Gobsmacked by dixē.flatlin3
In April of 2017, I flew in and out of Southern California twice in less than week for job interviews. During this blur of travel, I happened to drive past a tattoo shop an old crony was said to be haunting. I admittedly showed up very early by tattooist time (noon) and chatted up his apprentice. I handed him a business card and asked him to pass it on with the warning I’d be back.
A short time later my travels took me by the same area and I once again stopped. Now, usually I am not a boisterous presence, but since I knew he was there, I decided to walk into the shop and loudly call out his name. I should probably mention that I have not seen this dude since the 80s. For real. Neither of us can recall if we ever saw each other in the 90s or not, but a voice out of the past might freak some people out – never crossed my mind.
He had cautiously leaned around the corner and said my name in a notably incredulous tone. This motherfucker has seen as much crazy shit as I have, so it takes a lot to rattle him. As his friend’s (ex)girlfriend, I had been cool by proxy. There were also crazy parties at my house, and again, I had a car. Never underestimate the importance of that currency in our formative years. But he and I had never been particularly close, but we were part of the same crew.
So here we were, almost three decades later, me grinning like an idiot and him standing there, gobsmacked. As he had said my name in the form of both a question and an answer, I finally spoke up ‘you act like you haven’t seen me since high school, homie.’ We chatted for a few hours and then I had to drive back to the airport.
Since that day, I have relocated to back to the area, accepted a job position and reacquainted with my old chum. We see each other more often than the rest, most likely the shop connection. I lived that life for a lot of years, and we came up as pups together – I get it. We also both have done a lot of drugs, so we can help each other fill in the gaps. Win-win.
Our most recent discussion was around a series of concerts that took place one summer, back-in-the-day, that we all attended. It had drawn a very wide crowd, and there had been a lot of LA-ites. He had graduated before me and headed off to art school in DTLA, so I asked him if he recalled a very specific car from that summer. One that I had somehow ended up spending an evening in with its bizarre occupants. He immediately remembered the car. When I asked who the fuck they were and why would I have been in the car, he replied, “I have no fucking clue who those people were.” Neither of us had any idea. And I had always presumed he had known these clownshoes.
Needless to say, my adult brain knows a lot of the answers to the whys of that night, but I am often surprised that I managed to survive and come out of it all relatively unscathed. My friend has gently reminded me of how unseemly we had all been back then. That combined with the reputation of the area’s occupants being druggies (or closely connected to) who could easily bury you in a hole in the desert had added to our uncanny abilities to evade calamity.
I remember weird details about that car, but that’s a whole different story.