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stories >> 1997 - 09 - 07

The Weekend Update

After a one week hiatus, just a quiet weekend. I managed to catch a cold like illness.

      On Thursday, Our Master of Watercraft, Mr. Jamie O'neill, invites the first eight people who respond to go for a ride on his brand spanking new SeaRay 210 on Friday afternoon. I smash my keyboard to pieces trying to hit the "Reply" key. Quick as I am to respond, I'm only the seventh and barely squeeze on board.
      We're supposed to leave on Friday at 6:00. By 5:30, I'm all set and ready to go: I've got my old boat towel, my swim trunks, my sunglasses, credit card for beer. Everyone else is milling around, but I'm jumping up and down with excitement. Joy thinks I'm crazy, Priscilla thinks I'm crazy, Nancy thinks I'm crazy.... ah, but Mr. Clapp, he smiles, and he starts jumping up and down, just a little, with me. Joy takes an interminably long time to print out the directions (I keep screaming over her shoulder "Just write the damn things down!!!!") because the printer is in some sort of power saver/sleepy time/fantastically irritating mode. We get the directions, I offer to drive over the Leper (which is great, because no-one ever wants to ride in the Leper), and Priscilla agrees to drive us in her sweeter than sweet Rodeo. This is going to turn out to be my night for new, nice vehicles.
      Off we go. I give Priscilla some bad directions, we turn the wrong way on Lamar, Joy's getting pissed because I keep telling her to play different songs on the radio. We finally settle on the Doors, get on the right track, and head for the beer store. Inside the beer store, I figure 18 beers for the eight of us should be fine: I figured some folks would only want one, and I knew that I would, unfortunately, drink as much as was put in front of us. Mr. Clapp, though, looks over and says, "18 doesn't seem like very much...." We end up getting a case of Lite, which Priscilla refuses to drink so she gets a six pack of Sam Adams... in bottles... all of my nautical instincts are cringing, but I get the ice, and then the cashier, who's name tag *really* does say 'Bubba', cards us all. He shakes his head at Priscilla's Vermontese or Maine or New Hamshireish id or wherever's from, but in the end he's a good Bubba and lets us go with our ill gotten booty.
      Off to the boat. Joy is a nearly flawless navigator, even having the combination for the lock on the gate at the marina. We get to the Vessel, but I'm a little nervouse about pulling the top off of Jamie's one week old boat, so we open some beers and wait for Jamie.
      In he rolls. Off comes the top. Ah, what a beautiful boat. Reminds me so much of the old Conquer boat, when it was still new and shiny. If you've never seen a brand new boat, go to the boat store one day. They look even nicer than new cars. And this one has its matching new-boat-smell. Funny thing, though, is that unlike new-car-smell, new-boat-smell never entirely goes away. If you fish a lot, it gets covered up, and as you put more hours on the vessel, you get that lake water smell, but the new-boat-smell is always there for you to find... somewhere.
      Nancy and James haven't showed up. We're tired of waiting. A shoal of eighteen year olds, "Class of 96" shirts in hand, are all sitting in their Ski Nautique and watching us pull out. One of them hollers at me "Hey.... can we go in your boat? We lost out keys!" Too bad, guy. I smile, wave, and feel that indescribable smugness of knowing "my boat is better than you boat." Of course it's not my boat, but I'm in it, and any boat under headway is better than a boat at dock.
      We gas up after passing some obnxious cigarette boat driving guy (who had cleverly named his vessel "The Liquid Asset", har har), and the Nancy and James show up. They pile in, we drive past the by now morose teenagers again, and we're off up the river.
      I'd never been on Lake Austin in a boat before. Unlike Travis, there's only two ways to go: up river and down river. We cruise up river, pass Mt. Bonnel, I point out Trilogy to everyone and give it a hearty finger, and we slip under the 360 bridge. The walls soar up around you there, and it's much much different than Travis now. Very cool. Very quiet. Nothing like it on the big lake. All of a sudden I feel very very far away from everything else. The sun's just getting behind the canyon wall, I'm in the aft with my hand strung over the side, feeling the water, and I'm indescribably happy.
      We travel a good way up the river: past Ski Shores, past the Pier, into parts unknown to me. We eventually pull over and Jamie, James, and I jump in. We splash around, I keep trying to pop out of the water into the bow of the vessel (which of course doesn't work), swim under the boat, then back up the swim ladder. I'm always careful with the swim ladder. Ask me to show you the scar across my nose some time.
      Back on board, heading down river, on to the Hula Hut. I'm starting to realize that we're going to finish off the beer, and that John and I are seemingly the main culprits. We get pulled over by a lake cop at one point. Thank God everyone's an adult, so no one insults the cop or gives him a hassel. He checks our registration, our fire exitinguishers, our Personal Flotation Devices (one life jacket per person), our HORN for Pete's sake, and finally tells us he pulled us over because we didn't have our running lights on. We find out that the light switch has *two* settings, one of which just turns on the anchor light... the other of which also turns on the running lights. Thank you, Sir, won't happen again, Sir, off to the Hula Hut.
      At the Hula Hut, I make a big deal out of setting the dock lines (I'm loving being on a boat again... I tend to get a little unbearable sometimes), I'm the last one in the 'Hut, and immediately a waitress wants me to put on shoes. Egad! I try to BS my way in, but she's firm, so I go back out, almost get into the wrong boat, find the right one, fool around with the dock lines some more, and get my shoes on. Back inside, I can't find anybody! I figure, shoot, the boat's still here... maybe there's a secret bar around here... and it turns out that there is. Way in the back, over the water, is where my merry band has found itself.
      James is engrossed talking to some guy about hunting (?!). I manage to get a seat next to Joy and we start yakking about what a boor this hunting joker is. The we start comparing random dreams we've had recently. Joy tells me about some guy who fell in love with her after a one hour lab. We laugh about it, and then we see a table open up. Plop at the table, we order some queso and quesadillas and maragaritas. Everything is rolling.
      We finally get out of the Hula Hut and back to Garden Escape. Everyone's starting to get tired... except Priscilla. She wants to go to 6th street. Everyone else says "No", but of course I say "Sounds like a great idea!" It's about 11:30, 6th street is rolling, and Priscilla's one of these folks who refuses to pay for parking. "I always get lucky!" she tells me. Around... and around... and around... I'm sure Priscilla's going to kill us, she's driving so aggressivley... around... around... I'm dizzy now... around... around... and Priscilla says, "This sucks. Let's go to Pflugerville."
      So off we go to the land of Jim and Jamie. We drive north, listening to Priscilla's favorite Phish song, and we're up in Pflugerville. We stop at the HEB for supplies. I can barely stand, but I get inside to buy beer. I stumble up to the cash register, and the guy, in an irritatingly cheerful manner, says "I can help you sir!" Great. Sell me these beers . He looks at the beer, looks back at me, looks confused, and eventually says "It's too late to buy beer." NO WAY! You can buy until 1:00 on Friday night! "No sir..." he says slowly. "Only on Saturday." I think he's worried I might take a swing at him or something. I don't, I only buy some potato chips, and ooze my way back to Priscilla's vehicle. We agree that the world is basically a shitty place.
      On up the road to the McDonald's, and we're in the house. They have folks down for the weekend, so the house is rocking. Jamie's blasting some Ozzy record, everybody's introducing themselves. Jim finds his way downstairs and points me to the liquor: a handle of Bushmill's, a handle of Crown, and a fifth of MacCallan 12. I love Bushmill's, and MacCallan's a fine single malt, but I just can't stomach the thought of straight whiskey so I end up mixing the Crown with Sprite. We make a couple of obligatory jokes about how good we must have it if Crown is the well drink.
      So Jim and his buddies reminisce about old times, so much so that eventually Jim, being the damn redneck he is, pulls out his shot gun and starts to confide in me what a "quail killing mother" this gun is. I taunt him mercilessly about it. Apparently the "quail killing mother" has been involved in its fair share of juvenile hi-jinks, and the reminiscing gets even more in depth and teary eyed. I'm having a great time, but I'm starting to feel kind of bad, and then I start sneezing.
      I don't know what it finally was. Actually, I do. It was the cat. For those of you who don't know, I'm heroically allergic to cats. I figured that this one, since its only about 17 ounces and had only been there a week, wouldn't be a problem. But the late night, the dehydration from the boat, all of the booze, the smoke, all added up to pound the cat allergy into my with a vengeance. I end up sitting outside, sniffing away, from about 2:00 on. I have to get out of here, and I'm ready to call a cab.
      But then Jim's buddy Angelo offers me a ride home. I jump at the chance. Not only is it a ride home, but it's a ride home in Angelo's sweet, 11 month old Corvette. I stumble out front after saying goodbye and sink myself into the car. Bright red, black leather interior. Now, I've been in a few Vettes in my time, but never a *new* Vetter, and apparently they don't age that well. All of the old Vettes I've been in have been fast enough, but none of them have been really, er, nice. Angelo's Vette was *nice*. *Real* nice. Quiet, shiny, fast. As we're driving along, Angelo gives me all of the details: he can go up to 75 in 2nd gear, or down to 15 in fourth. To demonstrate the second gear, he accelerates to 75. Quickly. Very quickly. I'm reminded of an old song:

      Have you ever been so fast you thought you would die...
      Have you ever seen the face of the Lord?

Welp, almost did. Very cool. After jumping up to 75, we settled down to 65 or so for the ten miles back to Austin. I admired how sweet the car was, how great the dashboard and radio looked to my numbed body (all of those pretty lights), how shiny the paint still was. There's a reason people buy new Corvettes.
      Anyway, Angelo drops me off and screams back to Pflugerville. I fall asleep in the shower, and I go to bed as the sun is rising.

      The next day, Mr. Antone wakes me up at 11:30 or so. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die. The combination hang-over/allergy attack is brutality. I lay there in bed, stark staring wide awake, not sure if I can keep from hurling, my head hurts like it's being squeezed in a two ton press, and I'm hating Carl with every fiber of my being for waking me. I can't go back to sleep. The radio hurts my ears. The light hurts my eyes. Apparently my alarm clock had gone off at some time in the night, since the plug's been ripped out of the wall and its black, unpowered face is staring at me some what accussingly. After moaning for a few minutes, and even that hurts, I crawl into the tub, turn on the water so that it's barely trickling, turn off the lights, wrap a towel around my head, and fall back asleep.
      I wake up again at three, and now I'm sure I'm not going to die, but I kind of wish I could at least go into a coma. But now there's no chance for sleep, and I can't imagine doing anything, and I'm restless. I try to read some Camus. I read about one page and I think my head's going to split and roll off my shoulders: too strenuous. I fire up the computer for some Warcraft. My eyes cross before the OS even boots up -- Warcraft is out. I lay on the floor and moan a little more, and this doesn't hurt as much as it did earlier in the day.
      Eventually, I work up enough energy to go to the grocery store. I need some toothpaste. And something to eat. I sit in the Central Market Cafe for an hour, reading the Chronicle, and drinking soda after soda. I evenutally get bored and wander back home. I lay on the floor and moan some more.
      Traci calls. We talk for a while. I tell her I'm in a dire way, but that if I die I'll give everything I own to her. She tells me I should go get something to read. I tell her about Camus and that I'm afraid reading might make my head explode. She recommends something on the Robert Ludlum level and hangs up. Good old Traci.
      So I grope my way back to Bookstop and buy a book called "Running with the Demon" by Terry Brooks. Definitely not your highest of browed reading, but perfect for my endeavors. Modern day demon terrorizes small town, young girl saves the day. Perfect! (It kind of reminded me of Raymond E. Feist's "Faery Tale," for those interested, though I think "Faery Tale" is the better book by far). I read half the book, feel good enough to go back to Central Market and get some milk and cookies (a little self indulgence is natural among the ill healthed), come back home and polish off the rest of the book before I go to bed. I kind of hate doing that: I had even bought the hardcover, so $25 divided by 420 pages divided by one day comes out to a pretty expensive past time.
      Plus, it left me with the problem of what to do today. After a serious cat attack, I'm usually laid up good for one day (that being Saturday), and then I'm back among the living the next day (that being today), and tomorrow I'll be full of holy fire once again. But today was setting up to creep along at its petty pace, so I had to go back to Central Market (you know, I love living where I do), get some lemonade and some new hot sauce with the auspicious name "The Endorphinator" (no kidding! A picture of the Aztec god of thunder on the label, too!), and stop by the book store again. I buy an issue of "Sky and Telescope" and then I buy a copy of "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Iriving. If you've never read Irving, then you're missing out. He wrote "The World According to Garp", which is a fantastic book -- never saw the movie --, and "Prayer" is shaping up to be as good. I don't know that all of his stuff is this good, but I sure hope so.
      So, it eventually rolls around time to write the weekend update. A boring, but good weekend. I hate being sick, but it does enforce a certain amount of reflection thats hard to come by when you're healthy. Too many distractions normally. Of course, it's mixed with hefty doses of self-pity and self-recrimination ("How much did you have to drink, jerk?"), but self reflection is always a good thing. I'm sorry I missed the McDonald's wing ding on Saturday, but I was pretty sure I couldn't return to the scene of the crime just yet without putting the other foot into the grave. As it is, I'm finishing off the update, then off to read a little more Owen Meany, and on to bed.
      Good night.



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