Witches and Bitches

By our best estimations it had been nearly 34 years since we had last spoken. That would place the year at 1986 and our ages at approximately 15. We had been the best of friends for one summer, as if often the case in high school. I believe that we met at our summer jobs in the mall. Although it may have been more of a full-time gig for me as I was enrolled in the fucked-up kids, distance learning program and spent my school days working. Nonetheless, our paths crossed and we became unlikely friends. I say that because I do believe that we shared a boyfriend at one point.

If I am not mistaken, we were coworkers and after a weekend of partying, I returned to work to find out that the guy I had hooked up with had a girlfriend, who was, you guessed it, my new coworker. I can say with assurance that it was not intentional on my part. As I type this, I am vaguely recalling an incident between us at a party where she confronted me about the overlap. It was short lived because she was very intoxicated and I was very prone to well-documented, violent outbursts back then. She had requested to punch me, which I had agreed to, but warned that I would fuck her up after she took that first swing. As all of this was taking place during a toga party, several girls wrapped in sheets drunkenly encouraged her to back down, pulling her away, disappearing back into the depths of the merriment from whence they’d come.

Probably because we were coworkers, or perhaps because we shared the circumstance of being sequestered to the vast desert, we became pals, for a while. From what I recall, there was much carousing and all sorts of trouble. I would guesstimate that our friendship lasted only that summer, and from what we discussed today, I am probably correct. Lots of hours spent roaming the dark, and oftentimes dangerous, streets of downtown Palm Springs.

In this day and age of constant connectivity and hanging out in the high school lunchroom again, I mean Facebook, I must admit to not being super excited at the thought of reconnecting with old classmates. The novelty of that wore off by about 2008. I have tried to connect via social media, but I have found the performative nature of the medium itself to be less than satisfying. Sharing constant, but not connected updates with people I did not naturally stay in contact with (e.g. there was a reason we drifted apart) is an annoyance to which I no longer allot any bandwidth.

Oddly, ‘twas The Socials that connected me with this old chum. We were eventually able to hook up for a proper phone chat and I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the interaction. As we filled each other in on the basic rundowns of our current situations, the 30,000 foot overview of our histories, we eventually got to the topic as to why and when we had lost contact. Funny how time works, things that must have been such a big deal at the time have a way of becoming topics you can barely recall when pressed.

While the exact timeline is fuzzy, I did recall the specific incident of which she spoke, and it suddenly made perfect sense as to why we had lost contact. She started by bringing up a boyfriend whose name she could not recall. As we spoke, it was like pieces of a puzzle coming together as I was able to help her fill in the blanks with random memories that fit the narrative. There are a lot of events that can cause a lasting injury for some, but be only a vague memory for others. With the simple utterance of the ex-boyfriend’s name, down the rabbithole we went.

She spoke of an event  that had taken place. A very nasty display of human behavior that had transpired involving some of our fellow high schoolers. As we spoke, I continued to remember the story from several different sources, and could not determine why I had never known how it was resolved; however, these nasty events were not something “polite” society talked about much back then. Somehow the story had been swept under the rug to protect the reputations of the institution and the individuals involved. As is the norm, the victim was silenced and left in the lurch. The entire event eventually being lost to the passage of time.

The ex-boyfriend of hers had been a good friend of mine, but not necessarily a good guy. He was inappropriately older than us, but to me he had always been more like an older brother. He was old enough to buy beer, and I was old enough to drive him around when he was drunk. But that is a story for another time. Having forgotten they had dated, I was somewhat surprised when she informed me that after the incident, he had immediately broken up with her over the phone, stating his inability to “deal” with it as the impetus.

We shared our various traumas and dramas and how it feels to be quickly approaching the much-dreaded age of FIVE OH! She is a grandmother to a six-year-old girl from her 30-year-old son and I am the proud parent of a teenage boy. Summarizing the late-80s and 90s was a very engaging and enlightening conversation. She was refreshingly honest and wove a tale that included teenage parenthood, following one’s own path, facing one’s demons, and recovery. We giggled over how prevalent sex work had been in the early- to mid-90s. Sort of a renaissance period where it had been seen as mainstream to work in the adult entertainment and fetish industries. Both acknowledging that the roads that lead to there were oftentimes less than pleasant travels, but survive them we had.

This desert is a weird place. Always has been, always will be. They can build a plethora of windmills and pop-up art installations, and keep trying to turn it into the next Las Vegas, but it’s the land that holds the real power. The same desolate landscape that inspired a generation of musicians, and forged a new genre of cock-rock music, can be as powerful as it is deadly. Locals weave a lot of tales regarding the canons of these warm desert sands and the voices, mostly males, have omitted quite a lot of the truth. Maybe it’s time for that to change.

My old pal and I have plans to hang out very soon. Mostly likely during a Samhain gathering of witches and bitches I’ve arranged. My way of sending off this fucked up year with a pagan bang. There’s something magical about the solitude of the desert. Maybe we’ll raise a few spirits, for certain we will drink to the dead.

Beer Run by dixē.flatlin3

Beer Run by dixē.flatlin3

            Time to get my creativity flowing again.  I have been busy with academic writing, which has its own rewards, but can be less than satisfying.  So, let’s talk about beer runs.  You remember those, right?  You’re at a party and suddenly there is no more beer, and that simply has to be corrected as quickly as humanly possible?

            This was a common occurrence during my formative years, and because I had a car, I was often the one called upon to assist in these emergency situations.  Of course being female also meant I was often times a necessary implement in procuring the alcohol.  We called it ‘pimping beer’, which essentially meant I had to stand around outside and ask adults, usually males, to purchase it on our behalf.  This particular evening though being female was not part of the equation, only the car.

            I have accepted that my main role within the crew of guys I hung out with was as their designated get-away driver.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I can see that is what I did.  I believe that the statutes of limitations have expired for most all our juvenile delinquent activities, at least I hope that they have.

            To say that I ran with a rowdy crowd is a polite way of admitting that I was a borderline hoodlum.  This particular evening a group of skinheads had shown up to the party we were at.  At some point during the festivities I was called upon to assist with a beer run.  I didn’t see this as unusual because as I have mentioned, it was one of my regular duties.  After we had all loaded into my car, I noticed that it was too late to purchase alcohol, and I mentioned this to my passengers.  There were two guys from my normal crew, and two from the one that had shown up.  One of the bald guys told me not worry about it because he knew of a place that he could still get beer from.  I followed the directions he gave from the back seat as we drove along the deserted streets.

            Eventually we pulled up in front of a closed liquor store.  I was somewhat confused as the two bald guys told us to wait in the car, and got out.  They casually approached the front of the store, picked up a huge cement ashtray by the entrance, and threw it through the glass double-doors.  Of course I immediately went into shock because it was apparent I was now a part of something that was more than just a beer run.  As my friends and I sat in my car in a stunned silence, listening to the sound of the alarm going off, we didn’t say a word to each other.  As quickly as the bald ones had entered the store, they came back out the door, throwing a keg through the doors to make more room for their exit; however, one of them got cut by the glass on their way out.

            The sight of blood in my car was nothing out of the ordinary.  In fact, I had grown accustomed to it and the smell barely bothered me anymore.  I immediately took off once they had loaded their booty into the back of my hatchback.  The boys were all chattering, the bald ones laughing, but my pals were a bit more vocal with their ‘what-the-fuck-just-happened’ thoughts.  I stared straight ahead, completely silent, and drove.  Making sure to obey the speed limit, use turn signals, and not miss a single stop sign.

            I don’t remember how the evening ended, I believe someone needed stitches, but I cannot be sure.  Several of my crew came out to assist me in cleaning up the blood that was throughout my car.  I believe they realized that I was rather upset with what had happened, but did their best to console me.  We all had a good laugh over the fact that no one had a tap for the keg that had come flying through the front doors.

            I learned a very important lesson that evening, and it is one that I have never forgotten:  Whenever someone says they need to make a beer run, always make sure that they can still legally do so before offering to drive them anywhere.


The Tale of the Rabbit

I had a green Pinto, the *year of which now escapes me.  The two-door sedan and it was god awful green.  I acknowledged this by keeping a frog on the console between the front seats.  I lovingly referred to this car as the PintOSh 2000 model and it lived up to its moniker. All that really mattered was that I had transportation.  This is always the best leverage to have as a teenager.  I had room for up to four  passengers and I never rode alone.

From what I recall, there were four of us in the car this particular evening.  We were making the rounds of all the local house parties in the area.  Names?  No idea and not important anyway.  It was four teenage girls, in a late 70s model green Pinto, during the late 80s.  No good could come from this.

I could probably still drive to the location of this party, but I cannot describe what the exterior looked like.  I barely remember the interior.  They all looked the same after a while.  Houses packed beyond capacity with vaguely familiar bodies and a band playing in the back yard.  Oh, and beer, lots and lots of beer.

Leaving one particular gathering, we piled into my car and headed on our merry way.  No less than two-blocks later a local police officer flashed his lights.  I can remember exactly what I was thinking as I pulled over, “I am so drunk and so going to jail.”  The adrenaline dump I experienced with that realization is likely what saved my ass.

I happily performed all the field sobriety tests that the kind officer administered and passed with flying colors.  I thanked the officer for his time and went back to my car.  Where there were three drunk girls completely freaked out and rather silent.  So I turned up the music.

About a mile from where we were pulled over a rabbit committed suicide in front of my car.  Everyone saw it and agreed it was a kamikaze bunny.  I didn’t stop to confirm death, we had places to be and the coyotes can always use a freebie.  The desert is like that.

Somehow, later as the sun was rising, we had decided to be mischievous and vandalize a car, gathering what we could as we drove along.  I had the thought to travel back to the kamikaze bunny since we were in the area.  In the distance I could see the outline of an animal in the road.

I stopped the car approximately 10-feet away from the bunny and was out of the car before it had fully stopped.  I grabbed the bunny by its ears and took it to the trunk.  I placed it on top of the construction sign we had also acquired that said Open Trench. Again I returned to find the car very quiet.  So I turned up the music.

Once our mission was accomplished I went about dropping everyone off at their respective residences.  The best part of this random tale is that I could not tell you how the person responded to our late night these gifts.  I believe we never knew.

Funny what you remember.

*a friend on the phone claims the correct year is 1977.