe wasn't OLD enough to have spent much time in jail, but still, it seemed like a pretty simple game at the time. And, from painful experience, I knew how focused jail life could be. Without books, all you can do is brush your teeth and pray, and I'm not much for prayer.

So as the beer was being processed in the livers of the card players, Joe and Waynerd took a commanding lead over the two girls. In fact, they won the first three or four games handily. They stopped to smoke pot (neither girl smoked, so it was all the boys on this), then began again. The girls, mysteriously, spanked the shit out of the boys. They played again--same result. Joe's manhood was being impunged, of course, even moreso once Jessie revealed that she'd learned to play hearts with her grandmother, visiting her on weekends.

More dope was smoked, more beers were drank. The case of beer closer to the boys was empty, so they started in on the girl's case, which wasn't nearly as empty (pay attention, bubba--that was a Clue). Everyone was all giggly now, and the girls upped the ante a bit:

"OK, we want to bet! If you guys win this next game, you can sleep with us. If WE win, you have to wash our cars, over at Jefe's house, naked!"

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm not sure if Joe realized what he was up against at this point or not. He gave no indication at the time-and I can't say for sure that I would either, after that intake of beer and (especially) pot. But perhaps, now that I sit and write this, he did--and played the next game with the desperation of a man who knows he's doomed, and doomed implicitly by his own friend and partner, Waynerd.

Because you and I know Waynerd, and this is the guy who'd cut you off at the ankles for $2.50. After six weeks of chasing after Jessie, he would have sold his own mother to the communists for just a sniff of her panties, if you'll pardon the mental picture.

And so it was that Joe fought a mighty battle of hearts, standing against two nubile young females (one with a screechy laugh) and his own best friend. He battled, but as we know, couldn't lose. The girls had beat him to the bottom.

Triumphant, Waynerd's eyes lit up as he eyed his prize. Joe slunk off to the bathroom, which probably only made it worse. The anticipation, you know.

By the time Joe returned, Waynerd and Jessie were already in the bed, making out like fools, and Diana was batting her eyelashes and unbuttoning her blouse.

He ran.

He ran downstairs, got in the LTD, fired up the Bass Cannon, and pulled out his pipe. Smoking, he contemplated what had gone wrong, and why his dashlights didn't work. He contemplated whether he should actually go through with it, and the ramifications of both courses of action. Waynerd got in the car beside him, in boxers.

We both know what Waynerd's thoughts were on the matter. "Dude, she won't sleep with ME unless YOU sleep with DIANA. (puff) Come on, man, come on! A bet's a bet! You can't do this to me, man, it's not FAIR. Come on, you'll hurt her feelings, dude. I mean, it's all over now, anyway (puff)--she'll never overcome a humiliation like this, if you don't go through with it, and we'll lose all our girl crew. Come on, man, oh, here, this is cashed."

So, in the end, Joe trudged back up the stairs, in front of a prancing Waynerd, and entered the kitchen, where Diana had a blanket or two laid down over the bacon fat- and Doc Marten dirt-laden carpet.

There, we leave our characters, as they do what neither you nor I want to know more about.

Brought low by treachery and his own ego, boys and girls.

Joe didn't see Diana for another year and a half or so--whenever she would come in, or he would know she was coming, he'd flee--if necessary, by a back window or door. He moved out of my house shortly thereafter, never to return (but leaving me his bed, which was comfortable stacked with mine.

The girls, for their part, continued to come around for the rest of the year. Jessie got The Phone Call from Waynerd, resulting in a weird trip to the Old Downtown, where Waynerd told her, next to a campfire built in the lee of an old school bus-turned-apartment, that he had sex warts, and she might want to get checked out. Diana showed up at my place fairly regularly, until a very strange night spent driving around town probing my defenses about whether I was attracted to her. Nope. Ah well, at least I got a hot shower out of the deal.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Diana and Joe 2: The Long Summer

The summer in question has enough stories for me to tell for the rest of my life, but as a consequence it's hard to sit down and pick out one thread of the whole pattern, and tell it. Many stories are short--many of them aren't very funny, or aren't very appealing unless you're there. Most of life is like that, I find.

But I digress. By late summer, a vague sort of pairing up had occurred, in which it was well known who wanted to sleep with whom. Perhaps this had been happening all along, and I was just too dumb to recognize it. Or perhaps I saw it all along, and just didn't care--now, of course, I'm compelled to drag all this out and put it to paper, lest I forget--and lest you go elsewhere to waste a few minutes of your otherwise productive day.

Jessie was the one saving her maidenhood for marriage. She was nice looking, in a very classic Midwestern-standard way--always well combed hair, makeup, and feminine clothing. All that I could have forgiven her, if she hadn't been clinging to that excruciatingly weird idea about her hymen. It wasn't so much the hymen, for me, or the "saving herself" bit, even: it was what was behind that idea. Marriage, inlaws, mortgage payments, and diapers--all things I couldn't even contemplate without a stiff drink. So, while we flirted a bit, I never pursued her, because I knew exactly where that pursuit would lead me.

Instead, she flirted pretty heavily with our friend Waynerd, who I've mentioned before (he's the guy I bet $5 with in The Worst Date of My Life). Waynerd, I'll point out again, is not our good friend at Big Cliche--that would be an insult I would never survive making.

Waynerd was a good looking kid, tending towards vanity and not above a bit of beer-wahooing or car-stereo theiving with his friends Circle J and Travis (see how the network expands?). He was a consummate liar, and most importantly, would say ANYTHING to get into a girl's pants. At the time, though, I thought he'd met his match with Jessie.

Diana was quite a bit different. She couldn't get rid of her virginity fast enough, I think, and loved nothing more than cute boys on acid, preferably boys in black leather gyrating to Front 242 or the like. She had bobbed black hair, wore too much makeup, and had the most annoying laugh I've ever heard--but a pair of breasts that made Jim and quite a few other guys drop their drinks. Me, I couldn't get past the laugh.

But since we all spent so much time around each other, it seemed natural that she would gravitate towards Joe, the goth with the purple hair and pierced nipples (he actually pierced them HIMSELF, in our bathroom). Joe was unimpressed--like me, the laugh and her generally raucous way of speaking (and she did love to speak) overwhelmed any attraction we might have had for her.

Lastly, there was Jennifer. Jennifer, to be succinct, was a scary bitch. She dressed like Marilyn Manson and was built like a tank--the first phrase that comes to mind is "big boned," and when I say that I don't mean it as a euphemism for "fat." The girl had big, thick bones, and there wasn't an ounce of fat on her. And she was scary--she could make a man get up and leave the room just by staring at him for a while, and there always seemed to be anger just beneath the surface of what she said. She didn't say much, either, which meant that every word had to be carefully parsed for meaning. Even when she smiled, it was a predatory smile. The most comforting thing about her was the 12 pack of Bud Dry she always brought with her.

But even goth linebackers like her need love, so she eventually hooked up with TC, the human beatbox, designated monkey, and marathon walking machine. TC was homeless and lived on people's couches, goodwill, and stolen beer. He was a good guy to have around when you needed a guinea pig for new lots of acid, anything climbed, or a ridealong for supply procurement. Unfortunately, he didn't bathe very often, so having him around was a mixed blessing at best.

By the beginning of August, Diana had worked up a pretty good set of puppy dog eyes for Joe, which became increasingly difficult for everyone to bear. Furthermore, Waynerd had been pressing his case with Jessie pretty regularly, so the stage was set for disaster.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Diana and Joe 1: Here We Go Again

But this time, it's not about ME having sex, so feel free to snigger publicly.

The time was the summer of 93. We had a pretty good house, and a set of pretty good lives, and we didn't need a lot of money (which was good, because nobody was really doing a lot of job hunting). We had friends, and more importantly, we had a few female friends who would eventually get frustrated because there was no toilet paper, or nothing to eat, and would arrive laden with groceries. This sounds like a fairy tale, I know, especially since none of us were in rock bands or anything, but I swear, it happened regularly. And by "regularly," I mean, like, 3 times. But that makes you feel good, boys and girls, because that means someone cares enough to want you to stay alive--whereas the rest of the presents I've gotten in my life (from cocaine and crystal to Jim Beam and Kid Rock records) have all tended to shorten it.

So we were feeling good, my roommates and I. It was an old two bedroom house, with one bathroom which was accessible only through the bedrooms, and the fuses would blow if you tried to run two air conditioners at once, but we loved it. In retrospect, there was a sense of community there that I don't think I've ever recovered, til the Burn.

In the North Bedroom (from North to South): Joe and me. Joe was a sort of proto-goth (in that he liked large doses of LSD and Skinny Puppy, and dyed his hair purple) that I'd met at New Orleans Cafe, somehow. Joe drove a 68 LTD, maroon and rust, and had spent the money for fixing the headlights and brakes on something called a "Bass Cannon," which was some sort of subwoofer that made the back seat of the car fairly unliveable unless you had previously ingested LSD. Which was fine by me.

In the South Bedroom (also wik): Bob and Jim. Jim, being the first of the roommates to arrive, had appropriated the spot near the south window, which will come into play later when I tell you the story of the guy who attempted to steal my weedeater. Jim you already know, or know of, through a few other stories here.

Bob was a bit of an enigma. His claim to fame was that he had a head shaped almost identically to Butthead's, except with a slightly less offensive sneer on his face. Bob was older than we were, but didn't look like it--in fact, he looked younger and inoffensive, almost...innocent. This belied the fact that by far, he was the most amoral among us, and prone to the oddest eccentricities. He loved fucking with people who were inebriated, and to that end, he'd often start drinking late in the party, just to make sure he had the edge. Occasionally, he would disappear for a week or so, and return to his ex wife, where they would try once again to make a go of a relationship that probably kept foundering on his sheer perversity.

All of these guys, in other words, were people of my own stripe.

Jim was dating a girl named Becky, and Becky had a couple of friends named Diana and Jessie (actually, that's not Jessie's real name, but I've been sitting here for 10 minutes and I can't think of it, so Jessie she is), and Diana had a friend named Jennifer. These were the main features, so to speak, along with Tiffany the Younger and Lisa, AKA Peppermint Patty, who were both New Orleans Cafe kids.

[For those obsessively keeping track of names here, TTY is called that to differentiate her from TFTSOK (Tiffany from the Story of Kim)]

Now, it's important to realize that these girls were sort of off limits sexually, for various reasons. I can't speak for the other boys, but for me, they were either dumb, obsessively...moral (by which I mean they were still intent on being virgins til their wedding night, which is fine, really, but it kind of weirds me out in a way I can't describe without even MORE parenthetical expressions and obscure punctuation)...or had some extremely annoying characteristic (which I'll get to in a bit). Also, yes, none of them seemed too inclined to sleep with us (at least, initially).

So it was a happy summer, full of drugs and gallon jugs of wine, loud Ministry and Fugazi and Prodigy. Looking back, I honestly can't remember a time that summer when there was sexual tension between me and ANY of these women, except for...well, come to think of it, there was quite a bit, but this will be a long story.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Aides to the Ex President 8: The Game

The restaurant manager soon broke from the doorway and headed over to the bar, followed by one of the waiters with an extension cord. The heat appeared to be off for the moment, but I drank off half of my gin and tonic just to be within striking distance of finishing up before we got tossed.

The sounds on the staircase began to coalesce into Jim's voice, roundly cursing the Dallas Cowboys and, occasionally, me. This gradually got louder, and within a couple of minutes I was treated to the sight of his hunched over form, carrying one end of a big screen television. The bartender and another waiter had the other end, and before long this group was scurrying around like roadies for KISS, while Jim bellowed orders like the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Jenna appeared beside him, with a water glass full of Wild Turkey. He waved her impatiently away, so she brought it over to me.

"What the hell's going on?" I asked, still a little freaked out by the peripheral Algeria, my changing clothes, and the general feeling that we'd Gone Too Far.

She gave me a dirty look and wandered off. I shrugged. Huh, wonder what Jim said to her. I took a sip of Jim's drink, then wandered over to the bar.

Dave, the manager, had been taken out of the equation by Jim's bellowing about "total coverage" and "that cocksucker Aikman," so we had a few minutes to talk while he got me some ice for the whiskey.

[For those of you playing "Jeff's Liver" at home, this is AFTER I quit drinking whiskey straight out of the bottle and BEFORE I quit drinking straight whiskey altogether. Well, with some exceptions.]

"Did you really do that?" Dave said, watching me out of the corner of his eye.

I looked at him quizzically. "What?"

"Jim said you traded your press passes for a couple of hookers last night, while he slept. He said you were lucky to get out of that hotel alive!"

"Uh, well, what do YOU think?"

The guy sort of smirked and busied himself washing glasses: "If you want to know the truth, he's more the hooker type. Anyway, I don't mind. This is turning out to be one of the best nights we've had since I've worked here, and if he's willing to do all the work to get that TV up here, and ramrod the party, I don't care WHO you are. You could work for the Economist, for all I care-if you're with that freak, I know you'll write something good about us."

"What on earth?" I thought, "is he on to us? Or is this a bribe?"

He slid me a beer and began shouting at the bartender, who seemed hypnotized by the growing crowd around the television, and Jim. I slipped back to the table, looked at the ice, then dumped it over the railing. "Fuck it," I thought. "The cold will slow me down."

I took a couple of pages of pretty incoherent notes, attempted to sketch the crowd, and sipped on Jim's forgotten water glass. Jenna kept bringing me beer, but didn't have much to say. Guess she didn't approve of hookers.

It was halftime before I realized the game was even on--from my vantage on the roof, there were too many people blocking the television for me to see it...but that was OK. There was plenty of other scenery to take in, and I had the feeling this was going to be a night I should remember. I tried my best to memorize every view from my seat, to hold "the moment" in every way I could. The bite of the warm whiskey, the smell of cigarettes and cooling concrete, the shimmering of straight blonde hair under red neon--shouts from below, streets full of people having the time of their lives, or pretending to. I wondered how many of them knew that it was too good to last, and how many were, like me, trying to preserve some small piece of the magic before Monday mornings (and, in the long run, careers and parenthood) crushed it like a grape.

With about 15 minutes to go, Jim came back and gulped the last of the whiskey. "Come on, man, the manager wants to see us downstairs. Time to walk tall."

We met the manager, who ducked us into his office and offered Jim a bump from something in a brown vial. I declined, and leaned against the door while they began haggling over the bill.

I woke up in the car, with whiskey on my breath and a headache. It was dark, and it seemed like Jim was driving a thousand miles an hour.

I rubbed my eyes: "do we have enough gas to get home?"


"How did you pay for all that?"

"I told him the article'd be in the November issue. That way, we can go back down there for Halloween. The Eagles are in town then, I think. And this time, we're going."

Friday, March 04, 2005

Aides to the Ex President 7: The Roof

I would have written this all early this week, had I not been stumped by trying to recall just exactly what sort of bullshit I'd laid on this poor girl. Perhaps when I'm feeling perverse and verbose, I'll go back and stick it in here, but for now, just the facts.

Jim and I sat back in that dark corner booth for the better part of two hours, sucking down Wild Turkey and whatever else they put in front of us; I kept trying to write, but my eyes refused to focus on the paper, and it was too dark to see what I was doing, anyway. But eventually, I guess, one of the two of us began to believe our own press--the matter of the dusty velvet rope was broached, our requirement of TOTAL COVERAGE, or at least a view of the West End, explained, and the manager summoned. Soon, unbelievably, Jim and I were ensconced on the roof of the place, at a glass topped table with a parasol sticking out of the middle of it. It was HOT, and we could never get the shade situation corrected, but nobody, especially the manager, batted an eye when I asked Jenna to start questioning her guests about whether any of them had attended the Lollapalooza show the night before. Soon, a trickle of people began to file up the stairs to sit at our table and be "interviewed."

I still can't believe, to this day, that we succeeded with this. All I can think was that there really was a sort of confluence of subcultural energy in Dallas that weekend, and the restaurant staff was hip to it, at least subconsciously.

And it had to have been subconsciously-if it was obvious, I can't help but think they're expect someone slightly more illustrious than a couple of wild eyed hopheads to come cover the event--but, as ridiculous as it seemed to me, everyone seemed to swallow our bullshit without batting an eye.

It was nearly sunset when I looked up and noticed a few things.

1) While we had the only table on the roof, few (if any) of the people I'd interviewed had gone back downstairs. The bar in this area was completely stripped of alcohol, and the entire thing was covered in a layer of fine Texas dust, so the only reason for these folks to be upstairs would be, well, us.

2) For some reason our Turkey and Cokes had been replaced with gin and tonics, which suited me fine because the day was rather hot. The parasol, the crowd below, and the general heat combined with my greatly stretched brain at this point, and something odd happened.

It's kind of hard to explain, but veteran psychonauts will probably back me up on this. Your mind sort of...splits in two, I guess. Your conscious mind knows and acts like you're in exactly the same reality that everyone else is in, albeit one that is substantially funnier and prone to breathe/melt/turn irridescent. Your subconscious mind, however, begins to make pretty erroneous assumptions about what's going on.

In this case, I knew I was wearing a black Jane's Addiction tshirt, khaki shorts, and ratty tennis shoes. However, when I wasn't looking at what I was wearing, and especially when I took a sip of my frosty beverage, my subconscious mind would dress me in a sort of white linen planter's suit--and instead of downtown Dallas, I was somewhere near the coast, in Mexico or Algiers. The post of the parasol would morph into a palm tree trunk, and the haze that shrouds downtown became, peripherally at least, a sandstorm. While this was infinitely cooler than being broke in Dallas and responsible for a rapidly growing bar tab, it was rather disconcerting. Even MORE disconcerting was

3) Jim was nowhere to be found. However, there was a commotion on the staircase, and the manager, by the door, was dividing his attention between staring at me and scanning the feet of the crowd, especially in the area of the still abandoned bar. I began to fret.