The Party by the Ambulance Depot
The last time I smoked weed, or one of the last times, I was at this party, which was pretty much just a campfire. So maybe it’s more accurate to call it a get-together. I don’t really know. But the house was right by this ambulance depot. Every so often an ambulance would be dispatched. Whenever this happened, this garage door was raised to let the ambulance out of the garage where they were all parked. And whenever the garage door was raised, this alarm sounded, I guess to let anyone who might be outside the door know that they needed to get out of the way because an ambulance was about to come flying out. I was just sitting there and, as I have said, I was pretty high. It was one of those mellow get-togethers where no one was really talking. We were all just kind of staring at the fire. But after listening to the alarm go off five or six times, it occurred to me that it was announcing catastrophe. In a lot of ways, the alarm reminded me of those revolving red lights on the top of slot machines that go off when you hit a jack pot. Since at the time everything that I just said seemed very profound to me, I felt that I should tell someone, or you know, share the knowledge, not because I wanted to show off or anything like that, but because most of my friends seemed to have just sort of vanished overnight and I desperately wanted to connect, or you might say re-connect, with people. So I leaned over and explained it all to this guy sitting next to me. He just sat there as I was explaining, kind of nodding his head in that way people do when they don’t really want to encourage you but also don’t want to be outright rude. As you can probably imagine, when I finished, he didn’t really say much, so I did that thing that idiots do where they try to re-explain different aspects of what they’ve just said as if you’re the idiot. I was all like, “You know, so every time the alarm goes off, something terrible has just happened.” And the guy was just like, “Yeah, I get it.” But I was still all like, “So what I’m saying is that it’s like a celebration of sorts. We might as well be at a catastrophe festival.” And right around this time, I realized how out of control I was being and just started laughing hysterically, which seemed to frighten the guy. He leaned all the way back in his chair and kept glancing from my face to my hands, as if at any minute the knife would appear, the horror music would start to play, and I’d be stabbing him. And when I saw how genuinely scared he looked, I couldn’t help myself, I started laughing even harder. And I just kept laughing. Even now, as I type this, I’m laughing my ass off.
I didn’t really know anyone there, but I decided to attend the get-together because as previously mentioned, I was hungry for human interaction. This guy I knew named Trent had asked me if I wanted to go. And when he’d asked me, even though I did want to go, I distinctly remember wondering why he’d asked, because from what I have gathered, I’ve never been considered a particularly fun or outgoing person. At the time, which is to say in my early twenties, I was also unemployed and living with my parents. I was spending almost every night getting high and riding my bike around town aimlessly, and while this was something I enjoyed doing, again, it was not the kind of thing that would seem to make someone essential to a good get-together. What I’m getting at here is that at the risk of seeming dick-ish, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Trent and I were not really friends. Although we hung out all the time, if I’m going to be honest, all we really had in common was that we both smoked weed. And so in the context of the get-together, I initially assumed that Trent had asked me if I wanted to go because I just so happened to have some really good weed and he did not. I still think that what I just said was at least part of the reason, but I came to believe that Trent also asked me to go because this woman he had the hots for, let’s call the woman Tabitha, since I cannot for the life of me remember her name, was going to be there and he didn’t want to show up by himself. I started to put this together because Trent wouldn’t just give me the address, so that I could simply ride my bike and meet him there. He insisted upon picking me up, and after he’d picked me up, we stopped by a liquor store. At the liquor store, he made a big deal out of finding this fancy beer that was apparently brewed by monks. When he found the beer, he looked relieved and said something to the effect of “Tabitha really likes this fancy beer that is apparently brewed by monks.” I obviously had no idea who Tabitha was, but since my knowing who Tabitha was didn’t really seem critical, I just started nodding my head and said something like, “Sounds good, man.” And then out in the parking lot of the liquor store, I stood there and watched Trent put one twenty-four–ounce bottle of the fancy beer that was apparently brewed by monks into an Igloo cooler, the kind that construction workers carry their lunches in.
Of course, as soon as Trent and I got to the get-together, I embarrassed myself. Everyone was standing in the kitchen. This was before we all moved outside to the fire. And this guy who was standing next to me was carrying on about how his back hurt. I’m sure you’ve heard this kind of thing before. He had his hand on his lower back and was saying, “God, my back is killing me,” etc. And even though I am not a doctor and have absolutely no medical training, when it comes to the back, I just so happened to have read a book by this prominent back researcher named Stuart McGill. He’s retired now, but if you haven’t heard of him, take my word for it, or don’t and Google it, either way, he’s big time. Physical therapists often refer to McGill’s contribution to the field as “the McGill Big Three,” which are three exercises that McGill believes every single person should do on a daily basis to promote what he calls “endurance.” He also recommends doing this stretch, where you essentially reach up toward the ceiling with both hands, every twenty minutes or so when you’re sitting a lot. I was in the process of relaying that particular stretch to the guy who was complaining about his back when I embarrassed myself. I said, “Have you ever tried one of these?” and reached both my hands up toward the ceiling. I had not checked before I did this, and when I reached up, I had a beer in my one hand, and the ceiling fan, which was turned on, swatted my beer. Although I managed to hold onto the bottle, beer ended up splashing onto everyone standing around me.
When I officially met Tabitha, I was standing in the middle of the yard. I can’t remember why I was standing in the middle of the yard, because by this point, everyone was sitting around the fire. But I was definitely standing in the middle of the yard when Trent and Tabitha walked up to me. “Let her see that weed you have,” Trent said, motioning from me to Tabitha, as if I’d just been standing there, awaiting his instructions. Since I figured he was trying to impress her, I wasn’t going to say anything, but maybe I looked a little put off with the whole thing, because Tabitha said, “I’m Tabitha by the way,” and held out her hand, which seemed way too formal to me, but after we’d shaken hands and introduced ourselves, I handed her this Ziplock bag I had with two of three pre-rolled joints in it. Even though it was the kind of weed that you could smell through the bag, Tabitha took one of the joints out and held it under her nose, inhaling deeply. “This is good,” she said. “Not as good as what we have in Colorado, but still pretty good.” After she said what she said about Colorado, Tabitha just stood there, waiting, as if she expected me to say something. My best guess is that she was expecting me to start some playful banter or whatever about how my weed was just as good as anything they had in Colorado, but since I’m not really a playful banter kind of person, I said what I thought in all sincerity might serve as a conversation starter: “I’ve heard there’s a lot of asbestos just floating around in Colorado because of natural deposits throughout the state,” which was true. I had heard that, and as silly as it probably sounds, hearing that one random factoid, regardless of whether or not it’s true, turned me off to the whole state, just like that. But either way, my comment about asbestos brought the interaction to an end.
Later on, when I was sitting by the fire, I started talking to this guy who was wearing a flannel shirt about the cemetery next to the ambulance depot. I’m willing to admit that when I was bored from riding around town at night, I would occasionally go and sit in the cemetery, you know, just to see what happened. This isn’t building up to anything. Nothing ever happened, or at least nothing supernatural. Obviously, I didn’t say any of this to the guy in the flannel shirt. I guess I should also mention that we were all at his house. At any rate, just in passing, I asked him if he ever went and hung out in the cemetery, and in the general category of ghosts and whatnot, he answered my question by telling me about some kid he used to know. For whatever reason, the kid had been playing by himself in the woods along 80/94. I knew exactly what woods the guy was talking about. Growing up, I’d had friend who lived right next to them, and maybe it was the proximity to the highway itself, or the fact that the county jail constantly had prisoners cleaning up garbage along that stretch of highway, but those woods always creeped me out. My point being that they seemed like the kind of woods where you might run into someone you didn’t want to run into. But after he’d mentioned the kid, the guy in the flannel shirt sat back in his chair, in that way people do when they think that they are about to say something profound, and he said, “That kid I knew never told me what happened, but he said that he’d never go into those woods again.” It was the kind of thing that begs follow-up questions. For example: Why didn’t you ask what happened? Does this have anything to do with ghosts? So based on what you just said, am I to assume that you do not hang out in the cemetery next to the ambulance depot? And yet, since I often say things that don’t make any sense and would prefer not to be called out, I decided to just let it go, because in many ways, I was just happy to have been making what I felt at least verged on normal small talk.
Another thing that happened at that party by the ambulance depot was that as I was coming out of the house with an unopened beer, Tabitha walked up to me, and without saying anything, she took the beer from me. The idea of taking something from someone sounds aggressive. It wasn’t aggressive. I could certainly be wrong, but I felt like she was possibly attracted to me. Or maybe the better way to say that would be that I hoped she was. She was attractive, and despite making a big deal about living in Colorado, maybe too big of a deal in my opinion, I’m just as shallow as everyone else, which is to say that I’m attracted to attractive people. But once she had the beer, the two of us were just standing there, facing each other, and she went to twist the cap off. While I can’t remember what kind of beer it was, it was not a twist top. I thought about trying to stop her. I would have had to act fast, but I probably could have done it, even if I was pretty high. But I remember thinking that maybe she knew something I didn’t, like maybe this was some kind of trick of hers. The whole thing really did have the feeling of a performance. She’d certainly made a show out of walking up to me and taking the beer. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t a show. She tried to twist the cap, and when the cap did not twist, this look spread across her face as if she was very disgusted with me, as if I’d known all along what was about to happen and had just stood there like a goon, which wasn’t necessarily true. She didn’t say anything though, just set the beer down on the porch’s railing and walked away. After she walked away, I stood there, staring at the beer and trying to decide if she had possibly cut her hand when trying to twist the cap, you know, because even though I understand that the world is one big toilet, I was not crazy about drinking a beer that would probably have someone else’s blood around the mouth of the bottle. In the end, I decided to play it safe and just left the beer sitting there on the railing, where it remained for the rest of the party, at least for me, as a small, uncomfortable reminder of the interaction.
Understandably, the people having the get-together, i.e., the guy in the flannel shirt and his girlfriend, didn’t want anyone using the bathroom in their house. Or maybe they just didn’t want me using the bathroom in their house. Sometimes it’s hard to tell these things. Either way, when I asked about the bathroom, I was told to go over on the edge of the yard. And here’s the thing: I don’t have any problem going to the bathroom outside. I do, however, get extremely nervous when there’s a possibility of people seeing my exposed genitals, because as my one friend Gerard has repeatedly assured me, people do occasionally get charged with crimes for doing that sort of thing. And the way that the yard was situated, I was going to be facing three other houses when pissing, unless of course I walked to the edge of the yard and then turned to face everyone at the party, which I sort of assumed was not what they had in mind. But it was horrible. I really had to go. Generally speaking, I would describe the experience of going to the bathroom as a relief, but not in this case. The whole time I was worried that some person, or worse, some kid, was going to look out one of the windows and see me and that things would escalate from there. It was right around this point when I started to get really paranoid, even going so far as to wonder if I were being somehow set up.
I don’t want to make too big a deal out of this, but now that I was paranoid, I was probably acting a little, well, paranoid. It’s something that my personality tends to hue toward. Probably the most paranoid I’d ever gotten was at this concert when I’d eaten all these mushrooms. And at some point, I’d just decided that every single person around me was a cop, which is to say that I was really starting to freak out. My friends could tell that something was amiss, and as your friends will do when they think something is amiss, they started asking me all kinds of questions. But as you can probably imagine, being asked a bunch of questions didn’t help with the whole everyone-is-a-cop scenario that was running wild in my head. The way I talked myself down in that particular instance was pretty simple though. I just started asking myself, Would Bill Clinton do this or that? And if the answer was no, then I didn’t do it. I couldn’t tell you why I landed on Bill Clinton. This was definitely after Blowjobgate, but what I am trying to establish here is that I have a tendency to get paranoid, especially when high, and when it happened at the party by the ambulance depot, I simply started denying anything anyone would ask me. On any other night, I would have probably only had to do this once, or at most twice, you know, because as I have said, it’s not like people are generally falling all over themselves to talk to me, but on this particular night, I’m guessing because I had that really good weed, people kept coming up to me, mostly asking about the weed, which I was now denying all knowledge of. While I could have just left, I didn’t want to do so for two reasons: the first was that what with how paranoid I was feeling, the idea of walking down the street after I’d been drinking, in a town where they were not bashful about arresting people for public intoxication, was not a very attractive option, and the second was because, as I just alluded to this was a smaller town, where word would often get around when you went to a get-together and embarrassed yourself, and I felt like leaving abruptly, or you know, without Trent, would be somehow conceding that I had in fact embarrassed myself and doing this would thereby increase the likelihood that people would talk about what had happened. So I decided to just sit there and wait for Trent to finally give up on Tabitha, and at some point, as I sat there and waited for Trent, the alarm at the ambulance depot synched up with the people who kept coming up to me and asking about the weed, so that whenever someone opened their mouth to speak, all that came out was the alarm.
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