New Deal With It ROAD BLOG 3.0: PACHYDERMYSANDRAS: THE ELEPHANTS THAT COVER THE FLOOR IN EVERY ROOM OF THE HOUSE
The voice on the GPS is named Michelle, and she hates us. It's apparent every time she gives us directions, whether or not we follow her advice. I swear if you listen closely you can hear her say “Turn left assholes.” She has enacted her revenge several times by advising us to take turns that either don't exist at all or else are so ambiguous that we end up turning when what she really meant wasn't so much “Turn right.” but “Don't turn left. Or something.” So it was that we spent more time than necessary in New Jersey, as Michelle instructed us to drive through the airport, perhaps hoping we would throw her on a plane so she could fly to a continent with more respectable roads.
Before we had even reached New Jersey, Michelle and I had fought over which lane in Brooklyn she wanted us in, the end result being a woman in a very leopard not so much pillbox hat casting so much shade that I theorize that the tree that grows in Brooklyn sprouts directly out of her constantly enraged head.
After Jersey, we drove through Pennsylvania which included a stop in Bethlehem where we passed the world's most old-fashioned McDoald's sign on our way to pick up world famous poetic paleontologist, Trujasaurus Regina. The purpose of this sidetrip was to drive to a WaWa, a convenience store that, while brightly lit and organized fairly well, is not entirely unlike every chain of gas station/convenience stores in the continental United States, despite several of my friends' devotion to it.
Apparently, they have good coffee, but as I never drink the stuff, and was already hopped up on salted caramel hot chocolate, I was undewawawhelmed by the experience. It was good to talk to Trujasaurus, though. We snapped a few pictures, I ate a thoroughly mediocre soft pretzel, and we dropped Trujasaurus back at her abode.
Then we drove. Also, we drove.
I took over at some point in Pennsylvania, which is roughly the size of China. We were without incident (apart from me finding a superior soft pretzel somewhere in Ohio) until we arrived in Columbus.
We were to spend New Year's with Louise Robertson, Scott Woods, and members of the Columbus Ohio Poetry Slam community. Michelle guided us to the address, we parked the car, got our bags out of the car, and knocked on the door, where someone looking fairly surprised opened the door.
“Is this Louise's house?”
The man rolled his eyes. “No.” and closed the door.
Michelle had led us astray once ag...oh, my finger had entered the wrong street address. We were, quite literally, on the wrong side of the tracks from Louise's house. So we crossed said tracks and found the proper house.
It's been a long time since I've been to a party that I would describe as “off the hook”, if only because I am not a character in the 1990s Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air sitcom. This party had many heavy jackets on it, and was thus stressing the hook at its hinges. There was a table of Cards Against Humanity, a table full of delicious snack foods and chips, a kitchen full of people and good food and a basement where the pets and children were stored for later use.
Surprising no one who has ever met the man, Scott Woods is the undisputed Cards Against Humanity Champion. The rounds he didn't win were merely him being polite. I won not a single round, my worst ever game performance, due to my having left the soft pretzel of my brain somewhere in Pennsylvania.
My favorite round winner was “White Privilege, High Five, bro!” which I'm pretty sure Ed Wilkinson and I have said in our quest to say the saddest thing you can say to someone while high-fiving them.
After the party dieted out, six of us split into two teams of three to play a game called Word On The Street, which is probably my favorite word game of all-time (thanks to teammate, poet, and the all around awesome Rose Smith for bringing it and teaching us how to play). Bobby, Rose, and I lost HARD. The purpose of the game being to claim letters off a board, and the category being “words that end in 'ism'”, I was afraid our opponents would play “colonialism” (and, really, who isn't at least a little afraid of colonialism?), but they DESTROYED us by playing “antidisestablishmentarianism”, which we were unable to recover from.
“I”m going to be mad about this for the rest of the year!” Bobby said. “Luckily, there's only about an hour left.”
We recruited Louise's son, Andrew, who, at twelve, is already cooler than pretty much anyone I've ever met. In a discussion about how none of us really liked mayonnaise, he referred to it as “commoner's caviar”. I was almost ashamed to talk for the rest of the night, as I knew I was incapable of saying anything smarter or funnier than that.
Despite Andrew's viable contributions to our team, we were once again destroyed by a single word “pachysandra” which our opponents played when the category was “ground coverings”.
Bobby and I had a few good words such as “lightsabers” (things designed to be gripped in one hand) and “dreadlocks” (things you can tie in your hair) but we were otherwise made useless by our long drive .
We toasted the new year in with Cava, and I went to the bedroom. I was sleeping in the top bunk of what I believe was Andrew's room, which I climbed with no problem but which was so high to the ceiling that bending my totally diesel body into the bunk without hitting my head on the ceiling was a challenge. But it was a challenge I succeeded at which, according to legends of previous bed inhabitants, means that I am more flexible than Maxwell Kessler. I imagine it's difficult for Max to bend his body due to the possibilities of his nipples chafing against his chiseled abs.
I didn't drift off to sleep so much as swerve to sleep, not due to any intoxication (I'd had just one glass of Cava) but because I kept seeing imaginary Christmas-lighted landscapes passing by very closed eyes. In the background, Michelle whispered “Continue on until sleep. Asshole.”
I hate driving in New York even more than I hate driving in Boston, which is a considerable feat. Keep in mind, I let my license lap for nearly a year in order to force my then employers to hire someone else to do deliveries for them.
That's right, I voluntarily sent myself through the process of dealing with the MA RMV to get my license reinstated just so I didn't have to drive a windowless van with a cartoon on the side around a city that's absolutely crosshatched with elementary schools.
This is why, having woken up in Wallingford, Connecticut, Bobby took the wheel (one of the many ways he is like Jesus) and we began one of the shorter jaunts of our tour.
One of the main reasons I hate driving in both cities is parking.
We were scheduled to perform a show at Beauty Bar in Brooklyn, and were staying at my friend JBob's place a few blocks away. I had asked about parking, and he said there was plenty of street parking but, lo, it was New Year's Eve Eve and the city was jammed with cars. Unable to find a place near the venue, we found a place near the Brooklyn Public Library, grabbed a couple of books, and I typed up a blog entry and did some venue research.
We got to the venue around 5ish, and had some delicious pig-based products at a place called Pork Slope, where I had an Apple Orchard Punch which was incredibly delicious but which I knew would be unbubbled in comparison with the drinks Eliel made at Beauty Bar.
As part of this tour Dr. Bobby decided he would not repeat any poems. Because most of what I've written recently is short and on similar topics, I decided it would be better for me if, instead of not repeating anything, I debuted at least one new piece that didn't suck (subjectively) at each show. So Bobby and I wrote new shit, and decided to open our show with it.
The thing is, we both went WEIRD on our new pieces. Mine, about an artist in Harvard Square who can sketch your closest friends' opinions of you in portrait form, and Bobby's about dead people leaving things at his bar. Also, the venue we performed at is awesome but not actually a poetry venue. Eliel set the perfect tone by announcing "We don't, uh, usually do poetry, but my friends are in from out of town. Either you're here for poetry, or you're in for a nice surprise, or it's about to get really awkward for you."
Josiah had followed us from Wallingford and brought his fiance, Han with him. Bobby had invited an Emerson friend who invited two other Emerson friends, and thus we had an audience of five very excited people who knew us. Also, one very excited guy who didn't know us but knew about the poetry. There was also a couple who seemed into it, and a friend of Eliel's. Apart from them, we emptied the bar pretty quickly.
It's a healthy reminder that very few people like surprise poetry shows. There was a couple of women up front who laughed at all the funny references in our first three poems but still walked out. So we kept a short, odd set and then drank a large volume of alcohol. And we made friends. Not just with the Alan, the guy we didn't know but who had come for poetry, but with a guy named Marcus who didn't see our show at all but had walked in looking to talk to someone about comics. Someone, I should add, who is a normal human being with similar opinions on comics and comic related show as I have, which is an anomaly in my life. At no point was I bored, offended, or afraid for my life.
We drank many things. I believe Bobby had enough side cars that he, legally, had to take out an insurance policy, and Eliel kept making me nameless delicious drinks. This was going to be less a walk, and more a stumble back to JBob's place, We'd also been gifted a spliff by a new friend, which we were in the midst of smoking when a guy dressed disproportionately better than us asked "Can I have a hit off that?"
And the ever polite Dr. Bobby let him take several while we talked about the difference between Cambridge and Brooklyn (which either of us can remember). Then we stumbled to the car, decided to order a pizza but ultimately fell into a deep coma before we could accomplish anything more than pointing in the direction of the bedroom.