Sunday, May 30, 2004

"Sometimes... It's Too Late."

I should stop writing entries when I'm drunk.

Monaco

Foremost, I'm not suicidal. Nonetheless, drunk me has never felt so ready to end all my problems and social entanglements. Not that I would, but if I did:

It's your fucking fault, all of you, for not realizing that I have enough personal trauma to work though without attempting to work through anybody else’s. You've done this; not me. Don’t you all realize how much I have to work through on my own? Damn you. Damn your baggage and damn your expectations.
What do you want from me?
It’s not how it used to be
You’re taking my life away
And ruining everything.
Happy birthday, Ha-Shawn.

Friday, May 28, 2004

She Don't Love Herself

Since recent events have pushed race to the forefront of my mind, I started thinking about race in Hollywood. For whatever reason, I tried to name ten young black actresses with legitimate careers. I came up with Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett, Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Gabrielle Union, Nia Long, Vivica A. Fox, Maya Rudolph, Vanessa Williams and Lisa from "Saved by the Bell."

But...

Halle Berry is half-black, however. So are Maya Rudolph and Vanessa Williams. And Beyonce and Queen Latifah got into acting after they'd already astablished careers in music, where the racial distribution is a little more even than in acting. And whether Lark Voorhies' career is iffy at best. I could think of actresses who were recently but no longer famous — Lisa Bonet, Stacey Dash, Brandy — and some more who are "of a certain age" — Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson — and dead ones like Dorothy Dandridge. But that's it.

So if someone like me, who commits famous names to memory as if they were important, can't think of ten solid names, then I doubt most people could. Which sucks — and not just for black actresses.

(Conversely, if I tried to name ten white actresses with legitimate acting careers, I could do so without pausing: Mena Suvari, Mira Sorvino, Milla Jovovich. Oh, you know the rest.)

And I'll bet a lot of people never stop and think about how peculiar it is that Lucy Liu is the only Asian-American actor or actress to host "Saturday Night Live."

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Attack of Your Butt

Your butt vs. the world. It's happening. You just don't know it yet.
Our Asses Are Taking Over the World

We’ve become our own asses, people.

Being called an “ass” is nothing new for me. Back when I knew it as the “a-word,” it was one of the first obscenities I had ever learned. When someone’s acting foolish, he or she is called an “ass.” And unlike its relative that affixes the word “hole” to its backside, I’ve always thought the stop-being-such-an-ass ass arrived in our lexicon from the word “jackass” and referred to the similarity society’s more irritating members share with braying donkeys.

Webster agrees, defining this use of the “ass” as “a stupid, obstinate or perverse person.” However, since I started at UCSB, I learned a slew of other uses of the same word. In this academic world, I found that things no longer happened to people. Instead they happened to their asses.

“I need you to wake up early and drive my ass to the airport.”

“It’s already 3 a.m.? You need to get your ass to bed!”

“Those guys are going to get their sorry asses flunked.”

In all of these cases, the “ass” could be either substituted for “self” without significantly changing the meaning of the sentence.

From the context, it’s also clear that this sense of “ass” doesn’t mean donkeys; it’s metaphor in which the speaker replaces a person with an odd stand-in: their bottom. (Although if you go back and read the sentences using the donkey meaning, it makes them all the funnier.)

But why would people so openly refer to themselves and others as a body part usually considered foul and obscene? And if the more typical sense of “ass” — the obnoxious person sense — refers to donkeys, why don’t people use “asshole,” the more common term when referring to the body part? While the mental image of a friend driving someone’s anus to the airport is downright surreal, vulgar speech usually uses “asshole” when referring to the body part itself.

After pondering all things ass-related, I’ve decided this usage of “ass” is an extension of the phrase “to kick ass” or “to kick one’s ass.” This common expression denotes one person or thing’s total dominance over another, often in a physical sense but subsequently in other ways. “Jose’s new car kicks ass,” for example, means that the car is better than other cars even though it hasn’t proved so in the boxing ring.

Regardless of whether a physical fight took place, when people say “Mary kicked Suzy’s ass,” they’re saying that Mary dominated Suzy. In the instance of an actual beating, Mary could have kicked Suzy everywhere but her ass. Or Mary could have used brass knuckles or a bag of oranges and refrained from kicking altogether. Yet “Mary kicked Suzy’s ass” would be understood by most English speakers to mean that Suzy - the whole being of Suzy - lost this fight badly. Contextually, Suzy becomes her ass.

Thus, I think it’s this expression which introduced this odd relation of ass-as-self.

Likely because the relationship is drawn from the notion of ass-kicking, using “ass” to refer to the self preserves a bit of the pejorative nature of being physically dominated. I’m pretty sure you’d never hear Mary speak of her boyfriend in the terms, “My boyfriend bought my ass the loveliest diamond ring!” The expression would also never position the ass to be the grammatical subject, so “My ass ate the best lunch today” would never work — thankfully, I might add.

So we’ve done it. We’ve taken the organ that makes poop and said, “We want to identify with you, poop machine.” Whether this is a low point for language or a high point for asses, I’m not sure. But next time you shout, “I need to get my ass to class!” remember that you’re more than just an ass. You’re a person, and unless you actually own a donkey, you deserve better.

Don’t even get former Nexus opinion editor Drew started on people who say “ATM machine.”
This Nexus effort comes with delightful — and rather literal — accompanying artwork by Miss Jenny Promack.

Crystalline Green

I like Goldfrapp. I like Donkey Kong. But when they play a Goldfrapp song in an ad for a new Donkey Kong game, I can't help but think they're pulling each other down.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The Indecision's Killing Me

  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?
  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?
  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?
  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?

and then the best thing that happened today was when i found my salami. it was in its wrapper still, in the front pocket of the coat i wore at the prom party. i guess i pocketed it when april showed up, and then when i took my jacket off, i couldn't find it. until now. good salami. good.
  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?
  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?
  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?
  • hurdy-gurdy or farkleberry?

Sunday, May 23, 2004

The Last Sticky Floor

[ the last of four tangentially related short stories about Drew ]

The Get-Drunk-and-Fall-Down Prom went off without a hitch. Smaller turnout than expected, but no randoms. Plus wearing nice clothes put people on better behavior. Funny, how putting people in trash bags and newspaper turn them into party monsters. You are what you wear. And few Nexites showed up, which probably helped the social factor. Those that did, like Brenna and Danny, had never been to my house before

When people shuffled off, though, I got a little sad — and not only because I was drunk. That was the last party I’ll ever have when all my friends are living in Isla Vista. Everyone’s leaving soon. I’m staying. I’m staying.

I feel like everything's going to change. I feel like I'm losing something. Even though I know I'll be fine, I feel like everyone will leave and all I'll have is pictures and drunk-fuzzy memories like ghosts.

Inedible Turnover

[ the third of four tangentially related short stories about Drew ]



The Nexus staff box has changed in the way it does during the last week of production every spring quarter. Oddly, my consternation isn’t with the name in my old position. Despite what the rumblings of disgruntled ex-Nexites might indicate, Meghan’s totally capable of doing as good a job as Cory or I did — and with a full quarter’s worth of layout and editorial experience, she’s actually better off than I was when I moved into that corner office one year ago.

No, what gets to me is working at Artsweek. Granted, I’ve worked for Artsweek for two years now, but some deep-seated respect for Jessica’s privacy makes me feel snoopy going through her section of Master Yoda’s file directory and writing “ARTS” in the section box of the copy log. Artsweek is Jessica’s deal — or at least Kami’s or Sara’s or all the other people who worked in that part of the office. Not mine.

Beyond that, I feel funny working with Brenna and Danny for just two weeks before I escape the Nexus until the first month of the new year.

Brenna and Danny have been going out for six years, which means that they became a couple around the time I started dating Jessica Number One. That whole mess seems like another lifetime on another planet. But I guess somethings can actually last that long.

The Girl

[ the second of four tangentially related short stories about Drew ]



So Danny, Brenna’s other assistant, did this story about this art class, DIT Style, who showcased their stuff this weekend in Echo Park. While I was looking up the class’s website to verify-clarify-(not rarify) a line in the piece when I realized that I knew a lot of the people in the class. Like Maggie. Or the girl.

This girl, see, is a bit of a mystery. She’s evaded any mention in the Cereal Box simply because I had no idea how to spell her name. And my grammatical instincts won’t permit me to print a name if I can’t check its spelling.

But I know now. And I like the name. It’s spelled exactly how I wanted it to be.

I wonder how different a vibe Artsweek will have with Jessica gone and with Brenna in the pilot’s seat. I wonder how the entire office will change.

Maggie and the Exquisite Corpse

[ the first of four tangentially related short stories about Drew ]



So I recently Friendster-found Maggie, one of the Nexus artists and a genuinely nice person. We exchanged IM names and I found out about this art project she was working on — an Exquisite Corpse-meets-Telephone project in which she began with a single 79-word quote. Some artists illustrated the quote and then those images were passed along to writers, who wrote a 79-word passage about the image they received. And then those passages get passed on to artists and so on.

I wrote.

Although I’m not sure whether I wrote in an appropriate style, I did explain the images in the painting I received as well as I could. (I also turned it in late, which may have upset Maggie’s artistic plan).

My 79-word contribution:
The sun blinked — once, fatally — and in an instant became its own dark twin, a void of black and cold whose rays stretched over the earth. Like a shadow mimicking its solar sister, the earth also changed. Its seas swelled and its plains withered gray. Only the serpents, twins intertwined helix-like, could remember what life was like before. Only their stinging bite could charge the world pain with verdant poison potent enough to shock the living back into life.
I suppose it make more sense juxtaposed to the picture. But I got my words featured in a genuine art show in Echo Park. And Maggie tells me the whole show went well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Godspeed, Captain Pinchy!

And now, finally, the full story of Captain Pinchy — or at least a marginally fictionalized account I turned into a short story for my Creative Non-fiction class.


(This story's hero)

…………

Godspeed, Captain Pinchy!
- An act of contrition by Drew -

The morning of Saturday, May 8. About half an hour after midnight.

kidicarus222: i have the crab
kidicarus222: only one, though
Toconut B: ah, from where?
kidicarus222: your friend’s work. the place at the end of the pier
Toconut B: cool
kidicarus222: i named him captain pinchy
Toconut B: so when does the shit go down?
kidicarus222: i gonna take him over to the girl’s house way late
kidicarus222: like
kidicarus222: 3 or 4
kidicarus222: because i want them asleep
Toconut B: but aren’t they in LA!?
kidicarus222: wait
kidicarus222: who is?
Toconut B: aren’t jill and meggs in LA?
kidicarus222: no
Toconut B: really? they didn’t go?
kidicarus222: i saw meghan this evening when i drove by
kidicarus222: and jill is with lee tonight
Toconut B: ahhh, ok
kidicarus222: i hope captain pinchy makes it
kidicarus222: i actually kind of feel bad for the little thing, ugly as he is
Toconut B: can you get the saltwater right?
kidicarus222: i got a big pot of actual seawater from the beach, so he’s cool right now
Toconut B: ok
kidicarus222: and then it won’t be long before i put him in the tub until they find him
Toconut B: if you’re sure they are there?
kidicarus222: they’ll be there
kidicarus222: at least one of them has to be asleep in her bed by 3 this morning
kidicarus222: right?
Toconut B: ok, good luck to you and cap’n punchy
kidicarus222: pinchy!
kidicarus222: he has a name
Toconut B: sorry
Toconut B: so do you think the girls will freak out ?

…………

People have it too easy, I think. What with microwaves and the internet, everything’s so damn convenient these days that people can afford to sit on their asses and complain. I’ll bet cavemen had exciting lives. You don’t sit down and bitch about the weather or loincloth chafe when you’re running from saber-toothed tigers.

From the way I see it, people need to have their lives made more interesting. Everyone can benefit from some skillfully tossed monkey wrench — a surprise obstacle that slows the gears of daily monotony to a halt, thus allowing room for the variety that only chaos can bring.

I think this whole mess began with my old roommates sometime during winter quarter of this year. In June they had moved out of the Pasado house and into this unreasonable Del Playa monstrosity. Marcy had just had a birthday, and I burned her a CD of offensive and bizarre songs. The best of the bunch was the first track, this song “Fuck the Pain Away” by this chick named Peaches. It was a pretty song. And it was a nice present, I thought. I wrote with a green Sharpie on the front, “Thinking of you on your special day! — Love, Drew.”

I got to the house and Katie was on her way out and she just tells me, “Oh, it’s unlocked. Let yourself in. Marcy will be home in like five minutes.” I did. As I put the CD on Marcy’s bed, I realized what an opportunity I had. The girls’ whole house. To myself.

Without a moment’s cogitation, the natural instincts of a little brother immediately kicked in and I began removing their couch cushions and stacking them in a fort formation in the center of the living room. The living room furniture having been stripped bare, I then switched all of the backgrounds on the PC desktops to pictures of clowns — they don’t like clowns — and then I replaced their internet homepages with a fanpage for Andrea Barber.

I then wrapped various articles like books and alarm clocks in tin foil, which makes even the dullest household fixtures seem like birthday presents from the future. I decorated the ceiling fan with bras and panties, which turns the room into a strip show if you put the fan on high, and then I strung the lawn furniture from the outside overhang with duct tape. You know. Just because.

And just when I was sure I couldn’t possibly do anything else before Marcy returned, I ran to the giant shared closet and tied together twenty or so pairs of sneakers, creating one long shoestring centipede some unlucky roommate would accidentally discover while reaching for their running shoes.

I got phone calls, afterwards. “Why? Why would you do this?” with those naughty Peaches lyrics playing in the background. And to that I would calmly explain to all seven roommates that nothing had been permanently damaged and I only did it to make their lives more interesting.

They didn’t buy it.

Regardless, that afternoon marked the first of a series of “life improvement sessions,” none in which the girls ever seemed to be willing participants.

Duct tape obstacle course: they didn’t like it. (“Monique fell down!”)

Cooked octopus tentacles from a seafood deli stuffed into their sink, making it look as though some purple sea demon were taking over their house, kitchen first: they didn’t like it. (“Drew, that’s gross.”)

Changing their outgoing answering machine message to ones about them having blood in their stool: they didn’t like it. (“My professor called the house that day.”)

A game of Find Your Tampons: they didn’t like it. (“Drew, we need those.”)

The time I decorated the house in clown d├ęcor, much of it handmade because no one actually sells clown decorations anymore because clowns are scary: they didn’t like it. (“Monique fell down again.”)

And blocking out all of their cable channels except Telemundo and the Sci-Fi network: they seemed most annoyed by that one, curiously.

But despite their exasperation with my antics, the girls never asked me to stop. They’d ask why, and they’d get the standard answer — convenience, caveman, saber-toothed tiger — and that was that. They still never locked their house properly, knowing full well I could break in and release wild lemurs in their bedroom, which I actually thought about. And sometimes, if I took too long, they’d ask me if I’d forgotten to prank them. Week by week, my relationship with my old roommates had mutated into some sick offshoot of sadomasochism in which annoyance and confusion replaced pain.

…………

Midway through spring quarter, the pranking logically progressed to the next level: the one where I put a live crustacean in their bathtub.

The idea formed in my head as I stood near the seafood section of Ralphs, where I had happened into conversation with one of my more long-winded writing professors. As I nodded and politely agreed, I eyed the lobster tank. Its locust-shaped, rust-colored prisoners bobbed and whirled aimlessly like wind-up contraptions in a toy store display window. When the conversation with Professor Thisandthat ended, my face squished against aquarium glass and into the beady, black eyes of one such lobster. You’re going to help me with the best prank yet, Mr. Space Bug, I remember thinking.

Admittedly, the original plan required some slight alteration before I could go into action. Recipes for homemade saltwater solutions hid from the all-seeing eye of Google. And a friend who majored in aquatic biology told me that most store-bought lobsters are actually quite docile. Rather than use their claws to pinch people like they do in cartoons, these undersea sloths sit on the floor of whatever body of water they’re stuck in and maybe — maybe — they might scuttle away if you frighten them.

“All you have to do to catch them is just to come up from behind and pick them up. They won’t even be able to snap at you with their claws if you grab them by their mid-section,” explained my own personal Jacques Cousteau.

No, I needed something that wanted to fight. Slowly, I made a functional plan.
  1. Get dinner at the fish place on the edge of Stearn’s Wharf.
  2. When dinner’s done, order one Rock crab to go. (Though the larger Dungeness crabs look more like the space invaders that would frighten my roommates, Rock crabs are cheaper — usually only five to six bucks per pound.)
  3. Specify that I do not want him put on ice. (Crabs freeze to death in subzero temperatures. Restaurants usually presume customers wouldn’t want a live crustacean wandering about their car, but I needed a live one.)
  4. Put the crab in the large stainless steel pot I had previously dunked in the ocean to make the little guy as comfortable as I could.
  5. Wait for the girls all to go to bed (probably around three or four in the morning, since this was a Friday night).
  6. Go into the house between three and four in the morning and toss the contents of the pot into the bathtub, seawater and all.
  7. Scrawl the following words on the bathroom mirror in soap: “IN A PINCH?”
  8. Plug in and turn the stereo I had brought, complete with special burned CD containing the following tracks: one of five minutes of total silence, then twenty of so of the Beatles’ “Octopus’ Garden.”
  9. Get outside and wait about four minutes and thirty seconds.
The girls hate bugs. They even hate little bugs. Meghan I remember specifically fleeing from a lone daddy longlegs. I figured a crab is basically a giant bug — just one that lives in the ocean — so the girls would be faced with the paradox of not wanting to touch the crab, but also wanting it gone as soon as possible. Not only would this confront the girls with the task of catching and removing the crab before they could use their shower, they’d have to do it at four in the morning, because I’d wake them up at that hour with one of the only Beatles songs hokey enough to have been written by Ringo.

I could picture it happening: It would probably be Taryn, the light sleeper, who would find him first. She’d probably scream, and do that excited jumpy thing that makes her look like a Peanuts character dancing. Meghan would scream too, then look away, then look back, then scream again, then look away again. She’d continue in that cycle for a while. And Jill would probably just laugh.

Yes, this would be something to be proud of.

…………

I first met the crab I was to name Captain Pinchy when the waiter brought him out as the product of my request for “the cheapest crab you guys got.” At one-and-a-half pounds, he didn’t appear small, really. Eight legs, two claws and a carapace wider than my outstretched thumb-to-pinky span. I couldn’t exactly tuck him under my arm like a football. But the waiter assured me he was a runt.

“That’s the one,” I said.

Glenn held the pot in his lap on the way home. Something about the sound of Pinchy’s bony legs scraping against his stainless steel home disturbed me, so I turned the music up.
“I’m glad you do this to your old roommates and not your present ones,” said Glenn, straining over the sounds of B-52s. He had slid the pot lid off enough to peek at Captain Pinchy.

I could see Pinchy’s soft crab face, his alien features angling from the bottom of the pot towards Glenn. It occurred to me that my dog had ridden in my car, as had countless stowaway flies and bugs. Once, even, a spider wove a web in the space between the windshield and the passenger-side vanity mirror. But this, doubtlessly, was the first time I had ever chauffeured a crustacean.

…………

Online research on Captain Pinchy’s brethren would teach me that the snapping, clamp-looking mandible things between his eyes and his underbelly were called his “mouthparts,” even though they weren’t really his mouth. Instead, he did his chomping and chewing with an extra set of tiny legs that evolution had molded into makeshift teeth. The result was what looked like a mouth laid sideways with leg-jaws that would snap scissor-like at the horizontal axis of Captain Pinchy’s orange body. Happily, the black orbs that rested on the ends of the stalks that slid out from under Pinchy’s bony shell — his carapace — actually were his eyes. At least one thing on his body looked like what it was supposed to be.

The most intimidating feature on Captain Pinchy’s body were his claws. I think every worthwhile animal had one God-given tool to hold his own in the food chain, and Pinchy’s kind had a set of pinchers from which I preferred to keep my distance. Chelapods, a website with a googly-eyed cartoon crab mascot called them. The foremost of a crab’s ten legs. His eating utensil and his first line of defense. His fork and his knife built into one. Yikes.

Whenever I learned about a new crab feature, I’d race to the kitchen to see if Pinchy had it. He invariably did, at least as near as I could check without touching him. My temporary crustacean housemate sat in the same cooking pot from the car ride, submerged in enough seawater I’d fetched from the ocean that he was completely submerged. Every now and then, Pinchy would spurt bubbles from what I was ninety percent sure was his mouth.

Eventually, I got hungry. I decided against the can of crab bisque, since it would be in poor taste with Pinchy in the kitchen. The alphabet soup was nearly boiling when I returned to the kitchen to my horror movie moment. By bracing himself on either side of his pot, Pinchy had begun to raise himself out of it. Though his body had just emerged from the water, his claws stuck all the way out of the top of the pot — fully extended and reaching upwards like a zombie tearing through the out of grave.

“Oh no you don’t!” I yelled, likely to no effect, even though I read crabs hear quite well. I shook the pot and sent Captain Pinchy plummeting back into the brine. He made more bubbles. Blurp blurp.

I had narrowly averted disaster. Having some sea monster with mouthlegs and eyestalks and pincers — pincers! — loose in the house, hiding in shadows and waiting to jump onto my face, hollow out my flesh with his claws, and filling me with baby crab eggs? No thanks. That’s horror movie stuff. Leaving just enough air to breathe, I put a cutting board on top of the pot then weighted it down with a dictionary.

Standing at the kitchen counter, I ate the soup right next to Pinchy’s prison. If you don’t make noise yourself, a quiet house on the far side of Pasado stays pretty quiet, even on a Friday night. The only sound to compete with the scratching of my spoon against the bottom of the soup bowl was the tinny tapping of crab legs and echo of water slosh in a stainless steel pot.

…………

The real motivation to stay in that Friday night had nothing to do with crabs. Rather, I had a workload the size of Texas. Instead of diving into a seemingly paradoxical creative writing assignment, though — “write a piece of creative non-fiction that has a thesis” — I was chatting online with Brie, who knew the girls well enough to conspire with me. Brie had just asked me, “So do you think the girls will freak out?” when the roommate barged in.

“Your crab is dead.”

I hadn’t realized Cory was home. He smelled like rum and cigarettes. Miasma: his signature scent.

“He’s not dead. He’s just tired,” I responded, without having any real knowledge about crab sleeping patterns.

Cory persisted. “Naw, man. I poked him with a butterknife. He’d dead. You own one dead crab.”

Leaving Brie’s question unanswered, I swiveled a half-circle from my keyboard and walked immediately to the pot. Glenn stood there, doubtlessly thoughtful and introspective. I looked down at what Cory alleged was Captain Pinchy’s carcass. I shook the pot. Water and sand swirled all about him, but Pinchy remained motionless.

“Glenn, what do you think?” I asked with an anxiousness that surprised me.

“He looks dead, that’s for sure. Do you know how long crabs can live outside of the ocean?” Behind Glenn’s glasses, his mechanical engineer brain was sending some train of higher-level thought to save Pinchy.

“I don’t know. A few hours if you don’t put him in water.” I looked at the microwave clock. “It’s been four hours and we did put him in water.

“But not much,” Glenn reasoned. “Maybe not enough. Besides I think putting the cutting board might have blocked air from getting to the surface of the water.”

“You think I suffocated him?”

“Might have.”

Guilt washed over me, flooding my face with the familiar stinging blush. After a few moments of silence, it spilled out my mouth with the word “shit.”

“I didn’t want to do that,” I said, perhaps talking to Captain Pinchy. Then, “What do I do with a dead crab?”
“You cook it,” Cory said.

“I can’t cook him. I named him. And apparently killed him. So I can’t cook him. That would be kind of…”

“Perverse,” Glenn ended the thought for me.

Cory disagreed. “That would be kind of delicious, you mean.”
As it often does, the guilt had settled in a knotted pocket behind my left eyebrow.

“Okay. We’re still not even sure he’s dead. Did anybody actually pick Captain Pinchy up at all?

Cory stared blankly. Glenn shook his head.

“Okay then. We should actually pick him up before we declare him dead. He might still be alive. Now who wants to pick him up?”

No volunteers.

“I think that would be your thing, dude,” Cory said.

He was right. I rolled up my sleeves and drew in a breath that would hopefully force back my fear of Captain Pinchy’s freakish appearance. Slowly placed my fingertips under either side of the captain’s shell — at the halfway point between good leverage and distance from Pinch City — I lifted him out of the pot. His legs slowly released from their bent position and drooped downward, deathward, limp like the hand of a person who just relinquished his last ounce of life. I placed Captain Pinchy back into the water.

“His legs moved,” I announced.

“That could have just been the water running off him. Or gravity,” Glenn posited.

Without a word, I’d need a second test. I again pulled him from the pot, this time less gingerly. I lifted Captain Pinchy above my head, spilling seawater — and likely crab effluvium — on the counter. I scanned his underside for movement, anything: wiggling eyestalks, clasping mouthparts, a fluttering of some flap or swelling of some heretofore unknown gland. Nothing.

I plunked the crab back into the water. We stood around the pot, eyeing the unmoving visitor I had brought into the house: Glenn inquisitively, Cory hungrily and me in that spot between hopeful and hopeless that people often occupy when death seems possible.

Blurp. A single bubble. A death bubble?

“We’ll try one more time, then we’ll know for sure,” I said, plunging my hands a third time into the water that smelled like old fish. “I just need to be sure to know whether he’s really dead because then I’ll know — GAH!”

As he dangled from my hand, his left pincher swung around feebly toward me. Two quick jabs. The moment I realized that Captain Pinchy had enough fight in him to stab at my hand, I dropped back into the water.

I looked at Pinchy in the pot. Under the violently rippled surface of the water, I saw him slowly turn forty-five degrees to the left. I looked up.

“Glenn, will you come with me to the beach? Like, now?”

…………

A little after one in the morning on May 8, my car carried crustacean cargo for the second — and likely the final — time.

“Dude, thanks for coming with me.”

“It’s no big deal,” Glenn said. “I kind of felt bad for him anyway.”

I didn’t take the corners as slowly as I had during the drive home from the restaurant.

“He’s really moving around in there,” Glenn said, watching a Captain Pinchy that had been seemingly invigorated by the car ride.

Those scraping sounds of carapace-against-cookware didn’t grate my ears like they had before. And that pocket of guilt behind my eyebrow had exploded into a surge of energy, the motivation to undo my karmic crime of involving an innocent animal in a practical joke its tiny brain could never comprehend.

I rolled into a parking spot near the same beach where I had earlier scooped up the seawater. At this late hour, all of the trucks and jeeps parked by early evening surfers had vanished. Swinging out of the driver’s seat and darting around the car, I pulled the pot from Glenn’s hands.
“Don’t worry about it. I want to take him,” I said, already two steps ahead of Glenn toward the beach access stairs.

The moon, lazy tonight and only partially full, had just begun to peek over the western ocean horizon.

“We should have brought a flashlight. It’s dark,” Glenn cautioned me.

Carefully but quickly, I descended the steps and until I’d reached the bottom. High tide had brought inky black waves to the bottom of the stairwell. The bigger surges crashed over the lowest step and into the rocks behind it. I strained to make out where I could safely place my foot. Captain Pinchy scuttled in his pot.

“What do you think, Glenn? Just dunk him in?” I asked to the shadowy form near the top of the steps.

“I’d wait until the wave pulls out,” he called back. “Maybe then he can ride it back into the water. Otherwise he might get slammed against the rocks.”

“And that’s it? You think he’ll be okay?”

“Yeah. If he can’t take it from there, he doesn’t deserve to be here.”

A bigger wave rushed toward me, soaking me up to my shins. The moment the water decided to turn the other way, I leaned down and tossed the contents of the stainless steel pot. In the dim light, I saw the form of Captain Pinchy plop sideways onto the wet sand and right itself. And then, when the motion of that one particular wave had withdrawn completely from the beach, I witnessed what can only be described as “hauling ass” — Captain Pinchy’s many legs scrambled to take their master back toward the water, toward home.

As I saw how quickly Captain Pinchy could move when motivated by the ocean, I wondered if he truly was as near death as he made me think he was. He sure looked healthy now. Damn tricky crab.

Another wave enveloped the scene, and then it was gone.

…………

Saturday, May 8, at about three in the afternoon.

Toconut B: drew, what happened?
kidicarus222: well
kidicarus222: the good captain nearly died, and i felt guilty and returned him to the ocean
Toconut B: what? why?
kidicarus222: it was the right thing to do. i felt bad
Toconut B: which beach?
kidicarus222: just off dp, near the entrance to sands
Toconut B: is that even the kind of beach it came from?
Toconut B: will it be okay?
kidicarus222: maybe
kidicarus222: i honestly don’t know
Toconut B: well, i guess it’s more of a chance than most restaurant crabs get
kidicarus222: I think that’s the best way to think about this
Toconut B: so what are you going to do to the girls now?

…………

I’d like to be, under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been
in his octopus’ garden, in the shade.

I’d ask my friends to come and see
An octopus’ garden with me
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade.

We would be warm, below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Resting our head, on the sea bed
In an octopus’ garden near a cave

Monday, May 17, 2004

What I Ate for Dinner

  • Microwaved broccoli.
  • Two bran muffins.
  • A bowl of soybeans.
  • A glass of horchata.
  • A single slice of salami.
  • One of those mini-circles of cheese, wrapped in wax. (I did not eat the wax.)

Sucks My Brain

Pumpkin blossoms are yellow-orange and star-shaped — beautiful, really, but the thin stuff of their petals wilts in the heat. So by noon everyday, the flower is reduced to a crumpled pile of ugly. I when I'll wake up early enough to see those flowers. They might be pumpkins by then.

Ann Chung Doesn't Know Shit

She just doesn't.

Here's Your List of Friends in the Order They Died

Cory's dead.

No more than an hour into the 2004 round of Assassins, I shut off all the power and hid in the bathroom for him to come home. Then I got all bored and hot from the windows being shut and the fans being off.

So I walked next store and soaked him in the face.

My new target: somebody who really has it coming.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

My Weekend, Validated

And making my dreams come true, on this season finale's Weekend Update, Tina Fey herself mentioned the little earthquake we Santa Barbara residents last weekend. She segued into a lame joke about Arnold, but still. She acknowledged the existence of the county of which my college town is an unincorporated area. Whee.

What Drewy Drew-Drew Saw at the Zoo

Things I saw at the zoo:

Cuddling otters.



Leopards having sex (thought this picture is somewhat post-coital).



Millipedes.



Giraffe tongue (and a lot of it).



An apparently drunk merekat, that in retrospect may have been dead.



And, finally, the anteater, who's actually a bit of a cocktease. He would dash out from behind the rocks for a second, run up close to me, and then hide again. This peekaboo behavior resulted in this crappy photo being the best one:

Loop

And still the gaze of your face has carried on.



This wrinkle in time can't give me no credit.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Everybody Loves an Ellipsis

Sun-baked drunk. Rabbit scratches on my arms. And a stomach that feels like won first place at the jello shot-eating contest, even it that meant puking in my mouth an eating that, too. Wiggly jiggly texture.

Quattage

Friday, May 14, 2004

The Corrections

Apparently my source fed me false information. The ethics of journalism state I should run a correction. Thus: "Kristen and Jono did not have sex in the library, as previously reported. The Back of the Cereal Box regrets this error."

Also, I have deemed it inappropriate to discuss Kristen and Jono's sexual meddlings on this page anymore. However, if you'd still like to keep tabs on who put what where, check out my new site: Kristen and Jono's No-Holds-Barred Sex Tell-All Page. The link may not work right until I've fixed all the bugs on the new site. Please hang in there.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Anonymous Recipient, Signed Sender

Ann,

I don't get it. Why go through the trouble of printing all these cards and then inserting them in mailboxes illegally during the night, only to lead your readers to the conclusion that you feel guilty about being a liberal because of your economic background? Is that it? Is that what you want me to conclude?

Your last card asks for my thoughts. I haven't got much to say, honestly. Obviously, this whole thing means a lot to you, but not enough for you to give us one reason why you did it. You dump this in our laps, this vaguely anti-liberal, anti-college sentiment... and what?

I used to wonder what this whole campaign was about: where you were heading and how you selected the mailboxes you put the cards in. I used to wonder what relationship the weird pictures on the opposite side of the card had. I had questions I wanted to ask you, but to draw us into your story so far and then just end the way it did, leaving us feeling bad for no clear reason.

Well, I'm disappointed.

Drew

My Personal Crusade Against Kristen and Jono's Privacy

Another thought: since it was me who leaked to the world that Kristen and Jono had sex in the airplane bathroom going to Sweden, I feel that I should also announce that they had sex in the library yesterday. Classy!

Aigotchoo!

surfer taryn: hey drew
kidicarus222: hey taryn
surfer taryn: so....this thing you are doing to us.....
kidicarus222: yes
surfer taryn: is it going to ruin anything?
kidicarus222: your psyches
surfer taryn: is it going to take place while we are trying to move out?
kidicarus222: it will take place when you least expect it
surfer taryn: it better not consist of anything living, or once was living....because well, ask katie and meghan what i said i'd do to you
kidicarus222: give me kisses and hugs?
kidicarus222: bake me a cake?
kidicarus222: buy me a present?
kidicarus222: (stop me when i guess it)
surfer taryn: what is this crab business?
kidicarus222: i heard you got crabs
kidicarus222: that sucks
kidicarus222: you should be more careful
surfer taryn: hahaha very funny.....i'm very nervous about this....and especially since i don't like my house for the most part....i don't think this will help

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Nonplussed

And then I bitch about something. Somebody has to.
Denial of Academic Excellence Should Leave Students Nonplussed

Back in first grade or maybe even kindergarten, I learned the mathematical significance of the plus sign. That little cross somehow meant more, like when 1 + 1 meant a little more than one, or when 1 + 100 meant a lot more than one. (Yes, I realize a plus sign followed by a zero actually doesn’t add anything more, but really — how often do you need to write out an equation that adds zero?)

Fifteen years later, however, plus signs do not carry the same weight. Please don’t take this as bragging, but during my four years at UCSB, I’ve earned exactly two A pluses. I’m not sure exactly why, but for some reason, two separate professors who totally rock, by the way have looked at my quarter’s work and said, “This guy did something right.” And that little cross sign got affixed to my A.

Unfortunately, academia doesn’t compute that plus into my grade point average. For the giant robot calculator I imagine figures out our GPAs, that plus sign might as well be a smiley face or a raisin or something. Curiously, it does have value when it’s in front of a B or a C or a D, but not an A, which is arguably the most important letter, seeing as how it’s first and it can mean the difference between getting into a top-notch grad school and settling for your safety school.

I’m fairly certain anybody who could change this policy won’t ever read this column their loss, I suppose. But I’d be thrilled if the academic community could one day realize that their dismissal of the A plus is mathematical heresy. A change in grading policy could help lessen the blow of that C minus I got for the History 4A class I took Fall Quarter, when I studied beer instead of Babylon.

A more direct solution - one that professors could implement without clashing with university administration would be to dole out A pluses more freely.

If a student does a superb job, leave a little space next to the A, then draw a little vertical line and then bisect it with a little horizontal line. Or go for the extra keystroke. Or send the proper smoke signal. However, it is that professors at this school turn their grades in at the end of the quarter, be just a little more lenient about recognizing the especially diligent.

Sure, the plus sign still means diddly poop when computing our overall GPAs., but it would be there on our transcripts. And when we apply to grad school or law school or whatever form of further education we want to pursue, those in charge of admissions might see that little guy and give our application a second thought.

A student who has an A+ or two or five clearly has the ability to excel in a given class and a desire to work hard. It’s mathematically irrelevant, for sure, but humans at least recognize that an A+ still carries a little weight.

Daily Nexus opinion editor Drew also carried a little weight until he started going to Jazzercise classes.

I Don't Really Love You Anymore

No time to cram life into words. I let the Magnetic Fields take over.
True, I'd give my right arm
To keep you safe from harm
And, true, for you'd I move to Ecuador
And I'd keep a little farm
Chop wood to keep you warm
But I don't really love you anymore

I don't have to love you now if I don't wish to
I won't see you anyhow if that's an issue

Because I am a gentleman
Think of me as just your fan
who remembers every dress you ever wore
Just a bad comedian
your new boyfriends better than
'Cause I don't really love you anymore

There'll be some day when your eyes do not enthrall me
I'll be numb, I realize you'll never call me
Cause I've read your horoscope
And now I've given up all hope
So I don't really love you anymorem

Sunday, May 09, 2004

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

I swear I just did. I was peeing in the backyard and it nearly knocked me down.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Hang in There, Little Guy

kidicarus222: i have the crab
kidicarus222: only on, though
kidicarus222: his name is captain pinchy
Toconut B: ahhh, from where?
kidicarus222: your friend's work
Toconut B: ahh, was she there?
kidicarus222: no
kidicarus222: but i bought the crab all the same
Toconut B: cool
kidicarus222: i gonna put it in the tub way late
Toconut B: so when does hte shit go down?
kidicarus222: like
kidicarus222: 3 or 4 in the morning
kidicarus222: because i want them asleep
Toconut B: ahhh, but they are in LA!?
kidicarus222: wait
kidicarus222: who is?
Toconut B: aren't gill and Meggs in LA?
kidicarus222: no
Toconut B: really? they didn't go?
kidicarus222: i saw meghan this evening when i drove by
kidicarus222: and jill is with lee
Toconut B: ahhh, ok
kidicarus222: but moe is gone
kidicarus222: but three's enough
kidicarus222: i hope captain pinchy makes it
kidicarus222: i actually kind of feel bad for the little thing, ugly as he is
Toconut B: can you get the saltwater right?
kidicarus222: i got a big pot of saltwater from the beach, so he's cool right now
Toconut B: ok
kidicarus222: and then it won't be long before i put him in the tub until they find him
Toconut B: if you're sure they are there?
kidicarus222: they'll be there
kidicarus222: at least one of them has to be asleep in her bed by 3 this morning
kidicarus222: right?
Toconut B: ok, good luck to you and cap'n punchy
kidicarus222: it's "pinchy," but thanks

Friday, May 07, 2004

Vindicated — Again

I've just learned that the Nexus Weatherhuman has also lept to my defense in what has arisen in the wake of my "sex clone" column. Quoth the 'Human:
I’d like to use today’s space to clear a colleague’s name. He wrote a column last week imagining the glorious sexual possibilities presented by cloning. He soon received a hate letter saying men like him are the reason women are mistreated around the world.

I know the individual in question, and it’s just not true. He treats every one of his mamas like royalty, and calls almost all of them by their first names.

Wednesday’s forecast: Learn how to take a joke. You expect Mxxxxx to put in 18 years raising a clone so he can screw it? I’ve never seen the guy put in more than an hour for sex
I'd just like to know why I got singled out in all this, instead of Other Drew.

Drinking in the Dark

The night the lights went out on State Street.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Vindicated

Thanks, Neil.
Editor, Daily Nexus,

This is in response to Amanda M*****’s letter regarding Drew Mackie’s column in last Thursday’s paper (“Drew Says: Cloning Opens Up a New World of Possibilities - in Bed,” April 29, Daily Nexus).

Joke. Noun. 1. Something said or done to evoke laughter or amusement, especially an amusing story with a punch line. 2. A mischievous trick; a prank. 3. An amusing or ludicrous incident or situation. 4. informal. Something not to be taken seriously; a triviality.

I suggest that Ms. M***** memorize this definition, especially the fourth definition. I think it will cause her less pain and grief in her life if she does. If Ms. M***** seriously believed that Drew Mackie’s column was meant to be taken literally, that he actually literally wanted to clone celebrities for sex, then the joke was on her. Though I have to admit, it was a novel idea. I also suggest Ms. M***** take the time to take that stick out of her ass and then look up the words “satire,” “humor” and the phrase “tongue-in-cheek” as well.

Then maybe next time, she can actually find something worthwhile to bitch about.

SUPER NICE GUY

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Recall the Reject

Dansy Pansy may have won the overall staff vote for EIC, but my personal vote went to Pretty Kitty. Midterm in less than twelve hours.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Defamed

The real letter from Snatchy McCuntface:
Editor, Daily Nexus,

This is in response to Drew Mxxxxx’s opinion on human cloning in “Cloning Opens Up a New World of Possibilities — in Bed” (Daily Nexus, April 29). I am disgusted with Mxxxxx’s intense desire for a female sex slave, a brand new human being to fuck and only fuck. Women are much more than bodies created for the pleasure of horny men who for obvious reasons do not have the relationship skills to be with a woman, and have sex with her.

It is men like Mxxxxx who contribute to the black market involving prostitution and the selling of women’s bodies. So thank you, Mxxxxx, for your intelligent views on human cloning for the purpose to sexual gratification of men like you.

SNATCHY McCUNTFACE
This is a rather disagreeable person who has sent in complaints to the paper before. In fact, she's the person I parodied in one of my phony letters to the editor for the April Fool's Day Nexus this year. Check this link and scroll down to the second-to-last letter. Andrea Wafflet — that's her.

Sweet Savior of Swelter Shelter

"I’m falling asleep. I can’t imagine how you’re awake."

………………………

At Coachella, I
  • Withstood one-hundred-degree-plus heat.
  • Got spit on.
  • Abstained alcohol, for fear of dying of heatstroke.
  • Hydrated constantly instead.
  • Applied and re-applied sunscreen, smartly preventing a sunburn.
  • Walked a lot.
  • Rode a delightful contraption called "Cyclecide" with Skippy’s girlfriend’s friend.
  • Drank out of a coconut.
  • Lost Jessica and Shade almost immediately and had shit luck meeting up with them sense the mass of human traffic knocked out cell phone communication for most of the weekend.
  • Met a Polish girl named Carolina (pronounced care-oh-lean-uh)
  • Got knocked in my the knot on my rib, which hurt like a motherfucker.
  • Watched a giant Tesla coil shoot out bolts of purple electricity.
But more importantly…

The Pixies fucking rocked my face. They beamed. They looked genuinely happy to perform for thousands of fans who knew all the words to their songs. I don’t care how fat Frank Black gets. He’ll be cool no matter what. Kim Deal makes smoking look cool when few people can anymore. And fucking David Santiago played his guitar with a glass bottle. I didn’t think seeing a band perform could ever move me emotionally, but when they started with “Bone Machine” I felt overcome, even for just a second. The Pixies alone made the money I shelled out for Coachella worth it. Allmusic.com already mentions the Pixies’ 2004 Coachella appearance as a pivotal moment in the latter days of their career. And I was there.

I also saw
  • The Cure, who played a two-hour-and-fifteen-minute set that included nearly all their hits, even "Charlotte Sometimes."
  • The Flaming Lips, who only played four songs and bitched about politics but at least have their lead singer bounce onto the audience in a giant clear plastic space bubble.
  • Beck, a last minute replacement for Wilco in an overcrowded tent.
  • Air, who were cooler in concert than I would have expected.
  • Belle and Sebastian, who made me like them more than I ever had before.
  • Radiohead, who played an awesome set that was lost on me, who had been in the concert sun for twelve hours.
  • The Sounds, who I had never heard before and totally won me over on the appeal of lead singer Maja Iverson alone.
  • Electric Six, who could be big one day.
  • And some others I’m too tired to mention.
I had a great time, honestly, but there’s not much to say about the actual concert other than that I went there and the bands who always play well continued to play well. The gaps in between the music, however, make the story worth telling.

………………………

Lauren dropped me off in the parking lot near South Hall at one-thirty this afternoon. I was wearing the same clothes I put on more than twenty-four hours earlier, when I woke up in that strange woman’s Holiday Inn motel room — long before the Cure or the last-minute ride-swapping or the spooky rest stop just beyond the windmills.

I sat in the back of a purgatorial English 140 class, next to Hayley and the other Jessica, neither of whom smelled like dried ketchup and the cigarette smoke of a thousand strangers. I did smell like that. I had a tinny ringing in my ears — the death of a hearing frequency I’ll miss when I’m fifty, no doubt — and greasy creases in my twenty-four hour boxers that prompted me to shift in my seat every thirty seconds. Not yet having washed my face, I wore a dust stencil of my sunglasses — faux retro eyewear that also have their own small story.

I told Jessica where I’d been. She said she’d heard of "some of those bands" — not the Pixies, I’ll bet — and then I told her how long I’d been up.

"I’m falling asleep. I can’t imagine how you’re awake."

It would have been an apt question, had she phrased it as one. I was beat. And Professor Ek’s lecture on post-colonial rage and Jamaica Kincaid was completely lost on me. The rib knot smarted when I breathed to deeply. Uselessly sitting there without a notebook or a pen or charged phone or even my backpack, I thought about how I could be awake after such a self-demolishing riot of a weekend.
[ night no. one: Lake Cahuilla ]
Since I was the one who knew Hilly who knew the guy who had the campsite by the lake, I got to feel helpful. To an extent. Lake Cahuilla being in the desert, there were scorpions. They stayed out of the tent. The cockleburs, however, did not. Nor did the techno music our tent neighbors chose to blast, in flagrant defiance of the high music standards the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival tries to propagate.

Jessica and Shade fled to the car, proving that indie kids and camping don’t mix. Hilly konked out early and Lauren and I shared bicycle stories.

I didn’t sleep so much as nap, seeing as how the angry sun microwaved our tent at six in the morning. With three hours of shut eye, J, S, and left early. They bought sun bonnets like my grandma wears. I got a pair of sunglasses, which turned out to be mysteriously manufactured in Hollister. The first ambiguously meaningful coincidence.
[ night no. two: Laura’s ]
Apparently, in the two hours it took between the Electric Six show and me finding Jessica’s car in lot number two — do you realize how many gray Honda Civics there are in this world? — Jessica and Shade decided they could do better than the campsite. At about three a.m. we left the concert parking lot to find this rock star party at a hotel Jessica’s friend knows about under the ridiculous assumption that some benevolent stranger might let us crash in their room.

We get there. Of all resorts in Palm Springs, it’s the Esmeralda, which I’d been to with my family when I was wee. Deja voodoo childhood memories and ambiguously meaningful coincidence number two.

After sneaking in the staff entrance and down a hallway no doubt verboten to a wannabe Scooby gang like Jessica, Shade and I, we sit on the patio and describe our respective levels of tired:
the closest i can really relate to this is this time this summer when charlie and i were on the night train from nice to barcelona even though we didn’t have reservations and we were probably halfway there when this guy and his daughter get on at one of the stops and they come to our cabin and tell us that we’re in their seats and we have to get up and leave. only you can’t just sit in the fucking hallway and i'm kinda freaked out we’re gonna get in trouble for being on the train when we weren’t supposed to be so we just wander down from one car to the next like we know where we’re going only somehow charlie finds this open couchette with nobody in it and we actually get to put our stuff down and lie down and lock the door and hope none of the footsteps going by are somebody who’s gonna throw us out but we actually get to sleep. and I guess that’s what i'm looking for because i'm so tired and we don’t have anywhere to go and i just want to find something like that open couchette
Only I’m too tired to interact with party guests or schmooze with anybody who might have a vacancy so I swipe Jessica’s car keys and sleep in the back seat like some homeless guy or Twyla or something. Four hours later, it’s sunlight out and I’m quasi-conscious and we’re throwing our stuff down in the motel room of this woman with purple hair and a scapula-to-scapula back tattoo of blue flames. The maid wakes us up in the afternoon and as the four of us get ready to leave, I learn the following about this Laura, this nice lady who’s given us a place to sleep:
  • She is a driver for the Cure.
  • She lives in a boat.
  • She’s from rough Baltimore, where "people go for rides and just don’t come back."
  • She’s willing to fuck up the people who screw her over.
  • She has anger blackouts during which people get hurt.
  • And this testimonial: "It pisses me of that I get a cop giving me shit for some weed I have growing on my doorstep when my husband's out fucking your nine-year-old daughter." (paraphrased slightly)
But what could have resulted in J, S, and I in tubs of ice sans kidneys actually turned out fine. Quirky, sure, but Laura was a genuinely sweet person. We paid for the room for the night and tossed down and extra twenty. Laura left. We showered. We saw the first half of "Permanent Midnight," which I liked better than I thought I would. We shed the filth and misery of the previous night and were ready to leave.

But I noticed a Catholic votive candle on the minibar, the kind they sell at the Mexican grocery stores in Hollister. I got a kick out of the candle’s recommendation of Lucky Prophet brand candle dressing — whatever the hell candle dressing does — and I wondered whether Laura bought it because of piety or kitsch.

Then came the marvelous, enticingly-profound-but-probably not ambiguously meaningful coincidence number three: the candle is for Saint Jude, the Catholic patron of lost causes, of the hopeless and the desperate and the lost and the miserable. If I had read it in a book, I would have discounted it as hokey, too-obvious symbolism, but it just struck me so perfectly. There’s no word for it, for such a beautiful coincidence — ambiguously meaningful coincidence number three.

At that point, Saint Couchette got bumped out of my number one spot by our Saint Jude: Laura with purple hair.
[ night no. three: all along Highway 10 ]
I rapped on Jessica's shotgun window.
okay the good news is that i found a way home tonight with hilly and lauren who i finally found and now you can stay tonight because i know you want to and i don’t want you having to drive home tonight on my account and plus i found alex and he needs a ride home so i figured he could just take my place because he doesn’t need to be in santa barbara early and i do and just keep my bag and i'll pick it up tomorrow and thanks for such a great time and i see you guys when you get back and i gotta go okay?
I don’t remember what Jessica or Shade said or even if they said anything. I was still thinking about the Cure’s marathon set. But Alex got in the car so I assume everything was copacetic. As I write this, I actually haven’t yet spoken with Jess, so for all I know, they might have ended up in the kidney ice bath after all.

Lauren, powered by determination and Red Bull, pulled drove me, Hilly, Vadim and this other girl I’ll call Velma just after three a.m. The rear passengers went nighty-night right away, but as Mr. Shotgun it was my duty to keep Lauren up with talking, which was cool since I wasn't actually tired. We talked about the peacocks and Andy Warhol and bicycles, but just beyond the windmill orchard, the rotating branches of which I could just barely make out in the dark, the only one of the five of us who could drive stickshift pulled into a rest stop.

I guess I’m happy we stopped there. I don’t like highway rest stops. I’ve had some bad experiences there. Some urban legends, after all, are true.

The girls slept in the car. Wired from the weekend, I explored the area, which was cleaner and less sketchy than the rest spot just out of San Ardo on the northbound 101. They had a map of Californian roadways posted and the distance between Indio and Santa Barbara seemed so small — just an index finger and a knuckle, really. Vadim and I had one of those hands-in-pockets conversations about the weekend, but I got cold and went back to the car.

I sat there for half an hour, watching this single, unsettling gum tree move in the wind and hanging my feet out of the shotgun window. Precariously, I’d say. Urban legend fear dictates that some maniac could have lopped off my toes or slit my through altogether.

He didn’t.

When Lauren woke up, we drove some more, sleep-drifty and unwisely. Somehow, we ended up in Colton, which is near Riverside, I think, and Vadim and I convinced Lauren to give up and stay at a hotel, which charged us a full night’s price even though we only stayed from six to ten.

Lauren dropped me off in the parking lot near South Hall at one-thirty this afternoon. I was wearing the same clothes I put on more than twenty-four hours earlier, when I woke up in that strange woman’s Holiday Inn motel room — long before the Cure or the last-minute ride-swapping or the spooky rest stop just beyond the windmills.

………………………

Things my parents would have been proud of:
  • Wearing sunscreen.
  • Not drinking.
  • Not doing any drugs.
  • Being responsible enough to realize our driver was too sleepy to continue driving.
  • Making it to class on time.
Things my parents would not have been proud of:
  • Trusting a stranger with purple hair not to kill me.
  • Sneaking into a swanky hotel.
  • All the swears.
  • No earplugs.
  • Twenty-four hour underwear.
And the cruelest joke of all: herding a bunch of indie kids who normally don’t do camping or festivals or the desert or sun onto some polo grounds for two hours and force them endure hot, sweaty, hairdo-wilting hell to see such a kickass line-up.
"I’m falling asleep. I can’t imagine how you’re awake."