the first time i talked to j, i was drunk and naked.
during the time that the wife was gone, i chatted alot at sg, and am always on cam when i chat. this particular night, i was lonely, bored, maybe a bit attention-starved, and drinking.
i usually have the same viewers, people i chat with regularly, and they goaded me into taking my clothes off (honestly, they didn't have to goad very hard), and it is really symbolic more than anything, because excepting an occasional flash of my butt when i am off for another drink, they only see my bare shoulders. my wife just laughed (we were swapping emails, and i told her) and asked me if i was "driving the chicks wild?"
on this night, through the gin-haze, i saw a new viewer.
i always talk to my viewers, which usually scares them off, but j chatted back.
from these humble (and extreme
ly dubious) beginnings, a strong friendship was built on mutual understanding, meaningful conversations, and similar senses of humor.
meeting j in person in vegas only strengthened this friendship, and plans were made for me to take a long weekend to visit her again in texas.
and so it was that i found myself at seatac, a mere two gates down from the one where my wife and kids hugged so hard and we all cried just a few months prior, properly equipped with dressy clothes for taking j out for sushi (i owed her from vegas, i got too stupidly drunk to take her out for late night sushi), a camera for recording our silliness and shenanigans, and hunter s. thompson's the rum diary
i feel i should write the weekend down, until i see that pads of paper were pushing three dollars at the little convenience store nearby. everything is ridiculously expensive at the airport, so strangely confined is it once one passes through the security gate.
i text j from denver and then miss her return call while i wait for them to call out the number for my large but overpriced chilli cheesedog and chips.
i tell her my flight out of denver was delayed twenty minutes, which would actually work out perfectly since her evil boss won't let her off work a little early to pick me up from the airport.
and then there i am, bag in hand, on the sidewalk outside baggage claim, talking to j on the phone as she rounds the corner behind some taxi vans.
we smile, and hug, and set off in her car, laughing and catching up quickly on events, j dashing and dodging crazy texas drivers while i repeatedly grab the oh shit handle despite my best efforts to pretend to remain calm.
after picking up her kids, we decide to get some dinner, j still smelling of work and me still smelling of airplane.
i play hangman with her oldest, share my crawfish ettouffe, we listen to a skinny kid with glasses and a goatee play heartfelt songs from the late 90's on an acoustic guitar sans applause or cheering, while j's youngest repeats "pizza. pizza." as he chews tiny pieces of the house pepperoni.
after a quick stop for sailor jerry rum and tom collins fixings, we clean up, invite one of her friends, a, over for drinks and hanging out, and set to launching the evening.
a is a pleasant-enough guy, and we talk and drink and smoke and attempt to chat (it is on, and the cam is going, but we aren't really paying much attention) while watching slc punk. because j had made the mistake of a.) having me fix her first two drinks and b.) telling me she liked them strong, she was clearly entering the danger zone of being too drunk to enjoy the remainder of her evening. luckily, my wife has sent her cookies vacuum-sealed into plastic bags in my luggage, and the oatmeal and raisins and a few glasses of water bring her back from the brink of disaster about the same time a has to leave so he can sleep. (he has a band thing the next day--he is a music teacher at a school in dallas.)
j and i stay up talking, until it is clear we should get some rest. despite the fact that j had said it was cool, (bring a jacket, it is getting cold. little did i know, it was going to be in the 80's and mostly sunny the whole time i was there.) and the complete comfortableness of her couch, i am warm, and keep waking up.
the next day, we go to the stockyards, an old fort worth bit of history, and take pictures of ourselves in front of a statue of a bull being wrangled by a cowboy, dodge a train, joke about how drunk i got in vegas, watch a real c&w band in a record store, j asking me if i wanted to dance, and me telling her i would two-step her ass all around the store. to which she replies that if i try to dance her ass around, she will kick mine.
her oldest drags me into a human-sized maze they had set up there and promptly ditches me, only to appear on the observation deck later and try and talk me through it.
then home, to get dolled up and go out for the sushi that i owe her.
after dinner, we go out to a's place in dallas, me whistling the theme from the old nighttime soap while we drive between the tall buildings.
a and i play alkaline trio tunes on his guitars, until it seems to me that j was getting a bit bored, then it is time to get back and get j's kids.
as we drive down the street that used to be the happening place for the dallas music and art scene, j confides in me that she feels too old to be involved in the hep stuff, not pretentious enough to be a scenester. i have never considered myself a scenester. i like what i like. then i point out that the lady's nose on the painting hanging in a gallery window was poorly drawn. "this from the guy who hasn't even drawn or painted anything serious for about five years, and has never had a painting hanging in a gallery at all." i quickly quip, hoping to soften my criticism.
but i feel a shifting in the mood of the evening. with me. in general. i'm not sure.
at j's house, we drink, and talk. but it isn't lighthearted as it was the night before. j keeps saying she wants to do something fun as a and i talk about politics and conspiracy theories. because she keeps bugging me about it, and in an attempt to bring some levity to the evening, i don one of j's dresses.
it doesn't change the darkening mood, however. i am trying to decide if the mood is just within myself, or in general. but i am tipsy, and tired.
j has me take pictures of her tattoos to send off to a magazine, but because we are both drunk, and the lighting is poor, and i am not a photographer (and she forgot to take the tag off the top she had picked up earlier at the store), she's not happy with any of them.
then a is vehemently attacking boxing and modest mouse (both things that j loves) and calling one of my chat friends "fat", and j is getting upset, and i find myself getting angry and belligerant, partly because neither one of them are letting me get to the point of what i am saying, which is causing j to misconstrue my explanation, and in turn is causing her to lump me in with the things that a is saying.
the mood is getting ugly. deep within myself i am realizing i am too tired and tipsy to continue like this much further. a backs down some. j calms a little.
a is too drunk and tired to drive back home, and lays down in j's bed, who will take the floor in one of her son's rooms, and i put on my jammers to lay on the couch.
j is going to come back out in a moment to talk to me some before i go to bed, but i am angry. with myself. for getting argumentative. for not being my usual jovial self. while she is getting a and herself settled, i decide i might need a smoke and a moment to talk myself down.
she finds me in the garage. we both admit that we are tired (it is now nearly four in the morning). i am trying to keep the nastiness of my mood hidden. in my head i am having flashbacks of rudehead and austin, and simultaneously trying to convince myself that i am overreacting and that none of this is on that level (and it isn't--i need to make an aside here and point out that when i get very tired, even without the presence of alcohol, i begin to overthink things, and i get a certain angry paranoia. i know this about myself. i hate this about myself), but part of my brain is pissed and won't be calmed.
i finally convince myself that sleep is the best thing, but it takes me some time to settle, and during that time, i get suddenly and inexplicably homesick for my family.
i wake up in time for j's oldest to make me toast, and catch a before he leaves. despite the lingering shades of last night's moodiness within my own head, i smile pleasantly and shake his hand and say how nice it was to meet and we will talk again soon.
j says ihop is in order, and we head out.
after we order, j says, "you sure are salty this morning."
"what do you mean?"
"i was trying to talk to you in the car, but you were snappy."
i am embarassed. i really wanted to keep last night's stupidity and this morning's leftovers of said stupidity to myself. but i love j for having tackled the very thing that was weighing on my mind this morning.
"i was only kidding about some of the stuff i said last night." she continues, "and when i found you smoking in the garage, i thought you were mad at me. i didn't want to be hanging around."
"i wasn't mad at you. i was mad at myself. for being such a prick last night."
"yeah, that whole thing just came out of nowhere. you guys were picking on me."
"i wasn't picking on you. well, maybe some at some points. but mostly i was trying to agree with you."
"hmm. yeah, you were. you got so mad because you said i wasn't letting you make your point."
i smile sheepishly and hang my head. "that was around the time i decided i was really tired and needed to get to bed. sorry."
and as simply as that, even before our food had arrived, everything that was bothering me the night before is fixed, and gone, shrugged off.
j needed to do grocery shopping, and so i accompany her to wal-mart. she says, "'oh what a fun time i had with j, shopping at wal-mart.' how boring."
i laugh, tell her it is ok.
after we put the groceries away, we load my bag in the car, and head to cabela's to wander around their superstore. j gets a roast beef sandwich, and i a wild boar sandwich. we decide to trade one half of our sandwiches with each other, and while we eat, j's oldest talks about the shooting range they have set up. it is a diorama decorated with targets that are lazer sensitive and equipped with "rifles" that emit the lazers.
j brags about how she had bb guns as a kid, and how well she can shoot.
we hit the range. j asks me if i want to have a competition. i smile and say sure, and we choose adjacent guns.
i am not necessarily the best shot. i know it. i also tend to not be very competitive. but i have fired guns ranging from small semiautomatic pistols (for shooting halibut when you are deep-sea fishing so they don't tear up the boat, or that is the story i got from my scoutmaster) to .45 caliber black powder revolvers, to 30-06's, to .270's. i qualified on the m-16 at basic. our scout troop owned two black powder rifles.
"i got 120, beat that." j says.
i have 80 points, and 8 shots left.
"there," i say, "one-sixty."
"whatever." j says, rolling her eyes.
this time the score is j-140, me-160 again. i smirk my smile.
j and i have a last smoke of the weekend, and then i regail her with stories of "daddy, i don't wanna fut off" and broken pees, and string hanging from butts as we all laugh and barrel down the freeway.
hugs and smiles and waves and promises that the wife and kids and i will visit on our way through to florida in a month or two, and then up the escalator to my flight.
in a strange twist of fate, i fly into the same gate in denver that i flew out of two days prior.
Labels: alkaline trio, fun times and good friends, texas