Thursday, December 20, 2012

Confusion and Avoidance in Palm Springs.

Fear and Loathing in Palm Springs? Not really. It was more Confusion and Avoidance. An overly aggressive inebriated woman attacked my Japanese com-padre at some chic establishment christened Lulu. The cunning Japanese black belt was no match for her large slobbering lips and strong arms. I felt sorry for the poor fellow. With that sight of him struggling in the corner of my eye, all I could do was look the other way and hope that the problem would go away.

It didn't. In fact, the problem plopped herself right in between me and the black belt and asked me how her breast felt up against the back of my arm. To which I responded, “fine?” “Fine” was the magic word that unlocked this sultry oversexed hunk of burning love to launch her huge flapping lips into my face. I was trapped between her and an invisible barrier of scorn from my fellow patrons. My Taoist instinct of ignoring the problem and hoping it would go away was not working. How did I get to this moment?

We should have bought those women some drinks at the other bar. If we did, the possibility of being attacked by that debaucherous wreck would have been lower. I guess our sun-drenched brains weren't thinking too clearly now that they've been dehydrated with the nectar of the monks.

We spent most of that day at the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway watching a marathon of dressed up decadent cars parading around the track like a bunch of made up old whores begging for attention. It was quite a hodgepodge of lemons from all walks of life and corners of the western world paying homage to an assortment of products and lifestyles.

The scent of gas and tires was in the air. With a rebel flag waving behind us, we sat in the stands and watched these cars fight for space. As we sat in the bright desert sun, the black belt and I drank beer from a miniature keg, which was immersed within a rolling cooler. It was a beautiful day for racing.

In the distance, we would see indications of cars having trouble staying on the track. These little lateral plumes of dirt would move about like burrowing gofers making their way across the horizon. A little flag of yellow would then come out and wave until the dust settled and the car was back on the track or until the lifeguard was able to rescue it from out of the chaos. After spending hours observing this race against time, the sun was nearing its descent and we decided to head back to the hotel in Palm Springs.

The gentleman behind the counter of the hotel must have thought of us as a cute couple wanting to experience the not so straight aspect of Palm Springs, because he flirted to the point of cutting our hotel rate in half. I didn't think being friendly to the guy would put us in any danger either considering the safety lock on the hotel door generally serves as a good deterrent from any unwanted thrill seekers. He did seem a little disappointed when I answered “two,” after he asked if we wanted one or two beds.

The suite was bigger than my one bedroom apartment, and it had a bath and shower. The shower was the only one that got used though. We both got cleaned up and went out for something to fill our empty stomachs.

Sushi and Sake were on the menu at a little place that smelled of old carpet. The dark green ambiance felt like it hadn't been renovated in years, but I wasn't going to say that to the old man with a knife behind the bar. A couple of warmed bottles and a few plates later, the black belt and I were sufficiently satisfied. Off we went to our second stop.

At the second establishment the black belt and I sat at the bar in this exterior seating area that resembled a street in a small Spanish town. The walls were towering. The bartender was juggling bottles and pouring mixed concoctions like a circus acrobat. He could star in a halftime show of a local community college basketball game if he had the craving to do so. We desired beer and he brought some to us.

After a couple of beers, I needed to break the seal. Doing so I discovered the urinals at this fine establishment where filled with ice cubes and melting the ice cubes became a worthy challenge. The restroom was a bit cramped and had barely enough space for the attendant servicing the room. Why was he even there? Quite frankly in the overall scheme of things I have to question the point of having a restroom attendant. Why would anyone want to be one and why would anyone want them in the restroom when they’re going about their business? I am quite confident the words “I am glad there is a restroom attendant” have never been spoken without a hint of sarcasm.

A while after making ourselves comfortable on the stools a couple of young dark-haired women sat catty-corner from us. The one furthest from us had short hair and looked as if she may have gotten herself into trouble times before and the one closet had longer hair and looked like she was the protector. The longer haired one looked a bit seasoned to her friend’s troubles. She’s been in the troublesome situations before and wasn't in the mood for any more nights of drama. However, if the approach was correct, she’d be willing to compromise her hardened stance.

We never approached. We cowered like little boys at a junior high dance. All it would have taken was a purchase of a drink and we would have known each other’s intentions. But alas, they left us there at the bar. Were they tired of waiting for us? We will never know. Learn and move on, and move on is what we did.

Onto the strip, we walked in hopes of seeing that dark-haired duo. We passed by a bar where a screeching rendition of Guns and Roses “Sweet Child O’Mine” was being performed by a drunken blonde. There were no dark-haired duos in that bar either. Like most missed opportunities, it was destined to not be revisited.

We came across a brightly lit blinding white blank canvas of a restaurant. The outer wall was open to taking in the night air. There were two seats available at the island bar in the middle of the room and we took them. Sitting next to us was a man and a woman. The woman, Rebecca, claimed the man to be her brother and that they were celebrating his birthday. The black belt and I ordered a couple of beers and made friendly conversation with the two.

Only a few seconds into the conversation and Rebecca revealed herself to be a drunken sex-crazed maniac. Her initial attack on the black belt didn't seem to faze her brother because I could hear him continue to talk while I was looking the other way in order to give the black belt and her some privacy.

The brother continued to make conversation while she tried to plop her big lips on me. She would go back and forth between the black belt and me as if we were two cones of ice cream. It wasn't until her phone began to buzz that she decided she had enough ice cream. She reluctantly answered the call from who she mentioned being her boyfriend. I almost yelled out, “She’s ready for you!” in hopes that he would hear it on the other side of the line. I declined to do so out of fear his presence might escalate the mayhem.

She slammed the phone down and announced her hatred for her boyfriend and that she had to part ways. Of course, this would not happen without some more goodbye kisses. While she kissed her goodbye to the black belt I tried to start a conversation with two female members of AARP, but they wanted nothing to do with me and my seedy lifestyle and took on my strategy of looking the other way.

While getting ready to leave Rebecca turned her attention to her brother by grabbing his arm and trying to gently pull it out of his socket. It wasn't until that moment that the bartender decided looking the other way was a poor strategy and eighty-sixed Rebecca from Lulu, but Rebecca wasn't gonna go without a fight.

I took the situation as an opportunity to avoid the possible danger of being victimized by collateral damage and excused myself to go to the restroom. The black belt followed suit. I think it was the first time in our lives that we both went willingly to the restroom with another man. But there was no restroom to be found in the direction we went. The waitress pointed us to where it was. For a brief moment we feared the path led past Rebecca, but to our relief, the kind waitress showed us a slight detour to our destination.

We made it there without any problems and waited inside till we felt the coast was clear. The black belt and I emerged from the restroom and went back to the bar next to her brother. The manager came out and apologized for the fracas with a $25 voucher for both of us to share and “to be used on another day.” We accepted his offering of peace, and ordered a couple of more drinks.

There were no plans of coming back in the near future, so the black belt and I promptly gave the voucher to her brother and said happy birthday. After receiving our gift of mercy her bother then informed us that he wasn't her brother and Rebecca scared off the people who occupied the seats before we did. Of all the words that came out of his mouth while the black belt and I were being assaulted, not one of them was “run!” He did tell us he was gay and kept reminding us that it was his birthday in hopes that we would go back to his place to celebrate. We already gave him a gift, so we finished our drinks and left for our suite. The day was over.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hachoo! I see you.

I often find myself thinking about my dad. However recently, I started thinking about his last couple of months. During those months, he was pretty much in a vegetative state and looked pretty well vacant. It was such a depressing sight, but I remember getting a certain joy out of watching him sneeze during that time. It was like during this one small moment I would see his personality come through on his face. The vacant look was gone, but his personality left just as fast as it came. His hand would rise in preparation for the sneeze, then “hachoo!” I’d see that glimmer of him and then gone.

It actually occurred to me to put some pepper on his hand, hoping that when he would raise his hand up to prepare for the sneeze, it would propel him into a sneezing fit. Then I would be able to see the lights in his eyes for a longer period. I could not torture the poor guy just to appease my longing to see him up and at it and full of life. I just wasn’t that cruel.

There was one other time I saw life in his eyes. My dad at this point was pretty much confined to his bed. My cousin Stan dropped by to chat a bit. Stan was sitting on one side of my dad, and I on the other. We started talking about Stan’s dad, my uncle Tony, and how his dad’s passing was so sudden that he thought it made the situation less torturous for him. We sat and started comparing and contrasting our experiences. At a certain point during our conversation, my dad started getting really antsy. He seemed uncomfortable. So I started to tend to him. I then noticed his piercing blue eyes staring right at me as if to say, “Shut the hell up! I am not dying!” I don’t know if it was fear or anger in his eyes, but I do know that it was intense.

My dad never liked talking about death. I think he was genuinely scared of it and wanted always to avoid those conversations. So I truly do believe that he understood what Stan and I were talking about and didn’t want any part of it. I don’t think Stan knew what I saw, because he was on the other side of the bed. I don’t think I ever told Stan what I saw either. However, I do remember trying to cut off the conversation, because of my dad’s glare. I don’t remember how I did it though. Maybe Stan sensed something and stopped talking about it. I just don’t remember that part. All that is really vivid in my mind are my dad’s blue eyes looking directly at me. I will never forget them.

That was the last time I saw any life or consciousness in my dad. Sometimes I think, “Good job Erik! Your dad’s last memory of you is of you being insensitive and talking about something he didn’t want to talk about.” Then I remember he suffered from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and he would’ve forgotten what we talked about a minute later, so I tend not to sweat it too much. Sometimes it’s hard not to.

I like remembering the smile on his face after my reaction to taking a swig of a previously frozen bottle of beer that my brother Richard handed me. They were both in on the joke, and that beer was nasty. He was cracking up and it was a beautiful site. On the flip side, I tend to try not to remember the time when he was in the hospital. I don’t really want to remember him that way. My mom has a picture displayed in her family room of him, in that semi-vacant state, sitting in between her and my brother Tony. I can’t stand that picture, because I really don’t want to remember him like that. If only he would have sneezed right when the picture was taken, then I think I would be able to look at it and smile. “Hachoo!”

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Carlos and The Turf Supper Club

My heterosexual life partner Glen took me to the Turf Supper Club to grab some drinks and possibly some food. When we got there, the place was not too full, but there was a wait and open bar. So we took the bar. After sitting at the bar for about 10 minutes having a round beer, the hostess came to us and told us our table was ready. I didn’t remember asking for a table, but I thought maybe Glen did without me noticing. So I just followed and went to the table.

The waitress was very friendly and took our orders within a very reasonable amount of time, and our raw steaks came our table pretty quickly too. Each steak came with a large piece of buttered bread. With our steaks in our hands, we then made our way the grill.

There was really no order to the whole grill. It was pretty much like looking for a parking space in a busy parking lot. Find an open space and take before some one else sees it. We each found our own openings and plopped our steaks on them.

Glen told me that this is how steak houses used to be. I’m not buying it. I’m not buying it. I think it’s just a clever gimmick to save on payroll, and most of the scenesters there are just about pretentious and dumb enough to buy it too. Even if it is true about the whole grilling your own steak being the original way, there is a reason most steak houses do not incorporate this method anymore. Most people do a terrible job.

I honestly am not a good griller or cook and would rather leave that to the professionals. That’s generally why I go to a restaurant. So somebody with a little more expertise can prepare my food. That being said, it was fun and my steak surprisingly turned out a nice medium rare. I just watch what everybody else was doing and followed suit. I saw some people toasting their buttered bread too. So I did the same. It turned out pretty good.

I found most of the patrons around the grill were pretty nice and engaging. A few of us talked about Foreigner and Journey and how they both have new singers now. One woman mentioned how she was totally in love with the original singer of Foreigner. She then sadly informed me that he now sported a beer belly and could hardly get through a song, which was why they got a new singer. It was an enlightening experience.

After eating our steaks, the hostess came over to our table and said to us, “You’re lucky.”

To which Glen and I replied back with a “why.” According to her, we stole somebody named Carlos’ table. Apparently, she told Carlos and his friend that we stole the table from them too, which explained the young Latino gentleman lurking near our table with a sour look on his face.

I told Carlos, who was standing next to our table, that we were sorry. However, that didn’t satisfy him. He pretty much brushed me off with a kind of “yeah, whatever” gesture with his hands.

She said when she notified us that our table was ready she started out by asking us if any of us was a Carlos. I do not remember this at all. I really don’t appreciate a hostess making a mistake and then pinning it on us. The fact was both of us never heard her ask any of us if we were Carlos, because she did not do that. That was total BS. We took the rap for her mistake. Neither Glen nor I even look like a Carlos.

Should we have questioned her when she initially showed us to our seats? Probably, but after having a few drinks at home and a drink at the bar, we really weren’t in the questioning mode. We were in the go with the flow mode.

Overall, the experience was fun. The steaks were really yummy and the atmosphere was nice. Grilling your own steak at a steakhouse is something everyone should try at least once. As for Carlos, well we just laughed off the whole Carlos incident, because it made the night more interesting. Without Carlos, the night would not have been as fun. Although, I don’t think Carlos would agree.