To celebrate Storytelling Month, I’m going to tell you at least one story per week in February. These are all true stories. Okay and I forgot last week’s story but I gave you two stories the week before so it all evens out.
And I was going to find you a picture for this story, but when I really started thinking about it I realised you really don’t want pictures for this story so I found a royalty-free image that kind of has something to do with part of the story and by the time we get to the end of the story, you’ll understand why I chose that and you will thank me.
You. Will. Thank. Me.
When Drang and I lived together in the little boxcar house (which has since burned down, no fault of ours) with no doorknobs, a busted pool table in the basement and a full-wall mural of Homer Simpson smoking the world’s biggest doob, we were never very far from one a’ them…whattayacallems…thinly veiled excuses for having some shindiggery. Drang worked X weeks away at the mine and X weeks back home, and that led to rather a lot of intense ballyhoo action when he was home, and several weeks of recuperation when he was Away. And since most of our friends were mutual friends it was never very difficult to get a Troupe together for a hootenanny.
Cue birthday celebrations.
#HisNibs shares a birthday (or thereabouts at least) with Our Fair Canada, and with my grandmother, who is now dead but at the time this story took place she was
very much alive. For the record, my mother (who was a heavy drinker) was also very much alive. Neither of these latter two facts really plays a large role in this story; one plays more of a role than the other, but we might not get to it so I really just put that out there because this is how I tell stories. Everyone strapped in? Hands and feet inside the car at all times. Ready? Okay, here we go.
Wait. You’re going to want to take that…whatever that is…out of your mouth because I will not have anyone choking. Snorting beer, coffee, milk, or carbohydrates through one’s nose is acceptable; choking is not.
First, you need to understand the boxcar house. Which I think you do if you’ve been reading along. It was a slum house we rented from slumlords who were famous for offering to trade rent for sexual favours, and who didn’t think there was anything *wrong* with renting out a house that had no doorknobs. The walls were made of buffalo board, which is one step down from gyprock and two steps to the left of cardboard. It was a two-bedroom house that was smaller than my garage. AND WE LOVED IT. Because we were 20-something punk/goth gamers whose primary goal in life was to save enough empties to buy a carton of cigarettes. These are not lofty goals, my friend. However, if you set your goals low enough, you can prove success quite effectively.
We declared the weekend of #HisNibs’ birthday to be International White Trash Week. Because…um…well, because…uh…kay here’s the thing. You have to look at GOALS first. OUTCOMES. What is the END RESULT you’re looking for? We wanted to spend some time drunk on a beach, but we didn’t have a beach handy (we did, but we’d roont ourselves on it the previous month celebrating the Best Day of the Year). We did, however, have a bunch of shitty lawnchairs we’d picked up at the beach the month prior.
Now let’s just talk for a minute about the Platonic ideal of “lawn chair”. No, no. Let’s back up from there even. Let’s talk about the Platonic ideal of “chair”. If we sort of…deconstruct the concept of a “chair”, we’re left with “something upon which one may sit”. This could, then, arguably, be an actual chair, a log, a chesterfield, a bunk bed, a rock, a tuffet, or any number of things. Drang and I had “sourced” some “lawn chairs” (by which I mean ‘relatively portable items upon which one might plant their bottom out in the yard’) from the “rubbish bin” at the “beach”.
So. Here we have two to four shitty, busted “lawn chairs”, the dregs of several bottles of liquor, a basement full of empties, half a carton of cigarettes, and a fridge devoid of everything but a quart of milk, half a pound of butter, and two half-eaten Big Crunch chicken sandwich burgers from KFC. Oh, and some mustard and BBQ sauce.
Now, we posited that combining those items and a Saturnalia in honour of #HisNibs impending natals would be a Good Thing, and the theme that presented itself, quite organically, I might add, was “International White Trash Week”. Because, you see, we planned to spend that entire week, a week which Drang had free from work, which I had free from work, and which #HisNibs had free from work, slurring our words face-down in a gutter. Lofty goals, gentle reader. Lofty goals.
So we invited our peeps and informed them there would be a strict dress code. Nothing that wasn’t torn, cut off far too short for modesty, or clean would be permitted. Tooth black, while not required, was highly recommended. Bathing beforehand was strictly optional, and there was to be a bonfire so anyone with aerosol hairspray, jerry cans of gasoline, or incriminating evidence was invited to bring it on over. Those few of our friends who had successfully bred at that point were told their children could attend, provided they were solidly attached to a hunk of twine, the other end of which we would wrap around the neighbour’s fence for safety.
Drang and I realised our laundry (A-frame tee shirts quite politically incorrectly nicknamed “wife beaters” and army surplus dungarees) was Far Too Clean, so we spent the afternoon squirting one another with mustard and bbq sauce and spilling coffee down our fronts followed immediately by rolling about in the dirt in the back alley. I shit you not, dear reader, this is a TRUE STORY. Eventually the sun fell low in the sky and Drang built our bonfire high enough that I thought it would warp our neighbour’s siding. We tossed in the “Vote Conservative!” sign our landlord had lovingly staked in our yard, after we stabbed it with knives as a political statement. Drang may have also urinated on it. [Note: my political leanings have not changed.]
Friends showed up in various attires of the redneck trailer trash cracker variety. I have never in my life (and never will again, I surmise) seen TUO in ‘hotpants’ (cutoff jeans) that short. Our friend D showed up – a fellow a few years older than us, who we all just kind of …assumed… had been a biker. Or still was. Or knew some. Or, you know, was hiding from some. We…didn’t ask a lot of questions.
He tied in to the whiskey pretty hard, halfway through the bottle announcing he’d been on the wagon for a number of years, but this…THIS he had to celebrate. By that point, nobody much cared, and in fact that was the moment that Drang ran up to me to announce he had just vomited! Over there! In the yard! By the end of the night, the cat had escaped and been caught (by #HisNibs), Drang had vomited! In the yard! Over there!, TUO had burnt her knees at the fireside, Suzi had scared the ever-loving Christ out of me by pretending to be my mother, and D was looking a little green around the gills.
Here’s the thing about fêtes. If you CHOOSE to go to bed/to sleep, it doesn’t count as having imbibed so much that you passed out. I *chose* to retire to my own bed at an entirely unreasonable hour, with an entirely excellent choice in partners. In fact, I had stayed up, sobering up, most of the evening, waiting for Drang’s Conflagration to die down enough so that I could put it out with the neighbour’s garden hose. So I missed the Excitement happening in my salle du bain.
The next morning (I’m an early riser much of the time and especially after I’ve been in my cups), I found D snoring loudly on the couch, and although I did my best to creep past him on my way out with #HisNibs to fetch some delectable morning-after fare, D woke with a grunt reminiscent of bears rumbling out of hibernation. “Where you off to?” He mumbled.
“Breakfast. Want to join us?”
He cocked an eyebrow, then rolled himself off the couch and rose unsteadily to his feet. “I could use some coffee.”
What he did not know, what he *could not* know, is that my favourite thing to do after a night of imbibery is to eat greasy fast food. So we drove to the greasiest, fastest-foodiest, arch-related restaurant in the vicinity, where I ordered two greasy mcwiches, several far greasier hash brown patties, and a large cup of coffee drowned in cream and loaded with sugar. I ordered for everyone, as D was still a little unsteady and had opted to have a sit-down in the sit-downery (see: Platonic ideal of “chair”) to wait.
I returneth, bearing a tray of sweet, greasy ambrosia.
D’s face turned several shades of…actually I don’t even know what I’d call that colour. Orc? Sun-dried dog poo? Anyway, the man did not look well. He gulped a few times and said “what the hell is that for?”
I said “Breakfast!” and began to chow down. Now, truth be told, I ate far too fast for the state my stomach was in. But watching that man change colour was far more interesting than any minor protestations coming from my pyloric valve. I didn’t know human beings *turned* those colours. What I did not know was that D had spent much of the previous evening in the loo, retching horrifically…actually, I don’t believe “retching” is an appropriate descriptive verb here. According to #HisNibs, who is a consummate raconteur, the noises coming from the WC were somewhere between “a jet engine revving up” and “an entire pride of lions roaring into a very deep cave”, which lasted “for longer than [he] thought humans could survive without breathing” for the better part of an hour.
“Holy shit,” D said, watching me eat, wiping his brow as he watched. I noticed he was shaking a little. “You’re a bigger man that I am.”