Runnin’ Blue


Well, I’ve got the runnin’ blues

Runnin’ away, back to L.A.

Got to find the dock in the bay

Maybe find it back in L.A.

Before I left for France, Brad slept with me until I got out of bed in the morning. When my parents woke up early to let the dogs out, they would open the door, come in my room and herd them out. Brad stayed, guarded me and growled. Both my parents are losing their hearing, so they picked him up like he was a fuzzy bowling ball and carried him out of my room under their arm, oblivious that he was growling the whole time.

Now, he cuddled with both of them. They told me he likes chasing and playing with his treat, instead of sitting obediently like the other two. I didn’t know that.

I liked it better when Brad charged, barking at my parents for no other reason than their return back in the room or putting on a baseball cap. He is my little psychotic conquistador.

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He still stayed by my side now that I was back in the mornings. My Mother was trying to coax him out of my room and I said, “He is so loyal.”

She said, “More like needy.”

What a bitch.

Now that my father was being curt and cold with me, my Mother warmed up. That’s what they do, they take turns, alternating who wants to look at me with disgust anytime I walk in the room, and who wants to make the effort to be civil.

They both brought home job applications and my Mother arranged for an interview with me at the hotel nearby. The Hotel is a huge four-star resort that is completely out of place with everything else here.  It is extravagant, just gorgeous. You see it driving by on the single lane highway, and it looks enormous from a distance.

ImageOn the grounds are a golf course, an amphitheater, a spa, an indoor pool, an outdoor waterfall hot tub, a restaurant, and huge lounge with an impressive fireplace.

ImageYou can easily see who is an employee and who is a guest. The employees are lumpy and missing teeth, some fresh faced teenagers who get high on cough syrup on days off, others too old to be working any job, but forced to because they never were given the opportunity to save in a retirement plan. The guests looked like they were shipped in from Southern California, fit, healthy, in SUVs and polo shirts, there to write a novel or spend quality time with their kids for the first time in a year.

If they were ever to drive down the road five minutes to town, they would only find one grocery store, one bar, two gas stations, a dentist, a mechanic, a Subway, and then you are all of a sudden driving out of town.  Of course, that is more than what we have one town over, where I live.

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*

My Mother and I went for a walk, and she said, “I don’t know what came over [your Father]. You won’t have to move out after school. Don’t worry about it.”

I said, “I am very worried about it, right now I have to find a place to live on top of preparing for residency.”

She shook her head, “No, no, no. I know him. He won’t kick you out.”

I said, “Is this some kind of weird ploy to get me a job here and then kick me out so I am forced to stay in Washington? Because if all I had was a job, I would have to stay here and get a place.”

She thought about this for a second too long, and said, “No . . . not at all. I think your heart is in Los Angeles. We just want to see you get out of debt.”

As difficult as my mother is, she religiously put tiger balm on my back until my cough completely disappeared. In four days she cured me of a two month cough. Even the crazy moms can help . . . a little bit.

I said, “I just need to pay off my car and get it fixed.” I can not tell you how fucking frustrating it is being stranded in a remote area again, with mentally unstable people and never-ending tension AGAIN, so soon after liberating myself from Dora and Sylmar. The engine was rattling and my father advised I not drive it again until I can afford for a mechanic to take a look. It really makes me want to bitch slap Jesus in the face.

*

My parents treated me to free coffee at IKEA before dropping me off at the airport, so we all filed on the escalator together one last time before I was free of them again. I was trying to explain the Hollywood Stones to my mother, what it was like dancing to a live saxophone playing Rolling Stones music and she stared at me. She offered a faint smile and pulled my sweatshirt up over my shoulder, then said, “You look like you are in high school.”

ImageI got the fuck out of there and landed in LA two hours later. Jerry was waiting for me inside the airport baggage claim, the way I wished my father had. Temporary parking is only a couple bucks, but my father won’t even round up his grocery bill 3cents for a local cancer fund.

Jerry and I worked together at a dot com five years ago, and he became a friend after I was fired. I can’t really remember how we got to be friends, but he is very much like my On-Line Guardian Angel. He helps with whatever he can, whenever he can. Lately, he mostly talks me down from drunk crying rants when I am alone at my computer, wondering how I am going to face another day with these clipped wings of mine.

The first thing I noticed when I saw him waiting was how much weight he lost. Standing well over 6 feet tall, he has broad shoulders and a real physical presence about him, so losing the weight reminds me of a folding umbrella with the steel frame still poking through the cloth. Predictably, he likes sports and electronics, but also surprises me with excellent taste in art. He feels older than me, but I am not sure he is that much older than me. Maybe he is just a grown-up.

He is a good friend and I don’t know why. I don’t feel I earned it from him. I don’t feel like I know enough about him. And when I saw him, while dragging my suitcase with a big, dopey smile, I couldn’t tune into him like other people. He looked preoccupied, maybe even worried. There are my attempts to ask him about his life but, very much like a few other dear friends, he doesn’t seem to like talking too much about himself. This, of course, makes me feel guilty because I LOVE talking about myself.

We got Thai Food, and he was sympathetic about my parents. My body was still functioning on French time, probably because I hadn’t forced myself to transition out of sentiment, so when we arrived to his 1-Bedroom Venice apartment, I easily fell asleep on his couch with curry in my stomach and Tosh on his big screen TV. Thus began my new love affair with Daniel Tosh, but I digress.

ImageIn the middle of the night, for the first time in four years, I had a bout of sleep paralysis. For those of you who are unfamiliar with sleep paralysis, it is a psychological phenomenon where you wake up and can’t move or scream. You feel as though you are being held down. Often, in my case, I feel like there are evil spirits in the room at the same time.  Right now, I am looking on-line and see suggestions for how to wake out of sleep paralysis; wiggle a toe, cough, focus on breathing. I just pray. I pray to God to help, and that is the only way I can ever break out of it.

The first thought that occurred was I should go into Jerry’s room and sleep with him. Even though Jerry has never hit on me, I still thought that was a bad idea, so I fell back asleep and woke up soon after, made a cup of coffee and continued writing until he woke up.

We hunted down a vegan muffin and a latte off Abbot Kinney. I only had $20 to get me through until financial aid, and I was already down to $7.

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***

Sascha and I arranged to meet at the Sidewalk Cafe for drinks that first afternoon. Jerry is one block from the beach, and even though he was blocked in by a wall of other apartments, I loved feeling the saltwater in my hair and turning a corner to see the edge of the world.

When I saw Sascha waiting for me on the boardwalk, her blonde hair up in a sloppy ponytail, her Buddy Holly glasses and a big smile, and I suddenly felt like warm butter. Running up, I wrapped my arms around her and kissed that sun stained hair. I was back home.

ImageWe knocked back a few Bud Lights, she didn’t want to go too much into her personal life since she was feeling her way through major transitions in life, both professionally and romantically. I always admire people who fumble quietly, under the table or in the dark, so no one can see how clumsy they are during the fog of confusion and broken hearts. When I fumble, I might as well be in the Super Bowl. I make my mistakes as public as possible because when its quiet, it feels like knives stabbing through my stomach. The longer the silence, the deeper the incisions. Such is the burden of being a clown- you can make everyone laugh about your problems except those closest to you.

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Bank Guard: What the Hell kind of clown are you?
Grimm: The crying on the inside kind, I guess.

So . . . I took the time to describe my French sexscapades.

A slightly overweight, white guy with a receding hairline and baseball cap walked by, carrying a few plastic bags full of clothes, his eyes on us. I accidentally caught the glance and he backed up.

He said, “Can I tell you a joke and buy you a drink?”

I said, “Do I have to do one to get the other?”

He said, “Yes, they are connected.”

I said, “OK, but I haven’t seen my friend in a long time, so this has to be brief.”

“Ok, no problem,” he said.

Then he turned around to get two drinks, since Sascha refused.

He came back with a syrupy, tart beverage in small rocks glasses. As I sipped it through a thin, red straw, he said, “Now the one rule is you can’t interrupt me.”

I nodded, slurped.

He said, “So I recently moved out of here from the East Coast, left everything behind so I could come here and start over. I only have my car and a few clothes.”

I said, “Is this part of the joke?”

He said, “What was the one rule? Don’t interrupt.”

I nodded, slurped.

He continued, “So I moved out here and I am not looking to be some fancy, rich guy. I don’t want to be an actor, I am just an honest guy who wants to start my life over. So, I left everything behind and moved out here. The women out here don’t care about what type of guy I am, they only want a rich guy, a doctor or a lawyer. All they care about is what’s in my wallet and what type of car I drive.”

I said, “The last two men I was in love with were unemployed.”

He said, “Ok, don’t interrupt.  So I move out here, and I am looking for a place to live, a nice girl who appreciates good jokes, and I come here, to this bar. I am friends with the bartender and ask for this drink- schnapps with vodka and some other stuff. And she says, ‘Do you know what thats called?’ And I say, ‘No’ and she says . . . ‘It’s a Code Red.”

He looked at me. I slurped and shrugged my shoulders.

“From the movie with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise . . . Demi Moore”, he said.

I said, “A Few Good Men?”

He said, “YEAH! Yeah. A Few Good Men!”

I said, “Never saw it.”

He said, “Oh, well in the movie, they have a Code Red.”

Silence.

I finished my drink, put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Please don’t tell me that’s the joke.”

He said, “ . . . yeah.”

I said, “You need to work on that punch line. Like . . . you need to get a punch line.”

Sascha waited patiently then leaned forward, forced a smile and said to him, “I am sorry, but I haven’t seen my friend for a really long time. Can you let us catch up?”

He grabbed his plastic bags off the floor, and said, “Sure, sure. So you didn’t like the joke? Oh well, at least you got the drink. I know women only want plastic surgeons, and lawyers and porsches and fancy shit and all I have is a joke.”

I said, “I wouldn’t really call that a joke quite yet, but thank you for the drink!”

He turned to Sascha, “She’s beautiful isn’t she?”

Sascha gave him a toothy grin and nodded.

I looked into the mirrored wall next to me, my bangs were thick and out of control from the ocean wind. I cut them myself before leaving Washington with my Mother’s sewing scissors and they looked a little uneven. My eyeliner was smudged, and I was dressed like a little boy. I threw my hand over my reflection, “Eugh”. Sascha looks like some-kind of Barbie Greek Goddess with perfect proportions head to toe. The summary of her eye brows, eyes, lips, petite body and controlled expressions, satisfied the definition of “beautiful”. To me, she was the one men should be stopping for. Maybe this guy did, but I was the one who made eye contact and engaged.

The man waved awkwardly before walking away.

ImageSascha returned from the bar with two more beers and said, “I asked the bartender about him, she said they aren’t friends. She has never seen him before in her life.”

Oh, hello again, Los Angeles.

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