Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Inevitabilities


by Nicholas Allanach

Get out of my way you fuckers!” Jim yells out at four gridlocked lanes of traffic through clenched teeth holding a cigarette. “I can’t believe this…learn how to drive! Speed up!” Jim swerves, accelerates and merges back again, barely missing a large truck from smashing into the back of our car.

“You still got that one-hitter?” Jim asks while fumbling through his CD collection. “Sure do, let me ah pack it for ya’.” I respond while he replaces Guns-n-Roses’ Appetite for Destruction with the White Stripes’ Icky Thump. I hand Jim my one-hitter, he inhales, and accelerates. The Volkswagon lunges ahead as we swerve left, then right, and then back again. Jim is a crazed impatient driver, the type who cannot tolerate having anyone in front of him and who’ll do anything—traffic be damned—to keep moving and ahead of everyone else. I’ve always loved speed, but also love life too much to die in some stupid accident on the Mass Turnpike. “You bastard!” I curse as he barely misses another merging automobile; nevertheless, I make no more objections to his reckless behavior; after all, this is his car and he’s in the driver’s seat. Besides, if this is how I’m supposed to go out, who am I to stand in the way of inevitability?
Admittedly, my mind was busy chewing on other inevitabilities as we made our way up I-95 from New York. In many ways, the threat of impending death seemed appropriate. I take another hit off my one-hitter and realize - Fuck!…It’s almost been a year since I’d visited Maine. This time, we were going to attend our close friends Inge and Ian’s wedding in Wiscasset, which would predictably be a delightful freak show full of flame juggling, fencing, bon fires, and loud industrial music that would thump on late into the night beside bongo drums.
Unfortunately, this same event would also be attended by people I’d been ignoring and avoiding since my last visit. But, if it was inevitable for me to run into such folks –so be it. My memory is too faded to remember what we were fighting about and I love what’s left of my life too much to fight about such bullshit anymore.
“God damn it!” Jim scoffs as our car comes to a halt. Ahead of us, a few miles of traffic grumbled and lurched at an agonizing slow pace. We’re not far outside Boston. It’s 5:30pm. The expected rush hour commute had most certainly taken the wind out of our sails. “Alright let’s get out of this bull shit and find ourselves some kind of jupe joint!” Jim inches his way into the right lane toward the Waltham exit.
We roll through the small town in search of a bar, to ultimately, settle on some rundown sports pub, where I have a beer and Jim a shot of whiskey and two beers. After a few cold looks from some Red Sox fans sitting in the smoking section, we decide to get back on the road. Besides, it’s getting dark; fortunately, the traffic had cleared. Jim guns the engine and we’re off. Nothing ahead now but open road. We roll down the windows and take-in the fresh country air. Our music blasts out into the night.
Ca-ah-on-quest!!! He’s was out to make a conquest!

Two hours later, we pull into Portland, Maine with luck on our side. Not only did we make it here alive; but, surprisingly, never got pulled over by the police. What a wretched scene it would have been explaining away the obvious cloud of marijuana smoke and empty Budweiser cans strewn all over the floor to some hard-nosed highway patrolmen and with good reason –who were we to get away with such reckless behavior? Admittedly, we were arrogantly testing the limits of acceptability; but when you’ve traveled this far on one journey there’s no sense going back.

Although the long drive had exhausted our adventurous spirit. We smoked some more, had a few cool drinks, and watched the end of a documentary about Diego Rivera on the hotel TV. The next morning, I wake up well rested, eat breakfast with my grandmother at the “Wake and Bakery”, and then rush back to the hotel where Jim and I barricade our selves into our room for what promised to be a long day spent pissing-off the hotel management (which is an easy thing to do when playing an electric guitar, drum machine, up-right bass, and keyboard). Despite the noise ordinance and complaints we persist; after all, we needed to compose some kind of musical toast/performance piece for the wedding. After only three interruptions from the hotel staff (and a lot of distractions from ourselves wanting to take shots) we eventually settle on our set. It would be a magnum opus, starting with some standard beatnik-esque spoken word, then a transition into a Southern Baptist-esque preacher type revival, and then conclude with a trash metal climax –a true operatic in every sense of the genre.
Of course this creation would not come forth without an inevitable cost. By the end of the day, our room was a chaotic jumble of wires, ripped-out pieces of notebook paper, and empty beer cans filled with cigarette butts. Nevertheless, our operatic was complete and ready for the wedding. Jim drove me back into Portland, where I spent the evening bunkered down at Zenfield’s place on Munjoy Hill to watch episodes of The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I would most certainly need my rest for the wedding manana.

The next day, a cool fog hovered low over the Coastal Maine countryside. A spot in a large field on top of a rolling hill had been cleared of dead grass for the ceremony. As the guests (90% clad in gothic black, one man even wearing a snake) arrived (one party rolled-up in a hearse) the setting began to take on more of the characteristics of a Renaissance fair and/or Burning Man festival than a wedding. A truly beautiful ceremony indeed! The groom even walked down the aisle to the “Imperial Death March”. As soon as the ceremony concluded, the bar was set-up and the raucous crowd began taking to drink and dancing with Dionysus. After the booze had been cracked, Jim and I gave our toast/performance to an icy and sparse audience. Understandably, the crowd was more concerned with the bar and conversation than to pay any attention to our screaming and crazed creation; whatever the case, it felt good to be done with our performance and able to now only think about drink and continue avoiding those I’ve avoided.

However, avoidance can only last for so long. Invariably, we must eventually confront what we try so hard sometimes to ignore. Thus, while sitting along the outskirts of the field drinking beer, smoking, and talking philosophy with some redneck I befriended named “John-Boy”; my evasion (as it always does) proves futile. Inevitably, the person I’d dodged for a year (and admittedly, the one who dodged me) approached to engage in conversation. After a few uncomfortable laughs and a lot of nervous chain-smoking we arrive at our inevitable destination –acceptance. It is nice to clear the air and confront that which we’d circumvented for so long.

We go to the bar, have a shot. “Salut’! …To this moment!” And part ways.

After a few energized dance sets, the sky over the field explodes with fireworks. I drink some more and run out into the field howling and hollering up at the beautiful display unfolding in the sky above. A sense of liberation washes through me and everything -for at least this moment- seems centered and balanced. Tomorrow, I’ll return home to New York. But, for now, there were more drinks to have and celebration to take part in –who was I to stand in the way of such inevitabilities?

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