When I go driving, I stay in my lane.

Music – JJ Cale – After Midnight

2008 has drawn its last breath, collapsing with its eyes rolled back into its head like a dying animal.  This is no time to grab up a stick and poke at its corpse, however.  We’re better than that.

We instead trudge onward, distracted, painfully aware that all of the cool shit promised us has not come to pass.  It’s 2009 and things like aliens and flying cars and laser rifles are all conspicuously absent from our everyday lives.  One must live to learn with such disappointments, however.

At least 08 wasn’t boring.  Horrific and depressing perhaps, at least in America, but certainly interesting.  Obama was elected; in the face of the bailouts, the endless wars, the myriad of plagues and disasters, this seems a trivial, almost ironic consolation, like being hanged with a velvet rope.  Public kindergarten teachers are forced to sell one student in thirty to Turkish slavers just to pay for textbooks and crayons, but our esteemed leaders manage to conjure enough money from the ether to spare untold billions for GM, for AIG.  We live in a nation where this kind of fucked-up twilight-zone reverse Robinhooding is tolerated, even lauded.

Schwarznegger was on NPR this morning, reading from the laundry list of budget cutbacks necessary for California to survive the financial apocalypse.  It took him two fucking hours just to get through the bullet points.  I don’t need statistics, test scores to tell me California’s educational system is in crisis.  I am alerted to this by the fact that just about everyone I meet is a retard.  I don’t need explanations as to the problems of our myopic and bloodthirsty police; I see them out every day at Starbucks, no doubt taking a much-needed break from hassling crackheads, writing parking tickets, and shooting unarmed minorities on BART.

Fuckers.

I take solace in the fact that the fuckwits and the greedheads cannot screw us all indefinitely. When the shit goes down and the harvests fail, when the chaos blooms, I’ll be laughing as all the well-fed executives are spit-roasted over bonfires of $100 bills by cannibals and the starving poor.

Now I’m on a plane to Seattle.

I had several drinks in the terminal lounge when I arrived at SFO.  Perhaps too many.  I’m having trouble staying focused.

Out of the 200 or so people on this flight, approximately 5/6 of them are shrieking babies or talkative neo-Christian Mary Kay saleswomen.

I thought I had lucked out, sitting on the aisle next to a quiet businessman and a young Indian girl, but then some kind of ticketing mixup got the businessman into first class and a groaning, sweaty mastodon of a woman came back to take his place.

I remained standing to allow her to shimmy and squeeze her unspeakable girth into the middle seat, but she made no move, just stood there wheezing.

“I guess I’ll try and slide in…” said the mastodon expectantly, still unmoving.

I stood silently.

“I’ll just… you know.”  She moaned, shaking her jowls.

God dammit.

“I’ll take the middle seat.” I said, sitting down.

“WHY THANK YOU!” She growled, maneuvering her planetary ass into the narrow seat like someone parking a Winnebago in a bathtub.

I clenched my arms together tightly as her warm, bloated bulk spilled over the arm of the chair and pooled near my leg.

I hate you, mastodon.  I hate your sprawling fupa.  I hate your mini-cooler full of oreos and pistachios.  I hate your face and your voice and the culture of enablers that has allowed you to grow so enormously unbelievably obese.  I hate that you exist entirely on the sufferance and politeness of people like me.

To my left, the Indian girl began to snore loudly.

——–

New Year’s Eve in South Lake Tahoe was a shitshow, a screwball disaster of epic proportions.  I will not speak of it overmuch, because it seriously blew.

There were riot police.  It was 12 degrees.  We got into a fistfight at Harvey’s and only their lax security saved me from spending the night in a Reno jail.

I met a girl named Regan, a friend of a friend or something, I don’t know.  She had some passing association with our group at least, since she came with us to the NYE party.  She introduced herself and someone said “Reagan, like the president.”

“No, like the barfing demon girl from the Exorcist.” I said.

She seemed to take that the wrong way, I guess, as she didn’t have much to say to me after that.

She ended up getting so drunk at the casino that by 1 AM she was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance, escorted by firemen, covered in her own puke and piss.

Not unlike Regan from the Exorcist.

I tried to explain the wonderful universal symmetry of this to Mo and to Ehren as we hiked the two freezing, sludge-covered miles back from the state line at 3AM, but the beauty of it all escaped them.

Regan, whoever the fuck she was, woke up on a crash cart in Nevada on the first day of 2009 with a $10,000 hospital bill and a black dress forever spoiled by her own filth. Life can be rough.

The rest of us out-flanked the line of riot cops blocking Lake Tahoe Blvd by sneaking cross-country through the forest, escaping the evening with nothing more than hangovers and mild frostbite.

We got drunk again at 9 AM and were forcibly ejected from a family restaurant after Mo threw a pancake frisbee-style at a group of senior citizens.

The stewardess has arrived with my $31 Heineken. Excuse me a moment.

——–

We’ve started our descent into Seattle.

Chris is coming to pick Paul, Peter and me up in a rented Kia Sportage because he totaled his truck last week.

Four grown men in the primes of our lives, set loose on the streets of Seattle in a Kia Sportage, the most pathetic form of transport known to man that doesn’t involve a harnessed goat.  Look out Seattle, here we come.

Fuck this $31 beer.  Fuck life and everyone, especially the mastodon next to me.

I’ll be 27 next month.

-T.

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