Austin, Lauren’s driveway, 2009: “I’m wildly attracted to you,” I say, moving closer. “You smell like prime rib plus Jolly Ranchers,” she says. I lose heart. There will be no kiss. They don’t kiss at Exposé Gentleman’s Club. But those kittens play close. And do not judge.
Laredo, 1983: A man wrestles on a street corner with a giant squid. On closer inspection, it’s not a squid, it’s a hemorrhoid.
Marfa, 4:00 a.m., 2007: I pass a nude man carrying a box of donuts. He gives me a thumbs-up. I wonder why. Turns out, I’m nude, too, but I have no donuts. The next day I will go to AA.
Galveston, 2000: There’s something on my line! I reel it in. It’s a decaying corpse. I never catch anything good. The next day, I catch crabs from a toilet in Surfside.
Nuevo Laredo, 1999: I am an expatriate! I’ve done it — made the move. I read Les Miserables in one sitting. I drink wine out of a box, internationally. My friends argue that even though I’m an American, there’s no excuse for emptying my bowels into a box of wine. Also, it seems we haven’t yet crossed the border.
Houston, Buffalo Bayou, 1985: “Pick it up, Adam — let’s make it our friend or our mascot or something!” Later, at Ben Taub hospital, “He’s lucky he’s not dead.” A water moccasin should have a different name. They don’t work like shoes do. And a moccasin is a stupid kind of shoe.
San Antonio, The Alamo, 2001: I bribe the guard with pesetas, then pounds, then Euros. “Where can we find Pancho Villa’s bunker,” I ask. “Huh,” he says. Alas, the Starbucks is closed. Where can I find a latte? Drugs and Texas history do not mix.
Archer City, 2004: The Lonesome Dove Inn is teeming with culture. I espy Gabriel García Márquez, a little tipsy, asking passers-by for money. “Maestro!” I shout. “Mange d’la marde!” he replies, then punches me in the nose. Larry McMurtry is a douche bag. So is the hobo that punched me.
Houston, TX, 1986: The Challenger has exploded. Channel 11 News has come to our school to interview students — gauge our reactions. “What does this mean to you?” asks the comely reporter. “No school tomorrow?” I reply, hopefully. They edit out my spot and that uppity 4th grade bitch, Laurie, makes the news.
Amarillo, 1984: The Civic Center is going wild. “Ama-effin-rillo!!” shouts Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. Then cops, then show’s over, with nary a chord struck. Then my brother and his roommate in the parking lot eating whipped cream. They loved whipped cream. Now they’re acting funny and I feel like maybe I’m in control.
Dallas, 1982: “Hey kid, you want a cigarette?” asks the man at the hotel bar. “Yes!” I exclaim. “Hey, don’t you dare do that” barks my father. A right cross, then a thud. I wish my Dad were a better fighter.
Nuevo Laredo, 1999: They say there are two kinds of herpes, but only one kind makes your girlfriend break up with you. Again, it appears we have yet to cross the border. I’m getting fed up with Laredo.
Austin, 2009: I have gazed at the art of grief. The margarita machine is broken. I won’t laugh again until I smell like Jolly Ranchers and prime rib.