My mind has been slamming into itself all day, unable to retain a coherent thought pattern for more than ten minutes at a time. Very unproductive. Which is probably why I had all kinds of miserable ideas that I should be writing about AIG and the incredible mess we’re all struggling to sand-bag our way out of, not unlike the water-logged folk from around the Red River in North Dakota.
But it’s been too much on that, I fear — my loathings and suspicions can’t stay on that track too long or I’ll just end up killing something. Politics is one thing — even though I’ve lost one too many friendships over the mindless gibberish that comes out of Washington, I can at least enjoy watching the beatings the greedheads give each other at the end of the day on the Daily Show. But financial politics? Savage rantings and twisted numbers? Jackasses who fuck watermelons and then preach Jesus left running the show, paying themselves to keep driving more and more decent people straight off the cliff?
No way man. We have people for that — let Dylan deal with it. That shit has never worked for me and I have other toxins I prefer.
Jeff and Toni walked in while I was wrapping strips of bacon around chicken breasts. That’s an evil little secret my grandfather taught me when we barbequed in Brazil so that chicken breast feels soft and juicy instead of rigid and flaky. Jeff and Toni had brought a totally unnecessary bottle of champagne, which we promptly put on ice before opening the Charles Shaw, and I doused the chicken and the bacon in a thin Sam Adams lager. Then I opened another one and threw that one too because, well, every chicken deserves another beer.
That’s just how I feel.
It was 7pm on Saturday night of March 28th…90 minutes before Earth Hour, a phenomenon that I think was created almost entirely in order to produce a cool video of all kinds of major structures on the planet shutting down into almost total blackness. See, right around the time that we would be done with dinner, people from all over the country and the world were going to be turning off as many devices as possible for an hour. They would do this in the solidarity that comes with being a part of the effort to escape from the hell we’re sending outselves to. Symbolic, of course, but I’m not opposed to the idea of taking a walk in the middle of the dark night — real dark — a blackness shrouded in mist as Brooklyn was that Sunday. I knew that in ‘08 things like the Bay Bridge in San Francisco went totally dark, and many buildings in Manhattan went black as well along with stadiums in Munich and Beijing and opera houses in Sydney. I openly admit that I was anxiously looking forward to the moment when all of the old-style lamps in the park would get put out and outside my bedroom window there would be only trees and an unseeable empty vastness.
“We should play scrabble by candle-light,” Toni suggested, snapping me out of my bacon-wrapping reverie.
“I tried that at Fat Cat in the West Village a few weeks ago,” I told her, staying focused on my bacon. “It’s a terrible idea. I had to squint for 2 hours and after I got out of that dark hole and into the Manhattan night I tripped over a hooker and fell on top of three wall street analysts before my eyes adjusted.”
“Yeah, maybe we’ll just go for a walk in the park,” Jeff said.
“Yeah,” I said, and started chopping carrots.
“When’s this Save the Earth Hour thing happening?” Bryce asked while I was peeling garlic.
“8:30,” I said, still looking down at the sink to avoid clogging it with that annoying garlic skin.
“Umm,” I heard Laura say at the other end of the crowded kitchen.
“After we eat we’ll just head down to the park and enjoy the darkness for a bit,” I continued.
“Umm,” Laura said again. “Do you mean 8:30 as in two minutes from now? It’s 8:28.”
“Is that clock right?” Jeff asked, looking up at the Charlie Chaplin clock we have in the kitchen.
“Umm,” I said.
“Shit, I forgot to tell you that we forgot to set that clock forward a few weeks ago,” Bryce said. We all looked at each other.
“Shit, man,” I said to Jeff. “Looks like we’re cooking in the dark.”
“I’ll get the candles,” Laura said, jumping up from the nook table and Bryce went with her.
“Is that a good idea?” Toni said to us. I shrugged and sipped my wine.
“Worse things could happen,” said Jeff.
After dinner we sat around the table with three other friends who’d arrived in the dark hour when we’d all decided to save the Earth. Jess, the world’s smallest doctor and Mark, the world’s gayest nurse entertained each other by discussing women’s rugby. Joe, the attending at the hospital and the boss of the two novelty health care specialists across the table from me was dancing emphatically to some song by pink while singing Beyoncé lyrics. Jeff nudged me under the table.
“Are you sure these people are doctors, man?” He asked me.
“Trust me,” I explained, “I know Joe seems a little off right now, but that’s just the five Tanquerays he’s had. He usually dances to the same song he’s singing.”
“But the singing and dancing is normal?”
“Well,” I said, looking for the right words. “…normal…”
“Normal,” Toni interjected, slapping the table to the beat of his dancing and never really looking over at us, “is just what everyone else is, and you’re not.” I looked at Jeff, surprised to hear her say it.
“She’s drunk too,” he admitted.
I was hit with the strange realization that I was in a room with three doctors and we may as well have been college students. I remembered when I first met Trevor’s teacher friends when they were still a crew in the Haight. Young girls and pretty as hell, they’d all just moved out to the city, making a place for themselves as adults in that fog-ridden place. Talk about feeling like you’re not a kid anymore. You can’t be a kid if you go drinking with elementary school teachers.
…on school nights.
You can be a kid and run in to your 2nd grade teacher at the grocery store. That’s weird as hell but it happens. You can have a beer with your college professors and still not quite grasp that adult feeling. But you can’t be throwing back Tecates – in a can – with elementary school teachers and not feel like a part of you has died.
It was a weird night. It had started as a happy hour with Laura’s work friends and though a happy hour in manhattan is as expensive as anywhere on new years in San Francisco, we’d had our fun’s worth. People talked about patients and asked me what I do for a living.
But I never know the best way to answer that questions. You finish it. I’ve gotten used to telling people I’m a drug dealer but that’s getting tiring too. It’s so weird meeting people with real jobs that I get a little anxious when I think about the odd arrangement I seem to have with the world concerning how I make my dollars. Which begs the discussion about what it means to have a real job in the first place but I’m not in much of a mood for that kind of talk now. Maybe one day I’ll write a book about it.
Later that night I was cleaning the kitchen with Bryce and Laura. We’d left the lights off, the candles still burning in the dark. Cleaning things always makes me pensive and puts me in a philosophical mood. My mind drifts, and in that soft darkness, it was really going places.
“When do we get to feel like we’re grownups?” I asked them without looking up.
“Grownups?” Bryce smiled at me. “I don’t think grownups use the term ‘grownups’.” Laura stopped wiping the counter and seemed deep in thought at that.
“Yeah,” I said, “I guess they don’t.”