Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"This has been bothering me all day"

I wanted to tell a story today, a story about a stiff wind, an obelisk, the California High Desert, an electric grill where hot dogs were spun, too many Krispy Kreme donuts, They Might Be Giants, a poorly lit museum, a scientist from Reseda, and a great experiment that would explain how the pyramids of Egypt were built.

But the story, no matter how many times I rework it, isn't as interesting as the paragraph I just wrote.

It's a true story, based on an incident in July 2001, two months after everything changed for the good (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) and two months before everything changed for the worse (9/11) or for the better and then worse (9/22). You could call the incident a turning point. You could call the great experiment I was witnessing a metaphor for the life of the crux of the universe. You could call that whole long July weekend - the weekend that began not with the experiment but with a coyote in a driveway and ended not with a whimper but with vomiting in a Las Vegas hotel room - you could call that whole weekend the most important 3 days of my life: Saturday through Monday.

Uh oh. I guess I'm stuck telling the story now. A chronology of the weekend:

  • Very very early morning: Impetuous late night drive from La Verne to Los Angeles and then back to La Verne
  • Very early morning: Coyote in driveway
  • Early morning: Donuts in an SUV
  • Mid morning to very early afternoon: The obelisk experiment in the desert (you see, my friend Katinka dragged me and my friend John (both of us were visiting from Minnesota) from my Mom's house in La Verne where we were staying to the far away desert town of Rosamond where, if the wind conditions were right, a team of scientists would use balloons to lift a giant heavy stone obelisk. This would then prove that such a thing could be done and in fact was done by the people who built the pyramids when in fact it was built by the sweat, hard work, and ingenuity of the Egyptians and/or their slaves.)
  • Early afternoon: The wind isn't strong enough, according to the lead scientist, a woman from Reseda (where, it's been told, the vampires move west on Ventura Boulevard). The experiment is shut down, beer and hot dogs packed away.
  • Mid afternoon: This place.
  • Rest of day: Nothing

  • Morning: Drive to Las Vegas
  • Afternoon, night: Gamble, eat, drink with large group of people from 3 time zones
  • Mid morning: Witness one member of our party put his hand under his own shirt and forcibly remove a hair from his chest mole, in full view of the rest of us, at breakfast in the patio of a restaurant at the Paris Hotel and Casino. He then held the chest hair to the light and exclaimed "This has been bothering me all day."
  • Morning: Hike in Red Rock Mountains
  • Afternoon: Go to seemingly world's largest Target store, also in Las Vegas. Watch New Yorkers in our party buy lots of Target stuff.
  • Early evening: Eat at Mexican place in the Venetian shopping mall, witness the violent food poisoning of one of the members of our party.
  • Mid evening: Drive back to California.
(Note: I may be combining elements of two different 2001/2002 trips to Las Vegas but this is a blog not a historical document and I'm 78% sure I got it all right.)

So, there you have it. A story in list form, a story in schedule form, not a prose piece exactly. Those sure were interesting times. I'm not sure they were better times. These days are good too. Football season just started. The weather's cooling down. I just hired a new assistant who will make my work life 74% easier. Noir is making a comeback. I got a rejection letter for one of my stories yesterday and I agreed with it and I will now incorporate the editor's helpful feedback because it's true - my jumping back between different points in time can be muddled. I got a great new refrigerator magnet for my birthday. It features a provocative photo and as long as I remember to take it down when my mother comes to visit, I feel the magnet will enrich my life. That's my story today.

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