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Journals of an Insane Genius -- November 1999
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Who on earth can be knocking on my door at five in the... afternoon?
Hmmm... The final performance of our play was yesterday and the cast party kept me out until the sun was coming up. I remember noticing all of the people out jogging and walking their pets and getting ready for church while I was driving home from the past night's excess thinking perhaps I'm living my life wrong. Naah!
Anyway, whoever is pounding on my door has decided to be persistent about it. Grumbling to myself that this had better be a female, I manage to drag myself out of bed. It's Mike. My brother. From Arkansas. Two thousand miles away. I give him the traditional greeting of clenching my fingers into my already sleep-tangled hair and asking, "Can my life get any weirder?" By the end of the week, I stopped asking because every time I did, it did.
Okay, Mike is here unannounced and he needs a place to stay "for a few weeks", whatever that means. "Hold on, I gotta get the gun out of the car", he says. Oh good, now I get to have a gun in the house too. Having been on the road for twenty hours straight, he's too tired to talk. In the meantime, I have to go and help Mel with her Halloween costume, a life-size Jabba the Hutt that we've been working on for almost two months. I courteously offer him the waterbed instead of the air mattress. Thankfully, he declines.
I don't see Mike awake again until I get home from work the next day. I want to talk to him, but I'm too stunned by the fact that I can see my kitchen counters. When I left this morning the overflow of my beer bottle collection had been proudly displayed on the counters, and now the bottles are gone. "Oh, I put them under the sink." I ask how he managed to fit them there. "I just moved the pans to the other cupboard." I'm gritting my teeth now, because I know what's happened and it's too late to prevent it. Mike has decided that rearranging my life wasn't enough, he needed to rearrange my apartment as well. My next two weeks will be filled with the joy of first attempting to get something from where it was and then trying to decipher just where Mike's devious little mind thinks it "should be". Incredibly, he gets annoyed with me for making a big deal out of it.
Everyday is a new adventure. When I get home the following day, I find that two boxes of bullets have replaced what had been on top of the refrigerator. I need to work with Mel on the Jabba costume again this evening so we drag Mike along as well. In order to paint this thing properly we decide we need someone to stand inside the costume. Being democratic about it, we have a nomination and an election. Dispatching Mike to circle K to get beer and Cheetos® proves to streamline the election process and he wins in a landslide.
The next day there is a birthday celebration at JR's after work. Mel and I go straight from work and I call Mike from the bar to see if he wants to join us. "Yeah sure," he says, "the stitches worked and the bleeding has stopped." I'm sorry, what was that? "I'll tell you when I get there." Turns out he had gone out shooting with my buddy Steve. While firing Steve's 12-gauge shotgun, Mike had neglected to seat the butt of the rifle firmly against his shoulder and it popped up and tagged him right across the eyebrow. Nothing bleeds like a face cut. This is everybody from work's first impression of my brother.
Saturday night, time to party. Mel is having a huge bash at her house and I've been helping her set it up all day. Mel won yesterday's costume contest at work hands down. My own costume is thrown together at the last minute. I picked up a skull mask kit that actually glues to your face so it looks very life like, for a skull face that is. I added a hooded robe to that and I look like Death, very dark and menacing.
My Magic 8-Ball® had predicted that I would meet someone at the party. That seemed pretty far fetched to me, however I also thought it was pretty far fetched when Colin told me that if you ask any Magic 8-Ball® if it is a servant of the devil the response will be yes. I tried and it did, five times in a row. Still, I was pretty sure it was wrong on this one when suddenly there was an attractive young lady by my side asking for a back rub. I should have known better than to pursue a girl that was flirting with Death, but cranberry vodka, cigarettes, and black lights were filling my brain. If life has taught me anything, it's that if you're going to make a mistake make a big one, we left the party early.
One of the dangers of leaving a party with someone you just met is that you have no idea what you're getting yourself into. I certainly didn't. After things had progressed as far as they were going to progress for the evening we were riding around listening to music and smoking cigarettes. Every time I asked if I should be headed in any particular direction, Jen would just ask me to keep driving around for a while. As she was falling asleep a dangerous thought occurred to me. "You umm... Do you... Jen, do you have a place to go to?" Turns out she didn't. She had arrived at the party with friends and they were gone now. Recently she had been crashing at whoever's house would let her on any given night. My new girlfriend is homeless.
I remember what it's like to be nineteen and not sure of when you're going to eat next or where you're going to sleep. It was a relatively brief time in my life (at the time it seemed anything but brief) but something that I'll never forget. I decide to let Jen stay at my apartment for a few days until she can figure out what she's going to do. No strings attached, although nobody ever believes this. Mike seems to handle this news well, although I get the feeling that despite the fact that he has read some of my journals, this is not how he expected my day to day life really was.
Even though the party was last night, today is actually Halloween. Jen has discovered my costume of Jack from Jack-In-The-Box. It won the costume contest two years ago and was also on the front page of the newspaper. She wants to go trick-or-treating. I've read Mars/Venus, I know that if Venus wants to go out then Mars should support her. After all, it's a great costume, it's fun, what harm could there be? Jen goes as Jack and I pull out my Obi-Wan Kenobi costume from when I was standing in line for "The Phantom Menace" last May. I drive out to the swanky subdivision with its own golf course. There's a nice sized crowd and lots of houses participating. Everybody loves Jack, we're having fun and Jen has come up with the funniest line of the night when she keeps asking everyone, "Do you know who I'm supposed to be?" Since we want to catch the 9:00 movie we need to quit soon, so we decide to hit just one more house. "Well look what we have here", a very familiar voice says. It's John, my boss's boss. He recognized Jack instantly since he awarded the prize two years ago. Sensing my discomfort, he invites us in. "Linda, look who's here, you remember Doug. And this is his friend..." "Jen," I say. "Hey, do you want to see my pierced tongue?" Jen asks. John does, Linda doesn't, I've already seen it, and it's quite impressive. The first of the e-mails asking about "the pierced tongue girl" I was trick-or-treating with will arrive in less than twelve hours.
So it's a quarter to six in the morning. I'm leaving for work certain that my car will be the only one in the parking lot with four empty kegs in the trunk. I have two houseguests and no idea when either one is leaving. I notice the Magic 8-Ball® silently taunting me from the top of the stereo. I ask if my life can get any weirder.
All signs point to Yes.