In July 2005, a few months into the grumpiness, Matt and I trekked south to the Oklahoma City suburbs to visit our fine pal Brian. Matt's father had passed away that spring; I'm not sure why he put up with my mood when he had reason to be much more upset. It could be because we're friends.
Here is what happened that weekend, with my grumpy postscript, and some photographic aids taken much later.
Oklahoma City Recap
"You promised me a fight."
Brian had not yet spent an evening at J.R.'s Bar and Grill without witnessing violence. A half hour later, bareknuckled fisticuffs erupted in the parking lot of, stretching Brian's streak to record lengths. Watching from a distance was bittersweet. I appreciated the insanity of the roadhouse, but it was now clear that the Friday night police response time to the southern outskirts of Oklahoma City was poor. If the motorcyclists or the would-be frat boys (as in, they would be frat boys if they could get in to the community college up the road) inside had a problem with me, I'd be square in the middle of a vicious cockfight.
There had been precisely one non-country-western song performed by J.R.'s karaokists, and Matt wanted me to sing the second. Prior to our arrival, I had planned to sing "Nothing Compares 2 U", but the roguish atmosphere intimidated me. Imagine my surprise when the younger set danced and cheered my rendition of the Spice Girl's "Wannabe", and I escaped J.R.'s without a scratch.
We bought great, cheap seats for the OKC Redhawks game Saturday afternoon. The ticket girl was reading the new Harry Potter book - she didn't yet know who the half-blood price was yet, and believe me, I asked. On the way to the stadium that night, the three of us took a denim short census. Within 20 minutes, we counted twelve adult males sporting jean shorts. Fair enough, Oklahoma City, fair enough. Maybe we all jumped off that bandwagon a little too hastily.
A fat boy raced a skinny girl during one inning break. The fat kid put on the oversized uniform more quickly than the girl, who especially struggled with the pants.
MATT: Congratulations, you peaked. Enjoy life.
The Redhawks' effort that night was lacking, but ours was not. After enjoying fine Boddington's and Guinness', we headed to the Wormy Dog Saloon. There was a steep cover charge, yet the bar was packed, presumably to hear the live band. To my surprise, I did not hate them - it was a huge upgrade from the previous night's country karaoke, and the band even pulled off sweet covers of "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and Reel Big Fish's "Beer".
MATT: I guarantee you we are the smartest people in this bar.
Several beers and shots later, that fact might have changed. One of the attractive women directly in front of was showing plentiful cleavage, but our view was obscured by an Asian male.
MATT (to me): Look, I'm sorry that tidal wave killed all those people. Now move.
On the way home, we pepper Patrick, our cabbie, with curiosity. A different cab driver had once told Brian and Matt that he had driven Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake - we asked Patrick about his famous fares. "The Riverdance guy," Patrick said, and we knew he wasn't lying.
Brian wasn't lying, either. "I left my apartment keys in the car," he said, referring to the cruising sedan parked downtown. We climb back in with our man Patrick to retrieve them.
ME: Maybe we should have just broken a window.
PATRICK: Is there a window you could break? It might be cheaper.
ME: No, only the patio's sliding door. Hey - did anybody lock the sliding door? I didn't.
ME: We could climb up and get it that way!
BRIAN: No we can't.
PATRICK: I used to do things like that, back in my younger days...
ME: Let's do it! I've done it before at Lance's place! Let's do it!
Patrick made the U-turn, and soon we were studying the building's architecture. Breaking in to Lance's second story apartment was simply a matter of standing on the lower rail and reaching up to the second floor. This building had higher ceilings. Brian lived on the third floor. There was no chance of repeating the Lance method.
It's terribly difficult to describe the first attempt, but suffice to say it required more upper body strength / Jackie Chanesque abilities than I possessed, especially half-drunk at 2:00 in the morning. My first pull-up attempt fails; standing on a pitched roof overhang thingy 2.5 stories up, I ready myself for another try.
ME (to myself): Remember, you don't want to fall to your death while trying to break in to an apartment.
I axed the second attempt. We survey the situation again.
MATT: What if you stood on the rail and--
ME: I see where you're going with this, Matt.
Utilizing a nifty, undescribable move, I manage to reach the balcony's rail. I look back at my mates and gave Patrick a fist pump. "Thanks for believing in me, Patrick!" The door slides open, and I unlock the front door from the inside. Parody of happiness, arms around each other's shoulders, our triangle jumps clockwise as we shout stereotypically happy yeas. I've got an old text message from Matt is still on my cell phone. It reads, "I like the way my boner feels in the palm of your hand".
But this little dance is the gayest thing we've ever done.
We head over to the apartment pool to celebrate. After a brief period, a cop spoils the fun. He kicks us out of the pool and moves on to harass the similarly quiet group in the hot tub.
I woke up late Sunday morning. Earlier, I heard Matt open the front door a couple times before going back to sleep. I asked him where he went.
MATT: I went to my car to get the charger for my phone.
ME: Who were you going to call?
God. I was going to call God...
...I was going to ask Him when the joke is going to be over...
...and if He thinks he's funny...
...and if He wants to fight.
It would be the funniest thing I've ever heard if it was a joke.
The janitor at work liked to talk. Because I drink water from a plastic KC Royals cup, he assumed I liked sports and would ask me about whatever game occurred the previous night. If it was up to him, the Royals would have re-signed Carlos Beltran AND brought Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson on board. It was a stupid idea and I hated the obligatory chats with him. Still, he didn't deserve to be stabbed to death last night by his 14 year-old stepson. He said something to me last week - something bad must have happened last weekend, because he said something vague about letting go, just trying to have a good time from now on. His new philosophy didn't last a week.
Ricky Gervais created and starred in the BBC's (the original version of) The Office. He was interviewed in The Guardian:
In among all of his theories about comedy, one that he won't accept is that it must always come out of a kind of darkness, the tears of a clown. I ask him if there have been times in his life when he has felt down; has he ever not wanted to get out of bed in the mornings?
He looks genuinely appalled at the idea. 'No. No depression. Oh God, no. I mean, when someone dies I cry. But I would never say: "What is the point of life?" I know there is no point to life. The point to life is having a laugh, getting on with everyone. Full stop.' He thinks about this a bit. 'I know how lucky I am. I don't allow stress. Being out of my comfort zone annoys me a bit; you know, if I have to drive a long way or something. Then I go: "Gervais. Your Dad used to hod-carry. Fucking grow up." That always tends to work.' He giggles to himself at this admonishment, at the idea of unhappiness, and, as ever, you cannot help but join in.