Sailed the darkened seas

The temperature continues to drop, sunny day after sunny day. A little weather would be nice, anything to shield us from that empty, freezing sky. At night the cold creeps in so relentlessly it’s like you can feel the shit radiating down straight from space. I wake up at four am, shaking and shivering because the half-inch thick wool beanie I wear to bed has somehow slipped off. Fucking winter.

Deeper and deeper we go, however much we claw our fingers bloody trying to hold on. C’est la vie.

I went to to the Shotwell party on Saturday, against my own better judgment. I’ve never been more than second-degree friends with those ladies, my idiosyncracies tolerated because of their close friendship with my step-twin, and to show up without the missing links in the chain was likely in poor taste. Fuck it. Say what you want, but the company of normal, regular humans can be healthy on occasion, especially when you spend endless weeks with the menagerie of mutants and thieves I typically run with. The girls know nothing about the serious, next-level weirdness that exists around them. They know nothing about climbing up a fire escape to get away from a MMA Featherweight Champion because you made the mistake of calling Ron Paul the “midgety inbred Anti-christ” during a political discussion outside the 16th street bart station. They know nothing about six a.m. phonecalls from Fairbanks, Alaska.

“TREVOR. Dude Turell is in jail!” “What? What time is it?” “He’s seriously in jail. Tabby called me like an hour ago; she’s on the run from the god damn cops.”

“You’re an idiot. Why would they lock him up dude, he’s totally harmless. He’s just a geek, a loser. You can’t get arrested for making too many Star Trek jokes, as far as I know, just justifiably fucking ostracized.”

“That’s the point, man, it’s not him, it’s Tabby.”

“She’s like 8.999 months pregnant, she’s gonna have baby in forty-five minutes. What crime could she possibly have committed?”

“They missed some kind of court dates for custody hearings for her other kids, and her ex-husband is claiming kidnapping.”

“No way.”

“Seriously. They impounded his car, so Tabby is in some bus station in Wichita, pregnant as hell, calling me up asking for five thousand dollars.”

“Jesus.”

“I know! I told him not to marry no thirty-five year old bitch with kids, man. What do you say to that, right?”

“You people are freaks. Don’t call me anymore, and don’t send her any goddamn money.”

*click*

They know nothing about any of that kind of shit, which is what makes them so great. They know friends and brunches and warm teas and movie nights. They probably own tablecloths, and try not to swear in public.

Needless to say, when I show up on their doorstep in my only halfway dressy sweater with a fifth of J&B as my contribution to their holiday party, I get some looks.

“Hey!”

Moment of awkward quiet.

“You came!”

Genuine surprise.

“Yes I did. Here’s some whiskey. Merry Christmas.”

“How thoughtful, Trevor. You always know just what to bring.”

“Yeah well I thought about eggnog, but I don’t know what kind of alcohol or whatever you put in it, or if you’re supposed to buy cinnamon or nutmeg or some shit to go with it… I don’t know. I suck at life. Sorry, Hills.”

Whether out of seasonal generosity or a more deeply-ingrained cultural graciousness, they let me in, slamming the door quickly to keep out the drunken zombie hobos that perpetually wander the Outer Mission. I set the bottle down on a table full of reasonably priced wines and gingerbread cookies after pouring myself a generous cup. I make small talk to the best of my limited abilities, say hi to the five people I know out of sixty (Viking Jean, Claire 1 and Claire 2, the triplets whose names I can never remember, but I think they’re Katie and Claudia and Clemmy or something…) and set up shop in a corner.

“Trevor.” “Hey man!” Make that six people I know. I see Marty’s boyfriend about twice a year, always at this same party. We hang out in a lot of the same anti-social corners, it seems.
“Some dude here has the same shirt as me.” He says.
“Let’s fuck him up.”
“I’ll go find a knife.”
“You walk up to him and compliment him on it, and I’ll come from behind and just slip it in his ribs, slow and quiet like. We can shove him out the back door before he has a chance to scream, and nobody will be the wiser.”
Yes.

Homeboy with the same blue shirt walks by, and we give him identical hungry grins.
“Hey there, friend! Come back here, we want to talk to you.”

He quicksteps upstairs, confused and afraid.

“So what have you been up to, Trevor?” Claire #1 asks as she mingles by.
“Noah and I were just planning to stab that guy.”
“Oh you boys. What guy?”
“The one in the same blue shirt.”
“Oh that’s fine, I don’t know him. Don’t do it near the new couches.”
“Deal.”
“So you came, huh.”
“Yeah. Sorry. I thought Jolene would make a surprise appearance like last year.” I lie.
“We certainly hoped for it. Now, you’re not allowed to make fun of us for the video. At least not tonight.”
“I would never make fun of…”
“Trevor. Come on now.”

Wait a fucking second here. What video?

“What video?!”
“Didn’t you read the invitation?”

….

“We made that video for the invitation last year and it was a hit, so we decided to do a better one this year. Ryan Carey directed it.”
The Man Himself RC waves from across the room.
“It fucking had a director? This must be a serious video we’re talking about. How have I not heard about this?”
“I told you about it in the email, Trevor. Don’t you read people’s emails before you reply to them?”

….

A million concepts flash through my mind, trying to fill the void with some sort of expectation, some sort of idea of what this video is. In the end, my twisted imagination settles on a sort of epic, forty minute long, white chick version of Trapped in the Closet.

“We’re showing it at midnight.”

Fifteen minutes. Time to secure a seat. I fill up on whiskey, stop to cheers Noah and Viking Jean’s glowering, homicidal Irish boyfriend with the facial scars, and barge into the living room. Crescent-Fresh RC and some Indian dude in blues brothers sunglasses and a plaid sweatervest are tinkering with the projector. All the front room seats are full of party-going Missionites (Missionaries?). Of course. Well fuck that. A comfortable viewing seat can make or break an experience like this.

I rudely squeeze onto the nicest couch next to a short-haired Asian girl and her pudgy Jewish boyfriend, probably named Micah or something stupid, crowding them mercilessly. I deliberately spill a little whiskey on her Pumas.

“Hey friends! How are you guys tonight!”
“Pretty good…” The girl says, not looking at me. Probably because if she turned to look directly at me, our faces would be a quarter inch apart.
“That’s great! I can’t wait for the show!” I shout, even though the room is pretty quiet.
“Yeah…”
“You know what pisses me off is how touchy-feely all movies are nowadays. This one better be a little more hardcore. I know it’s Christmas and shit, but I’m just going to say it:”
I say nothing. For several moments.
“…just going to say what?” She asks.
“The environment is gay. If this whole global warming conspiracy is true, tell me this: why is it still so fucking cold all the time? Huh?”
“What?”
“In fact, if there is any kind of fucking greenie propaganda in this video, which I pray to oursaviorjesuschrist there is not, I’m gonna flip out. Jesus is the reason for the season, not Al “Inventor of the Internets” Gore.”
“Who are you? Are you Hillary’s friend?” The dude asks.
“Yes. I teach second grade at her school. Now shut the fuck up and stop interrupting me. Anyway, if this godblessed video doesn’t start with the Star Spangled Banner, or at least include a tribute to Our Troops, I’m going to fucking burn this whole block down. Seriously. I could get away with it too.”
The guy reaches over to shake my hand.
“That’s great man, I think we’re gonna take off. Have a good one!”
“You too brother!” I scream, reaching up both hands for a double high five. He leaves me hanging, so I high-five myself.

They leave and I stretch out comfortably on the couch, just as the video starts. Cynthia, who thankfully accompanied me to the party to help take the awkward edge of, joins me.

And for all of you shitbags who think I make all this up, that I’m Captain Exaggeration of the U.S.S. Bullshit, I give you ironclad fucking proof.

Read it and weep, vermin:

Youtube

There we go.

That was it; the lights came back on, there was applause and bowing, some scattered oohs and ahhs from the more sensitive crowd…

What can you say, you know? It’s Christmas. I won’t say it was a triumph, but I will say it was far better and shorter than The Darjeeling Limited.

A lot of folks left after The Viewing. Midnight is pretty late for a lot of this crowd, after all. They probably have to get up at 7:30 the next day, you know to… do… whatever it is that people who wake up at 7:30 and aren’t still drunk do on a Sunday. Probably ride bikes or some shit.

I hung around a while longer, but felt an early exit was probably the neighborly course of action.

“I heard you and Nancy broke up.” One of the triplets says. Cassy? Clarissa? something like that.
“That’s true.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” She says, obviously not sorry.
“Yeah. Shit happens, you know.”
“What happened?”
“We fought a lot, the usual stuff. One day we were having lunch and it ended in a screaming match. I said ‘Feelings are stupid!’ and she said ‘Well so is time travel!’. That’s when I knew it was over.”
“Yeah, that’s too bad. Look, if you ever want to hang out…”
“Hey it’s been great but I gotta get out of here. I’ve gotta drive to Fresno and bail my buddy out of jail, and if I don’t make it by 3:30 they make him stay the whole night.”
“Oh. Well call me someti
“LATER.”

I beat a hasty retreat out the front, saying goodbye to my always gracious hostesses (hostices?), thankful once again to at least know that sane, level-headed people still exist in small pockets here in the modern world.

If there’s anything that will get you through winter in this evil, filthy city, it’s people like them. I hop the fence on my way out, nearly landing on the slumped body of a dead drunk Guatemalan. He curses quietly in Spanish, too cold even to shiver.

“You’re a long way from home, amigo.” I say, prodding him with my boot. “Go inside somewhere, or you’ll freeze to death in your own piss. That’s no way to go.”

No way indeed.

-T.

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