Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Quick Story About Peanuts Before I Go

So I'm about to go out of town for a few weeks, but before I go I thought I'd share this story that just happened to me. I still haven't finished packing, by the way, so I'm pretty much just gonna run through this and hope you can keep up. Ready?

 OK, this story takes place on Monday, just after Coachella (which by the way, was an absolute blast and I plan on sharing that whole experience with you soon). So anyways, I have left Coachella that morning with my two new friends/camping companions. All three of us are filthy and tired, as we had just spent the last three days camping in the desert and partying our asses off (again, it was a crazy time, I can't wait to tell you about it).

Anyways, as you can imagine, being filthy and tired, we all desperately want to go back to our respective homes and shower and sleep. But first we have to make the drive back, which normally only takes about 2 and a half hours. Unless, of course, you're an overconfident moron, like me, and assume you know the way back without double checking first. Then it takes four hours.

So, after the four longest hours of my life, where by the end of it I'm so tired I want to cry a little and I can feel that my fellow companions want to strangle me, I finally find the way back to Los Angeles and drop the girls off at their hostel. Then I head as fast as I can back to my apartment.

I'm only five sweet blocks away from salvation when a thought hits me. I'm absolutely starving. I have to eat something before I sleep or I'll be miserable all day. I curse out loud at this thought because I know damn well I don't have a thing to eat back home, which means I'll have to make a trip to the store. And right now, the thought of going to the store is so horrible it makes me want to murder somebody. But there's nobody in the car except me and my growling stomach, so I curse again and head to the nearest store.

I find the first available parking spot and quickly park. I rush into the store, buy a couple of frozen pizzas and head back to the car. I go to throw the pizzas in the back seat of my car, and that's when I see it.


Peanuts everywhere.

Apparently one of the girls had opened up a rather sizable container of peanuts and put it on that back space that's behind the back seats (I don't know what you call that area, back windowsill area? I don't know, back the fuck off me.)

Anyways, apparently the lid was never put back on the peanut container, and now the peanuts were fucking everywhere. This enrages me because back when I recently bought this car it was in practically mint condition, despite the fact that it was ten years old. I had vowed to keep it in the same condition for as long as possible. For the most part, I had kept true to my word. But this Coachella trip had definitely left its mark on my car, and I wasn't not too thrilled about that. And now, seeing hundreds and hundreds of peanuts (that may be an exaggerated figure, it's hard to tell with peanuts) covering the back windowsill area at this particular moment just really fires me up. Those peanuts must go now.

So I jump into the back seat and start flinging peanuts out of my car like some kind of super hero. But I soon realize this is very tiring and not very effective (keep in mind, I am a very weak and impatient man at this point). So I try a different approach. To conserve strength, I decide to throw all the peanuts in the container first and then throw the whole mess out at once.

 So I start doing this, but I soon realize this is just as slow and ineffective as the last method. In fact, at this point I have determined that picking up peanuts, in general, is tiring and tedious, no matter what method you use. This realization frustrates me and causes me to empty the peanuts container out onto the parking lot even though it's only half full and thus accomplishes nothing(again I was very tired at the time).

As I do this, I somehow let the container fall out of my hands and onto the pavement. This makes me furious, and a mutter obscenities and jumped out of my car to get the container. But as I do this I end up bashing my head on the edge of the window, hard.

Now my head is throbbing and I am completely and utterly overcome with fury. I show this by screaming "Goddammit!!" loudly, and kicking the container of peanuts as hard as I can.

I watch it as it skids across the parking lot floor (while making a terrible scrapping sound along the way), and I realize it's heading straight for this nearby Hispanic family that are putting groceries in the back of their car. I watch in slow motion as the Hispanic family turn and see the container going right for them. Before they can do anything the container goes right under the old grandmother's legs and disappears under the car.

Then there is just the briefest moment where we all just stand there and wonder what to do next. Then I see the man ( a big man, I might add) walk towards me in an intimidating way. I shout, "Oh I'm sorry! That wasn't meant for you! Honest!" And then I jump in my car and drive off. I eventually got home and went to sleep, but my car still smells like peanuts.

The end!

(I bet that made you want to read about the rest of my Coachella adventure, right?! No, not really, you say? Well, trust me, you wrong. And you're gonna see how wrong you are... but not for a couple of weeks. Bye! I gotta fucking finish packing already!)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gotta Pay to Play

 During the bleak summer of '09, while I was searching for work on Craigslist, I came across a job ad that seemed exciting. "Looking for those who want to become proud Grassroots Activists for Gay Marriage" the ad read, with the last part in bold font. Now I am a big supporter of gay marriage, and I'm also a big supporter of things that make me seem impressive. Maybe it was the bold font, but this ad seemed to to cover both of those areas, so I applied to the job and was able to schedule an interview for the next day.    

That night, as I laid in bed, I thought nervously about the upcoming interview, and that's when I realized that I actually didn't really know what a Grassroots activist did. I had heard the phrase many times in my life (I went to UC Santa Cruz after all) but it wasn't til just then that it dawned on me that I only had a vague idea of the meaning behind it.

Oh well, I thought, I'll just try to BS my way through the interview and hope for the best. 

The next day, I went to the interview, which went pretty much like this:  

Interviewer: So Mr. Walker, why do you think you would make a good grassroots activist for gay marriage?

Me: Well... because, gay marriage is important, especially on a grassroots level. And without activists, how are people going to know that.

Interviewer: Know what?

Me:... that gay marriage is important... and also... grassroots, you know.

Interviewer: I see. I like what I'm hearing. Can you start tomorrow?

That night I couldn't sleep. I was too excited. I mean, I was a Grassroots Activist now! For Gay Marriage! I was a part of something important, something that mattered.

This was made all the more exciting by the fact that I really had no idea what they wanted me to do, as that bit of information was not covered in the interview (I feared to ask because I didn't want them to think I wasn't qualified for the job.) So now I was laying wide awake in bed, wondering what the hell to expect for tomorrow. 

Maybe it was on purpose that they didn't tell me what I needed to do,  I considered, maybe it's something dangerous, or even illegal, and they can't risk anyone knowing beforehand.  

I decided this was the most likely reason, and then I repeated my job title in my head, over and over. Each time, feeling more and more impressed with myself. 

Randy Walker, Grassroots Activist for Gay Marriage

Randy Walker, the Great Gay Marriage Grassroots Activist 

Grassroots Activist Randy Walker,  The Hero that Gay Marriage Needs  

Randy Walker, The Robin Hood for Homosexuals. He Steals from the Homophobes and Gives to the Fabulous  

It went on like this for awhile, continuing to spiral into greater and greater hubris, until I finally fell asleep.
Day 1

The next day I arose from bed and headed to the Grassroots Campaign Headquarters. I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that that sounds like a hideout for superheroes. Well, sadly, it was not. Instead, it was a place where I was handed a slip of paper with words on it. I was instructed to memorize these words down to the letter, and then repeat them later to strangers on the street. The words contained a message. Sadly it was not a cool secret message, but rather an overt and slightly tactless message: we need money, please give.

Naturally, when I realized my job was to simply ask for money, instead of the silliness that I had imagined the night before, I was a little disappointed. But I knew that this made a lot more sense and that it does take money to do anything in this world, including making a change for the better. So I braced myself for a day of asking strangers for money.

Now, this is never an easy thing to ask, but it especially wasn't easy during the 09 summer, because if you remember, that's when the recession was at it's absolute worst and nobody had any idea when things were gonna get better.

 Oh man, I thought,  this is gonna be interesting.  

But I was determined to do a good job, so I stood in one corner of the room and memorized those words until I had it down pat. Afterwards, I hopped on the Activism Bus (again, not super hero-related in anyway) which took me to the section of the city that I had been assigned to "street canvass" ( a fancy term for asking for donations).

As I rode the bus, I made conversation with some of the rest of the activists and tried to pick their brain for information.

"So what's it like doing this? What should I be expecting?"

"Well," One of my fellow activists replied, "It can be a pretty hard job at times. It's not easy to get money from people these days."

"Yeah, I figured that." I said. "But I mean, even if we have a couple of bad days, we're bound to have some good days as well, as long as we keep at it with a good attitude, right?"

"Yes..." He said reluctantly. "except, each day you have to earn sixty bucks, and if you don't you get fired."

"What?!" I laughed in disbelief. "Nobody told me that!"

"Yeah, they don't tell you until the first time you come up short. Then you get a warning, then the next time it happens you get fired."

"Oh. Well, sixty bucks isn't that hard to get, right?"

He gave me a slight smile when I said this. "It can be. Depends on the day. You'll see what I mean."

I kept silent for the rest of the bus ride, trying to prepare myself for what was to come. Remember, I told myself, you're Randy Walker, Gay Marriage Activist of the Grassroots Variety. 

About ten minutes later, I was dropped off to my assigned section, downtown Pasadena. This seemed like an odd place for them to send me, but I did my best to get people to talk to me. "Help overturn Prop 8?" I called out to the passer-byes, as I had been instructed to do. But I found that technique less than effective.

 Then I noticed that people were averting their eyes long before they heard what I had to say. That's when I realized what the real trouble was: my clipboard. As soon as people see a man standing still on the sidewalk and holding a clipboard, they shut off their ears, keep their eyes straight ahead and increased their pace until they're safely passed him Logically, I could understand this mentality. But personally, and emotionally, it felt bad man. Real bad.    

The second half of the day went a little better.  Later, I found that this was true for all of my days as an activist.  Maybe it was because in the afternoon, people had just a little bit more compassion for their fellow man than in the morning.

 But whatever the reason, I was able to converse with many more people during the second half of the day.

Not that these conversations usually went anywhere, mind you. On my first day, most people wanted nothing to do with me or my cause. In cases like this, I usually got a quick "no thank you" before they walked away, but occasionally I would get a snarky "Go with Jesus" reply. The first few times I received one of these comments, I tried to engage them in a healthy discussion of why they felt Jesus would hate gay marriage. But each time I did this, I ended up wanting to shoot myself because their logic was always completely circular and mind-numbingly ignorant. So after awhile, I just started replying back "You first." and then focus on other people who might be more receptive to my cause. 

But I soon discovered that when I did find others that were receptive to the cause, another obstacle would arise.

"Look, I believe in gay marriage, but I'm not giving money to anyone in this economy." This was a very common response.

"I got no money for myself, much less for you." was also a popular way to reject me.

 One woman, who was all smiles and sympathy when I first told her I wanted to legalize gay marriage, acted horribly offended when I ask her for donations, and promptly started to scream at me: "Excuse me?! Did you just ask for money?! Look, I'm happy to sign whatever it is you want me to sign, but there is no way I'm giving you any money. I have four kids I have to feed. One of them is in college. You have any idea how much tuition is?! Also, my husband has cancer. Throat cancer! And so does the dog! What do you want me to tell them, that they have to die now because I gave all my money to you? I don't think so buster!" Just to spite her, I really wanted to ask her if she thought her dog's life was more important than human equality, but I wisely stopped myself from doing so. 

At one point I looked at my watch and realized it was 3, meaning I only had 2 more hours to make my quota, and I hadn't gotten a dime yet. That was when I began to wonder if I was going to get fired on my first day.

But then, as luck would have it, I came upon a nice old man who believed in the cause and donated a hundred dollars. So I was safe... for the day.

On the bus ride back to headquarters I asked another activist why I had been sent to Pasadena, as it seemed like a rather conservative place for what we were trying to do. Wouldn't it be better to go someplace that was more friendly towards our cause, like West Hollywood?

"West Hollywood, and the neighborhoods like it, have been sucked dry." She told me. "During the 08 election there were street canvassers and activists on every corner, trying to get support for the cause. The people there gave and gave and gave, and then Prop. 8 passed anyways. Now, there is a lot of bad mojo there. People are still hurt and bitter from the election. We sent some people there a couple of times... it didn't go well." She said this last bit like something bad had happen, but she didn't want to discuss it further. "Now," She continued, "we go to the more conservative areas in the city, hoping to find some like-minded individuals among the Republican crowd."

That night I laid in bed awake, again unable to go to sleep. I just kept thinking about what the girl on the bus had told me. West Hollywood is off limits! That was definitely a disappointing blow. You see, I sort of had this fantasy in my head of being sent over there and being embraced by the people who were touched by my passionate activism. He's just like Harvey Milk, the imaginary people in my head said, only he's straight. Which is a damn shame, we might add. 

Now it seemed like this fantasy would never come to be, which again, was disappointing. But even more disconcerting was the fact that we were being sent to the most conservative areas in town and trying to raise money for gay marriage. To me, this seemed a lot like the Romans feeding the Christians to the lions, only this time the Christians were us, the lions were Christians, and the Romans were suppose to be on our fucking side. Oh well, I told myself, not much I can do about it now. Better just try to sleep and mentally prepare myself for tomorrow. 

Day 2: 

The second day on the job was much like the first. Except instead of Pasadena, I was sent to some small ultra-conservative blue collar town on the outskirts of town. The only notable thing that happened here was a homeless man stole my lunch bag which I had hid behind a tree while I was canvassing. But I don't think the homeless man stole my lunch because he disagreed with my politics, I think he stole it because he was hungry. So in that way, I did a good thing, which was nice.

 I also raised a total of 30 dollars, half of my daily quota, which was not so nice, and led to me having a dreaded "sit-down" with my bosses back at Grassroots HQ.

Now let me tell you something about these HQ sit-downs, they're not fun. Not fun at all. First of all, they make you sit down in this small room, where tons of index cards are tact on the walls. And each of these index cards have a name and number on it. The names belong to activists who made over 200 dollars in one day, and the number is the exact cash amount they brought in on that day. So you just have to sit there and stare at all the names of people that are better than you, while you get reprimanded
for being a shitty Grassroots Activist for Gay Marriage.

As for the sit-down itself, there elements of it that definitely reminded me of the interview I did to get the job:

Boss: Randy, according to your clipboard you only brought in 30 dollars, which is half of your quota. Can you tell me what happened?

Me: I don't know... I reached out to everyone that passed by, and I said everything you wanted me to say.

Boss: OK, well, what are you going to do tomorrow?

Me: I'm...going to... reach out to everyone who passes by and say what you want me to say...

Boss: Good, see that you do. Because we'd hate to lose someone like you on our team.

That night, I laid awake in bed and thought about these last words. It would really suck to get fired from this job in my first week. I mean, I had already made sure to rub it in my gay friends faces that I was doing more for their cause than they were. Oh, did you hear Ron? I'm fighting the good fight to legalize gay marriage, so one day you and your boyfriend can get married. No big deal, I just believe in helping others. That's just the kind of guy I am.

 I was going to look really stupid if I didn't last more than three days on the job. So I became extra-determined to do a great job the next day, no matter where they sent me.

Day 3

Glendale. They fucking sent me to Glendale on my 3rd day. Can you believe that? Glendale, the ultra conservative,  Armenian-filled neighborhood (nothing against Armenians, but statistically, those guys are not big fans of gay people). I mean this place was such an obviously bad choice for what I was trying to do, that more than one skateboarding teenager approached me (while laughing) and stated the following sentiment:

"Seriously dude,  Glendale is not the town for this. You're not gonna find any luck here. Try somewhere else."

 "I can't. I was sent here by the people above me. It's part of their strategy."

"Well, their strategy is fucking whack!"

I tried, more or less, to explain the same thing back at Grassroots HQ, during my second "sit-down" in two days, after I had returned with only 4 dollars (which was given to me by a nice elderly woman who I suspect didn't really understand what I was telling her, but wanted to help anyways).

"Don't try to blame your way out of this." I was told. "Plenty of people of have been successful in Glendale. There's a reason we use this strategy, because it works."

That night, I laid awake in bed and took turns between wondering how I had escaped from being fired, and envisioning myself back at that sit-down when they told me they used that strategy for a reason, and shouting at them: Your strategy is fucking whack, bro!

Day 4

On the fourth day of my activist career, I was sent back to Downtown Pasadena. And again, I experienced more or less the same thing as my first day. Except this time, I ended up talking with this man who was dressed in a nice suit and tie. He looked a little young, but he came across as a successful business man, who seemed very eager to help my cause.

In fact, his monetary support seemed like such a sure thing, that half way through the conversation I started to space out and envision my own index card pinned against that stupid wall at HQ.

The card would read: Randy Walker, the Ultimate Grassroots Activist for Gay Marriage. And below that, a number, the dollar amount that told everyone how great  I was at grassrooting for gays. What would that number be?  I wondered greedily. 250? 300? 600?! I mean the sky was really the limit when it came to wealthy, and generous, sympathizers of the cause.

Then I shook off this day dream, refocused my attention to the present, where this wealthy business man was still talking to me. It was at this point when I realized that he was now inserting the dreaded J word into his sentences.

 That's right, Jesus. And he was using the word in very bad ways. Like telling me I need to be with Jesus, and accept his love, and stop trying to help the sinners.

Dammit all to hell! I thought. This was just a big ruse. He's not a wealthy sympathizer for the cause, he's just a crazy Jesus freak in a nice suit who tricked me into talking with him for an hour and acting like he wanted to help me, just so he might get me to agree to join his Church. Dammit all to hell! 

Later that day, I had my third sit-down at HQ. They asked me why I was only able to bring in 24 dollars. I told them that religion screwed me, just as it had been screwing gay people for years. They told me that was not an unacceptable response, and that I had one day, exactly one, to get things in gear, or I was out.

So that night, I laid awake in bed and wondered. I didn't worry, fret, or panic. I just wondered calmly, what the hell was I gonna encounter tomorrow? No doubt more averted eyes, rude responses, and Jesus freaks. And perhaps, just perhaps, a lovely pile of money that amounted to sixty dollars. It was possible. I just had to really focus myself and go out there ready and hungry. I owed it to gay marriage, and I owed it to myself.  

Day 5

Yeah, I'll just save you the suspense and tell you now, I didn't make a fucking dollar on this day. Not a single dollar.

 I don't know what to tell you. I tried, I really did. I mean I literally talked to everyone who came by me.

Including the sketchiest dude I had come across in a long, long time. He looked like a gnarly biker dude who had seen a lot of bad things, and done even more.

 He looked like he was in his mid-forties, and he was built like a brick shit house, except for his protruding beer belly, of course. He had angry biker tattoos up and down both arms. And he was wearing a wife-beater that was covered in food stains. His pants were tattered, and his face had a large scar running down his cheek. And to top it all off, he had an epic, thick and filthy mustache whose ends dropped down past his chin. Basically, if I was profiling, I wouldn't have given him the time of day. But I wasn't profiling, I was desperate. So I talked to him. And I'm glad I did. Because, while I didn't end up getting any money from him, I did end up getting this incredible response after I asked him to help legalize gay marriage.

  "Gay marriage, huh? You know, I had some gay friends back in the day. They're all dead now. The virus got 'em. You gotta pay to play, baby, you gotta pay to play. I paid once. I spent two years in jail for having sex with a minor. I didn't know she was minor though. I met her at this bar, and one thing led to another and pretty soon we're doing it in the bathroom. The bartender called the cops, and the cops came down and asked me why I was banging a 16-year-old in a bar bathroom. I told them she was in a   21-and-over bar, but they didn't care. I just got outta the joint last month. You gotta pay to play baby, you gotta pay to play. Now I have to go go buddy, my mom's waiting in the car."

Later that day I had my fourth and final sit down at HQ, which didn't go so well.    

"The fact is, Randy, you've been here for five days. And in those five days you made 158 dollars for us, while getting paid 10 dollars an hour, for 7 hours a day. So you've actually managed to cost us, and our cause, money that we need to fight the good fight."

 And that was when it was decided that I, Randy Walker, the Grassroots Champion and a Hero to the Straight and Gay Alike was no longer needed to help overturn prop 8.

 I'm not gonna lie, that night, as I laid awake in bed, I was ambivalent on how to feel. On the one hand, I no longer had to do something that I hated doing (asking people for money), but on the other hand, I now had to live with the fact that I hurt the very cause I wanted to help (I'm sorry my gay friends, and relatives). It was a confusing night, to say the least.

But then, as I continued to lay in bed, I thought back to what that biker guy had said to me. I played his words back in my head, over and over. And for just a second, I thought I had found a deeper meaning to those words that put this whole ordeal in perspective...

But then I realized I was just suffering from sleep deprivation, because really what I had heard was a bizarre, rambling response the likes of which may never be heard again. And that made me feel a little a better about everything.

And then I went to bed.

The end.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Going Back to the Old School

Hey everyone, it's Friday, it's a gorgeous day, the weekend is upon us, everything is grand. And wouldn't you know it, I'm under the weather, and feel like an old wet ass. But never fear! Because as fate would have it, the paper I wrote for in college (Fish Rap Live! What! What!) just put all of their old issues online! Woohoo! Let's christen this moment with me sharing one of my favorite articles I wrote as student. I'm talking of course, about the time I spent 12 hours at a bar in downtown Santa Cruz. Enjoy!

(quick note: so hit the link, and then turn to the next page. The article is entitled "2pm til last Call." Trust me, it'll make sense!)

12 Hours at a Bar!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Gnarly Day: Part Two

This is the second part of my historically gnarly day.  For the first part, go here.
OK, so where are we?... ah yes, I am in the middle of running from my (undeserved) porn problems. And I'm not alone. My roommate Cormac is with me. And he is just as scared as I am (neither of us could be described as tough men). And where do end up after our escape from reality? Why, Griffith park, of course. Griffith park, the famous park in LA that's home to the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theater (the very one that is referred to in the title of the movie Get Him to The Greek), and the tunnel that is seen at the very end of Back to the Future Two. Indeed, it is a magical place. A place perfect for two guys who want to forget about their current troubles.

So here we are. In Griffith Park, sitting on a bench on top of hill overlooking the city. It's calm up here, peaceful. I start to feel a little better about the world.

This peace lasts for about fifteen minutes, and then it all goes wrong.

It starts with shouting. Suddenly, we hear loud, frantic, shouting coming from behind us. The shouting is incoherent but it sounds like it belongs to someone with a German accent. We turn around and see a German on a bike, stopped in the middle of the road, shouting and pointing at a parked car. And he's not pointing at just any parked car; he's pointing at the parked car that belongs to me. And he's pointing at the parked car that belongs to me because there are billows of black smoke pouring out of the engine.  

Now I'm completely alarmed, as well as confused. Why would my car be smoking? I take a couple of steps forward, and then I see something under the car and I stop in my tracks. Orange waves of flame are shooting out from under my car. Why would my car be smoking? Because it's on fire, that's why.

To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know if I'm skilled enough of a writer to explain my state of mind at this point. I mean, a second ago I was trying to think about my best strategy to use against Paris Hilton and her porn lawyer, and now suddenly I am trying to process the fact that my car, my PARKED! car, is on fire.

I guess the best word to use is shock. I'm in shock that this is happening. The world seems to be going in slow motion, except for the flames, the flames look as if they are shooting out in fast forward.  I run to my car, but the faster I run, the slower the world seems to be going.

I reach my car and begin to try to open the hood. But just as I reach for the latch, I notice that the paint on the top of my hood is bubbling. Bubbling!

I pull my hand away and just stare at the bubbling paint, feeling almost hypnotized by it. It's so beautiful, and so disturbing at the same time.

I think Cormac grabs me at some point and takes me away from the car. He tries to talk to me about what we need to do. But I can't hear him. The only thing I can hear is the one single thought that's running through my mind. My car was in park, how did this happen?! The engine was off, for Christ's sakes! How did this happen! Cars don't just catch on fire when they're in park, with the engine off. That doesn't happen!

I look over to the German biker who is still in the middle of the road. He's still pointing at my car and shouting at me, as if I haven't already fucking noticed that it's in the process of burning down.

At some point, I call the fire department. As I punch in the numbers 911, my phone switches to "emergency mode" and the screen turns red. This makes it feel even more like I'm dreaming.

I give the fire department my information and location, and just as I end my conversation, a park ranger pulls up.

"My car's on fire!" I immediately tell him.

"I can see that." He answers. "What happened?"

" I don't know! It was just in park, and then the engine burst into flames! How does that happen?"

"Sit tight." He says, ignoring my question. "And stay away from the car. I have to make some phone calls." And then he takes out his phone and casually dials a number like he's about to order a pizza. I feel the urge to throttle his neck or shove his phone down his throat, but instead I walk back to Cormac who is standing a safe distance away from my car, watching it slowly burn.

"I can't believe this happened." He says.

"I don't believe this happened." I answer.

We don't say anything more after that, because there's nothing else to say. So we continue to watch instead. We watch my car burn, and burn, and burn. I notice that the flames underneath my car are getting larger, and up in the sky there is now a huge black cloud of smoke that is rising past the tallest trees in the park.

As we watch the carnage unfold, a new biker comes are way. He stops when he reaches us.  

"What happened?" The new biker asks.

"My friend's car suddenly caught on fire, for no reason." Cormac answers for me.

"Oh that's crazy." He says, and then holds out his water bottle. "Here, try this." I give him a blank stare, as I have no idea what he's trying to tell me. Does he think I'm thirsty?

"Pour this on your car." He says, sensing my confusion. This does indeed cure my confusion, but it also ignites the fury within me.

"Are you crazy? That little thing of water is not going to put out a flaming engine." I say this in a relatively calm voice, but I really want to scream at him.

"It's worth a shot." He responds. "What if the fire catches on one of the trees and the whole park goes up in flame." He says this in a tone that suggests that I should be ashamed of myself for not being more environmentally conscious.

"Dude, I'm not going to walk up to a burning car with a water bottle in my hand! What if it explodes?!"

The biker gives me a shrug, as if to say: Fine, be a prick. 

Between this guy and the pointing German, who I'm starting to suspect may have started the fire, I suddenly find myself hating all bikers in general.

Then I get a call from the fire department. They can't find the road I'm on. I let out a string of expletives and run over to the park ranger and shove my phone in his face. He talks to them.

Twenty minutes later they finally arrive. And when they do, they are all smiles and laughs.

Yes, smiles and laughs. While my poor, innocent car is roasting, they joke back and forth as if they're at a family barbeque. Don't they understand that the only thing I have in this world right now is that car, and now it's slowly disintegrating before my eyes. Of course they don't, they're firemen. They only care if some house, or person, is on fire, not some stupid car.

But I care.

And as they pry open the hood and extinguish the fire with gallons of water and foam, I think about all the good times I've had with this car, and how that will never happen again. I almost feel myself getting emotional, but then one of the firemen makes a loud crude joke to his buddy and they all burst out laughing, and the moment is ruined.

 Once the fire is out, the firemen slap each other on the back, jump back onto the truck and disappear down the hill and out of the park. And now it's starting to get dark, and it's just Cormac and me, and my poor, hideous car. 

The ranger comes up to us. "A tow truck should be here to get you guys in a little while. Until then, hang tight."

So we hang tight and sit on that bench with the great view, just like earlier, wondering what the hell we were going to do, just like earlier. And as we watch the city go dark before our eyes, we don't say much. We just appreciate the quiet, and pray we don't hear any more screaming German voices behind us.

"This has been a pretty gnarly day." One of us says at some point; the other agrees emphatically.


Weeks later, my insurance company conducted an investigation as to what caused my car to combust. This is what they told me when they were done with the investigation: "After a thorough investigation, we have concluded that the fire was not the result of arson, nor was it the result of any malfunctions that are on our recall list. Therefore, the investigation is closed, you will receive an insurance check in the mail."

   "But what caused the fire?" I asked. "How does a parked car just catch on fire?"

"We're not sure. Maybe the plastic coverings around the electric wears got too hot from the engine and caught fire. That's happened before."

That was the only answer I ever got. It's a little infuriating because I really want to know why this happened, and know for sure.

But hey, at least I got an insurance check.

As for the porn lawsuit. Well, I decided to just pay the lawyer to write a strongly worded letter to Mr. Porn Law telling him to fuck off. Cost me two hundred dollars, but it did the trick. I never heard another word from him or Paris Hilton.

But later on, I told one of my friends about the whole thing, and he laughed at me, "Man, they tried to pull the same thing on me. Told me I downloaded Transformers illegally and they wanted me to settle with them or they'd take me to court. I wrote back and told them to shove it up their ass. Never heard from them again. I can't believe you actually hired a lawyer. You moron."

So there you have it. In the end, Mr. Porn Law didn't really have a case against me. Probably. Which is why he decided to light my car on fire instead. Because he and Paris Hilton want me to suffer. At least, that's the best theory I could come up with. But what do I know, I'm a moron. If you can you think of a better one please share below. If not, then I guess I'll see you back here on Friday.

The End