After Dad leaves I set up my computer and television next to my futon in the living room. Ben takes me to what I will refer to as the crotch room, a small entrance way in the back of the apartment with his cat’s litter box. The room is 5/7 and has been said, by Ben, what will be my knew room. I work with cats like socks work with elbows so immediately after being exposed to this room my sinus fill with an 10w40 snot and I begin to sneeze. Biologically speaking I am a skinny asthmatic with dry skin who is allergic to any other animal with hair. I think I was meant to live on some desolate island where the tanning of my skin would moisturize it and I would be the only mammal habituating the Island.
I, stating there is no way in hell my shit will fit in the crotch room, set up camp in the living room. This of course sends the signal to the cat that my bed is now his bed as well and as I try to nap on the couch I am consistently awoken by the cat attempting to climb my face.
I call my friend(?) Skala who is currently visiting my buddy Coia back in Illinois. Skala was part of my college triumvirate, Ben, Skala and Myself, three college punks who terrorized many a Frat boy, summer-skirted woman and house party. Skala used to live with me an Coia after college, existing in a marijuana/booze induced living coma that to other people is known as “Pizza Delivery”. After getting a DIU on his birthday (which honestly was half my fault for not driving him on his B-day) Skala moved to Houston and fell of the radar. Victor, Coia, Ben and myself have all tried to make contact with him whilst he lived in Houston and no one had a large modicum of success.
Personally I had the best record of contact, since every time the Cubs played in Houston I would text him and get return texts, as long as the topic of my text was about baseball. “Skala you at the cubs game?” would be answered with “Yeah Dude right behind home plate”. “Home Fucking Run!!!” would be answered by “Hell Yeah!!!”. “What are you up to in Houston” would be answered by nothing. It was a stalemate, the only things I could get in touch with him about were banal, but that was still ahead of my other friends who’s only contact with skala was through a friend of a friend of Skala’s ex on facebook.
Rumors began to circulate amongst Victor, Ben, Coia and myself. Was he a Heroin addict, had he had a child, had Skala simply sold out entirely and began managing a Wal-Mart? Skala, in his personally, was always the most vehemently anti-everything to the point of his own downfall. He would bitch about idiots having kids, he would bitch about frat boy’s doing cocaine and he would bitch not ever having to work for the “man”. But he was also the king of banging random skanky girls from bars in a drunken haze, a practice that leads to having children. He was the guy amongst my friends who had actually bought cocaine (I remember this well, he was leaving for Texas after his DUI and he told me he had to have this giant bag of coke for the journey, I said that having cocaine in a car was not the smartest post DUI move one could make to which he said “fuck it, I got to stay awake somehow). He would go on tangents about preppy fucking kids going to work for a bank or needing money from their parents, but when shit hit the fan for him he had no choice but to go live with his parents and work for the man.
These are the reasons I assume he decided to leave us all hanging out to dry. We were still having fun in McHenry, we were living the dream and he was left to be the sweaty kid in Texan heat, surrounded by redknecks and hicks and apart from anyone who could understand his nuanced worldview.
But the night before I left for California I recieved an interesting text from Skala. “Coming into chicago tonight”. I had been at a cubs game and i arrived back home at midnight and had to leave for CA at six in the morning so I stared at the text and thought “Fucking great, this asshole is comming into chicago and I’m leaving for LA tommorrow. Maybe is he would have called I could have changed my departure date, maybe I could have seen him but fuck him, he couldn’t let anyone know he was comming to the day he was going to arrive”.
I try calling him the next in Nebraska and I am not at all shocked that he doesn’t answer. I don’t bother leaving him a message because I am sure that he would not listen to it anyway. If I would have left him a message it would have gone something like “Fuck you asshole, I’m leaving for LA because I’m not a fucking looser who can’t call his friends sooooo, get fucked”. I call Coia for any information he has and when I find out the reason for his Chicago visit I am more than happy that I did not leave him a message.
“His brother died dude”
That is the reason for Skala’s visit, his older brother, who is my sisters age has died from natural causes at the age of 27. Now make your own assumptions but to die at the age of 27 from natural causes means that you either naturally but too much liqour in your body or too much blow into your nose. Whatever the reason you speculate is, it’s a god damn shame when someone dies at the age of 27.
The funeral is on the Thursday I spend in Vegas with Dad and to do my part as a friend I send Skala Steven Wright jokes via text message all day. I get phone calls from our shared friend Keirre, whom I haven’t talked to in years because of our falling out, and she shares the same bizzarro on the spot concern Coia and I share.
Coia, Keirre and Victor, though geographically close enough to attend the funeral do not go to it. Coia does not have a working vehicle, Keirre finds out about the funeral twenty minutes before it is over and Vic just thinks it would be too akward to show up at his brother’s funeral to make first contact in two years.
Coia hosts a party for Skala Friday night, which Vic does not attend, and this brings us to the phone call. “What’s up Dude?” Skala states as I talk to him. “Not much man uh…” he is obviously trying to not broach the subject of his brothers death as I am. I decide to say “I own fucking LA and hang loose and furrr surrre” and whatever fake LA local talk I can think of. “Fuck you man don’t turn into one of those LA carpetbaggers” Skala states and we laugh and talk about how fucking weird the week has been and then discuss how shitty, shitty drunk we are going to get tonight in our new/old surroundings. We make a pact to call eachother at the height of inebriation later on in the evening and that will be the last time, perhaps ever, I talk to Eric Skala.
Ben gives me some directions to his improv show in Hollywood. I walk to the train station about quarter after seven. When I walk up to the walkway a train comes by and two of LA’s Finest walk off. They walk straight to the three black (maybe) teenages sitting on a bench and begin administering them tickets. I have no specific Idea what they gave them tickets for, but there is a sign right at the entrence way that shows nine different things you cannot do. Smoking, spitting and skateboarding are the three I remember and I also remember that all the tickets are $250.
The kids are black, but skaters in tight jeans. LA has the largest amount of white black people I have ever seen. They skate and listen to Blink 182 and seem to have adopted white prevalent counter-culture. It also has people from Compton who are incredibly black and they do neat things like join gangs and drive red Cadillacs.
I talk to a (black) black guy in the seat behind me for the whole ride to seventh street, which unlike the Chicago L, takes about an hour. He talks to me about how he has a kid but he still wants to move to Cleveland because he is sick of the LA scene and I talk to him about how I just got to LA today because i was sick of my hometown scene.
I jump from the blue line to the red line and get off at Hollywood and Vine. On the trainride their I sit and read my book while the ugliest punk chick stands directly in front of me starring at me the entire time. She is wearing a very put together punk otfit with well maintained shabby looking hair. I think she is in to me because I am wearing my Ska dancer hat and a T-shirt that says, ironically, “It Starts With Respect”. She must assume I am the real deal, or the other punk on the car because she moves from the ground to almost right on top of and as stated stares at me the entire fucking time. She smells like death, that armpiting human stench that deoderant took care sometime in the fifties. I hate her on sight because he attire, the meticulously ripped red nylons, flannel skirt with specific punk patches, black and white long sleve shirt underneath the Operation Ivy tight T-shirt all reek of effort. To me if you were going to put that much effort into looking like a punk, couldn’t you allocate 10 minutes to a shower? I mean she was ugly, but when ugly smells bad it’s even uglier.
I get off, as stated, at the iconic hollywood and vine. Very similarlly to Vegas it gives me the same feeling as the Wisconsin Dels; a place built for people who don’t live there. I walk a quarter mile down to the IO theatre and the whole sidewalk is littered with those obligitory “Hollywood Star” monuments to greats such as Chris Farley. Ben’s Show is in the back of the IO at the “Andy Dick” theatre which is pretty obvious because his face is plastered on a giant poster in the entrance way.
I am late and I get there just in time to catch the last two minutes of Ben’s show. The second show is a two man production, which is funny in spots but far from consistently funny. From the five or six Improv show’s I’ve seen I get the uncanny feeling I am watching Mad TV. I am consistently wondering when whatever “funny” situation will be over and I can smell how badly the people doing it are trying to be funny.
We have a drink after the bar and head back to Long Beach and grab two twelvers of PBR for the requisite drinking of the night. I am stupified by the case amounts of beer being sold (twenty packs?, who the fuck sells a twenty pack?). They, unlike Illinois, have never heard of 30packs which is wholey depressing.
We sit at home and begin drinking and instead of doing something innovative for our fun we decide to play my legends of wrestling game on my PS3. At some point we decide to go to the bar “the Red Room” which takes about twenty minutes of walking and to which we arrive to the lovely sound of “LAST CALL” being yelled by the (ironically) skala esq bartender. He is big fat and is wearing a castro hat and cackling like a mad-man when he laughs. We are not allowed to aquire the giant pitcher sized 4$ pabsts but instead setlle on the 3$ red stripes. We inhale them and begin walking home.
We drink several more of our own PBRs and remember to call Skala because we are at the height of our drunkeness. He does not answer so we call Coia because Coia was having the “Your brother died so your home” party. Coia tells us that Skala left with his ex (the hot but crazy Lauren) at about eleven oclock. “That’s nice” Ben states “He leaves all of his friends to go fuck the girl that broke up with him 2 years ago”.
I wake up the next day with the cat all over my shit. Apparently the cat thinks we are dating because he is attempting to spoon me. I am sneezing, wheezing and dripping the viscous snot from my nose. I decide to walk to the pharmacy and get some much needed Benadryl. I buy a non-prescription inhaler with the money Kim and Chad gave me for comming out (Thanks Kim and Chad, you guys are awesome) and I go back to the apartment.
Ben’s sister is there so we talk for a short while I imbibe four Benadryls and then I am startled by a tapping on the window. It’s Kevin, Coia’s old drummer who is one of the 5 people I actually know in this town. He came to see me! Fucking awesome.
He wants to take me to Johnny’s house, his guitar player in one of his three bands. I am fine with the idea being that I am willing to go anywhere outside of the house to escape my allergies.
The whole ride their I just keep thinking to myself “Please no dogs or cats, Please no dogs or cats” and when I arrive at the place I am welcomed by the largest white german shepard I have ever seen. Then a cat runs by.
Johnny is nice as hell. He is an older mexican guy who has a large wife (whos name escapes me) who is nicknamed Ninja. She is an average large female, who through years of taunts and oppression has become a domineering bitch. She is not a bitch to me and she makes me some of the best bourbon chicken I have ever had and pressures me to drink beer. Like I said she is not a bitch to me, but there is scarcely anything worse than growing up as a fat child, it definitly chills your worldview.
Ben shows up with a case of PBR in his hands held above his head whilst singing Peter Gabriel ala “say anything”. We play some darts and drink some beer and about midway through it I become stuck in a Benadryl induced coma. I space out pretty hardcore.
Don’t drink when on benadryl because you will completely forget what you did that night.