Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

One-thirty

Posted by ilbebe on July 16, 2012

In October 2003, things were rolling along pretty well for me. I had realigned with K, who I’d dated briefly earlier in the year, and we were well into that illogical second-honeymoon period where since both of you are happy to be with somebody again, yr both totally oblivious to the reality that the problems that drove you apart the first time around are still there, lying dormant, waiting for the days to get shorter before they rear their ugly heads again. My desk clerk job at the hotel had yet to turn brutal; I was still getting enough hours, and recently I’d had the opportunity to dress up and greet people attending a chamber of commerce mixer at the front door. The story of the acquisition of the costume is good:

There was a costume rental shop, the only one in the county, just a few blocks away. My boss had called ahead and reserved their porter costume. The idea was to have me dress up in a vintage mid-century porter’s uniform to give the hotel an air of class that was completely unrepresentative and out of sync with the actual character of the hotel; it was general manager’s  keen awareness of the actual shabbiness the place that inspired this ridiculous greeter scheme in the first place. Anyhow, the day before the chamber mixer, my boss covered the desk while I walked over to the costume shop to get the uniform.

The shop was in a warehouse, and I stepped inside to find it filled quite literally to the ceiling with costumes. There was about six square feet of open space by the front door, other than that, every conceivable inch of space in the building seemed occupied by some costume or accessory. Ballerina’s gown’s hung from the ceiling in formation. It was fucking surreal.

I called out twice to see if there was anyone there. A minutes passed before a very short woman, like 4 foot 8 or so, emerged from the forest of costumes and said “Woah! You’re tall!”

I agreed, and explained why I was there.

“Oh no, that costume’s not going to fit you.”

“Huh?”

“I mean, that costume would be way too small on you.” (I’m 6’4″)

“Oh…”

“It’s okay though, we’ll find something else for you to wear. Let’s go look at tuxedos.”

The tuxedo section proved devoid of a tux in my size, and I was starting to get a little irritated fighting my way through the shop’s crowded “aisles” following the wood sprite when inspiration struck her.

“Ah! I know just what you need.” She directed me deeper into the morass of costumes, but the trek became worth it when we arrived at a costume I have always described as Indian Prince circa 1935. Stark white with red pinstripes down the pantlegs, it also featured a gold sash at the waist and elaborate red epaulets on the shoulders fringed with gold tassels. It was freakin’ comical. I happily accepted the costume and had one of the finer hours of my life the following evening as guest after guest walked into the hotel and laughed out loud, much to my boss’ chagrin. Later that night I wore the costume to a party at Garrett’s place by the Vets Hall, and returned it to the costume shop reeking of cigarette smoke and Steel Reserve.

Then Arnold Shwarzenegger won the gubernatorial recall election, and I began to completely lose my grip on reality.

Things had been showing signs of cracking. My hours at the hotel had been cut as the tourist season died down, the honeymoon phase of my second go-round with K was nearing an end, and me and my friends had been getting into painkillers more and more. I had bought a hundred somas in TJ the day after Halloween, taken four of them alongside two copa de nadas, and later been “arrested” by two cops driving an animal-control truck in Rosarita. They seemed somewhat unnerved by my willingness to submit to arrest and climb in the metal box in the back of their pick-up, and I’m sure my case was probably in the top-ten most time-consuming shakedowns of the month as they finally got frustrated and “took me away”. This is to say they finally drove off and around the corner, where my friends flagged them down and gave them sixty bucks for my release. I got in a half-serious argument with my friends over repaying the bribe money, saying I wouldn’t have minded spending the night in jail and finding my own way back. The argument continued all night as we lit off roman candles on the beach and blew open a water main to get our money’s worth of municipal Rosarita.

This sort of savage thinking carried on throughout November, as I woke up every day thinking “Pretty soon they’re going to swear in Kindergarten Cop as the governor of California”, taking a bong rip and a soma, and triple-checking what time I had to be at work, since my mind was sorta turning to mush. My friends made plans to record a Christmas album on Thanksgiving, so I showed up at Erin’s place as soon as I got off of work and took four car-bombs in a row to get the creative juices flowing. We hit record and began improvising a take of “All I Want For Christmas” that lasted fifteen minutes. This was followed by a stab at November Rain, and I was passed out within in the hour.

The level of brutality was upped the following week when three different close friends went through bad break-ups, so I decided to join the sadness gang and break-up with K, fully aware I was putting myself in a delicate position since she lived in the same apartment complex as me. Two jobs I thought I had a line on fell through, one with the post office and another with the County planning department, and I started to feel desperate and trapped with the ever-declining hours at my gig with the hotel. The beginning of the end was when the schedule for the last week of the year was posted. My boss walked up next to me while I was examining it with her usual obnoxious smile.

“Hey, I gave you New Year’s off!”

For whatever reason, the boss, who I did not respect whatsoever, had decided I was her favorite. However, why she thought that giving me New Year’s Eve off but scheduling me at 5AM on New Year’s Day would excite me is beyond normal reasoning.

“Yeah… thanks.”

That New Year’s Eve, I lay in bed staring at the ceiling and pondering the mess I had made of my life until a phone call informing me I officially did not get the job with the County finally jarred me upright. I screamed FUCK at the top of my lungs and sat down in the chair next to phone to brood. On cue, a few minutes later K knocked on my door to confront me about how I’d disappeared a few weeks earlier, and all I could tell her was sorry. She told me that was shitty and left unsatisfied. I went over to Kaydee and Ces’ place and started drinking rum around 2 in the afternoon.  They put on The Hours, which I was in too foul a mood to make it more than half an hour into. I passed out around eight in a terrible mood, the only ray of light being that I had successfully gone to be early enough to get a decent night’s sleep and make it to work in the morning.

The howling wind woke me up at 3AM, and I lay in bed listening to holiday revelers carousing outside my window. I tried to fight my way back to sleep despite the noise and my anger, which I should have known was pointless, and by the time I threw in the towel and went downstairs, no one was around. 2004 came in like a cloud of shit, and I found a strange mixture of comfort and disgust as I cruised down the highway in the pre-dawn fog that morning in knowing that our governor was a former movie strongman. I decided I would find strength in the illogical bend my life had taken and overcome the idiotic position I’d fallen into, which is why by the end of the January I’d no-called no-showed to my job and taken to sleeping on the living-room floor.

The tone for the year to come was set.

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