It turns out my penchant for picking up brash boasts, intimate minutiae, salacious gossip, peculiar rumors and colorfully-flavored tales of the lay variety is only so useful if I keep it all pent up like some kind of verb tantra. Any plans to pen a sweeping Homerian epic with ’em seem outlandish, so I’m writing some of them down now.
Here’s the current plan: A new story every Thursday, starting this week. I’ll keep going til I run out. Which could be a while. In order to add some semblance of structure to my ramblings, I’m going to follow the path I’ve taken on my way here.
So I’m starting in Iowa with a story about finding a veritable Bridge to Terabithia in the woods behind my house (minus the waterfall of tears), then north to Minnesota for the time I won a hat at a card park, before heading back to where the meat comes from for a story about a gas mask and a really steep hill. Up next’s a pitstop in Wisconsin where I learn sometimes the best way to get to know someone and twenty of their closest friends and family is to drink an entire beer with them — each of them. Then I’m on the way to North Carolina and my introduction to boudoir photography. Then I shift gears, moseying even slower, creeping south before turning west along the 10 to Louisiana where I fall in love with a stripper, a bartender, and golf.
That’s where things go really off the rails as I make an ultimatum and, rejected, flee to the desert where a road trip turns into a real trip somewhere near Antelope Canyon. I follow a woman back across the country to Alabama, where I try my hand at selling DirecTV and end up learning how to actually french inhale from a spritely, though pricklish early twentysomething amateur dealer.
We’re not even through the first rotation, but the end’s in sight as I coast into California with a story about the time a strange man in nurse’s scrubs shot my ass full of special k while I writhed with a kidney stone on a hotel mattress in South America.
Afterwards, I’ll circle back to Iowa with another story from when I was a wee lad spending most of my days on the playground — because we were definitely fucking wit the swag of da fresh prince. And yes, I’m referring to the month I spent with Michael Jordan’s 23 buzzed into the back of my head and painted red with magic marker.
I should probably stop predicting the stories I’m going to want to tell a few months from now, but it holds me accountable, too, so here’s one more cycle before you’re free of the sisyphean abyss and can return to one of Matthew Weiner’s love letters to masculinity.
The next go round, I’m spilling digital ink to finally capture the stories folks’ve been listening to me spout in dive bars around the country for a decade now. That means regaling you with the night a millionaire heiress decided she wanted to sleep with me in the middle of a five-figure score I was about to cash from an online poker tournament. That’s a Minnesota story. Back to Iowa for a minute, it’ll be the story of the night I picked a woman’s favorite song out of the few thousand on the juke. Then I’ll write about a woman I met at a small bar in a tiny town in Wisconsin who met her husband when he sent her an anonymous dick pic.
The North Carolina story’ll be a little different, because I’m going to get sidetracked in Chicago for a night of pretentious red carpet clubs mixed with an underground dungeon clad in as much leather as its patrons. Once I’ve doused the hangover with ginseng, it’s back to Louisiana for a story about a guy who once took a shot at the game but never quite made it and the night he took me to a club blacker than Ryan Coogler’s upcoming Marvel flick.
I have to include one of my trademark tangents, too, so that means taking a detour to Daytona Beach for a vacation that somehow ended up involving stumbling through a grocery store for a microwave to cook a freshly acquired frozen pizza as well as glassy-eyed competitive strip shuffleboard transforming the rest of the evening into a series of porch cigarettes, awkward flirting, and being awoken by the sound of one of our party banging on the door of the crackhouse we’d managed to end up asleep in.
For the second Arizona serenade, I’m going with the story of the time I hallucinated driving a warthog from Halo after almost thirty hours on the road, making my way from just outside Phoenix back to Iowa for reasons. Then it’ll be the story of the poetry slam nights in Mobile, where I learned there’s quite a few places you can light up a bowl and listen to more-than-ill MCs rock the mic differently.
Ending the second cycle, I’ll serve up my story about how a videogame bridged a divide between my brother and I that had grown after a bunch of years wandering the country. That’s just before it led to my dream job, bringing us back to California. By my count, that’s close to half a year worth of stories if I’m scribbling them out once a week, so that’s probably enough for now. I’m trying to commit, but too much scares me like I’m a character on an Aaron Sorkin drama.
Caveats: These’re stories. Some of ’em happened nearly as I write ‘em, others’ll be a tad bit exaggerated. I’ve done all of the name-changing and detail-altering prescribed by word-doctors to keep away vicious slander viruses like dreamcatchers woven of fake identities and different hair styles, but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna milk a moment for an extra bon mot or two that might not’ve been part of the original cut.
If it helps you to think of all of the stories as made up, cool beans. If you’d prefer they’re all entirely true, you can probably get away with thinking that, too. If you recognize something or you were there, and you’re like, “Hey wait a second, I don’t remember the kick-boxing kangaroo.” Ask yourself, “Does the kick-boxing kangaroo make for a better story?” And of course it does, because it’s a kick-boxing kangaroo, so let’s agree I’m not claiming any of it’s ripped from the headlines. Except the part about a kick-boxing kangaroo, I read that in a paper.
TLDR: Pretty much all of these stories are true, except for the ones that aren’t. Hopefully you enjoy ’em. Let me know if you do.