I am still living with your goat

I return, after a much needed sabbatical.

Despite harsh protest from fans, critics, and the artistic community at large, I haven’t written so much as a check in three weeks.

Stop crying, you fuckers. I am beholden to none, and you love me for it.

Where to begin?

The Bachelor Party

“It is better to die, even to die slowly, than to marry.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

I watched out the window of the plane, over the wheezing torso of the mental patient next to me, and saw that I had finally reached foul Orange County.

LA is the worst place in the world. Understand that, in my vernacular, LA is everything south of Santa Barbara and north of Camp Pendleton. The entire Los Angeles basin is absolutely and unequivocally the worst place on earth in every way.

I hate LA. It is so foul and worthless and septic that even a narrow-eyed villain like myself can barely breathe the greasy air. It’s not even majestic in its despair, it’s simply gross and stupid and evil, starved even the dignity of being infamous or tragic. Fuck LA.

It was raining when my plane landed in Orange County. That didn’t clear things up, it just smeared the filth around; it turned gutters into bogs and potholes into cesspits. I gazed out the long windows of John Wayne Airport at the disgusting sprawl of the LA basin, and loathed.

——–

Chris met me in the terminal.

“Congratulations, you twat. Let’s go celebrate the practical, if not technical, end of your life.”
“Good to see you too, asshole. I’ll tell my fiancée you’re excited about the wedding.”
“I hate LA. Where the hell is Peter?”
“Oh he’s not coming up tonight.”

We exchange a knowing look, and I get on the phone.

“Peter.”
“Hi.”
“I’m in LA, where the fuck are you?”
“I’m not gonna come up tonight? I’m in San Diego still.”
“Did your parents die?”
“What? No…”
“Then what’s your fucking problem, come up here! My ass just flew from SF for this and you’re gonna stay home and play MarioKart with your bratty ass little brother instead of partying? You’re fired, you fuck.”
“Dude…”
*Click*

“I’m done with him. Let’s go drink.”

Paul waited out front in his shiny blue BMW convertible.
“Trevor, did you call Peter? He’s not coming up tonight.”
“Yeah I just talked to him. He’s a got a brutal yeast infection and his period just started, so he’s gonna stay home and watch Gilmore Girls. I told him it was fine, we understood.”
“I missed you, Dazzle.”
“I love you too Paul. Let’s drive.”

We took off, top down during a break in the rain. 90 MPH on the freeway, the wind was whipping Chris’s head around like a sock in a typhoon. I asked him, from my heated leather seat up front, how he was holding up. His lips and hair flapping every which way, he gave me a thumbs up. It looked like he was getting raped by a shop vac, so I suggested Paul put the top up. Swerving across several lanes of traffic, Shandi skidded onto the shoulder.

It should be formally recorded that Paul is a tense and terrible driver. Neurotic, indecisive, and half-blind, he drifts, skids, and seizures his way around the southern freeways. He merges with the poise and grace of a fifteen year old virgin, and has little to no spatial awareness. Paul gets lost and misses exits at an Olympic level.

I love him dearly. Paul is the son I never had. Knowing this weakness, as well as his sensitive nature, Chris and I took it upon ourselves to hound him remorselessly, criticizing his every move, gasping and flailing around theatrically at his every mistake. Our absolutely out of line mockery and badmouthing flustered the ever-anxious Paul to record levels, and it took us pretty much forever to drive to Santa Monica.

“I’m gonna call Shak and see where he’s at. Sarah might be able to meet up with us too, I’ll see what she’s doing.”
Hissing and shouting from the back seat.
“PAUL FOR FUCK’S SAKE THAT WAS OUR EXIT. EASTBOUND, PAUL, EASTBOUND.”
I sigh, shaking my head in absolute disgust at Paul’s ineptitude.
“Jesus Paul. Jesus.”
“DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU DIRECTIONS IN ARMENIAN, PAUL?”
“Shut the fuck up Chris, I’m driving here. I don’t see well at night.”
“Paul you don’t see well at you’re retarded. Stop getting us lost.”
Chris starts shrieking in faux-Slavic, pointing emphatically at various signs, trying to assist Paul in navigating the tangled knots of L.A.’s disastrous transit system.
“Shak says he’s in some deli near USC with Matt. Sarah is gonna meet us at the bar.” I say, cranking up the Mexirap on the radio. REGGETONES somethingsomething GASOLINA!
“Balak furn mchech blach mraugrraruch von burgenr rarr hararrrrrrrrrrrr” Chris offered, slapping Paul’s neck and pointing at a sign.
“This way?” He asks, looking at me.
“Paul. Do I live here, Paul? Why are you asking me directions in your fucking city? I’m from Hayward.
“MARACHASL SRUARH HABAB NABAB! LEFT YOU FUCKER!”

Twenty minutes and three years off of Paul’s life later, we met up with Shak and his buddy Matt at some empty deli beneath one of L.A.’s 4500 shopping districts. After twenty minutes of catchup and reminiscence, with occasional breaks for me to stare down the scummy LA patrons and the scummy LA waiters, we headed off for some bar.
“Cheers was invented at this place, you know that?” Matt asks Chris, for the second time.
“Yeah I heard that.”

We get the bar and start drinking with the greedy thirst of warriors before a great battle. Flaming Doctor Peppers and various other repulsive Jaeger-based drinks appear in my hand, and Sarah and Shak and I talk about old times and new ones. Shak, as always, is having his heart worked over by some bitch. Shak is almost too good to live, and his golden purity and chivalric bent doom him to a life of torture at the hands of hos. He refuses my advice to stay ice cold, as Shak always does. I tell him he should date LA chicks just to cheat on them. I offer to catch something nasty and sleep with his latest tormentor. I tell him all the things a good brother should. Sarah is dating an illegal immigrant who speaks no English, a brash and awesome move for such a reserved girl. I high five her repeatedly. She’s doing well, and continues to surprise me. She’s the only person from LA I’ve ever met with even a shred of integrity or worth, and if I didn’t like the girl so damn much I’d be horribly suspicious of her.

“Hey dude. You know they wrote Cheers here? Right in one of these booths?” Matt asks Paul.
“Yeah man you told us.”
“Yeah, right here man. Not in Boston, here in LA.”
“That’s cool man.” Paul looks away.

We drink heavily until closing. We’d be in Vegas right now, if Chris didn’t have to work the next morning. We all get the day off and the god damn Bachelor has to work before his own party. Bad news. Stumbling and cursing, we make our way back through the maze of apartment buildings and six-lane expressways and overturned shopping carts back to Shak’s place. Hammered and teetering, Chris slumps down on Shak’s bed and starts snoring. Paul and I look at pictures on his laptop, and talk about grad school.

“The real world kicks ass man, quit school.”
“Nah, I’ll get a better job with my masters. USC is ruining my life though, damn.”
“You still wanna go to grad school Paul?”
“Maybe. If my company will pay for it.”
“Y’all are crazy. After Poly I can’t believe you guys want to study more.”
“Here let’s look up these pictures, I’ll show you the other PHD kids in EE.” Shak says.
“Hope my porn’s not still up.” He says, turning on his monitor.

Asleep for a good half hour, snoring and comatose, Chris shoots bolt upright.
“What’re you guys talking about? Porn?”

We laugh ourselves to tears.

We go home. It’s 4:00, and Chris has to be at work and sober by 7. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us too.

————————————————

I awake to Peter shaking me and looking way too god damn chipper.

“Go away or I’ll shoot you with mind bullets.”
“Hi hi hi hi hi hi. Time to wake up, let’s go to Vegas.”
“I hate you.”

Paul’s waif-like British mother pads by in her slippers, offering breakfast and coffee to her guests. She’s a sweetheart, but Peter and I discuss British food under our breath and decide to go out to eat. I shower and don my tackiest pink floral shirt. Vegas, baby, vegas.

We weave our way out of Paul’s OC tract sprawl neighborhood and into one of the nearby shopping sprawls.
“I hate LA.”
“Shut up already, we know you hate LA, you NorCal snob.”
“I’m just saying.”

We get breakfast, and Peter knocks our table over spilling all the food and drinks. Peter eats like Paul drives, and any meal you can walk away from you have to consider a success.

“Stop looking at those girls, Paul. They’re like sixteen.”
“Sixteen my ass, Trevor. They don’t even have their permits.”
“If they’re gonna dress all dolled up, I’m gonna look.” Says Paul.
“That’s true. Do their suburban whoremoms dress them like that? Or do they just issue you slutty clothes as soon as you get your period in Orange County?”
“Haha. I feel bad leering at them.” Peter concedes.
“Look, or don’t, Pete. Either way, don’t feel bad. God knows Paul doesn’t. HEY GIRLS, THIS GUY CAN BUY BEER!” I stage whisper.

“Ok so from now on, for this weekend if not for all eternity, Paul is no longer Paul.” I explain to Pete and Paul. “He’s Hot Sauce.”
“Dude Hot Sauce is not a cool nickname.”
“Shut up Paul. I mean Hot Sauce. Hot Sauce is a fabulous name and you should thank me on your damn knees for it. You tell a girl your name is Hot Sauce with a straight face and she’s yours forever, Paul. Hot Sauce.”
Peter laughs, and agrees. Hot Sauce it is.

——————————————

I kick the door a few more times, for good measure. I know Chris isn’t home yet, but somehow it makes me feel better. We wait outside his apartment, hung over and ready to get the hell out of LA. He’s back by 11:30, and we step inside for the grand tour. Chris is living the American Dream, doing everything right. Engaged and working ten hours a day, he celebrates his fabulous OC lifestyle by racking up massive credit card debt and drinking. I flip channels on his opulent no-payments-until-January-2006 big screen TV, while Peter and Chris mix up drinks for the road. Nicki shows up.

“Hey Nicki.” I wave.
She says hi, and gives me a smile of veiled hatred. She knows who the bad influence is in this group, and who’s gonna lead her man astray, if anyone. She mills around for a minute, then grows instantly terse and slams the door.

“Doooooog hooooooooooooouse” Pete yells. “Oh Trevor and I know all about the Dog House, Chris, don’t you worry. Vegas = Dog House, it’s a law of nature. Totally unavoidable.”
“Why is she pissed?” I ask, foolishly. Like Chris would know, even if there were some sort of tangible or rational explanation. The question hangs, rhetorical.
Pete and I exchange high-fives, and talk about when we went to Vegas on Valentine’s Day and our various Dog House, Sleeping On The Couch experiences because of it. Ah, the good old days. Chris and Paul dump out half of two bottles of sports drinks into the sink, replacing the missing volume with Von’s Charcoal Filtered Vodka. Grade A Faderade, the only drink for long drives.

“Let’s fucking go.” I shout, ransacking Chris’s cupboard for roadtrip snacks. Scattering cases of PastaRoni across his counter, I get ahold of a box of some form of nutri bar. Good enough. The non-drivers (i.e. everyone but me) pound their drinks.

I get behind the wheel of Peter’s battered Subaru Wagon, and we speed off towards Riverside. The boys drink, grimacing and tearing up when faced with the fury of Lemon Lime Faderade. The mere smell of the stuff turns my stomach. Glad I offered to drive. Drink up, gentlemen. We’ve got a long weekend of mayhem ahead of us.

————————————-

Traffic in the desert. Fucking I hate LA so much. I hate it with every molecule of my body. I hate it, and I hate that everybody for 300 miles is on the same two lane highway to Las Vegas as I am on this Vet’s Day Weekend. We inch along, mariachi music blaring on the radio.
“You know why I hate this fucking desert, Peter?”
“Why’s that Trevor?”
“Cuz you only get three stations. Two stations playing mariachi out of Tijuana, where there’s no such thing as the FCC and they can pump enough juice into their transmitter to broadcast from Canada to Venezuela, and one top 40 station that is 80% commercials.”
“That’s a good reason to hate this place, Trevor.”
“I should just hate you for not having a fucking CD player.”
“Shut up.”
“You fucking primitive. No wonder you can’t get laid.”
“Shut up.”
“Don’t even have a fucking CD player…”

Traffic.

In the desert.

“Couevas, wake up.”
“Wahahbg. What dude.”
“Gimme my camera back, I wanna take a picture of Paul. Err Hot Sauce. He’s sleeping with his eyes open and he looks like the undead.”
“Comedy.”

IN AND OUT BURGERS!

Then….

Traffic.

In the desert.

“These bars taste like rectum.”
“Seriously Chris, what flavor is this? Butt?”
“You ever have those Odwalla bars, Pete?”
“No.”
“Don’t. If ‘war crimes’ was a flavor, that’s what it’d taste like.”
Laughter.

“God damn, how long have we been on the road? A month? This isn’t Vegas this is the fucking Oregon Trail.”

“One time, my cousin took a power bar and squished it up into a ball. He threw it at his girlfriend’s little brother, and hit him in the eye, and it gave the kid a brutal shiner. He almost went blind. Don’t fuck with Power Bars.”

“Hey, did you guys know that that bar we were at last night was where they invented Che” My comment is cut short by Chris trying to choke me to death with my own seatbelt. I guess he’d heard that before.

Traffic.

In.

The.

Desert.

————————————

We pull into Harrah’s around seven. Four hours late.

Back in Vegas. I’ve been here a few times, with a few different people, but honestly, nobody does Vegas like we do Vegas. The four of us, Pete, Chris, Trevor, and Paul. Hot Sauce. A cross between the Ninja Turtles and the Rat Pack. Young and heartless and well-dressed. Classy as fuck. That’s us.

It’s good to be back.

For the last hour, Chris has been on the phone, calling various relatives and family friends, arranging things, gossiping. Vegas is a scummy town, and the Couevas family calls it home with good reason. Various cousins, uncles, nephews, and brother-in-laws of Our Bachelor litter this sandy valley, managing, dealing, hustling, and cheating.. A couple of his brothers will be meeting us for the weekend’s festivities, and hookups, VIP treatment, and free shit should be in abundance. After all, you only get married once.

…….

right.

Vegas is a horrible place. Not like LA, but horrible in its own beautiful and unique way. It’s a giant, pulsating, electric monster. The monster eats money and dreams, and shits garbage and hangovers. It never sleeps, and consumes without remorse or regret. It’s angry and pathetic, like everything in Nevada. You can always tell someone who lives in Vegas from someone who visits Vegas. It’s in their eyes; the people that live there are broken somehow. They’re working without a net. I’ll spare you my theories, my conjectures about the effects of life in a moral vacuum where time and climate and reality are all distorted into nonexistence. Suffice it to say Vegas people are not regular people. They’re stared over that gruesome edge for too long; they’re desensitized in all the wrong ways. When all your world is overpriced, corporate-sponsored sin, things go wrong… up there… you know?

That makes them dangerous. That makes them trouble.

But us?

Baby, we like trouble.

We met up with one brother and his entourage, including his trashy English girlfriend, and headed to dinner.

————————

INTERLUDE.

I am cold and weary. We’ll pick up where we left off next time.

Told you I was working on it, Couevas.

-T.

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