Gobsmacked by dixē.flatlin3

alyssaGobsmacked 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.

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The Christmas Ornament by dixē.flatlin3

img_7314The Christmas Ornament by dixē.flatlin3

My son and I recently unpacked our Christmas trees and decorations. We spent an evening drinking hot chocolate, setting up the decorations and watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s a ritual I have had since the mid-90s, no need to exclude the kidlet from my fun.

As we were unpacking the decorations, I came across a familiar box, one that I have lugged around for over three decades. It has not changed much over the years, but this year I was struck by the peculiarity of my having kept an item for so long. Given its roots, why did I carefully tend to this heirloom?

It is simple ornament, a delicate, hand-blown glass orb with a few nibs in the shape of circles. I distinctly recall being highly unimpressed upon receiving it. And yet, I have kept it safe and sound despite its inauspicious roots.

I told my son that I vividly remember the circumstances of receiving the orb. It was a gift exchange in elementary school. Back then, I do not believe that these events were voluntary, and every kid had to draw a name and bring a gift. Or god forbid you did not bring a gift, and then the recipient went without…the horror! This was back in the days when you could only bring Valentines for the kids you like, so gift exchanges were odd. Given this Lord of the Flies setting, I also recall the poverty lines being very distinct in school. We were divided up into the: rich kids, poor kids, in-between kids, immigrant kids, unpopular kids, and the misfits. We were slowly forming the cliques and social groups that would carry over into middle school and beyond.

Why I vividly recall this is likely because the kid who gave me a gift this year was one of the poor, unpopular kids. Now, I fell somewhere into the in-between/misfits group, so I wasn’t high up on the food chain myself. However, I can still remember in detail the soft features of this pale-complected girl with gentle brown eyes and mousy brown hair. But I cannot tell you her name, and I know I do not have any yearbooks to discern who she was.

I sat with my child and showed him the beautiful ornament, which he admired, and I told him I would likely pass it on to him, should it withstand even more time. And I told him its origin story, emphasizing how disappointed I was when I opened the gift, which came in the same plain, brown box that houses it now, wrapped in nothing more than bubble wrap to protect its delicate contents. I could not tell you what anyone else received that day, I just know I thought that a glass ball was lame.

And yet, here we are, more than thirty years later, and that same fucking, glass ball endures. And it allowed me to show my child that one should never be ungracious for anything anyone gives to them, because you never know what will last.

Happy Holidaze,

df3