if i’m not charlie sheen, am i losing?

I realize I was in the middle of a story about being lost at sea with a couple of drug infused rodents and I will return to that tomorrow. As you probably know, I survived the odyssey and you’ve also probably surmised there are going to be beautiful women in bikinis, an unexpected cargo and the occasional Moby Dick reference to amuse those of you who read something other than this blog.

However, much like the rest of the world and despite my aversion to celebrity media, I have kept up with the shitshow that is Charlie Sheen. You can call it schadenfreude but it is nearly impossible to avoid seeing Charlie’s odd mug beaming back from the television nor is it easy to read the paper without seeing his name. The fucker is everywhere right now and he’s coining phrases.

Charlie Sheen is winning. He drives a better car than you, he has more money in the bank than you and he’s sleeping with porn stars and actresses half his age and two at a time no less. Charlie Sheen is winning – his words not mine. Soon, someone will create a bot on Twitter that will ejaculate Sheenisms and there will be apps for your iPad and phone that will let you set your own status to winning. Until then, you are not Charlie Sheen and you are not winning because Charlie Sheen is winning with his tiger blood and Adonis DNA.

I’m in Las Vegas earlier this week, the scene of mine and many other wayward traveler’s personal debauchery. I already have plans to regale you with stories about hookers, thousand dollar naps and a brush with Lucifer himself during my stints there but I’m saving those for a later date. I was there for other reasons this week, although the continuum of reasons for being in Vegas are always tilted toward the lusty and the decadent.

I had finished the business at hand and wrapped up the day with the Michelin-rated, gastronomic orgy that is Joel Robuchon and his sixteen course menu that starts with caviar with fennel cream, foie gras with black truffles and a crispy truffle tart and then continues moving through a selection that will dazzle the palate and empty the wallet. It was the kind of dinner Caligula would order for Nero while they watched Rome burn and got blowjobs from slave girls and boys. It was decadence so disturbingly pristine, you wondered whether it would end with the clubbing of a baby seal.

The dinner was long and the drinks flowed from cocktail to aperitif to white wines and then to reds before sliding into ports and cognacs. Our hearty crew eased out of the MGM with bellies full of food and wine and our wrist watches suggesting it might be time to consider sleeping. Wiser men than us had made the decision to forgo sleep while in Las Vegas, so the late hour meant we would continue the indulgence at Drai’s.

Drai’s is the place where, if I believed in a maker, we would have shook hands and exchanged business cards a few years back. That was the night that would have been fatal for lesser constitutions but somehow my liver, my heart and my sheer will to live carried me through the valley of the shadow of death. I marched back into the joint like Shakespeare’s Caesar, with Cassius and Brutus in tow. I had once left humbled but returned the victor.

So what does any of this have to do with Charlie Sheen and being a winner, you ask. I’m just now getting to that. Cassius, Brutus and I take our seats in the VIP lounge, in a booth just to left as you enter. There was a dj already spinning near us but the ambient noise levels permitted our dinner conversation to continue over bottle service and a parade of the young and beautiful passing by our table. Some people will tell you that nothing good ever happens after midnight, but these are the whispers of superstitious peasants who avoid the number thirteen and throw salt over their shoulders. What happens after midnight is the next day and what better way to welcome in a new day than conversation and a bottle of Glenfiddich 18?

After a little rabble rousing with the VIP manager to allow two attractive ladies to enter the VIP lounge and sit with us, Brutus turns his sights on me and my recent literary efforts.

“So Jack, has Charlie Sheen sucked all the air out of the room in terms of outrageous stories of hookers, strippers, benders and overall unseemly behavior?”

Brutus has always been jealous of my ability to both write and speak in complete sentences. He’s a great guy but his emails read as if they were written by a seven year old. I shrug at his suggestion and am content to let it pass. He, however, is not.

“I mean sure – you did find a way to judge a bullriding contest for strippers and you did get yourself fired for trying to get Olivia Wilde’s phone number but as funny as those might be to us – don’t you think Charlie Sheen pretty much now owns the entire world of mandom’s bad behavior? What can you really add to the conversation?”

Brutus has a smug and very self-satisfied look on his face. He put one of his arms around the slightly drunk blond girl seated next to him, who was obviously taken with him. Brutus knows me well enough to feel comfortable that I am pretty laid back and generally let the inane diatribes of assholes bounce off of me like water off a duck’s back, but he seemed particularly pointed in his rant this evening. Perhaps it was his need to tear me down since, in his myopic view of the world at this point, I was a competition for the girl he was attempting to charm.

I smile a slightly coerced smile to ease the tension and respond quite diplomatically, “I write the stuff I write because I enjoy writing. Based on what I’m seeing, people are reading it of their own accord. I don’t think the existence of Charlie Sheen precludes me from writing.”

Brutus pounces, granted its the lumbering pounce of a man filled with drink, but it is a pounce nevertheless.

“Yes Jack, that’s true but Charlie Sheen is winning! Charlie’s stories are being acted out on television and in the news and they are stories of him as a winner. Somehow your tales are always from the opposite vantage point. You are Charlie Sheen without the winning. You are another also ran with a blog who has a few adventures but who isn’t a winner. So that kind of makes you a loser.”

Et tu Brute?

Cassius decides to join in the criticism. Brutus is pretty obtuse but Cassius is a reader and fancies himself a writer as well.

“Dude, he has a point. You’re not Kerouac and Ike is not Dean Moriarty. You’re not as depraved as Thompson’s Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo. Man, you’re not even Tucker Max. This whole genre of puerile antics has been explored and exhausted and now the final throes are up for grabs every night on TMZ with Charlie Sheen destroying his career. Maybe you should write about other things?”

Ok, I can live with falling short of Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson but the suggestion that Tucker Max might in some conceivable universe write better than me hurt. That’s like the manager at Starbucks telling you that you don’t really have the qualifications for the kind of candidate they’re looking to hire.

Et tu Cassius?

I set down my scotch and took a deep breath. The table seems to be expanding with me, in a communal inhalation, waiting to see how I will respond. I point to Brutus but don’t break eye contact with Cassius. This is where I cross the Rubicon.

“Charlie Sheen is winning? Really? Tell that to the ex-wife whose throat he held a knife to. While you’re at it, set a lunch with Jon Cryer and tell him Charlie Sheen is winning. Invite Denise Richards.”

Cassius starts to interrupt but I cut him off.

“I’m not fucking finished. In fact, I’m just getting warmed up. Charlie Sheen is winning is the last gasps of a career on life support with an obituary in the making. His only friend right now appears to be hubris. He’s on a drug called Charlie Sheen but that’s the kind of shit that someone says right after they’ve gone over the edge. That’s Thelma looking at Louise and saying ‘this was a good idea, right’ just as the fucking car goes air born. Charlie Sheen is winning is the equivalent of putting your last dollar on red and when it comes up black, looking around the table and telling people at least you have your pride.”

I take a breath.

“But really, fuck Charlie Sheen. I’m sitting down and I’m jotting down laughs. Some of it happened and some of it didn’t and some of it is a little of both. That’s why, Cassius, I don’t use the real pansy-ass name your mother gave you. The world is full of stories and most days I take a few moments to add one of my own to the pile. The drinks flow in my stories and the nights drag on ad infinitum, but if it’s amusing it’s because of the way I tell it. I flirt with the cliff but never drive off of it and so you get to enjoy stinky cheese tales and stories about me passing out at work. You might be concerned about my well being or my liver but I never profess to have tiger’s blood and am aware of the perils.

Winning isn’t being Kerouac or Thompson. I write for myself the same way I live for myself and I do both with zero apologies. You don’t like my stuff – don’t read it, but just because there are a trillion other stories already out there doesn’t mean we should stop writing new ones down. In fact, the stuff I’m working on right now will make that tiny pinhead of yours spin like a dradle, Cass.”

Everyone looks at Cassius. He does have a pinhead. He’s now uncomfortable and I’m winning.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths, but I’m going to keep braving the tempests, drinking the wine and writing the stories so that only one death comes my way – a good solid one. Before then though, I will live and write to the hilt. Winning isn’t the car and winning isn’t a book deal. Winning is doing what you do with an understanding of how you fit in the world around you and the peace that comes with understanding that place. I’m winning because I’m still in the game and I’m still trying to be a little better than I was yesterday. I’m winning for the very reason you started this conversation Brutus – because I’m putting it out there.”

With that I stood up, kissed the hands of both the girls at the table and nodded to the boys.

“Hail fucking Caesar.”

I win.

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of mice and seamen

A lot of random invites come my way. It has something to do with the fact that most people know I’m down for whatever adventure is at hand and then also because at some point I made a concerted decision to befriend interesting characters: the artful dodgers and rapscallion bourgeoisie of the new millennium. It’s my own assorted, and at times sordid, menagerie of misfits. This crowd can be trying at times but I much prefer the antics of people who frequent Burning Man versus the crowd who plans their next trip around golf.

This isn’t to say the antics are limited to the bohemian or the aspirations of an ever decreasing middle-class. So when Ike phones me up and asks if I want to sail a 27′ sailboat out to Catalina Island, I don’t bat an eye. Of course this is something we would do.

During one of his min-sabbaticals, which most of us would refer to as a bender, he met up with the living embodiment of Pinky and the Brain. These were two guys, one of whom had the amorphous stature of the hamster you kept in a cage growing up, with beady eyes hovering over a cheese-eating grin that flashed mostly incisors. The other was a tall and lean 30-something with a constant smile whose goofy amiability compensated for his lack of mental prowess. The hamster played the role of Brain even though he wasn’t all that brainy. He was however the alpha male of the duo and called the shots. Ike invited me to meet up with the three of them over in Venice at a place called The Brig.

The three of these knuckleheads hatched a plan one night to rent a sailboat and sail out to Catalina. The next morning one of them called and made a deposit. Now they wanted one more crew member and Ike chose me. With the glassy red eyes I saw in Pinky and the hamster, I gathered they were rarely not high. They seemed to be a classic wake-and-bake duo who performed whatever task they needed to perform satisfactorily under a haze of cannabis. These were the two guys Ike had chosen to sail out to sea with.

We had a few drinks and discussed the trip and the rodent duo threw out enough nautical references to make me feel they at least had a passing knowledge of ships and sailing. I had never set foot aboard a sailboat before. I had been to a couple of yacht parties once while dating a gal whose ex-boyfriend sold yachts, but those were docked and were definitely not sailboats. My understanding was that sailing required much more knowledge and activity than a motor powered vessel. I agreed over drinks that night to sail with these boys but the lack of confidence in my confirmation was a telling sign for Ike. He followed me out to the parking lot when I was leaving.

“Hey sport – you don’t sound like you want to be a part of this venture.”

“Look – it sounds fun but when was the last time those two were sober?”

“I have no idea.”

“Exactly. I’m not certain I want to head out into the Pacific Ocean with a couple of guys who may be stoned and may not have a clue what they’re doing.”

Ike looked a little stunned that my confidence in the rodents was flagging.

“They know how to sail and they’ll be right as rain when we set out. Besides, it’s just Catalina. People go back and forth to there all the time. People even swim it.”

“It’s still the goddamn ocean Ike and we’ll still be on a ship we could crash at any point. I know jackshit about sailing so I would be totally reliant on those two to get us to the island safely and quite frankly they don’t inspire a lot of confidence.”

“Do you trust me sport?”

“No, not even as far as I can throw you.”

“Good – then we head out Saturday morning.”

Ike knew I couldn’t let a chance to do something like this pass me by. Sure, I had little confidence in the rodents and less in Ike, but there was a good chance we would survive this adventure unharmed and so I was in. Even when I wasn’t sure if I was in, I was in.

The plan was to head out at dawn on Saturday morning in order to have as much time as possible to relax and explore the island once we docked. I met the crew at the marina shortly after 5am on Saturday. The rodents appeared fairly sober as we shook hands and loaded supplies on the boat. The thought of a day of sailing was pretty exciting to me and my hopes were high for the day. Once loaded, we backed out of our slip and motored slowly out of the marina, careful not to cause a wake. The hamster disappeared below deck to chart our course to the island, which didn’t appear all that difficult. Before I knew it I was helping hoist something and then unfurl something else and we were sailing. I had never dreamed it would be so easy.

Ike and I were sitting at the front of the boat, slightly chilled by the cool of the morning and the mist of ocean waves slapping against the stern of our boat. I had a piping hot cup of coffee topped with a shot of espresso and Ike was sipping coffee cut with Bailey’s. The water was glassy and we were gliding across the ocean pushed gently by a tailwind that promised to take us right to the island. The skies were clear above us with a few clouds lurking ahead but the winds seemed to be pushing them along as well and so it was literally smooth sailing as far as I could tell.

Ike is a great guy to be silent with. He never feels the need to fill the intermittent moments of conversation with a comment or a thought. I was enjoying my coffee and the casual rhythm of a mild ebb and flow of water underneath us. Off to our right I could see another ship headed in the same direction. I could make out a few people walking around the deck but we were still too far to take in any details. We had been cruising along for a bit when I looked back to see what the rodents were up to but I didn’t see them anywhere up top. Ike was staring at the boat in the distance through his wayfarers, wrapped up in University of Southern Carolina hoodie.

“Where do you think Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum went?”

Ike didn’t answer me. He looked to have a visual lock on the other ship.

“Ike.”

Still no response.

“Ike!”

He turned to look at me, his face masked in serious countenance.

“Call me Ishmael.”

He then pointed to the ship ahead, which was still off to our right, running parallel to us. As far as I could tell, we would soon pass them. At this point they were about 60 yards off and I could make out the people aboard more clearly. There were three women and a man standing on the deck of a ship that appeared slightly larger than ours. One of the women was clad all in white and was staring in our direction.

“Right. So, Ishmael, you’re checking out the woman in white?”

“Oh she’s not a woman, she’s the devil herself.”

“Now you’re going to have to make a choice. You can’t be both Ahab and Ishmael.”

Ike was pleased I was following along with this gambit.

“We’re going to have to talk to her.”

I looked back toward the other ship. The woman appeared the way almost any woman would at 60 yards – good from afar. I looked back at Ike who was locked on her again.

“Maybe your eyes are better than mine, brother. I can’t say whether we should.”

“Oh we definitely should, sport. We definitely should.”

“Ok. Back to my original question – where did our captains go?”

Ike looked back over the ship and replied, “They must have gone below.”

I decided to walk back and check on our mousy leaders. I ducked down the ladder into the galley. Pinky and the Hamster were sitting around a fold out table there in the galley, face down on the table. There was a smoking pipe sitting loosely in Pinky’s left hand. These two brainiacs were unconscious and our boat was being pushed by the wind toward an island with no one to steer us.

Oh, and Ike was acting really weird.

hooters and bulls!

I don’t know what it is about me and mechanical bulls but we seem to be drawn to one another. That magnetism becomes a little stronger when it includes a bull riding contest between Hooter’s waitresses and a local strip club to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Yes, you read that correctly – it was a buckoff between the ‘delightfully tacky, yet unrefined‘ girls of America’s favorite wing restaurant and the girls who get paid to take off their clothes – all in the name of a good cause. Who says charity events are stuffy?

I get why some of my married friends are hesitant to hit the town with me on a Saturday night. Even before Ike brought hookers into my kitchen, I had plenty of success finding mischief on my own. There was a time when I believed in the devil but even back then I realized he couldn’t make someone do something. All he could do was present the opportunity. Thus, by the same reasoning, I could be the devil in my married friends’ details. I wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble but events like sexy bullriding competitions have a way of falling into my lap and sometimes those turn into late-night wet t-shirt contests – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ike actually sent me the invite to the event via email. I was sitting at my desk, sipping a hot cup of java when the email lands in my inbox. It takes me all of three seconds to open the email, read it and respond in the affirmative. I didn’t even take note of the day or time because I knew I could make it. I was going to this event.

I might have to change some plans around but I would be there.

“Hey, sorry but I can’t be in your wedding this weekend after all.”

“What do you mean?”

“I forgot I have this rodeo thing I have to attend.”

That conversation never gets easier no matter how many times you have it.

Ike said he sent the invite out to eight guys and all eight responded ‘yes’ within five minutes. That is the beauty of technology; it can bring people together.

It turns out the event is on Saturday so I don’t have to back out of any weddings or cancel on a Groupon, which makes the day all the more enjoyable. The rodeo events start later in the evening so we decide to meet up for dinner and drinks somewhere before heading over to Union Cattle in Manhattan Beach.

I have no idea whether this was an officially sponsored event of Union Cattle or whether it was something informally arranged by the other two establishments, but the invite and the details seemed a little hush hush. When we get there the place is crawling with dudes, all of whom are hovering around the mechanical bull arena. We’re in pretty high spirits as we arrive ready for whatever kind of hijinks await.

Despite what I said earlier about some of our married friends showing discretion as to when they hang out with us, every one of them Ike invited showed up. If I had a wife, I’m not certain how I would go about asking her if I could sneak away for a little while on Saturday to watch strippers ride a mechanical bull. I’m sure there is some kind of domestic etiquette one uses when broaching such a subject, but the finer points of that kind of negotiation are completely foreign to me. Regardless, they all seemed to navigate that precarious discussion with relative ease so I’m certain there is something I am missing.

We find a place among the rabble that will accommodate the ten of us and give us all a good view along the railing. We have large steins of beer at our disposal and are giddy like five-year olds at the circus by the time the emcee of the event gets things going.

The emcee hands a megaphone to a group of guys next to us who look like they just got back from a Robot Battles competition. Some people might refer to these kinds of guys as the Chess Club or the crowd from Comi-Con but both of those groups hold a warm place in my rotten little heart and so I will just pick on the hobbyists who design robots for gladitorial jollies. Needless to say, these guys don’t appear the kind who will add any extra spice to the event.

Things get started and it’s just ok. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably like me and when you hear there is going to be a Hooters girls vs Strippers contest on top of a mechanical bull, your imagination runs to the wilder side. Then it gets started and it’s sort of – lame.

Here’s the deal, if I invite you to come to an event that will have free food and drink all night and you show up and realize the free drink is Kool-Aid and the free food is Fritos, then you may be a little disappointed. There was nothing dishonest in how I advertised it to you. There is indeed free food and drink when you arrive and we will be serving it all night but it’s not quite what you expected. You wanted wine, champagne and caviar – or at the very least those little mini-quiches you can hold in one hand that are slightly upscale and conveniently tasty. You simply expected more.

So it was with the event. We were hoping for champagne and being served Kool-Aid. The bullriding was so-so and the girls must have been instructed to dress conservatively as there wasn’t a sight of either a Hooters outfit or a pasty. The robot club next to us was doing nothing to urge on the competitors as they just handed the megaphone back and forth to one another and occasionally mumbled something inaudible into it.

I’m not the kind of guy to just stand around and watch the Titanic sink. I am a man of action and so if the ship can be saved, I will do everything in my power to save it. I ask the robot boys for the megaphone and they look relieved to be done with it. I step back over to my circle of friends and lean into the arena and start my own emceeing.

I was born with a loud voice – I mean from the getgo. Growing up, I would be in trouble all the time for talking in class because my voice would carry and the teacher would overhear me. It turned into more of a blessing as I got older and had the chance to do a public speaking event here or there but where it really comes in handy is in a crowded place where I want to be heard. If you add a megaphone to it then it becomes a weapon I can wield at my discretion. It was time to get this event on track.

After the third rider completed her less than memorable ride, my voice came bellowing from the megaphone:

“It’s time to put the sexy back into bullriding! Make some noise if you want to see real entertainment.”

Finally, the place starts to come alive. Guys start cheering and the cowboy operating the bull looks up at me and smiles. Even the staff seemed a little disappointed up to this point. The emcee pointed to me as the new rider approached the bull and so I complied with a hearty, “Let’s give a hand to our next lovely rider!”

Now people are cheering. Now it’s starting to resemble a party.

All of the bull rides so far have been slow, which should give the ladies an opportunity to show off their skills for dance or just being hot. Let’s be clear here – this is a contest and as far as I can tell the scoring metrics should be hotness charted against sexy moves with a standard deviation factored in. Take that robot boys!

So far, we have seen some pretty ladies atop the bull but nothing that ventured into hot territory and most looked slightly embarrassed, which brings the sexy portion of the scoring down to zero. The next rider is a Hooters girl and once she’s on top of the bull it starts its slow pacing again.

She seems to have a little more life than the rest but is still holding back. I step in to let her know.

“Ladies, this is a contest. Let’s see what you got. This isn’t bull sitting, it’s bullriding!”

The rider looks to me and laughs and the crowd reinforces my suggestion with a few solid ‘fuck yeahs!’ She starts to feed off the vibe and her ride instantly becomes a little more enticing. Now there is promise for the event to resemble what I first pictured when Ike sent the invite. She completes a respectable ride and dismounts. There are more cheers this time and the audience is once again engaged.

The next rider is from team dancer. She has platinum blond hair, a wasp-like tiny waist and breasts the size of which go beyond questions of human intervention. She is marvel of bipedal locomotion as there really isn’t any way she should be able to move without falling over. She’s wearing a pink cowboy hat, painted on jeans and t-shirt with the club’s name on it. I think she is the perfect candidate for Stage 2 of saving the Titanic.

She starts her ride and is miles ahead of the competition already. She is leaning into the bull and obviously is an artisan of her craft. Once she gets into the rhythm I decide to give her a little extra incentive through the megaphone. In my loudest voice, I rattle the walls with the phrase:

“Skin to win! Skin to win! Skin to win!”

I don’t want to toot my own horn but that was something I thought up on the fly. It works because it’s short, it’s easily repeatable and it rhymes. Chants are so much more effective when they rhyme.

The chant spreads like wildfire. The emcee looks at me a little nervously but the cowboy operating the bull is nodding his head and chanting along. Now you can’t even hear the music in the arena because the whole place is reverberating with one communal chant.

The wonder of bipedal movement atop the bull gets our drift immediately and the pink cowboy hat is flung seductively out into the crowd. She’s holding the bull with her left hand while her right arm swings languorously off to her side. Then she grabs her shirt and in one fluid motion it comes off and joins her pink cowboy hat. The arena transforms into the exact scene we thought we were going to find when we first came in. There is a gorgeous, if not entirely anatomically believable, woman astride a slowly gyrating bull in the middle of the room who is clad only in a red bra and painted on jeans. She has a tattoo of what looks to be a pin-up girl on her shoulder and someone in the crowd has the good sense to toss her the pink cowboy hat so her outfit would be complete.

If you took all the previous scores combined they couldn’t match the show bipedal girl just put on. The emcee is still smiling at me nervously as she dismounts to thunderous applause. A Hooters girl is next, a drop-dead sexy black girl who is wearing a black cowboy hat.

As she’s getting ready to mount the bull, the emcee walks over to me and asks me to keep it down. I tell him of course and as soon as he turns his back to me, I start the ‘skin to win’ chant again. He whirls around and rips the megaphone from my hands but just like on the streets of Egypt and Tunisia, the people’s voice would be heard. And hear in Manhattan Beach that voice was telling the establishment: Skin to Win!

The new cowgirl knows what to do and before the ride even starts she has removed her sexy little western shirt and begins her ride in short-shorts, a pink bra and a black cowboy hat. Her ride trumps the last, despite the protestations of the emcee demanding she put her shirt back on. The walls continue to rattle with my chant and there is great joy amongst the patrons and the competitors.

The bipedal wonder rider is now going around the room taking donations for the cause in her pink cowboy hat and the money is flowing. I lean into the arena again and even without the megaphone am able to bellow out above the noise: Gentlemen, empty your wallets for breast cancer awareness!

Another hearty cheer rocks the room and the bipedal wonder walks over to me and extends her hat. I give her the entire $287 I have in my wallet. She smiles at me and asks if we would like to come to an after-charity event hosted at a late-night spot.

I tell her we would be honored. She smiles at me, kisses me on the cheek and says, “Great, you guys can judge the wet t-shirt contest!”

I turn to my friends and immediately ask, “Ok, what is everyone’s curfew and who feels like judging a wet t-shirt contest?”

The devil can’t make you do anything; he can only present you the opportunity, a fantastic and wonderful opportunity.

kate bosworth and zoe saldana are idiots?

Can it really be this bad? Come spend a weekend with me and I’ll show you.

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rockets and mohawks

Male bonding at times borders on the idiotic. If a bonding session occurs over pitchers of beer and sporting events then things have at least a 50% chance of getting ridiculous. If you add one or two other key ingredients then there’s also a possibility that someone will go home with a mohawk.

image from Adam McMahon

I hadn’t seen Ike in a few weeks. He would often go on what he termed sabbatical, which was hysterical coming from a guy who hadn’t worked in years. His absences were generally spawned by some article he read, some festival he heard of or some fantastic story of depraved adventure someone shared with him. I have been sucked into multiple forays into the absurd, most recently for  Goat Fest in Tennessee to see a fainting goat and listen to ‘real’ country music. While away he might meet some people and set up residence for a few weeks. The kid was a nomad.

So, upon the return of the prodigal son, the group made plans to get together and watch game 7 of the Houston Rockets versus the LA Lakers playoff series. I didn’t have a dog in this fight as I never adopted the basketball team of my adopted home. As for the Rockets, unless you were from Houston or China, you were probably indifferent to them, with the exception being our friend Cliff.

Cliff was a tightly wound guy from Wyoming who was funny in the way he complained about everything. Cliff had a very dry sense of humor and a well refined sense of irony. He might wear the facade of the grouse but underneath he was extremely sincere and a good soul. He had a mop of unruly black hair on top of his head hanging over wild blue eyes. Best of all, if you were ever in a jam, Cliff was the guy you called. He was a rock.

Eddie, Ike, Cliff and a few of our other friends had met up earlier in the day at a local sports bar and were well lubed by the time I joined them. They justified going to a bar at 3pm by the need to secure a table close to the television. Sports bars do fill up early for Laker games but the only reason those boys went to a bar in the middle of the day was so they could drink.

Our group was a hodgepodge of misfits except for Clifford. He was the exemplary nine to five kind of guy. Cliff’s legal name was Cliff but I enjoyed calling him Clifford. He wasn’t too keen on it at first and once threatened to punch me in the face if I called him that again, but apparently me and my pet name grew on him. None of us really understood why he rooted for the Rockets. He had no discernible connection to the team or the city and when we inquired about it he told us to ‘mind your own fucking business.’ But for a guy who was not from Houston, he lived and died with that team.

One other thing that was puzzling about Clifford was his choice in women. Clifford was a decent looking guy but a little rough around the edges. The women he chose were often rougher and his girlfriend, Sarah, was simply unpleasant. She wasn’t fun to be around and her angry exterior lacked the amusing charm of Clifford’s. The fact that she was continually left out of our plans probably exacerbated the situation but none of us outside of Clifford enjoyed being around her. In fact, I’m not completely convinced he enjoyed her company.

The rest of our crew were Laker fans. Eddie was a native Angeleno and showed up in a Kobe Bryant jersey. Ike was the kind of guy who rooted for whichever team everyone else was rooting for and since we were in an LA bar, he was cheering on the purple and gold. He had even worn a purple Lakers t-shirt for the game. Ike received a few scathing remarks about his hopping on the bandwagon from Clifford, who was already edgy about the game. He continued to heckle Ike until halftime when the tension and shit-talking hit a crescendo and Ike threw down the gauntlet.

“Ok Cliff, if I am just a bandwagon guy then how about this – whoever loses tonight has to shave their head.”

Clifford didn’t hesitate for a moment before snarling back ‘You’re on.”

Many pitchers of beer were ordered over four quarters and we ate anything that could be fried. The Lakers also pulled away from the Rockets and Ike started telling Clifford how easy life was going to be without hair. The Lakers ended up shellacking the Rockets and over the final five minutes of the game, Clifford sank further and further into his beer mug, drowning his disappointment.

At the final buzzer, the bar erupted into cheers except for Clifford who stood up and said he was going home. I grabbed him by the arm just as he was about to walk off.

“Clifford, stick around and have a few drinks with us. You shouldn’t leave just because the Rockets lost.”

Ike stood up and gave Clifford an unwelcome hug and asked him to sit back down. Clifford did sit but was not appearing to enjoy our company in the least. After a few minutes he stood back up.

“I’m going to walk home and shave my head.”

This elicited a few howls of laughter from our table. Ike mercifully let him know he didn’t have to go through with it but Clifford was serious about the head shaving.

“Gentlemen, a bet is a bet. I’m as good as my word so I am going to go home and shave my head.”

Ike began to plead with Clifford, “Brother, be cool. You don’t have to do it. I wasn’t going to shave my head if we lost.”

This made Clifford indignant.

“If we lost? If WE lost? You’re not even a Laker fan! Besides, just because you’re not good enough to see a bet through doesn’t mean I am the same way.”

What was intended as an insult only made Ike break into laughter, which only pissed Clifford off more. There was a second in which I thought Clifford might be contemplating taking a swing at Ike, all of us had considered it at one point, but he collected himself and seemed to calm somewhat. I decided to jump in and add some levity to the situation.

“Clifford, if you’re going to the trouble of shaving your head, I think you should first give yourself a mohawk. You could sport that look for a few days and then shave the rest later. I mean, lots of guys have shaved heads but not too many can rock the hawk.”

Ike’s eyes began to sparkle like the Vegas strip. This idea clearly excited him and he jumped behind it full force.

“Oh yeah Cliff! If you’re really going to do it, then give it some style!”

I saw a grin stretch across Clifford’s face as the thought marinated below his black shaggy hair for a few moments.

“I’m gonna do it! I will go give myself a mohawk and then meet you boys back here.”

I added that to the list of things I didn’t hear very often and congratulated him on his wise decision. He left the bar like a royal knight being sent out on a quest. The group did a round of shots in his honor and then each of us gave him words of encouragement and a pat on the back. As he left I had no idea whether he would do it but I was happy he seemed to be less depressed.

A few minutes after he left, Clifford’s girlfriend Sarah came striding in looking for him. She gave the group a terse hello and scanned the bar for Clifford.

“Where did Cliff go?”

I didn’t want to tell her that he might be at home giving himself a mohawk. Some of her rage had spilled out onto me in the past in a guilt by association way and I was hoping to avoid it this time. I tried to play laconically cool with the entire exchange, hoping her interrogation would end quickly.

“He left right after the game.”

Clifford wasn’t the type to be the first to go home and everyone of us knew this, including Sarah. She eyed me very suspiciously.

“If he left, why isn’t he answering his phone?”

I was envisioning Clifford standing in front of the mirror with clippers, shaving stripes of baldness into his black hair while letting her call go to voicemail, but thought it best that Sarah discover something like that for herself.

“Maybe he went to bed.”

Ike set his beer down and gave Sarah his doe-eyed look, “Maybe he is in the bathroom.”

A small chuckle began to ripple through our group. Eddie then chimed in.

“Maybe he’s washing his hair.”

Ike had to stifle a laugh.

Sarah clearly wasn’t amused and stood there slightly bug-eyed, looking at us incredulously. She did not like us. I could see her anger building. She continued to scrutinize me, perhaps wanting to see if I would squirm under her glare but I played it cool.

She clearly wasn’t satisfied but she turned and left. She didn’t say goodbye but quite frankly I was surprised we got a hello.

Ike dropped his head onto the table and let out a big exhale, “How is he still with that woman?”

A moment later my phone buzzed and there was a text message from Clifford saying he was on his way back. Clifford lived just a couple of blocks from the sports bar. How he managed to get back to the bar without crossing paths with Sarah was a mystery but right after I received his text message, in walked the man with a new mohawk! His scalp was a sickly shade of white, with a few nicks from the razor, but overall he had done a good job. The mohawk looked pretty cool but you couldn’t really say it worked for Clifford. Nevertheless, the guy was in good spirits, especially when Ike bought a round of drinks for the table. I think it’s probably good luck to buy a beer for a man with a mohawk.

We were in the middle of much merriment when Sarah came storming back in. I literally thought I saw steam coming from her nostrils right before she started yelling. She was doing the kind of yelling you might do if you were somewhere your neighbors couldn’t hear you but definitely not the kind you would do in a bar.

“Cliff! Where the hell have you been and what in god’s name did you do to yourself?”

Clifford’s smile disappeared.

“Hi baby.”

“Really?!? Hi baby? That’s all you have to say for yourself?”

“I have a mohawk.”

I think we had all intended to remain as quiet as the dead once we saw Sarah, but Clifford’s pointing out the obvious was enough to crack each and every one of us up. I had tears welling in my eyes when I noticed Sarah’s beady stare honing in on me.

“I suppose you put him up to this didn’t you?”

I knew when this whole thing started I wasn’t getting out of it unscathed. I professed my innocence.

“Do you actually think I told Clifford to give himself a mohawk?”

Sarah winced a little at my pet name for Cliff and my retort might have worked had not Ike decided to throw me under the bus.

“Actually, that’s exactly what you did.”

Everyone at the table except for me was in stitches. I turned to Ike in disbelief. Did he really just rat me out like that? In my head I was already planning revenge on that blond moron but I had to deal with Sarah first. I was contemplating how I would handle this when Clifford stepped back in.

“Sarah, this was my call. I am a grown man and if I want a mohawk I can give myself one.”

All of this was true but still unconvincing. Sarah sensed his weakness and went in for the kill.

“So let me get this straight. You didn’t answer my call, you’re drunk and you have a mohawk?”

I looked at Clifford and had to admit that Sarah was right. Clifford was drunk. There was also no denying he had a mohawk. As for whether he didn’t answer her call, I assumed she was right on that one as well. If there was going to be a winner in this conflict, it didn’t look like it was going to be Clifford unless he had a surprise move no one could anticipate.

Clifford registered her complaints before he replied, “That sounds about right.”

Sarah was fuming. “Cliff, go home right now. We can talk about this there.”

Clifford raised his head and looked at Sarah. Now the entire bar was waiting for him to say something.

“Sarah, I’m going to stay out with my friends.” And with that he took his seat, with his back to her.

I thought Sarah was going to split in half right there in the middle of the bar. Then her rage swung back to me.

“Jackson, I hope you’re proud of yourself. You have officially broken up the happy couple.”

Without looking back at her, Clifford piped up, “We weren’t ever that happy.”

This may very well have been the first time Sarah wasn’t able to bulldoze Clifford into doing whatever it was she wanted him to do and it didn’t sit well with her. She grabbed a beer mug off the bar and threw it at our table. Luckily no one was hit but the glass shattered when it hit the floor and beer spilled out across the bar. There were a few gasps and one guy in the back of the bar even booed. The bouncer quickly ran over to Sarah and told her she needed to leave. She turned to him and slapped his face and then stomped out of the bar. As she was leaving, the other bar patrons began clapping and cheering. It reminded me of when the Munchkins started celebrating after the house dropped on the witch in The Wizard of Oz, except instead of Munchkins we had drunk people and no one was killed.

Clifford turned serious for a moment there in the midst of the frivolity.

“Did I just make a big mistake?”

“With the haircut or the girl?”

Clifford laughed, “Both, I guess.”

“That would be a no on both counts brother.”

Then the bar toasted to Clifford’s freedom and his new do.

And that’s the story of how Clifford got his mohawk.

the last days of free love

The day after the video tape incident was Friday and Heather left me a voice mail saying she had plans for the evening but that I should give her a call tomorrow. That left me with a Friday night free and I so I decided to meet up with a friend from Hollywood I hadn’t seen in a while.

Harley was a pint-sized gal from Alabama with shiny blond hair, who cursed like a sailor and drank like one too. She had a scathingly sardonic sense of humor and a sartorial sense full of interesting vintage combinations. We made plans to meet at Jones Hollywood in West Hollywood, a favorite watering hole of hers.

Jones is a cool spot, sort of grand old world with a touch of seedy. There is a lot of red in the bar and it’s the kind of place where you wish the walls could talk. Harley was at the bar when I arrived, sipping a vodka soda. She gave me a hug before she began chewing my ass about never calling her. Harley was convinced I was a west side snob who was afraid to venture too far east into LA. Harley was right but this night we met closer to her hood so my scolding wasn’t as severe as it would have been had we met up in Venice.

Harley was in the middle of telling me one of the funniest stories I had ever heard about her uncle and a Mexican tapeworm, when I looked across the bar and see Heather. She was all dolled up and was with a tall, dark-haired guy who dressed like a Banana Republic mannequin. I was listening to Harley’s story about how her uncle didn’t realize he had a tapeworm until he got back to the States and had the misfortune of making the discovery while dressed in a very nice suit, during a business meeting – and it’s a much funnier story than I am giving it credit for here, but at the time I was locked on Heather. Judging by her body language, she didn’t’t know the guy very well but she was being playful and flirty like the day I first met her in Whole Foods.

I felt a flush of jealousy fill my face.

Harley stopped telling her story. “Did someone fucking fart? You look like you just smelled a fart.”

I was staring intently at Heather but came around when Harley said the word ‘fart.’

“No, I mean maybe. Who knows. There are a lot of people in here. I just thought I saw someone I knew.”

“So you make a fart face when you recognize someone? Okay dude, that’s not weird at all.”

“No – not exactly. Look, see that girl over there in the black and white dress.”

“Oh, the little hottie who is flirting like mad with the tall guy who looks like a model?”

“What? He doesn’t look like a model. Whatever, that’s not my point. I have been having sex with that girl for a few weeks now.”

“Well pal, it doesn’t look like you’ll be boning her tonight. She has her eyes set on Mr. Handsome.”

“He’s not handsome. He looks like a mannequin.”

“A very fuckable mannequin.”

I am now annoyed with Harley and she was enjoying the situation far more than I would have liked.

“Look dude – go over there and talk to her. Stake out your territory.”

I considered Harley’s proposal for a moment but then described to her in detail the nature of the agreement Heather and I had in place. Her eyes widened a few times during the telling and a Cheshire Cat grin was plastered to her little mug. Once it all soaked in, Harley let loose an evil little cackle.

“You can’t be jealous of your fuckbuddy dude. You just can’t. That’s against the rules.”

She was right. I knew she was right but I still couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable about seeing Heather with another guy. I made the completely psycho decision to walk across the bar and ‘casually’ bump into Heather and her mannequin. Harley protested a bit but I ignored her. I wanted to see what would happen.

Harley and I had been standing near the door when you first enter the room. Heather and her dummy were across the room to our left. Heather was on a barstool but the mannequin was standing.I walked toward them, making a very obvious cross through her field of vision. I passed her and leaned into an opening next to her and ordered a Stoli Greyhound from the barkeep. In doing so, I brushed against Heather’s bare leg. I was officially in stalking territory.

I nonchalantly looked her way. She was seated on a bar stool looking out toward the mannequin with her back to the bar. There was no way she couldn’t have seen me when I walked right behind the stiff! She must have felt me against her leg. She was not looking at me but was transfixed on the mannequin, smiling that lethal smile of hers at his every word. I decided to move from stalking to harassing.

I poked her in the arm with my finger, “Oh hey! I didn’t see you there.”

She turned quickly to me and her smile transformed into a look of confusion, “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”

Her words echoed off the walls in my cranium, drowning out the ambient noise in the bar. Her eyes bore into mine with nothing resembling malice but with the informal apathy you give to a complete stranger. There wasn’t even a hint in her expression that would lead someone to believe we knew one another. I had perhaps seen more of her body than anyone since the doctor who plucked her from the birth canal, but at that moment she projected a complete unfamiliarity with me.

That was how it was to be. I apologized for my mistake, saying I thought she was someone else, and paid for my drink. Her mannequin smiled politely at me as I made my exit and walked back to Harley, who had gleefully witnessed my personal Hindenburg flame out.

“Wow dude, crash and burn! How did that feel?”

“She acted like she didn’t know me.”

“Of course she did, dude. She is on a date and you are just her fuckbuddy. Christ! Guys are so stupid! You meet a woman who wants to use you for sex and now you’re over here sulking.”

“I’m not sulking. It was just a little weird – that’s all. I didn’t realize all the rules.”

When I was first learning to surf, I spent a lot of time at Venice Beach, paddling out at the point near the jetty. I would pick bad days when fewer people would be out so I could work on the mechanics and learn to catch the wave and surf it. One day I was out there drowning myself with a handful of other people in the water. I was mostly catching the deformed remnants of waves that never really became waves. There was a Latino guy near me, all tatted up with images and Venice gang symbols. After he witnessed one of my failed drop-in’s he paddled over to me.

“Hey man – you are not very good.”

Great, now not only was I half-drowned, I was also being heckled.

“You know what you need to do man? You need to keep your chest up more. Move back on your board and keep you’re chest up. If not, you’re going to kill somebody with that big-ass board.”

The guy actually had me get out of the water and we went to the sand and he gave me some pointers. It was ten minutes at the most but he did more for my surfing than anyone else. At the end of the lesson, we were both standing on the beach and he wished me good luck but he had to give me a warning first.

“Look man, on good days, paddle out further south. This place is for locals and if you mess up our ride someone will try to kick your ass. If that happens, and it probably will, look at the guy and tell him to follow you up to the beach. Don’t take shit from people out here in the water. If you escalate the situation – then people will most likely back down.”

I thanked him for all the advice and then introduced myself. He shook my hand but he made it clear we were not friends.

“Look man, I helped you because you needed it but we are not friends. If you see me around here or run into me in Venice, don’t say hi and don’t act like you know me because I will act like I have never seen you before. You understand me? If you see me, just keep walking because we have never fucking met.”

With that, he was gone.

I wished Heather had given me the same explicit set of instructions. I didn’t realize that outside the confines of her boudoir, I was dead to her.

Harley and I ordered another round of drinks and I continued to look at Heather to see if she would tip her hand at all. Even when the mannequin went to the bathroom, she didn’t look my way. Harley suggested leaving but I decided we’d make our stand there. I wasn’t going to run from the shame of trying to acknowledge my fuckbuddy.

Harley went into a story about injuring her eye in the second grade and having to wear a patch. All the other kids were making fun of her. I had just taken a sip of my drink when Harley said, “Those cruel little fuckers would come up to me when I was wearing my patch and talk like pirates saying ‘Harley want a cracker?”

I laughed so hard I spit my drink right into her face. This caused a little stir in the tightly packed area around us as well as elicited a ‘What the fuck?’ from Harley, followed by a ‘nice money shot dude.’

I laughed so hard I almost did it again. Harley and I were in hysterics when Heather and her mannequin walked by us on their way out. They had to walk by us to leave. The guy actually gave me a nod and a slight smile but I got nothing from Heather. This time I understood.

The next day Heather called me. She didn’t even open with a hello.

“Jackson, what were you doing last night?”

I was tempted to be difficult at this point and go into a lengthy description of my night but decided to make nice.

“I saw you and thought I would say hello. I didn’t realize all the rules until it happened.”

“I thought you understood what we had and what I wanted.”

“I get it now but you could have been explicit on things.”

“You didn’t seem like a guy who needed things made explicit.”

The conversation sort of ambled on into nowhere. She said she eventually would want to return to her former life in Utah. Her time in Los Angeles was just an extended holiday. She made the gesture of asking whether I would consider converting but she already knew the answer. It was merely a courtesy.

I decided to go ahead and end things, as if we needed such a formality. She was a little surprised but didn’t sound disappointed. It was fun but was also weird. That makes no sense, right? It seemed like a very simple arrangement but then again it felt very contrived and I knew it had run its course.

She hit me up once, a year or so after our fling. She let me know she married the mannequin and moved back to Utah. I was not only her last hoorah but was also present for their first date that night at Jones. By some form of reasoning, I might be considered a match maker.

A few days after the Heather ‘break up’ I bumped into the surfer Latino guy on the boardwalk. It was early morning and I had grabbed a cup of coffee and was thinking of paddling out later. He came walking by with a white pitbull mix on a leash. I was just going to keep walking but he nodded to me and spoke.

“Hey man, you still surfing?”

“Every chance I get.”

“Cool.” He smiled and then walked on.

sasquatches, sex and digital video

Regret is an odd thing to consider for a man whose moral compass has no true north. The consideration of what constitutes regrettable likely differs from that of the average Joe. Taking it a step further into weird-ass territory, when you consider something that might be regrettable you’re looking at a future state of remorse over past events. Anticipating an action, or worse a non-action, that could haunt me in some way is a natural thing to do but is odd when you think about it. However, even those with as fast and loose of a style of living such as myself have pensive moments in which possible ramifications must be considered. Stay with me here.

When Heather asked me whether I would be interested in a purely carnal relationship with her that had no strings attached, my knee-jerk reaction was to close the tab and call for a cab. You will remember though, that I said such relationships are essentially the Sasquatches of human interaction. There is anecdotal evidence of such things occurring but nothing that conclusively proves they exist. You hear stories of friends of friends who had this great thing going when they were overseas but no one you actually know and trust can confirm their existence. At best, the stories are akin to the famous Patterson photo of Bigfoot, a blurry portrait of something that seems a little fishy.

Despite my misgivings, the reality is that a beautiful woman has suggested we retire for the evening, throw on some adult contemporary music and find out what we look like naked. There is no plausible argument I can make against such a well thought out plan. Logic in its purest form is stupefying.

So begins the joie de vivre of free love with Heather. While I cannot honestly say I’m not one for kissing and telling, else what the hell would I write about, I can say that I prefer to keep the telling part to a minimum of allusion, metaphor and tongue-in-cheek references. Obviously, there is nothing all that puritanical about me as I am perfectly at ease using the word ‘cock’ in my stories but I have no real desire to describe one for you.

Thus, I will summarize the amorous affairs of Heather and myself in one simple word: insatiable. I assumed when she suggested a purely physical relationship there would be an occasional dinner or drinks and perhaps even a movie from time to time. It turns out, Heather was pretty literal. Our trysts were preplanned events of consummation in which the only variables were choices of music, I was really into Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the time but she preferred the erection softening sounds of Iron and Wine, and lights on or off. Of course, there was a Kama Sutra’s worth of other options once the festivities commenced, but anything outside of the pure mechanics of it all was limited. She was even reticent about opening a bottle of wine or having a cocktail as she didn’t want to risk things ever resembling a date.

So, our contract, I can no longer refer to it in anything other than legal terms, consisted of a phone call to set the date and time, a knock at the door – and it was always her door, never mine, a little small talk and then getting down to the matter at hand. It was polite and perfunctory until the moments of pants on the ground and then it turned into a no-holds-barred cage match of skin on skin.

Remember the scene from the old Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, when the kids first enter the grand room with chocolate rivers and candy flowers and they all go ape-shit until the fat kid gets sucked into a giant tube? There were a few minutes where the kids were tearing through the room and trying out everything. That was Heather. She scored five golden tickets and wanted to cash them in for full face value. She was insatiable to the point that certain parts of my unmentionables were bruised and violet, like Violet Beauregarde from the film, but she did insist we keep Charlie out of the chocolate factory.

Outside of her den of lust, I was allowed to live my life however I pleased and see whoever I wanted. She only asked that I be safe, but that was to be expected. Likewise, she was free to act as she pleased. We were two independent adults with the only ties that bind being the fuzzy handcuffs she kept in her nightstand.

One evening after arriving at her house, I suggested we step out for something to eat as I was starving. There was this groovy little Ethiopian place around the corner and I thought scooping up lamb wat and lentils with our hands might sort of set a different mood. By the look on her face, you would have thought I suggested a quick run down to the border to catch a donkey show before settling in for the evening. She was shocked and so we had a sit down to discuss our unwritten, and really mostly unspoken, rules. We weren’t to do anything together outside of her place. She wanted to keep this part of her life separate from the rest.

After my Ethiopian suggestion was shot down, I explained that perhaps a little variety might spice things up. Despite the fact I was spending a lot of time in the buff with a hot woman, it was becoming routine. She told me she felt my timing was impeccable because she had recently began to feel the same way. She took me by the hand and led me into the bedroom.

She immediately jumped into the casual courtship of undressing me with a bit more zest than normal. So there we were, completely naked, when she paused and walked across her bedroom to the bookshelf. In the dim candlelight of the room I could see her fooling around with something and then I saw a tiny red light come on. She turned back to me wearing only the sensuous smile I first saw her with that day at Whole Foods and turned both of her hands, palms up, towards the device as if she were presenting prizes on The Price is Right.

“I think we should document the time we spend together.”

This moment, combined with the Iron and Wine, made me instantly flaccid. I waited for a laugh or a punchline but nothing came.

“Wait, you want to make a sex tape?”

“Yes, I think we should record ourselves. I think it would turn up the heat a notch.”

“If you want more heat we could just change this song.”

My attempt at humor was also flaccid. Then something occurred to me.

“Whoa! Hold on – how long has that camera been there?”

“It’s always been there.”

I get panic.

She noticed the concern on my face and jumped in to assure me that she had never recorded anything but had been waiting for the right time to pitch it to me. She thought, in light of my need for a little variety, this would be the perfect time.

I am unconvinced., “You realize that sex tapes are never a good idea. They always end up online somewhere and generally surface at the worst possible time.”

“Jackson, I can’t believe you’re so scared! I thought this would be exciting for you.”

“Look, it is exciting but I just don’t want to do something that one of us might one day regret.”

Did I just say that out loud?

“Why don’t we try it tonight and then we can watch it together and if we decide we don’t want to keep it, we will delete it immediately.”

It might have been the sudden shock or the fact that I really needed to eat something, but I didn’t have much in the form of a counterargument. I went along for the ride – and brother was it ever a ride. Heather was apparently a closet method actress and once the camera was going she was Jenna Jameson meets Sasha Grey with a little bit of that fucking mechanical bull thrown in for good measure. I should have stretched and downed some Gatorade before because I was on the point of dehydration and had torn a hamstring by the time we were done. I was lying there, covered in sweat and worrying whether my penis would ever again work correctly when she asked me if I was ready to watch our movie. She asked sweetly, as if we were going to watch a film from our first Christmas morning together instead of the pagan ritual we had just completed that likely stripped me of my ability to produce offspring.

She looked great. She looked like she had just stepped from costume and make-up and was as fresh as a sunrise on the beach. Me? I looked like the guy who wandered into his first yoga class and didn’t notice it was advanced. I was sweating and shaking and occasionally grimacing. Some of the positions caused me to tremble and I am certain it cannot be healthy for my face to look that red. While her beautiful face radiated ecstasy mine looked more like a poster for a prostate exam.

As soon as it ended I told her we should erase it but she ignored my request, rolled over on top of me and said her loins were burning. Mine were too but mostly from friction and overheating. She was not to be denied.

‘My loins are burning.’ – who the fuck says that?

The first thing I did when I woke up the next morning was delete the video. If a sex tape of me does ever leak out, I at least want to look like I was having a good time. She woke up right as I was putting the camera back down.

“What are you doing?”

“I deleted the video.”

“Good, then we’ll have to make another.”

Pause.

“Right. Maybe I should spend a few days on my own working on the choreography?”

“Or maybe you can just come back tonight and we can improv?”

I gave her a kiss, we had our own protocol that allowed for such things, and made a hasty exit. I was still starving so I stopped off for a bagel and coffee on the way back to my place. I sent her a text later that day saying something had come up and I couldn’t make it to her place that night. I called up my pal Eddie and asked him to meet for drinks later.

I met Eddie at The Daily Pint, a dive bar near his office. It had the same piss and beer dive bar smell so many little joints like that had. Ike joined us a little later and the three of us threw back whiskey and beer for most of the night while I brought them up to speed on my recent adventures.

Eddie thought the whole thing was fucking hilarious but didn’t believe me when I told him how hot Heather was.

“Look man, all I am saying is that one of the hottest girls we’ll ever see is a girl we will never see who also happens to be sex starved. I’m just not sure I buy it.”

Ike chimed in with his own take. “I for one believe Sport. He does a lot of seedy things but lying isn’t one of them. If he says he’s banging a sexy Mormon nymphomaniac then I believe him.”

I look over at Ike, slightly surprised. “What kind of seedy things do you think I do?”

Ike smiled, “You hang out with us, for one. That’s enough to damn a man right there.”

The three of us took a drink to that. Eddie shook his head and then smiled over at me.

“You’re her giggolo holmes. You’re like a tabernacle boy-toy.”

This really cracked Eddie up.

Ike couldn’t resist either, “She has you by your latter day taint.”

Now I had two hyenas in tears next to me – one on either side. A few minutes of hysteria were followed with a couple more one-liners. Then the humor of it all began to subside.

“Look sport, might as well see this thing through. I’m sure it will play itself out shortly.”

I considered Ike’s advice and then raised a toast to seeing it through.

It would play itself out faster than any of us had anticipated.