The night gets late. Rachel bugs out about 11 o’clock. Her carriage is a pumpkin and her coachmen are now cute cartoony mice with colorful hats. I catch up with latecomers and start up conversations with people I hadn’t yet caught up with. Remember how I mentioned that people (usually women) really open up to me with thoughts and feelings. I was dealing with this at an extreme level. Classmates who I knew, but barely, were having close discussions – and close meaning their nose is touching mine, holding my hands in theirs, talking about deep stuff. Really deep stuff. Which I can only say “How does that make you feel? What do you think you’re going to do about that?” and other therapist type questions that I probably learned from Mom, the counselor.
A couple more people I notice.Kelly B, our basketball champ who was tall and skinny before.Now he’s tall and think and is also a member of the 2008 Kojak Reunion.He resembles Governor Jesse Ventura, and is just as intimidating – and I’m not necessarily a small, intimidated kind of guy.He stands side by side with his basketball co-hort Vu N.,The two of them a contrast by every definition of the word.At, I’m guessing, 6’4” and a conservative 295, Kelly would be more appropriate in a kilt running beside William Wallace, brandishing a broadsword and crying “FREEDOM” at the lines of British soldiers. While Vu is at a nimble 5’2” in platforms…I flashed back to The Princess Bride seeing Fezzik (Andre the Giant) lumbering along with miniscule Vizzini shouting “This is incotheivable!”I feel I could have been a dashing Westley in search of my Princess Buttercup.
I glance over my shoulder and my Terminator vision stutters for a moment. I see someone I recognize, but can’t place the face.He’s part way to the Kojak crew, but hasn’t made the commitment. A ring of hair still orbits the head like the rings of Saturn.Not to say that is doesn’t suit him, I’m just sayin…I need to process this.Terminator vision clears to focus on the problem. The man’s visage remains.My brain swipes out different hairdos to try and place a name to the face. No match. No match. Ping. Click, Whirrrr.Match. Doug S.Twin brother to Wendy S, who I had spoken with earlier that evening and graciously provided a name tag for her without sarcasm or tom-foolery.Nice guy all around.Seems to be doing well in Orange County.Quite near me.I make plans to get in touch with him when we get back.But, the night has been going on for a while now.We forgot to exchange digits.I make a mental note to get those from Wendy.
The bell clangs for last call.That late?Jill whips by with a random guy in tow, visibly confused and upset.I take her by the shoulders despite Mr. Random’s frosty look. “Hold on there, Tigeress.What are we doin here?”“Oh my god, my phone is in Tricia’s purse, and I don’t know where she is.I think she might have left.Do you think she left?”I look at her, trying to get her to focus. “I don’t think Tricia would have left with your phone.Or without you for that matter. Let’s go find her.”Jill looks around, and I think she comprehends.Mr. Random watches from a position and posture indicating that I’m somehow a threat to the rest of his night.Whatever.
We weave through the rivulets of people stumbling their way to the exit.The crowd floods onto the street and sidewalks.Chaos.I lose Jill, but quickly pick her out of the crowd discussing things with Tricia in firm tones that I wasn’t really interested in hearing.
I see Chris, Lee G., and Rob E. and make a beeline over to them.Rob informs me that some peeps are going over to his room at the nearby Sheraton…at least I think it was the Sheraton.Maybe I just assumed it was because it was so convenient.Great!I thought.I can catch up with some folks I haven’t yet spoken with.And more than likely tetrahydrocannabinol will be involved.A win/win situation if there ever was one. Furthermore, I haven’t gotten a chance to talk with Rob and Lee, yet. Both are artists, like myself, so we’d have lots to discuss. Rob was also in Wetlzer’s homeroom and sat behind Tanya and myself, and next to Kelly B (aka Gov. Jesse Ventura). Kelly liked metal. Rob liked punk. Oil and Water. Totally, not the little bit of Country and little bit of Rock and Roll that Donnie and Marie liked to convince their audience was such a good idea.
I hear my name called, off in the distance like a feather on the wind.I tell Rob I’ll be right back.I follow the call to Pete, Lisette, and Tricia, who are getting into Josh’s truck.Tricia calls and waves at Jill who is across the street getting into Mr. Random’s truck.Tricia rolls her eyes and climbs into the cab with a “What the hell is she doing?”
I get pulled into Josh’s truck, well aware that I told Rob I’d be right back, and well aware that the Soccer Jock is the natural enemy of the Punk-Rock Artist. There is no fighting nature. Its hardwired.Josh turns back to Pete and the girls in the backseat. “I say we go back to my place, drink a little more, get into the hot tub.”Pete and I look at each other warily.Tricia and Lisette look at each other warily.Josh looks at everyone with pure and utter conviction that this is the best plan of the night. Lisette pipes in “We should just get something to eat.”“Taco Bell!” Tricia chimes.“Oh man,” Josh complains, “That’s lame, man.We can get food at my place.I promise it won’t be a sausage fest!”Pete laughs a snickering laugh.I laugh my own laugh. Lisette sneers “a sausage fest?”I do some quick math in my head – ‘cause I took two years of calculus, which qualifies me to do so – We already have three verifiable sausages in the car.Tricia and Lisette are both married and therefore sausage-by-proxy.That makes a total of five sausages out of five people.In my mind, the equivalent to a “sausage fest”.
Josh takes off driving, with still no verifiable plan, ultimately giving up and bringing us back to Lisette’s SUV so that we can carpool and meet at a Shari’s for a late-night meal.A debate ensues about the best Shari’s to attend.In my mind, a Shari’s is a Shari’s which is a Denny’s with a girl’s name.So I could have given a shit which Shari’s we would be soliciting.Lisette has one location in mind.Not only does Josh feel that another locale is the better one, he denies the very existence of Lisette’s choice.Now, I haven’t been back in Tacoma for about eight years, so Lisette’s Shari’s, which is located down the hill from our highschool, COULD have been swooped away in a freak tornado, torn down to make way for a Bed Bath and Beyond, or simply replaced by a Denny’s.I couldn’t be sure, but I remember one being there at one time, and the conviction in Lisette’s eyes sold me. “Fine”, Josh exclaims, “I’m going to the right one”.He takes off, leaving us four to climb into the SUV to make our way to the evidently “wrong” Shari’s.
The trip is filled with topics ranging from what have you been doing, to have you seen this person how is he doing, to why are you single?The standard fare.
Ten minutes fly by and low and behold, a Shari’s appears on the horizon.Exactly where I remembered it being, and exactly where Lisette said it would be.Moral of the story? When a woman has that kind of conviction in her eyes… do not doubt.
We strut inside, with Lisette proclaiming that Pete and I are lucky because we left with the hottest girls in the joint.I retort “Well, you left with the hottest guys in the joint!” – Touche.Lisette concurs…which frankly catches me a little offguard.
Mandatory urination break before being seated.Pete and I have manly conversations about manly topics which are sponsored by the Manly Handbook of things that men may discuss while urinating in a public restroom.
We join the girls in the booth. Pete somehow managed to get a tennis visor that looks like it had made a trip through the jungles of Belize (which I think it did). Its torn and shredded and the once red tint has become a fuschia or salmon. Pete wears it with undeniable confidence, which is really the difference between being judged or admired.
Our waitress, Marge…at least that’s what I’m going to call her, because no other name is as fitting… Marge comes to offer us coffee.She’s old craggly, walks like Harry Potter’s giant companion, Hagrid, and has a voice that sounds like she’s been smoking cigars since she was six.Tricia still wants Taco Bell, which isn’t a step down or up from Shari’s, its more of a sideways step toward the Border.We are still in the midst of deep topics when Marge comes by to see what we’d like to order.I make a quip to her to lighten her mood.Her face doesn’t move, stoic in a manner that implies that she hasn’t smiled for 55 years, and doing so might be painful.She doesn’t blink.She just turns away to do some other Marge-like task, which you would think would be help other customers.But there are no other customers.They are probably at the “right” Shari’s having a blast with Josh.
I push a menu toward Lisette and Pete, while Tricia and I share another.Orders made: Lisette and Pete are sharing some kind of bacon concoction, and Tricia and I will be sharing a vegi omelet with hash browns.Thank you Marge, for being the best waitress ever.
Topics continue, but this time a little more deep.Marriage, fidelity, kids.All topics which I can sympathize with, but not directly contribute to.I’m the hypothetical guy in the group.“Well,” I would say “What if this happened?Or what if that happened.”
Food arrives via Marge’s magnificent handling of the plates prepared by the short-order cook.And, as suspected, the food is about right at the Shari’s-level caliber of food. Rating just above Denny’s and just below Marie Callander’s – and, as established earlier, parallel to Taco Bell.I don’t even know why I’m eating.I’m not really hungry.The night has been exhausting.Lisette graciously covers our meal, despite numerous protests from the group, and provides Marge with a generous tip…maybe they’ll use it to purchase some fresh vegetables for the next omelet they make.
Fortunately for everyone involved, we all live in Lakewood (well, Tricia, lives in Oklahoma or Ohio – some O state – but she’s staying with Lisette).So Pete gets dropped off, and finally I am dropped of at home.With a hugs and kisses, I’m out of the car, and plunged into darkness as Lisette turns down the driveway.
“Fuck,”I sure hope Mom left the door open.Its only five in the morning, not too late to wake the house up.Yeah…house is all locked up.After five minutes of deliberating internally on the repercussions of climbing through a window – which could be a bat to my skull at best. I opt for the reasonable plan of ringing the doorbell.Fortunately, Mom wakes up with one ring and isn’t upset.I almost believe she didn’t remember.
I prep for sleepy-time and pull the camera out of my pocket.I took ten photos the whole night.