Thursday, April 25, 2024

Larger than Life


I think I must have become a mythological creature.  I'm just a simple, nice, sweet boy.  But the stories and ideas that spring up about me and my life are fairly outrageous.  O.K.  I'm responsible for some of it.  I have lived a different life than most.  It has not been rags to riches, of course, for I am not rich.  But I have had quite a journey from cracker town to the Boulevard, from families on both my mother's and my father's side who are undereducated criminals, miscreants, and hillbillies, to becoming a hippie, going to college forever, traveling extensively and wildly, and becoming a foreman at the factory.  I've told you all this before.  O.K.  Not all of it.  But enough that it begins to sound like nothing more than made up self-aggrandizement.  But this new crowd I am hanging with have me pegged as something more bizarre than I could ever make up. 

Sure.  You could blame me.  I let little bits spill when we are together.  But I blame Tennessee.  He blows me up everywhere we go.  

Last night, we went for sushi.  Neither of us were drinking, so I figured on a peaceful time.  We drove separately, and he got there before I did.  He called, and I told him I was minutes away and to get us seats at the bar.  When I got there, the hostess was looking at me with huge eyes.  The waitresses stared.  Tennessee was laughing.  

"What the fuck did you say?"

He'd told them to look out for wild looking fellow with long hair, that I was a shaman with a religious following like David Koresh.  When the waitress came over, he said, "This is the fellow I was telling you about.  Don't look him in the eyes.  You'll become part of the cult and be living in a commune down in the coastal jungles of Venezuela."

"Stop it."  

The waitress laughed, but her eyes were dancing.  I smiled weakly and shook my head.  

People at the Physical Fitness Club believe all sorts of crazy things about me thanks to T.  He makes up terrible things.  Half the older women believe I am a furry.  The younger women are fairly scared of me or shun me outright, for T has told them he's been to my house, that it is all voodoo and hallucinogens, that there are tables full of mushrooms and LSD and roofies.  Two days ago, one of the women asked him, "Do you think he could get me some quasudes?"  

"You've got to quit this, man.  The cops are going to show up at my house."

He has a lot of very wealthy friends who believe I don't know what all about me, but they seem fascinated.  When we go out, they are very friendly and want to buy me expensive liquors I have never tasted before.  They buy my drinks and meals and want to hear tales.  I'm not making this up.  It is crazy.  

"We'll go down to my buddy's place in Costa Rica this spring.  He bought a little boutique hotel on the beach.  People come down for yoga retreats and the like.  We'll have fun.  We can surf and take his Jeep into the jungle, and at night all the hippie girls get high and start dancing around the fire and start taking that toad juice shit and everybody gets naked. . . ."  

"I can't surf anymore."

"You don't have to surf.  Bring your cameras.  You'll go crazy."

And of course, people want to tell their own tales of adventure and daring.  Most of them have to do with drugs and hookers.  Tennessee trained and fought Muay Thai in Thailand for a couple of years and he is mad for me to go there.  The film prof studied at the NYU film school in Shanghai and married a Malay there.  He tells bizarre tales of pleasure of his trips to Thailand and of Singapore's Gaylong district.  The car guy and his crowd tell me of their wild and furious drug days.  The rich guys are mostly swingers.  

This is all Tennessee's fault.  My stories are of mountains and deserts and oceans and jungles, of being stalked by mountain lions or getting hypothermia at 18,000 feet during a lightning storm in a whiteout, or of making mistakes in underwater caves at 180 feet or of getting sick in an Indian camp in the Amazon jungle.  

I did make a mistake in telling them about eating the mushrooms here in the recent past.  My life, by and large, has been drug free, but you are only as good as your last adventure, I guess.  

"If you go to Thailand, the girls. . . "

"The girls in Malaysia. . . "

It's all wrong, of course, as you all know.  None of that is me.  I just want to be in love.  

I won't say I'm not laughing with the attention, though, even if it is wrong.  It is much better than being ignored.  And I WOULD like to see it ALL and bring it back to you. . . in print.  

I can get a more realistic version of travel to the east from Travis who has roamed the world much more than I and is every bit as cultured, being educated in and loving art and architecture and food and drink as much as anyone.  He only has a few more countries to visit before he has been to them all.  

I once went to the most famous brothel in Caracas during the start of the revolution with my dead ex-friend Brando.  I've told the tale here before, maybe more than once.  When Brando had me buy drinks for two prostitutes at the bar (he was broke), I tried to tell the one I was sitting with that I was not there as a customer but that I was just keeping an eye on my friend.  But it came out "I am not for the girls."  She looked shocked and asked me if I was gay.  My response in my shitty Spanish came out, "No, I just want to watch him."  Her face showed all sorts of disgusted confusion.  She liked me, though, and asked me if I was staying in a hotel.  When I told her we were in the uptown Hilton, she said she would come back with me for free.  I simply shook my head no.  The entire exchanged pissed Brando off to no end.  

In the capital, you could hear gunshots all around town.  We went upriver for a few days in the high jungle until we got to Angel Falls, the highest in the hemisphere. 

Maybe I told this tale to my new friends.  I don't know.  Tennessee is an attention hog, but I guess I am, too.  

On the way out of the sushi bar, Tennessee said something to the girls.  They all looked at me and giggled.  

"What the fuck did you say to them?"

He grinned and said, "You love it!"

Maybe he's right.

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