my unemployed friend says this is his last visit to duluth. ever. he came to town for his son's high school graduation, and now he doesn't see a reason to come back. lake superior college doesn't seem to have a concert choir, so he won't be attending those. plus, he gave his son his car.
"you gave him your CAR?" i ask.
"but, but ..." i stammer.
"i walk everywhere," he explains.
"you got a DUI, didn't you?" i ask.
"no!" he says. "i told you! i don't drive anywhere."
"i can't believe you're giving your son a car with whiskey plates," i say.
"you gave your son a car with whiskey plates?" jcrew asks.
"i didn't get a DUI!" he repeats.
when he says something about his carbon footprint, i snort.
jcrew: use this as your new facebook profile photo.
me: and change your 'status' to 'it's complicated.'
jcrew: it will up your resale value.
we meet up at the twins' bar. me, jcrew, unemployed friend and his parents -- a cute couple in their late 60s who agree with me when i say unemployed friend's son is not much of a kickball players.
"he's not much of an athlete," the kid's grandmother concedes. and this is how i know i love her.
chuck shows up. moccassins and dojo. babs. my landlord. seadawg. then bubbles.
we drink beers. my landlord tries to top the high score in ms. pacman and comes dangerously close to doing just that.
"chuck," jcrew says with the sweet lilt usually reserved for coaxing exboyfriends into buying her jewelry, "what would you think of hosting an afterbar?"
crap. i know there is a partial case of lukewarm pbr stashed at home. i'd already mentally called dibs on it. i was going to snuggle into the couch, shotgun about three of them using a vampire technique, and see what sort of nonsense i could throw up on the internet.
chuck seems open to the idea.
"i only have like 10 beers," he says.
my landlord's eyes bug cartoonishly out of his head, as they are wont to do when the word 'beer' is made plural in his presense.
i kick chuck.
"really, it's more like five," i say. "or three. and they're luke warm and all the alcohol has been siphoned out of them."
no one hears my drunken caterwalling. instead they are magically transported to the porch, smoking and swearing and spitting and burping and gossiping about hair while we buy mexican frozen pizzas and tiger woods' flavored gatorade. we climb up the street and see them convened. they look like peasants waiting for cheese rations, used socks and expired bread.
my unemployed friend flops on the couch. my landlord shows up with half a pack of hotdogs and a lunchbag filled with beer. jcrew chases toonses around the apartment like a scorned lover. seadawg is leering. chuck mans the record player:
tears for fears' songs from the big chair.
erasure's chains of love. [boo'd by guests]
the national's the boxer.
people who don't smoke are smoking. things that aren't bathrooms are becoming bathrooms. chuck throws six hot dogs on the grill. my landlord cradles toonses like he is breastfeeding him. jcrew finds my bike helmet and dances alone in the middle of the room. soon bubbles joins her -- without a helmet. my unemployed friend sways on the couch, singing along like a muppet. the hotdogs are done, and there is only one hot dog bun, so everyone wraps their meal in a piece of wheat bread, and douses it with ketchup. crime scene sandwiches.
fleetwood mac's rumors. twice.
eddie murphy's boogie in your butt. [suspiciously not boo'd]
katrina and the waves' walking on sunshine.
by now we're all dancing to "jump" by van halen. then "panama" and "you really got me." i've claimed the final beer, a bud lite my landlord ditched in the freezer, spilling frozen peas all over the kitchen floor in the process. chuck makes the pizzas, sets them on the table, and they immediately disappear. the sun is not just rising, it's risen. my unemployed friend trips over the coffee table, breaking half of it, spilling beer and pizza crumbs.
lionel richie: "stuck on you." "all night long."
men at work "down under."
inxs "what you need."
the cars "best friend's girl."
U2's joshua tree.
chuck sneaks off to bed. i find him and decide that is a great idea, this bed thing. everyone files out into the street. neighbors are getting ready for work. children are heading to the bus stop. these people are maniacs.
my head feels like it was left out on a picnic table during a fourth of july potluck. i'm tired but can't sleep. every two hours i go to the bathroom, take another aspirin, chase it with four chugs of tiger woods' gatorade. chuck groans next to me. when i look at him, he mistakenly thinks i am going to ask him to engage in a conversation. he groans again and simply says: no.
silly boy. my hair still hurts. it takes a level of ambition i can't muster to merely blink.
the living room looks like someone broke a pinata filled with empty beer cans and pizza crust. i pick up my green converse low top, which is dark with wet. i sniff it to make sure toonses didn't try to give me a subtle message about being chased around the apartment by a whack job wearing a helmet at 5 a.m. no. it has just been soaking up my unemployed friends' spilled beer.
there is a crushed beer can in the front yard.
the table is still broken.
someone soiled the toilet bowl, and we have our suspicions about who it was.
"i never said my unemployed friend is a civilized drunk," i say.
"it's kind of like having marmeduke over," chuck says.
jcrew sends me an email: that may have been THE afterbar. second only to the one at landlord's where we all got free salad rolls.
'tis true. that one was just a touch superior.