If you should die before me, ask if you can bring a friend

I’ve never really gotten the hang of Sunday nights.

The misty twilight between work and play, between responsibility to others and responsibility to self… Tidal forces are at work which I can only partially comprehend.

A viscous guilt still overtakes me, a quietly penetrating Pavlovian reaction developed by twenty years of Monday morning class, of twenty years of shirked Sunday responsibilities and their Monday consequences. I find myself inexplicably filled with that same hunched dread of my early years, and yet for what? Objectively, things aren’t all that bad. It’s a silly and shameful weakness to be burdened with this anxiety. I’m hoping to grow out of it. Perhaps, with some sort of sense of internal rather than external duty, things will change.

Discipline, you slippery bastard, we meet again.

I’ll bore you no further, we’ve been through this before.


The Eternal San Francisco Apartment Hunt continues unabated. Good Christ, who knew this could be so hard. I’m convinced that Jo and I are worthier tenants than a large percentage of the other million people that live there, how can it be such a god damn production to find a respectable place to live? And yet we seem barred at every turn. Craigslist is as fraught with deception and dishonesty as ever; Our battle with Mary, the banshee whore landlord from hell, has scarred my renter’s psyche deeply. I shriek like a frightened child whenever my cellphone shows unknown 415 caller, and only my deep-seated need to maintain appearances calms my quavering voice when I answer. The worst part of it all, of course, is the forms. Endless sheafs of monotonous, pointless questionnaires flow into and out of my life via my creaking, ancient fax machine. I’ve always believed that one’s quality of life is inversely proportional to the volume of forms one needs to fill out, and I’m proven right at every turn. My subconscious disdain, nay, hatred of the standardized form manifests itself in my completely illegible handwriting. My tiny, hasty scribbles fill page after page of idiotic paperwork; I feel like I’m paying the penance for all the bad tenants that have come before me, and the supreme injustice of the whole credit-reporting reference-checking leasing-agency pomp fills me with despair.

Thank goodness I’m not in this alone.

Each new apartment we investigate is the same. We visit, we apply, we get excited, something falls through, and we begin again. Pessimism and apprehension are replaced by guarded hope, guarded hope grows into wide-eyed desire, desire twists into expectation and need, and need crashes flaming into the mire of bitter disappointment. And then we start again, because what else can we do?

It’s like dating.

Negativity will get us nowhere, friends. It’s as fruitless a sentiment as blind optimism. Strip away all the horseshit and only two things will guide us to our heart’s desire: persistence, and luck. I’ve got one, let’s hope Jo’s got the other. Every minute under my mother’s roof is a testament to my own incompetence. I tired quickly of this.


One last thought: fax machines. What the hell? Only, only the real estate industry is backwards enough to still be using this fucking relic technology. Forcing me to fax things to you is only one step above having me stamp out my message in cuneiform on clay tablets and deliver it by ox-cart. Maybe you’d like me to paint my application on a cave wall? With some crude buffalo and gorillas and shit? What possible motivation, what rusted and creaking chain binds people to this fundamentally flawed and idiotic machine? There must be some kind of national kickback scam going on; I can see no other explanation for such a sad state of affairs, other than the influence of alien cult conspiracies or overwhelming and universal stupidity.

You know what’s better than fax machines, Mr. Rental Dude?

The god damn Internet.



Friday, we worked.

It happens.

Saturday, Saturday was good.

Headed over to Palo Alto to watch the Ducks beat the living crap out of Stanford on their home turf, which was enjoyable in the extreme. Not that I have any sort of loyalty or relationship whatsoever with U of O; far from it. I do, however, despise Stanford in the extreme. The entire South Bay Private School Rich Kid culture disgusts me, not in the same virulent, consuming way that politicians and reality TV do, but in a more abstract and existential manner. I don’t despise everything about them, per se, I just kind of really don’t like them and like seeing them lose horribly at their home field.

As always, I was a big hit with the alumni. Without fail, at every college sporting event I attend some graying booster-club fan befriends me. Typically five or six of them. I don’t know why. I simply behave the way I would at any sporting event, I heckle and trash talk and berate and demean, doing my part to erode the Opposing Team’s morale and self-worth. I figure as a fan, it’s the least I can do. For whatever reason, the older folks in attendance find this irresistibly endearing or funny. The first few comments just get laughs. By the second quarter I’m getting the over-the-shoulder appreciative glance, maybe a supportive word or two. After the half it’s all high-fives and random boring anecdotes about their fading past, and when that last whistle blows we’re just one big happy family, a little bubble of united fandom. It’s a phenomenon I would attribute to the other fans rather than myself, had I not experienced it with such unfailing consistency.

Sigh. Such is the burden of charismatic youth, I suppose.


Saturday night we mobilized to attend someone’s birthday party in The City, somebody’s roommate I hadn’t met before, Claire I believe. The affair was hosted at a classy midtown apartment such as we have sought for what seems like an eternity, it was quite a classy spot. Very metropolitan.

Having long ago lost any qualms about going to parties where I am about 15 degrees of separation from the majority of the celebrants, I was still a bit spooked because it wasn’t just a party, it was a cocktail party.

Let’s be honest, kids. I’m not really a cocktail party kind of guy. I’ll take peanuts instead salmon bisque, I’ll drink MGD instead of shiraz, I’ll wear Converse instead of… just about anything. All the delicacy and fragility and waste associated with high class life repel me, and we both know I stay down for these streets. Some of this provincialism is acquired, some is inherited. It’s part idealism and part genetics. A part of me just can’t help but stay low class. I am, after all, half Idahoan.


We went anyway.

First, a word about taste. Permit me to set aside my normally overpowering humility and say that, without a doubt, I have amazing taste in friends. Simply flawless, almost across the board. Think about your friends, think about how many of them are really not that cool, or who are kind of annoying and you spend time with more out of circumstance than actual sentiment… Think about how many of your friends are straight Aisle Six Ace Hardware Makita power tools, people who honestly bug the crap out of you and you don’t really enjoy being around.

You fools.

You see, I was born without those same social instincts and habits you all have, that general tolerance which leads to the acquisition of such flops and permits said scum to infiltrate the ranks of your circle of friends. To clarify: I’m simply not nice enough to put up with people I don’t really like.

The only, and I mean the only person I’ve ever met with this same pristine fourteen karat friend-selecting ability is J sauce. Her friends, much like my own, are just cool as all hell. Our combined ability to filter out the fuckwads and varied scum so prevalent in American society unites us, and so it goes without saying that we interact extremely well with each others’ circles.

It’d been almost a year since I had last seen Hillary and Martine and the other various ladies of San Diego fame who were at the party, long-time friends of Jo and thus inherently quality folk. What a long, dark year. Now, most of the original SD crew has reunited in The City, and damned if they aren’t out there living that fabulous urbanite mid-twenties lifestyle we pine for so over here in the East Bay. Damned if they aren’t doing it right. They’re in on the whole Golden Age thing, and I applaud them for it. Just as when we spent time together in the south, these girls went (and continue to go) a long way to restoring my faith in the female race. I interact with such a vast array of worthless hos that at times I forget that ladies, in the classical sense of the term, even exist. And lo, they do. They do.

I’m reminded of Quint and I and whoever the hell else was there’s extensive discussion about the term educuted, back in the day. You know you’re on to something when you have to make up a suitable adjective. I know more god damn adjectives and descriptive phrases than Webster himself, and we still had to manufacture one to fit the situation, whenever that original conversation took place. The whole Outkast-inspired distinction between a trick and a lady, that whole damn paradigm… I don’t know. You can understand where I’m going with this. I guess most chicks, most people, just suck, and so when you meet a cool one you’re just impressed as hell. Or at least I am.

Let’s be honest; we both know what this type of respect can engender; what that dangerous red light at the end of this particular tunnel is. It’s name need not be spoken, lest we give it strength, and yet it’s presence must be acknowledged if we are to keep it real. And here, friends, above all it is kept real.

Suffice it to say that there’s something about that type, an intellectual beauty, a post-grad smelling faintly of chalk dust and Borders coffee and San Francisco enlightenment that turns my head with alarming ease.

Bah, maybe it was just the wine doing my thinking for me.

Let’s hope not.



One Response to “If you should die before me, ask if you can bring a friend”

  1. anonymous Says:

    Try this. Tell the landlords that you are engaged and are looking for a two bedroom for your child who is seven months away from being born. All this entails is your hand on her shoulder as you walk around the apartment.
    Don’t worry about getting caught in your lie. In four months when Jo isn’t showing, they won’t ask because she might have had a miscarriage. No one asks.

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