June 16, 2018
Los Angeles, CA
It’s rare nowadays for me to remember a dream. I wake up disheveled, with no memory of what’s occurred over the course of the evening. My pillows are scattered on the floor, my hair is a nightmare, there’s urine everywhere, etc. It’s a warzone.
However, Friday morning was the first following the opening of the World Cup, so I was different. I woke up alert, with something to live for. Generally, I don’t really watch television and I don’t follow popular sport, but every four years I become a monster that rolls up a dollar bill and snorts mountains of both, rubbing the remains on my taut gums until my mouth tastes like a factory. This was the first day of my sick, new, temporary life.
I remembered my dream vividly: I went to Ann Arbor to surprise my friend Nili at her law school graduation. After the ceremony I approached her and she denied a hug and a bouquet of flowers and was incensed that I had showed up without telling her. Then, her mother looked at me and asked why I had unfollowed her on Instagram. I woke up before I could tell her that Nili had firmly ordered me to do so.
It was the day before Father’s Day, which meant I had to scrap together a dad look. At work, we have an annual tradition where we dress up for father’s day as part of a larger celebration of the fake holiday. It started as a joke, but the only ones that really stuck were Father’s Day and June 9th.
June 9th, or 06/09, became an office-wide joke when our accountant’s 12-year old kid embarrassed her in front of God and her community by choosing the number 69 for the back of his youth league soccer jersey. Since then, the office has had a group chat going where we periodically update each other when the number appears in the wild (addresses, license plates, deli tickets). Additionally, everyone’s birthday cake is adorned with candles showing them to be turning 69 years of age. We’ve all sort of devolved into snickering preteens, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While June 9th is a low-commitment joke, Father’s Day is a little more of a production. We have our costume contest, a putting contest, a dad joke-off, and some trivia pertaining to famous dads in film and television.
I almost shaved the middle of my head a la male pattern baldness, but I chickened out and instead opted for a knee brace on the outside of a pair of khakis, white Crocs, and a pair of headphones on my neck blasting Def Leppard all day. Other notable dads were Khalid the Somali dad, Natalie from Silver Lake, Jacki the Miami retiree, and Sean as Don, the alcoholic adult-film enthusiast and Duffy as his teen-aged son Scruffy, who likes video games, and looking up to his absentee father, Don. Who hurt us, right? Haha.
For lunch most of us had barbecue and canned Coors Lights, while Don (Sean) opted for bourbon until he realized he was actually a little drunk and cut himself off because he doesn’t know what real character commitment looks like.
Don (again, Sean), as always, swept all of the prizes: A shirt from the Fort Lauderdale outpost of Hooters, a Margaritaville baseball cap, a sixer of Coors Banquets and a tattered issue of Playboy from July 1969 (which, nice). We ordered wings and a dream collab Tommy Bahama x Sweet Lady Jane cake, which was pina colada-flavored cake covered in shards of coconut, and embarrassingly delicious. I stayed a bit to clean afterwards and my friend texted me to meet up. He’s a touring musician and we don’t see much of each other, so we decided to catch up while we could.
We thought it’d be funny to do our big night out in Silver Lake so we went to Edendale, which I joked should just rename itself “Get Out: The Bar.” We talked about how we would probably both be really into abusing pills if we did drugs, then we talked about Taos, New Mexico and other art communities tucked into arid biomes east of California.
We ran into a woman he knew from his days working at two different Whole Foods (pre-Bezos, post-probiotics), and they talked about her father, who is known locally as “Malibu George,” and about a venue called Froggy’s. Froggy’s was previously an old Topanga hotspot in the days of Joni Mitchell et al. and apparently used to be called The Gold Rush. They mentioned a rumor about how it had been owned by Neil Young in those days, prior to the release of his record, After the Gold Rush. I stopped paying attention and instead fixated on a poodle in the distance and watched him eat an entire Styrofoam bowl, like a good boy. It seemed more my speed than hippies playing Martin guitars and having yucky patchouli sex in the woods.
We parted ways and I caught wind of an acquaintance’s birthday party. I ended up in a gated community, walked downstairs to a backyard and saw a brand new XL Big Green Egg, which is the mother of all barbecues and costs a cool $1,200. I walked around some more and discovered a jam room full of old guitars, a few from the 50s and 60s that I knew pulled up to $20,000 on the street. Soon enough I was informed that I was at an A-list celebrity’s residence, and that she didn’t really smoke meat or play guitars. I retreated to the music room, shut all the doors and started playing the drums. You know you’ve made it when you can play live drums at one in the morning. What a luxury! I was awash with joy, quickly devolving back into the horny teenager who had milked a drum set out of his poor mother in the early aughts, and played loudly in between listening to low-bitrate mp3s on Winamp.
I played the intro to Weezer’s “The Sweater Song (Undone)” and I heard a muffled “Is someone playing Weezer?!” My friend Jamie burst in, and we proceeded to play the hits all night. How funny that the suburbs of all larger American metros produce essentially the same kid, who seeks sanctuary in the same type of music and dress, and Amélie. I’d never felt closer to Jamie than I did that evening, because we both managed to tap into who we were trying to be on different sides of the country at 12, maybe 13.
I believe everyone is essentially who they were when they hit puberty because it’s when you first start to care and project the person you think you want to be. These pubescent affectations stick around long enough, and eventually the costume becomes the wearer. I always think about how I cringed my way through gallons of black coffee in my tweens because I thought it was “goth” or, at least loosely “alt” and now I actually just love the taste. Also, everyone who starts smoking cigarettes thinks it looks cool on Joe Strummer, or Elvis, so they try it on themselves, and now we’re all just too old to think it looks cool while also cripplingly addicted to this thing that is murdering everything good inside of us.
Just before 2 a.m., I called it a night so I could get home and watch the World Cup. I Postmates’d (I don’t know how to properly say that, man) some available chow mein that tasted like silly putty and mostly ended up in the garbage, and stayed up to watch all four games, splayed across my bed.