All About Me

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Chapter 3

So, I don’t want to bore you with all the details of my trip out to the airport. It wasn’t all that exciting really. Of course, the whole time, as you can imagine, I’m thinking about Alisa Cooper, and how I got to come up with a real cool opening line when I see her at the reception. I mean, she’ll be busy with all that reception stuff – no, I don’t really know what that means, either - but I would need to make sure that when I do get a chance to say something that it’s more profound than “Hey, how you doing?” Of course, then it occurred to me that I could even mess that up. I mean, what if I totally freeze, like I saw this guy do on television once. This guy; like there was only one, right? It seems half the sitcoms play out that scenario, right? Well, they wouldn’t do that if it didn’t happen all the time in real life. I mean what is art but an imitation of life, right? Or, is it the other way around? Is life an imitation of art? Mine’s pretty two-dimensional. What I really mean is that maybe all these weird things happen to people because they saw them on television and it kind of created this self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Wow. Then I’d really be doomed, considering all the television I’ve watched. Maybe I gotta watch different material, or something. I mean, because I’ve seen the geek freeze like a million times when trying to talk to the girl. And, I mean a million times. Let’s face it. There hasn’t been that much new material since “I Love Lucy,” except that Lucy became Gloria and Ricky became Jay. Or did Lucy become Jay? I have trouble figuring that stuff out. It must have something to do with my upbringing.

Anyway, my point is, that maybe it’s already too late. Maybe it’s already programmed into my being or something. Wouldn’t that be great? I mean the only time the dork gets the girl is in the movies, right? And my life was definitely not running like a movie. Well, maybe one of those avante garde films, where you have no idea what’s going on; but not a real movie, with any kind semblance of a plot. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a real budget. Have you ever seen the budget they have for even their “low budget” films? You’d think with a budget like that they would be able to come up with some new material. Who am I kidding? I complain about the movies, but I wouldn’t give up my subscription to Netflix for anything. I don’t know. Regardless, Alisa was setting up the reception with Mustafa and I was driving to the airport to pick up some old Palestinian refugee woman. I was sunk.

So, now, I was starting to panic. If I didn’t think of something quick, Mustafa would end up riding off into the sunset with Alisa Cooper. The truth is they’ve probably been an item since she joined the organization. In fact, she probably joined simply so she could get closer to this Mustafa guy. I haven’t got a chance, really.

I was really beginning to hate this guy, you know. So, then I started imaging all these weird accidents and things that might happen to him. Just by chance of course, I wouldn’t do anything to him. I haven’t the guts to tell you the truth. I wouldn’t want to be involved or anything, just an accident; something to knock him out of the competition, so I’d have a shot at dating Alisa Cooper.

Then it occurred to me that if something did happen, like a really horrible accident or something, then Alisa Cooper might be so overcome with grief that she wouldn’t want to do anything that would diminish her recollection of him or anything and she’d keep herself chaste or whatever in the honor of his memory.

So, then I figured that maybe he could just get sick or injured, but nothing too serious, something that would just sideline him or something. But, I decide that that wouldn’t work out either, cause then I figured, Alisa Cooper being the compassionate type and all, would end up feeling compelled to nurse him back to health, even if she wasn’t interested in him before, and then they’d create this special healer – patient bond, and I’d be sunk again.

I just couldn’t win with this guy. He was really starting to get on my nerves.

Anyway, that was more or less what I ended up doing for most of the trip out to the Cincinnati Airport, which is where the speaker was supposed to be landing. By the way, the truth is, it’s kind of a ridiculous name for the airport, if you want to know the truth. It’s not even in Cincinnati, really. Actually, it’s not even in the same state as Cincinnati. That’s a bit crazy if you ask me. I mean, if you’re going to build an airport and call it the “Greater Cincinnati Airport,” you’d at least think that they’d put it in the same state as the city it’s named after. But, no, you got to cross the whole Ohio River, go through a border crossing and customs and stuff, and drive through half the state of Kentucky before you even get there. That’s like building a monument for some crazy war and calling it a Peace Memorial, or getting married so you can date other people, or having a coup, and calling the deposed leader, the Former President For Life or, building a dressing room for strippers, or … I’m digressing again, aren’t I? It’s that A.D.D. thing. Sorry. Well, you get the point, I guess. I mean, I understand the current fashion of stripping our language of any real meaning – I mean didn’t someone once say that language prevents communication – not much else has any real meaning anymore either, if you know what I mean. But, it seems the whole Cincinnati Airport thing might be taking things a bit too far, if you ask me. Which I guess you didn’t, so I’ll just shut up about it for now.

Anyway, I left really early, because I was worried about getting there on time, considering the distance and all, and the fact that my car isn’t exactly straight off the lot, if you know what I mean. It’s still a pretty cool car, though. I got a ’92 Chevy Cavalier with over 250,000 miles on it. It gets really good gas mileage downhill. I don’t know what color you’d call the car. It’s pretty rusted out, with a lot of Bondo, duct tape and a few other unidentifiable things holding it together. I’m afraid to wash it, to tell you the truth. I think it used to be red once, but that was long before I bought it. It only cost me $480, which I figured was a pretty good deal, even though it takes like three hours to warm up and there’s this really lousy smell when you run the heater. I mean, that is, when it works. Which fortunately, because I’m sensitive to smells, isn’t too often. The roof leaks a lot too, but only when the top is up. It’s a convertible, you see, which really attracted me. I thought it would be a fun and all to drive around with the top down.

Except that I forgot that I live in Ohio, and twelve months out of the year it’s either raining or snowing. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The day I bought the car, it was a nice sunny day, so the top was down. The guy I bought it from was pretty cool, but he was in a hurry and didn’t think to explain anything to me, and I didn’t think to ask. That night it started raining and I spent three hours trying to figure out how to close the top. By the time I did get it closed, the seat cushions had floated into the trunk. It took me three weeks to dry the car out. It still has this musty smell to it that never seems to go away. When the heater’s running, the two smells kind of compete with each other. It’s hard to tell which smell is worse, really.

I have three different air fresheners hanging from the rear view mirror. All of them were made in China by the way. They don’t seem to help too much. That is unless you stick your nose right next to them and inhale deeply.

I don’t do that anymore. The last time I did that at a traffic light, this motorcycle cop gave me a weird look and motioned for me to pull over. He didn’t give me a ticket or anything, but he told me, in no uncertain terms, never to do that again, or he’d cite me just for being weird. Yeah, he was a Class - A Jerk. But, I don’t need something like that on my record. I have enough trouble as it is. So, I no longer sniff my air fresheners in public. I just know that somehow, no matter where I was in the world, that same dumb cop would catch me somehow, and I’d being doing time for some silly violation no one ever heard off. Everyone on the group “W” bench would all move away from me, and Alisa Cooper would never even consider going out with me.

Anyway, I started thinking about the smell. Then I started thinking about the fact that I had to pick up this special speaker, and she’d be forced to ride back to campus with this whole medley of smells going on in my car. I started worrying about whether she’d notice the smell, and if it would bother her. Then I figured, considering she’s like some Palestinian refugee, it wouldn’t matter to her too much. She’s probably had to deal with a lot worse smells all that time living in a bombed out building, without electricity or indoor plumbing or anything. I mean, I started thinking that maybe my car might even start to smell good to her, comparatively anyway. Well, maybe not. But, at least she wouldn’t mind it too much.

Then I started thinking about this poor old woman growing up without a decent home or anything, and how horrible it must be, really.

Of course, I actually know a lot of people who like to go without electricity and indoor plumbing sometimes.

Well, not a lot of people; maybe, just a few.

Actually, the truth is, just this one crazy old couple, who lived way out in the Pennsylvania woods. Bobby, my mom, and I used to go camping near their log cabin every summer. We would rough it for one week out of the year, with just a tent and a backpack. Bobby would say that it was nice to get away from the corporate wilderness, once in awhile, just to remind you of whom you were. I never really know what she means when she says stuff like that. I mean, I don’t think my mom grew up in the outback or anything. I mean, as far as I know, she grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland. In any case, I liked going on these trips a lot - even though we didn’t have any television for a week. I brought my Game Boy and a case of batteries to keep me busy during any lulls in our outdoor adventure. There were a lot of lulls actually. It could get so quiet out there, that sometimes you could hear yourself think. Something I try and avoid as much as possible, as I’ve mentioned. It could get quite scary sometimes, but I survived. We used to go out there every year, till I was about fifteen.

We had a lot of fun. I’m not exactly sure why we stopped going, actually. My mom would have made a great Boy Scout, except of course that she wasn’t a boy. I think they have rules about stuff like that. I don’t know much about it. I only got as far as Weebloes, myself. Our pack leader got arrested for child molestation and that kind of ended any chance of me ever participating in any type of group youth organization ever again. Leon, my dad, cried for three weeks over that incident. He would just look at me and then burst into tears. And I wasn’t even involved. In fact, nobody I even knew was ever involved. I later heard that our pack leader’s ex had simply made up the accusations. It had something to do with her trying to get custody of their kids. If it was true, then it seems like it was a pretty low thing to do, if you ask me. But, you never know. Some people simply go crazy and forget to be human sometimes. Or, maybe they forget to not be human. I don’t know. They get desperate and do really stupid and evil things, anyway.

Later they might regret it, but they’ll still never do anything about it, except maybe feel guilty. I once saw this guy on television talking about how everyone really likes to feel guilty, because they think that the guilty feelings they feel absolves them of their sins. Like, if they feel bad about it, then it means they’re really not such bad people. I don’t get it. It seems pretty backwards to me. I feel guilty all the time and I don’t like it at all. It feels like crap, actually. And I don’t even know why I feel guilty. It’s not like I’ve ever done anything to feel guilty about really. I don’t have enough guts, to tell you the truth. Just once, I’d like to finally do something that’s worth feeling guilty about. You know what I mean?

Anyway, this couple out in the woods seemed to manage just fine with no electricity or plumbing. I guess they weren’t your average couple though. They said their names were Adam and Eve. To me it seems like a helluva coincidence for a couple with names like that to get together, right? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d have thought that if I were named Adam, I wouldn’t even think about hooking up with a girl named Eve. That would be too weird, right? I mean, I’d at least make her change her name, or I’d change mine, or something. It’s just too weird. Like, I’m one to talk right? But, still.

Anyway, even though they were a little weird, they were also cool, in a weird sort of way - grungy, but cool. This guy, Adam, could hunt and fish better than Daniel Boone. He even tried to teach me to shoot and hunt. I did okay, I guess. I mean, I’m an okay shot, but when we were hunting, I kept getting distracted all the time. I’d start to wonder about the deer’s family and stuff. Do you remember Bambi? I mean, what if this deer was someone’s mother right? It’s not like I’m a vegetarian or anything, but I get to thinking about things, and then I end up thinking about other things, and the next thing you know, the deer’s already halfway to Florida. Like I said, I’ve got this A.D.D. thing going.

It was the same thing with fishing; I even lost my pole once. I had waded into this stream about halfway up to my neck, and I saw this crazy log floating downstream. I swear it looked just like this huge alligator or something. I mean, I know there aren’t too many alligators in Pennsylvania, but you never know. I thought maybe it was one of those pet alligators that some kid in Brooklyn flushed down their toilet or something. It could happen. They write about it all the time in those newspapers at the supermarket checkout counter. Then this orphaned alligator could have found its way from New York, right? The sewers got to empty out somewhere right? Like, maybe into New Jersey.

So, I’m convinced that this log is a long lost New York alligator. Then, in the next moment, the log looked like something else. So, I got kind of curious about it. The truth is I don’t know what happened to my pole. The next thing I know, it was just not in my hands any longer. My mom was pretty upset, to tell you the truth. It was this expensive Sage Graphite III RPL Fly Rod, with an Orvis reel. It was Bobby’s favorite, actually. She didn’t even really buy the story about the alligator so much. I don’t think she ever got over it, really.

Now that I think about it, I must’ve been fifteen when that happened.

I think it was about the same time that Adam and Eve got raided by the Feds. I’m sure you heard about it. It was on both CNN and FOX and everything. I’m not sure really what it was all about. He was wanted by the cops for like a zillion years. I’m not sure, but I think he was involved in some sort of radical stuff back in the sixties, or something; something to do with messing up the weather or something. They say he used to work as a weatherman. I don’t know too much about it. I guess that’s why he was living in a log cabin in the middle of the Pennsylvania woods, without electricity and stuff. That’s what American terrorist do right? Our terrorists all have Ph.D.s and sit up in a log cabin in the mountains and send letters to all their old professors or something from time to time. Except they don’t call them terrorists, but radicals, or is it militants? America doesn’t really have terrorists, right. I can never get those terms straight, to tell you the truth. I wonder what they would have called the founding fathers of America, if England had won the war. Which makes me wonder what they’ll call me when this whole hotel convention hostage thing is over. I don’t want to think about it, to tell you the truth. It kind of makes me sick to my stomach.

With Adam and Eve though, the cops couldn’t have been looking too hard for them. I mean, it sure took them a long time to find them. I mean, we knew where they were, and visited them every year. It wasn’t like they were on some deserted island or something. Now that I think about it, I think that was also the same time that those guys from the ATF or the FBI or whatever initials they were using that week came to our home late one night to talk to Bobby. They were all decked out in these super dark suits that absorb light and these crazy ear pieces with a wire running into their pocket like they were plugged into the Matrix or something. They spent over three hours talking to her in her office. When they left, Leon was hysterical of course. Bobby looked exhausted, but I think she was okay. At least, she said, they didn’t take her to a little room in the basement of some government dungeon or something. I don’t know remember too much about it, to tell you the truth, except that for three months afterwards, Leon kept fretting that someone was following him or hiding in the bushes or the bathroom or something. I don’t think my dad ever met Adam or Eve. Though I think he would have gotten along with Eve pretty much, except that Eve was a lot less nervous, even with her being a fugitive and all.

Eve had this organic vegetable and herb garden. She was always cooking and cleaning, fidgeting over this and that. Eve really did remind me a lot of Leon, to tell you the truth. Like I said, I don’t think the two of them ever met though; at least they never got together at any time since I came into existence. Leon said that he couldn’t survive without all his creams and cosmetics and stuff. It’s true too. My dad can’t stand to be filthy or dirty for anything, even for a millisecond. He’s always in the bathroom freshening up. He spends a lot of time in the bathroom. Except, I don’t really notice that much of a difference between when he goes in and when he comes out. Okay, so maybe Leon and Eve aren’t so much alike, after all. I don’t think he’d survive too long as a fugitive, or a refugee either, if you know what I mean. Not unless the U.N. has a special camps for divas.

Anyway, before Adam and Eve were busted, my mom and me would stop by and visit them a couple of times a day while we were on our camping trip. As you can imagine, my mom got along great with Adam. They would sit and drink and smoke cigars just like they were old army buddies or something. I don’t know from where my mom knew them, but I always got a kick out of visiting them. Their place always smelled really good too, like fresh cut pine, or something. Nothing like the stupid little “Made in China” cutouts of pine trees hanging from my mirror.

So like I said, I was thinking about this poor Palestinian refugee woman, and everything. Then, I suddenly realized that I would be picking up this poor Palestinian refugee from the airport. And then I thought that picking up some poor Palestinian woman from the airport might be a bit controversial, especially with me parading around with this crazy sign with her name on it, broadcasting to the world that I was associating with some Palestinian woman. I suddenly realized it might draw some attention. I started to picture those guys in the dark suits with wires climbing out their ears dragging me off to a little room in a government dungeon to ask me a few questions and melt my mouth off or something. I mean, picking up strange refugees at an airport has got to be more suspicious than sniffing car air fresheners at a traffic light, right?

Then I thought, that maybe it would be a good thing if I did get arrested. Then maybe Alisa Cooper would come and visit me in jail, and we could start one of those prison romances or something. She’d feel responsible and use all her resources to fight for my freedom and she’d write me everyday promising to wait for me until I was freed. Then again, by that time, Mustafa would have his car fixed and she’d ask him to bring her to visit me in prison. They’d end up spending all this time together and by the time I got out, they’d be married with a hundred kids already. This Mustafa was killing me no matter which way I turned. Did you notice? Oh man, I did not want to get busted before I even get a chance to ask Alisa Cooper out on a date. That would be horrible. I worried about it the whole rest of the way to the airport. Yet no matter what, it was always Mustafa that came out on top.

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