Friday, August 28, 2009

All the Pretty Cougars

Subchapter: No Couture for Young Men
by: Cormac Mccarthy

A staunch heat rises off the blacktop as a group of adults, young by current standards, cross a busy street 182 miles inland from the Eastern Seaboard. A man, gauche by current standards, scans the area for sign of human trafficking but all he can see are metal cars and lazy stars and lemmings sprinting toward an inevitable decease. The August night is devoid of possibility, full of inevitability, fated to unfold like rewound origami. Branches relax over the cracks in the sidewalk and the aforementioned group ducks the foliage, quacking to each other the destination, as if the destination was chosen instead of prescribed. The decision tree: an eco-systemic dichotomy - the Porch or the Bassment.

The Porch features all that is required of it by law and land: flashing lights, a short line, air conditioning, a liquor license. The Bassment features a guarded door a thumping dance floor and is a covered picnic basket of mystery, to forever be filed away as a question mark because the ducks choose the Porch. Forget millionaires, forget billionaires, the Porch is a playground for Legionnaires, in two respects: those infected with the “ubiquitous aquatic bacteria” and those that are members of the American Legion. At the door, the bouncers bothered not with checking ID’s as the average age of the club’s proprietors syncs perfectly with the average temperature of coastal water near Los Angeles in December.

Before the group entered, patrons (not Patrón) had been scattered about the room, clumping together in pathetic cliques. The scene was full of paper cliché; so much so that it made an anorexic model wanting to try a new flavor of abusive French boyfriend look ingenious and cutting edge. Cutting-edge like the blade that parses cocaine and the razor that teases the wrist, like an LCD picture of Ockham and Maugham holding hands and writing bikes as Somersets.

Looking past the false teeth and the vacuous moans of the gathered cattle the man with the broken finger and the borrowed shirt steps to the twilit dance pasture. A few snapping fingers, and the beat is found, the pulse is cornered. A few cattle rattle their bells and turn toward the newcomer. The few that can read notice that his shirt is scribed with the following: “Kiss my Blarney Stone.” He falls back into the dark arms of his comrades, a cockroach falling from a sudden and unwelcome intruder. A shade slips forward, dancing between pink green and yellow ribbons of light, seeking out the fresh-faced wonder whose cheeks are beginning to take on ribbons of a color called “get me the hell out of here.”

The shade is strong, perhaps made so by years of rigorous pursuit of invitations never conceived, let alone received. The young man is pulled back into a DISCOrdant rainbow only to discover a severe lack of Trix up his sleeve; similarly, he wonders where all the pots o’ gold have sifted off to.

Exit Cormac: at this point, I have a 60-year-old dragon slurring fire down my neck and pulling me back toward its den. I made like a blade and planted roots as soon as I realized what was happening. It turned back toward me, failing in several attempts at articulation, and then pointed at one of her co-conspirators – a toad like creature decorated with a thoughtful pink bow. I gathered that this was the treasure which awaited my arrival. I backed up a step before it was on me, grabbing the Blarney Stone portion of my chest. I could hear gears forming words: out of respect for all that is elder, I paused to listen. I heard 5 key phrases/words that made my life want to end:

  1. Bachelorette
  2. Menopause
  3. Suck face
  4. I’ll be the best kisser you’ll ever meet
  5. You look like you’re my daughter’s age

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August Snowballs

We in the first-world are blessed with a world full of outlets; places where we can sit down, plug-in, and recharge our batteries. With so many outlets and opportunities to refresh it seems amazing that we can hold secrets so well. We have death bed secrets, sexy secrets, dawn and dusk secrets, corporate secrets, and seasonal secrets; egging someone is falls into all those categories save dawn and corporate.

On a slippery night in early August, with summer twisting its heating coils like an author his friction, we walked. Like brave handmaidens, we lock and unlocked our leg joints in an effort to complete the task at foot. Laughter floats to us through a thin layer of cheap foliage; three men are drinking cards and playing malt liquor at a rusty tin table. In the distance, a cat barks. We three, one of us a King, reach the main causeway and turn right; one of us executes a more precise turn, for he is wearing Velcro.

Minutes pass, cars float by, then minutes come back for seconds and for an instant, time stands still. Ahead, a fork in the road. I pick it up, examine it, stick it in my drawers, and then we knife to the left. We search for the mythical Qdoba, short on stature but thick in all the right places. Jake, ever the Snack Snake, insists we find Qdoba. The King, like a gentleman, walks on the inside, protecting the children from a world of exhaustion and Tom Cruise control.

Suddenly, it’s Christmas. A snowball fight has commenced, and we have been chosen as worthless opponents. The first snowball strikes the top of my dome, glances off my glasses, and misses Jake by mere inches. I pause, admiring the determination it must have taken to pack a snowball from the one inch of snow North Carolina receives per year, place it in the freezer, save it for early August, and choose a King as a target for the incubated and crystallized ice-comet. One is required to bow at such craftsmanship, so I did examining the aftermath. By the time I reached up and discovered the snowball had peed on my head, the car had sped around the corner. Through some alchemic transformation, the snowball turned egg, the King became Konfused, and the moment turned golden. Or, at least, yellow.

Inside Qdoba, like Jonas preening himself in the lung of the whale, I wiped the egg from my face and hair. Looking into the mirror, I smiled, remembering that some people crack eggs in their hair when they want to treat it right. But when you treat something right on your own, what is left? Nothing, you have an empty carton of eggs and a hot mess in your hair. I, on the other hand, was blessed with a free egg; my carton at home still sported a dozen. It isn’t every night that you get salon-quality hair treatment, a burrito full of chicken, and get hit with an “August Snowball.” I may have started a trend or started a war, but either way, I am the origin.

Monday, August 17, 2009

...I was on my bike

A little illumination on alumni’s: they are intensely serious about how important it is that you recognize the superiority you share with them over all others, acknowledge that superiority publicly, and wholeheartedly accept that this alone is the only prerequisite for friendship in the adult business world. Last week, I made the mistake of walking into a restaurant with my Ross School of Business shirt on. Before I had even found my seat, an excited “agent” vaulted from his booth and shook one of my hands with both of his. “I went there ten years ago,” is how the conversation started, and “If you ever need anything, anything…” is how it ended. The man was so cleancut and obviously in charge of his faculty(ies) that I was almost tempted to say “No” when if he asked if I had a State Farm insurance agent. The truth is that, yes, I do have an agent, and I can’t believe I almost cheated on Doug Heins, CLU CEF CFA CAT (and many other three letter C-words.)

Jake and Kent left in what amounted to be the perfect storm. After stirring up controversy by convincing one of the other New Hire’s managers that they were interns (while playing volleyball), they rode a torpedo of my shame out of town. The only proof of their presence: two empty glasses in the sink and a snack pit that Jake left… I had to eat my way out.

The weekend snuck up like a charred turtle from a black canyon, totally not taking me by surprise. My friend Rachel got a job in Raleigh, and this so shocked me into a smile that I forgot to allude to it with an alliteration. Or did I?

On Friday night, Zhang it! and I went over to bid adieu to Luke, one of the One-years that has officially reset his job clock to zero by moving back to Wisconsin. Throw in one more since then, Andy, and that makes three gone in the last month. Zhang it! got attacked by a praying mantis, I made fast friends with another small dog. Before we headed home, we both grabbed some delicious baked goods that Luke was given by a baker that crashed into his car. Apparent reparations for damage and the tastiest from of blackmail.

Saturday, my soon-to-be housemate Chris Lethal invited me to test out my new mountain bike with him. This did not mean that I was to drag my bike up to his bed and wait for him to fetch the chain lube from the garage. The actual activities to be attempted were much more Rated X. Xtreme mountain biking, I found out, involves very tight helmets that may or may not allow you to draw breath, depending on the scale of crime you are about to commit, and serious altitude adjustments. For several hours, I watered the earth with the first derivative of my respiratory system, using my body’s largest organ as a fire hose. Chris and I talked the entire time, covering topics from the aspirations of our best friends to the apparent disconnect between the privatization of health care and the ideals of the voting (non-voting) minority (minorities). By this, I mean we shared back stories and tried, as most do, to place ourselves within that idealized version of our pasts. It always sounds much better when you are allowed to be the editor of not only your history but those of everyone who has ever been in your life.

After a late afternoon of Halo with Karrrl, Ben, and S.S. Kimu, I got ready to host some guests. Luke and Andy came up with a few of their friends to explore Chapel Hill. While everyone else ordered and consequently consumed late-night burritos, I sat in the booth and judged, quite heavily. I was not hungry, but I was tired from the bike ride, so I was not completely aware of my saying out loud “What is that girl wearing? Are those polyester pants? Uggggggly…” I was embarrassed naught, but it was the second time that night that my wide-mouth ass had spoken itself into a corner.

Michigan Mike (hence forth referred to as 6-pack), Zhang it!, And-I were seeking sustenance. While at a stop light, waiting for the Go light, I realized we were in an area of Chapel Hill where I had recently witnessed a very gross approximation of a misdemeanor. “I saw an old lady take relief by that tree yesterday,” I said with conviction, pointing left to the spot where said event took place. Zhang it!, ever the antagonist, noticed that not only had a car of girls just pulled up next to us, but they had heard what I said, or at least he assumed they had, and screamed “Wes, I can’t believe you just said that in front of those girls!”

The driver of the car turned on me – who was fidgeting in the passenger seat of Andy’s vehicle - like a hinge turns on a doorjamb, trapping me in the aforementioned corner. “What did you say?” The question was posed in such a way as to reveal her incredulousness, my disgracefulness, and our momentary sharing of a space in which an offal crime had recently taken place. This is me talking: “I said, ‘I saw a lady take a shit by that tree yesterday’.” As her jaw dropped, revealing nothing but the shadows of words I would never hear, I added, as if it would make a difference, “I was on my bike.”

Over dinner, we discussed the improbability that I will ever assimilate into the human race, and I promised that the night would turn out wonderfully. No one took my word for it. Not even me.

I convinced Wisconsin to come back to Michigan with me. While that statement may sound impossible, remember that a state is only a governmentally derived concept, and it isn’t impossible for one concept to insert itself inside another (see conception). We will be flying into Detroit on Wednesday, September 2nd, and will be driving back with 6-pack on Labor Day. My lack of transportation and the fact that it is Welcome Week means I will probably be in Ann Arbor for that weekend. Might make it over to East Lansing. Speaking of MSU, I have convinced a family member who will be attending this fall to write a guest blogpost about the closing weeks of summer, and how the impending doom known as higher education surely taints the sunset of a season. It will be Wisconsin’s first time in Ann Arbor, so I am hoping to show him all of the nice parts, and none of what lies hidden in every city – proof of entropy: of both the universe and the human verse.

I will put off talking about the egging for one more post. Next time I will also cover Man U. and his stance on shiny cars and how this relates to my wanting badly to pay child support. I will leave you with a few awkward moments from the phone calls I have been taking.


Myself: let me know if you have any more issues relating to this

Client: will do. thanks much for the really quick action!

Myself: umm …?


I finished helping a lady connect to the corporate network from home. Right before she hung up, I blurted, “Good luck with all your connection today. See ya… I mean… talk to you soon?” Click.


Client: “What keys do I put my fingers on to type?”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Unloved and Homeless: a Wes-side story

In an unlovely and dry twist of irony, I am locked out of my temporary house for the night. Needless to say, I am actually sleeping in what will soon be my real home. My two med student roommates are probably locked in a library somewhere studying for a big test they have tomorrow, and they don't know I haven't a key. Cell phones: turned off.

This makes me feel more stupid than when I got egged... but that is a story for another day. Tomorrow, probably.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Snack Snake Valley

Almost a full week has passed, but it feels like just yesterday I talked to you about my life in the form of words and you listened in the form of eye strain and a computer screen. I think digital voyeurism, an activity in which you are currently partaking, became popular about the time when “Fun and Games” took a backseat to “Guns and Fame.” Well, I don’t own a gun and I’m not famous… so what are you doing here? Maybe you are looking for a throwback to Fun and Games; I’ll assume so and do my best to deliver. Just remember that where pillows are concerned, a throw is a sham and antimacassar is a good thing. Thus, I will try not to mince words or massacre memories.

Time for some truths:

Goodbye Michigan, hello Damn-Sandusky. Somewhere amidst the border between the mitten-shaped state and the cow pie state, while my nose and other facial features were buried in text, Kent led us to the gates of Cedar Point. While this would usually be taken as an open invitation to mount your favorite ride and scream in excitement, in this case it only meant that we had gone 45 minutes out of the way. Sandusky, Ohio isn’t much more than a pile of broken bones and patchy pasts. Busted homes fell toward the world’s most marketable roller coasters, like sunflowers bow to what is known outside our small universe as a perfectly standard ball of gas. We spun our tail-pipe in the right direction and exhausted the last of our diesel fumes wishing Michigan a fish again (Kent has a Jesus-fish on his bumper: ΙΧΘΥΣ).

I made the executive decision to spend the night in Elk Park, or somewhere thereabouts, right as the sun was going down. This meant that we would be camping out on the Tennessee/NC border, and then hiking in the morning. This also meant that two of us would be sleep outside, sans accommodations, and Kent would be reassuming the fetal position in the backseat of his Jetta. The thinnest hour, width-wise, is 1 AM, and this hour found us perusing the outdoor section at Wal-Mart, pining for warmth and comfort. Jake bought a hammock and I bought a $3 pillow and a 8’X10’ tarp. Then we both bought shoes, mine Velcro and his TreadSafes. These would suffice as some tangent to real hiking booties.

After an entire day of listening to Jake try to convince us that he never lies (which was a lie in and of itself), Kent and I were able to quickly drift off to sleep, but in my case, only after I set up Jake’s hammock for him. We fell asleep in camping spot #28, under the gentle and watchful eye of Dougie – Park Security Specialist.

Morning Snapshot: I wake up and plug in my phone behind an outhouse. A small child notices the Michigan license plate and questions me about the # of yearly ice-fishing deaths in my home state. Kent shivers in the backseat minus any blankie because he let me borrow his sleeping bag the night before. I threw it back over him, and went to wake up Jake the Snack Snake. His first words were “I’m cold.” Not much later “I need a snack!” Snack snakes are the hardest snakes to raise. I noticed he had slept with a knife in his right hand; Jake is an incredible specimen of a person you would want to be stuck in the elevator with, but not the wilderness.

At breakfast, we received a running social commentary from Jake on the patriotism of Southerners - his Exhibit A being the housecat-American-flag hybrid pin that a lady in the truckstop wore. A typical interaction would be as follows: Jake says a lot without really saying anything, I ask Jake what rocky crag of illogic his mind resides in, and Kent keeps a running total of how nice everyone is. After breakfast, we started up an unassuming entrance to the Appalachian Trail, which turned out to be quite steep. As the altitude rose, so did Jake’s fear of snakes, which came as quite the surprise since he himself is a species of Snack Snake. All the talk of snakes led to the naming of every object as such: Snake valley, Snake rock, Snake steam, Snake Ore Chasms, and Snake pudding (puddles). 10 miles of hick hiking, a dog with a permanently crooked neck, and several sucks from Jake’s CamelBak later, we found ourselves at the climbmax of our journey; the snake drive. While Jake was take a suckle from him water sack, Kent and I spread out into a meadow and pinched toward Jake. As we ran toward him, we told him that we were doing a snake drive and that all the snakes were streaming toward him, Don’t you see the grass moving, Jake? To call what Jake did next running is like calling what Nascar drivers do on the speedway parallel sparking; the kid laid tracks all the way back to the car.

On the way to Chapel Hill, I got a text from the backseat, Jake asking “What’s up?” I asked Kent to pull over and I got out the belt and told Jake that if he ever texted me when we were in a ten-foot radius of each other again I would give him a free belt. This is called reward-based discipline. Two minutes later, Jake was enjoying his new belt.

We went to Longhorn Steakhouse and enjoyed full plates of meat and full glasses of a 1910 bottle of Napa Valley tapwater: Blue Label. We finally made our final approach to my new townhouse, a place in which I had never even stepped foot. We found my temporary roommate Josh watching Shark Week. It has been said that the best way to bond with a new acquaintance is to watch teenage girls get ripped apart by two rows of serrated teeth and a primal reptilian attack approach, so we put this theory to the test. It seemed to work; I felt that I could trust anyone who could laugh at seaward atrocities with both feet up on a leather footrest and both hands behind his head.

After Josh went to bed, Kent and I held court with Jake about the civil liberties of Internet use. At issue was the right of a temporary lease-paying individual to partake in the unplugging and resetting of a wireless access point. Jake and Kent wanted to use the internet, and we didn’t have the password. I wanted to reset the router, Jake held that it was unjust, and Judge Judy Kent issued an injunction allowing one Wesley King to unplug any and all routers he could locate in a five minute period. Within four minutes, I had an open internet connection available to any man, woman, or child willing to proclaim that I was King of Router Resets.

Up Next: 15 miles of mountain biking, Jake and Kent pose as Interns, and me giving a client some “really quick action!”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dislocation Bonus

It may not be the nature of all vacations, but it has surely been a recurring motif in mine since I started college; I get less sleep and have much more to do during a weekend home than at any other time in my life. I try to fit 20 hours of activity into 18 hour days, ending up quite stretched and useless, and we all know I haven’t been stretched in awhile. In that sense, and in many others, to be sure, I had a great vacation. If I can be granted a grey area – the ability not to put all my eggs into an enthusiasm basket if you will – I posit that travelling surely made me and my swiftly orbiting personal universe a site for sore eyes. With only 24 hours in a given day, sometimes you just have to catch (and release) a few red eyes.

My flight out of Raleigh occurred during a mini-monsoon on a Wednesday afternoon and by the time the plane took the sky, my first book was already half consumed like the first few chapters of an Italian meatball sub. I was held against my will in Cleveland, Ohio for a short layover, but managed to escape with naught but a dry mouth from a stale blueberry muffin. Throughout Wednesday, I spent a lot of time on personal reflection; I glanced intensely at every reflective surface I passed, trying to decide if I liked my new glasses. I knew my obsession had to stop when the stewardess knocked on the bathroom door to make sure I was still alive, with me having been in the bathroom staring into the toilet water for the better part of the flight.

There were many wonderful people traipsing through the Grand Rapids airport late on that Wednesday night, but only two mattered to me. They both happen to share my eye color, last name, and a genetic predisposition to dismiss the unsatisfactory parts of living in favor of idea or phrase that stimulates at least “two separate conceptual subnetworks” of the brain. The ride home was one typical to such topically specific conversations and not unlike thousands that have happened and will happen to those that think they aren’t like their parents but are actually imperfect amalgams of them. You know you are a special visitor when your dad calls shotgun for you, not against you.

The next day saw me trying on my wedding suit and fishing for compliments. When I walked out of the dressing room into the tuxedo store with my legs spread out far enough that I could easily have touched the floor with my knees, the lady asked me what was wrong. “I think the pants are too big.” She rolled her doe eyes like a pre-dawn baker and immediately cinched what needed cinching. I asked if I looked good and she was smart enough to pretend to be too busy to answer. I ate the rest of my questions for lunch, but saved some room for the rehearsal dinner for my cousin Kyle’s wedding. Prior to eating, I was taught how to stand in front of a piece of tape so that during a time of high emotion I would appear to be invisible and any brides in the area would take on an angelic glow. I was told this skill would come into use during the actual wedding.

During dinner I witnessed my cousin Kelly make the perfect face of disgust when the man sharing our table got one entire loaf of pre-salad bread to himself. The dinner was great, the company was entertaining, and the wedding party was just getting started. Jake (not a member of the wedding party, never think it), Kelly, and I caught up later for a late night dune climb. Later, on the beach, we found a barely living ferret buried in the sand. His head was just above high tide, and droplets of water were hanging from his eyelids; the saltless teardrops of the damned. After pulling him out, we found his body shaved from the neck down and covered in paper mache. Makes puppy mills look like prep schools.

Saw Funny People with Jake and Kent on Friday, and then went downtown Grand Haven for the ever glorious “beer tent.” A people populated parking lot handing tickets to people in return for beverage. The crowd consisted of those trying to appear older and those wishing they were are young as those trying to appear to be a bit younger than those wishing. I can’t tell you how many times Tyler Westerberg said “A toast! To the King family!” but it was probably ten. I ran into two ladies I met once at U of M and walked up to them, saying, “My memory tells me that one of you took a lot of Spanish classes and that one of you has a birthday on March 17th.” This extremely creepy statement was taken in all the right ways, and they were quite impressed because I was right on both accounts. Turns out one of them is looking for a job in Raleigh. We live in a small world, and my brain is even smaller than that cliché.

The night was the same as any other, but I happened to stay up longer than usual, so it seemed like a “late” night. To make sure I didn’t miss breakfast in the morning with one of my best friends, I borrowed a phone charger and fell asleep with the phone on my chest so that I would be sure to wake up at the ungodly hour of eight o’clock. I jumped up sleeping in the morning, electrified by cellular vibrations in more ways than one, and didn’t wake up until I showered. It wasn’t until I got back to my room that I noticed that harbinger of bad news… the blinking red “You’ve got a text message!” light on my phone. I wouldn’t be seeing my friend. I lay back in bed and sank figuratively lower than the moisture from my towel. Like I said, red eyes aren’t exclusive to “late” nights or flights and my vacations are never relaxed.

Mark, a new acquaintance and the bride’s little brother, made for an entertaining wedding prep. He didn’t show up for pictures before the wedding because he had gone out surfing. When Someone finally tracked him down at the beach, he couldn’t button his shirt or vest straight. If people were snakes, I’m sure several people would have hissed at him for his indiscretion. In his defense, the waves were reportedly more epic than The Odyssey.

I showed off my tape standing skills during the ceremony, and drew no attention away from the beauty of the church- and state-sanctioned union. The wedding went off without a hitch (HAHA ha). Afterword, when we were supposed to be taking wedding party pictures, Mark was nowhere to be found. The aforementioned Someone found him at home, changed out of his tux. He was dragged back and we commenced to take some beautiful but time-constrained pictures. The reception was situated firmly within the borders of a rare northern hurricane, but the rain did not deter celebration or inebriation. Trevor, the groom’s brother and my closest cousin (in age only), gave a rousting and roasty toast, and then the prancing began. Dancing with so many people of the same last name should never be as fun as it was; but it was, especially considering that there was one person there who had gained the last name only hours earlier, and legally too. I also secured the age-old symbol of eternal bachelorhood, the garter.

My younger friend Ben, whom I had been unable to cross courses with throughout the weekend, asked if I would like to grab an early breakfast with him before I hit the road. He asked this, and I agreed, late on Saturday night while under the influence of drink. Despite my trepidations about another potential early morning equitable in fun to a baby boiling, I agreed. Despite Ben’s last words to me being “Pick me up at 8 AM at slip 9 on Chinook pier,” I agreed. As I pulled up to slip 9 in the morning, I called Ben. A phone call, however, promises little, only that two phones will temporarily acknowledge one another. It does not promise anything about human behavior. Ben didn’t pick up. At 8:20 AM, as I was about to pull away, I tried one last time by texting Ben “My yacht is bigger than yours.” A bleary-eyed and aspiring dentist named Benjamin emerged from an expensive looking yacht. He let me buy him breakfast.
And then, I was on the road again. You will hear about this very soon…