I originally planned on being the Virginia Tech shooter for Halloween, but when I realized how much more elaborate (read: expensive) the costume would be, I took the easier, cheaper route.
I went as a victim.
Why? Because it’s original, insensitive, inappropriate, and totally me. Because people are too serious and uptight. Because I think it serves a sociological purpose. Because I think humor heals stronger than tears. Because I think there’s beauty in things that piss people off. Because I’m fucking tired of the ribbon culture we’ve become. What better way to remember a national tragedy than to dress up as one of its victims? Fuck a black ribbon and a Facebook group.
That being said, I would never ever ever wear this if I was back home in Virginia. Death would be certain, and while such an ironic end would be honorable and morbidly hilarious, I am not ready to go.
The costume was a cinch to put together – t-shirt, fake blood, backpack, Honorary Degree. I really wanted to focus on my defensive wounds, but the fake blood was stickier than I thought it would be, so no dice.
I will fry in hell. I know.
My trainer friend Patrick (see Strip Club), a surgeon, picks me up in his new car. My blood isn’t dry yet so I have to lay down a towel to keep from turning his front seat into a tampon. We head over to a shopping center on Highland to meet up with Zach Morris and Rambo to get some alcohol. Patrick has to peel the towel off of me when I get out of the car.
Now if you know me, you know I’m not a big drinker. I got way too caught up with my bodybuilding bullshit in college and pretty much abstained from anything that wasn’t going to make me bigger, with the exception of a few peer-pressure toke sessions every now and then. I’d also take the odd sip of my friends’ beers and make exaggerated yucky faces, but that’s the extent of it. I mean people fucking called me Milk and Tuna. If that’s not a porn title then I don’t know what is. Pussies and Assholes, maybe.
So, for my college career, I was the DARE program’s wet dream.
And then I went to Sundance last year and discovered the power of alcohol: “So this is what destroys all those lives…”
How can a million bad decisions fit into one bottle?
At the convenience store, I decide to buy a forty. I’m not sure why. There’s going to be a shitload of alcohol at the parties we’re going to so why drop four dollars on the most expensive forty ever? I think it might be because I feel cool holding one. Like I can shoot motherfuckers and sleep on street corners with the best of them. Forties are a gateway to urban life. This is why they’re so popular with suburban kids. But fuck it. If worse comes to worst then I can at least pour the forty out for myself. You know, since I’m a victim and all.
We go to Rambo’s house in the hills to get ready before we head out for the night. I’m pretty sure blood comes out of people’s mouths when they’re dead or dying, but I can’t remember if it comes out of their noses. I decide on yes and add some fake blood that trickles out of my nostril down to my lip. Patrick devours a burger and Zach Morris has a fake conversation on a giant cordless phone that he found at the thrift store:
“Now Screech, I told you to use lube before sticking it in her ass. You have to listen to me on these things.”
Rambo puts on his wig and bandolier and asks me to write Rambo on his left pec in black Sharpie. I ask him why and he says so people will know he’s Rambo:
“But you look like Rambo.”
“People are fucking idiots.”
“My handwriting sucks.”
“Just write it.”
“Dude, not like that! What the fuck are you doing?”
Zach Morris unscrawls my scrawling and then we’re on our way. In the car, we shout directions at Patrick like he’s an Asian cab driver. Rambo tells him he’s fucked when he tries to make a left-hand turn because, in Los Angeles, there are almost zero left-arrows. It’s standard for two cars to turn left on red. Sometimes three. However, in this situation, Patrick is fucked because there is no light. Period. And traffic is furious.
But, like a determined rapist, he finds an opening and penetrates with force.
We get to the first party around eleven-ish and park in the driveway even though we’re not supposed to. Two of the girls throwing it work at the gym and I would sleep with both of them. They are all four of the four Bs (which I just made up): blonde, bronze, busty, and beautiful.
The house is one floor and surprisingly small and college-like. I don’t know why I pictured a two-story house because this is fucking Los Angeles, but when the girls said they lived in a five bedroom (and because they’re attractive girls), I pictured a sorority-like mansion full of gossip, boy-talk, and giggly, pigtailed pillow fights that turn sexual fast:
“You hit my boob!”
“You hit my boob!”
“But mine hurts!”
“Let me kiss it and make it better…”
The girls have been planning this party since the beginning of October, so I’m surprised that there’s only a small group of people posted up on the gigantic porch. Close friends, etc. Definitely more of a gathering than a party, at this point at least (I found out later that it got huge). We step up onto the porch and introduce ourselves to everyone. There are a few people with costumes that I don’t get, but when they say what/who they are I can see it.
Someone asks me who I’m supposed to be. Without saying anything, I turn and face her. I watch her face transition as she registers the insensitivity and inappropriateness of my costume.
Not bad, considering one of the membership girls at work told me she had lost all respect for me when I told her I was going as a Tech victim. I was just surprised she had respect for me in the first place. How the fuck did that happen?
We go inside the house, which is even more college-y on the inside with its wooden floors and lived-in scent. Garbled rap blasts from an old boombox with a Super Bass setting that was only super for a couple of months in the early nineties. The living room is empty; everyone’s in the kitchen drinking and being loud. It’s like freshman year again. I love it.
I set my forty down and scoop myself a cup of hooch or jungle juice or whatever from a large punch bowl. Kool-Aid with a shitload of vodka is what it is. And it tastes pretty damn good. I introduce myself/am introduced to a bunch of people. Most of them like my costume.
And then I see the lovely, busty Anna in her sexy devil costume. How appropriate. Anna has breasts that would give God a boner. They are sin-enablers. Imagine a perfect ass, but on somebody’s chest. Those are Anna’s breasts, and they pour out of her costume. I tell her they look like two beautiful tumors and she calls me gross, but in a friendly-enough way to suggest that she’s flattered and that further crude remarks may be welcome.
Women’s costumes are, for the most part, always the same: take a cute animal or career-day profession and put “slutty” or “sexy” before it.
“I’m a sexy bunny.”
“I’m a slutty nurse.”
I think it’s funny when girls who aren’t sexy or attractive try to pull this off:
“I’m a sexy bumblebee.”
“Not with those bruised legs and hairy forearms.”
“No thanks, I’m allergic to bees.”
Shayda, Anna’s roommate, takes an immediate liking to Zach Morris. She’s tiny and cute and wears a leopard dress and an Afro wig with chicken bones in it. She says she’s a cavewoman but we all agree that she’s a homeless black woman. Zach ends a call with Lisa Turtle to chat with her.
We drink and take lots of pictures and have some Jell-O shots, which, because I’m a girl when it comes to alcohol, I can see myself using to get drunk in the future. My buzz comes quicker than a thirteen-year-old boy. I get light-headed and my eyes glaze over like a fat woman’s neck in sixty degree weather. A dumb smile is tattooed on my face. As Borat would say, “Niiiice!”
By now it’s almost midnight and we decide to head to the other party. Patrick is sober, but only because he got shitfaced the night before. We pile into his car and go. The ride is like a time warp. A green Super Mario Brothers pipe. One second we’re in Hollywood and Zach Morris is telling me I’m an articulate drunk (even though I’m not that drunk), and the next second we’re lost downtown.
“Look for Third and Wilshire,” Rambo says.
“Third and Wilshire run parallel,” I tell him.
If one good thing has come from me riding the bus, it’s me knowing my way around.
Eventually we find the party, which ends up being in an upscale neighborhood on Wilshire and Lorraine. Los Angeles amazes me, because literally three blocks south is Crenshaw and Pico, the ghetto-ish area where I used to catch the 210 bus. Neighborhoods barely transition in this city. You can go from homeless yawns to homes and lawns in less than a mile.
The house is huge – something straight out of the Fresh Prince. There are columns and hedges and marble floors and a semi-winding staircase. There’s a pool in the back. A balcony. If it were the eighties I’m sure they’d have a giant fucking satellite dish too. This house is the type of house that’s perfect for swinger parties and high-profile murders.
We connect with some gym people, check the scene, and then dive right into the open bar. My buzz is fading like a pudgy frat boy’s hairline, so I ask for a Red Bull and Vodka with extra vodka. I remember sipping one before and it not tasting too terrible. The generic-hot bar girl dances to the booming Eighties Rock while she mixes my drink. I don’t see a tip jar, so I assume the dancing is because she’s drunk and being fairly well compensated.
At first, I have to hold my nose to sip my drink. Too strong and grown-up tasting for a kid like me. But as I force more down my throat my tongue forgets what taste is and everything is good.
I get drunker. And suddenly, just like that, I’m stripped of giving a fuck. I’m dancing. I’m talking shit. I’m hitting on girls.
This is what it must be like to be black.
I finish my drink and get another. I see Eriq La Salle, who looks like an older version of himself. I saunter up to him and shake his hand. I say this:
“Just let your soul glow, Eriq. Just let your soul glow.”
He accommodates me with a smile and a friendly laugh. I’m positive he thinks I’m a dick.
I notice people whispering to each other and pointing at my costume. A lot of head-shakes coupled with I-shouldn’t-be-laughing-at-this laughter. I’ve never understood why people think they have to censor themselves to themselves. If you find something funny then fucking laugh. Don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t say, “I shouldn’t be laughing at this.” Why the fuck not? Because society says it’s wrong? Norbit took in ninety-five million at the box office. I say fuck society.
By the way, I think it’d be funny if a starving Sudanese child sat down to a giant meal for the first time in his life and got the hiccups.
I dance some more. Drink some more. Two black girls sitting on a piano motion for me to come over. One is light-skinned and wet-looking and the other is tall, dark, and weighs over three hundred pounds – not the kind of person I’d want sitting on my piano. She looks like a supporting character from The Color Purple.
I dance over to them:
“Hey, sexy,” the wet-looking black girl says. And then she reaches down my pants and starts rubbing my penis.
“Oh my! God was good to you! Shonda, feel this!”
She passes my dick off to her friend like it’s a hockey puck. The Color Purple’s hands are big and coarse and when I shut my eyes it almost feels like I’m playing with myself. I turn to look at my friends, who are laughing their asses off, which I can’t understand because there’s nothing funny about large black women who hand-rape young white men. Wait. Scratch that.
They have since dubbed her T-Rex.
I point and tell my hand-rapists that I’m going to “go over there”. They nod, consent, and I stumble off.
I make some phone calls. Why? Because I can. I call my brother, my trainer friend Nate, the girls at the first party we went to. I tell everybody I love them and that they’re awesome and that I love them. Anna tells me that Shayda wants Zach Morris. I relay the message.
By now the alcohol is really starting to hit me. Hard. So what do I do? I drink some more. Not the best idea, but being the novice drinker I am I figure more alcohol will make me feel better. I mean why not? This much got me here. Maybe a little more will get me there.
But I don’t realize how sneaky alcohol is. How fast it can roll up on you with a sock full of quarters. One second you’re laughing with your boys and the next second you’re on your ass. To me, getting drunk is like kicking a field goal on Madden on the hardest difficulty level: it’s real easy to fuck up if you haven’t played a lot. You have to line things up and know when to stop. Otherwise you just end up wide right.
Which is what happens to me.
I step outside to sit down and contemplate how things got past the point of being fun so fast. I take sips of my drink in between drunken mumblings to myself. I am completely aware of how fucked up I am and I tell myself this:
“I am so fucked up… so fucked up… Jeff, you’re fucked up… Oh my God are you fucked up…”
My head feels like it’s on a pirate ship that keeps creaking left, right. My vision is hazy. I can’t shut my eyes for long periods because it makes things worse.
“… so fucked up…”
I don’t necessarily feel stupid. My brain is functioning; I can still use big words; I know what’s going on. I’m just. Fucking. Powerless. I feel like I’m trapped inside of a retard. You know that filter in your mind that keeps you from saying everything out loud? The ‘tard filter? That’s gone.
I see a pretty girl:
“… pretty girl…”
Wonder where Patrick is:
“… where’s Patrick?”
Put my head in my lap:
“… my head is in… my lap…”
Two girls come over and ask me if I’m okay. I tell them I’m fucked up and they laugh and move on. I put my head back in my lap.
At some point, the hired security asks everyone to move things inside. Rambo, who is the friendliest drunk on Earth (“Did I ever tell you what a good friend you are to me? Because you are. You really are.”), finds me and helps me up. My head weighs more than Rosie O’Donnell.
My world is a vortex.
I shuffle inside and plant myself at the kitchen table. I’m playing a permanent game of “Heads up, Seven up” in which no one ever touches my thumb. I hear conversations. Rambo flirting. People asking how much the Virginia Tech guy had to drink. I feel a pat on my back and then I see a camera flash. Hear laughter.
“That’s a good one!”
This is the “good one”:
The Color Purple comes back over and asks about me. I reach up and start rubbing her leg.
“Are you going to throw up?” she asks.
I stand up and stumble to the bathroom, which is empty, thank God. The floor is wet from where the toilet or sink has overflowed. Whatever. I don’t care.
I lift up the toilet seat and let loose. Violent, violent wretching. I sound like a deaf person trying to sing. The owner of the house, a pretty woman in her thirties, opens the door.
“Jesus! Do that outside!”
“I’m sorry. My aim is good.”
I feel bad. Contrite. But then I think that maybe she thought I was puking all over her bathroom and that I was responsible for the water on the floor and I feel better because I’m not. She’ll be glad that I didn’t vomit on her lawn and leave a patch that never grows again.
Throwing up is like a reverse orgasm for the stomach. It doesn’t feel good when it’s happening, but it sure as shit feels good when you’re done. You can conquer the world after a solid vomit.
“I feel better now. I’m the man now.”
Somebody says it’s after three and we make our way outside, ready to go. There’s a rule to leaving parties that, I swear, is etched in stone somewhere: no matter how small your group is, there’s always one person you can’t find.
“Where the fuck is Rambo?”
And then you send someone in to find that person and then the missing person comes out and the person you sent in is now the missing person. It’s a vicious cycle (and an awkward sentence).
We finally gather everybody. Our group is now plus one – a gym member who went as McLovin’. I tell him the black girls wanted my nuts and he tells me they felt him up too. And Rambo. My feelings get kind of hurt because I thought I was their only whiteboy for the night.
Zach Morris calls up a taxi because he lives in Beverly Hills and doesn’t want to crash at Rambo’s in Hollywood. Everyone has good manners and waits with him.
Meanwhile, my post-vomit high is wearing off. I’m feeling woozy again. I lie down in the grass but quickly discover that I need to keep my head elevated unless I want to feel like I’m falling off a cliff. I prop my head up with my hand and my elbow and doze.
The cab comes. Zach Morris goes back to Bayside. Now it’s time for us to go. I really, really don’t want to get up. The grass is cool and smells nice and I would love to sleep in it for the rest of the night and a good chunk of the next day. But I find the strength to get up and fall into the backseat. McLovin’ buckles me up.
“They were my black girls…”
The ride is short, but I feel every turn. Every stop. In my head, the world is ending and nothing is spared. Patrick drops off McLovin’ and Rambo and then takes me home. I ask him what time it is.
I feel bad for Patrick because he lives all the way in El Segundo. He’s a good friend.
He drops me off at my apartment:
“Patrick, I love you. Thank you so much.”
He laughs and says it’s okay. He mentions that I may have gotten a little blood in his car. I tell him I will fucking clean up every last drop. And to get some rest. And that I love him.
Patrick leaves and I stumble up the stairs to my apartment. Everything feels surreal, like it’s happening and not happening at the same time. I manage to unlock the door and find my way to my bedroom. I lay down on my air mattress, but the falling-to-my-death feeling comes back and I think I may throw up again.
I go into the bathroom and rest my head on the toilet.
I fall asleep.