Of all the criticism and insults that have been hurled at me in this life none has frequented the lips of my friends and family more than “You Only Give A Shit About Yourself”. Be it my mother, my sister, my girlfriend or my portly friend Joe Coia, the idea that I am a self absorbed asshole apparently is at the forefront of their minds.
Its is a weird thing to use as an insult, being that if it was true I would be inherently numb to the accusation anyway, but it’s recurrence has made it a staple of my inner circle. I do care about things/people other than myself, the real question is whether or not they are on the same level with my own self-efficacy.
In the days leading up to the move out here I was in a mad dash to move everything out of me and my girlfriends house. Half my shit was going into a storage locker, the other half to my folks house and then California. All of my girlfriends things were going to her mothers were she is no living with her twin sister who I have a no more than genial relationship with. I like her to the point any one would like a de-facto sister in law who in genetic terms is a xerox of my girlfriend, I like her enough not to say the horrible and mean things I would say if I did not date her sister.
That however does not mean that I won’t say mean and horrible things behind her back. So as me and Joe Coia were moving my girlfriends things to her mother/sister’s house I began complaining about the defining quality said girlfriends sister possesses. “She just makes every fucking thing about her” I state to Joe “It’s like I got this job and I have to move Valerie’s stuff out of the house and Victoria is sitting and bitching about how hard it is on her. She is bitching to Valerie about how hard it is on her! Hell the other night we were watching this 9/11 video and she starts fucking crying. Did you know anyone who died . . . no? Then why turn it into a spectacle about how upset it makes you?”
Joe is a very carbon neutral person to everyone except his closest friends so his criticisms for me are not thinly veiled “You do that all the time man” he states to me.
“Do what?” I ask.
“Turn everything into ‘about you'” he replies.
“Give me an example”
“Well like this right now, this moving thing your turning it into all about you”
“Well dumbass I am the one moving, doing all of the moving so I see no reason it can’t be about me?”
Joe looks at me knowingly and concedes the point that the thing I am doing for myself can be about me and in the failure to remember another example of this personality point he settles on saying “… but you do do it all the time”.
A day later my 6 year old cousin gives me a going away present. It is a multi colored key chain that states the phrase “ITS ALL ABOUT ME!!” I brandish it to Joe who can only laugh at the uncanny timing of the gift and say “there you go dude, Proof.”
The gift and conversation prove prophetic in this new state. Never, since the orgies held by Nero in the last gasps of first Roman empire has humanity ever created an area as intently fixated on the idea of me. It’s three weeks in and even in my self absorbed day to day stupor I see things make me cringe. People cut, CUT in front of you at the dodger game, at the 7/11 at the library all with the same devil may care smirk. I may be hashing out a mythologized inner narrative, but that doesn’t really make people wait longer for things.
At Dodger Stadium I picked the wrong line. Their were approximately 8 different lines to get a shitty (i mean shitty) Dodger dog and 14 dollar beers. The beer cost more money than my ticket and the Dodger dog’s claim to fame is that the hot dog itself is too big for the bun. That is not an achievement of novelty, that is just fucked up. I’m no homophobic, but the having to chew off the ends of a limp, pink, rope like piece of meat hanging from my palms makes me feel a little queer.
Of the 8 different lines I choose the one manned by an old man instead of one manned by a Mexican lady. This is a critical mistake. Mexican Ladies move a shit load faster than old white men and I pay dearly. I miss two and a half innings in this line, which I had gone to expecting only to get food. Ten minutes into my wait I am positive that I will buying 14 dollar beers. Now the old man is completely inept and he is constantly walking back and forth double checking orders and looking confused as to where the four different things on the menu are. I am turning into Larry David and yelling and bemoaning his every action, which the young couple in front of me find hilarious. “HOT DOGS ARE BEHIND YOU DIPSHIT! JESUS CHRIST WE’VE BEEN IN LINE FOR TWENTY MINUTES AND YOU CANT DECIDE BETWEEN NACHOS OR A PRETZEL” These outbursts hit a fever pitch when some dumb broad sashays to the single guy in line and asks “Do you mind?”
“I MIND YOU SLUT” I yell at her, which she clearly hears and decides that flipping me off will make things right.
At 7/11 yesterday after about 10 minutes in cue I am delighted to see that the English speaking Black male will be taking my buy 1 get one free camel light coupon and not the Korean lady. But my delight is soon dashed as some redneck shoves his arm across my face and hands his credit card to the cashier. ”
“It’s not working” he bemoans as he pushes the card into the Black Cashiers face.
“Hey asshole” I state “There is a line”
“I been getting gas ya little shit I aint waiting in line”
The cashier then jumps in and says “don’t worry about it man she can help you”
She cannot. I ask for two packs of Camel Lights and she returns with one pack. I hand her the coupon and she looks at it with bewilderment and a strange smile as if she thinks the card reads “This is your pass Yang to a beautiful new life back home and this young man will take you there”
She rings me up for a total of $118.70, an amount that find to be a little pricey. She tries to scan the coupon, but not on any bar-code but rather on the back of the camels hump.
“It no work” she states and I am left to mutter my usual “Jesus fucking christ” and wait for the black guy to help me, who is busy explaining to the redkneck that 18 dollars in an account is not enough money to buy twenty dollars worth of gas. I consider killing the redneck on the spot.
Lines don’t matter in California, people will avoid them at all cost. People cut, people drive like assholes and people park like dicks. Every scatological slight can be hurled at these people because to call someone who cuts in line, parks near a gas station pump when they are not getting gas or most egregiously parks across two spaces on the street only to move the car when their wife gets home so they both can park close, these people can only be described as genitalia or part of the endocrine system.
The are fart dick vagina assholes.
The last two weeks have been eventful. The highlight of my time here has been my trip to Santa Barbara in search of a place called “Red-Rock”. The trip up the 101 is pretty scenic once you get out of LA. It is culled with the same elevation changes that destroys breaks on suburbans, and yes dad when going down 7% grades I kept my car in 3rd.
Most of the 101 hugs the ocean from a clif high above it. When you look to your right you see mountains, left only an endless ocean. Surrounded by this sort of scenery does not make me regret the move. Ben and I are the only ones on this voyage and we use the time to listen to Bill Hicks Flying Saucer tour. Ben says something during this that resonates with me “I don’t ever have to do stand up because Bill Hicks did already”.
We stop at a Del Taco (California allows you the opportunity to see new things like Del Tacos instead of Taco Bells and Carl’s JRs instead of Burger King) and try to guess what the lady will look like. I guess she will be a small mexican, Ben guesses that she will be a large one, and we are both incorrect when it is a middle agedd white snaggle toothed monster. She is nice though and asks us what kind of hot sauce we want, to which Ben fire sauce and plenty of it. I just want one mild sauce to and Ben interrupts me to say “No, don’t listen to him, just the fire sauce”. The little Mexican girl who now has our food say’s “well I know who wears the pants in this relationship” to which I reply “Yeah it sucks being a power bottom”.
This is the funniest thing that girl has ever heard. She almost drops our food as she begins laughing and by the time she hands it to us she is tearing up. We drive away and we can still hear her laughing and to this moment I am convinced that somewhere off the 101 there is a little Mexican girl chuckling and softly saying “Power Bottom . . . Priceless”
We are heading to a place called Red Rock a fresh water swimmable oasis in the harsh sun of the mountains of southern California. This place is not to be confused with the concert holding “Red Rocks” of Neil Young fame. Ben’s first attempt to visit “Red Rock” landed him in the desert after his traveling companion said “Red Rock, yeah I know where that is”. I cannot speak for Ben, but the idea of swimming in fresh water being replaced by hiking a desert around an empty concert venue would, to me, be unsatisfying.
We don’t know where Red Rock, only that it is around Santa Barbara, is so once we get into Santa Barbara proper we decide to pull of at the tourist info place. In all of my highway travels the tourist info center in Santa Barbara is the first place I have ever seen charge for parking. Needless to say I circle the block whilst Ben goes in for his requisite tourist information.
We find out that Red Rock is still about an hour away through the mountains and that there will be one last place to get Beer before we head for our day of swimming. Once we get away from the coast it gets hot, real hot. The windows and sun roof are both open but the air blowing still makes you sweat. When we see the small mom and pop store and pull over we both begin sweating. Ben buys two 24oz cans of PBR and I buy a $9 six pack of Coors original that Ben says makes me a girl. We do not have enough room for all the Beer we just bought and the two we brought with us so Ben decides the best thing to do is to start drinking the two he brought from home. Normally I never do anything as blatantly stupid as letting the passenger drink beer while driving, but my intuition is numbed by the thin air and the sheer beauty of the mountains around us. Plus were esle were we going to put it?
We find “Paradise Lane” which will take us into the national park. Once there we see a ranger station and find out that red rock is the last stop on the one lane road five miles ahead. Just before the begining of the trail we get to a small collection kiosk where the old lady working it tells us it will be 5 dollars. Neither of us have any cash so we pull over an manage to get 5 bucks in nickles and dimes from the spare change in my car.
We find a place to park and begin walking up to the mountain when we are accosted by a middle aged lady and her young son who ask if we have any water in our coolers. We do not but Ben has his large Tropicana drinking jug that he “has not ever washed” in the six months he has been filling it with water nightly and sticking in the fridge for the next day. Suddenly two more of the woman’s children appear and they all begin to take copious gulps out of Ben’s water. Its all about you huh guys.
Red rock is insane. It is a large (i want to say sedimentary because that is a type of rock, but I really have no clue) rock that hangs in the middle of a small watering hole. The water is 20 feet down at its deepest point and Red Rock hangs about 100 feet above it. The beach is made of a fine pebbling of rocks that ache your bare feet. In the middle of Red Rock their is a climbable and thusly jumpable ledge near its first third where two mexicans are perched as we arrive. We both crack open our beers and watch as the mexicans decide whether or not to kill themselves.
We shoot the shit for a while and drink in a fast way. I have drank half my beers before even swimming and Ben is midway through his second tall boy when we get in. The lake is populated by large mexican families and small contigents of college kids from UC Santa Barbara. I trade a beer and a ciggerete for some chicken from the mexican family next to us and then we begin to swim.
It is amazingly cool in the water considering the 100 heat outside it. We climb smaller rocks and annoy the local college students. All in all it was the most fun I have had out here . . . and there is more to say I’m sure but I’ve been writing for an hour and I want to go home.