Memories of a Menace

Memories of a Menace

(Sam’s Adolescent Account)

1. Early Years

The first time I got into trouble with the booze was when I was twelve years old. I was at a Christian junior high school doing seventh grade for the second time. I’d gotten into a lot of trouble and failed every class during my previous attempt at seventh grade at a public junior high school and was told by the principal not to return so my parents sent me to the Christian school down the street with hopes for the best this time around. Let’s just say things didn’t go exactly as my poor folks had planned.

It was the spring time and we were off to a week at Bible camp where we would pray and do all sorts of Christian activities. To me it was an opportunity to have fun with my friends and raise hell. I packed my bag with bottle rockets, smoke bombs, stink bombs, candy, a deck of cards, and vodka. I poured vodka I snaked from the family liquor cabinet into an empty mouth wash bottle then dyed it green with food coloring, which I believed was a stroke of pure genius in order to avoid detection in case by bag was searched. The camp was located about two hours outside of the city of San Diego, where my school and home were located. We took off on a bus on Monday to spend a whole week with the Lord. Our days at camp were filled with singing, prayer, and a variety of other activities.

One of these activities was led by Mr. Lemieux, the most disliked teacher amongst my buddies. Mr. Lemieux was a born again Christian in his late thirties who played Christian metal. He was a hefty boy with long dark hair who wore all black and sported a prison style goatee and spiked leather gear. If you didn’t know him, by appearance you might have believed he was some kind of gnarly biker. In reality, he was an obnoxious born again Christian who was constantly trying to get us to improve our relationship with the Lord and scare the Lord into us with his threats of eternal flames if we carried on the path we were taking. When he made these threats I responded by telling him that there was no heaven or hell, just a black abyss where everyone goes when they die. This caused angry arguments between us that usually ended with all the students and staff believing I was a disciple of Satan.

In the activity led by Mr. Lemieux he instructed us to go around a circle and, “Tell us about a time recently when your feelings have been hurt by another person’s words or actions and what it felt like.”

I wasn’t listening to anyone’s answers until it was my good friend Donny’s turn to answer. Donny motioned towards me and said, “My feelings were hurt earlier today when I was taking a nap and this guy stuck his bare ass hole against my face and cut a massive stinky fart!”

Everyone started laughing, except Mr. Lemieux, who pointed a finger at our little crew and went into a long rant directed at Donny, Tony, and I. “You know boys. I used to be a surfer just like you guys when I was your age. Then all my buddies started using methamphetamines. They’re all dead or in jail now, but I found the Lord. I stopped surfing because I found most surfers aren’t riding waves for the Lord. I wouldn’t want to leave this world without the Lord on my side. I can guarantee you there won’t be much surfing in hell.”

During this speech my little crew was holding back our laughter and I was holding back a fart too, as I had been gassy all day. I finally let it rip and it echoed like thunder throughout the small room. All the kids present started laughing uncontrollably and Lemieux lost his marbles and his temper yelling repeatedly, “There will be no surfing in hell! No surfing in hell! You hear me! No surfing in hell!” At this point, Donny, Tony and I absolutely cracked up, snot flying from Donny’s nose, while Tony and I nearly hyperventilated, rolling around on the floor in a fit

of laughter. This both embarrassed and pissed off Lemieux like never before, his face turning bright red and appearing on the verge of an aneurysm.

At night time was when we really had our fun. This was when we would try and score with girls, gamble, drink, and cause any form of trouble we could dream up. The first night at camp we compared our goods. I was bunking with my friends Donny and Tony. Why they allowed the three biggest shit disturbers in the school to bunk together is beyond me. These fellows were all impressed with my luggage, especially my green vodka. We decided to celebrate and have a few sips. As we sat around on our bunks playing cards we started getting a bit buzzed. We were soon in a heated debate over which was a superior substance,

weed or booze, even though our experiences with both were minimal.

Donny said, “I kinda like weed cuz you can just kick back and chill.”

I challenged, “No way! Booze is better cuz the ladies get real loose.”

Tony said, “I think doing a bit a both feels just right.”

Then we got to talking about how lame our teachers were, especially Lemieux. “What about Lemieux carrying on like the biggest queer on earth today? He was so snapped when you ripped that fart. That was epic when he went on and on about how there will be no surfing in hell!” said Donny laughing with glee.

“Guy is a fuckin bitch. He’s what Ozzy Osbourne would be like if he was gay and Christian! Pass the mouth wash,” demanded Tony.

“I can’t stand that pussy. I don’t think that fat poser ever surfed or did drugs. I doubt he even plays music. He’s always been what he is...a big fat pussy!” I slurred.

This is what we were talking about in a drunken stupor that first night of camp when I had the feeling that someone was listening in on our conversation outside of the cabin door because I had heard a creaking sound. I was hoping maybe some girls were listening in and we could get them to come in and have a few sips of our mouth wash. I wasn’t that lucky. When I opened the door to our cabin Mr. Lemieux literally fell into our room with his hand cupped behind his ear. He had heard everything we had said about him and I felt sorry for guy.

On my thirteenth birthday I had all my friends come spend the night at my house for a night of fun. The day before, we went to the store to load up on toilet paper and eggs, which we would use that night to thrash some poor people’s house that lived down the street. We stashed the eggs and toilet paper in my front yard. Once my parents fell asleep that night we would sneak out of the house and find a nearby home to throw our eggs at and use the toilet paper rolls to throw in the trees of the home’s yard.

My older brother also had a friend spending the night. My brother asked, “You little twerps want us to come along and show you how it’s done?” I found it peculiar that my older brother was being friendly to me and wanted to hang out with us all of a sudden. At the same time, I was thrilled that they wanted to be part of our plan so I was more than happy to have them come along as they were experienced veterans at neighborhood terrorism.

Late that night, we sneaked out of my parent’s house and headed down the street to find a good house to abuse, one with high trees so the toilet paper would be difficult for the owner to remove. Once we found one we went ahead with our business, chucking eggs at the house and tossing rolls of toilet paper into the tall trees. We were having a hell of a time, giggling quietly.

About five minutes into our fun the owner of the house came out and grabbed me and one of my buddies while the rest of my friends split down the street. I’d seen this guy around the neighborhood jogging before when we were riding our bikes. He always smiled and said hi to us. He was a middle aged guy in good shape that was always friendly. We admired him because he always had hot chicks with him when we saw him around town. If we had known this was his house we would have chosen another home to trash. I felt guilty because this guy was a respected acquaintance of mine and my buddies. The guy recognized me as one of the kids from the neighborhood. Luckily, the guy was cool as could be for someone who had just had eggs splattered all over

his home and a dozen rolls of toilet paper thrown up in his trees. He opened his garage and dragged us in, pointing out cleaning utensils and two buckets of paint.

He said in a surprisingly friendly tone, “I recognize you from down the block. You’re what’s his names son. I know just who you are. And I almost liked you until now. I thought we were cool. Why did you choose my house to fuck up? I know you kids are idiots just like I was at your age and I have no idea why I am feeling so forgiving right now, but if you little snatches can clean up every last sign of eggs and toilet paper and paint my entire fence by sun up I won’t rat you out to your folks.”

With genuine feelings of betrayal and guilt I said, “We are real sorry mister. We really didn’t know this was your house. We’ll make it shine. Thanks for not telling my parents.” He got us ladders, rags, paint brushes, scrubbers, portable lights, and all types of cleaning utensils and we worked until sun rise cleaning up the damage we had done and painting the fence around his yard. Luckily the eggs had not dried so they were still relatively easy to clean up. As we were cleaning, I said to my buddy, “Damn, that guy is cool. I really blew it.”

Once we finished cleaning and apologizing he asked us, “Why the hell did you geniuses ring my doorbell right in the middle of vandalizing my home? I had a feeling you boys weren’t razor sharp, but that was one of the most stupid things I’ve seen in a while. Made me think of that TV show World’s Stupidest Criminals.” Briefly confused, I suddenly came to the realization that my older brother and his friend were nowhere to be seen when the guy had come out of his house.

When I was fourteen years old my friend Jimmy and I tagged along with a church youth group to Tijuana to help build a Catholic church for poor people. The part of Tijuana we went to was very impoverished, with miles and miles of dirt hills covered in shacks made from boards. The church we were to help build was under construction in this area. Jimmy and I logged in a few hours of digging holes and carrying cinder blocks before we decided to sneak off to get a taste of the real joys of Mexico. “This church building business blows. Let’s get outta here and stroll around the neighborhood,” Jimmy said. I agreed.

We snuck off after lunch and we were surprised at the ease with which we bought beer and cigarettes. The first store we entered didn’t hesitate to sell both to us prepubescent teenage runts. We immediately had a new respect for this Tijuana slum. I remember Jimmy stating, “This place is great, ain’t it.” He really appreciated booze and cigarettes from a very young age. Next, we found a place to drink and smoke where we wouldn’t be seen by the rest of the youth group. We found a place on the top of a hill overlooking the church construction site so we could witness what we were supposed to be doing. There was a discarded fiberglass plank on the ground next to where we were sitting and we soon had the brilliant idea to sit on it and slide down the huge dirt hill that we were sitting on top of.

We were having a blast taking turns sliding down the hill. “This kicks the shit out of church building,” claimed Jimmy. Soon, little Mexican kids were swarming us asking to take a ride down the hill on our sled. We let the kids take over at that point and concentrated on downing our Tecates.

One little daredevil in particular, Christian, was particularly ballsy. Til this day Jimmy and I still remember this kid’s name, as he was that memorable of a character. He was barefoot, missing his front teeth, with no shirt and torn jeans on. He was probably about eight years old. He was taking running starts and trying to stand on the plank as he went down the steep hill. Then the kid got the super crazy idea to launch off a ramp-like ledge about half way down the hill. Being fourteen and half drunk, with bad judgment in the first place, we thought this was a grand idea. Jimmy asked, “Why didn’t we think of this?” We were very impressed with Christian’s approach to what we had started. Christian asked us to give him a shove for extra speed. We gave Christian a mighty shove and off he went towards the ramp-like ledge. It launched him and he flew about fifteen feet in the air, doing out of control cartwheels and flips. We watched in shock as he hit the ground, rolled a few times, then came to a stop, lying perfectly still at the bottom of the hill. We were sure he was dead or paralyzed at the very least, and we had helped cause it. We were running down the hill yelling to see if he was okay but we got no response from the child. We finally got to him and rolled him over to see if he was okay and he just got up laughing and pointing at us saying something to the tune of, “Pinche wetto gringos muy estupidos!” Jimmy and I were very relieved we were not headed to Mexican prison for killing or maiming the rambunctious little rascal.

I was fourteen years old and my younger brother was eleven when we were walking to the car after the Rose Bowl football game had just ended on New Year’s Day. It was just starting to get dark outside. There were thousands of cars in line to try and get out of the parking area and thousands upon thousands of people trying to leave the stadium. My younger brother and I were making our way to where my dad had parked our van and we were playing a game we came with up on our walk to the car.

We would toss the football we were carrying back and forth on our walk. When we saw a nice car like a limo, Mercedes, BMW, or a Porsche one of us would play receiver and pretend to go out for a pass near the car, while the quarterback tried to hit the expensive vehicle instead of throwing the ball to the receiver. This game was fun and mischievous. The quarterback would say something like, “Blue forty-two, black BMW! Hut-hut hike!” Then the receiver would run towards the BMW and the quarterback would toss the football, intentionally missing the receiver in an attempt to hit the nice car. If the owner of the car got out and was upset, we would apologize and act like it was an accident saying, “Real sorry sir, bad pass.”

My brother and I were making our way back to our family van and I was playing quarterback and him receiver when we saw a fancy white Porsche caught in the line of traffic trying to get out of the stadium parking lot. I yelled out, “Go deep! White Porsche Hail Mary! Hut-hut hike!” My brother ran towards the white Porsche and I threw the pass, the ball landing on the hood of the Porsche and putting a large dent in it.

The owner of the car got out and was irate, yelling to a cop who was directing traffic nearby, “Those boys just dented my car, officer!” He was pointing towards us and we took off running.

The cop yelled, “Stop boys, get over here!”

We took off running down an aisle of motor homes that were parked in a grassy park that serves as a parking lot for the busy game. Hundreds of motor homes were parked here as people come from all over the country to watch their teams play in this famous football game. It was now dark outside and we had successfully evaded the cop and the Porsche owner and we were making our way through narrow alleys between the hundreds of motor homes. I was walking about ten yards ahead of my brother, when I felt something hit me hard right between my shoulder blades. I went down in pain. My brother had thrown the football at me as hard as he could for no reason and was now standing there laughing at my expense.

Once the pain subsided I got up and rushed my brother, form tackling him on what I thought was the damp and dew covered grass while growling, “What the fuck did you do that for you asshole?” We rolled around wrestling for a minute before realizing that the damp grass smelled like human shit and piss.

My brother said, “Stop it man! We are rolling around in shit!” I smelt it too and we both stood up realizing we were wrestling right where one of the motor homes had emptied its septic tank. Some trashier people than us had emptied their motor home’s shit tank right there on the grass. We were both covered in human waste and strange blue chemicals and we were both pissed off at each other, walking our own separate ways back to meet our dad at the van.

When we got to the van and my dad saw and smelt us, he made us strip down nude right there in the open and wash our bodies with icy water we had in a cooler we had used for the tailgate party before the game.

Because we did not have enough icy water to thoroughly wash ourselves my dad then shook up sodas and beers and sprayed them at us and poured them on us to remove any lasting shit particles saying, “I’d rather smell beer on the way home than people’s shit.” People passing by were looking at my dad like he was some kind of sicko. Then he made us leave all of our clothing in a pile right there in the parking lot and make the two hour drive home to San Diego butt naked.

At my Christian junior high school we were forced to take Latin class. Mr. Larstone was our teacher. He was one of the only teachers at this school that didn’t make us pray before every class. He was about six foot five with huge hands and feet and freakishly long fingers. Larstone was around seventy five years old and friendly and patient, very hard to make angry. More importantly he was half senile, half deaf, and half blind, and half dead, or so we thought. He wore glasses with the thickest lenses I have ever seen. Another important note was that he didn’t wear a wrist watch, depending solely on the wall clock for the time.

I had Larstone’s class three days a week right before lunch. I sat in the back of the room right under the clock. One devilish thing I remember doing in Larstone’s class was tearing out the pages of my Latin textbook and chewing them until they were huge saliva covered spitballs. Then I would throw them underhand at the low ceiling where they would stick. By the end of the school year, the ceiling was covered with probably one hundred pages of Latin. The first time I remember thinking Larstone wasn’t as detached from reality as I believed was one day when he told me just as I’d thrown a spitball at the ceiling, “Watch it son. Someday something nasty might fall upon you.” I wasn’t exactly sure what he was referring to but I had a good feeling he knew what I was all about.

The spitballs were great fun but perhaps the best part of Larstone’s class was the early dismissal for lunch. Lunch lines were always long and school food sometimes sold out so it was necessary to get to the lunch area early. We were always first in line. This is because every time we had Larstone’s class I would set the clock ten or fifteen minutes forward when he had his back turned or wasn’t looking. Then he would dismiss us early, saying something like, “Wow! It’s already lunch time. When you get to be my age time goes darn fast. You kids enjoy your lunch. I know I’m going to enjoy mine.” I never knew who always put the clock back on the right time, but I suspected that Larstone liked an early lunch as well. My suspicions were confirmed one day when instead of going to the lunch lines when I got out of class early for lunch, I wandered into the parking lot. There, Larstone was looking very comfortable sitting in the shade of a tree with a ciggie in one hand and a Budweiser in the other. His secrets were as safe with me as mine were with him.

I was fourteen when my older brother turned sixteen and got his driver’s license. My grandma had passed away a few years earlier and my dad allowed my brother to drive her Cadillac. It was a white Eldorado with a navy blue canvas roof. It was a sweet ride.

One thing we enjoyed doing in his new wheels was driving around neighborhoods at night, the guy riding shotgun holding a baseball bat. My brother would drive real slowly and close to the curb and the guy in shotgun would swing the bat at mailboxes as we went, seeing how many he could knock off in a row. We would bust up laughing every time a battered mailbox went clanking and crashing across people’s front yards. My brother and his buddies were good baseball players and they had naturally gotten very good at this little game. They would leave entire neighborhoods mailboxless, just poles coming out of the sidewalk in front of every home.

They were hesitant to let me get in the passenger’s seat and take some swings with the baseball bat but I begged, “Come on guys! It’s my turn! Let me get a try! I bet I can do it as good as any of you guys.”

One of them replied, “Your weak little ass couldn’t swing your way out of a wet paper bag!” But with enough begging on my part they finally gave in and allowed me my chance at the action saying, “The first time you blow it your ass is in the trunk.” On my first swing I completely missed the mailbox, the momentum of the bat causing it to come all the way around and shatter the Caddy’s windshield. I forget what lie we made to explain to my father how the winshield had gotten completely shattered.

Donny’s family offered to take me to Hawaii with them. Of course I was all over that offer, and I am certain they still regret making it. They regret it because Donny and I caused them nothing but embarrassment and grief, starting on the flight over. On the flight from L.A. to Honolulu we really pushed our luck.

Donny’s parents were seated in another part of the plane, leaving us alone to raise hell. Every time a stewardess pushed her cart down the aisle, I would reach out and steal a few of the tiny whiskey and vodka bottles or a few beers. As we drank these stolen beverages we became more and more courageous and foolish.

Soon we were pretending to head to the restroom in the back of the plane because that was where the carts were put when they were not being used to service the travelers. There we would pocket even more booze from the carts. We took way more booze than we were capable of drinking on the flight, so we filled our backpacks to save it for once we were in Hawaii. Our backpacks were packed with booze.

We put such a dent in the plane’s supply of alcohol that when travelers started ordering more drinks the stewardesses were baffled to discover they were out of specific beverages. The plane staff concluded that something was fishy, and our rattly, long-haired, little asses were the obvious culprits. They began observing us and we became worried, knowing they were suspicious of us for the missing booze. Then they found where Donny’s parents were seated and informed them about what they believed we had done.

Donny’s parents came to where we were sitting and asked, “You guys aren’t stealing alcohol from the airplane, are you?”

Sitting there drunk, we denied everything. I said, “No, Mr. Brennan. Of course not.”

Donny saying, “No way. They’re tripping.”

Then the head stewardess got involved, a tough old bag. While staring at our backpacks, she informed us, “Any crimes committed on an airplane are considered to be federal offenses, punished with an iron fist. If you did steal the alcohol and return it now, I will let you off without contacting the FBI. But if you continue to deny stealing the alcohol and I find out that you are lying, I will make sure you get into as much trouble as possible.” With the threat of FBI involvement, we decided to come clean and return the booze we had not yet drunk.

Now we were not in trouble with the law, only with Donny’s dad, a retired marine bad ass who demanded respect and took no shit. He grounded us to our hotel room for the first two days of the vacation, making us write letters of apology to the airline staff. I felt guilty because the theft of the alcohol had been mostly my doing. Every time Donny’s dad came into our room to proof read the letters of apology and make sure they were acceptable he would read mine and tell me, “Now that is sincere and well written. I am proud of you for holding yourself accountable and admitting that you were wrong, humbling yourself like a true man.”

I knew this was bullshit and that I was just being devious by writing a decent letter of apology to get us out of being grounded to the hotel room. However, I was glad he was not too angry with me and was able to forgive me. One thing I felt terrible about was that Donny’s dad would then read Donny’s letter and completely degrade him, telling him, “You write like a retarded kindergartner. You’ll be lucky to see one day outside of this hotel room the entire trip.”

The worst part was that he would then slap Donny around a little, blaming him for the whole booze scandal, when in reality it was almost all my doing.

On that same Hawaiian vacation Donny and I were skateboarding the busy streets of Waikiki looking for trouble in the form of beer, weed, and girls. We had killed one six pack of Bud from the hotel room fridge and we were scheming about how we would get our next one. We had long, sun bleached hair and were definitely not the poster boys for well behaved teenagers. We were also small for our age and not far along into the whole puberty thing. That night we were also in search of some weed. I remember Waikiki as being pretty interesting with the hookers and street performers like the silver spray painted guy with the whistle who is perfectly still until you drop money in his jar and then he does the little robot dance, or the guy with the trick paper airplane that he throws around your head and catches as it returns to him leaving you a bit confused and startled.

As we skated down the sidewalks of the main drag we were constantly being approached by sketchy dudes asking, “Hey you guys want fake IDs?” We kept ignoring these tweeker-looking fake ID salesmen until we gave in and told one of these guys to show us where to get them. This guy was a tall black man who told us to follow him as he walked off down a side street. We picked up our skateboards and walked after this guy with caution. He told us he could probably get us weed as well. We walked block after block away from the main streets of Waikiki and further and further in to darker and dingier neighborhoods of Honolulu. As I started to get a bit freaked out I stopped and looked at Donny. The fear in his eyes asked what I was feeling, “Why are we following a sketchy black dude into a dark and sketchy neighborhood?”

At that point the dude must have sensed our concerns and said something along the lines of, “Don’t you little bitches be so scared, I’m a getcha these motha fuckin IDs. Just follow me another block.” We decided to trust the guy for reasons unknown. The guy didn’t lie. After another block the guy turned down a very dark and scummy trash littered alley.

About a hundred yards down the alley there was an open garage with a sexy Filipina gal and a middle aged, blond haired, white dude in it. The black dude left us here. While the Filipina girl was young and sexy the white dude was tattooed, washed up, weathered, and overweight. He was a very big and tough looking fellow, with the look of a NFL player turned booze hound criminal. He was drinking beer and sitting on a stool. You could tell a life of crime, sunshine and substance abuse was rapidly catching up with the guy. However, he was the brains and muscle of this business venture and the girl was his photographer and girlfriend, I imagine. We got to talking to this guy about surfing and where we were from and all that.

“Where y’all stayin?” the guy asked.

At this point we were stupid enough to tell the guy the truth, “We are staying at the Hilton down by the beach.”

He responded, “Y’all are lucky. That’s a prime joint. Give you boys a good deal. I’ll give ya the two ID’s and a quarter of Maui’s finest for two hundred bucks.” We agreed to the deal, even though we did not have enough real money to pay the guy.

His hot girlfriend then took photos of us in front of a blue background just like we were at the Department of Motor Vehicles. In a few minutes they gave us our new “Colorado” IDs that said we were twenty-one and had the funny names we had given ourselves. They were obviously fake IDs but they were better than nothing. We thought we were so funny because the names we gave ourselves on the IDs were Chris Stoner on mine and Donny Boozer on Donny’s.

Our only option was to pay this fat, burnt out, small time criminal with some counterfeit money I had. He seemed the perfect guy to give my counterfeit twenty dollar bills to, especially because he would not want to notify the police because he himself was operating an illegal business. We also had no choice as we did not have enough legitimate money on us. I paid this joker in mostly counterfeit twenty dollar bills given to me by a kid in my ninth grade English class. They were not great counterfeits, but I believed they would work as well on this old cooked fool as they would on anyone else. So I gave this half-drunk fake ID producer a wad of fake twenty dollar bills. The dude counted them in the dimness of his garage without realizing they were fakes and we were on our way to the liquor store to put the IDs to the test as fast as those skateboards could carry us.

As we got further and further from the fake ID garage our excitement grew over the fast one we’d pulled. Donny and I stopped to walk once we were a safe distance from the goon’s ID garage. We started laughing over how stoked we were and I said, “I can’t believe we just got two fake IDs and a quarter for free from that fool. He was the perfect guy to give the fake money to.”

Then Donny started doing imitations of the guy counting the money out in his slow stoned out drawl, “Twenty, forty, sixty… one eighty, two hundred. Yep that’s two hundy alright.” Then we laughed our asses off about what a moron the guy was.

We stopped at a liquor store and bought beer with our new IDs, filling up our backpacks with the kind of joy only known to a fourteen year old boy buying beer over the counter in the USA. Then we headed back to our hotel with our little bundle of fun. We got off our skateboards and walked along the path that runs between the beach and the hotels in Waikiki. It was late and everyone had gone to sleep so we were the only people around. We were eager to get to the room to burn some of the free Hawaiian buds and crack a few more Budweiser’s.

We were just about to walk into the door of our building when the ID man popped out of the bushes, springing on both of us and putting us in tight headlocks while yelling “You grommets gave me bogus twenties!” We dropped our skateboards as the sweaty ogre carried both of us out onto the dark beach saying, “I gotta have a little chat with you two.”

When he put us down on to the sand we tried to play stupid by asking him, “What the hell’s your problem, man?”

As he held us by our shirts he told us, “Shut the fuck up

cuz you know damn well what my problem is! But if you little boogers give me real dough right now I will forget all about this little stunt. If you cough up some legit cash, I will tell my boys and we know just where to find you. Trust me, I could really fuck up your vacation.” We saw no choice but to pay the old burned out beast. I had to run up to the hotel room to get the rest of my money for the vacation to pay the guy while he held Donny hostage.

“Can we at least get our fake twenties back?” I whined as I handed over authentic money. The guy just laughed and walked over to a rusty old beach cruiser and rode away. We were still happy about having fake IDs and a bag of weed, but not quite as happy about the price. Donny looked up at me from the sand and said, “Why’d we tell that fat fuck where we we’re staying?”

Our fake ID’s didn’t always work and finding someone to buy beer for us when we were teenagers was sometimes a challenge. We called it fishing. Behind Albertson’s supermarket you could usually find a Mexican or Guatemalan migrant worker who would do it for you if you could speak enough Spanish for them to understand your order. But our go to spot was Hsu’s Liquor.

This liquor store was legendary. It had a front entrance on the Pacific Coast Highway in Del Mar and a more discreet entrance leading into an alley out back. Rumor had it Hsu dealt coke out of his store. By the looks of the crew that loitered there this rumor was probably true. He was a Chinese dude in his forties that definitely bent the rules but did not blatantly sell to minors. Hsu’s had a front porch on the Coast Highway where all the local derelicts, bums and riffraff would hangout and drink and play guitar. We would get these guys to buy our booze for us. Our favorite and most reliable characters were Willie, Marcus, and Shawn. All three were regulars at Hsu’s.

Willie was your textbook, run of the mill, homeless alcoholic. When he was in the mood for a few hours of hard work you could find him at an intersection on Highway 101 with a cardboard sign that read “Hell. Why lie? I need money for a beer!” After a few hours of this back breaking labor he would have enough green to head to Hsu’s and drink. He sported filthy torn clothing, filthy long hair, and a filthy long beard. His white skin appeared very dark from grime and sun and general abuse. He appeared to be about sixty-five years old but one time I saw him looking unbelievably fresh and sober after some charitable person must have treated him to a cut and shave and he may not have even been forty. He was notorious for ripping us off. He would get us a six pack of the cheapest brew when we asked for a twelve pack of something else that we’d given him more than enough money for. Then he would give us not a cent of change accompanied by some bullshit excuse so he could make a fatter profit out of the deal.

Marcus was a four hundred pound black guy who played the saxophone exceptionally well and even played in a few local bands. His addiction to drink or drug came second only to his addiction to food. He demanded five bucks worth of food off the Jack-in-the-Box ninety nine cent menu and he would buy us whatever we wanted, as long as it did not require him walking more than twenty yards. Whenever Marcus got into the car we were driving it instantly became a low-rider. Years later we would see him at local bars and have a drink and a chat with him, thanking him for his assistance in our youth. Marcus was always very friendly. This Del Mar icon is dead now and I miss seeing him around town. I feel for him for the struggles he faced and I both pity and admire the person who coughed up the money for his triple extra-large custom sized coffin.

Poor Shawn is another story. The benefits for Shawn buying our beer did not end up outweighing the risks for him. This dude paid the price for trying to help us one day. Although we were only fifteen, my friend Chucky’s mother would let us take her old beat up BMW out for joyrides. She had some substance abuse issues and she probably wanted us out of the house so she could do whatever. The first place we took her car was Hsu’s. We asked Shawn, a tall and skinny half black dude in his thirties with a coke habit, to buy us some beer. He said he would but, “Let’s roll down to another store cuz the pigs been watching this place. You guys got wheels?” We drove to the nearest liquor store and Shawn ran in to grab the beer. When we pulled out of the parking lot and onto the Coast Highway after getting the beer we were immediately pulled over by the police. The cops must have followed us from Hsu’s, knowing what we were up to. Two cops approached the car, one to the driver’s side and the other to the passenger’s side. They asked us all for our IDs and quickly realized Chucky was driving underage. They made a big fussy stink about this like it was the worst crime they had ever encountered, which it may have been as they were sheriffs in a wealthy beach town.

The cops told Chucky, “You’re in big trouble, kid. Probably won’t be allowed to have a driver’s license until you’re eighteen, maybe even longer. Who’s the beer for?” Shawn said the beer was his. Then they told us to wait while they took all of our IDs to their car to run them through their machine. At this point, I remember seeing Shawn toss what must have been a glass crack pipe out the window into the bushes as he unfastened his seat belt. It appeared as if Shawn was about to make a run for it. Suddenly, the two cops rushed the passenger side of the car, violently yanking poor Shawn out and slamming him to the curb while throwing handcuffs on him. They informed him that there was a warrant for his arrest and read him his rights. Apparently, he was wanted for burglary and breaking and entering as well as an old DUI he had never taken care of. The cops lost all interest in giving Chucky a citation or even notifying our parents. They told us to come back and get the car later with Chucky’s mom. Then they dragged poor Shawn away to jail. The cops took the beer and Shawn got to keep the spare change, but we got off trouble free. The problem of our long and sober walk home was nothing compared to the citation Chucky would have gotten had we not been saved by the distraction of Shawn’s more serious criminal offenses. I did feel a tinge of guilt as they pulled away with Shawn looking back at us with a sad and regretful expression on his face.

When I was about fourteen to sixteen years old I worked at an ice cream parlor in Del Mar on the Coast Highway. It was actually only a block down from Hsu’s Liquor. In the summer time I would get super busy and sometimes I would make upwards of fifty dollars in tips in a day’s work, my tip jar overflowing with one dollar bills.

My good friends Jack and Pete came in one busy evening in the summer. They were two brothers and good old friends of mine that lived right up the hill and always came in to hit me up for free ice cream and just shoot the shit. I was busy scooping ice cream for dozens of people and by the time everyone was served Jack and Pete were no longer there. I figured they realized I was busy and they would come back. Their parents were out of town for the week so I would head up to their house after work anyway because we had been using their house to party while their parents were gone.

At the end of my busy shift I counted my tips. I only had three dollars in change. I was pissed off because I knew someone had stolen my tips while I was preoccupied, but I didn’t suspect my friends. I could do nothing about it so I just locked the place up and walked up to Jack and Pete’s house. It was about nine thirty at night. I entered their backyard through the gate as always and I was surprised to see the homeless bum Willie chilling back on a lounge chair on the porch looking very content with a red Dixie cup obviously full of beer. All around him all my friends and a bunch of girls were standing around a keg partying and having fun. He must have struck a deal with my friends that if he bought the keg he would be permitted to attend the party.

Jack handed me a cup and said all rowdy and drunkenly, “Thanks for the keg bro! My parents left us with no money and we needed to throw a party! We stole your fuckin tips when you were slammed. I’ll get you back!” I was pissed off for a split second before laughing my ass off and just being stoked to throw down and party.

Looking back, I was an even bigger dick as a teenager than I am now and I tell this story with a feeling of guilt. When I was a freshman in high school a dude named Pablo lived down the street from me. He was about two years older than me. Pablo was a super nice loner type guy with a super-hot younger sister that my friends and I were constantly trying to hook up with.

The thing about Pablo was that he also loved to smoke weed and was eager to experiment with just about any drug we could get our hands on. He was always flush with cash. He wasn’t too bright and he was also cross-eyed, causing his vision to be a bit off. He didn’t know anyone but me to supply alcohol and drugs for him, which was very unfortunate for him but a blessing for me. All of these Pablo traits were good for me and my friends because they meant we got Pablo to sponsor many of our drug and alcohol sessions without him knowing. I would do things like sell Pablo weed at twice the price. The meanest, most dishonest sell I ever made to him was the time I sold Pablo a clump of grass that I had pulled from the inside of a lawn mower bag and mixed with a tiny bit of real stuff, telling him, “If it looks a bit strange it’s cuz it’s better than the usual stuff.” I believe this was one of the many mean things I did to Pablo that got me the bad karma I eventually had delivered upon me.

So, when I was going to pick up some mushrooms I asked Pablo if he wanted me to pick him up some as well. Of course Pablo was more than happy to pick up something new so he handed over the cash. I took about three fourths of the mushrooms out of Pablo’s bag and put them in my bag, delivering Pablo a forth of what he paid for and almost doubling my bag, making it nearly a quarter ounce bag of the powerful hallucinogen. I wanted to take as many mushrooms as possible in order to really feel them and trip out hard. As an inexperienced mushroom user, I did not realize that with hallucinogens small doses are often the safer and better route to take.

That Friday night I ate my big bag of mushrooms and lost my fucking mind. It’s hard to describe a bad trip but I will do my best. It was definitely the most scary and most uncomfortable mental and physical experience of my life. I took off all my clothes and curled up in the fetal position for about six hours in pure agony. It felt like years and I was sure it would take years off of my life. I was too scared to cry or I would have. I couldn’t respond to my worried friends with words so they went to another part of the house we were in and left me curled up naked on a bed, checking up on me every so often. All I really remember was being utterly confused when the mushrooms set in, unable to comprehend simple objects such as a pencil or cigarette and being totally freaked out by people. Everything I looked at seemed to be breathing, getting bigger then smaller then bigger again. I had heard old stories about people taking too many mushrooms and ending up in insane asylums forever. One of my last rational thoughts before slipping away into hours of complete psychedelic chaos was that I was surely going to be one of those cases. I had taken too many mushrooms and was inside of a living hell.

I know I deserved bad karma for constantly ripping Pablo off but I believe the horror of that bad trip was way too harsh of unjust punishment. I saw Pablo a few days later and asked him, “How was your trip, bro?”

He responded, “It was awesome. Best time I ever had in my life. Thanks for hooking me up. Let’s get some more of those things. How was your trip?” I never ripped Pablo off again after that.

When someone had access to a car but we had no money and no way to obtain beer on a Friday or Saturday night, we had no choice but to do a beer runner. Our favorite place to do these beer runs was one local gas station in particular. We would pull up across the street while the guy doing the runner would go into the gas station, grab as many cases of beer as possible, run out and hop in the car and we were gone. The station we abused especially hard got wise.

I was driving so Chucky had to do the beer run, rules are rules. He went into the same gas station we had looted for years but this time on his way out the gas station door was locked. The gas station had installed both a bullet proof cube around the clerk’s station and a button for the clerk to push if someone was stealing that locked the bullet proof doors shut. Chucky was locked inside and the clerk was laughing at him from the safety of his bullet proof cubicle. I was waiting in my parents’ van across the street and watching as Chucky tried to karate kick and bull rush the door down. The door wouldn’t budge and Chucky must’ve came to the conclusion he was screwed because as he waited for the police to arrive he started shot gunning Coors Lights so at least he would have a solid buzz going at the police station. I felt bad just leaving him there but it was my only option.

Chucky and I decided to take my parent’s van to go on a surf trip up the coast to Ventura and Santa Barbara for the weekend. My parents would never have allowed me to take the van so we just went ahead and took off. The waves were predicted to be good and we had never been to the famous surf breaks in that part of California. We drove up on a Friday evening and we drank beers the entire way, our drunkenness causing us to get lost for hours and hours somewhere in Los Angeles and not making it to Santa Barbara until very late at night. Our mission was to surf Rincon, a world class surf break on the border of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. We found the parking lot for the Rincon surf break that night and we were so exhausted and wasted from the drunken drive that we unknowingly parked the van smack dab in the middle of the entrance to the Rincon parking lot instead of in a designated parking spot. We put our surfboards underneath the van so there would be room for us to sleep inside. We were soon in a deep alcohol induced slumber.

In the morning we were awakened while it was still dark to cars honking their horns relentlessly. We looked out the van’s windows to see a line of about twenty cars waiting to get into the parking lot. People were cursing us and laying on their horns. “Get outta the way dumbshit,” I heard and quickly realized these people were pissed off at us because they wanted to go surfing and my van was blocking the entrance to the Rincon parking lot. I hopped in the driver’s seat to move the van. As I was pulling the van away to clear the entrance for the angry mob, I felt the van tires hit a bump and at the same time heard the cracking sound of fiberglass. I had forgotten about the surfboards beneath the car and ran them over in my haste to move the van. Both of our surfboards were completely snapped in half. The angry mob was laughing at our dumb asses upon seeing this. The waves were amazing that day but now we were unable to surf because we had no boards to ride. As we watched Rincon reel, Chucky and I had a huge tiff that almost went to blows over who was to blame for the breaking of the boards.

Chucky said angrily, “Dude. I can’t believe you parked across the entrance to the parking lot and then ran over our boards. So stupid!”

I snapped back, “You were supposed to be my fucking navigator and got me lost in L.A. for four hours and then failed to lead us into a proper parking spot. You are just as guilty as me!”

Chucky came up with an idea that settled everything, “Let’s just go rent a few piece of shit boards from somewhere. It’s firing and we gotta get on it somehow.” We went into Ventura to rent some beat up old boards and returned to Rincon to surf perfect waves until after the sun went down.

When I was in high school my buddy, who had just finished high school, worked at the post office. He had been hating life at the post office, working there for about six months when a tough looking Mexican dude came in and asked him to send a three pound package to somewhere in New York City. He had the package sent, thinking something was suspicious about this package and this Mexican guy.

A few weeks later the same tough looking Mexican dude came in to the post office with a ten pound package. He again wanted it sent to someplace in New York City. Only this time, my friend told the guy he would mail it out but instead took the package to his car, knowing there was something good inside. He checked the return address on the package on the computer and found it did not exist. He then opened the box right there and there were bricks of vacuum sealed buds. He’d hit the jackpot!

He quit his job at the post office right then and went home. He called me and told me to come over. We weighed the weed on a scale made for humans and it weighed just over ten pounds! I swore to not tell a soul where he got the stash because we did not want anyone to know the profitable extent of his score and we did not want the Mexican or other jackers after him. He celebrated by taking a yearlong vacation and staying stoned for free for a year. I also benefited from his balls out caper by getting cheap buds for a year and selling them for a nice profit. After he had sold the entire stash, he bought himself a brand new Toyota Tacoma.

One day when I was a sophomore in high school George, Alan and I me went out to lunch. The high school I went to allowed the students to go off campus for lunch. By going out to lunch I mean parking the car in a neighborhood near school and taking bong hits. Alan always had a ton of good weed and carried in his car a solid glass bong.

Upon arriving back at school after lunch George and I were called into the principal’s office for an offense that I can’t recall. This is what I do recall. We were told to sit and wait in the chairs just outside the principal’s office as the principal was busy talking to a police officer, which increased my already high level of paranoia. We heard through the cracked door the cop say to the principal, “I want to have a look into Alan Daley’s car because the police department just received a call from a resident down the street telling us than Alan Daley and some other kids were smoking weed in a car in a nearby neighborhood during the lunch break. The resident gave us his license plate number.”

Upon hearing this we knew Alan was a good as busted but George stood up and sprinted out of the principal’s office. I was not sure what he was up to but I had the feeling it was something heroic. I heard the principal tell the cop, “Let’s go get Alan and see what we can dig up in his car.” Then they were off to pull Alan out of class and search his car. The principal did not notice George was missing as he walked out with the cop.

George had blitzed to Alan’s class, explaining the situation and taking Alan’s keys from him while ignoring Alan’s teacher who was annoyingly saying, “George, you can’t be in this class right now.” He then sprinted to the student parking lot, took all of Alan’s paraphernalia from his car, and hid it in some nearby bushes. Sweating, he returned to the office to wait to talk to the principal.

I asked, “What the hell did you just do?”

His response was, “Stashed Alan’s gear. I will probably get in to some trouble for this but Alan won’t be getting busted for having weed.”

The cop and principal got to Alan’s class after George and Alan told him George had his keys when the cop told him they needed to look in his car. The cop and principal, with Alan in tow, were now headed back to the office as the principal knew George was there waiting to speak to him. When the cop, the principal, and Alan returned to the office to get Alan’s keys from George, George just dangled the keys out to the cop and the principal with red eyes and a stoned grin and said, “Looking for these?” Right then the cop’s and the principal’s anger showed on both of their faces as they realized they were not going to not find shit in Alan’s car. We were all smiling as George said to the principal, “What did you need to speak to us about anyways? I hope it’s important. As a student who values my grades, I hate being away from class for this long.

In our teens my friends and I would find hills to skateboard down, usually in Del Mar, a city in San Diego County. We would get on our skateboards at the top of the hill in Del Mar and “bomb” the mile or so down the hill until we hit the beach. Sometimes, if we had a car available, we would have someone follow us and drive us back up the hill so we could do it again. Other times, we would take our surfboards with us and ride to the beach where we would post up for the day and surf.

At the bottom of the hill near the beach in Del Mar there are train tracks. Most of us would bail off our skateboards prior to reaching the tracks because if the wheels to your skateboard catch on the tracks your board will stop while you fly off in the air and then skid along the pavement.

One day I was skating to the beach with Scooter. Scooter was a strange guy who rarely spoke or looked you in the eye but had balls of steel when it came to bombing hills on skateboards and surfing big waves. He also liked to drink a fair bit. We had crushed a few brews and decided to skateboard down to the beach from Scooter’s house at the top of the hill in Del Mar, carrying our surfboards in our arms. Scooter had a brand new surfboard with him that had never been used. He made this trek shoeless and shirtless.

As usual, Scooter bombed straight down the hills going as fast as he possibly could while I did S-turns to slow my pace. Scooter could reach speeds of over forty miles per hour. We reached the bottom of the hill and Scooter was almost completely out of my sight as he had left me in the dust, me being way more cautious and less skilled than him. Scooter was just within my sight as he was reaching the train tracks by the beach, going somewhere around forty miles per hour. He never stopped before the tracks, always riding over them with ease by kicking down on the tail of his skateboard, lifting the front wheels up.

This time as he was approaching the tracks a train was coming south. It appeared as if Scooter and the train were on a collision course. Scooter showed no signs of stopping as the arms to stop cars and people from crossing the tracks started going down, he just got in a tucked position and surfboard under his arm, aerodynamically bee-lined it under the arms. The conductor of the train saw Scooter and was blaring his loud horn with urgency. I had stopped my skateboard to watch and pray at this point as I was sure Scooter was about to get hit by this fast moving train. Scooter made it to the tracks about ten feet in front of train but this time his skateboard did not clear the tracks. His skateboard stopped on a dime, getting obliterated into splinters by the train as he flew in the air six feet off the ground clearing about twenty feet before grinding across the pavement for another twenty feet and coming to a stop against the sidewalk curb. His new surfboard had flown even further down the street where it lay in wreckage.

I ran down to where he was but he was already standing up, shaking it off. He had a broken arm and road rash all over his hands, back, legs, feet, shoulders and face. He was missing hair along his hairline and had a chipped front tooth. All he was concerned about was his new surfboard, asking through punch drunk delirium, “Where the hell is my new board?”

When I was sixteen years old my father allowed me to use the family’s van. I had used the van with my friends on a Friday night and early the following morning my dad awoke me saying, “Give me the keys to the van because me and your mom are going to the beach.”

I told him, “Hold on. I need to get some of my things out first.”

I went out to the car and got my weed and mushrooms out of my stash spot. I was pushing the gear into the Velcro pocket of my swim trunks when I looked up and saw my dad watching me. He was standing right there, all six foot four inches of him in his underwear, holding the newspaper. Let me make one thing clear, my dad is big and ripped and has been able to kick my ass for most of my life. He asked me, “What the hell did you just shove in your pocket?” I didn’t answer. Instead, I took off running down the street with him in close pursuit.

A block down the street I ran on one side of a neighbor’s car and my half naked dad was on the other side, a bit embarrassed as some curious neighbors gathered to watch this spectacle. He was telling me in a low and angry voice, “You are embarrassing us in front of the entire neighborhood. Give up and hand over the stuff. I know what is.”

I replied, “You don’t want to know what it is. Just let me go. I will throw it away.”

My older brother had wandered outside and my dad yelled for him to come help catch me but my brother was of no assistance. By this point many neighbors were watching with concern and my dad was starting to get real frustrated with me, “You are really pissing me off now!” I decided to make another run for it from behind the car and my dad quickly caught me, tearing open my swimsuit pocket and pulling out my stash. He was mad about what he found and the neighbors stopped saying hi to me after that.

There was a kid at my high school who was constantly bragging about how much good weed him and his mother grew in their backyard. He boasted, “We got like twenty overhead plants of the kindest sort.” Naturally, Chucky and I found out where he lived and began casing his backyard. He didn’t lie. There were dozens of high grade ganja plants growing in his yard. When the plants were ready to harvest that year, we knew we had better act.

My old friend Chucky and I decided to cut class one afternoon and go steal a few of the plants. It was stupid to go during the day, but we figured his mother would be at work and maybe it was the best time to do it. We left school at lunch and drove to the kid’s home. The neighborhood was a fifteen minute drive from school. We pulled up in an alley behind the kid’s home. Chucky would hop the fence and grab as many plants as possible while I waited with the van running, prepared to leave in a hurry.

I was waiting for about two minutes when Chucky hopped the fence in a rush, throwing before him three six foot tall marijuana plants. He and the plants got in the car and Chucky told me to “Fuckin drive!” The car filled up with the pungent smell of fresh weed. I pulled out in my parents Volkswagen van as Chucky was rambling, “Some crazy bitch ran out of the house after me with a big butcher’s knife.” Hearing this, I drove faster to put some distance between us and the house.

We were stopped at a red light when I noticed a black Expedition quickly approaching in my rear view mirror. The car soon pulled up in the lane next to us and the kid’s mom got out, staggering towards us with her butcher’s knife and screaming incoherently. She was about fifty with frizzy gray hair and a wrinkled and weathered face. She was piss drunk.

We hooked a right down a two lane road rather than wait at the light and let the lady approach us. At this point Chucky and I were laughing, that would change. The mom was quick to get back in her car and catch up with us on the two lane road, as my vehicle was no match for hers. She pulled up aside us in the oncoming lane and through her passenger window she tossed a handful of coins at my parents van, nicking the hell out of the paint job. She was swerving and coming inches from our car, scaring the living shit out of us. She pulled in behind us to allow oncoming traffic to get by before pulling into the oncoming lane again and tossing a half full Heineken bottle that shattered on my side view mirror.

We had no idea what to do or where to go and we were in no mood to stop and have a verbal or physical altercation with this lady. “Dude, what should we do?” I asked Chucky.

“Shit, I don’t know. This was your stupid idea. Just get us the fuck away from this psycho whore!” he replied.

The only place I could think of going where she might not follow was back to school. We headed towards school with the mom tormenting us all the way there, pulling up inches from us and screaming with madness while throwing at us anything in her car she could find, thankfully missing most of the time. We were a hundred yards away from the turn in for the school parking lot when we decided to get rid of the plants, for fear the lady had our license plates and would make an anonymous call to the school or police. Chucky tossed the big, stinky plants out of the car and we both gave the lady the finger as we turned in to the school parking lot and the lady sped off down the road. The one thing we didn’t take into account before executing this caper was just how crazy the kid’s mom might be.

Mr. Knight was my history teacher in my junior year of high school. He had just graduated from Berkeley and was working on a law degree at the same time as he was teaching us high school punks. He was super smart, way over qualified for teaching basic high school history. For this reason, it seemed to me like he didn’t take the job too seriously. He never got too upset with anyone and he was equally nice to everyone, even the stoned surfer derelicts who failed every test and didn’t turn in a single assignment.

Bronte was one of the derelicts. We sat together in the corner, sleeping, doodling crude pictures, or causing some kind of trouble. Right above where we sat there was a metal vent with a three foot by three foot opening in to it. The opening in the vent sucked air into it like a vacuum. When Mr. Knight was not looking Bronte and I would toss wadded up paper balls and paper airplanes into the opening, watching them get sucked into the vent and disappear. The vent ran the length of the building, going through five more classes that were along the same hallway as ours.

After we would toss paper up into the vent the paper wads would clank and clatter as they traveled in the vent through the next five classrooms, causing a noisy disturbance in every classroom as they passed through. Some days we would toss as much as twenty paper wads into the vent in one class period. We had friends in the other classes and we would all have a good laugh because they knew we were the cause behind the noisy vent that would always make their teachers frustrated by the distraction.

This fun way to pass time in a boring history class did not last as long as we would have liked, as all good things come to an end. One day after a few months of tossing thousands of paper wads up into the vent, a fire occurred in the last classroom in the row of classes that the vent ran through. The fire was bad, scorching the classroom and forcing the entire student body to evacuate to the safety of the football field. Black smoke from the fire could be seen from miles around, bringing concerned parents and onlookers to gawk from the road next to the school. Everyone was sent home for the day.

The fireman who came to put the fire out and investigate the reason for it concluded that it was a result of a mass buildup of debris in the vents. This was very confusing to the firemen and school staff as they could not understand how anything could have gotten into the vents. The principal made an announcement over the loudspeaker a few days later saying, “Any student caught tampering with vents will be subject to suspension or more serious punishment.” I think Mr. Knight had an idea about how the fire started but he never said a word.

I was seventeen when JD, Jack and I were headed back from a camping trip. We were an hour outside of San Diego and we were all very hungry, but we were also all flat broke. JD, my neighbor and close friend growing up, as well as a notorious trickster and kleptomaniac, told us he would buy breakfast if we stopped at Denny’s. “Hey. I just found a twenty in my pocket. Stop at Denny’s and I will cover breaky.” Jack and I were a bit confused as JD was the least likely of us to pull the twenty dollars out of his ass that it would take to buy breakfast. But we didn’t ask too many questions and I pulled off the freeway at the next Denny’s.

We enjoyed a typical Denny’s breakfast. What stands out most in my memory was how sweet our elderly waitress was. She asked us, “Where are you handsome boys coming from?” and “How was your camping trip? I hope you boys had a fabulous time!” She spoke to us about other things as well, showing a genuine kindness. We had formed the little relationship that happens when a waiter or waitress and the customers really get along well.

Jack and I were still finishing up our meals when JD stood up saying, “I’ll see you guys at the car.” Then he walked outside without paying and leaned on the car. Jack and I sat there looking at each other, neither of us wanting to dine and ditch on this little old lady after she had been so nice to us. We kept looking out the window to where JD was standing smoking a cigarette, but he refused to make eye contact with us.

“This sucks. What can we do? Leave a note?” asked Jack.

“Fuck it. Let’s just bail,” I said.

After sitting there for five more depressing minutes we got up and walked out of the restaurant, Jack vowing, “Someday I’m gonna come back and pay this lady and give her a present or something.

It was the summer going into my senior year of high school and JD, Blair, and I were headed back from Viejas Casino at about eleven o’clock at night. We were driving on Interstate 8, a freeway known as a drug trafficking route and as a DUI gauntlet. The Highway Patrol in the region was tough as nails.

I had a few beers at the casino and now we were in the fast lane smoking weed and going about eighty-five miles an hour. We were in my single cab pick-up truck so the hot box was in full effect. Nobody had ever mistaken us for geniuses. Blair dealt drugs at the time so he had a peanut butter jar full of weed and a few ecstasy pills on him. As you probably guessed we were soon being pulled over. As we were being pulled over Blair was chowing ex pills and stashing his weed and pipe while JD and I were attempting to fan smoke out of our now open windows.

When the cop came to my window smoke was still billowing from the car. One cop took me to the squad car to breathalyze me while another cop searched the car and watched over my buddies. I was automatically guilty of driving under the influence because if a person is under twenty one they are not permitted to have any alcohol in their system. Soon the other cop had found the jar of weed, the pipe, and a huge machete I had behind my seat.

The cops laid out these findings on the hood of the cop car. The cop that was dealing with me was a tough little pit bull. He was short but super muscular with a military style flat top hair dew. He was wearing these strange glasses with orange lenses. The guy reminded me of a robot or the Terminator. Anyway, he told me, “Look at the items laid out on the hood and to tell me what belongs to you. I will see what belongs to your pals in a minute.”

I told the cop, “The machete is mine” and I pointed at it, my hand almost touching it. Right then the cop threw me in a headlock and slammed me to the ground, pulling out his pistol and putting it to my head.

Then he said, “That wasn’t a very smart move, son.”

Whether he believed I was going to attack him with the machete or he just wanted an excuse to slam and literally scare the shit out of me, I don’t know. With the pistol to my head I proceeded to shit in my pants, mumbling an apology, telling the cop, “Sorry, I wasn’t trying to grab the machete.”

He then cuffed me and put me in the squad car. Then he asked Blair what was his and Blair manned up to the weed and the pipe, leaving JD in the clear. However, JD still rode with us in the cop car because he had no ride. A tow truck took off with my truck and the three of us were together in the back of the cop car, Blair and I headed to jail.

On the ride to jail Blair became increasingly squirrely from the numerous ex pills he had swallowed and I had a turd in my pants, causing the car to reek like shit. Blair’s pupils were the size of dimes and he was grinning like a mentally disabled child on his way to Disneyland, instead of a guy who had just gotten a felony for possession of over an ounce of ganja. My friends and the cops were both making fun of me and referring to me as Poopy Pants.

The cop who had put the gun to my head cracked what he thought was a brilliantly funny joke, laughing as he said, “Hey Poopy Pants, you stink. Crack the window. Oh, I forgot, you can’t. You’ve got handcuffs on.” JD and Blair both laughed at this dick head cop’s simple attempt at humor, which really pissed me off.

I replied, “With hilarious jokes like that I am surprised you aren’t a famous comedian instead of an overzealous, power tripping, loser piggy!”

Then JD, who I expected would take my side in this verbal battle as he was one of my best friends since the age of two and not much of a cop lover, added fuel to the fire burning inside of me by chiming in with, “Look on the bright side. At least no one’s gonna try and butt fuck ya when you first get to jail, Poopy Pants.” Everyone in the car was laughing, but me.

There is a canyon shaped like a cube in San Diego’s north county. It was shaped by centuries of erosion caused by a waterfall. The canyon is appropriately named Box Canyon. The pool that lies in the bottom of the canyon reaches down to extreme depths. For years teenagers have been drawn to Box Canyon to drink and party. Box Canyon’s main attraction is cliff jumping from the high, steep walls of the canyon into the deep pool at the bottom.

There are many different ledges you can jump from, varying in height and danger. The lowest ledge is about twenty feet and the highest is sixty-five feet. On the other side of the canyon there is a ledge where only the craziest daredevils jump from. It is eighty-five feet up. Few people have ever attempted this and some have died trying. The eightyfive foot jump demands clearing a rock cropping. If you fail to clear the rock you are sure to die.

Box Canyon is completely off limits to the public because of the numerous cliff jumping deaths and injuries that have occurred there. Just by being in the area a person is subject to huge trespassing fines and possibly thrown in jail. Despite these sanctions we constantly snuck into Box Canyon to swim and cliff jump, as I had many friends who lived nearby, Donny being one of them.

When we were seniors in high school another death occurred at Box Canyon when a man broke his back after jumping off the sixty-five foot ledge. This death brought the news crews to Box Canyon to report his death and also give a report on the many deaths that had happened there over the years. When we saw all the news vans in the neighborhood that day we decided to sneak into the canyon and watch the news crew as they filmed the scenic canyon and reported about the death and the canyon’s history.

As they were doing there filming and reporting, Donny, Connor and I crept to the other side of the canyon to the eighty-five foot ledge, the one anyone but true Box Canyon locals were unaware of. Donny and Connor had jumped from there many times, but I had never jumped from there and never planned to. But with the cameras rolling and the chance to look like bad asses on the evening news, we took turns launching off the “85”. The film crew caught this spectacle and sure enough when the report came on the news that night it showed us bombing off the cliff into the deep pool. The television reporter said, “The police are looking for tips as to who the kids are that had jumped from the cliffs. They are wanted for questioning.”

When I was a senior in high school I was lucky enough to have surf P.E. class. This meant instead of doing regular P.E. class at school I got to go to the beach and surf every morning. I had lost my license so I relied on my good friend George for rides to the beach and then to school every day. George was the same guy who saved Alan from getting busted for weed at school a few years prior. He had the reputation of not giving a fuck about much as you probably gathered from the previous story I told about him. My contribution was that we could eat breakfast at my house on the way to school after we surfed. We always got real stoned and cooked up a feast.

Every morning we would construct a marijuana pipe from an apple then smoke in my backyard. The house across the street from my backyard belonged to a kid in our class, a real tool named Manny Weatherly. George was even more annoyed by Manny than I was. Every day after blazing we would argue over who got to throw the apple at Manny’s house. “Let me chuck it today,” I said.

“No way. It’s my turn plus it was my herb we just smoked,” George argued.

From my house you could see the remnants of old rotten apple pipes scattered across the Weatherly’s roof. Looking back, we should have eaten the apples and occasionally we did take a bite or two, but we got a much greater thrill from tossing them on the Weatherly’s roof. After surfing in the morning, this was the last bit of enjoyment we would have before a boring day at school. This morning ritual never lost its luster and we would bust up laughing every time an apple pipe exploded on the Weatherly’s roof. This day George won the argument and got the privilege of throwing the apple. But instead of a lofty, arching throw aimed for the roof like usual, George threw a beeline fastball as hard as he could that went straight through a massive window that could only have been the Weatherly’s master bedroom, shattered glass falling all over Weatherly’s driveway from where the second floor window had been. That was the last apple pipe we ever got to throw at the Weatherly’s home.

From the ages of twelve until seventeen my friends and I were bullied by a guy named Morton and his friends. They were in their early twenties at the time. Morton was a very low rate professional surfer and we were just little guys at the time. He was a total prima donna with a mean streak. He would verbally and physically abuse us, especially me as I often responded to his abuse with smart-ass comments. He took much greater pleasure from picking on me than on any other local kid, and my need for revenge on Morton grew and grew over the years. I won’t pretend I was not an instigator of trouble as the previous stories I’ve told you prove that was just what I was. So my reactions to Morton only fueled the feud between us. Morton was a guy who enjoyed making people feel like shit, but he only had the balls to do so if they were unable to fight back. I never saw him talk shit to someone who was his age or possibly capable of kicking his cowardly ass. I don’t mind paying dues to older guys as I had an older brother who constantly abused me, but this guy took it to another level with a real evil streak. My dad was a surfer as well and knew who the guy was. He could have put Morton in his place with ease but he let me fight my own battles.

He wasn’t only a cock to me. Anyone who came in contact with him knew he was a prick, as he would yell and scream at girls, old men and little kids who were just learning to surf at our local and noncompetitive surf break. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to be friends with everyone, as he was a great surfer and people would have been eager to be his friend. He acted like surfing the mellow waves of 15th Street in Del Mar was Pipeline in Hawaii and he was the head of the shot calling locals. I found this to be pretty lame because I always thought with his skill level he should man up and go surf real breaks like Pipeline. Rumor had it that locals at a well-known break in Cardiff had already banned him and roughed him up a bit for being a dickhead. He would do stuff like paddle up to me or my friends and hold our heads under water when we were surfing, scaring the shit out of us before letting us up for air. Or he would grab me while out surfing, remove my surf leash, and send my board to shore to get destroyed on the rocks and forcing me to swim all the way in, yelling at me, “Get the hell out of the water you little kook!”

I would always warn this asshole, “Once I grow a little more I promise you I’ll whip your ass. It’ll be sooner than you think.” He would just laugh at this, not worried about the future repercussions of his nasty treatment of others and not believing I was dead serious about what I said.

The first revenge I got on him happened at a place called Black’s beach when I was sixteen, still unable to beat him physically. Black’s beach is a classic surf break that demands a long hike in to the beach to surf unless you have a key to a private gate. With this key you can drive on a paved road going down the cliff rather than hike the twenty minutes in and out up and down a steep cliff. Morton had the key as he was a privileged professional surfer. One day I saw him drive down, change into his wetsuit, and hide the key to his truck in the nearby bushes. Once he paddled out to go surf I got his truck key and went into his truck, stealing the key to the Black’s beach gate before returning the truck key to its hiding spot. I am sure he was very confused when he was locked in at the top of the cliff as he must have thought he had misplaced the gate key. From then on, my friends and I drove down to Black’s beach rather than make the strenuous hike.

I made true to my promise of physically whipping Morton two years later when I was eighteen. It was the Fourth of July and the beach in Del Mar was packed with people. My older brother pointed Morton out to me, as he knew I had a bone to pick with the guy. He was hanging with his buddies and a bunch of girls drinking, thinking and acting like he was the man. He saw me staring at him and laughed at me and made faces at me as he’d done since I was a kid, but I could tell he wasn’t as confident in his bullying as he once was. This time I walked straight up to him saying, “I told you this would happen” and I decked him in the forehead, splitting it wide open. Then I put him in a headlock, took him to the ground and rubbed sand in his eyes and his open cut while my brother and friends held off Morton’s fair weather friends. I’d like to think I embarrassed him in front of his weak little crew of friends and chicks, but maybe I just embarrassed myself by making a scene on the beach. The police and lifeguards soon came on four wheelers and I ran off, getting lost in the crowds of beach goers.

2. College Years

I was a freshman in college and shared a dorm room with three roommates. Our dorm consisted of two rooms with a common room in the middle, connecting the two bedrooms. There were two dudes in each bedroom. I got along well with two of the guys that I lived with, but one of my roommates and I couldn’t stand each other. He lived in the room on the other side of the common room. He was constantly ratting on me for drinking to the dorm manager. He was an arrogant, anti-social computer game addict and he absolutely hated when I had friends hanging out in our room distracting him from his cyber addiction. You know the type, a guy of average intelligence who believes he is a gifted intellect. The rest of my roommates and most of the people in the entire dorm disliked this guy for being a prick and a party pooper. One night when a bunch of people were hanging out in my common room someone else who disliked the guy went into this guy’s room and took a piss on a stack of his clean and folded laundry. He told the dorm manager and I took the heat for it.

As a result, I was kicked out of that dorm and moved to another dorm. The dorm I moved into housed honor roll students who wished for peace and quiet. My new roommate was a super-rich Saudi Arabian named Hussein. Hussein studied engineering. He spoke very little English and wore a gold necklace and a gold bracelet. Hussein rarely spoke and never smiled. I was a little frightened by him to be honest. The time frame was a few months following the Nine Eleven terror attacks and Americans were suspicious of middle easterners. He never said so but I think he hated my presence even more than my roommate before him. As a devout Muslim there was no way he approved of my carefree, substance fueled, reckless lifestyle. He had a special rug he would pray to Allah numerous times a day from. The clothing he sported was all Armani, Versace, and other very expensive brands I had never even heard of. He also had expensive jewelry and watches, usually favoring a gold Rolex studded with diamonds. Occasionally, I would rock his designer shirts and flashy watches for a night out without him knowing, then return them when he wasn’t around. Anyone who saw me on one of these nights who knew me would shit themselves with bewilderment, as my usual attire was non-brand name jeans and a t-shirt. One Friday night I went out wearing a Versace button up shirt that belonged to Hussein after giving myself a generous spray from his expensive cologne bottle. That fraudulent effort did not get me any action with the ladies like I’d hoped and when I returned to the dorm at first light on Saturday morning I found Hussein on his rug doing his prayers. The shirt I was wearing of his was a wreck, with puke dribble down the front and a tear in the sleeve. He looked up at me in disgust and shook his head. That was the last time I ever saw him, as he moved out immediately. Thank goodness he was above taddling to the dorm manager unlike my roommate before him or I would have surely been expelled from school.

I had a class in college that I was required to take in my freshmen year called Logic and Critical Thinking. This class was very difficult for me. I figured if you cannot think logically or critically, then you must not think very well. I eventually stopped going too often because it was not a large class and whenever the professor asked a question of me I never knew the answer. In fact, I never even understood the question as they were very riddle-like. This made me feel like a fool and embarrassed me, especially because the class was filled with hot girls. The professor was an elderly man and didn’t take too much notice or give much concern as to who was there and who wasn’t.

I began my own style of thinking logically and critically about how I would pass this class. I found out the professor gave the exact same lecture a few hours prior to my class. So on test day, I would go to the first class, sit in the back and act as if I was taking the test in the class that I was not really enrolled in. No one ever noticed that I was not supposed to be there. Then I would leave without turning in the test at the end of the testing period. I would then rush to the library with the blank test and find all of the correct answers for the test using the textbook.

I would return a few hours later to my class and the professor would give the exact same test he had given to his earlier class. I would pull the test from my backpack that I had completed in the library and shove the blank one in my backpack. I would always be the first person to turn in my flawless test, smiling at the professor and telling him, “I really enjoy your class, sir.”

At the end of the semester I saw one of the stuck up, attractive, prim and proper sorority girls who took that class with me at the bulletin board where students scores were posted using student ID numbers to maintain privacy.

She asked in a phony and condescending way, “Why did you drop Logic and Critical Thinking? I could have helped you out you know. I know you struggled those first few weeks.”

I replied, “I wouldn’t drop a class like that. You’d have to be a simpleton not to ace that shit. I could of taken that in preschool. I only went on test days because it would have been a waste of time to go to a class where I know way more than the professor. I am here to make sure the old fool got my grade recorded correctly”.

She played along thinking I was joking, “Okay genius. Then what was your grade?”

I replied as cocky and arrogant as I can ever remember being because this pretty girl agitated the shit out of me, “Well. Look for the highest score on the board and you will see what I got. What was your grade miss high horse? How about this? If my score is higher than yours you come to my dorm room tonight and we watch a movie together and drink some wine? If yours is higher I promise to give you three hundred bucks at the closest ATM.” She laughed at this but you could tell the wheels in her head were spinning. She pointed out her score and showed me her ID number. She had gotten a ninety-seven percent in the class, the second highest score.

She thought about my proposition and agreed saying, “Alright. I can see someone got a hundred percent but if you expect me to believe that is your stoned, alcohol stinking, lazy ass you must be crazy. Show me your school ID and let’s really match up your score. I still think you dropped the class. I didn’t even see you for most of the semester.” I pulled out my school ID and my number matched with the one hundred percent. When she saw this the exceptionally intelligent beauty gave no attempt to disguise the priceless combined and conflicting looks of doubt, envy, disbelief, jealousy, intrigue, disgust and maybe even hate I saw in her eyes and on her face that even the most gifted actress could not attempt to replicate.

She came over that night looking pretty and we had some wine and watched a movie and she was only ninety-nine percent as stuck up as I had thought. Getting her to finish a small glass of wine was comparable to trying to get a rabbi to feast on a fresh pig at a Hawaiian luau. She knew I didn’t achieve that grade with integrity and even tried to ask me questions from the class to prove I knew nothing. She tried to get me to confess to cheating, too. I wasn’t going to talk logic and critical thinking or admit shit to this goody two shoes, debutant, jealous snitch so I told her, “Stop being so jealous of my high IQ. If you are as smart as you think you are you’d be very nice to me so I might even tutor you if we have another class together sometime.” She knew I was overflowing with bullshit but began to loosen up just a little and show the slightest glimmer of a sense of humor. I decided right then was the time to play my hand and I put the moves on her with bold confidence.

I went in for the kill and all I got were a few non arousing tongueless kisses before she pushed me away asking in her snooty way, “What do you think you’re doing?” This rejection caused me to lose interest in her altogether. I went from carrying a shotgun to a shrimp, you could say. This lack of desire and willingness might reflect on her intelligence and self-respect but in my opinion it was a sign of her boring, snotty, narcissistic, superiority complex. I happily saw her off, wondering which one of us was truly better or worse at thinking critically and logically. Then I realized if I was truly a critical thinker, I would have made terms to our little bet that benefited and rewarded me more greatly.

If you have ever driven on Highway 101 in southern California you know what a pain in the ass bicyclists can be, especially the herds of them that come out on weekends. I was home from college for the summer after my freshmen year and my brother let me use his Jeep Wrangler. I was driving along the Coast Highway on a beautiful, busy, traffic filled Sunday morning with Donny. The traffic was thick, not only with automobiles, but with cyclists. This part of HWY 101 had two lanes going each way and I was going south through Solana Beach in the right lane, the slow lane right next to the bike lane.

The bike lane was overflowing with cyclists and one cyclist in particular was out smack dab in the middle of the lane I was driving in, slowing me way down and preventing me from going fast enough to even meet the speed limit. This brought yells and honks from the cars behind me, directed at the disrespectful and non-law-abiding cyclist. Finally, I was able to veer into the fast lane and swerve past the cyclist, from shotgun Donny yelled, “Get in the bike lane you fucking homo!” as we passed the spandex wearing biker.

A half mile up the road we were stopped at a red light when the chiseled cyclist caught up with us and sprayed red Gatorade from his water bottle in Donny’s face and all over the interior of the roofless Wrangler yelling, “You punks like Gatorade?” He must have been angry about Donny’s comment. Donny opened the door by the handle and simultaneously kicked it open, knocking the biker down as he was clicked into his pedals. This scraped up the guy’s knees and elbows and now he was even more pissed off. Luckily, we got a green light and left this shaved legged prick in the dust, heading south again.

But traffic was thick and soon we were stopped at another red light a mile up the road when the Lance Armstrong wannabe caught up with us, set his bike on the ground, opened the door to the Wrangler, and yanked Donny out of the car. Donny is a pretty tough, strong fellow but we had underestimated the cyclist, who now had Donny mounted on the ground and was giving him knuckle sandwiches. The light we were waiting at soon turned green and cars and cyclists were whizzing by this spectacle. I pulled onto the shoulder to get out and help Donny. But instead of getting into it with this ripped triathlete I yelled, “Hey Lance, check it out!” Then, I threw the Wrangler in reverse and ran over the guy’s expensive bicycle, mangling the shit out of it. The guy’s bike was completely ruined. He got off Donny in an attempt to save his bike when he saw what I was doing. I yelled at Donny, “Get in the damn car.” As Lance was mourning over his ruined bicycle, Donny jumped into the Jeep with blood coming out of his nose and mouth and we peeled out of there, the cyclist yelling a long list of profanities as we drove off. Although a bit shaken and Donny a bit bashed, we had a good laugh as we sped down a few side streets to get the hell away from the Coast Highway and the furious cyclist.

It was great when my older brother turned twenty-one because I turned twenty-one too, even though I was really only nineteen. This is because he gave me one of his IDs and we nearly looked like twins so no one ever doubted that it was me. Having one of his IDs meant good times because alcohol was easy to get and I could even go out to bars and clubs.

Sometimes it was not so good for my brother though. I was nineteen and he was twenty-one when we stopped into Las Vegas. We decided to play blackjack. The dealer looked at our IDs and asked if we were twins and we told her we were. Luckily, she did not realize we had the same name too. I proceeded to win over a thousand bucks while my brother lost almost that same amount. This pissed him off a bit as I should not have been gambling due to my age and was only able to do so as a result of him letting me use his ID.

But that was nothing compared to what happened one winter break when me using his ID really affected his criminal record. I was in Santa Barbara on winter break and I decided to go out to the bars in downtown. I was nineteen years old at the time. My friends had no IDs so I went out alone. I had way too much to drink and I ended up getting lost on my way back to my friend’s house late at night. I ended up going in to a house that I thought was my friends but it actually belonged to someone I did not know. I laid down on the couch in this house and went to sleep. The next thing I knew the police were waking me up and putting handcuffs on me. I was being arrested for trespassing. The police were taking my brother’s ID from the wallet they had pulled out of my pants. Not wanting them to take the ID from me I did not tell them that the ID was really my brother’s. For that reason, I went to jail as my brother and let him have the mark on his record.

I did one other criminal offense under my brother’s name that tops the list when it comes to getting my brother in trouble using his ID. I did my college studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. One night I was taking a leak outside a bar in Ft. Collins when I was approached by a police officer. I gladly let my brother take credit for the urinating in public ticket that ensued. I never did pay the fine because I thought my brother would never visit Colorado therefore there was no need to deal with the ticket. About six months after I got that ticket my brother and some of his friends decided to take a road trip to Colorado. Upon entering the state of Colorado my brother was pulled over for speeding. They ran his ID and told him there was a warrant for his arrest because he did not pay a ticket in Fort Collins from six months before. They impounded his car and took him into the police station where he was told he had to pay the fine or he would be sent to jail. He told them he had never before set foot in Colorado, which was the truth. They didn’t buy it. At this point my brother had a feeling that I had something to do with this situation. He paid the ticket, got his car out of impound, and headed to Fort Collins to get his ID back. Only I did not give him his ID back when he got to Fort Collins.

But I did give it to a Texas agent that spring break in South Padre Island, Texas. I was walking into a hotel with two thirty packs of Keystone Light cans when this massive muscular cop approached me. He announced he was with the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission). He had a bald shaved head and looked like Stone Cold Steve Austin. He said in a Texan drawl, “Let’s see your ID boy”.

Cocky, I replied, “No prob big guy,” and showed him my brother’s ID.

He then said, “This ain’t no real ID.” I assured him it was. He then gave me my option saying, “I’ll give you one chance to come clean. You admit there’s something off about this here ID and I will just write you a ticket, but you keep bullshittin me and I find out I’m gonna take your scrawny ass to jail for impersonation, and jail ain’t no fun place to spend spring break.” I thought about this then came clean, telling him it wasn’t a fake ID but it was my brother’s. True to his word he wrote me a ticket, confiscating the ID and the beer and sending me on my way.

I was home for the summer and after one night of partying in Rosarito Beach I’d had enough. I’d lost my wallet or had my pocket picked the night before in the club so I had no dough and no access to cash. I am not the biggest fan of partying in Mexico anyway, so rather than borrow money from friends I decided to just drive home to San Diego. My friends wanted to stay a few more nights so I had to drive home alone. I had barely enough gas in my car to make it back to San Diego.

I was trying to navigate my way out of the bustling town of Rosarito Beach when I went the wrong way down a one way street. A cop was standing right there, just waiting for a tourist to make this mistake. He waved me over to the curb and told me to get out of the car. He was a short, arrogant, pompous bastard with a thin little mustache. He asked me in a Mexican accent, “You been drinking cerveza? Do you have drugas?” I assured him I hadn’t been drinking and was not in possession of any drugs, that I had a bad night and was headed home to San Diego. He insisted on taking a look in my car anyway, with me watching closely to make sure he didn’t plant anything in my vehicle.

He then informed me that, “Driving the wrong way down a one way street in Mexico is a fine of one hundred and fifty US dollars, but I will make it very simple for you and you can pay me here so we do not have to go all the way to the station. I will even give you a special price of one hundred and twenty dollars because I truly believe that fine is much too high.”

I told him, “That is very sweet of you but I am dead broke.”

He then responded, pointing across the street, “No problemo, there is an ATM right there.”

I disappointed him further when I told him, “That is very convenient but I have no ATM card because my wallet was stolen last night.” I dug into my middle console and came up with about four dollars in change, telling him, “Sorry, that’s all I got.”

took that from me before saying, “I too am very sorry because that isn’t even close to enough dinero to cover the fine.” I scrounged around under the seats and floor mats some more and came up with another two dollars in pennies, dimes and nickels. He took this too, but he was still far from satisfied.

I asked him, “Can I go back to the hotel where my friends are staying and borrow some money from them?” He denied this request, as he probably wanted to bring as little attention as possible to his corrupt ways.

He told me, “I will have to take you into jail if we cannot figure something out and just like you I do not want that.”

I could have called his bluff and agreed to go to jail, as I doubted he would actually take me in for this minor offense. But, I didn’t have the balls. That’s when he started peeking in my windows and I knew he was looking to see what kinds of things I had of any value. I had a backpack with clothing in it, a quality soccer ball, Adidas soccer cleats, a valued surfboard, an expensive wetsuit, and a leather softball mitt. All of these items were fairly new and of a quality make and I wasn’t ready to see any of them go, especially to a corrupt cop. He came up with a solution to this little pissing match between us and it didn’t favor me in the least. With the pride and excitement of a philosopher who had just solved life’s most desired mysteries he said, “I know. How about you give me some of your things instead of the fine?”

Frustrated and angry at this proposal, I asked him, “What do you want man? I am not rich and I my stuff is pretty nice.”

That’s when the asshole started pricing out my stuff, commenting, “It is all second hand and not of especially good quality. It is not of much value to me and the products are not so bueno as you think.” He said, “Give me your surfing suit, soccer ball, soccer shoes, and beisbol glove and you are free to go.”

I argued, “Come on man! The soccer ball and cleats are enough.”

He replied, “No way. You are lucky I am not asking for the surfboard too, as I am sure I smell alcohol on your breathing, and that would be a much bigger problemo. And maybe you did not know this, but there are tiny pieces of marijuana in your car on the floor. And I don’t want to see a good kid like you with these kinds of muy grande problemos in Mexico.” I gave him the stuff he requested, knowing I couldn’t win with this guy. He was an experienced extortionist and more intelligent than I had anticipated. He spoke perfect English and only used Spanish words that he knew I would understand.

So I fired up my car to leave and said, “I hope you give my ball and glove to your hijos.”

The smile he gave was an obscure and confusing mixture of evil, power, and a bit of mercy before he said in a classic Mexican accent that I believe he purposely exaggerated, “I have no hijos amigo, but I play soccer and beisbol very skillfully and I know some foolish surfers much like yourself who will buy the surf suit for a nice price. I guarantee I will put your sporting equipment to better use than you ever could. I will not use the surfing suit because I think surfing is a very foolish activity, therefore I do not partake in it. I hope you enjoyed Rosarito Beach and come back again soon amigo! Vaya con dios mi hijo!” I had to laugh as

I drove off or I would have gone berserk.

That same summer I had just finished surfing at Grandview in Leucadia. This was not my local town but I had many friends from the area. I was in the parking lot drying off and putting my clothes on after surfing. At the car parked next to mine, three guys who had also just finished surfing were changing into their clothes. When they were about to leave they threw their cigarette butts on the ground and completely cleaned out their car, throwing McDonald’s bags and other trash on the pavement and in the bushes.

I asked them, “Do you guys plan on just leaving all that trash there?”

The biggest of them replied, “Yep.”

I said, “Then never come back around here you fuckin donkeys!” I could tell they considered a physical altercation right then but there were too many other surfers in the area that would have sided with me. They took off and I picked up their trash with some other guys who were hanging out in the parking lot.

I was driving south on the Coast Highway about a half mile away from the Grandview parking lot when a baseball size rock hit the hood of my car and then ricocheted to crack my windshield. I pulled my car to the curb, knowing it was the fuck heads from the parking lot. Sure enough, I saw one of the guys from the Grandview parking lot hiding in a little grassy park right off the Coast Highway where it meets Leucadia Boulevard, the other two waiting in line at a taco shop on the corner. I sprinted up to the guy and threw my hardest punch right at the guys teeth, blood spraying from his mouth as he hit the deck. His two friends saw this and left their place in the taco queue and were quickly all over me. They got me on the ground and were kicking the living shit out of me. I was taking shoes to the face and ribs and every other part of my body. All I could do was cover my head. This went on for what seemed like days but was probably only thirty seconds.

Next thing I knew, I peeked up through the chaos to see no one other than good old Donny run up and blindside one of the punks kicking me with a right hay maker. Then Donny viciously karate kicked the guy in the face who I had hit initially, ending the rock throwers participation in the fight. My other friend Connor was there too, squared up with one of the other guys and delivering blows to the guy’s face. This part of north San Diego County was Donny and Connor’s domain. We have never claimed to be bad asses but we aren’t total sissies either. I got up and we had an all-out brawl with these fools, only now we had three and they only had two because the rock thrower was done, dizzy, with a tooth through his lip and another tooth missing. He had no more fight in him. People who were stopped at a nearby intersection were screaming, hooting and hollering from their cars as the fight went on, some enjoying the action while housewives pushing strollers nearby screamed in fear of the violence. In my life I can’t tell you if I lost or won more little scraps and I took a beating this time too, but the overall victory was ours. I was fucked up with lumps on my dome, shiners, bloody nose and grill and a jaw that wouldn’t budge for quite a spell. But by the end of this little brawl those other guys were all looking like me or worse and Donny and Connor were fresher than fruit, barely a scratch on them. We’ve never been the type to kick enemies when they’ve already been licked so we lightened up on them. The light for the intersection turned green and cars were honking and people were yelling angrily because Donny had left his car unmanned in the left turn lane blocking traffic when he saw that I was in trouble. We all decided it was time to scram as the cops were more than likely on their way and Donny’s car was blocking traffic, causing a commotion. We all ran to our cars, the other guys hobbling. This was a small miracle for me as I would definitely have been more severely beaten had my friends not driven by on a fluke chance and come to my rescue.

We were driving along midday in my buddy’s pick-up truck on College Avenue in Fort Collins, Colorado when we got stopped at a red light right near a popular bar. Stopped on the shoulder next to us was a Budweiser truck with its hazard lights on. Aside the Bud truck was a dolly stacked with four or five twenty packs of Bud bottles. The beer truck driver was nowhere in sight. Being a broke student with an endless thirst for brew, I casually got out of the shotgun seat of my friends truck and unloaded the beer cases from the dolly into the bed of the pickup truck and we drove off.

We went straight to my friend’s house that had been driving the pick-up and sat on his porch, enjoying our free beers. We were getting pretty loose by the time the cops showed up two hours later saying, “Where did you fellas buy the Budweiser’s?”

I lied, knowing we were about to get pinched, “Just over at the liquor store. Want one?”

One of the cops said as he motioned towards my friends truck, “No, thanks. We have some interesting video footage of a truck that looks identical to that one there and a fellow that looks just like you stealing five cases of Budweiser about two hours ago over on College Ave. In

fact, the fellow had on the same clothing you do and the truck’s plates match that truck’s there. I’m wondering if it’s just a coincidence.”

We were busted and I admitted guilt, “Looks like you got us. What now?”

The cops were amazingly cool, “If you idiots go to the distribution company, give back what you didn’t drink, pay for what you did drink, and apologize, maybe they won’t press charges.”

When I was twenty-one years old Donny, George and I took our university studies to the Gold Coast of Australia for a semester. I lived in a very interesting and shady housing complex. We had a weed dealing heroin addict for a neighbor on one side of our house. It was difficult not to stare at the gaping sore on his arm when you went to buy a sack off him. He worked as a janitor at night and sold weed by day. I always wondered when the guy slept. On the other side lived about ten guys who were the same age as me. They all crammed into a two bedroom house. They were speed addicts who collected welfare checks every month then went on a speed bender with their money before they went broke and ate French fries out of their deep fryer for the remainder of the month. These maniacs were fiends. One night they took Donny’s six month supply of Adderall he had brought from the States and sniffed the whole thing up in one sitting, doing three foot long blue lines. Then they complained about how weak the stuff was. These guys were classic but I would imagine they are dead or incarcerated by the time of me writing this. The residents of this complex made me and my college attending, alcohol drinking buddies look like saints.

There was one person living in this complex that I got very close with. I met Tally at the pool. Tally was a nineteen year old beauty. She looked very sexy in her black bikini with her long dark hair. Somehow, that night I was in her bed. After that night she ended up being my girlfriend for the next six months while I lived in Australia. She was a very mysterious and strange girl. Sometimes she appeared under the influence of powerful drugs like speed or meth. She had an obsession with Richard Ramirez and loved horror movies. She actually wrote letters back and forth with fucking Richard Ramirez, pretty sickening. She wore dark clothing and she definitely had a Gothic streak, with dark makeup and eye liner. I am not normally attracted to this style of girl but I made an exception with her because of her beauty and her

mysteriousness. She always had a lot of money. She kept her fridge full of beer and food and welcomed me and my buddies over anytime to indulge. She always shouted drinks at the bar and bought treats for me and the boys.

When we asked her what she did for work she never gave a straight answer, just that she worked with another lady in Surfer’s Paradise. I guess we just assumed it was an office job or something. At the end of my stay in Australia Tally asked us if we wanted to see where she worked. We were excited to finally see where she worked and what she did to make so much money. She drove us in her new car to a garage beneath an upscale, high rise condominium in Surfer’s Paradise. I was a bit confused when we took the elevator to the nineteenth floor and then walked down the hall where she opened a door to a condo with a gorgeous view of the ocean and miles and miles of Gold Coast of beaches. The condo was very sparsely decorated. There was nothing much in there aside from a big bed and a massage table. It definitely wasn’t a home or an office. That’s when it dawned on me that I had been dating some sort of working girl for six months.

The main reason for me studying in abroad in Australia was to surf. One day my friends and I were surfing a lonely stretch of beach right south of the Queensland and New South Wales border. George, Donny and I were the only surfers in the water. There was a rocky headland on the north end of the beach and to the south was a sandy beach for miles. We were surfing right where the headland met the sandy beach, as this was where the waves were best for surfing.

About thirty minutes into our surf session some men in their late twenties came out to swim near where we were surfing. They did not appear to be experienced swimmers and they were not wearing swim fins like serious body surfers would be. By their farmer tans anyone could tell they were not regular beach goers. While one guy made it safely to shore, another one of the men got caught in a rip current, and was headed around the headland and out to sea. My friends and I were unaware that he was in a rip current. We assumed he was out for a far swim. Then we heard his screams of panic. By the time Donny decided to paddle his surf board out to the guy and attempt to save him, the man was nearly a quarter mile out and around the rocky headland. Donny paddled out to the guy and talked to him, calming him down. Then he helped to get him to shore by letting the guy use his surfboard as a floatation device. This took almost two hours. Donny got the guy to shore and then came back out and surfed with us. We all surfed for about three more hours before heading in to the beach.

When we got to the parking lot the guy was waiting at our car with five cases of Toohey’s New. “You saved me life, mate!” He then insisted that we go from the beach to his family’s ranch located a little inland from the beach for a barbeque. We went out to his family’s sprawling ranch home and had a massive Australian style barbecue, cooking up all sorts of tasty meats. We also got extremely “pissed”, as Aussies would say. Later in the night the drowning guy’s sister came home. She was a beautiful, blond, young thoroughbred. The guy told her, “This bloke saved me life at the beach earlier today!” Needless to say, Donny got lucky that night.

New Zealand is a beautiful country. The people are very friendly, the waves are great, and the scenery is breathtaking. I have fond memories of my short time spent there on the north island. But, for the purposes of my book I will tell a story that I find interesting though it does not reflect on the nation’s positive aspects. I was headed back to the USA with George and Donny after studying in Australia when we stopped to do a two week surf trip in New Zealand. We rented a camper van in Auckland on a Monday morning and we were getting on the on ramp to the freeway to head south to Raglan, a town known for its famous

surf break.

On the on ramp we noticed two girls hitchhiking in miniskirts, tight belly revealing shirts, and high heeled shoes. Obviously, this was a dream come true so we immediately pulled over to let these girls in and drive them to wherever they wished to go. Unfortunately, these babes were good from far but far from good. They were young, about sixteen or seventeen, and rough. They had tough attitudes and their faces were covered with acne. Their hygiene left something to be desired, as they smelt of body odor and sweat, had scummy teeth, and had stains on their clothes. I remember thinking they were probably ice heads. One of the girls was pure white trash and the other was a Maori. They told us with very little appreciation for the ride that they were headed towards Raglan, too. This posed no problem for us.

One of us then asked, “What were you girls doing in Auckland over the weekend?”

To our surprise the young white girl answered nonchalantly, “We been hooking.” We were shocked that these young girls had just spent the weekend in the city selling their bodies and acted like it was so insignificant. I am sure that the thought crossed all of our minds to take advantage of this situation, but we behaved like gentlemen, not because we were actually gentlemen, but because of the filthy vibe these girls put off. We asked them if they knew how to get weed and the white girl told us her dad might be able to hook us up when we got to her place.

When we got to their town and took them to the run-down trailer where they lived, they invited us in to see if their old man had some buds. Upon entering the nasty trailer that was sinking into mud and overgrown grass, a fat shirtless slob around forty laying on a shot out couch with a cig in his mouth and a plastic bottle of whiskey in his grip asked in a barely decipherable mongrel Kiwi accent, “How much did you little sluts bring home? These fellas better be paying too!” We decided to shine the weed and just get to Raglan in hopes to surf some waves.

George, Donny, and I stopped in Fiji for about a month after New Zealand. Every morning we would wake up early and ride a small boat for miles to outside reefs where we would surf. The boats would anchor in deep water outside of the surf break and we would hop off and paddle to the waves. One day after surfing great waves for hours and hours I paddled back to the boat and kicked back, exhausted. Soon after I got to the boat, Donny, George and a local Fijian with a permanent smile on his face named Senu paddled up to the boat looking like they’d seen a ghost and frantically screaming, “Help us in! Hurry!” Cenu was not smiling. The three of them had been paddling back to the boat when a shark came up and took a clean bite that was half the size of a car steering wheel out of Cenu’s board. It didn’t get any piece of Cenu, just missing his vital organs by a hair. Had the shark hit Cenu, he would have been in serious trouble as we were hours from medical help. I helped them in the boat and we looked at Cenu’s surfboard in eerie marvel.

Cenu was most bummed because at the time most Fijians did nothave easy access to an abundance of surfboards and the one that got bitten was his only board. But he ended up being super stoked because George gave him an extra board he had with him and Cenu ripped even harder on it than he had on the board with the shark bite. He ended up seeing the shark bite incident as being kind of a good thing and had a smile plastered across his face once again.

My friend Ruben and I were goofing around one day with hair clipping shears. I asked him to shave my head for me and he began to do so. Before long he had a great idea. “Let’s just shave a perfect bald ring around the top of your head so you look like a bald dude. We will leave hair on the sides and in the back. Then we can use a razor to make you look perfectly bald. It will be classic.”

I responded, “Sure. But you do it too. Then we can wear hats out to the bars tonight and when we take the hats off everyone will get a kick out of it.” We gave ourselves perfect bald man haircuts, laughing the whole time.

That night Ruben and I went out wearing hats to a popular Mexican restaurant in Fort Collins. We sat at the bar and ordered margaritas and food and carried on like regular customers. There were two pretty girls sitting next to us at the bar. We were twenty-one years old at the time and the girls were roughly the same age. We soon struck up conversation with them and made plans to go to another bar with them after the Mexican restaurant.

Ruben was talking to one girl and I was chatting with the other. I heard Ruben ask the girl, “Would you ever consider dating a bald guy?”

She thought about that for a moment and replied, “Well, I’d prefer a guy with hair at this point in my life. But if he was handsome, sweet, and smart I would consider.”

“I’m very glad to hear that because some girls are just so shallow these days,” Ruben said with a straight face. Then he removed his hat and ran his hand over his bald head. At that point I took my hat off too, showing off the perfectly bald top of my head. We both maintained stoic faces, showing no sign of kidding around. The girls looked very disappointed that the guys they had met were prematurely bald and they had no idea what to say about this revelation. A few awkward seconds passed before they caught on to our joke and they busted up laughing with us.

Joining a fraternity in college was something I never thought I would do. I believed most frat guys were bleach haired deusch bags. But one fraternity at my school was full of good old boys, the kind of guys anyone looking to have fun would want to be around. The members of this fraternity were a diverse group of fun loving characters that partied hard and also kept their shit together academically. We caused so much trouble in the town of Fort Collins that the fraternity eventually got banned from the school. I can’t begin to tell the infinite number of offenses the fraternity was guilty of but I will tell you that we were on the verge of expulsion so we decided to invite the college dean and his staff to our fraternity house for a nice dinner and to show them we weren’t such bad guys.

We were attempting to repair our reputation and make amends with the school and the people in charge. We planned to serve up a formal dinner in order to impress the dean and his staff. We cleaned the fraternity house, wore decent clothes, and set up tables with nice table cloths and silverware. My job this night was to wait tables, taking orders and running to and from the kitchen, delivering food and drinks to the dean, his staff and the members of the fraternity who were dining with them. The dean and his people were difficult to like, serious and boring, like most school officials that I’ve encountered in my life. They really wanted to see our rowdy fraternity shut down forever. I took drink orders from everyone then went to the kitchen to deliver them, as it was also being used as the bar. The dean ordered a whiskey and water.

That night Carl was the bar tender, a guy I really got along with and a real trouble maker from Tennessee. For this reason, we had him stay in the kitchen so he wouldn’t have the opportunity to offend the dean and make us look bad. Carl was single handedly responsible for much of the trouble the fraternity was facing. Anyhow, I gave Carl the drink orders and he asked which one was the dean’s. I told him the whiskey and water was for the dean, wondering what he was planning. He said he would have the drinks ready in a few minutes. When I returned to the kitchen with my tray to pick up the drinks I laughed at what I saw. Carl had his dick out and was stirring a cocktail with it. I asked him, “What in God’s name are you doing?”

With a shit eating grin on his face he said, “Just make sure you get this whiskey and water to the dean for me.”

My parents live in Del Mar, California. There is a famous horse racing track there. I was home for the summer and as usual I had friends from college visiting, as San Diego is an ideal place to be in the summer. We decided to go to the horse track one day and place some bets, even though we didn’t have the slightest clue about how to gamble on horses. We started drinking on our walk to the Del Mar Fairgrounds from my parents’ home and by the time we arrived for the first race we were feeling pretty goofy.

Before every race, the horses that will compete in the next race are walked around the paddock for the audience to observe the horses that will be racing. Because my crew was so uneducated on the subject of horse racing, we watched the horses as they strut around the paddock, deciding to gauge our bets according to the size of the horses’ cocks. Before every race we went to the paddock to see the horses, and then we put twenty bucks to win on the stud with the biggest dick, regardless of the odds. Sometimes the most well hung horse was a favorite and sometimes he was a long shot. Regardless, if there was a horse in the race with a massive shlong we would put twenty bucks on him to win. We didn’t bet on races where only mares, fillies, or horses with small peckers ran, that was out of our area of expertise. That day we won every race we bet on, five races in total. We would cheer and go mad every time one of our horses crossed the finish line, laughing and giving high fives all around. Then we would go straight to the bar and buy another round with our winnings before heading to the paddock to pick out the next winner. One especially well hung stallion had terrible odds, something like forty two to one. We were hesitant to bet on the beast but we stuck to our guns and put down twenty on him to win. Someone said, “His odds are shit, but he has the biggest dong we’ve seen all day. I think we gotta stick to our game plan.” Sure as shit, the creature smoked his competition. We won well over a thousand bucks that day and that

night we had a huge night at the bars in Del Mar, boasting of our horse betting knowledge to all of the people we met.

I attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. This is a raging party school where the twenty-thousand or so students try their damndest to consume as much booze as humanly possible while also putting forth a bit of effort towards educating themselves. On Halloween one year there was a party on a street right next to campus. Thousands of people showed up to this party and soon the whole street was one massive party. Students in ridiculous costumes started burning sofas and flipping over cars in the middle of the street.

When the police were notified of these glorious festivities they showed up in full riot gear. They shot off tear gas and were shooting the crowd of students with rubber bullets. The students began running down the street away from the cops. While all of this was taking place my friend Ruben and I were drinking on his front porch a couple of hundred yards down the street. We wanted to contribute to the riot somehow so whenever we would finish a bottle of beer we would throw it as high as we could into the air and watch it explode onto street in front of the house.

We’d been doing this while the riot was going on and Ruben had just thrown a bottle into the air when the first wave of rioters came running down the street away from the cops towards where we were. As his bottle was approaching the street from a very high throw we noticed a dude in a Superman costume running down the street. The timing was perfect for this guy to be right where the bottle was going to crash. Ruben and I both felt the dread of the inevitable occurrence taking place. Sure enough the bottle exploded right on Superman’s dome. For a split second we wondered if Ruben had killed this unlucky bastard as the guy hit the deck like a sack of potatoes. Ruben whispered to me, “You think he’s dead?” Just as we were wondering what the fuck to do, a guy in a clown costume ran down the street and picked his friend up off the ground and they both took off running down the street again. Ruben and I shared a nervous laugh and Ruben reckoned, “That little champion in the Superman costume took that like a real superhero!

One night I had a little trouble behind the wheel of my truck. I was heading home late at night and I didn’t realize I had run out of road until it was too late. I veered to the right and ran over a stop sign before launching off an embankment into a creek. Something in the chaos had knocked me out but I came to my senses quickly. The airbags were out. The truck was in a shallow stream and the front end was smashed to shit. I saw a country home’s porch lights come on and a man walk onto the porch talking on a phone, presumably to the police. Nearly stuck,

I threw the truck into four wheel drive and was barely able to get the hell out of there. Once at home I pulled the truck into the garage just in case the police were looking for it.

The next morning my cell phone was ringing off the hook. I finally answered to my mom screaming, “Oh my God! I am so worried! Have you been in a car accident?”

Barely remembering the night before, I answered, “No mom. I am at home.”

She yelled, “Then why on earth was your license plate found wrapped around a knocked over stop sign pole by the police?” I ensured her that I had not been in a bad car accident and she gave me the number to a Fort Collins police officer that had contacted her.

I called the cop and he came to my house. He was an older cop, almost to retirement age. He informed me that the California license plate to my truck was found stuck to the stop sign pole I had run over on my way into the stream, so the police had called my parent’s home in California because that was the address that came up when they ran my plates. The cops had been called by the neighbor on the porch but I was gone by the time they arrived.

“You’re lucky we didn’t find you last night. I bet my last dollar you were drunk or on drugs or both, being about four in the morning and everything. I should slap you with leaving the scene of an accident at the very least. But I am feeling kinda cheery today and you don’t seem like too bad a boy. If you just pay the city for a new stop sign I think you will have learned your lesson. You’re gettin off lucky this time.” He gave me a slip of paper and I agreed to go to the court and pay for the stop sign before he could change his mind.

One summer I came home from college and a few friends came with me to make a surfing and camping trip into Baja California. One of my friends, Joey, came who was from Austin, Texas. He brought his dad along. His dad was a trip. He is one of the coolest dudes I have ever met. He was a hippy with an assault rifle collection in his basement, to give you an idea of the kind of guy he is. He was about fifty-five years old with long gray hair. We just called him Old Man Miller. He would watch us surf all day and go party all night with us in the clubs of Cabo San Lucas, paying for our drinks and food. He would roll us joints out of a huge bag of Mexican weed and smoke with us all day.

On the drive back to San Diego we were concerned about bringing our massive bag of weed as there are many federale checkpoints, where military personnel with machine guns search your car to make sure you aren’t smuggling dope and firearms.

I said, “Let’s just ditch the weed cuz we don’t want to get busted at any of those federale checkpoints.”

But Old Man Miller would have none of that, saying with a Texas accent, “You lost your mind boy? We still gots days of camping and we sure as shit will regret throwing it away. Hand that shit to me and I’ll take care of it.” So we gave him the big sack of weed and let him take over from there.

On the drive back up the Baja peninsula every time we approached a federale checkpoint Old Man Miller would take the bag of weed and the paraphernalia and stash it in his underwear that he wore beneath his short, old school swim trunks right near his package. Then he would get out of the car, shirtless, and speak to the federales in perfect Spanish, his junk bulging, appearing massive because of the weed, pipe, and rolling papers he had stashed there. He would give the federales a few pornographic magazines and packs of Marlboro’s and have a good old laugh with them about something or other before we were back on our way north after they thoroughly searcher our car and asked us to

empty our pockets. He did this through about five separate checkpoints, pulling the gear out and immediately rolling a fatty to celebrate every time we made it through one. Old Man Miller was one hell of an American.

I was in my senior year of college when my friend Jack got a job as a promoter for an alcohol company that made an alcoholic energy drink called Liquid Charge. Jack was my same childhood friend from the stolen tips incident and the dine and ditch experience at Denny’s years prior. He drove around the country in a bus visiting bars and clubs promoting and giving away this alcoholic energy drink that absolutely wrecked people. It was high in alcohol content as well as caffeine and all the other stuff in energy drinks. I think Liquid Charge was made illegal shortly after going on the market as it made people too crooked. I met him in Denver, an hour’s drive from where I attended college, where he was doing a promotion at a big bar. He set up a booth inside the bar and started giving away cans of the beverage to the bar goers. I

drank way too much of this potion and the last thing I remember was playing pool in the back of some dark barroom.

I awoke in a huge room filled with about a hundred rubber mattresses and insane people who had lost their minds. I was in a loony bin and I was absolutely freaking out, wondering why I was in a place where the people were babbling to themselves, staring off into outer space at nothing, and scratching at themselves as if their skin was crawling with fleas. I did not belong here. I got off my rubber bed to walk around and find someone who worked there so I could speak to them about releasing me. No one seemed to be working in this entire unit. I finally found a nurse as he was walking through to retrieve a patient. I told him, “There’s been a mistake. I am not supposed to be in here.”

He responded smugly, “Sure. A nurse will come and get you when it is your turn to talk to the doctor.”

I begged with him, “Please let me talk to him now because being in this place is giving me the creeps.”

He told me, “Wait patiently and don’t do anything stupid and you will get out of here at some point.”

He then disappeared through a steel door that locked automatically as he left. I tried the door but it would not budge. I waited for another twenty-four hours in this place, eating the sack lunches of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, oranges, and Kool-Aid brought to us by nurses and trustee type fellows. The time was going slowly as I watched a clock on the wall thinking I was in this place for good. I watched schizophrenics and all types of people with many disorders pacing by my bed. Sometimes a patient would scream loudly for minutes on end or someone would attack another patient and guards would come through the metal door to detain them and remove them from the unit.

I tried to sleep but couldn’t and just when I thought I really was going to lose my mind a nurse came and got me. He took me through the steel door to where a doctor was sitting at a desk in an office.

The doctor asked me, “Do you know your name and why you are here?”

I told him my name and said, “I have no idea why I am here. My last recollection was being in a bar last night.”

He then told me, “Apparently the police picked you up last night sleeping shirtless in a park in downtown where you weren’t supposed to be sleeping. The report says they got you up but you were unable to respond or even speak when asked your name and you were carrying no wallet or ID for them to identify you by. The police figured you were mentally ill and brought you over here.”

I explained to the doctor, “Please just let me out of here. I am not crazy. I just drank too much last night. I am a student at CSU.” After asking me about a hundred questions regarding health, drug use, alcohol, and family history I was released back onto the streets.

3. Aimless Years

When I returned to San Diego after finishing school in Colorado I was so broke that I took the first job I could find. My father had a buddy that owned a demolition company so I applied for a job there and he gave me a job as a grunt laborer. It was back breaking work and it was bad for your health, as we were always breathing in asbestos and dust from concrete and dry wall. The job actually paid pretty well because we often had contracts with government organizations and while on one of these jobs we made at least thirty five bucks an hour. I was the only college graduate in the entire company, so I was a bit of an outcast, as many of the laborers were fresh out prison. This demolition company did not hesitate to hire men with checkered pasts, and many of these guys moved up the ranks in the company to operate heavy machinery and assume roles as foremen. These tough fellows were perfect for destruction, being tough and strong allowed them to swing a pick ax with power or operate a ninety pound jack hammer with ease. One thing these men couldn’t seem to leave in prison was the racial friction. Verbal abuse on the job site was constant between the whites, blacks, and Mexicans. There was resentment anytime someone felt like another guy was giving orders. Sometimes physical fights would break out. This was especially dangerous because these guys were no school boys, and there were tools at hand that could be used as weapons. For this reason, we were usually put on jobs with people of our own race to decrease the chances of a blow up.

With the exception of a few guys, everybody that worked here had a vice. Some smoked joints from sun up until sundown. Some pounded beer or liquor out of a fast food cup all day long. Many guys were relentless on cigs and coffee. And some were straight up tweekers. Others were all of the above.

One guy I always enjoyed working with was Jarvey. He was pure entertainment. Just watching Jarvey work was astonishing. On his own he could level a building or gut an office in half the time as any other laborer. He loved demolition, a real master of destruction. He was a white dude standing six foot five and jacked as they come. Jarvey was a mean bastard. Everyone that worked at the company feared and respected him, and that is saying something. Even the owners of the company often honored his wishes. Jarvey had blond hair shaved short and a biker style goatee, his upper arms, chest, and back covered in prison tats. One especially evil and dark tattoo he has on his upper arm was of a demon eating an angel. Jarvey was around thirty five years old. He was a bully, demanding that I smoke him out all day long and then buy the beer after the shift was over, or at lunch if he desired. That was fine with me because the guy was a mule, effortlessly doing twice as much work as me in an eight hour shift. He was born to run a jack hammer and swing a pick ax. He was like a bull in a china shop, which was perfect for this job. When Jarvey was eighteen years old we was sent to prison for robbing a head shop with a sawed off shotgun. The cops found him at his apartment with a large assortment of bongs, pipes and other trinkets from the head shop. He was found guilty and spent the next seven years in prison, his sentence getting extended for bad behavior, mostly fighting and tattooing.

He learned his lesson about armed robbery but he couldn’t stop getting behind the wheel after drinking. It seemed to me like Jarvey had a passion for driving drunk, like it was his way of getting back at the system. He’d gotten three or four DUI’s in the ten years since he’d been out of prison. Miraculously, the courts still allowed him to drive, but only with a breathalyzer hooked up to his truck. He was ordered only to drive to and from work, a rule he had no regard for. For his truck to start, he had to first breath into the breathalyzer without alcohol in his system. If there was alcohol on his breath the truck’s ignition would not turn over. As he was driving he needed to blow into the breathalyzer every fifteen minutes to assure that he hadn’t cracked a road soda. This

should have posed a major problem for old Jarvey. But he was fine with it. He had a gas powered air compressor used for a jackhammer in the bed of his truck and he ran the hose into his truck, which he had rigged and modified for the breathalyzer. Some might say Jarvey wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he always had alcohol free air to keep his truck running smooth.

I was out at one of the local bars with my older brother in my hometown of Del Mar, California. It was a weekend night and the small bar was packed wall to wall with people, many of them dancing. I had a good buzz going and I began dancing with a super-hot girl. This girl was way out of my league. She looked like a super model and I was a scrub who could barely afford a few beers at the bar. I carried on dancing with her for quite a while, touching her beautiful body more and more the longer I danced with her. I wondered how I could be so lucky. My luck soon ran out.

I was grabbed by the shirt by a three hundred pound machine that I recognized as one of the San Diego Chargers football players. He was a well-known athlete in San Diego at the time. He was roaring drunk and the beautiful girl must have only been dancing with me to fire him up even more. He asked me in mean, low growl, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing dancing with my girl like that playboy?”

My not so smart reply was, “She was dancing with me like that pal.” Hearing this, he lifted me by the front of my shirt two feet off the ground with one hand while holding a cocktail glass in his other hand looking like he was going to hit me with it. I thought for sure this beast was about to smash the glass across my face but before he could do it my older brother came out of nowhere with a powerful blow to the dudes jaw, knocking him unconscious and sending him to the floor, where he lay snoring. The violent incident caused the bar to erupt into complete madness with girls screaming and big, dumb, confused bouncers pushing their way through the crowd. My brother and I slipped out a back door and into an alley unnoticed and made tracks.

I got a night job driving valet at the age of twenty three. I worked in downtown San Diego in the Gas Lamp district, a party scene with bars and nightclubs galore. We would work from late afternoon until three in the morning parking the cars of wealthy club and restaurant owners, partiers, drunks, drug dealers, families, gangsters, bar tenders, mobsters, hookers, and all the other people who went out and were part of San Diego’s raucous nightlife. One of the perks of the job was pinching little bits of marijuana or a few prescription pills from people who left their things out in the open.

It was about nine o’clock on a Friday night when this black guy pulled up in an Escalade that was lowered and all chromed out. By the looks of this guy, he was definitely someone you did not want to fuck with. He had the markings and attitude of an authentic gangster.

All he said to me was, “Don’t touch the fucking joint in my cup holder and I’ll get ya a fat tip when I bounce.” He walked down the street and I hopped in his ride to take it to the parking garage. At a red light I thought about his joint and the fact that I was the early guy that night, meaning I would be off work within in an hour. More than likely I would be gone when this guy returned for his car, meaning I would not benefit too much from the fat tip that he probably wouldn’t give anyhow. That was my logic behind smoking the guy’s joint, and I thought the guy was kind of rude when he pulled up. I lit the guy’s joint up at a red light and smoked the entire thing by the time I was pulling in to the parking garage, when I pulled into the parking garage something heavy slid out from under the driver’s seat and hit my foot. It was a fucking hand gun! Now I’d really fucked up! I smoked the gangster’s joint and he was packing heat! I spent the rest of my shift shitting myself, worried about this guy returning. I was lucky enough to get off work by the time the gangster returned.

I told Alex, my co-worker, “Be careful of the black dude with the Escalade because he was in a bad mood earlier. Don’t know what his problem is.”

A couple hours after I got off I was back at home when I got a call from Alex, my coworker. He was pissed off as hell asking, “Why the fuck did you smoke that crazy gangster’s joint you asshole? The guy pulled a fuckin gun on me and made me take a ride with him around the block while he grilled me about his joint you blazed. I thought the guy was gonna kill me! But guess what? He finally believed that I wasn’t part of it and he dropped me back off and gave me a hundy. Don’t know if it was worth it or not. Anyhow, I wouldn’t work for a few days if I was you. Dude says he’s gonna come back and deal with you.” That job was never quite as fun after that night.

A friend of mine named Trent had some pretty severe mental problems that resulted in his being prescribed a powerful psychoactive drug called Seroquel. He told us the Seroquel kept him mellow and controlled the chemical levels in his brain, making it easier for him to sleep. Sometimes we would trade Trent’s pills to local drug dealers for weed, coke, and ecstasy, but we never took them ourselves. His pills were of the highest milligram on offer which was 200mg. At that point we did not know that one of these pills is enough to floor a dinosaur. One afternoon my friends Pat, Jordan, and I thought it might be fun to try a few of Trent’s

pills before we went to our local pub to eat dinner and shoot pool. Trent warned us that the pills weren’t much fun. He told us, “They aren’t euphoric. They won’t make you feel good.” He gave us a few against his will, as we relentlessly begged him for some.

Pat stated, “We’ll be the judge of whether or not Seroquel is good for recreational use.” We each popped two of Trent’s pills before heading off to our local pub, Trent heading home to sleep.

At the pub we ordered a few pitchers of beer and a big plate of nachos. After a few beers all three of us completely lost control of ourselves and our memories. The report we were given the next day from our friend Stan who had come to our rescue was that all three of us began speaking gibberish and stumbling around the bar. Pat passed out snoring face first into the plate of nachos, cheese and jalapenos all over his face. Jordan was found passed out next to the urinal in the men’s room, his pants covered in piss. I was found in a deep slumber blocking the door to the smoker’s patio. The bar tender then called our friend Stan who lived nearby. He told Stan that we were severely under the influence of an unknown substance and we were all passed out in various parts of the bar, that Stan would need to come pick us up or he would have to call the authorities or an ambulance. Stan came to our rescue, arriving at the bar and carrying us out to the bed of his truck with the bartender’s help. The next day the three of us woke up in a pitiful pile in the bed of Stan’s truck under the blazing hot sun. We had no idea what had happened but we did know we were never touching Seroquel again. Pat said, “Trent was right. The recreational value of Seroquel is equal to the recreational value of getting in the ring with Mike Tyson.”

Brice and I were on our way back to California after a surfing and camping trip in Baja. It was mid-morning and we were caught in the border wait in Tijuana, I was driving. While in the border wait we were approached my many vendors. There were children selling Chiclets, women selling rugs, men selling t-shirts, limbless beggars, and Mexicans of all ages and genders selling an uncountable list of items that you will never need. What was strange about this day was that we were approached by a white dude, an American. He was about thirty years old with some scruff on his face and raggedy clothing. He looked down and out. He gave us a sob story claiming, “My brother got thrown in jail last night while we were partying on Revolution. He was dragged from the nightclub by the police and taken to jail for no reason at all. The cops want a thousand bucks for him to be released. I am broke as can be. Can you boys spare a few bucks to help me get my brother out of jail?” We gave him five bucks, giving his story the benefit of the doubt, as things like that are possible in Tijuana. Then we wished him good luck. He said God bless you and thank you and all that bullshit.

We drove off, forgetting that the encounter with this guy ever happened until six months later when Brice and I were in the border wait again after a day of surfing in northern Baja. Just like the time before, I was driving and Brice was sitting shotgun spitting tobacco juice into an empty cup. Like deja vu, the same guy approached my car again at the same location as the previous time, giving us the exact same story about his brother he had told us months prior. We remembered him and this time took him for what he was, a druggy scam artist who preyed on generous gringos in the border wait traffic. The guy asked for money to get his brother out of jail and Brice told him, “Yeah. I got a little something for you.” When the guy got close enough to the passenger window Brice poured the cup full of tobacco spit juice on the guy and at the same time slapped him upside the face with a bean burrito he’d been saving on the dashboard. The guy had disgusting tobacco spit dripping from his hair and beans all over his face and stuck in his stubble. He stood there shocked and confused, but before he could say anything, Brice informed him, “You hit us with that scam already months ago you dumb ass!” All the Mexican vendors standing nearby were laughing and letting out loud whistles, as they knew the guy to be a con artist. The dude hustled off in shame, most likely giving up his border scheme forever.

One night, my friend Jimmy and I were sitting on the porch drinking beer and smoking cigarettes at about four in the morning after a night of partying at the local bars of Mission Beach in San Diego. He was the same guy who built the church in Tijuana with me as kids. He lived in a house on the boardwalk in Mission Beach with a bunch of other guys. The porch we were drinking on was facing the ocean, with only the boardwalk between us and the beach. The house next door had the same format. It was a vacation rental, so the boys living at Jimmy’s house would always hang out and drink with the vacationers staying at the rental.

At the time of this story, the renters were a couple in their early thirties who were on their honeymoon. They seemed like completely normal and conservative people until this night. The woman was gorgeous, tall with long legs, brown hair, green eyes, and perfect, large breasts. That night they were drinking on their porch as well, so we asked them if they would like to come over and join us. We were smashed and they seemed pretty drunk themselves.

Upon sitting down, the guy saw Jimmy eying his wife. He asked Jimmy, “You think my new wife is sexy?”

Jimmy replied, “Of course she is.”

Then he asked Jimmy, “Do you like my wife’s legs?”

Jimmy answered, “Hell yes I do.”

The man told Jimmy, “Go ahead and touch her legs.” He didn’t have to ask Jimmy twice. Jimmy did what he was told, running his hand along the woman’s thigh. The same procedure followed regarding the lady’s ass and then her boobs. The whole time the lady never said a word, just sat there smiling, apparently enjoying herself.

Then the man asked Jimmy, “Do you want to fuck my wife?”

Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Jimmy said, “Sure.” The guy handed Jimmy a condom and Jimmy led her by the hand into his house while I sat there with the guy, speechless.

My friend Wesley is a real motor head. He loves motocross, BMX, quads, 4x4’s, and any other type of off-road vehicle. Wesley can ride dirt bikes and race trucks with the best of them. Every chance he gets he is in Glamis or Ocotilla Wells playing in the dirt and the sand. Unfortunately for him, he lives in Pacific Beach, a concrete jungle. The only sand in the area is on the beach and on Mission Bay.

Wesley was forced to make do with this. He mapped out a track for his dune buggy that went from his garage down a few alleys, down a dirt bluff, along the beaches of the bay, up another dirt bluff, back through some more alleys and back to his garage. Wesley would rally this course with amazing skill and speed. He would only do this about once a week in the middle of the night, as it was highly illegal. The roar of the loud engine and the screeching of his tires would always wake up his neighbors and people all around the neighborhood. They would look out their windows to witness this maniac blitzing his dune buggy along the bay and through narrow alleys. Someone always called the police. The course took us about three minutes from the time we left the

garage to the time we pulled back in. By the time the cops showed up to Wesley’s house we were already inside with the lights off, pretending to be asleep. The cops would knock on the door until we got up and went to speak to them. A cop would say, “We got another call from the neighbors saying you all been hauling ass around here in a dune buggy. I know you have a dune buggy in the garage son. One of these nights we’re gonna catch you.”

Wesley would yawn and stretch and always say the same thing, “The neighbors around here are nuts, officer, we’ve been sleeping for hours. I only use the buggy in the desert sir.”

Then I would confirm his claim, “It’s true. We went to bed early. What did you say they said we did again?” The cops knew we were full of shit but they were unable to do anything about it unless they caught us in the act. We did this little rally course for years before it came to an end.

One night Wesley had too much to drink and a little cocaine courage and everything went to shit. We were rallying along the sandy beaches of the bay at about three in the morning when Wesley lost control of the buggy and we fishtailed into the water, causing the buggy to get stuck. We had to wade to the beach where I called Donny, who also lived in Pacific Beach at the time and owned a four by four with a winch. “Hey bro. We took the buggy for a rally and we went in to the drink. You gotta come pull us out quick cuz the cops are probably coming. Hurry!” Donny lived down the street so he got there quickly. We hooked his winch to the buggy and yanked it out of the water just as the police showed up. The cops were the same guys who had been getting called to Wesley’s house for years. They were so proud that they

had finally caught Wesley.

“I knew we’d get you one of these nights,” a cop said. As they handcuffed Wesley for driving under the influence and whatever other citations you get for urban off roading, about fifteen of the neighborhood’s residents had come out to watch from the road that runs along the bay. They were clapping their hands, glad Wesley’s urban off roading days were over.

I woke up sitting naked in a steamy shower in what seemed to be a hotel room bathroom. I had no idea how long I had been sitting there with the shower running and my head was confused and throbbing. My last memory was drunkenly meeting some girls on the beach in the afternoon and drinking some beers with them. I quickly realized the shower was flooded, overflowing into the bathroom and the rest of the hotel room. My ass had completely covered the shower drain, causing the shower to overfill. I stood up and walked into the bedroom on soggy carpet. The entire bedroom was a few inches underwater and water was leaking out through the door into the hallway. There was no one in the room but me. I knew I had better take this chance to get the hell out of there unnoticed, as I had completely destroyed the hotel room and damage costs would be high. I looked for my clothes and finding none, put on what appeared to be someone’s denim shorts. I went outside to the familiar and crowded sights of Pacific Beach on a Saturday night, thankful to at least know where I was. I walked out to the curb soaking wet and waving in an attempt to hail a cab. That’s when I realized all I was wearing was not denim shorts, but a short denim skirt, and I was free balling. For some reason no cab would stop to pick me up. I had to walk the two miles to my house looking like a half-naked, crazed transvestite.

One afternoon, I was changing into dry clothing in an alley where my truck was parked in Pacific Beach after a surf session. I had gotten into my dry clothing and I was sitting in my truck smoking a bowl when I was approached by a friendly, drunk, and dirty homeless man. He had seen what I was doing and asked, “Think you could spare a little green young gun?” I said sure and gave him a little nugget. He pulled out an unmarked prescription jar and put the nug into it.

I asked him with high hopes, “What kind of prescription are you taking?”

He said, “I don’t know what it’s called. The doctors at the clinic gave it to me to take when I start feeling crazy as a shit house rat. I’m a schizo you know.”

I asked him, “Do the pills make you feel good?”

He said, “Not really. They just make me relax and usually crash out.”

That sounded good to me so I told him, “Since I gave you some of my weed it’s only fair for you to give me one or two of those pills.” He gave me a couple. I didn’t realize just how relaxed these pills made you and I popped them immediately. On my drive back to my home just down the street I got extremely tired. Upon reaching my home, I went inside and fell asleep for the next twenty-four hours. I slept straight through my valet shift. When I awoke in a fog the next day I got on the internet and researched drugs prescribed to schizophrenics. The first name that popped up on my Google search was Seroquel.

My buddy’s family had a construction business that would do anything from add-ons and renovations to building custom homes. They were always looking for ways to cut corners in order to save a few bucks. One project I worked on with them demanded that we completely level and demolish a one story house, taking the debris from the house in large dumpster containers to a landfill. We were also to buy a specific soil to fill in a void from a swimming pool that had been in the backyard. This was to cost a ton of money as renting dumpsters, using landfills, breaking and hauling cement, and buying dirt costs a lot of money. After we did this there would be a completely bare lot so we could then build the custom house that the customer wanted. We did it our own way, a plan devised by my friend’s cunning father and executed by me and my buddy. We did not rent huge dumpsters, remove the concrete from the old pool, or buy much expensive soil. Instead we rented a bulldozer and completely leveled the home in one day. Instead of putting the clutter from the torn down home in dumpsters and taking it to the landfill and paying fees, we dragged and pushed the debris into the empty swimming pool. The construction company would still charge the customers for all the things that we would not actually do. We bought a minimal amount of soil and threw it down on top of the debris filled swimming pool, leveling the property off with the rented bulldozer.

The property owners showed up the next day to inspect our progress. They were amazed at the speed and efficiency with which we were getting things done, giving us endless praise. “You all are brilliant. We are sure glad we didn’t give the job to those other guys who we had bid on the job. They were much cheaper.”

A government construction inspector came by a few days after that and gave us further praise and compliments after we successfully completed his inspection saying, “I wish all the companies I went out to inspect did the same quality of work as you guys.”

I moved to Kodiak, Alaska at the age of twenty four because I had been working aimless jobs and partying too much in San Diego. I couldn’t get ahead financially and I’d heard you could make good money fishing in Alaska. I also wanted to see a beautiful part of the world and experience something new. Some common traits I learned about Alaskans are that they are tough as hell, they live to work hard and dangerous jobs, and that they are the grumpiest people on earth. Besides this, they are good people. I had a friend who worked up there on his father’s boat and he told me I would be able to find work in Kodiak.

I got a job working on a salmon seiner. The captain of the boat, Will, was one of the most bad ass dudes I have ever encountered. He was a Bostonian around fifty-five years old who stood about six foot two and weighed around two hundred and fifty pounds, a mixture of muscle and bulk. He had moved to Alaska at the age of seventeen in the sixties or seventies to evade the Vietnam War draft. Will raised a family on a barge off the uninhabited island of Afognak and lived off hunting and fishing. In the eighties, rumor had it, he made a living by tendering to crabbers, taking them food, cocaine, and hookers, in the dead of winter in the Bering Sea. Now he worked summers in Alaska

fishing salmon and spent his winters on Molokai. Will was cool because he let us bring weed out while we fished. He rarely spoke. If he didn’t have a Marlboro in his mouth there was reason to worry.

The second mate on the boat was a little Alaskan dude who stood barely over five feet. He was an experienced fisherman and he let you know it, always boasting about his knowledge. He had little man’s syndrome like no one I’ve ever met. He constantly claimed he was an Alaskan, not an American. He talked a lot of shit to me because I was a green horn and a Californian, and all Californians were pussies according to him. He was a tough little fucker, tattooed neck to toe and almost as wide as he was tall. I didn’t get along too well with him but that was okay because I got to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kodiak, Alaska where steep, lush, green mountains rise out of the sea, whales jump freely, otters play, eagles soar, and massive brown bears roam the beaches. I got to see these scenes daily from the boat which I worked on.

One day we were hauling in a huge catch of salmon and unloading it from the net onto the deck and into the fish hold. It was a very profitable catch and we filled up the boat with red salmon in one cast of the net. This catch was making me the most amount of money I had ever had in my life. We were both pretty stoked and excited about the catch, yet the second mate was still talking shit to me as usual, “You are lucky to get the percentage you are getting rookie. With your skills you deserve about two percent instead of ten.”

I replied, “Save it you fucking Alaskan circus midget!” He then slapped me across the face with a big slimy salmon. In return, I lobbed one at him underhand, unintentionally hitting him in the balls. He went down clutching his groin but then instantly came up at me with an uppercut. I somehow dodged his punch and his fist hit a metal crank on deck of the boat, splitting his knuckle to the bone. This pissed the little mad dog off to high hell and he came at me with all he had. We were rolling around on the deck of the boat trying to kill each other when we both fell head first into the fish hold that was completely full of salmon by then. The fish hold is a square hole on the deck that is about seven feet by seven feet and seven feet deep as well. Now we were both drowning in the fish hold full of fish and icy water, unable to get out with the weight of the fish all around us. We would have suffocated to death had Will not come to our rescue. Will must have looked out of the wheel house, and not seeing us on deck, come out to look for us. He must have seen our feet sticking out from the thousands of salmon because he reached into the hold and grabbed us by our legs, one of us with each hand, pulling us out and then launching us out into the rough sea.

Will let us tread water in the freezing ocean for a few minutes before helping us back on board and giving us an ear full, “I never seen two more helpless pansies in my life. You little girls carry on like that anymore and I’ll leave you out here and go get the money for these fish by myself.”

When I moved back to California from Alaska I started dating a girl named Jessica. I was twenty-five years old. She was very nice and very pretty. On the second night we ever hung out a bunch of my friends met with a bunch of her friends at a half rate nightclub in downtown San Diego’s Gas Lamp District. The club was dark and the customers were a tough looking bunch that was mostly Mexican. Our friend Ronny was with us. Ronny is a very wacky, eccentric character and he looked like it this night. His blondish red hair was blow dried into a massive wave making him appear birdlike. He had on ridiculous designer jeans with wings stitched into the back pockets and a white V-neck sweater over a

pink button up shirt. He had leather boots on that came to a sharp point in the toe. He was dangerously drunk as well. Looking back, I can’t believe the rest of us even let the guy cruise with us looking like that.

My friends and I were all standing at the bar when I noticed about five heavy Mexican gangbangers staring my group down. This was just what I needed, to get shanked while on my second date with this girl. I was getting very scared as they were staring me down particularly hard.

All I could think of doing was approach them and say, “I apologize for whatever we are doing that is offending you.”

One of the Mexicans motioned towards Ronny and said, “Take care of your friend. He’s disrespecting. Gonna get taken out.”

One of my friends told me later that Ronny had seen the Mexican’s at the bar and said to them, “What’s the matter fellas, can’t afford a drink?” Then he bought himself a shot and a cocktail and threw out a “salud!” to the tough looking gangsters. This was a very snobby and extremely stupid thing to say to these guys. In order to save Ronny and the rest of my boys a potentially fatal beat down I went up to Ronny and gave him my hardest open handed slap across the face.

I then grabbed him by the neck and marched his ass out the front door of the club, tossing him out on the sidewalk and saying, “Don’t come back in here or we are going to get fucked up by those guys!” We did not see him the rest of the night. After that, the gangsters were cool with us and we even drank with them for a little while.

The next morning I was awakened by my cell phone. I picked up the phone to a horribly haggard sounding Ronny. In a raspy whine he said, “I’m at the border. I need a ride.”

I asked him, “What’d you do?”

He moaned, “I was walking on the street late last night and those Mexican gangsters from the bar pulled up next to me in an SUV and pulled me in. They brought me down to Tijuana to some apartment and fucked with me all night. I need you to get here quick bro. They took my wallet and did all sorts of messed up shit to me that I can’t even talk about.” He sounded desperate and in tears.

I told him, “I am on my way.” I put my clothes and shoes on and left.

I drove the forty-five minutes to the international border from my home in north San Diego County and was about five minutes from the border when Ronny called me. Sounding broken he asked, “Are you almost here man? I’m dying.”

I told him, “I will be there in five minutes bro.”

He responded, “Syke! I’m at home in bed.”

My friend Isaac from Austin, Texas was in southern California on business. We hadn’t seen each other in years so we were excited to catch up and have a good time. We met in L.A. and decided we would cruise the Hollywood bars that night, as neither of us had experienced Hollywood before. I called my old friend Jack from growing up who lived in Hollywood at the time. I told him we were going out in Hollywood and he agreed to go with us. We were to meet at a Mexican cantina in Hollywood to have dinner before heading out to the bars. Jack told me to wear black because that’s what everyone in Hollywood wore. I remember thinking that was pretty lame but Isaac and I wore black clothes anyway to keep Jack happy and prevent us from sticking out. At the Mexican joint we ate dinner and knocked back some beers and tequila shots. We were feeling pretty good but we wanted to feel even better. We all agreed we wanted some coke. Jack knew of a bar that a guy sold coke out of so we headed that way.

The bar was tiny, about the size of a two car garage. Everything in the bar was black and it was jam packed with people, all wearing black. The people seemed to me to think they were on the cutting edge of hip and cool. Anyhow, the floor was black, the bar was black, the booths were black, everything. The only thing lighting the bar were a few red lights. This place was a little slice of hell, I remember thinking. Jack got us a few bindles of blow from the mystery dealer. He handed me a baggy and I headed to the bathroom to do a little sniff. There was a short hallway in the back of the bar with two bathrooms, one on each side.

The bathroom was tiny, made for one person at a time. I went into the men’s room and did a little bump, using my car key to dig some coke out of the bag. As always, a tiny bit of coke fell from the key as I lifted it to my nose. I looked to see where the spilled coke went and that’s when I noticed the entire floor of this shitty little bathroom was covered in a nasty, clumpy, paste. The paste was a mixture of cocaine and piss. This was a result of people spilling coke as I just had and missing the pot when they pissed. What amazed the hell out me was just how much cocaine was on the floor. There were little white clumps and a paste-like substance completely covering the black floor. It was way more coke than I had ever seen, completely ruined by piss, at least as far as I was concerned.

I went back out into the little dungeon of a bar and I realized that every person in the place was out of their minds on coke. People’s jaws were swinging all over the place, fools were squawking like parrots, and profuse sweating was raising the humidity level. After observing this freak show for a bit I headed back to the bathroom to do a bit more myself, when in Rome. When I opened the door to the men’s bathroom there was a little tramp in a black mini skirt on her hands and knees digging around through the cocaine-piss muck. “Wait”, she shrieked as I closed the door to give her some privacy.

When I was in my mid to late twenties I got hooked on some heavy drugs. I bought the drugs from an old friend named Tim who was also hooked. Tim was Donny’s neighbor growing up and he still lived in the same house with his parents. He was a real nut ball and a hard core skateboarder at one point. He had a baby alligator he’d picked up through a drug trade that he kept in a huge aquarium in his room at his parent’s house. From this room he dealt every drug under the sun that you’d ever want to do, and some that you wouldn’t. He fed the alligator live rodents and we would watch as the slaughter was sure to follow. Tim had super pasty, pale skin and long, greasy, dark hair. He was skinny and appeared sick from all the drugs he was taking, not that I appeared any better.

Tim was a semi-pro skateboarder at one time and he knew a lot of big name pro skateboarders. These guys would stop by Tim’s house and trade brand new skate gear for drugs. For this reason Tim’s room was stacked with brand new skateboards, new shoes still in their boxes stacked high, and clothing. Tim liked to do massive lines that he created by mixing cocaine, Oxycontin, and Xanax. He called these “alligator tails”. After a few “alligator tails” Tim was guaranteed to nod off. This is when I would leave with some new clothing, usually shoes. I figured Tim was making enough money off me so I deserved some free gear for being such a loyal customer. I was careful not to wear the clothing or shoes when I returned to buy more dope. However, one day I forgot and

I wore a pair of signature edition shoes I had taken. I did not know at the time but the shoes were a collector’s edition, with only one hundred pairs made. They were worth a lot of money. I realized I was wearing the shoes as I bought the gear, but Tim did not seem to notice. I left immediately after the buy so he would not catch on to me wearing the stolen shoes.

The next time I called Tim for stuff he told me, “I’m hanging with some boys down off Skyline. If you want something you will have to come down here and pick it up.” Skyline was in South East, one of San Diego’s most dangerous neighborhoods. I thought this strange but addicts end up in strange places sometimes so I didn’t question him. He gave me the cross streets for where to meet him.

I went to the location, parked my car, and called Tim saying, “I’m here dude. What the fuck are you doing down here? Hurry up and come outside. This is sketchy.” I couldn’t understand what the fuck he was doing in such a dangerous part of town. It was almost midnight and this was a neighborhood where I was very out of place, not the safest place for me to be. I was the only white guy around.

Tim said, “Okay. I’m in a nearby house. I’ll be right out.” People were lurking everywhere, drinking booze and dealing dope from street corners.

I waited twenty minutes before I got impatient and called Tim again, “Dude, where are you? This is fuckin scary around here.”

He told me, “I’m outside looking for you. I don’t see you. Yell my name out your car window a few times.”

Hesitant to bring attention to myself, I considered for a few seconds before yelling his name out the window a few times, “Tim! Tim! Right here.” This brought stares from the rough looking crew of people that had before been unaware of my presence, but Tim did not show up. A couple dudes about fifty yards away started walking towards my car. I could barely make them out through the darkness but I decided to get the hell out of there. I turned the car on, doing a U-turn so I would not have to drive by the two men walking my way. As I drove away a gun shot rang out and my back and side windows shattered. I pinned it as fast as my little Toyota would go, shaking with fear.

Once I was out of that neighborhood and on the freeway I called Tim and told him what had happened. “I had to bail because people were tripping on me and then some dudes shot at my car as I was taking off. My windows are broken!”

All Tim said was, “Whatever dude. Fuck you for stealing my shoes.”

I met a guy in Alcoholics Anonymous in my late twenties. Like me he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. He liked to surf so we began hanging out quite a bit. Like most drug addicts, we both relapsed. He set me up with his cousin, Norman, a heroin addict and dealer. I called Norman and he gave me his address in a shaky part of El Cajon. This part of El Cajon was known for its crime and drug activity. It was early afternoon as I drove through Norman’s neighborhood, where I saw tweekers scurrying this way and that and homeless people walking around aimlessly, mumbling to themselves and pushing shopping carts loaded with junk and recyclables. I soon pulled up to Norman’s one story house on a rundown block which at one time was a middle class neighborhood. The houses here had fallen into decay, with dead front yards and peeling paint jobs everywhere.

Norman’s house had trash scattered all over the front yard and a thrashed screen door lying on the dirt that had once been a lawn. There were Mexican style striped blankets covering all the windows, making it impossible to see inside the house.

I phoned Norman to tell him I had arrived, “Hey man. I am out front.”

He told me, “Meet me in the alley out back, I don’t like people coming in through the front.” He met me in the alley and led me through a gate into the backyard. Norman had super long and dirty dark hair. He was as skinny as a pole and had track marks all over his arms and scabs on his face. He was about thirty and looked like the walking dead. “Welcome to my humble abode,” he morbidly said. I was not prepared for what I witnessed at this house. The backyard was completely littered with garbage and trash bags, stacked overhead. Many of these swollen trash bags had busted and filth was spilling out of them. Flies swarmed everywhere, the buzzing sound enough to drive a person mad. I saw human feces on the ground, with wadded up newspaper next to it that had been used as toilet paper. There was a narrow, sludgy pathway leading through this cesspool. In the midst of this backyard landfill, there was a tent setup, apparently someone enjoyed camping here. We went into the house through an opening where a glass sliding door had once been. Inside of the house was just as bad as the yard with grime, trash and filth covering the floors and the damp, crumbling walls. There was no electricity and no water, sinks and toilets overflowing with stagnant shit water. It smelled a million times worse than the worst thing I had ever smelled inside this house. It was very dark inside but I could make out people in the rooms hiding from daylight and smoking crank out of glass pipes.

Norman led me to the front room, where I sat down on a soiled and torn up sofa next to a guy who was apparently passed out. Norman weighed me out a gram of heroin then he shot up right in front of me while I smoked some of mine off of tin foil. I took a closer look at the guy on the couch and noticed he was perfectly still, not noticeably breathing. His pallor was off and he appeared very sick. I asked Norman, “Is that dude alright?”

He replied, “Nope, he’s dead. Shot up too much ice and H last night. I can’t call an ambulance cuz if the cops come here they will make us leave this pad. This is my friend’s crib and he’s in prison. We’re squatting here illegally. You think you can help me get this guy into your car and we’ll go drop him somewhere?”

Spooked, I told Norman, “I would like to help you out but I have to get back to work right away.” I quickly retreated from that quagmire. That was the one and only time I bought stuff from Norman.

I checked into a Los Angeles rehab when I was twenty eight years old. Addiction to opiates took me to places where I never thought I’d go and led me to do things I never dreamed I’d do. I had a few hundred bucks to my name and I was on the verge of losing my family and my friends. The rehab I went to was once a reputable establishment with respected doctors and beautifully manicured gardens. The beautiful old buildings were falling apart and the gardens were going to hell. I heard through the grapevine that a famous doctor from the show “Celebrity Rehab” had even worked there in the past. Now under new ownership, the place was deteriorating rapidly, becoming severely inadequate. It looked and felt as if it might be haunted. My first days there were spent in the detox unit where there were schizophrenics, homeless folks, heroin addicts and alcoholics who were painfully withdrawing. In this unit there was a common room with a T.V. where these withered men and women would constantly bicker over control of the TV remote control and pound coffee. I opted to stay in my room and read.

Once all the toxic substances were gone from my system I was relocated to the rehabilitation section of the facility, where I would have the pleasure of meeting an entirely new group of winners. The rehab unit was a one story house that housed men in one wing and women in another. This rehab was in such bad shape that there was an empty pool with a foot of stinking brown water in the bottom of the deep end, a basketball court missing the rims on the backboards and rotten flat balls off to the side, and a tennis court with no net. The once beautiful garden had been neglected so weeds had taken over the botanical plants and rose bushes. The weights in the weight room were completely rusted and outdated by about thirty years. The place was on its way out of business. If the campus and recreational facilities were piss poor, the staff and patients at the rehab were even worse. The staff was barely present, giving almost no supervision and support to the patients, leaving us to do what we pleased all day and night. Many of the staff members were recovering substance abusers themselves, but I suspected some of them to be current users. The most intriguing aspect of the rehab was the patients. None of the patients had any desire or intention to quit using drugs and alcohol, with the exception of myself.

One guy was a nineteen year old male model. He was sent to rehab by his modeling agency as he would eagerly put any drug on earth into his body. He was tall, muscular, dark haired and handsome. From my intuition I gathered he was a bisexual as he told me he wanted to have a threesome with one of the female patients and me. That’s when I distanced myself from the guy. This kid would break into the staff room and steal whatever drugs were in there, gobbling down absurd amounts of anti-depressants and other drugs that don’t even provide decent euphoria.

Another character in the rehab was a Russian mobster who was a general substance abuser but mostly addicted to opiates and booze. He was not in rehab to cure this problem but instead to hide from dangerous organized crime gangs in Los Angeles that he owed large amounts of money to. The rehab kept patient names confidential so he was safe there from his enemies for the time being. He had been in and out of prisons in both Russia and the USA. This guy was a total dick, bully, and blowhard. He took cigarettes off everyone because he was apparently broke. He talked about how many people he had killed and spoke of his successful business ventures and his vast wealth. I knew the guy was full of shit in regards to his wealth because he was always trying to sell me his leather jackets and his gold rings. I did believe he was a gnarly gangster though because he had scars to prove it. He had

bullet hole scars in his abdomen and arms and a big knife gash down his chest. Even though he was diagnosed with cancer, he could still do one armed push-ups all day long. He was tough and dangerous. He was in his forties and he was bitter, talking shit to the rest of the patients in a Russian gangster accent. I did not sleep well in his presence, to say the least. He had been in the rehab for months, always claiming that he was not rehabilitated when assessment time came around. I suspect this was because he feared going out into the real world where he was bankrupt and being hunted by people who wanted him dead.

The next character barely worth mentioning was a twenty year old meth addicted aspiring and wannabe porn star from Van Nuys. Hate to say it but I actually had a little thing with her but whenever we were trying to get it on the Russian creep and the male model kept peeping in on us or busting into the room trying to get in on the action, giving us no privacy and ruining it for me. The one time we had some privacy and were about to seal the deal, a staff member busted us. It was the one time I remember a staff member at the place actually doing their job. This was a blessing in disguise as I would have regretted messing around with this needle using meth whore.

The last and very important character in this story was a fifty-five year old alcoholic and Xanax addicted diabetic with a panic disorder. She was an emotional catastrophe with the maturity of an eight year old girl. However, she was a multimillionaire, as a divorce settlement had left her loaded, with nothing to do but pop pills and slam martinis all day. The years of substance abuse as a diabetic left her looking like a wrinkled old raisin. She became close friends with the porn tweeker.

This crew would get the rich lady to give them money, and then the male model would hop a fence and leave the rehab, evading the useless rehab security meant to keep patients within the property. If a patient left the rehab they were not permitted back in. Once out on the streets, the kid would score drugs and alcohol, as he was familiar with that part of L.A. He would return with bottles of vodka, weed, and cocaine. Then this group would have a full on party, the rehab staff completely oblivious, thinking the patients were just playing cards, smoking cigs, and drinking coffee when in actuality the patients were cooked out of their skulls. Shit did hit the fan one night after one of these fiestas.

I woke up one morning to find the male model, the Russian, and the rich old lady had checked themselves out at about three that morning. The remaining patients and I wondered what kind of evil had taken place. We found out two days later when the pill popping alcoholic diabetic lady called the wannabe porn star tweeker from a suite at Caesar’s palace in Las Vegas, where she was in serious need of medical attention as she had no insulin and had been drinking heavily for days. She told the girl that she and the male model and the Russian were drinking that night at the rehab when they all agreed to check out and go have some real fun. The first thing they did was check into an expensive Los Angeles hotel where the three of them had an orgy, further details of this I am grateful not to know. In the morning following the orgy, the two men convinced the lady to pay for a limo to take them from L.A. to Las Vegas. Once in Vegas they checked into an expensive suite at Caesar’s Palace. The vain male model demon and the Russian criminal then convinced the senseless lady to lend them

ten thousand dollars each. They left her in the room saying they would return later, obviously a lie that anyone with a sliver of a brain would detect. After the men did not return for a day, the disaster of a lady was now calling her tweeker porn friend back at the rehab to seek help, as she was extremely sick and in danger of dying from drinking and not taking her insulin. The porn tweeker informed the rehab and an ambulance was sent to her suite at Caesar’s.

I was never informed of the destinies of these three, but I seriously doubt any of them are doing too hot. The most depressing part of the story was that a few days following their bender from hell it was family day at the rehab. This is when your loved ones are permitted to visit you for a few hours. No one from the rehab had bothered to inform the male model’s family or the Russian’s family that they were gone. The male model’s mother and the Russian’s wife and two little daughters showed up to see the men they loved unconditionally. When the staff informed them that the men had checked out a few nights before and were gone, then told them of their suspected actions, even a misfit like me would have given anything to spare these poor ladies the agonizing pain delivered upon them.

4. Taiwan Years

I moved to Taiwan in my late twenties once I had gotten clean from hard drugs. I live in a small country town on the east coast of Taiwan. Because the town I live in is small and lacking in nightlife and women who speak English, I went to online dating sites to meet girls when I first came to Taiwan. I began chatting with girls I met on the online dating sites. Most of these girls lived in Taipei, the country’s biggest city. I was amazed at how many seemingly beautiful Taiwanese girls I was meeting and the eager responses I was getting from them. Taipei is a one hour flight or six hour drive or train ride from where I live. I invested hours upon hours of my time online chatting to these girls and getting to know them, thinking I had hit the jackpot with beauties a plenty. I made plans to go to Taipei and meet one of the girls who I thought was

nice and very beautiful. She would meet me on a Saturday morning at the Taipei airport.

When I showed up at the airport, she was not the shapely and beautiful girl I had seen on her Facebook profile and online dating site profile. She had a semi cute face but she was much older than she had appeared and much plumper. I should have kept walking or ran, but I didn’t have the heart. I said hello, somehow disguising my disappointment. We decided to go to the park, where I downed a few sixers of Heineken. I had been clean and sober since I had gotten out of rehab, for about six months until then. But if I was going to do this, it wouldn’t be while sober. After the park we found a hotel and we did the dirty deed. She fell asleep afterward so I took the opportunity to scribble out a note about having an emergency and I took off.

When I left the hotel it was early evening, so I decided to call another prospect I had met online. This one was a bit younger, in her early twenties, with an amazing dating site and Facebook profile as well. We decided we would meet at a nightclub later in the night. She showed up with a friend that night. Although they too had pretty cute faces, if you combined both of their weights it would have been pushing four hundred pounds. We hung out at the nightclub and danced a bit before leaving, all three of us going to another hotel room and having a time.

The next morning I got up early and snuck out of that hotel room as well, feeling angry and cheated. Skeptical, I thought I would try one more online prospect before catching a flight back to where I live. I called the next girl and we agreed to meet for coffee. To my dismay, she was the biggest one yet. I figured one more wouldn’t hurt so we found a hotel room after coffee.

Later that day, I flew back to the little country town where I reside. I went home and got online to scope out the girls profiles and see how I had been tricked. I realized all of their pictures must have been from years before, when they were young, thin, and sexy. That, or they only posted misleading pictures of their faces made up like China dolls. It is hard enough to find fat girls in Asia, much less four in twenty-four hours. I learned my lesson. That day I retired from Taiwan’s online dating scene.

I told my friend how my weekend had went and asked, “Should I feel guilty for treating all those fatties like that?”

He responded, “Hell no! They were lucky. If anything they should feel guilty about using false advertisement!”

I am an English teacher at an elementary school in a small rural town on the east coast of Taiwan. Most of the students at the school where I teach have never interacted with anyone who is not Taiwanese. I teach very basic English to grades three through six. Fifth and sixth grade students can be challenging to teach because they get to an age where they realize teachers and foreigners really aren’t that cool. I really enjoy teaching third and fourth graders because they are still young, friendly, and easy to teach. They think it is awesome to have a teacher from America. They are usually very nice and respectful towards me and they are eager to learn. The third graders at my school are just starting to learn the English alphabet so every class we begin by doing a chant that goes “A-apple, B-bear, C-cat, D-dog……T-turtle, U-umbrella, V-vacuum, W-watermelon….” and so on.

One day when I was in about my third month of teaching in

Taiwan, I had people come to observe my class from the Taiwan Office of Education in Taipei. I told the third graders before class, “Please be very good today because there are important people coming to watch us.” This was pointless because the kids don’t understand English, but I was hoping they would get the gist of what I was trying to say. Then the Taiwanese English teacher translated what I had said and most of the little traitors nodded their heads to show that they understood that we needed to be impressive that day. The people who came were important government officials who were down from Taipei to take notes and make sure the foreign English teachers were doing an adequate job. I was more than a little nervous but I had my lessons better prepared for that day than usual, as I wanted to impress these officials.

The third grade class began our chant as usual with the “A-apple, B-bear…” They were being very enthusiastic with the chant which was good, but when we got to V they all said, “V-Vuck you!” instead of “V-Vacuum”, as “fuck you” and “vacuum” sound similar to them. The observers wearing their suits and carrying their clipboards to take notes on were shocked and appalled, not believing what they had heard. I was so embarrassed and disappointed that I just stood there for a few seconds and I considered walking out and quitting right then. But instead of getting angry at the students, all I could do was laugh with the students who were already cracking up with laughter. Then, the

observers from the government started laughing too. Knowing I had important observers, the sixth grade students had put the third graders up to doing this. The sixth graders thought this prank was hilarious and they were peeking in the windows of the classroom to watch their third grade apprentices at work. They were laughing as well. Looking back at the hell I put teachers through when I was a kid, I had to respect their creativity. Things had finally come full circle.

On one of my next solo missions to Taipei I went strictly to check out a famous night club known for the beautiful women and the many international models that went there. I had heard beautiful models from all over Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America frequented this club. I’d been dancing and enjoying myself all night when I started feeling a bit sick from all the booze I’d consumed and I decided to step outside of the club for a breather. I sat down on the curb and felt the puke about to surface. I went to a drain on the street, got on my knees, and let it all out.

As I was throwing up, a group of Russian guys started insulting me and saying, “Look at the soft American. Can’t handle himself.” I ignored them as I was in no shape to defend myself against three cruel Russians. I kept barfing and these ass wipes started throwing cigarette butts at me as they insulted me while I had cold sweats and vodka and Redbull coming out my nose and mouth.

At that point I looked up and said, “Fuck off you mutant inbred commies!”

That was the only reason they needed to come rough me up. They came right over to me and picked me up by my shirt and started shoving me around in a circle, giving me elbows, knees and jabs until I went down. Having been in this situation before, I knew to roll up in a ball to protect vital body parts and try to cover up my head as best I could until the beating ended. But the beating never had the chance to get too severe because my guardian angel showed up. A beautiful, tall, perfect Latina babe I had never seen came up and threw herself in the midst of this beat down, taking me by the hand and telling the evil Russians, “I am very sorry for whatever my boyfriend has done. He is a very drunk and very stupid American.” Just as stunned and confused as I was, the

Russians stepped aside as she led me by the hand to a taxi that was

waiting in front of the club. I gave the Russians a smile and a little wave as we drove off and they scowled at me and gave me the bird. We went to my hotel room where she helped me shower, cleaning the puke and blood off of me before making love to me. She was gone in the morning before I awoke. I can’t help wondering if the whole thing was a dream.

I had come home to San Diego from for my first summer break from teaching in Taiwan. Corky and I had gone down to Tijuana for a night of dancing and partying and we were working our way home at around five in the morning. The border line for walking into America was hours long as it is every day as Mexicans are trying to get to their jobs in America. My friend Corky and I were behaving like drunken assholes and attempted to cut the entire line when we were grabbed by two Mexican policemen, slammed to the ground, and cuffed. These guys were apparently not impressed with our American arrogance.

We were then dragged to a policia pickup truck and put into the uncovered bed. Instead of taking us to jail they took us on a day long field trip, where we witnessed numerous spectacles from the bed of this truck as the two policemen beat a man senseless and filled the bed of the truck with hectic criminals.

First, we drove to a sagging apartment building where the cops pulled a man in his forties wearing a stained wife beater from his dilapidated apartment. They brought him out to the truck and questioned him in Spanish that I did not understand. When the man gave an answer not satisfactory to the policemen, they would take him by his hair and slam his face into the edge of the trucks tailgate. They probably did this twenty times to the poor fellow, his blood splashing and spraying on Corky and I as we tried to duck for cover in the bed of the truck. Finally, they left the guy in ruins in front of the graffiti ridden apartment building at around nine in the morning.

The next stop was an ordinary appearing cantina in an alley in downtown Tijuana. The two cops went in with guns drawn, while we cowered down in the trucks bed, sweating our asses off under the hot Mexican sun in the open bed of the Dodge truck and waiting for a gunfight to erupt. Two minutes later the cops came out with three guys in handcuffs and leg shackles. These three men were put in the bed of the pickup with us. They had tattoos covering their faces and necks and they began kicking at us to claim dominance of the bed of the pickup, which we gladly gave them. They were pissed off, spitting and cursing at Corky and me, as if we were to blame for their situation. “Move over, beetches,” they snarled.

They dropped these three demons off at a police substation and then the rogue policemen went to have lunch at a bar right on Revolucion, the main tourist street in Tijuana. Here they chatted with some pretty senoritas and waitresses while leaving us to dehydrate in the hot noon sun. They returned to the truck after their lunch, not even acknowledging us. Corky and I thought our fun adventures were just beginning, that we were headed to serve more warrants and observe more interrogations, or maybe go to the comfort of a Tijuana jail. A spent and torn up Corky asked me, “What do you think they’re gonna do with us now? Should I ask them for some water for us?”

I answered, “Probably make us pay a bunch of money then hopefully let us go. Or maybe they will give us a more in depth tour of TJ. I just hope they don’t take us to jail.”

But at this point the cops fired up the truck and drove us back to the border. They dropped us off ordering, “Never cut the line again.” They didn’t even take a bribe from us.

My friend Dennis from California came to visit me in Taiwan during my second year here. On a Friday night while he was here we decided to go to a small concert in the town park. Here we were approached by what looked to be a Taiwanese man in his late teens or early twenties asking to bum a smoke. Upon talking more to this person we realized she was a female, an obvious lesbian. She was pretty tall for a lady and had a buzzed head and a flat chest. She wore a plaid button up shirt tucked in to men’s Levi’s jeans, and Nike Air high tops. The three of us got to talking and she was very forward, telling us, “I am a lesbian but I would be willing to experiment with a man, especially a western foreigner, like one of you.”

I wasn’t interested in this girl in the least, but Dennis said, “Alright. Let’s try it.” A little while later I drove them to my house and dropped them off so they could have their fun while I found another watering hole where I could kill time while they experimented.

The next day Dennis raved about the amazing sex they had and how amazing her breasts were. I asked him, “What boobs?”

That’s when he told, “Dude, she actually had her tits duct taped down to appear manlier. When I took the duct tape off she had the perkiest and most perfect boobs ever!” For the remainder of his Taiwan visit this girl would come by nightly to see Dennis and they would do their thing. Her appearance grew on me each time she came over, especially because her boobs were not taped down. I became friends with her on Facebook. As the months passed she grew her hair out and became increasingly beautiful, blossoming more and more every time I would check her profile. Her beauty must have been noticed by a modeling scout because recently I saw her in an internet advertisement modeling for a Taiwanese clothing company. Dennis still asks about her and talks about visiting me again every time I speak to him. I give him

a lot of credit for helping this girl find her feminine side.

I was in Taichung, one of Taiwan’s biggest cities, on one of my excursions. The city is known as being the unofficial organized crime capital of Taiwan. I decided to go out and sample the city’s nightlife. I had a cab drop me off at a club that gave live dancing shows. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in but the skinny, suit wearing, weasel-like Taiwanese host standing out front told me in a heavy accent, “Many very beautiful lady dance naked in there. You can have all you can drink for two thousand dollars.” Two thousand Taiwanese dollars is equivalent to sixty US dollars. The place was gaudy on the outside, with columns and gargoyle-like

statues. I paid and went in.

I was seated right near the stage as I was one of the only patrons. The inside of the club was dark and the few other customers there were men with what appeared to be working women sitting at their tables with them. The place put off a seedy, gangster vibe. A shifty waiter brought me a big margarita-like glass filled with some fruity alcohol drink which wasn’t my thing. Soon, about ten muscular men wearing nothing but G-strings and bow ties came out onto the stage and began dancing erotically to freaky music. I nearly barfed. Then these guys ran around the sparse audience in an attempt to give lap dances. I politely declined when they approached me. I finished my fruit cocktail and went to the bar for a beer. At the bar an expressionless bartender told me the first drink was free but I would need to pay if I wanted another. I was a little bent because I knew I was told by the host that it was all you could drink after paying the entrance fee. I told myself I’d misunderstood the host as his English was broken. I bought a beer

and went back to my table thinking the beautiful female dancers would perform next. They didn’t. Instead, a bunch of male midgets dressed just like the muscle men came out and did the exact same performance as the men before them.

By then I knew I had been scammed and went out front to ask the greasy little host for a refund. “Can I please just get some of my money back and leave? I thought you told me it was all I could drink and there would be female dancers. This place isn’t what I am looking for.”

He refused, making a rude comment, “Maybe the problem is not my club, but the small size of your wallet.” I don’t know what came over me at this point but right then I booted this wily little gangster in the nuts as hard as I could. He went down like a bag of bricks but three brutish, tattooed, thuggish, steroid using bouncers standing near the door had seen this and were quickly coming my way. I took off in a sprint down the street and they were after my ass, about thirty yards back. I ran a few blocks before hooking a left down another street where I dipped into a Seven-Eleven convenient store, hiding in the candy aisle. I gestured to the confused clerk with my finger to my index lips then

making a prayer gesture with my hands, pleading with him not to tell the bouncers I was in there. I had no idea what these brutes had in store for me after I floored their boss. Sure enough, one of the meat heads peaked in to the Seven-Eleven, asking the clerk in Chinese if I was in there. The clerk told him I hadn’t come in there, and sent the guys in search of me down the street. Then my new best friend, the saintly clerk, called me a cab and hid me in the storage room until it arrived.

Taiwan is known as a place with many species of highly venomous snakes. Supposedly, this is because when the Japanese occupied Taiwan prior to World War II they brought venomous snakes from all over the world to Taiwan to experiment on them for the sake of extracting their venom and using it in warfare. When the Japanese were forced out of Taiwan, they let the snakes go. For this reason, it is very common to see cobras, vipers, and other deadly serpents while hiking or just cruising on Taiwan’s natural east coast.

I was on a hike with my friend Bo one day in the mountains when we came across a green snake about four feet long. It was minding its own business, wrapped around a shaft of bamboo sprouting from a rock in the middle of a stream. I said, “Let’s throw some sand at it so it will come out and we can get a better look at it.” We threw a few handfuls of sand at it from about fifteen yards away and it ignored us. Eventually, on the third handful of sand it got fed up with us and came straight at us. It

did not slither towards us, but came vertically at us with amazing speed straight through the water of the stream. We ran but were caught up against a small bluff on the edge of the stream when the snake struck at Bo, springing with lightning speed from ten feet away; biting him right in the ass through his swim trunks. Then it quickly slithered away. Bo screamed in terror and pain and we were beside ourselves with fear, but luckily we were not far from the car. Bo got to the car with ease but on the fifteen minute drive to the hospital he began coming in and out of consciousness as the venom circulated through his body. At the hospital, I explained what the snake looked like to the emergency room doctor and Bo was given the anti-venom specific for that snake. Bo had to stay

in the hospital for a night and his ass was black and blue for nearly a month. He had to hobble around on crutches for weeks.

When I got home that evening I looked on Google to see what kind of snake it was. I was curious how the snake knew where we were and where the sand that was thrown at it was coming from. I found out that this was a Bamboo Pit Viper and it had special pits on its nose that act as heat seekers and make it capable of sensing prey, or idiots like us that mess with it. I had thought pit referred to the holes they lived in, not their senses. My research also informed me that this was a docile and shy snake, but highly venomous and capable of fatal attacks or bites that can cause people to lose limbs. The research informed me that seventy five percent of Bamboo Pit Viper attacks are instigated by

moronic humans who are heckling them by throwing things at them.

Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second largest city. It is a three hour drive from where I live. The reason for my visit was to pick up some hashish. I had completed my mission and was attempting to find my way out of the city when I ran a red light at a busy intersection. Traffic cops began blowing their whistles and signaling with their flags for me to pull over, which I did.

Four cops surrounded my car, one at each door. Preoccupied with being lost and then by being pulled over, I had forgotten about the golf ball sized chunk of hash that was sitting fully exposed on the passenger seat. These were militant city cops and the one guy at my window was screaming at me in severely broken English, “Give me international license! Give me international license!” I had no international license so I sat there playing the confused foreigner, but I a terrible feeling in my gut that I was severely fucked. I realized the hash was on the seat right below another cops nose, as he was poking his head through the

shotgun window. The only thing preventing this cop from recognizing the hash was the fact that it was not in a plastic baggy, making it less conspicuous. It was enough hash to land me in a Taiwan prison for years. I opened the glove box in a pretend search for the license I knew I didn’t have and pulled out a bunch of random papers, placing them on top of the hash. The ten empty Budweiser cans strewn across the back seat and floor were still in plain sight. I told the cop I could not find my license. The cop barked, “We go station I give you citation and alcohol test.”

At this point, the four cops left me alone to fret while they went behind my car to have a little pow-wow. They spoke for about fifteen minutes before I leaned my head out the window and asked, “Excuse me officers, are we going to the station or not?” They did not answer me, just stood there talking to one another like I didn’t exist. I waited another five minutes before turning on my car and yelling out the window, “Hey fellas, I’m gonna take off if that’s okay?” That too got no reaction from them so I pulled back onto the road and drove off. They didn’t follow me.

I rent a massive ten bedroom house in the countryside on the east coast of Taiwan at a very low cost, by western standards. I decided to turn my home into a hostel for traveling surfers and backpackers to supplement my teaching income. Down the street there is an upscale yoga retreat, operated by a renowned Taiwanese professional yoga master. Because their retreat does not accommodate large numbers of guests they asked me if I could house some of their guests when they were overbooked. I was happy to do this as it brought me more business, and most of their

customers were fine young women.

The first time I had some of their customers stay at my hostel it was a Friday night and everything was going well. They were eight cute Taiwanese girls in their twenties down from Taipei. I showed them to their rooms and everyone was happy. That night the yoga girls went to sleep early and I went out with friends and drank a tad bit too much. My friends dropped me off back at my hostel that night and I don’t know what happened. I do know I did not make it past the entrance of the hostel. The next morning I was awakened by a girl’s loud scream. Startled, I jumped straight up from where I was laying. I was lying right in the main entrance to the hostel. I stood up to face eight cute girls dressed in their yoga tights and ready for a day at the yoga retreat. That’s when I realized I was butt naked, my clothes in a pile on the floor next to me. I grabbed a shirt to drape around my waist and got out of the way of the hostel’s entrance, saying in a hoarse, hungover voice, “Don’t mind me ladies. Have a great day at yoga.”

Later that day the yoga master came to the hostel to gather the girls’ belongings saying very seriously, “Thank you, but the girls will be staying elsewhere tonight.” Needless to say, that embarrassing ordeal was the end of the business relationship between the yoga retreat and my surf hostel, a real disappointment to me for both financial and other reasons.

There is a tunnel that connects the coastal city of Yilan to Taipei in Taiwan. It is called the Hsuehshan Tunnel and it is almost ten miles long. My buddy Leon and I were on our way through the tunnel going to Taipei from Yilan. Leon was driving his car. We were drinking beers and smoking a joint when we started hearing the startling thumping sounds that signified a blown out tire. There was no worse place in all of Taiwan for this to occur because there was no proper shoulder in the tunnel and there were video cameras watching over the entire tunnel. There was no worse time than now for this to occur as we had open containers of beer and a lot of weed in the vehicle. Leon pulled the car as far over as possible up onto a little curb, but half of the car was still sticking out into the slow lane. Cars were whizzing by at high speeds just inches from Leon’s car and laying on their horns because we were

sticking out into the lane dangerously far. We had a bad feeling we

weren’t getting out of this without trouble or possible injury. “We’re good and fucked right now, give me the weed and beer cans and I will hide them as good as possible,” I said. I heard a warning siren on a loud speaker and then a voice in Chinese came on speaking urgently. Leon, who understands Chinese very well, told me that the voice booming throughout the tunnel on the loud speaker was saying there was a broken down vehicle in the tunnel and that a tow truck and police were on the way.

He said, “Dude, don’t worry about stashing the shit yet. There are cameras watching our every move. Let’s just change this fuckin tire quick before they get here or we’re going to jail tonight and I will probably get deported for the weed and driving under the influence.”

I responded, “Okay. Let’s do this.”

We got to work jacking up the car. It was mid-summer and hotter than hell in the tunnel. We were both completely drenched in sweat not only from the labor of changing the tire, but from the fear of getting busted. We had gotten the car jacked up and we were about to remove the busted front right tire when the car slid off the jack and rolled backwards a few feet. The jack shot out from the weight of the vehicle and just missed my leg, a blow that would have surely crippled me. The car almost landed on Leon’s arms then rolled further into the traffic lane. Scared, pissed off, and frustrated, Leon yelled, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!” We almost gave up to wait for the assistance of a tow truck and accept our fate with the police because our first attempt had frightened the shit out of us as both of us had barely escaped critical injury. Instead, we chose to attempt to replace the flat one more time. Leon said, “Give me a hand here. The cops will arrive any second. Let’s just do this before these shitheads get here and roust us.” This time we jacked up the car properly and got the tire changed. As we were pulling

back into traffic to get the hell out of there we heard the sirens and saw the flashing red lights of police vehicles approaching from the oncoming traffic lanes behind us. We were very elated and proud of ourselves for handling it before the cops got there.

As a teacher I get a lot of time off in the summer time, so I went to Bali on a surf trip the summer I turned thirty-one. I spent most of my time on the Bukit peninsula and the adjacent island of Lombok, as those are great surfing locations. Towards the end of my month long trip I got staph infection from a cut I got on my foot when I hit the reef. For this reason I decided to head into Kuta Beach and party for the last three days of my vacation. Kuta is one of the seediest and rowdiest party towns I have ever been in. A good friend of mine from San Diego, Brian, lives in Kuta and manages one of the most famous and rowdy bars. This bar is packed wall to wall with beautiful girls and drunken partiers every night. The constant flow of cheap drinks made from the potent and gut rot local liquor causes the crowd to get extremely loose and out of control more often than not. For this reason the Balinese bouncers at this bar are a serious wrecking crew, often hospitalizing and sometimes permanently damaging those foolish enough to do things like break things, grope women, steal booze, or commit other unacceptable offenses.

The first night I was there I witnessed an Aussie guy get beat to the point of brain damage by these steal toe wearing bouncers. The Aussie had thrown a pool cue after losing a game of pool and the cue bounced off the table and split open the eye of a local Balinese kid. The kid was a local hero as he is one of Bali’s finest surfers. Fighting or disrespecting a local Balinese is a big no-no and is guaranteed to get you a vicious beat down. This guy got the shit kicked out of him by the bouncers and locals alike for this mistake and by the end of the slaughter he was in the alley out the front of the bar lying motionless and bloody.

The next afternoon I was on my way to this same bar with Brian as his shift was going to start soon. On our walk to the bar I was approached by one of the thousands of street vendors in Kuta, this one selling weaponry. She had everything from knives to blow dart guns. I really liked an exotic blow dart gun so I bought it. Upon entering the bar one of the bouncers asked, “Let me check out that blow dart gun. Can I borrow it for the night?” I am not a huge fan of bouncers no matter where I am in the world, but my instinct told me it was in best interest to stay on these guys’ good side. I handed the guy my new weapon but Brian was hesitant to let this bloodthirsty bouncer cruise around all night with such a weapon, for fear he would really hurt some misbehaving customer.

“Didn’t you see what those guys did to that Aussie last night? You know he will use the thing,” Brian said.

The bouncer convinced Brian to allow him to hold onto the blow dart gun for the night saying, “Brian, I only use if someone is very bad.” Against Brian’s wishes and better judgment, he let the bouncer hold on to the blow dart gun.

Late in the night when everyone in the bar was highly intoxicated I heard some guy screaming bloody murder, obviously in severe pain. I went to where the screaming was coming from to see what had happened. I saw a guy curled up in the fountain at the entrance of the bar, three blow darts in his ass and back. Apparently this disrespectful drunkard was pissing into the fountain when the bouncer unloaded a few darts into his unsuspecting ass from my new blow dart gun.

I woke up and came to my senses on a busy sidewalk in downtown Taipei. It was Monday morning so Taiwanese people were crowding the sidewalks, rushing this way and that on their way to work. All I had on was a pair of stained pants, no shoes or shirt. I also had my surfboard. Apparently, even in my most drunken, darkest hours I can manage to hold on to my most valued possessions. What had begun as a surf trip up the east coast of Taiwan ended in a bout of irresponsible drinking in Taipei’s bars and nightclubs. I had lost my friend who had driven me up Taiwan’s east coast, and now with my phone lost, I had nobody’s contact information. There was no one I could call for help. Astonished people were stopping to stare at me, wondering what on earth had happened to this half naked foreigner carrying a surfboard of all things, the closest place to surf being a good thirty miles away. Timid Taiwanese were rushing to get to work and away from me. Miraculously, my wallet was still in my back pocket, so my first move was to find a Seven-Eleven and buy a t-shirt and some flip flops. However, my cell phone was long gone so I stopped into an internet cafe to use a computer to track down the phone number of the school where I worked. Here, I asked the guy who ran the place if I could use his phone. He looked at me and my surfboard like I had lost my mind, which I had, but I was slowly finding.

I called the elementary school where I work with his cell phone, explaining to the Taiwanese English teacher the truth, “I went to Taipei over the weekend and drank too much and I am still here. I am real sorry but I can’t make it to work today.” I expected to be fired right then but she just told me to get to work tomorrow. Next, I headed to the train station to head back to the town where I live, a seven hour train ride from Taipei.

Walking down the street towards the train station I gave some spare change to a beggar and then was beckoned into a brothel disguised as a massage parlor by an old Taiwanese madam. I went into the dark brothel and was sat down in an old barber style chair, placing my surfboard in the chair next to me. I was honestly only looking for was a massage to relieve the alcohol infused hangover, guilt, anxiety and depression I was feeling. Then five naked Asian ladies in their seventies came out of a back room wearing thick layers of blush and makeup started massaging and fondling me, telling me how handsome I was in Chinese and broken English, “Ni hen shuai. You so handsome!” They had never seen a surfboard and had no idea what mine was and when I told them you could tell they also had suspicions about my sanity. These ladies looked like they had just got up and walked out of a morgue or perhaps a coffin. They were definitely veteran, lifelong whores. This brothel must have been an old folk’s home for whores. I didn’t know hookers could live to be that old so I was fairly impressed by their longevity. However, I wanted nothing to do with them but I didn’t have the nerve to tell them they weren’t what I wanted. I told them all I wanted was a massage. They were trying to remove my clothes to screw me but I didn’t have it in me so I just took the massage and a professional wristy, not wanting to insult them as they kept reaching for my package and refusing to take no for an answer. After my massage I paid the old trogs more than they deserved and left.

I made it to the train station and headed back down the east coast to my small country town. I made it to work at the elementary school the next day and every time I passed a staff member they giggled and asked me if I’d had a nice massage in Taipei or said that I was very charitable towards the homeless. “You very generous to poor people” or “Was nice massage in Taipei?” I didn’t’ respond, wondering what the hell they were talking about as there was no way they could have known I had visited the brothel or given a beggar money the day before. I figured I had misunderstood their broken English. But I kept getting these questions and little giggles from the teachers and I knew something was up.

Then, I asked the Taiwanese English teacher who I had spoken to the day before on the phone, “Why is everyone asking me about getting a massage in Taipei?”

She told me, “I was very worried about you yesterday so I called the man back at the internet cafe and asked him to follow you to make sure you were okay. He told me that he followed you and that you had given money to a beggar then went into a naughty massage parlor.”

Annoyed, I said to her, “Well thanks for informing the entire staff. I am glad they are getting a kick out of it.” God was I embarrassed to hear that, as the entire staff believed I had gone into a brothel for sex.

That day as I was leaving school I passed the principal in the parking lot. I was fearful he was going to fire me or have a little talk with me at the very least, but he just winked and smiled at me asking, “Yesterday you have nice massage in Taipei?”

I told him, “Yeah. It was excellent!” and we both shared a laugh. I was thankful that rather than fire me he could get a good laugh out of the whole debacle. Unfortunately for me, I would be transferred to another school the next year where the principal was cut from different cloth and not nearly as cool with me.

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