An extended backpacking trip through the wilderness helps me turn the volume in my life down. I stop and look around. I notice the vast expanse before me. The way the light at dusk seems almost surreal and unnatural. The speed at which clouds move during the late afternoon at altitude. How serene the cool alpine breezes sound through tree branches creaking and bending above me. How fresh the mountain air feels in my oxygen-deprived lungs. How little any of the problems I carry with me on a daily basis matter. I become grateful for another day of good health. For a warm house to go home to. For a loving wife. For happy, healthy children. For a comfortable bed. Then, I start to notice the people I am hiking up the mountain with. They are people I have been hiking with for most of my life. The same tired jokes become expected. Stories of past trips are relived. Conversations drift aimlessly and we eventually realize that there is nothing left to talk about. We sit around a warm campfire, look up through the forest canopy at the vibrant night sky and enjoy the company we keep. In that moment I realize these are some of the closest people to me. These are the people I have lived my happiest moments with. People I have shared the most laughs with. People I have made it to the summits of mountains with. Memories are fleeting but one sticks out for me tonight. A few years ago one of these people tapped me on the shoulder as I sat quietly on an ancient boulder to watch the sun set over a distant lake we spent all day hiking to. He sat down next to me and handed me a flask of scotch he carried in his pack. I took a long pull from the flask and so did he. We sat next to each other for a long time. Neither one of us said a word.
Rest in peace, brother. Your flask of scotch will be missed.
DJ: Something that makes the baby Jesus cry and me cry tears of happiness.
Me: That would have helped us in Vegas.
DJ: If we had that in Vegas one or both of us would be dead.
Me: I disagree. A hooker and her family would definitely be dead. But us? Not a chance.
DJ: Like hookers have families. Unless, of course, you mean the other hookers living in her hooker nest.
Me: So like how rabbits live in dens? That’s how hookers live? In hooker dens?
Me: So if a whore dies, then another one just shows up to replace the dead one?
DJ: Yes. Just like bunnies. They huddle together for warmth and know that if a predator comes, there’s safety in numbers. One may die, but at least they improve their survival odds.
Me: By predators you mean guys that drink whiskey from a can?
The Bodhizoffa is no more. Unlike most celebrity deaths, this one takes the wind out of my sails. I grew up on the Swayze. Outsiders. Red Dawn. Youngblood. Point Break. And his masterpiece opus; Roadhouse. I even sat through multiple viewings of Dirty Dancing because it taught me that a) spoiled bitches should get credit for carrying watermelons and b) nobody puts Baby in a corner. Nobody. 11:14 made me realize how much I missed the Swayze in cinema. Fucking cancer. Both my grandfathers and Patrick Swayze? I guess it is your way or the highway, cancer. I cannot help think that if cancer manifested itself in the form of a human fighting opponent the Swayze would have torn its throat out with his bare hands and thrown its lifeless body into a backwoods lake and then scream, “Cancer! Cancer! Fuck you!” Sounds about right to me.
I am somewhat indifferent about MJ’s passing as the King of Pop has been dead to me since 1993. On one hand, I owned Thriller on vinyl and am able to sing most of its songs from memory. On the other hand, kiddie-touchin’? Dude was always weird. But I would have been weird, too, if I were raised by a devout Jehovah’s Witness that had a penchant for regular beatings and mental anguish. Still, weirdness and amazing talent should not give you a free pass on the kiddie-touchin’. The complete entertainment package that MJ was will be unmatched for years to come. The world is now left to ponder who the most talented Jackson alive is. Most will argue Janet, but I am calling Jermaine.
Wil: You ever want to just generally fuck yourself up? Watch CNN World for two hours. The human race is not long for this planet.
Me: Agreed. Hopefully my unborn child will get something out of it all before it blows up.
Wil: I am kind of counting on him/her to fix it all, actually. Is that not going to happen?
Me: If he/she takes after the wife, yes. After me? We are doomed.
Wil: Your spawn has been spoken of in a Nostradamus prophesy. “And she who kicketh ass in softball shall breed with he who has odd hair of the face, and together the savior is born.”
Me: Wow. Thanks? Let us hope said spawn makes the animals go bonkers at the zoo ala The Omen. The original with Gregory Peck. Not that bag of dicks remake with Julia Styles.
Wil: Well played, sir. Going to go get some dinner here in Barcelona. If I can find a place with an early bird special at 8:30 PM, that is. The Spaniards do not like to sleep.
Me: Save for the daily siesta?
Wil: Right. Adios.
At the entrance to Denver International Airport (DIA), a lone sculpture stands amidst the backdrop of high prairie and the distant Rocky Mountain front range; Mesteno (or as I like to call it, Demon Horse). The sculpture is a polarizing fixture as its bright red eyes eerily glow out over Pena Boulevard (at dawn or dusk, the effect is particularly creepy) and most Coloradans despise the sight of it. I like the sculpture and enjoy the satanic evilness of it. Besides, how could I openly bash a sculpture that killed its own creator? I do not taunt Demon Horse. For he may come alive with the magical powers of hellfire and gallop across the prarie to claim my soul. Or, at the very least, just fall on top of me and sever one of my arteries.