On the (Panamanian) Road

fitz

It’s a whistle. Not like a steam train, more like a person whistling. But not like a person whistling to a dog. More like a guy whistling at a girl, but without the second… would you call it a refrain? The part that calls for your attention, but not the part that suggests an appreciation? It’s not a mating call. It’s more like a firework that’s been launched but never detonates. It just swerves and flaccidly drops into the sea, or a parking lot. Only it’s a whistle.

That’s what I’m hearing anyway, underneath this tree with these drooping flowers that are called Angel’s Trumpets or Devil’s Teardrops or something. That’s what the Panamanian cab driver called them as we drove by this morning. We have these in Los Angeles, I think, but the ones here are supposed to make you hallucinate.

So I hiked up this mountain road with my shorts chaffing my thighs and my shirt melting into the blades of my back. Which is how I arrived here, sweating underneath these flowers, trying to get fucked up, but only hearing the sound of a whistle that I can’t place.

I wish the wind would blow, but the air and the trees are too thick so everything must stay as it is. If a car drives by going down the hill, I might try to hitch a ride back to town. But it’s tough to make promises in this heat. Plus, it’s Christmas and I haven’t seen anyone the whole time I’ve been under this plant. This whole time meaning the last twenty minutes, or maybe two hours. I don’t have my watch, well, because I don’t wear a watch. What I mean is that I don’t have my phone. And time moves slowly out here. Everything does. It’s the humidity.

I lay back, or maybe I lie back. Really what I do is fall back. The blades of grass are sharp and ants crawl into my ears and up my hands and ankles. I wonder if I should be worried about snakes or sloths or coyotes. Maybe it’s just something they tell tourists – it’s just something to say on a long boring drive in the rainforest other than, “That’s a tree, which is old and interesting.” Or, “That’s a waterfall, which is probably prehistoric.” Or, “That’s a house that a tycoon from Canada bought and then left for his two sons who divided it in half, never spoke to each other and have since died.” They’re just filling the dead air. Panama is not Rome. There isn’t a coliseum, or a plaza, or a river, or Vatican City. I guess Vatican City is a different place since it has the word “city” in its name, but to me, it’s Rome.

There might not be a pope around here but there are, however, indigenous people who do not speak Spanish. They pick coffee beans and when they’re not, they get black-out drunk and fight for each other’s wives. I want to be the type of guy who sees some nobility in this, but unfortunately I don’t. Though I’m thankful for their efforts with the coffee, without which these words would not have been written and I’d still be in bed. The indigenous people in this province supposedly walked here all the way from Alaska. That’s what a white guy who owns a coffee plantation told me. Why they stopped, we’ll never know. The white guy didn’t say that. I was just thinking it.

I think a car may have driven by, but I missed it. My abdomen isn’t working so I can’t sit up. I try to use other muscles, namely my brain to communicate with my back or my arms to aid in the rising of my supine body to a position so I might wave down a ride, but to no avail. I guess I’ll just enjoy this day Christ was born in the position that he assumed in the manger, although he didn’t assume it. I mean, I assume someone put him in there like that, on his back. Probably his back. I don’t think you leave babies face down in their cribs. Or in his case, the manger.

I feel the weight of the clouds, the rainforest, and the water that has formed into individual drops and taken to pelting me. And like the birthday boy himself, I maybe even feel humanity pushing me into the dirt. As rain starts to fall harder, I seep deeper into the soil and it occurs to me that I might drown. To save myself I have no choice but to exhale very quickly through my mouth so as to free the surrounding area of rain, then quickly inhale through my mouth, as you do when snorkeling in the rain. My breath is getting shorter and shorter, but the system is sound. Now I just have to wait out the rain.

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Yes And: Hollywood House Party

scenic view

On the porch of a house in Hollywood a girl in harem pants plays a mandolin and sings, “No new friends, no new friends, no new friends…” We walk along the side, entering the way pool guys and gardeners do, to arrive in a backyard full of mostly bespectacled men with beards. They’re all 29 years old. Well, that’s not true. Some are 28, others are 30. And not all of them have beards, some have mustaches.

Other than the bearded men, who all introduce themselves as writers, there are also actors and improvisers, and actors who hate improv and improvisers who insist they have no interest in acting.

I drink two or three or four beers with the American flag plastered on the side before I notice my friends have disappeared. And of course, the beer isn’t working. I’m talking to a black guy with a Mohawk who tells me he speaks French fluently and thinks I’d be very handsome if I didn’t have a beard. When I don’t respond quickly enough, he tells me he’s a very talented graphic designer and has a background in the theatre and once spent three weeks in Paris when he was fifteen. Then he asks me who I am dressed up as. He says he can’t tell. I look down to confirm that I’m dressed as I’m pretty much always dressed. He tells me that this is a 90s costume party. I excuse myself, citing an empty Dixie cup.

Around midnight, a busload of girls who are too pretty, too pale and have snorted too much coke, show up. They swing from one end of the party to the other, like marionettes chasing each other. They look like they’ve just stepped out of Nylon Magazine. As it happens, and as they are quick to tell you, they are those girls. “Google me,” one of them says. “I’m legit.”

I tell her I believe her. She tells me she doesn’t care if I believe her or not, because there are a lot of people talking a big game here, but she’s actually very legit. She asks if I recognize her from an HBO show that she was on. I do, I tell her so. She says she doesn’t care if I recognize her or not because she’s legit. But then, in almost a whisper, she does ask one favor of me, “Don’t tell my sister what I’ve been doing.” I agree and she floats across the party, plucking a joint from a stranger’s fingers, she disappears in a haze of smoke, leather, and the obligatory floppy black velvet hat.

My drink is gone. Or rather, I drank it all, but the crowd is too thick to fight my way back to the bar. I haven’t seen my friends in an hour, maybe longer, so I elect to take a lap around the party. One stride into my lap, three guys ask me if I want to go in on a gram. I tell them I’m not actually looking to hole-up in the bathroom with three strangers and a gram from somebody’s friend’s neighbor’s roommate’s connect. They look at me like I’m fucking insane and we part ways.

The girl in the leather jacket and the floppy hat swings back in front of me. Her skin is almost translucent. Her eyes are blue, her scleras are a shade of porcelain, and her jaw, grinding down her perfect teeth, seems to have a mind of its own. She asks for my number and I ask why. She tells me to fuck off and that she’s making a movie and the budget is 3.5 million. Then she asks again for my number. I guess we both assume that she’s answered my question so I give it to her. She puts my name into her phone and then under company she writes: Financier*. I tell her that she’s confused me with someone else. She assures me that she hasn’t because she doesn’t make mistakes and that she doesn’t care what I think because she’s legit. I can google her. Then a tall blonde girl wearing six shades of black, whisks her away so they can pose for a photo shoot. Not an impromptu photo shoot. There are lights, C-stands, a prop couch. And now there are models dropping their chins, pursing their lips, flicking off the camera.

I’m ready to fight my way over to the bar when a girl in a crop top comes over and asks me to guess who she’s dressed up as. I say, “Sheryl Crow,” for reasons that are still unclear to me. She says she’s Courtney Love. Then she proceeds to tell me that Courtney Love is not just a singer, but she also used to be married to Kurt Cobain who was the lead singer of Nirvana, which was a band in the nineties, before he died of an overdose. She tells me she learned all of this in a documentary she watched on HBOGO using her parents’ login info. She asks if I have any coke. I say no and she tells me that she was born in the year of the Ox. I say, “I think I was too – 1985, right?” She buckles over laughing then says, “No. Gross. 1997.”

I guess I’m getting old. Maybe that’s why the booze isn’t working. The girl in the leather jacket and the floppy hat texts me her name and the words: director/writer/actress/model/singer. I look around, but I don’t see her anywhere. I also don’t see my friends or the girl who was born in 1997. I find my way upstairs and into a conversation where a girl where a Wu-Tang shirt volunteers that she doesn’t actually know a single Wu-Tang song. Then a blond guy doing his best James Dean takes her to a nearby couch where they proceed to aggressively make-out while ten guys watch, sipping their beers.

I wander back outside with a cup half-full of vodka, which is not how I approach life by any means, but rather this cup was empty and then I filled it up. Thus, well, you get it. On the perimeter of the party, I sip my lukewarm vodka while actors improvise conversations and girls who look like models, because they are models, pose in front of a lime tree, a staircase, a parked car. A man wearing a baja hoodie comes up to me and demands to know where we’ve met. “I don’t think we have,” I say. He tells me his name and that he’s on mushrooms and that surely he’s met me before because he’s a musician and I’m a musician. I tell him I’m not a musician, but he doesn’t believe me.

He puts his hand on my shoulder and continues to talk about knowing people on a deeper level. The more he talks, the less he sounds like someone on mushrooms and the more he sounds like someone trying to act as if they’re on mushrooms. He continues his monologue while tightening his grip on my shoulder. I can’t fathom why someone would decide that this party would be a good place to do mushrooms. I tell him that I need to go home, he tells me that I don’t. I tell him, “I need to take my dog out for a walk.” It’s three in the morning.

“You’re a good pet owner,” he says. “A dedicated pet owner.” I ask him to please let go of my arm. He tells me that he used to have a blushing disorder but he had endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy surgery and now he never blushes, but a side effect is he sweats in weird places like his chest, his groin, his feet. He holds up his hand and says, “My palms don’t sweat anymore, neither does my head. That’s another side effect.”

Maybe he actually is on mushrooms. I’m also starting to think I should leave now. I slowly back away from the man on mushrooms so as to not alarm him. He watches with wide eyes and pleads for me to not go. I get into an Uber with a driver who tells me he’s studying at a famous barbershop in Inglewood. “It’s where Ice Cube trained for his role in the movie Barbershop,” he says. I applaud him for pursuing his education.

By the time we reach my place, my driver has pitched me his mobile barbershop business and targeted me as a potential investor. He tells me the sky is the limit when it comes the mobile barbershop industry. I’m not convinced that’s true, but what the fuck do I know about haircuts on wheels? I tell him to count me in. He gives me a card and we agree to talk in the morning. I’ve had enough of Hollywood, I’m going to get into the mobile hair game.

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The Road to a Carne Asada Quesadilla

It’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m in the back of a hired car with a greasy carne asada quesadilla in my lap. I’m firing questions at my driver like I’m Charlie fucking Rose. The subject, of course, is the Egyptian American experience. My driver looks back at me through his rear view and questions my credentials. “Are you kidding me, man?” I say. “I’m legit. Look at these eyebrows! Look at this beard!”

“My sister pays to make her eyebrows look like yours, and yours look better.”

Because I can take a compliment I say, “Shukran.”

“I can say ‘thank you’ in Chinese – does that make me Chinese?”

“Maybe. But I thought you said you were Egyptian.”

“What?”

“Never mind the Chinese — what about this beard?! I mean, I grow beards the way other people grow…” But I’ve lost my train of thought. I can’t think of anything that grows quickly except for weeds and people don’t intentionally grow weeds. Also, my goal is hyperbole and I’m not sure weeds grow that much faster than my beard. I should spend more time at Home Depot and learn about plants. And horticulture. And other stuff.

“We’re here,” he says.

Yes, but how did I get here?

I’m at the Tacos Arizas truck and I’m speaking Spanish, because, well, I can still taste it on my lips now – I’ve been drinking tequila. And the speed at which I’m speaking leads me to believe I’ve had quite a lot. Like enough to put a teenager in the hospital. Even though I’m speaking Spanish, the tequila is doing all the work. Of course my time in Spain, my degree in the language, and the years wasted translating sentences from a text book so I can learn how to say: “In the summer, I like to go jetskiing with my family on the lake” – those things might be helping.

In the end, the only thing I really say is, “I’ll have a steak quesadilla. For here please.” Here being a side street next to a Walgreens in Echo Park. Behind me are two brothers. Yes, they’re clearly brothers. You can tell just by looking at them. But one speaks with a thick Boston accent while the other has no detectable accent at all. Which might be confusing if I didn’t know these guys, but I do, so I’m not confused. Yes, we arrived here together. Now it’s coming back.

Before the taco truck: We bust into the Gold Room sometime after 1:30. I ask about the drink specials, but I already know the drink specials. Three tequilas. Three beers. Six, seven years ago, this place used to be scary. It was thick with cholos who had been pushed out of their homes, but still came back to drink in this bar where you can throw peanuts on the floor. People got murdered within a police baton’s throw of this place, but now they have Firestone 805 beers in the fridge. Adios, Tecate, Bohemia, Victoria, Corona. There’s a new lager in town and it’s crafted on California’s lovely Central Coast.

Fuck me. Of course I order a Firestone. Where is my moral compass? Why do I pine for the days when shit-faced cholos would give me and my friends menacing looks while we slurped our bargain-priced drinks before last call? Now this place is as mundane as the lines at Costco. Everybody just minds their own business.

But before that, there was the Thirsty Crow, the Black Cat, Bar Stella which actually didn’t happen, and then Jay’s Bar which did.

At Jay’s, Frank Sinatra is on the TV and Dinesh from Silicon Valley is next to us at the bar. I’m drinking mescal. The same mescal that I drank a week earlier on Balboa Island where one can buy frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and watch very blonde women go on uncomfortable first dates with very leathery men who promise jaunts on the yacht to Cabo and Cannes. I did not have a chocolate banana then or now. But sometimes I think I could drink mescal forever. Then I remember what happens to the Consul in Under the Volcano.

“How, unless you drink as I do, could you hope to understand the beauty of an old Indian woman playing dominoes with a chicken?” 

Goddamn, that is an exquisite sentence. But it’s just bleeding with insanity. The nectar of the Oaxacan gods is not to be overindulged.

Before all that, I’m on my couch with my feet up reading a review about a biography of Saul Bellow even though I don’t like Saul Bellow. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve even read anything by him. I often confuse him the guys who wrote The Swimmer or Rabbit, Run. Maybe that was Bellow. I don’t know. All I know is I’m quietly having a couple of tequilas. A tequila nightcap because it’s the day after Cinco de Mayo and the stuff was lying around. And, as of Sunday, I’ve quit whiskey again, so I might as well drink this stuff. I have one tequila knowing full well I’m going to have a second, and by the time my phone buzzes with an invite to a bar down the street, I’m on my third. I’ll go for one drink. Maybe two. I’ll be back before midnight.

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Blood & Olive Oil

I’m at the top of my stairs with a pair of scissors in one hand and a dozen roses in the other. My fingers are bleeding, but it’s dark out so it’s not the puddle of blood that’s off-putting so much as the fact that my dog is at my ankle sniffing it.

I turn on the patio light to examine a rose’s stem. I’ve lost track of which ones I’ve trimmed. My dog laps up some blood, coughs, then trots inside to watch TV.

Having spent the weekend in the country, (under the too hot February sun, drinking too much red wine) it now seems that I should pack up the house behind me and drive 85 miles north to make a life for myself as an olive farmer. I’ll be tan, wear Carharrt overalls and reek of small batch extra virgin olive oil.

olive-trees-with-yellow-sky-and-sun-1889

I’ll string together a narrative for the back of the bottle for my Sunday farmers’ market pitch.

I was born of olive mongers. It’s in my blood. My grandfather came to this country with nothing, but an olive pit, a cold press machine and a recipe in the language of the old country tattooed on his forearm. His eldest son, my father, would get the same tattoo. As would I,” I say, rolling up my sleeve to display the family recipe.

And why wouldn’t they believe me?

I’ll point to a black and white photo of nine presumably Mediterranean men with dark, curly hair and eyes varying from green to hazel. “My great uncles. My forebears,” I’ll say, choking up a bit. “That’s the family farm. It’s still there, but the harvest was never the same after the war.”

They’ll nod knowingly, maybe even put a hand on my shoulder, but have no idea what war I’m referring to. I don’t know which war I’m referring to.

“Yo, you order a pizza, man?”

My dream of farmer’s-markets-to-come is interrupted by a ruddy man wearing a Dead Kennedys shirt.

“Yes,” I say. “Can you hold these for a second?” I thrust a dozen roses into his hand. He’s not pleased, but fuck him. Those roses are delicate and should be treated as such.

I take the pizza and I cross into my living room where I pass my dog. She’s watching an episode of “30 for 30” on Jimmy Connors. It’s a good one.

I hand the ruddy man the requisite cash and take back my roses. “Long stems. Beautiful, but they’re a real pain the ass.” He lingers, presumably admiring the roses. “They’re eighty centimeter stems if you’re wondering.”

“Dude, your hands…”

I pick up the scissors again and do a bit of dethorning. “You’re lucky you’re in the pizza delivery business. Good racket. Personally, I’m thinking about getting into olive oil.”

He starts to back away so I take another step toward him, all the while whittling away thorns. “Maybe you can tell by looking at me, but I actually come from a long line of olive oil purveyors.

A drop of my blood falls at his feet. He turns and starts running across my front yard.

“My grandfather came to this country,” I call out, “with nothing but an olive pit–” But he’s out of earshot. I turn around and head back up the stairs, following the trail of blood to the door. I can’t remember if I ordered cheese or pepperoni.

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The Increasingly Burdensome Road to Not Being a Shitty Person

Hear, hear!

I applaud myself for  quitting coffee while drinking an antioxidant-rich green tea in a converted warehouse. I read on the chalkboard that this particular green tea is grown in the shade under straw mats for twenty days prior to harvest. The warehouse, in its current state, prides itself on fresh pressed juices and onsite colonoscopies. I went to a party here once about six years ago. Back then, the space prided itself on throwing parties that went so late McDonald’s would no longer be serving breakfast by the time you got out.

Downtown has changed.

So have I.

Instead of my thrice-daily coffees, I’m drinking about twelve green teas a day. I feel no guilt about this. I imagine this is how Buddhist monks pass their days. It strikes me as evolved. After all, these are a people who have protested by setting themselves on fire; sitting cross legged until their skin falls from their cheeks and chins, their bones crumble into each other and their ashes land on the ground, at the mercy of the wind. People watched. People took pictures. Everyone admires a man who can set himself on fire.

I’ve tried other forms of moderation.

No whiskey.

All that happened was I started skating through bottles of Malbec like they were Capri Suns.

There’s always cold turkey.

“I’m trying to start smoking more weed,” my friend said earnestly as we sipped mescal.

We’ve talked for years about smoking more, about getting into the habit of it; the way others resolve to go to the gym. Or to read more. But we are creatures of habit.

Guy comes here all the time.

While I’m at it, I’m thinking of other things I might give up. I gave up haircuts and sunscreen some years ago, but that wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’ve also quit seeing the dentist and the doctor with any regularity, but that wasn’t intentional either. They just kind of fell away. They stopped calling and I lost interest. Maybe it was the other way around. I’ve heard of people losing girlfriends this way. I guess I’m lucky to have only lost a general practitioner.

I’d like to go on, to build this list, but a militant homeopath with hair down to her waist and without an ounce of body fat to spare, tells me I must follow her. Between the neon lights, under the wind chimes that no wind ever reaches, just central air, if it blows hard enough. The woman is either thirty or a hundred. It’s impossible to say for sure. It must be all the chia seeds, all the nutmeg.

Anyway, I’ve sat on the wrong couch and now I have no choice but to let them thread a hose up my ass. It’s their specialty. That and the juice. It’s the fountain of youth, they say. In reverse.

I object once again, but she tells me it’s too late. That I consented when I signed the iPad for my cancer-curing green tea. I’ve brought all of this upon myself, she says. She hands me a burlap sack that once held coffee beans from Kenya. She instructs me to wear it like a smock. There’s a hole for my head. “Please,” I say. “Anything but the–” I gesture toward the hose.

“It’s the Gravity Colon Hydrotherapy or…” she dangles a lighter then points to a red five-gallon gas can. “The can is vintage. The gas is 4.59 a gallon.”

“That’s absurd!” I say. “Gas is three dollars a gallon down the street from my house.”

“Well, we’re not down the street from your house. We’re at Juicetopia Co-Op Exchange, est. 2014.”

She has a point. “You have a point,” I say.

“So?” she says. In one hand, the coffee bean smock, in the other, five gallons of gasoline. “What’ll it be?”

“Sorry to be vulgar,” I say.  “But what’s the price difference?”

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Car Talk #2

cdtI once had lunch in La Mancha with a man named Victor. We drank wine, ate paella, and two hours later I watched him kill a bull with a sword. I left Spain shortly after that, but not before he gave me the slain bull’s ear. It was bigger than my hand. He wanted to make sure I didn’t forget him.

I’ve never killed a bull, but I have helmed a 1994 Camry that bucked with the same force as those bulls that Canadians on amphetamines ride at rodeos. Unlike those canucks, I don’t own a truck. Or a horse, so I had to get my bucking hooptie fixed.

The time had come to retire my largely incompetent mechanic’s coveralls. Sure I never understood a word of his broken English. And yes, he cost me thousands of dollars and tens of hours in his incompetence. But we had fun. He’d grumble something presumably related to my spark plugs or Soviet Armenia and then he’d take my credit card for a joy ride. I’d leave with a handwritten receipt, the Check Engine light still glowing.

The new shop I moved on to is very corporate. They keep the mechanics in the garage and they have girls working at bistro-style check-in tables. The girls are nice, but instead of asking about my car, or its problems, we go into their life story: their fiance’s job, their gym routine, the pros and cons of fish oil. For a moment, it feels as if I’m stuck on an airplane next to a nice lady who is probably flying to Sacramento or Santa Fe. Before I leave she says, “Well, it’s a good thing you did stop bartending, because you aren’t always going to be pretty.” She takes my key and she promises to call.

I stop by after work to have them swipe my card and retrieve my car. The girls smile and say, “If there are any problems, just drop it off again.”

I do. Every morning. For the next five days. And each day they call me to say they’ve spotted the elusive problem and for a nominal fee they’ll address it. I agree.

Each day I return to work, several hundred dollars poorer than the day before. After a week of hearing about my automotive woes, my co-worker says, “You’re familiar with the definition of insanity, right?”

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The Age of Enlightenment: Ah, Adulthood!

Ah, Sausalit

A guy walks into a bar.

Who am I fucking kidding? I walk into a bar. I walk into a German bar on a Thursday night to meet a man who is about to become a father. It’s a celebratory time, but with his pending fatherhood and my pending adulthood, a quiet pint is where we will start and where it will end.

But this is a reunion and we’re short two, which means that this quiet pint(s) is really just a precursor.

Still, everything has changed and even though I used to drink well into Wednesday morning with these guys, the times have changed. One is almost a father, one is almost a professor, one has been growing his hair and talking about moving to Istanbul. We’ve all matured. All that tequila at the Roosevelt, all those Bloody Marys on Cahuenga minutes before last call; they’re all behind us. We have credit cards now that are mostly paid off. We have life partners and lovers turned tantric masseuses who just want what’s best for us. They tell us so in postcards from Montreal.

Yet, despite all of that. Despite uncorking sophisticated beers in a strip mall in Echo Park, despite a lack of identification we still find ourselves in a car, a hired car, trying our best to find something that might raise our blood pressure and give us something to question in the morning. A young Bruce Lee type in a Toyota Yaris takes us to a fire station that moonlights as a bar. We miss it three times. What ivy and a lack of signage do for credibility, just complicate things when you reach a certain level of maturity.

But it’s closed and our driver finesses us through Silver Lake until we’ve found a place that will have us – we the would-be father, the novelist, a man headed for New Orleans in the morning and myself. One of us grabs a microphone and starts singing a song that I should probably know, but I do not. Then there’s a round of whiskey in front of us. Then there’s another. And another. The lights come on, but we’re not done yet.

The world has expanded for me. Everything is greater than it once was. It’s multiplied. Which is to say I’m seeing double. Luckily, I’m not behind the wheel. No, I’m in front of a stage explaining to a woman in a leather bikini that my lapdance days are behind me – I gesture to my friends as evidence of my maturity – our maturity really, but they’re at the bar getting drinks, probably explaining to the girl who’s too war-torn to dance, the cultural significance of Je Suis Charlie. Or maybe they’re just sussing out the bourbon selection. Either way, my hostess, who has been enjoying Los Angeles greatly since relocating here from Victorville six months ago, has moved onto a Korean guy with a ream of singles. I think he goes to my gym, but I can’t say for certain. I haven’t been since the spring.

I slap the backs of my friends, delighting in all the change that has taken place. Look how far we’ve come, I say. Can you believe it? My god how we’ve grown!

There’s only one place to go from here. I’ve been there before. No, not the speakeasy with the Thai matron, a farmer’s market of coke dealers and the watered-down whiskey near Hollywood and Normandie. No, I don’t think the bouncer with the two eyes that are running away from each is in any rush to see me. Plus, I’m a fully realized mature adult. That means that buck stops at gentleman’s club, and not an inch farther.

My god, I’ve grown. Before leaving I do a lap, looking to see if there’s anyone from my youth still working here. Alas, even the grizzled bartender who is too chubby, old and acned to gyrate for singles isn’t from my era. How the times have changed. I whip out my phone. If it’s 3:26 a.m. now, and I have to be at work at 8:15… I ask the bartender for a pen, a napkin and a calculator. Mature I may be, but a mathematician I am not. We order another round of whiskeys. There’s no sense in solving this equation on an empty stomach, and in my old age, I’ve earned this.

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