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Quiet Pints Will Be The Death Of Me

Quiet pints will be the death of me.

Let’s start at the end: a quaint neighborhood where respectable people walk their children to school and drink pH 9.5 Ethos water at $3.50 a pop at Whole Foods. I’m sprawled on the couch, dying. I awake from the dead. I rush to a tap, apply my lips and with the jaws (my own) of life, I suckle the teat of the tap, which is undoubtedly connected to the squalid L.A. River.

Nectar of the gods.

How did I get there? How do we ever find ourselves on couches with a world of hurt between our ears? The story is always the same: a quiet pint.

I met a friend for a quiet pint in a quiet bar on a quiet street at the quiet hour of a quarter to 8:00 p.m. I had a pint, alright. But this particular night, the pint was Irish whiskey. Nary a hop or barley in my glass due in part to it being Thursday.

We clanked glasses. Tried to keep our mangle-faced waitress at bay, Leave the drinks and be on your way, love. That’s girl. And keep ‘em coming. For some reason my friend had adopted an Irish accent. It may have been the whiskey. It was likely the whiskey.

The clock struck an hour that was undoubtedly early as we had arrived early. And having arrived early, and delighted that it was still early, we decided to do what any men, half-sopped in whiskey would do. We decided to go to Cheetahs. For a night cap.

Cheetahs… you’re a cruel mistress.

She taketh, and she taketh, and then she points out that there’s an ATM in the corner so she can continue the take.

But by nature she nurtures. Need a shoulder to cry on? You’ll likely find yourself buried in a set of surgically enhanced tits. Mind you, they serve liquor at Cheetahs so the tits you find yourself nuzzled among will be concealed, or at least obscured by a bit of cotton.

The girls are friendly. The girls are foreign.

The girls like my friend much more than they liked me. Breathe a sigh of relief. The attention of strippers is not only emotionally and physically taxing, it’s also a fiscal burden. Not unlike a war. With no end in sight. Want to keep an eye on things in a country you don’t govern? Want to have a night cap in a room full of naked women you don’t love? It’s going to cost you, pal.

Me? I made new friends. A South Korean and Syrian who were speaking Spanish with an Argentinean accents. They had done time together in a town called Rosario. Now they were doing time together in a strip club in Hollywood. I drank their Blue Label. I laughed at their jokes. I took their picture. I made some new friends who invited me to jump in their car and take a ride to another locale.

THANK FUCKING GOD I DIDN’T GET IN THAT ESCALADE AT 1:59 A.M.

I lost my friend, the one who’s a hit with the girls from Lithuania, Iowa, Russia.

A half dozen girls born after the fall of the Berlin Wall take my hand and promise me the ride of my life. I’m no shape for it. I search my pockets. I find the Korean’s business card. I dial the number a hundred times and berate myself for not jumping in that S.U.V. and undoubtedly missing the 3:00 a.m. of a lifetime. Like I said, I was in no shape…

I scan the room: skin heads, suits, strippers.

I enter the V.I.P. room. You’re familiar with mechanical bulls. They heave and hoe and toss drunk people to the floor… for fun. Well, there was no mechanical bull in the room, but my poor friend sat at attention while Electra from Slovenia rode him like she was bare-backing a malfunctioning mechanical bovine. She hung on for dear life. I was sure she was going to throw her back out. She looked like she was having a fucking seizure on my friend’s thigh. Mind you, Electra’s in the best shape of her life and I’m no position to judge her ability to crush a pelvis. All I’m saying is it didn’t look like a good time.

Of course, the man paid for the ride so I let the rest of the song play. I interjected before she could offer him another round of whiplash.

At this point, the night was no longer young and our pockets were no longer full of the promise of a good time. Spartans we had been or so we thought, but it was time to hang up the blunt object that was our pickled brains. It was time to face the dawn. We made for the exit. We let down a lot of nice young girls who were just looking to take all of our money. We promised to come back soon.

Quiet pints. Quiet pints will be the death of me.

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FLYING PIGS

There’s a bar just off of PCH where for $2 a bag you can throw peanut shells on the floor and drink Bud Light with millionaires. In front of this bar is a parking lot with a surf spot named after the drinking hole. In that parking lot I met Max Rose.

Max and I had spent the morning on adjacent peaks, trading mushy three-footers with every surfer from 24th street to Yorba Linda. In the parking lot, we stood side-by-side as the sun warmed our extremities. I drank coffee that was three hours old. Max’s Westfalia was adorned with two For Sale signs. There was a weathered parking ticket on his dashboard.

“It’s not true,” he said. “Despite what they say.” He had feathered brown hair and a beard that was streaked with gray.

“What’s that?”

“Pigs really can fly,” he nodded at a police helicopter as it flew overhead.

I laughed and he figured me for a kindred spirit. The two of us in front of our economical cars, surrounded by new S.U.V.s with stickers about deporting our terrorist, illegal alien, commie, Allah-worshiping commander-in-chief. Maybe we were.

“It’s the sound. I’ll never forget that sound,” he said.

“Oh yeah?”

“Shit yeah. It’s like those guys who went to Nam. They never forget what a military chopper sounds like.” He looked up at the sky. “I still cringe when I hear a flying pig.”

I nodded.

“I’ve been chased.” He stroked his beard. “In Texas too. A doctor’s son had a sports car—two seater that he didn’t want to pay for anymore—so I took his car. I took his Harley too.”

I slipped out of my neoprene suit and he moved closer. There was a tattoo of an indigenous woman on his forearm and whisky on his breath.

“He paid me and a friend of mine a hundred bucks. We took his car out to the middle of nowhere. Mind you, this was the early seventies. Such a thing existed. I was twenty-one, twenty-two years old. ”

We stared out at the Pacific and watched it heave and toss those fortunate enough to afford a morning beating.

“Went to a field next to a lake. This lake—hippies used to skinny dip in it. Nothing around. Just fields. We parked the car and covered it with gasoline. Fifteen pace circle around that sports car—a puddle of gas. Course we were stoned and drunk as hell at the time. I threw a match—biggest fire you’ve ever seen.”

Wildfires in California kill eight people and burn over one million acres every summer, but for the sake of conversation, I nodded. I understood these dramatic parking lot tactics. There are no lies in the parking lot. It’s a fact: the surf was better earlier. It was better before you got here.

“So I start kicking the Harley, trying get that thing started. I’m kicking and kicking it. A crazy old hillbilly walks out with a shot gun and he yells, ‘Everybody okay?’ So I tell him, ‘Just fine.’ Mind you there’s a fucking fire. So I look at my friend and I’m like ‘We gotta get the fuck outta here.’ We didn’t even know there were houses out there. I mean, there weren’t—except a couple. Real spread out. Anyway, I’m kicking and kicking the bike and I end up kicking off the carburetor!” His eyes light up.

I have no idea what a carburetor is and apparently it showed.

“It’s on the side of the bike. I kicked it right off.”

“Oh, man. Crazy.”

“So I kick off the carburetor and this hillybilly with a shotgun is coming at us and we hear fire engines screaming. I’m like, ‘They’re coming for us.’ And the hillbilly is like, ‘What’s going on out here?’ so I look at the hillbilly and I’m like, ‘Our friend’s down by the fire. We gotta check on him.’ So we ran. All night,” he pointed to the long-since vanished police helicopter, “they chased us. We ran through the woods in the pitch black. I threw up eleven times that night. Eleven.”

“Wow.”

“We had to get back to town. It was getting light. It wasn’t daybreak yet but it was close. We found the road. I say to my friend, ‘They’re looking for two guys so you hide in the bushes. If they get one of us. They get one of us but we gotta get back to town.’ So I stood on the side of the road, knowing that if a pig drove by, it was over. We were going to jail. Texas jail. This was outside of Austin. But what do you know?” He grinned.

I didn’t know.

“Long haired freak comes driving by. He pulls over and is like, ‘Where you headed?’ and I said town. He was just out in the middle of nowhere driving around. Can you believe that? I ran all night and some long haired freak, just going for a drive saves my ass!”

“Wild.”

“Doctor’s son turned himself in. Pussy.”

“Really?”

“He just had to pay for the car. Or his dad did. He was rich. He never turned us in though. He just said he met two guys at the bar and they did everything. Never mentioned our names.”

“So you made it out alive.”

“That time,” he said. We stared out and watched wave after wave as teenagers and baby boomers shoulder-hopped one another.

“I’m Max Rose by the way.” We shook hands.

He looked at me and I looked at him. I didn’t know if he was sizing me up or if long stares just come with functioning lunacy.

“You want some,” he said, throwing back a drink he did not have.

I’m no fool. A man tells you a criminal tale. He tells you his acid flashbacks come in the form of helicopter bladeslap, which are over one’s head about forty-seven times a day in Southern California. You tell the man, yes. Hell yes. But I did not say yes because I am, in fact, a fool.

“I would, but I’ve gotta drive.”

He did a quick survey of the parking lot in front of the surf spot named after the bar with peanut shells on the floor. “Well shit, we all gotta drive.”

And of course, he was right.

He opened the door of his beige Westfalia. It was lined with long boards, newspaper, and a pillow. He generously poured brown liquor into a coffee mug that read: Bienvenidos a Sinaloa!!!” The mug wasn’t exactly sanitary, but the stuff he poured looked strong enough to kill an elephant. I took a pull, passed it back, and he took a pull.

“I wish I didn’t have to go to work,” I said.

“You stay here long enough and you won’t have to.”

We stared over Priuses, late model SUVs, and power-walking moms at the ocean. Waves lapped in off of the jetty. I finished off the crusty mug of whisky

He eyed the empty mug then patted me on the back. “Move along soldier. I can take it from here.”

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Filed under Red Cups, unemployment

Halloween: To Compromise or Not to Compromise Your Clothing and/or Morals

Two types of nubiles will be going out this Halloween: the glorified stripper and the disgruntled anti-glorified stripper. One will be wearing a proper and thought out costume, something clever, maybe even funny. The other will be wearing a bit of Saran wrap and a pound of make-up.

One type breaks male and female necks garnering attention that isn’t always positive. The other bickers to anyone who will listen about how they’re either: too mature, high-brow, gluten-free or sober to dress like the recession stripped them of everything, but an evening’s worth of MAC make-up and a push-up bra… oh yeah and a pair of angel wings. Or Hermione’s wand.

While the glorified stripper parades around the party like a free piece of day-old U.S.D.A. choice flank steak, the girl who dressed up like an Oompa Loompa, orange face paint and everything, is secretly wishing she could pull a Tonya Harding. Alas, the anti-slut, because she’s mature, cultured, hip to the point of suffocation etc., will instead snidely roll her eyes and tweet/status update about Halloween’s misogynistic roots.

Age usually plays a factor. Anyone who has ever been on a college campus during Halloween knows that there’s only one type of girl in the freshmen class that really thrives. From Isla Vista to Tempe to Indianola Avenue, she’s got her face in front of an ice loge, she’s wearing an obscene amount of make-up and just enough body paint/stickers to not get arrested for public indecency. Granted, there are plenty of girls over the age of eighteen or twenty-one that still wish to be the most objectified belle of the ball.

There’s an art to wearing nothing, while still getting recognized as someone in costume. The shrewdest of this, not particularly shrewd group, knows what makes or breaks a costume without a costume happens above the décolletage. i.e. Pippi Longstalking

  1. Penciled freckles
  2. Pigtails
  3. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what Pippi wore because Pippi never wrestled another girl in an inflatable bed of K.Y. Jelly in front of an entire frat house, ya dig?

And that’s where anti-glorified strippers are born: in the K.Y. ring.

Sure there are exceptions. Not every anti-glorified stripper has a video or two floating around of them flashing Spring Breakers when they were eighteen. There are exceptions. Maybe they were fat when they were freshmen or they were in committed relationships. But dealing strictly with the facts, fat girls don’t really get applauded for wearing nothing, but wings and half of a green corset as a Tinkerbell costume. It just doesn’t fly. (Somebody hit a cymbal.)

Back at your local pumpkin-carving soiree, the anti-glorified stripper is having a horrible time, watching the “slutty mermaid/blowfish/astronaut/water balloon/ladybug”/ whatever she is, get all this libido-driven attention. Meanwhile anti-glorified stripper and discerning reader of Roberto Bolano novels, is becoming more disenchanted by the minute, and may eventually turn into a pickled radish — sexually. Forever.

This isn’t good for anyone. This isn’t good for her self-esteem. It sucks for the guy who’s driving her home, and it generally kills the morale of the party. In fact, the only person who doesn’t get sprayed with this shrapnel of negativity is the glorified stripper who is at this very moment slamming vintage 4Lokos in the kitchen while getting fawned upon by half the party’s male population. While the other half look on  a.) Wishing their date looked like that or b.) Convincing their date that they hate it when girls don’t wear clothes or c.) Thinking they would give a limb to engage the glorified stripper who hath cast a net of pheromones over the party.

In summation, don’t hate the glorified stripper. It doesn’t do anyone any good. And anti-glorified strippers: Shhh…

Happy Halloween!

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