Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Weekend in Val Verde County Jail: Part II - Who Knew Fruit Loops Were Legal Tender?

Sheriff's Deputy 2: "Follow him… have fun ladies."

An inmate of Hispanic descent appears before us wearing a white jump suit with "TRUSTEE" stenciled across the back.

Trustee: [yelling above the dissonant chords of whoops and whistles] "Vamanos, vamanos"

We stepped from the holding area into an extended corridor which curved out of sight 40 feet down the hall. Flanking the central thoroughfare were plexi-glass walls checked with inlaid wire for reinforcing strength. The contents of the area behind each wall were obstructed by our gentlemen-callers, standing at attention to receive our arrival.

"Fishee fishee fisheeee... You're gonna like it here, new fish. A whooole lot...Make you wish your daddies and mommies never bumped uglies... You takin' this down, college boy? Gonna be a quiz later. Fishee fishee fisheeee..."

The cacophony of cat calls would have made Stephen Hawking out run Carl Lewis.

Me: [noticing, in my periphery, an inmate with a salacious grin sizing up my best friend and his testicles] "Josh, I swear to God if somebody tries to get to you I'll shove this toothbrush so far into their eye they'll quiver 'til their buried."

Josh: "Right on man."

We are led by Trustee through the horse-shoe cell block. We arrive to find our new home in a state of relative calm. No wall of inhumanity wagering on our fortitude. No disease riddled playthings exposing themselves. Trustee motions to an elevated guard and the door in front of us opens.

As it does I scan from left to right and observe a simple, half empty, 50 x 50 square room of 24 free-standing bunk beds, concrete tables with fixed benches, and what appeared to be a 7 foot high pyramid of industrial supply toilet paper. I consider the peculiarity of the single-ply stockpile and allow my mind to recall other places I may have seen such a collection…

Me: [to self] "High school bathroom? No. College dorm? No. Hospit… Wait, hospital… that's what this place reminds me of… it's like somebody knocked down the walls to like 20 hospital rooms and everybody just wants to lie down… except him, the guy who is sitting up, damn… dude is huge… wait, is dude is looking at us? No eye contact Dave, Discovery Channel said no eye contact, no disrespect… I love the Discovery Channel, so informative… it's in my top 5 channels with Food Network, ESPN, PBS and The History Chan… F%$&!"

It is my experience that precious few things can reel in a tangential thought and streams of consciousness more quickly, more completely than seeing a large tattooed Mexican who has just been stirred from sleep, beckoning for you lay next to him.

Josh: "Dave, that dude is patting the bunk next to him."

Me: "I know. Locked jaw man. Don't react."

Josh: [as stone-faced as humanly possible] "I'm not. I'm just trying to figure out how I could talk him into preferring you over me."

Josh has a Sub-Saharan sense of humor. How he was able to maintain it in a time like this is beyond me.

Psychotic break? Possibly. Adrenaline intoxication? Not unheard of. Rationalizing that I was the reason he was here and therefor dead to him? Most likely.

All I know is that his humor fell on deaf ears.

Trustee: "Go, go. Do what he say."

Me: "Bull. Shit."

Trustee: "No. No. Ok. Ok."

Damn the language barrier… damn it to an eternity of hell.

Me: "No. No. What? Ok. Ok. What?"

Trustee: "Angel trustee."

From this broken exchange I gleaned that the man wishing for us to rest next to him was 1) named Angel… assumingly for the product he was most adept at smuggling and 2) he had been designated a "Trustee" and, presumably, would not do anything to jeopardize that designation for a nice (read as "new/virgin") piece of ass.

Think on that folks. Number 2 is a big f%$&ing presumption.

That said, I knew from watching prison exposes on the Discovery Channel and A&E that showing the slightest sign of disrespect could make things run afoul quicker than… than… than something that is really super quick.

As such, I walk towards Angel, jaw set and arms flexed, readying my toothbrush underneath the fold of my mattress.

Angel: [pointing to the bunk next to his] "Aqui. Aqui. Here. You been here before? You know how dis works?"

Have you ever said something, the tortured reminiscence of which sends you into cardiac arrest? Where just a millisecond of the memory instantaneously makes you contemplate guzzling Drano? I have one or two of these recollections. They occasionally organize themselves into stealthy sneak-attacks like so many ninjas.

I'll be having a pleasant conversation with a friend about a random subject (say, the deliciousness of butternut squash soup), and something my friend says will set off a reaction of brain cells that will unlock a Vietnam-Vet styled PTSD flashback of embarrassment which will, in turn, make me spasm and shout "OH SHIT!" like a tourettes victim. My startled friend will look up from his tablespoon of creamy bisque and say, "What the hell just happened?" I will timidly respond, "Oh...nothing."

My response to Angel is one such memory.

Did I recognize that I was possibly the freshest fish to ever darken the doorstep of Val Verde County Jail? Did I assume that Angel had a cognitive functioning higher than that of coppice stone moss and could see through transparent bravado?

No. I did not.

My response?

Me: "Haven't been here before. But I know how it works."

Shoot. Me. Uggghhhhhhhhh.

Seriously, on the Unintentional Comedy Scale, an upper middle class, honors student of a private, Church of Christ affiliated university telling a hardened Mexican felon awaiting his arraignment for trafficking meth that he was familiar with life on the "inside" in hopes of somehow intimidating himself out of an anal raping has to rank safely in the upper echelon… somewhere between "David Silver singing 'Keep It Together on '90210'" (97) and "Mullets" (99).

Luckily, smuggling a drug that is essentially asthma medicine boiled in kerosene doesn't require one to have all their tacos on their combination plate.

Angel: "Asi. Asi. Trustee come at seex. [pointing to Josh] You sweep. [pointing to me] You mop. Free times a day until next gringo comes, si?"

Me: [nodding nonchalantly yet wondering if it is only the white guys who sweep and mop, contemplating a potential injustice] "yeah, si."

Angel: "Desayuno at seex-turdy. When you brush teef [pointing to sink], you dry up [pointing to mound of toilet paper]. When you wash hands [pointing to sink], you dry up [again pointing to toilet paper]. We have muy muy. You put anyteng on de floor, you use muy muy to dry up. Clean, clean. Si?"

Me: [Utterly shocked and completely pleased at this Mexican's attention to personal and environmental hygiene] "Si. Si."

Angel: [laying back down] "a few weeks, you will be Trustee and everteng is cool."

Josh: "Gracias."

Angel: "De nada."

I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I did not sleep so much as a wink on the ninth night of December, 1999. Up until that point in my life I had only one occasion to know the meaning of the word "hypersensitive". That occasion was as a freshman in high school as myself and Jarrod Gaston had returned to the high school field house in the late evening from a baseball tournament. My mother was late picking us up and in the middle of taking an absolutely prodigious dump on the hood of Stone Scoggin's Jeep, the choir room alarm decided to summon local police.

Seriously folks, if you went to high school with me you know he totally deserved it… he used to walk around singing "Stone Daaaaawggi Daaaaawg…" to the tune Snoop's "What's My Name" for shit's sake… but, God love 'em, that was our Stone.

I can honestly say that running from officers of the law, wind pants around your ankles, hoping you haven't shat yourself too bad as you find refuge in the bushes of a Plum Street alley isn't even in the same "Dear God, please let nobody notice me" universe as trying to telekinetically melt yourself into the mattress on your first night in a border-town jail.

[Familar voice from the bunk above]: "Dude..."

Me: "I know… I know."

Morning arrives.

How could one tell you might ask? Was the dawn of a new day announced by Edvard Grieg's "Morning"? Rossini's "Ranz Des Vaches"? Au contraire... I woulda been just peachy had it been friggin Reveille, but no no... what else could call to order those in Val Verde County Jail other than the music of Lucifer himself...

A mere 4 hours prior Angel mentioned in passing that I could potentially rise to the level of "Trustee" in a scant 3 weeks time. To this day I am unaware of the specific requirements in place to earn such a title. Though, I can state with relative certainty that never has a "Trustee" been made of an inmate who has done something as seemingly psychotic and irrational as gouging out his own ear drums.

In that first, stirring moment of the new day, I would have been pleased to die.

I should say however that I was pleased to see that my friend Josh and I had been placed in what appeared to be the Val Verde County Kiddy Pool. Clearly posing no threat to the processing deputies, they had seen fit to place us in a cell with a dozen or so Mexican inmates primarily of ages 15-17 and 63-67… presumably arrested for stealing a car stereo or vagrancy and unable to post bail.

Asserting that Josh and I were for all intents and purposes tied for 2nd place as the "most physically imposing inmate", I began to feel a little better about the prospects of the both of us leaving this experience without having to hear a medical doctor utter the words "ruptured sphincter".

I designate Angel as the alpha male and decide I must first and foremost firmly entrench myself in his good graces.

Trustee enters the room with push broom and mop. As I rise I notice my friend Josh climbing down from the top bunk my friend Josh's ginormous testicles swaying in the stale air.

Me: "Dude, seriously… I should have let you have the bottom bunk."

Josh: "Naw man, it's cool… I really think that Angel dude thinks you spent puberty in Juvie instead of Pettyjohn Springs Christian Camp. You need to stay down there and apply some heat."

Me: "Seriously, something's gotta give with you scrote'n it all over the place… you wanna trade pants? I got drawr's on."

Josh: "Dave, give me one good reason for being naked from the waist down at this time, in this place."

Me: "F$%# you man, I'm trying to help."

Josh: [whispering, and sternly so] "If you wanna help, follow me with that mop and make sure you don't miss a single square inch. I don't wanna find out how the only O/CD beaner in history reacts when somebody f$%#s up his house."

We complete our duties and return to our beds, being careful to not so much as fart without witnessing a more established resident do so first in order to establish the accepted protocol.

As we observe, Angel addresses us.

Angel: "Gringos, gringos… floor.. good… bueno, bueno."

Josh: "Gracias."

Trustee returns to the door with a cart resembling those used by flight attendants and begins passing trays of breakfast through a slit in the window. Josh and I assume our rightful positions in the back of the line and wait.

I was surprised to learn that, evidently, Val Verde County Jail contracts with the same food supplier as Durant Independent School District. I had had this meal before… sausage links wrapped in syrup infused flap-jacks… apple sauce… and not one but two single serving, hermetically sealed bowls of Kellogg cereal… Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops.

This might be a decent day after all.

I make my way towards an empty table. On the way I pass Angel and place my bowl of fruit loops on his tray.

Son of bitch.

I type that now and I almost fall out of my chair.

Where did I think I was, Pelican Bay?

Say what you will about my woeful reality testing, but what you cannot say is that I failed to apply... perfectly... all academic knowledge of the U.S. prison system I had ever learned from any book, tour, evangelism, movie or documentary.

Angel nods affirmatively and I feel significantly more secure than I did prior to purchasing myself.

The morning passed into the afternoon and afternoon slipped into evening.

Consider please the most mind-numbingly bored you have ever been in your entire life.

Maybe it was a restless Saturday just last month… maybe it was an afternoon at a family reunion or a potluck lunch at your church's gymnasium. Whatever it was, multiply it by 7. Nay, 7 times 70 and you might begin to have the vaguest conception of what it is like to pass the day playing Solitaire with a 48 card deck or reading "La Biblia, coloc√≥ por el Gideons".

In a word, torture.

Honestly, in what level of hell are things like the Bible and Sportscenter (yes we had a TV) available only in Spanish? Where were we, Florida? I thought this was America. And that music manifestation of venomous rage… at what point did the accordion become part of Mexican culture? Did some random Polac stow away with Cortes? I must have missed that day of 5th grade when Mrs. Taylor talked about the Conquistadors.

Ladies, gentlemen… this persisted for not 12 hours… not 24… not 48.

No, no. You see, when Stephen Wells says "We'll have to wait and see" what he actually means is "I'm gonna call back after putting the fear of God into you, you ungrateful, disrespectful pissant, and make sure you aren't gonna be in a cell with murderers and rapists. Then I'm gonna make you wait until you are convinced the only reason you have not been bailed out of jail is that me and your mom were killed in some freak electrical storm."

In all actuality, a playful, cross cultural discussion with Angel and a young Mexican teen about the medicinal benefits of anabolic steroids was not interrupted by a grace-filled phone call until the first hours of day 3, Monday, December 12th.

Interestingly, debilitating stress and pure elation have very nearly the exact same effect on memory. That is to say, my memory of being released to a rather large bailbondswoman named Maria Sanchez is almost as vacant as the transfer of custody from the DEA to Sheriff's Department.

This vacancy persists until I find myself in the back seat of a sedan assisting Josh in describing to Maria exactly how idiotic we are.

Josh: "It's tough to describe just how idiotic we are."

Maria: "I don't doubt you two for a second… you is dumb en's. Why you didn't just mail it back to yourselves… only like one outta 10 get stopped and der's a fed ex just next door to that pharmacy you describin'… what on earff you tink its der for, Christmas presents?"

Josh: "I think I'm gonna throw up."

Maria: "One a you's got a good sista tho. She got a room reserved for ya at la Ramada so you don't hafta drive back to Abilene tonight."

Josh: "Dude! Karen!"

Me: "Oh kind and blessed soul…"

That night was spent in what was very nearly complete silence. Perhaps only this brief exchange:

Josh: "Dude… did this happen?"

Me: [In the middle of brushing my teeth for the 6th time] "Yeah… it did… and I have an Organic Chemistry final in 32 hours."

Josh: "You know any of it."

Me: "It's supposed to be 32 questions long. Unless Dr. Reeves thought of 32 different ways to ask 'What's added to the halogenalkanes in a Grignard Reaction?', I'm f#$%ed."

Sadly, I was never asked that question… not even once.

I would have answered "Magnesium".

I would have received full credit.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Weekend in Val Verde County Jail: Part I - A River Runs Through It

Within 30 seconds of crossing the border a pigmied Mexican national approached…

Jose: "Gringos! Gringos! Que paso!?! Que paso!?! What you want… Llello? Marijuana?"

Me: "Nandrolone Decanoate?"

Josh: "Dude, seriously… do you honestly think he's taken a biochemistry class?"

Me: [turning back to the pigmied Mexican] "Donde esta la farmacia?"

-- -- -- -- --

In case you haven't realized it or have just always given me the benefit of the doubt, I, dear friends, have a near superhuman ability to be a complete idiot.

Once upon a time, I was a 19 year old honors student at Abilene Christian University. I stood 6'1" and weighed 194 lbs with 8-10 percent body fat. I could run 3.2 miles in less than 20 minutes and had a resting heart-rate in the low 50's (obviously, that has all pretty much gone to shit in the last 7 years).

For reasons that truly surpass understanding I did not like my physical condition or the fact that I had to work so hard to maintain it. As such, I decided to pursue what some call "better living through chemistry".

My decision to drive from Abilene, TX to Acuna, Mexico for the purposes of crossing the border and purchasing anabolic steroids was, at best, ill-conceived and, at worst, mentally retarded. This bastard conception had its beginning when I was made to write a 40 page research paper for a biochemistry lab. My randomly assigned topic? AIDS Wasting Syndrome (AWS).

Remember the freaky-as-hell public awareness campaign of the early 90's that featured a 17-19 year old kid in a hospital bed covered with purple sores? Yeah, well as destructive as that campaign's scare tactics may have been to the general public's attitudes towards AIDS patients, it wasn't too far off the mark of showing somebody suffering from advanced AWS… which is essentially when your body is so starved for nutrients it has eaten through all your fat reserves and begins chowing down on its own muscle.

During the course of researching the various forms of treatment I came across the standard procedure for "steroid therapy". Come to find out, anabolic steroids can be pretty useful in treating AWS and cause virtually no harmful side effects provided a high quality, mild steroid is used in the clinically suggested dosages for the clinically suggested periods of time. "So you're saying I can gain 10-15 lbs. of muscle that I basically will never lose and have no harmful side effects? Well that's DANDY!"

So, I decide to try it out.

Yeah, I know… brilliant. You know that "superhuman ability to be a complete idiot" I mentioned earlier? That is very closely linked with my savant-like skill in outthinking myself. I would say that I am too smart for my own good but anybody who has gotten themselves into some of the situations I have cannot be said to be smart at all, let alone too smart for their own good.

But, there was a problem. Purchasing or possessing steroids in the United States without a prescription is illegal.

I am a terrible liar and knew that if I couldn't effectively lie to my parents about walking unescorted to a Love's to get a Mountain Dew before one of my 7th grade football games then I couldn't even entertain the idea of getting a medical doctor to give me, a perfectly healthy person, an illegitimate prescription for anabolic steroids.

Luckily, Abilene was only three and a half hours away from a place where prescriptions were not needed in order to purchase steroids… Mexico. I had zero interest in going to Mexico by myself so I called my best childhood friend who had just so happened to have gone out to ACU with me.

Me: "Hey man, you wanna go to Mexico?"

Josh: "Uhhhh, when?"

Me: "Like, this afternoon."

Josh: "Dude, finals start next week."

Me: "Yeah, I know… but we could get down there and back in like 8 hours."

Josh: [having quickly calculated drive time] "Uhhh, why the crap would you want to go to Mexico for an hour?"

Me: "I wanna see if I can't get some of those steroids I wrote that paper about."

Josh: "... … … "

Josh: "You realize that would require you to somehow smuggle them back into the United States?"

Me: "Well, yeah."

Josh: "You realize you would probably have to do that while interacting with the Border Patrol?"

Me: "Well, yeah."

Josh: "You realize that you have the guiltiest conscience of anybody on the planet?"

Me: [knowing I had already out kicked my intellectual coverage and not thought this through] "Seriously man, I've thought this through… you wanna go or not?"

Being the best imaginable friend he his, Josh decided that there was no way he could let me do this on my own.

We leave for Acuna, Mexico in the early afternoon of Thursday, December 9th. The drive was as uneventful as a drive could possibly be… this is south, south, west, west, southwest Texas for God's sake.

But, a little over three hours later we arrive at the last bastion of civilization… Del Rio, Texas. We decide there is no way we are making that drive twice in one day so we check into a hotel and stow all valuables save a few hundred dollars cash and our driver's licenses… and duct tape… with which we planned to tape the steroids to our inner thighs… before we walked past US Border Patrol agents… let that sink in for a minute then realize exactly how not thought through this whole thing really was. Why we didn't think to just stay in Mexico and get hammered 'til 5 in the morning and take an unassuming taxi back into the States like every other idiot American college student is beyond me.

You would think that somebody who didn't have an aversion to buying steroids without a prescription in Mexico would not have any reservations about under aged drinking in Mexico. But, you would be incorrect. You would be incorrect because like I said earlier, I am an idiot and had somehow got into my noggin that legislators were stupid and steroids were a good idea so long as I followed what I had read in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Plus, I grew up in the Church of Christ; drinking is wrong.

-- -- -- -- --

Jose: "La farmacia?!?!"

Me: "Si, si… la farmacia."

Jose: "You got de flu?"

Me: "Where is it?"

Jose: "Juss down de road holmes..."

Sure enough, Pedro was right.

Josh and I enter the first brightly lit pharmacy of satisfactory cleanliness we see and begin perusing. Viagra. Xanax. Oxycodone. It was an impotent pill popper's wet dream. Tellingly, these highly recreational and highly abused medications seemed to represent the bulk of this "pharmacy's" inventory.

Me: "Excuse me. Sir, do you carry Nandralone Decanoate or Deca-Durabolin?"

"Pharmacist": "Que?"

Me: "Steroids?"

"Pharmacist": "Ahhh… si, si, si… [pointing to a bottom shelf] … aqui, aqui."

I look to the shelf.

Apparently, the Mexican National Steroid Taking Team calls this place home.

Seriously, what I saw was a collection of the most harsh synthetic muscle builders known to man. For those who wanted to make their arms explode… Dianabol. For those who wanted to annihilate any trace of fat… Winstrol. Honest to God folks, Winstrol (or Stanozolol) was originally developed for Thoroughbreds… freaking RACE HORSES… I could be wrong, but I don't think Acuna is Mexico's Louisville.

Me: "Dude, these are all heavy man… I don't wanna grow boobs or have my nuts shrink."

Josh: "I guess you've made peace with the fact you're already losing your hair."

Me: "Ass."

Josh: "What about this… [picks up box of Sustanon 250] … This is what Sean takes (mutual friend and pitcher for ACU's baseball team)."

Me: [picking up a box as though I know what the hell I'm doing] "Yeah you're right. This is a little more powerful than what I was going for but if I decide not to take it I guess I could always sell it."

Josh: "Yeah, for sure dude… if this smuggling gig works out why not just start dealing too?"

Disallowing enough time to pass to reconsider what we were doing, we buy two 3 month supplies and make our way into the streets of Acuna in search of some place to duct-tape 24 tiny glass viles to our thighs.

I just laughed out loud as I typed that. This is shameful.

Me: [cramped in North America's most disgusting bathroom, trying not to touch the walls] "Dude… this is gonna hurt so bad when we pull this tape off."

Josh: [focusing on more urgent matters] "I don't care about that. All I care about is getting back across without any of those Border Patrol agents thinking anything is up."

Me: "Dude, don't talk about that… I'll get nervous."

Josh: "We got offered coke and bud from a beaner who is probably on the DEA payroll. As we speak we're probably getting Hepatitis C from this 'bathroom' and in about ten minutes we're gonna walk across the Mexican/US border with illegal controlled substances taped to our thighs and you're not already nervous? I don't care if you get nervous. Just don't be an idiot."

As I considered the chain of events that was just recounted for me, I could literally feel the blood drain from my face.

From there we made our way from downtown Acuna back to the border station, purchasing 2 traditional Mexican wool blankets and some pure vanilla along the way so as to minimize suspicion.

Unfortunately, there are only two reasons 18-25 year old American males go to Acuna… 1) under aged drinking or 2) buying prescription drugs. We were two young, muscular American men who had asked a DEA informant directions to the nearest pharmacy and were now walking back to the States stone-cold sober in the middle of the afternoon. Had we been vomiting out the windows of a Mexican cab at 5 o'clock in the morning the following conversation would have most likely never taken place…

Border Patrol Agent: [Literally, first words out of his mouth] "So uh, you boys been to any pharmacies?"

Josh: "No sir, just checking things out before we head back over there later this evening with the rest of our group."

Border Patrol Agent: [recognizing that I had begun to sweat profusely and tremble violently as I gazed skyward in search of a SWAT team rappelling off the adjacent rooftops to take me down] "Really? Well what do you say I have a talk with your buddy here while you stick around and talk with my partner."

Josh, God love 'em, he really did try. But he knew I might as well have had a sandwich board around my neck advertising "Free Arrests".

The Border Patrol Agent lead me into an interrogation room complete with bolted down stainless steel chairs and one-way mirror.

Border Patrol Agent: "I am about to pat you down. Are there any objects on your person that pose a danger to me?"

Me: "No sir. But I would like tell you that taped to my thighs are 12 glass viles of anabolic steroids I purchased in Acuna approximately 45 minutes ago."

Barry Goldwater put up a better fight.

Moments later I found myself hand-cuffed and seated in a United States Border Patrol waiting room next to my best friend, who was also hand-cuffed. Brow-beating us was the largest law enforcement official I had seen or ever will see in my entire life.

Black felt cowboy hat. Black cotton t-shirt with the letters "D.E.A" printed on the left breast in yellow, blocked letters. Over-dyed wrangler jeans so tight they made Chuck Norris look like Young Jeezy. Boots that had clearly been forced into somebody's ass.

DEA Agent: "I'm runnin' your numbers. You shit stains best not say a word."

Me & Josh: [Nodding quickly and affirmatively]

As DEA Agent runs our social security numbers he informs us of several interesting bits of information… incredibly useful bits of information… incredibly useful bits of information such as the statutory amount of controlled substance that constitutes a felony as opposed to misdemeanor and how interested seasoned inmates typically are in new arrivals… particularly, new arrivals with uniquely red hair.

DEA Agent: "WELL WELL WELL… Abilene, Texas. Hey Jerry, looks like we got us some more flyboys from Dyess."

Josh: "Sir, I…"

DEA Agent: "What did I say? WHAT DID I SAY?!?! Not a WORD boy!"


Me: [not knowing I was partially verbalizing my prayer to God for my best friend not to be beaten to death with a felt cowboy hat] "Lor… ple… humina, juss uh… ple dear.. oh nev ev, juss ple…"

DEA Agent: "You think I'm tarded out? We got sixa yer buddies from Dyess in the back, had 'em for 2 days… that ring's busted to hell but you all just keep comin' in. Now, tell me everything I wanna know 'bout Dyess."

I guess " tell me everything" and "about Dyess" are pretty much all I heard DEA Agent say because I let loose a flood of quite literally everything I knew about Dyess Air Force Base like I was about to get my hand shoved in a blender.

Me: "SirDyessAirforceBaseissituatedjustwestofAbileneTexasandishometothe7thBomber

My verbal diarrhea was so pitifully pitiful, DEA Agent actually laughed out loud.

Stress does funny things to memory. Namely, completely erases it. I suppose the prospect of having convicted felons wagering a pack of Lucky Strikes on whether or not my cuffs and collar matched was simply more than I could bear. I suppose this because the four to five hours following my soliloquy on the 7th Bomber Wing can only be recalled in the form of random still photos snapped by my mind's eye… the wind-swept Wal-Mart sack that hit my leg as I was being placed in the back of a police cruiser… the deputy's "Val Verde County Jail" shoulder patch… the field of blue-bordered white light that persists in one's vision after their mug shot is taken…

Sheriff's Deputy 1: "What phone numbers would you like to call?"

Me: "You mean I get more than one?"

Sheriff's Deputy 1: "Of course… what if nobody answered?"

Me: "Wow, that's really considerate. I had no idea."

Sheriff's Deputy 1: "First time?"

Me: "For what? Getting arrested or being an idiot?"

Sheriff's Deputy 1: [Laughing with her partner] "What number should I dial?"

Me: "Well, that depends. Is there anyway you can tell me how much trouble I'm in? I really have no idea where I stand."

Sheriff's Deputy 1: "You are being charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, Possession of a Controlled Substance."

Me: "So I'm not a felon?"

Sheriff's Deputy 1: "Nope."

Me: "Ok, then I guess I need to talk to my dad."

Josh: [to the deputy who is taking his mug shot] "You might wanna hold off on taking my picture and listen to him talk to his dad… it really could make your day."

There is a saying… "A good friend will bail you out of jail, but your best friend will be sitting next to you saying, 'Damn that was fun!'"

While that may be true for some, it is my experience that your best friend will have to have his mug shot taken 3 times because he is laughing at the conversation you've just had with your dad… who tested the outer limits of just how closely a person can come to killing their offspring through telephone lines.

Dad: [sounding like you expect somebody to sound if they had been awaken at 1 a.m.] "He, hello?"

Me: "Dad, this is your son, David (I have no brothers). I am calling you from the Val Verde County Jail. I was arrested after purchasing anabolic steroids in Acuna, Mexico and attempting to bring them back into the United States. I am now being charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, Possession of a Controlled Substance. I need your help."

Sheriff's Deputy 2: "Well there it is."

Josh: "Wait for it…"

Dad: "Well, Dave… I have a tee-time at Las Colinas tomorrow morning at 10. I think your mom is heading up to Tulsa. Maybe she can help you out."

Me: [to Josh and the Deputies] "He says he's playing golf tomorrow and my mom is out of town."

Sheriff's Deputy 2: "Good call Dad."

Josh: "Wait for it…"

Mom: "David??? Dad said you're in ja, ja, ja [slips into complete hysterics… sound of telephone being quickly grasped and jerked away]"


Me: [consumed by complete and total guilt and shame, desperately needing to cry yet realizing from movies and Discovery Channel shows that crying in jail is typically associated with anal rapes] "YES I DID FORGET WHO I AM! BUT I AM ABOUT TO BE PUT IN A JAIL CELL WITH ONLY GOD KNOWS WHAT AND I DON'T NEED TEAR STAINS ON MY FACE WHEN I GET IN THERE! YOU GONNA HELP OR NOT?"

Dad: "Well I guess we'll just have to wait and see." [sound of phone disconnecting]

Me: [to anybody, to nobody] "He said 'Well I guess we'll just have to wait and see.'"

Josh: "THERE IT IS!!!"

Sheriff's Deputy 2: "NICE!"

Sheriff's Deputy 1: "Smart dad."

Me: "I… He… This is all my fault… all my doing… please don't think I have bad parents."

Sheriff's Deputy 1: "I don't even know you."

Again, stress does funny things. I cannot clearly recall anything that occurred during the ensuing period of time, the length of which I cannot specify. I am guessing I was finger printed and had my blood alcohol level tested. I am also guessing I was given a set of heavy weight, hunter-safety-orange scrubs along with a hygiene kit and told to go into a bathroom and change because it is there that I had my next lucid thought

Me: [sound of record being numbly played backwards then quickly being corrected] "mmzzz zhafta dionzzACKS! Razor? RAZOR!?! WHY THE $%#@ DO THEY GIVE YOU A RAZOR?!?!"

The make-shift weapons menagerie that was the Val Verde County Jail hygiene kit was simply jaw dropping. The aforementioned razor… full-length molded plastic tooth brush… soap (hey, I was alarmed… everything looked dangerous).

As I exited the bathroom I was given a twin-sized mattress and pillow then told to stand next to Josh and wait for an escort to our new home.

Me: "Dude, they give you a freaking razor and toothbrush handle… all anybody in there has is time…"

Josh: "Dave. I could not care less about some flimsy safety razor or how long some dude has had to form an edge on the handle of the toothbrush he never uses."

Me: "Huh?"

Josh: "Dude, look…"

Josh, who was blessed at birth by God with more than just a dry sense of humor and considerable musical ability, then turned and removed his shielding mattress. In so doing Josh revealed the following: 1) The pants he had been given by the deputies were at least 2 sizes too small; 2) The crotch of said pants had been ripped along the seam; and 3) Josh had worn a pair of blue boxers for our trip to Mexico, never anticipating a Sheriff's Deputy would tell he'd have to remove all none-white clothing for fear of instigating a gang war within one of our nation's busiest county jails.

Yep, my best friend Testaclese was about to be introduced to the Texas State Department of Corrections while free-ballin' in a pair of snuggly fitting crotchless pants.

As this realization swept over the both of us our escort, Sheriff's Deputy 2, called for the security doors to be opened. Immediately a tidal wave of cat calls and whistles from what lay before us flooded the holding area.

Josh: "Goodbye 'anal virginity', hello 'lifetime of loose stool'."

By The Light Of A Neon Moon

I have, on occasion, been known to drink alcohol.

This has, on occasion, resulted in grave risk of bodily harm.

This risk of bodily harm has been known to manifest itself either internally (in the form of cirrhosis of the liver) or externally (in the form of abrupt contact with bar tables, pool cues and/or bodies of water).

On a few notable occasions the integrity of my physical being has come into serious question at the behest of my closest friends.

The bachelor party thrown for my close friend C-Murdah was one such occasion.

This is C-Murdah...

A Preface:

As you are probably aware, the American bachelor party traditionally involves activities beyond the typical soiree. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, visiting a strip club or hiring a female stripper and/or escort. Pre-operation transsexuals are also for hire... err, so I'm told. In some cases, the activities may resemble hazing at the future groom's expense. The purpose of such behavior is to mark the passage from "adolescent bachelorhood" to "responsible marital life" with one last gasp of free air.

There is an interesting dynamic within the circle of friends I maintain from my days at Abilene Christian University. While we have been known to enjoy the effects of alcohol, we are not given to complete debauchery. This is due in large part to the fact that, in the past 4 and a half years, virtually every member of the circle has married far above himself. As such, our bachelor parties typically do not include activities that clearly jeopardize our friend's spousal windfall.

There is of course, one member of the association who does not have the Sword of Damocles precariously hanging over marital ties. Allow me to introduce you to the Lone Ranger:

(Feel free to insert your own "Tonto" joke here______________... Assholes.)

Given the collective desire of my closest friends to remain married to wonderful women with whom they have no business being wed, the role of "Bachelor-by-Proxy" has, on occasion, fallen upon my shoulders.

I can honestly say that I have not sought this role.

Conversely, I cannot honestly say that I have refused this role.

I will say however, that any acceptance of this role has been made not by me but by my drunken alter-ego known to my closest friends as "Damien BeWellsabub".

An Explanation:

My personality consists of several strong traits… "comprehensive thought", "desire for culture", "stubbornness"… as well as "compulsivity". "Compulsivity" can be useful in areas such as creative and janitorial arts. But you see, when mixed with large quantities of alcohol, my compulsive tendencies do not tend to be creative in the artistic sense.

Rather, that concoction tends to result in the playful punching of others, the jocular throwing of objects into unsuspecting crowds, the cheerful engagement in limb-threatening behavior and other generally destructive and socially unacceptable merriment.

These behaviors are clear indicators that Damien is present and should most certainly be accounted for. Over the years, it seems as though my friends have learned how to harness Damien's disruptive force and bridle him for their own amusement.

August 5, 2006 marked the confluence of begrudgingly mature husbands giving a responsible friend a bachelor party and my ingestion of not only my fair share of alcohol but the fare shares of 12 other individuals.

There were 8 of us.

3 came from Dallas.

Foster from Midland, TX

Pow-wow from Branson, MO

Me from Durant, OK

and C-Murdah from Boulder, CO

Never one to bore himself, Murdah decided not to fly the 1,100 miles from northern Colorado to central Texas. Murdah thought it would be prudent to drive the 1,100 miles... on his motorcycle... while taking a wholly unnecessary, but no doubt scenic, detour through southern New Mexico...

And just in case you were wondering...


Equals this...

Yeah, he's probably the only person on the planet to own a $270,000 house and a BMW touring motorcycle as his 3rd form of transportation but consistently refuse to pay for a hotel room unless absolutely necessary... and that's one of the reasons we love him.

Grrr is the anal-retentive one of the group and was naturally responsible for the planning.

This is Grrr...

But then again, so is this...

Grrr tried his best to guide the rest of us into making sound plans but we are an incorrigible lot when anticipating getting to see each other again.


Grrr: "We're contemplating the pros and cons of a houseboat bachelor party."

C-Murdah: "Pro: Peeing off the deck. Con: Drowning."

Foster: "But still - peeing outside is AWESOME."

Grrr decided he did not want to be the tenant-of-record for accomodations that could potentially lead to the death of one or more of his closest friends. Wisely, he rented a riverside house for the weekend. Nothing grand, just a simple 2 bedroom rental in various stages of disrepair... existing solely for the purposes of housing drunken river lovers and their beer.

In it was bedding for 8, a refrigerator, a bathroom and a broken DVD player that would not play the porn we did not bring. Outside there was a grill, ample lawn furniture and… with my hand to God… a billboard.

(Front Left to Right: Trav, Pow-wow, Greyhound, Grrr. Back Left to Right: Foster, Me, Tobias, C-Murdah)

Actually, technically, what we had in our backyard is known in the advertising industry as a "bulletin"… defined as such by its measurements of 14 feet high by 48 feet wide standing atop pedestal of at least 4 storeys (48 feet).

Please note, when I say "in the back yard" I do not mean to say "just outside the fence but still closer than I've ever been to a friggin' billboard" or "just across the street in an empty lot". No, no. I literally mean "in... the... back... yard." Anyhow, our's advertised a local, German-themed water park… Der Schlitterbahn… yeah, central Texas is funny.

As you might surmise from the presence of a billboard, the backyard was no more than 150-200 feet from a major highway. How major? Interstate 35… linking Laredo, Texas to Duluth, Minnesota via San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Kansas City. Needless to say, Grrr rented this place sight-unseen.

The group spent the first night easing into each other's company...

... and making trips to the local emergency care clinic...

The following day was filled with various behavior of which, sadly, there is no photographic memorialization... being pelted with miniature plastic penises by river-floating bachelorette parties and hurling them back at hazardous velocities... urinating on the feet of those seated in front of us on the bus taking us back to the river's entrance... hitting on the seemingly of-age underaged daughter of a drunken family Pow-wow saw fit to invite back to our house for dinner... and that's just me.

Well, not me, but Damien... who had appeared in my stead some time between asking an officer of the law what constituted illegal public behavior on Texas waterways and giggling hysterically as my good friend Shad (a.k.a. "Tobias") recognized I was somehow peeing on his feet from 2 seats away.

But, there is behavior that was in fact memorialized.

That evening we sat in the backyard, digesting our BBQ, hydrating ourselves with Milwaukee's Best, enjoying our incredibly random and completely ghetto billboard. You see, backyard billboards make for great conversation.

While I cannot clearly recall the conversation that took place, I do know my friends well and know their need to be entertained. So, I can safely assume from past experience, conversation was most likely very similar to the following:

C-Murdah: [Looking at me, speaking to the others, pointing to the billboard] "You know, its good to see you guys... but I'm kinda disappointed..."

Foster: [Catching on to Murdah's intent] "Yeah man, we need something to make this special. Otherwise, it's just another weekend with Dave peeing everywhere."

Tobias: [Never one to pussy-foot around a subject] "Hey Dave... DAVE!... Betchya won't climb up that billboard..."

Me: [rousing from a bobble-headed stupor] "Huh... I'm gonna climb something?"

C-Murdah: [slow playing better than
Doyle Brunson] "Naw man... don't worry about it... the ladder is way too high... there's no way you could get up there."

Me: [turning 'round to assess the obstacle]

Pow-wow: [eager to see this happen] "I think if I drive my truck back here, Dave could climb on the top and reach the bottom rung."

The Group: [collectively] "Yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe..."

Tobias: [again, never one for subtlety] "Bullshit, Dave's too drunk and doesn't have the balls."

Me: [incensed] "GO #$%& YOURSELF MR. GADDIS! Powie, get me your truck."

(Sidenote: Tobias is married to a very sweet and very fun woman whose maiden name was
Laura Gaddis. During their courtship Shad did not want to screw things up and focused heavily on their relationship to the near complete exclusion of any other social interaction. We give him hell about this as good friends should and do... like the time I sent them my law school graduation announcement addressed to "Mrs. and Mr. Gaddis")

Powie immediately obliges.

I am now becoming aware of my surroundings and determined to achieve my objective.

After several minutes of maneuvering, Pow-wow nestles his SUV inches away from the advert's pillar. I climb atop his vehicle. Annoyed, I realize I am still approximately a foot away from the lowest rung. Jumping to the lowest rung was out of the question for two reasons... 1) I would surely dent the hood of my friend's SUV and 2) I am incredibly white and cannot cover 12 inches in my vertical leap... assistance would be needed.

Like a drunken guardian angel, C-Murdah appears next to me. Murdah verbalizes some kind of enthused affirmation that most likely included the words "wicked" and "bro" then assumes the "wall-sit" position against the column, allowing me to reach the lowest rung thusly...

Now, I am focused.

I am an entertainer and I have an audience.

I cannot recall what was shouted by my friends below as their words were drowned by the cacophony of 80 mile-an-hour traffic some 50 yards away. But, evidently it made me happy and I noticed it enough to pause for a quick photo-op...

Several more moves and I was above earshot of any well-wishes or direction from my friends. Then, a buzz... a slight vibration in my left front pocket... a text message. In fact, it was a text message from my good friend Micah Foster simply stating the directive:

"Don't fall bitch."

Thanks, ass.

So there I was, left alone on my perch contemplating what to do next and somewhat shocked at the complete lack of safety precautions installed on the scaffolding of 48 foot tall roadside billboards.

Seriously folks, non-existent... as in vertical board, 2-foot wide catwalk, flood lights, air. No hand rails, no guy-lines... nada. Another intersting feature is the blindness caused by multiple million-candle-power flood lights illuminating directions to the board's sponsor.

I decide this is no time for half-measures.

I pull myself onto the catwalk.

There, I proudly walk to the center of the sign and pay my respects to the ulterior doubt cast by my friends...

I do not regret the fact that an untold number of families were subjected to the blinding glare of my ass.

I do not
regret the panic my friends endured as 2 police cruisers sped around our residential corner and off to parts unknown.

My only regret is that I had no tinkle left with which to christen those who would manipulate my drunken chutzpah for their own amusement.

Desenchantee: The French-Moroccan Stripper Who Smelled Funny

The better half of my 23rd year was spent in western Europe under the auspices of studying law. Despite the negligible amount of study that took place, lessons were learned. They were as follows: 1) The language barrier is more often entertaining than obstructive; 2) personal responsibility is inversely proportional to the availability/reliability of public transportation; and 3) Russian door-men are not nearly as effective as they are foreboding.

These lessons were learned throughout my 6 months overseas but it was a weekend in Paris that polished them to diamond clarity.

You see, "law school" in London can only charitably be described as such. To wit, I took 14 semester hours and earned a 3.8 GPA with my first class of the week beginning at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and my last class concluding at 3 p.m. on Thursday. That's right folks, a 4 day weekend.

Additionally, the instructors saw little sense in burdening their students with loads not conducive to outings of drinking and foolishness interspersed with foolishness and drinking... both of which are inevitable goings on when a bunch of Type-A twenty-somethings find themselves 4,700 miles away from anything remotely familiar and who also possess self-granted license to burn through their trust fund/financial aid as expeditiously as possible. As such, the sage faculty of Tottenham Court are still revered as some of our world's most real, real-world thinkers. Juliet, Simone... we thank you.

Early September found my cohort Jensen and me ruminating the particulars of a trip to Paris and Normandy. At the time, our underwhelming, Harvard/Penn educated, homosexual roommate Jo was also considering the trip... (*Note* Jo, a.k.a. Josephina was a pot luck roommate who bore a striking resemblance to Isaac Mizrahi.) For reasons elucidated in the forthcoming "I Hope Your Children Burn in a Fire" blog, JoJo opted out of our trip to Paris and instead spent 4 days on the Greek coast.

A short trip to STA Travel yielded an itinerary which commenced two weeks later. Jensen and I were booked at the Quality Inn located in Paris' Mont Marte or red light district. This arrangement was primarily borne out of economic prudence which stopped just shy of let's-stay-at-a-hostel frugality. The Quality Inn Mont Marte offered a bed, a bath, a window, free breakfast cheese & baguettes as well as an elevator so small as to preclude more than two individuals of medium build from entering sans baggage.

The Q also offered reservation services for the famed Moulin Rouge... a scant 3 blocks away. It is a universal truth that when two 23 year old heterosexual males are offered dinner and boobies, the answer is "yes". A call was made, reservations were set and Jensen and I spent 2 of the next 3 days gaining intimate familiarization with the streets, sites and sounds of Paris.

The actual show provided at the Moulin Rouge is not worth the price of admission... nor is the meal worth its cost. But, when you consider the fact that it is 2 hours of mediocre entertainment and overpriced food in the presence of truly world-class boobies... there's a certain amount of rationalization that occurs.

Anyhoo, 370 euros and 2 bottles of wine later, Jensen and I spill into the streets of Mont Matre. Jensen and I are in the mood to see more boobies so we peruse our options over the next several hours as we make fun of the drunken tourists. One option, "Le Paradis" becomes our focus... primarily because we are drunken tourists and "Le Paradis" would only require the crossing of a single intersection. This is enough to make our decision... a fact that should serve as a telling barometer of our inebriation.

We approach the rotund elderly man standing in the doorway and inquire as to the cover charge.

Drunk/Idiot Americans: "Say, how much to enter?"

Rotund Russian Septuagenarian: [thick Russian accent which catches the Drunk/Idiot Americans who were under the impression they were in France off guard] "20 euro."

Shocked/Not-That-Drunk Americans: "Get the hell outta here. 20 euros!?!?! That's almost $30!!!"

RRS: "We have what you like, eh. What you like, eh? Boy on boy?

Confused Americans: "WHAT!?!?! No, no, no... no... NO!"

Jensen: "Hey, just because he has on a purple shirt doesn't mean he likes boys you know?"

David: "Thanks for the clarification... ass."

RRS: "We have all... girl on girl... girl on boy... woman on boy eh."

Thoughtful/Analytical Americans: "Was he being redundant or did Tolstoy here intend to distinguish between girl on boy and woman on boy? Intriguing..."

Jensen: "Wait, this isn't a strip club... you're saying this is a sex show?"

RRS: "Ya, Ya... sex show... 20 euro eh."

At this point the explicit nature of the billboards and photographic collages they display begin to take on more contextual meaning. I am, to say the least, leery of entering a French sex show guarded by an elderly Russian... I have zero experience with these sort of places but something doesn't seem quite right. I have the sneaking suspicion that inside will be a man who goes by Dmitri No Thumbs. That in mind, I am no longer interested in Le Paradis.

David: "Naw, dude... this aint right man..."

Jensen: "Its cool man, these things are regulated. Let's check it out."

The use of the term "regulated" led me to believe Jensen knew, more than I, what was standard within the European sex-show industry. Perhaps he was correct. Perhaps he had read up on Paris' red light district before we arrived. Perhaps I was naive in thinking only Amsterdam had such legally sanctioned entertainment. After all, this was Paris... Paris is classy... and Le Paradis is right in the middle of a huge tourist destination. Perhaps things are not so shady. My friend Alcohol says to me "Midwestern values be damned David. We're in Paris... assimilate!!!"

David: "Right on... we're in."

We give Tchaikovsky our money and enter. We are unamused. There is a peninsular catwalk flanked on each side by 3 round, four-seat tables. To the walk's right is an open parquet floor presumably used for dancing. Opposite the dance area is a 4 foot tall divider lined with two seat tables. Behind it, amphitheater style seating. Notably, myself and Jensen comprise exactly one third of the audience.

Unamused, we sit.

A cocktail waitress approaches and takes our orders... scotch... on the rocks. Evidently, "on the rocks" is loosely translated from English into French to mean "and by scotch we mean the most abhorrent thing you have behind that thing you call a bar"... because that is exactly what we got. Imagine, if you will, scorched pig urine and you will have at least a vague conception of what we received.

Shortly after we received our drinks music began to play. At this point, honestly, I was nervous at the thought of what I was about so see. I was not at all comfortable. I knew this was wrong but before I could inform Jensen of my misgivings the catwalks' curtain was drawn open and out walked a busty woman of mocha complexion who wore, I kid you not, cut off jean shorts and a standard issue Hanes wife-beater. This was billed as Pee-Wee's Playhouse but it seems as though "unamused" is the word of the day.

Upon seeing this, the other four individuals, two men, two women, promptly left.

What followed can only be described as a numbed, disinterested self-objectification. But, as with lackluster entertainment and over priced cuisine, numbed, disinterested self-objectification is made tolerable by the presence of nekkid boobies. Adolescent, to be sure but dems da rules... I didn't make em but I suppose I too play by them.

It should also be noted that this was not a sex show or a venue therefor. This was by all accounts a strip club in its last throws of business. This alleviated my worries and did much to calm me... realize, I am a good person... I like the idea of being a good person... As such, I don't like the idea of not being a good person and it logically follows that witnessing sex-shows I suspect to be illegal is consistent with not being a good person... an idea I do not like.

After her routine the woman, naked in every sense of the word, made a bee-line for my lap. I did my utmost to place a prophylactic napkin across my thigh prior to her arrival but I failed, and miserably so. As she sat, she wrapped her arms around my neck, wafting a rancid bouquet into my nostrils that has subsequently been filed in my olfactory recall under "D" for "Dear GOD! WHAT IS THAT!?!?!?!"

Stripper Who Smelled Funny: [sitting on left thigh, pressing breasts into my face] "Ha-lo. American?"

David: [struggling, and mightily so, to gasp fresh air from behind my right shoulder] "Yes, yes, Americans... Oklahoma..."

SWSF: [koochin' it on a pair of Ralph Lauren Purple Label slacks that are worth more than her] "Ahhhh, Americaaaan..."

David: [still... struggling...] "Yes, yes, yes where are you from?"

SWSF: "Morocco... come to Paris to dance... you buy me drink"

David: "No, no... we are just about to finish and leave... no more drink."

French Moroccan Stripper Who Smelled Funny: [Insisting that her breasts are not close enough to my every means of oxygen intake] "Plllllllleeeeeeeee... A drink... Buy drink..."

David: [Not drunk enough to be hateful, not sober enough to be rational]: "OK, ok... I will buy drink... for you... a drink."

FMSWSF motions towards the bar... no vocalizations... just simple gestures... they have done this before. Immediately the cocktail waitress appears with two new scotches and an alcoholic arsenal of which I, a seasoned vet, was then unfamiliar. FMSWSF takes from this arsenal a footed jigger and lights afire the liquid therein. A few seconds later she pours the contents of the jigger into a footed glass, stirs briefly then shoots it. Taking my hand, she stands, pulls me from my seat and leads me into the amphitheater seating behind us.

I am worried... I consult with Scotch... Scotch tastes better than earlier... far better... I am confused... I consult the rest of Scotch. He is not helpful.

As stated above, I am a good person... I do not like the idea of being a bad person. My sole purpose in presenting this and future stories for public consumption is to entertain through open, honest discourse regarding my own idiocy and misjudgment.

In hopes of retaining as much positive regard as possible, I will spare you the details of what happened next but suffice it to say that I was, for all intents and purposes, sexually assaulted. I have never received a lap dance in America but I cannot imagine the rules of engagement being the same, similar or even in the same ballpark... to quote Sam Jackson's "Jules" from Pulp Fiction, "it ain't even the same f'#cking sport."

I cannot deny the fact that I may have been somewhat complicit. But again, in the presence of boobies, certain rationalizations are made. The situation never advanced to anything beyond a lap dance performed with vigor and the kneading of boobies. Also, this woman undoubtedly had rent to pay and most likely had a child or three. While not entirely altruistic, any provision on my part would certainly be appreciated.

FMSWSF finishes the lap dance and asks for another drink... I now know "drink" is code for something other than "drink". I can no longer play dumb. I pause. I contemplate. Somewhere milling around my frontal lobes I can vaguely recall a moral dilemma I might have with this situation... provided I were sober enough to recall what exactly the tenets of my ethical system were... or even what an ethical system was... but I was not. As such, FMSWSF received another drink.

Midway thru the second drink I caught the expression of Jensen, still on the floor... in his chair... holding up his scotch... pointing at it as if to say "They continue to bring me this... it is better than before... I believe they are now plying me with 30yr old scotch because of my association with you... what is going on?" I am thinking similar things.

FMSWSF finishes dancing on me and asks for a third drink. I may be drunk but I am not stupid and she is not 3 lap dances hot. I say that I have had enough and I would appreciate it if she would kindly summon the cocktail waitress so as to allow me to pay my bill.

Cocktail waitress appears and opens a rectangular portfolio. As she does she points to certain words and does her best to explain to me in broken English the charges incurred. I hear none of it... my attention is immediately and myopically focused on a numerical representation that is confusing... 900.

You see, there are situations in which one can force upon oneself immediate sobriety. It is my experience that the desperate need to accurately calculate international exchange rates is such a situation.

I knew four days prior, upon my arrival in France that the exchange rate from dollars to euros was 1.3. Applying this knowledge I determined that I was being presented with a bill for $1,170. Evidently, "drink" was code for a package of services beyond what had taken place. Evidently, I was the quintessential stupid American.

I turn to FMSWSF and Cocktail Waitress with a mind free from the fog of inebriation and say calmly... "Mademoiselles. Let me talk to my friend. Bring us more scotch and I will see if he will buy a drink." I gently close the portfolio. They are eagerly receptive to this idea.

I pat them on the small of their backs as I saunter down the steps to Jensen. As I take my seat Jensen does not immediately sense the fact that I am equal parts shocked and frightened. He says "Dude, what the hell... Johnny Walker Blue man... that's $30 a glass back home!"

I respond with "We are leaving. Not now. But soon."

Jensen: "Sure man... ok"

David: "No. You don't understand. Apparently I just bought a prostitute... twice... and didn't know it. They want me to pay $1200. I am not going to. 15 feet to your right is an exit. When they aren't looking and when the bar tender in distracted we are gone."

Jensen: [staring blankly] "... ... ..."

Jensen: "You can't go to the hotel. If I'm a Russian pimp who owns a French Moroccan prostitute who just got stiffed outta $1200 by an American shithead in Paris, the first place I'm looking are cheap hotels in the area."

David: [pleased with his friend's level of cognitive functioning and ability self-impose immediate sobriety] "Good point. It's 4 am. Our train leaves in 3 hours. When we go, we gotta go fast and we gotta go hard. You split for the hotel. I will go straight. I will meet you at Gare du Nord in one hour."

Jensen: "Cool."

David: [amazed by Jensen's cavalier response to the situation... hoping to feign the same] "Cool."

Moments later, the bar tender disappears behind the bar and it, dear friends, is on... I bolt through the door shoulder first with a force and ferociousness that would make a S.W.A.T. team proud. As we enter the Parisian pre-dawn onto Boulevard de Clichy, the world is displayed before me in slow motion... I notice the elderly, rotund, Russian doorman tumble violently into a parked car. I turn to see Jensen make the corner up an alley towards Rue des Abbesses. Good night and good luck my friend. I run south on Rue Blanche, sprinting at a pace representative of an assclown who has just stiffed a Russian owned French-Morrocan Prostitute Who Smelled Funny out of $1200 and has a train to catch. I lose my loafers. I lose the bottom of my socks. Predictably, my feet begin to hurt a lil bit.

I dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge my way to Gare du Nord. Once there, I blend as well as a shoeless, bleeding, limping, frightened, repenting carrot-topped American can and await Jensen's arrival. He appears, our back packs in tow. Hello dear friend.

The next 2 hours were among the most nerve racking of my entire life... and my vacations are spent hanging from cliffs. I ponder the events of the night and early morning. I am shocked. I begin to feel nauseated. I become hypersensitive to environmental stimuli... of which there were many. Each sound, each movement is interpreted as Dmitri No Thumbs becoming aware of my identity and whereabouts. But at the same time I recall the events from an objective and omniscient perspective. I almost laugh as we board the Eurostar. Jensen turns to me and speaks for the first time in almost 3 hours.

Jensen: "Dave... [in a tone conveying the notion that what he was about to say was the most pressing of our immediate concerns]... dog, really... you're wearing a purple shirt man?!?"

Today, I cringed...

First, a preface...
I am a Republican.
Specifically, I am a Reagan Republican.
I am Scrooge-like in my frugality on matters of fiscal responsibility. I consider the likes of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun to be spineless in their hemming and hawing on matters of national security.
Yet, if the social matters concern something other than the killing of unborn babies, I am quite moderate and even somewhat liberal. Yes, it may surprise some to hear that there are Republicans who rest unsettled at night when thinking of hungry children and criminally under treated AIDS/HIV in Africa.
Still, I am a Republican... as well as a massive nerd. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed watching every televised minute of the confirmation hearings of now Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
The entertainment I gleaned from these hearings was not borne only out of observing the cognitive brilliance of the two jurists. No, no... I am also slightly red in the neck. So much of my delight was generated by the wit and witticisms of the Republican Senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions.
This is Senator Jeff Sessions...
His genial and engaging style brought a smile to my face. His colloquialisms referencing matters of great importance made me think, "Yes... yes... I am happy the majority of people who voted in Alabama voted for Jeff."
Today, Senator Sessions did not make me smile. He did not make my head nod in affirmation. Rather, Senator Sessions made my butt cheeks flex involuntarily and scoot across the surface of my office chair with embarrassment... not unlike a family dog relieving the irritation of worms on the living room floor.
What caused the anguish you ask? The answer is Senator Sessions' May 17th press release in which he hailed the passage of his border fence provision with the following:
I appreciate an ability in leaders to articulate matters of importance to the proletariat. This was one of, if not the, only redeeming characteristics of President Bill Clinton. It was, in fact, a characteristic that I admired greatly.
(An admission that makes me feel as though I need to reenact the "Finkle-is-Einhorn/Einhorn-is-Finkle" shower scene from Ace Venture: Pet Detective).
Conversely, I do not appreciate the complete and total perversion and mutilation of deep thought into a mongrel snippet of ignorance targeting the lowest common denominator.
You see, while red-necked, I am not completely without education. Naturally, the acquisition of that education brought me into contact with some folks who knew how to think and knew how to write about what they think. One of these folks was a man named Robert Frost.
This is Robert Frost...
This is one of his writings...
(summary provided below... but I suggest you read it... it's greatness)
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?
Isn't it where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."
In case you didn't read all that, a stone wall separates the speaker's property from his neighbor's... a division that consists of an apple orchard on one side and pine trees on another. The writer, therefore, sees no need for the wall. Even so, he contacts his neighbor and aids in the wall's rebuilding when freezing, thawing, hunters and "elves" cause the wall to crumble. Periodically, the speaker says "Why the crap are we doing this? There is no need for this. Mother Nature is basically telling us every year 'hey, you don't need this' and tears it down for us." To which his neighbor simply replies with the stubbornly obtuse "Good fences make good neighbors."
Frost uses the refrain "Good fences make good neighbors" as a means of portraying the fence builder (the speaker of the refrain) as close minded, ignorant and lost in an outdated thought process due to his inability to consider the reality of the circumstances.
Senator Sessions displays what seems to be incredible contextual ignorance in using this phrase. Sure there's an argument to be made that the writer in Mending Wall was not a total anarchist and alluded to circumstances in which walls would be necessary i.e. when there are cows roaming around.
These are illegal immigrants...
These are cows...
It could very reasonably be argued that illegal immigrants are Frost's not-so-absent "cows" of today's predicament. As such, you could say that we need a wall.
However, Frost took this adage and, with the use of irony, gave to it the connotation of alienation and small mindedness... something of which Senator Sessions, or at the very least, his press secretary should have been aware.
Was Senator Sessions simply ignorant of the phrase's literary connotation? Is he simply saying we need a wall? Perhaps not... perhaps his amiable style was perfectly suited for directing this phrase towards an audience unfamiliar with its connotation.
This is a tactic politicians have long used. Speech writers in every office search high and low for the perfect 8 word phrase... the applause line... the "fortune cookie candidacy"... never minding what the next 8 words will be. When waters are troubled, crack open the cookie and soothe the masses with sugary reassurance.
Similarly, an over arching political principle is that having the issue is more important than providing the solution... a tactic nicely coupled with that of the "fortune cookie".
Three hundred and seventy miles of fence will be of absolutely zero consequence in stemming the tide of illegal aliens. But, what building a fence will do is provide red meat for the Republican's conservative base and give the illusion that something is in the works... straddling the fence, if you will... between maintaining the issue and providing half measured solutions... both designed to maximize political gain.
I find that infuriating.
I'm incredibly torn on this issue. I do not for a single second believe a wall will keep somebody from an opportunity to feed their family... it sure as hell couldn't stop me...

This is my niece Sophia Elizabeth...
If Sophie was going to bed hungry at night and I could feed her by working in Guadalajara, the Federales would have to capture me and carry out a sentence of "Death-by-Donkey-Show" before I stopped high-steppin' it over a damned fence.

*Note: I was going to provide visual aid for "Donkey Show" but I would like to continue being employed by the government and I am fairly certain a Googling of the phrase "Donkey Show" on a government computer would put me in some kind of "database" along with "Lenny", the guy who bought a windowless passenger van last week...

At the same time, boundaries are the symptoms of organized societies. Unless you are an absolute anarchist and believe Mongolian or Scottish marauders have the right to do their will (i.e. raping your wives) then you probably, as did the Chinese and Romans, recognize the need for literal boundaries...

such as this...
and this...
Civilized societies since the time of Hammurabi have the added advantage of figurative boundaries. To wit, written rules. Laws are walls; justice is the process of wall-mending.

Perhaps a better, albeit figurative, wall could be built by a better Mexican economy... a less corrupt Mexican government... a f@&$ing Mexican "New Deal"... Sunset in Chihuahua's Copper Canyon is far more enchanting than any of our national parks... build a damn road and some hand rails.

Admittedly, I am frustrated. That frustration led to a tangent. That tangent took me from literature to politics and, in the process, wasted several minutes of your life that you will never get back. For that, dear readers, I am sorry... but I am nevertheless, frustrated.

I am frustrated by an American government who argue the issue ad nauseum and aphoristically appease the minuscule attention spans of the ignorant for political gain rather than present viable solutions.

I am frustrated by a Mexican government who expect water fountains to be installed in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico rather than realizing their country is so pitifully abhorrent that its residents are risking death rather than staying there.
But mostly, I'm bored...