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Thursday, 05 July
Preuinion

IDAHO! The Gem State! My Motherland! The Seat of . . . Trees! And tree-related items! Occasionally wheat!

Not so occasionally, actually. We saw a lot of fucking wheat.

We also saw my old classmates. And, you know, as much as I'd like to slag on the lot of them . . . they were all really pretty nice. Even N., sort of, who didn't display any outward signs of wanting to beat me up like in the old days, but who was described by the wife as "kind of handsy." Good to hear! Anyway, I actually had more fun than I had originally anticipated, if only because I still have hair, and so many of my old classmates do not. This of course says nothing about my classmates, other than that THEY ARE BALD, and volumes about me, namely that I am pathetically shallow.

The wife and I arrived on Friday evening, and spent a pleasant evening with my folks. This was going to be our only moments of peace, as chaos predictably unfolded in the days to come with increasing intensity. Little did I know as we ate dinner that night--a nice light chicken piccata--that in mere hours, I would find myself flossing with the intestines of one of our co-salutatorians, screaming, "I WAS CHEATED, JEZEBEL!"

Saturday night we got a fateful call from W., an unstoppable redhead locomotive of a woman who was a good friend of mine in high school. I remember we hit it off in fourth grade when she wheeled on me--the new kid--and demanded, "Who are you?" W. is essentially a volatile admixture of re-bar, bear pheromones, Super Dave Osborne, blackbody radiation, Tabasco sauce and Sarah Connor.

W. declared that we were going out that night, and by God (and frankly, if God disagreed, he could go fuck himself as far as W. cared), we were going. We decided (it was decided for us) that we would go to the eponymously named establishment, The Establishment. I hoped we could also have some exotic drinks called The Drinks and stand on such thrilling surfaces such as The Floor and perhaps take a piss in The Toilet.

Ordering drinks was actually the first challenge, at least for the wife. Knowing what sort of place the Establishment was--a nightmarishly loud dive--I knew not to deviate from my plan: beers and shots. Unfortunately, the wife did not quite grasp the concept of the place, which is: concepts are fundamentally unwelcome.

"Can I get a red wine?" she shouted over the din of what turned out to be howling country karaoke singers. The attractive little behatted blonde bartender looked at her as if she had ordered lizard gland secretions. "Let's see!" she chirped, and rummaged in the little cooler under the bar. She produced a box of wine that looked like it might have been manufactured for the Russian Spetsnaz sometime during the Reagan administration. "Here we go!"

It was, of course, undrinkable fluid of questionable provenance: we suspected it was simply brake fluid. "It tastes like my cough drops," was the wife's judgment. She tried another tack after failing to choke down the awful brine: she went for whiskey. "Do you have Bushmill's?" she asked the bartendrette, who stared blankly, and then craned her neck at her collection of bottles.

"No. What is that?"

"It's okay," said the wife patiently. "How about Maker's?"

Again the bartender gal made a good show of staring at all the bottles.

"No."

"We don't Maker's that!" exclaimed a fungus-like barfly who was growing into his barstool next to us, and then barked an approximation of laughter that sounded like Silverback apes trying to claw their way out of a gravel pile. He didn't look at us as he said this, but instead stared into his Budweiser bottle intently.

Unnerved, the wife finally ordered a whiskey and soda. She was served a Canadian Royal and Diet Coke. For my part, I took the low road and ordered a Bud and a Jack back.

"A Bud and a shot?" asked the bartendrette, clearly relieved. "You got it!" The wife cut me a glance that said something like, "I'm imagining you being carried off by wraiths now."

We settled into a rhythym, the group of us, and were presently joined by D. and her indefatigable frost-topped mom, who looked like she'd beat anyone to death with a Mike's Hard Lemonade bottle for looking at us wrong; M., the jovial husband of W., whose penchant for buying rounds endeared me to him instantly; by many others, simple denizens of the bar who remembered me, who knew my father, who were complete strangers, who were occasionally "handsy" with the wife, who were simply wondering what the fuck was up with the guy who wore the "fuck you" t-shirt (actually a shirt with drawings of two hands, one giving the middle finger, the other pointing at the viewer) who dared to karaoke John Lennon's "Imagine." He also wore a prominent earring.

"He's a dead man," said, W. as the thirtieth round of drinks appeared unbidden at the table. But nobody seemed to care. At one point, the wife captured a lovely picture of my old friend D.'s mouth and shirt and nothing else. She tried to identify him the next day.

"He had on a checkered shirt and a cowboy hat," she explained to my parents the next day. I had no idea who she was talking about at the time; the evening was a pleasant blur.

"You just described every other guy in Grangeville," said my mother gently. "He has good teeth," I offered, looking at the photo. Happily, everyone ignored this valuable insight. I need to stop saying words, I thought.

I had been home for thirty-six hours. We hadn't even gotten to the reunion part of things, not really. Not officially.

But we were getting close.


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Comments


I distinctly remember a Floridian friend of mine explaining to me how he judged the level of elegance of the different villages around Jacksonville. ‘Basically’ he said ‘You make a quick assessment of the tooth-to-tattoo ratio of the locals.’

Idaho sound like it could be worse.


Comment number: 014418   Posted by: Lung the Younger on July 6, 2007 12:19 AM from IP: 213.97.42.225

"I need to stop saying words."

Utterly brilliant advice. Sadly, it's impossible to follow with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. God knows I've tried, though.

Comment number: 014420   Posted by: Mickey on July 6, 2007 08:30 AM from IP: 74.249.237.243

Ahem, native Floridian checking in. Say, Young, what in the world could your friend possibly have been thinking? Furriners should only go to one of the five cities in Fl; and remain there. It's like Deliverance around the Fl/Ga line.

Comment number: 014427   Posted by: Alyxmyself on July 6, 2007 08:53 PM from IP: 68.201.0.251

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