(Letter to my good friend @GoFrankGo)
Frankly (Mr. Shankly!),
Sorry I missed your call on Sunday. It’s been a rough weekend:
Friday night, I ate some takeout Chinese and washed it down with a Red Bull while watching “Venture Bros.” As one does. (Fuck, I have GOT to stop eating like I’m 20…) You’re right. In fact, everyone who has ever recommended “Venture Bros.” to me was right about that show.
That night, I had dreams where I was dying of thirst even though I was drinking as much as physically possible – a sure sign that my body wasn’t happy with the choice I’d made. (I have those dreams when I eat pepperoni or sausage on pizza, too. Mmmm, sausage and mushrooms.… ) In these dreams, I’m drinking from the garden hose on full stream, or pounding gallon jugs of ice water straight from the fridge but nothing’s coming out. Woke up the next morning and I was sore all over, like I was coming down with something. Showered, went back to bed for a few hours. Can’t nap too late, though…
Oddly enough, Katie Orlando was in town this weekend with her boyfriend to shoot the Cherry Blossom festival. My plan was to leave a few hours early to say hello (she being only the fourth TLC postboard persona I’d have met!), then head over to Dupont Circle to meet up with Cass (see also: Special Lady) for fancy salads, and then take in a Bach Concert at the Kennedy Center. Eventually: I got up, dragged on clean clothes (NOT feeling like doing any of the above now), packed my faithful bag, and headed for the bus stop.
Fucking tourists. Seems I can never get away from them. They swarmed me in Hilton Head, South Carolina; they clogged the streets of Juneau, Alaska; and now they fuck up my chi each Spring when the blossoms bloom in Disco Charlie. They clog the Metro, make a mess of the escalators and generally get in the way. As I get sicker, I grow… angrier.
Short story long, I missed out on seeing Katie but she lives in New York; no worries, we’ll have time to say hello later. Waited for Cass for almost an hour before she shows up and tells me she was waiting at the other entrance to DuPont Circle — and, her new cellphone’s not working. Google phone can’t get a T-Mobile signal in D.C.? Who’dve thought it?
We ate our fancy salads and relished every bit — no, wait. I’m lying. Because, oh yeah, the salads sucked. Now, I’m a member of the clean plate club. All the time. That’s just how I roll. And when I tell you my favorite fantasy is taking shelter in an empty hotel in the middle of hurricane season with nothing to do but write (and I’ve got the keys for the bar, the pool, and access to a generous supply of fresh fish, steamed veggies, fresh oranges and brown rice) well, you come to understand what sort of sick, salad-humping son of a bitch I really am.
So when I say I couldn’t finish this salad — well, let’s just not repeat that sentence.
Cass was still hungry (her salad sucked, too! A word to the wise: SweetGreen? SweetFail. I mean… look at the menu! It’s vegetable PrØn! How could they fuck it up!?)
…so we ducked into a Subway. She ate half a sub, stashed the rest in my bag. Offered me some, but at this point I couldn’t imagine ever eating again. (I had a feeling of perfect balance, and the following thought occured: “Never eat again! Why not? It’s like being a character in a Tom Robbins novel and deciding not to age anymore.”)
On to the Kennedy Center!
Wait! Go back! When Special Lady told me we were gonna catch a Bach mass for twenty bucks, I, in my present state of physical delusion, assumed that my attire of camouflage shorts, a clean polo shirt and my beat-to-shit hiking shoes were perfectly AOK for the occasion. What the hell do I know from the Kennedy Center? (What the hell do I know from a mass??) We show up, and of course everyone is wearing suits. Yeah, I looked like a painted turd. But fuck it, we paid for our tickets so we took our seats. I slumped down extra low to hide my poor fashion sense from Jesus.
Catholic masses… wait, aren’t those–? Long as fuck? Yes.
I experienced a specific mental meme, a soundbite from a skit starring a Catholic priest who “really thought the world of a GOOD LONG MASS!” (*fist punched into palm for enthusiasm and emphasis*. Might be an old episode of ‘Father Ted’?) Now, I own recordings by Vivaldi, Wagner, and Mozart, and my first favorite song ever was the Pachebel Canon in D Minor. So I’m not a culture buffoon. But this was about the most boring goddamn thing I’d ever seen! No plot, just grovelling. “Oh, Lord, please forgive us! We’re not worthy! Just you! Only you are worthy! You’re number one! We’re number two! Please let us into your special club!”
Just then, Special Lady (dressed in suitable jeans, top and a shawl — making me look even shittier, thanks) writes on her program and slides it over: WHY ARE THEY SINGING ABOUT CHEESE AND RICE? I try not to laugh, makes my head hurt, can’t help it. She’s wearing a mischievous grin, her bright eyes sparkling. I’m feeling like smeared death… sore limbs, and a raging headache, and the chairs are built for tiny beings, not 6′ 4″ motherfuckers like myself. So we start passing notes back and forth. Hilarity ensues. We are comedic geniuses the likes of which the world has never seen.
Then she writes: IF THERE’S AN INTERMISSION, LET’S BAIL. I slide her a low-five… aw, yeah. Dig this girl…
We slip out, she finished her sandwich and we discuss an important new opera called “The Cheese and The Rice” on the way to the Metro. She performs a few scenes for me, in falsetto, at the top of her lungs. More tourists. Back to her place, finally. I’m sore, shivering, and I’ve got a headache strong enough to make a horse squint. I crawl under the covers and I’m out…
Next morning, her godawful rooster alarm wakes me up at zero-dark. She has to go to work, but tells me I can sleep in late, shower, and catch a cab to the Metro. No worries. I’ll make up the bed.
Back to sleep, in and out of dreams. Head throbbing. (At one point, you texted me. Or maybe it was Jesus trying to sneak in a little self-promotion. You can’t blame the man, everybody has bills to pay.) Back to sleep, more dreams.
Wake up weak with a squinteriffic headache. It’s almost 3 p.m. Shower, dress, and lock up. Check iPhone app for local cab companies while standing in the driveway. Seven numbers appear, three of which are limo service and airport shuttles. Read: expensive. Two numbers don’t even answer. The last picks up: “Yeah? Naw, we don’t pick up there no more. You gotta call someone else.” He gives me a number, hangs up. In my feverish, fucked up condition I hope I’ve got it right. Dialed it. A Hindu voice answers. “We don’t pick up there. You gotta call someone else.” I dialed the third number. The sun is beating down, I’m shivering, and my head is SCREAMING. Cars are whipping past carrying bored expressions and bad sunglasses. Seems folks’re already sick of sunlight around here. The last number is a winner. They’ll be here in ten, and they take plastic.
Get to the Metro station. There’s a guy with a dazed look on his face, standing with his face pressed against the chain link fence, headphones in, his toneless voice rapping along: “Tryin’ ta get her pregnant, tryin’ to get her pregnant…” His eyes are dark and dead. I’m shredding my taxi receipt into tiny pieces because it has my card number on it, and I throw it into a trashcan that reeks of piss. Everyone looks mean, cheap, like someone pissed in their Cheerios a long time ago and they’ve just kept eating it. I’m still not a fan of the ghetto, I don’t care how much we stand to learn from its residents.
Remember those tourists? And remember that part about Chinese food and Red Bull being the last thing I’ve eaten all weekend? I almost lost my temper and starting shouting at some tourists who were wide-eyed as amazed deer that the doors on a Metro car don’t bounce open when they encounter your arm or leg. “Goodness!” But I bite my tongue, ever polite. Off the train now, walking faster and faster, dodging and moving through gaps in the crowd. Muttering, swearing. Moments from losing it. Don’t wanna be in a crowd if I do. Through the Metro, up the escalator (“The RIGHT side is for standing, people!”) and get to the top, spot a cab. Give the intersection of my neighborly hood, and asked if he took plastic. He shrugs his shoulders. “I don’t know how to work the machine..?” Try another cab. He is apparently certified to work the machine. I pile in. The cab is clean, and smells of incense. “Nice weather, yes?” I agree wordlessly, staring out the window, thinking thunderclouds.
I get home, check the mail, unpack, toss my dirty clothes in the laundry basket, gun a handful of ibuprofen and some other stuff Cass had given me before diving under the covers, trying to wish away the intense brain pain. Sleep, and more weird dreams…
In this one, I wake up in my first-ever bedroom, which was haunted. I know there are visitors downstairs, and I’m supposed to go see them. But I have to get dressed. I can’t turn on any of the light switches (sure sign that I’m dreaming) so I use my cellphone camera for light. As one does. I put on a black shirt, black slacks and black dress shoes. I look like I’m ready for Vegas. Or a Miami funeral. I go downstairs and suddenly I’m in a cab. And we’re driving – have been driving for quite some time, actually. Eventually, I speak to the driver. “Say, man. We’ve been at this for awhile, and, like, I don’t remember telling you where I wanted to go..? So how’s about we go a little further for scenery’s sake, and then you drop me off at where ever it was that you picked me up?”
Suddenly, I’m walking under a clear night sky. The weather is perfect. The stars are bright and plentiful, like when you’re out at sea, or in a country with minimal light pollution. I’m aware that I’m walking ahead of a great multitude of people, and they’re waiting for me to do something, but it’s dark and I can’t see them. The stars are huge and perfect…
Woke up at midnight. Headache and soreness gone. Wrote this letter to pass the time, which may explain the typos.
That’s why I missed your call.