My Secret 19

When I was 19 nothing could divide me except 1 and myself; I was a prime number: invincible, impractical, and energetic.

I “attended” DeAnza college in Cupertino, CA where I majored in skipping out on class to drive a few hours to Woodland to skate with my friend Troy, drinking coffee with girls who put scars on their faces from drunk driving, and eating poppy seed muffins full of chemicals that would make me fail a drug test.

Some nights, I drove myself to a chain-link fence. I used my tattered coat to cover the bared wire; behind the fence was a prime loading dock called “Memorex“. It featured a smooth asphalt embankment with a curb on top. I would grind the curb and catch air quarter pipe style on the bank. The huge bright, lamp above the bank made Memorex and excellent night spot.

Nietzsche, 1864
Image via Wikipedia

Most of the time, the security guard on duty chased me away; unless the security guard was Johnny. Johnny didn’t care. And I always knew Johnny was on duty when I saw the orange glow of his cigarette at the end of the loading dock. He wasn’t supposed to smoke and I wasn’t supposed to skate. When I got tired of skating, we’d talk about our lives and occasionally about philosophy. Johnny was surprising well read, but miserable. He had a wife and a child to support. He felt locked into his job, but found a ways to bear it, like sneaking a smoke and letting some crazy 19 year old catch air on the bank.

One time, instead of skating Memorex, I made the three hour drive to Troy’s house in Woodland, CA. I didn’t care that my brake lights were broken and that I didn’t even bother to call Troy to let him know I was stopping by. We skated an empty pool in a slum apartment complex for a few hours, then I headed home. As soft magenta hues dwindled from the vibrant evening sky, my eyes drooped. A loud blasting horn and shriek of skidding tires jolted me awake. The person behind me narrowly missed my car. Luckily, both of us were OK and there was no damage to either car. I popped on my headlights and used my parking lights as substitute brake lights until I got safely home.

The next time I went to Memorex, Johnny wasn’t on duty, he wasn’t on duty the time after that, or time after that.  It was annoying because the other guards were total a-holes. One of them even brought a German Shepard with him. I told my friend, Mike, how f-up it was that Johnny wasn’t on duty.

Mike lit up and said, “You don’t know!?” Then he told me that Johnny  was smack addict and that he ODed. Johnny didn’t seem like the junkie type and Mike was the BS type.

It was difficult to picture Johnny sticking needles in his veins. But when I think back, Johnny did seem depressed the last few times I saw him and he did mention how it would be nice to just “fall asleep and never wake up.”

I’ve never fully trusted Mike; he was after all a drunk and liar. To this day, I hope he was lying about Johnny’s OD. Even though I never did see Johnny again, I still hope that it was because Johnny got promoted or found another job. But laced inside my hopes and in this memory is a deep residing sadness.

Yet a part of me, still imagines Johnny is out there somewhere in the crisp evening air letting some punk kid skate a well lit bank, smoking his cigarette and quoting Nietzsche: “The true man wants two things: danger and play.” I hope danger didn’t overtake Johnny–that somewhere he’s still out there, playing the way he did when he was 19.


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Parasites in the Washroom?

5&1/2 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Everyone knows, or should know, that I’m NOT a reptilian humanoid. Here are five and half things about you me you probably didn’t know. By the time you finish reading this post, you may wish you still didn’t know them, especially the one about the parasites.

San Jose State University Tower Hall
Image by roarofthefour via Flickr
  1. I am an Oregon State Licensed Tattoo Artist.
  2. I have a gift (or curse) for annoying people I love. Sort of like this song.
    What makes me think it’s a gift is catchy quality of my irritation.
  3. I have designed and illustrated a few books for a small, literary press.  I also write bad poetry and fiction on occasion. I’m working on my first YA novel. I don’t have a title yet, but it will be better than my first novel title, “Satanic Holiday”. God, I can’t believe I thought that was an edgy title. It’s terrible.
  4. I have an ALA accredited Masters of Library Science Degree from SJSU. I even served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Tacoma Community College and Spokane Falls Community College. Most of my Spokane students absolutely hated me. They tore into me for my faculty review. OMG, it was brutal, I couldn’t stop laughing when I read it.  But the department head didn’t care. She had me come back to teach.
  5. I absolutely hate seafood, which is why I married someone who enjoys it.
    5 & 1/2. I had a weird hobby: I used to collect and repeatedly listen to MLM pitch tapes as a form of entertainment. Most of my collection focused on holistic health, but a I had a few stock forex ones too. The holistic ones were much more interesting. Quack cures abounded in Dead Doctors Don’t Lie (Doc Wallock is top-rate salesman and speaker.) But my favorite MLM tape was about parasites. It was called something like “Are You Clear of Parasites?” It featured audio testimonials of people talking about their eliminations.The line I remember is, “I called my wife over to the washroom and said, ‘Oh, honey, you gotta see this; you just won’t believe it!'” (I think, by now, you know how that poor woman must have felt.)
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