Friday, June 04, 2004

And somewhere in there... I got sick...

Last Friday, things were slow at work. It was the weekend before a holiday and everyone wanted it to start early. So, we spent most of the day just hanging around, talking about things with such a lack of urgency we didn't care if we had a point let alone reached it. It was a day we stole from the boss and took as our own, which the boss allowed... provided we stayed at or near our desks...

Leaving was done promptly and even the freeway didn't hold me back for long - though it tried. Keith was waiting for me at home, having just come from looking at an apartment. (We know how this all worked out.) We left immediately for Garf's, a bar that had been the hang-out place for Chris, Sherryl, and I, Chris, Steve, and I, Chris and I, and, lastly, Keith and I. (With Keith gone now, I'm going to have to find someone else to take.) We had our traditional beers and smokes and talked, talked, talked. That's how it seemed; it went to fast. Beer, smoke, beer, smoke, talk, talk, talk. Then, I was home.

I slept in on Saturday, something I recommend to everyone... and not just for Saturday. But I had to get up eventually, pick up my play from PopCopy (pardon the ChapelleShow reference), and jump back on the freeway for what would be, unbeknownst to me, three hours of absolute torture. That is, absolute torture with a little "a", not to be confused with some high-class vodka ad. You see, I had hit the freeway at 12:30pm, heading for San Diego, thinking that since it normally took about 90 minutes to get there I would be relaxing at Tim Clostio's place by 2:00pm, three hours before he got off work. I would nap and I would read and I would relax. It all sounded very good to me. But that wasn't how things worked out because I was driving down there on Memorial Day Weekend! Hello?! How could I forget that this automatically meant that every other car ever made, running or not, would be on the freeway as well? And they were, and I was, and it took three hours!

I was lucky when I got there because I found a great parking spot. It was 3:30pm, but I figured I still had 90 minutes before Tim returned home so I could fit in a little reading and a short nap if I was lucky. I figured all this as I raced from my car to his waiting sofa.

Okay. Now do a little figuring with me. How many signs did I need that things weren't going to work out as I'd hoped? First, I'd gone to PopCopy (Kinko's) to pick up a printout of my new play (two copies at 13 pages each) and had spent over one half an hour trying to get it from them. ("You never sent an order in." "You sent it to the wrong place." "You never paid for it." "Oh, here it is.") Then, I'd spent three hours on the freeway. Did I need another one? If I did, I think having Bentley, Tim's new puppy, pee on me when I went to greet him and he to me, was sign enough. But I was too busy dashing to Tim's bathroom to clean the pee to recognize another sure sign of disasters to come. I should have realized that some things come in threes: celebrity deaths, omens of doom, Republican victories (no shit!). Ben & Jerry's never come in threes. Paychecks never come in threes. Women never come in threes.... or, for some of us, in ones even...

Doom was coming.

But, first, a nap!

I napped on Tim's sofa very shortly because Tim was home shortly after 4:00pm. I had actually guess when he got off work incorrectly; he was supposed to leave at 2:00pm and had got off late. It didn't take him long to start drinking; he actually had a drinking in hand, having stopped in the kitchen before seeing me, when I first saw him. He drank fast and he drank much. He drank so much, in fact, that I thought he would soon pass out, which is what Tim normally does when he's drunk. We spent a short bit of time talking but, by 6:00pm, I was worried he was going to be gone soon - without having read my play - so I got him to agree to read it.

"The Myth of the Cubicle" is the working title. It is a comedy of social satire... or, at least, it's supposed to be. I figured Tim's drunken state would add up to more laughs, would amp up the laughter, would crank up the laughitude... He laughed twice. Once, he smiled and offered (like a punt in the water to a landed flounder), "That's funny." If anything, it was obviously that the play was anything but funny. It was unfunny. It was non-funny. It was the Anti-Christ of Funny. (This left me profoundly non-plussed, having written the thing thinking it was a real break-through for me and the start of something new. Well, it was the start of something new: unfunny comedy.)

Maybe Tim was feeling sorry for me because he asked what I wanted to do next. My mind went where it normally goes when I'm depressed: food. I suggested we go out for dinner. Tim agreed, even suggesting that he pay, which was a sign of things to come. We walked down to the beach and ate at an Italian restaurant Tim, Keith, and I had tried (and loved) for breakfast. Tim ordered more (and more and more) wine and kept ordering food. The waitress was this doll named Melissa, who we found out was off limits, having a boyfriend, thanks to Tim's questioning. Of course, she had a boyfriend; it was a doomed weekend. I just didn't know it, yet! We closed the place... because we kept eating - Tim kept ordering food! (He was profoundly impressed by their buffalo wings.)

Getting Tim out was very difficult, owing to the fact that I had nothing within which to pour him. He was so drunk that, if he could, he would have sat in a glass with an olive and drank himself! (Don't think too hard on that one. It's kind of gross.) Rather than lean towards passing out, Tim was a very different drunk from any other time I'd ever seen him. He was magnanimous, friendly, talkative... basically, he was a really obnoxious drunk. He'd walk by people saying, "I'm drunk, guys!" And they'd answer, "Yes, you are!" We came across a street musician, plucking at his guitar, and Tim said, "Ken, give him some money! Play something!" The musician said, "What do you want to hear?" "Anything! Anything!," Tim answered. As he played, Tim stopped people walking by, "Listen to this! He's really good!" I don't know how Tim could tell but I didn't care. I leaned against a railing and giggled and his antics. You see, I'm normally the drunk one. It didn't take me long to realize just how dangerous the two of us would be if we were both drunk so I had stuck to drinking water or soda and was rewarded with a great show.

Making our way down to the beach, Tim stopped at every bar and said, "Let's get a drink!" I suggested that he'd probably had enough and Tim would tell people he was drunk and they'd agree. I wondered what they must have thought: Tim, friendly and laughing and youthful. Me, a middle-aged man with a severe face (no more severe than normal - it's just my face). I thought about this as we continued down the street, stopping in a comic book store and leaving with some comics and a video rental (Tim just had to spend money!), and neared the beach. There, I reached several conclusions in rapid succession. First, I thought that I must have looked rather sad next to Tim's euphoria. Then, I thought that people must have been thinking, "Why don't you let him have a good time?" Then, I realized that there was nothing wrong with me; I wasn't keeping Tim in check I was just making sure nothing broke in his path. Finally, I told myself to stop thinking and just relax for crying out loud!

At the shore at Ocean Beach, there's a sea wall, which Tim and I sat upon to have a cigarette, Tim talking to anyone who happened near. My attention was on the police and I watched as they arrested someone who had been drunk outside his hotel room. The last thing I wanted was for Tim to be arrested... even if I was holding his wallet, which held nearly $800... I tried to hurry him past them but he saw some people playing frisbee there in the dark and joined in... you know.... unbeknownst to them. I tried to extricate him but we were at the beach and there were girls... so I let him have fun for a while, to hell with the cops.

After a while, though, it was getting late and I was getting tired and Tim wasn't getting any more sober. So, we started walking home, when Tim because uncomfortably heterosexual. "Girls! Girls!," he shouted. "Ken, let's go talk to those girls." I replied, "Tim, you've always had better luck with women that me but you still wouldn't know what to do with them or even like it." "True," he said and kept going. At every liquor store (and there were plenty), he'd say, "Ken, we need more booze!" Distracting him took some work. I'd ask him questions, like, "Tim, who composed the Ave Maria?" And that would put Tim's mind in a whirl for a while. (Schubert.) "What did Emmanuel Kant mean by a categorical imperative?" This kept Tim walking for several blocks before seeing a girl in a yellow skirt... does Tim have heterosexual tendencies brought on by alcohol, I wondered. (The categorical imperative states that morality or moral law must come from reason and answer to reason.... my interpretation.) Finally, we reached his corner market (literally next door to his place) where we bought some booze and I agreed to drink with him when we got home. But when we returned to his place... he realized he was tired and went to bed. I was still wide awake and read for a while. Then, I took another walk down to the beach. By nearly 4:00am, I returned to his house and went to bed.

When I awoke the next morning, it didn't take long to fall back to sleep. The next time I awoke, I went back to sleep again. Both times, I dreamed. The first time, Rosa was going to therapy and had been asked to bring in several people who had profoundly affected her life. I was asked to be there. I went. I said to her, "Does this mean you want me back in your life again?" She answered, "No." The second time, Rosa came to me at my apartment. She'd gained a lot of weight and had an awful, Moe Howard haircut. She told me that she wanted to come over just for sex. She didn't want to talk to me, didn't want to know anything about my life or have me know about hers. She'd just come over and have sex. I answered, "No."

I awoke to the smell of cigarette smoke. It hit my throat like razor blades. Everything did. I could barely pull myself out of bed. Uh oh. I knew what was coming. I knew I was sick and I knew how. Mike, my boss, had been in his office, a few feet from my cube, hacking and sneezing. The bastard. I told Tim I had to go home, though we'd talked about my staying the day. Tim thought I was leaving because of something he'd said or done the night before. I said, through a voice nothing like my own, that nothing could be further from the truth. Hell, if I'd been well, I would have got him liquored up and taken him to DVD Planet! No, I was sick.

It took forever to get home... okay, just 90 minutes, but those 90 minutes felt longer that the three hours it took to get there. I pulled up in my driveway, walked up to my door, fell on my sofa....

And I was there until yesterday. If I have to be sick, I thought, why can't it be more fun than just getting germs floating in the air? Or does the level of fun you have catching a disease correspond to the severity? For instance, you catch HIV by having sex but a common cold comes through the air........... something to think about. But I'm better now, and writing, and wondering what I'm going to do with this travesty that is my latest play.

Next weekend, I'm going to hang out with Tim... I'll keep you posted.

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