Last night, probably technically this morning, for about one hour on the I-5, the west coast’s most beloved freeway, I reached that sort of fulfillment that can only come around, so I guess, if your brain is literally drowning in seratonin. Call it what have you: universal oneness, a spiritual moment, talking with god. I call it clap your hands and say yeah which was, simulataneously, what I was doing and listening to. Not only was I clapping my hands and saying yeah, but I’m 99% sure that everyone around me – fellow fastlaners and even those parked on the shoulder – were doing the same.
I hate to admit this, but Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah is yet another band I picked up from my 15-year-old sister. And for not understanding one god damned word on the entire album, they’re pretty fucking good. Beyond good because 15 minutes into my ride and I was bouncing around in my seat like a pez dispenser. Then the steering wheel became my drum set. And – not recommended – the gas pedal was my bass pedal.
Why am I so content? I ask myself. Outloud. Or maybe I was asking my fellow hand clapping, yeah saying, freeway travlers. Either way I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe it was the weekend of seeing so many old friends. Or getting out of the city, high up into the mountains, where the pines whisper without wind and it rains without clouds. Or the farting. You can’t discount the farting.
As a cholo in a Lincoln Continental pulled up to me and we syncronized our hand clapping and yeah saying (his was infinitely cooler looking than my own), I flashed back onto an amazing scene from an amazing movie- rent it tonight and make love afterwards – called Cleopatra. It’s Argentinian so it has to be good. At one point Cleopatra, the 70-something protagonist, is driving for the first time on a highway in a truck of some guy who just picked up Cleopatra and her new hitch-hiking model friend. The nice guy and model friend are asleep, Cleopatra’s cruising the open roads and what does she start to do? Cry. Pure joy. The inexplicable freedom of carrying yourself from one place to another at 75 miles per hour where destination plays your only destiny. The cholo and I shed a couple tears ourselves – or so I thought until I realized his were tattoos – and then we westside each other – and I hit the gas, approaching 130, 140, 150 miles per hour.
Pretty soon I’m going 180 miles per hour – the fastest I’ve ever driven and my reality is only a blur. But that’s what ants have been telling me all my life anyways. I will pass San Diego, I’ll stop for tacos in Tecate at that place where the parrot eats jalepeños and by Friday I’ll be in Ushaia where I will open up a fish taco restaurant and make port wine on the weekends.
A couple weeks ago I went to the GigaPixel exhibit at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. I remember hearing an interview with the photographer – some optics physicist – on a podcast so it was something I wanted to check out before it went bye bye. If you go, make sure to ask for a magnifying glass at the front desk so you can check out the weenies of all the old guys at Black’s Beach – San Diego’s proud nude beach just north of where I live. I think it’s actually pretty amazing that the museum would let him hang a high-resolution aerial photograph of a bunch of naked people whose faces (and much more) you can clearly make out. It’s also an early warning of what to expect when your average sun-burned tourist is snapping left and right with a 50 megapixel camera. Privacy was so 20th century.
After the museum my friend and I went thrift store shopping in Hillcrest – San Diego’s Castro District – where I definitely was not planning on buying anything … until I saw a hipster shirt that read "me encantan las bananas." I had to have it. At the cash register the lip-ringed girl had a big smirk on her face and was giggling like a school girl. Oblivious, I thought to myself, man, this girl totally wants me. "So you love bananas huh?"
"Yup, I really like bananas."
"Hmmm." Big smirk. "So, how long have you had this thing for bananas?"
"Well, it’s been a pretty long term relationship," I try to say smoothly. "I’ve had at least a banana a day for probably the last decade."
She didn’t stop smiling the whole time. I walked over to the bookstore, happy with my new hipster shirt and my new hipster admirer. When my friend finally came over to meet me, I proudly showed off my new purchase and she asks,
"Dude, like, why are you sporting a gay pride shirt?" I looked down and everything started to make so much more sense to me. I marched across the street and asked the lip-ringed girl if I was sporting a gay pride shirt.
"Well, that’s what I figured it means." And then of course, more giggling. She said I could return it if I want, but whatever, I really do like bananas, and besides, I need some chick repellent.
My friend Wendy is always on time. Abogado is not. So when Wendy said she’d be at my house at 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. to drive me up to Abogado’s house, I knew that meant 5:45 a.m. on the dot, which is exactly when she arrived. When Abogado said we’d take off for the mountains around 9 a.m., I knew that meant exactly 1:30 p.m., which is exactly when we left.
At the beginning of this post I said there is an inexplicable freedom to driving. But that’s only if you’re driving a car other than the Toyota Prius. In a Prius there is no freedom, only an airline stewardess-sounding navigation system named Edna who, in my opinion, isn’t quite as polite as she could be. Which is why we drove completely out of our way up to the I-10, into Banning, and then up the north grade into Idyllwild. I must say though, for the Prius’ obnoxiously masculine sense of directions, it drives as smooth as baby butt. But that’s the only complement I’ll fork out.
Abogado – law student at Georgetown University – and Oso – IQ of 315 – could not for their lives figure out a god damned thing on the touch screen. Car seats heated, radio stations skipped, and Edna was always there in the background screaming at us because we didn’t want to go where she wanted us too. Once she even told us to make an illegal u-turn, that crazy bitch. You’re not allowed to use the GPS map system if the car is in motion which supposedly makes things safer so the driver won’t get distracted. Instead, Abogado – pretty pissed with Edna by this point – slams on the brakes in the middle of a twisty mountain highway in order to punch in an address. As I type, I’m pretty sure Prius drivers are slamming on their breaks in the middle of highways all over the United States and telling Edna exactly what they think of her.
Saturday afternoon, I was such a Japanese tourist it was unbelievable. I must’ve taken at least 100 pictures. It was the first time that we’d all been together in the same place for years and I sure as hell was gonna get it on pixels. Then I got carried away though and started taking pictures of strangers at pizza joints. These pictures were pure art. They spoke to your soul. They clapped their hands and they said yeah. And around 2:30 in the morning in an overpopulated wood cabin atop Southern California’s only alpine peak, after a garbage can’s worth of alcohol consumed, they were erased by two drunken girls. They did not apologize. But they did try to convince me that the photos were unnecessary. It was so demoralizing.
But the gods made up for it on Sunday with a bonafide biblical miracle. With skies bluer than windex, around three in the afternoon is started to rain. Not exactly pour, but we shan’t call it mist either. Real rain drops. Coming down. It was me, Abogado, and Matt (fresh Flickr user, go say hi) all sitting outside and hypothesizing. Our conversation:
“What the fuck, is it raining?” We all look up.
“Holy shit, you’ve got to be joking?”
“What the … where is it coming from?”
“Dude, those are big drops.”
“Hey, what happens when you flush the toilet on an airplane.”
“Nah man, they used to let it go, but now it’s like frozen.”
“What? They freeze your shit?”
“Yeah man, there’s like a shit freezing compartment now.”
“Then why’s it make that sound when you flush it. That could take your asshole out if you don’t zip up first.”
“Yeah, I dunno. It definitely used to just come out. Cause you know, it would like freeze up at 30,000 feet. Actually, some people have been like hit by frozen shit on the ground.” He gestures the size of a small boulder. “Yeah, like they were just driving on some road and it came down through there window and they were like, ‘holy shit.'”
“Holy shit!!!! Hahahahaha.”
“Yeah man, I’m pretty sure that’s true. I’m pretty sure I read that.”
If any of our enlightened readers could tell us what actually happens when you flush the toilet on an airplane, we’d be much obliged.
As my gift to you, I hold out in my humble palms tracks number 3, 4 and 5 from the Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. They are certainly not to be listened to coming out of your crappy computer speakers so don’t even think about it. They should only be played while driving open interstates with unfathomable horizons. Or maybe with headphones on, but only if you’re dancing on one foot, clapping your hands, and – of course – saying yeah. And if you’re HP, they’re not meant to be listened to at all.