LIaDVp.15: The Second Coming of the Indian Jesus

August 30, 2004

Friday night, Rabbit and I went to Sleepy Hollow for a ranger party. Some of the interpreters threw a Halloween party, and we couldn’t resist a night out from the dorm. It turned out to be one of the better ranger parties of the season. Some people really got into the costume aspect. Rabbit and I were resourceful, but unspectacular, by wearing each others’ work uniforms and name tags. It worked well for those who knew us, but others were mainly confused. Rabbit and I drank several Pabsts and he had a few shots, daiquiris and martinis. What the hell, it was his night off. He was really in his element at the ranger party, so much moreso than around those punks from the Rim dorm. He was laughing most of the night and hitting on a weekend park dispatcher with big boobs. He gets that boyish excitement going, but then keeps throwing around how he wants to squeeze these, lick those, and so on. Not to any girls directly, but just to me and other guys. It’s hilarious.

Stefanie and I worked together for a few hours this morning and were talking about how we spent our time here.

“I think when it’s all over, I’m going to be sad to see it end, in some ways,” I said.

She raised her eyebrow, as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“No, I mean, I’ll be happy to go home, but I’ve grown accustomed to this

place in a lot of ways. I’ve come to like this place. Like my room, hiking, the

time alone.”

“I more think that when it’s over I’ll be disappointed with the way I spent the time here. I guess I do this with everything and it’s really stupid, because I never behave in a way that would make this happen, but …. I don’t know … I guess, I just always expect things to be like a movie in a way. I expect everything to be so meaningful -”

“Like you imagined all sorts of exciting things would have happened -”

“Or like I would meet these close friends and have these amazing social experiences. I mean I’ve had so many great opportunities for exciting things to happen, and I just don’t act on them. Like

college. I had the most uneventful college experience.”

“I think a lot of that feeling of importance and meaning will come later, as you almost project in a way, what this will all mean for you. What box to put the experience in,” I said.

I’m going to hike Garfield with a bunch of people by moonlight tonight.

I’ve learned to take many things Stan says with a grain of salt. I’ve caught him (to myself of course) bluffing about having read books or seen movies. He’s also exaggerated on a number of occasions, with his retelling of stories varying slightly from telling to telling. I’m not saying he’s a filthy liar or anything, but he likes to bullshit. A lot. That morning, Stefanie and I were talking about how as time has passed this season, people we once found charming because of their odd personalities or quirky mannerisms, are becoming less charming. They go from characters to people, which are always far more complicated. Your appreciation of them deepens, but with that comes chinks in the armor of this image you’ve constructed of them. I guess that’s what I mean about Stan. I still like him very much, and value his friendship. But he’s no longer “Stan,” he’s just Stan. Sometimes he bugs the shit out of me, and other times I love him. That’s a friendship instead of just a novelty you hang around with for kicks. That’s the price of an adult friendship. The honeymoon ends quickly.

I read this Joe Lansdale story, “The Night They Missed the Drive-In,” last night. Holy shit. Lansdale’s writing varies so greatly, that from page to page, he’s sad, funny, melancholy, scary, violent, sexual, angry and you never know when he’ll be what. He hops genre and style in every short story. But this one had it all. I never, maybe just once, saw what he was going to throw at me before it hit me hard. This story takes you from a smile to out loud laugh to a shocked gape in about 20 or so pages. It’s that good. Truly inspiring storytelling. And he doesn’t seem to pass judgment or attempt to make a statement. He just tells the story, so effectively that you’re with him the whole way, as if to say “and then what happened?!” between every turned page. That’s admirable and daunting. For me, it’s become a real watermark of what you can do with a few thousand words.

Later that night ..

Just got back from a moonlit hike up Garfield Peak. I drove there with Rabbit, picked up Stefanie from her dorm before meeting up with Lindsay, the lodge manager, and Cory and Beth, front desk.

We started up around 8 pm, when the sun had recently set and the western sky was lit up red and pink and orange like there was fire out there. We were noisy, but it was a group hike so I wasn’t really expecting serenity. The sunlight grew more colorful and started to disappear as we worked our way up the 1.7 mile ridge. Cory is a part-Indian, asthmatic smoker who drinks Jagermeister while hiking and smoked a few cartons when he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Washington to California. He sort of led the way with a headlamp. We made several stops along the way, as the old and weak and overweight dragged ass up the trail. Rabbit was cracking me up the whole way.

I realized that Rabbit, Stefanie and I were all wearing clothes advertising our home states. It was just a coincidence, but you have to think that when we all dress ourselves to go out among the seasonal staff, it’s like putting on an identity. I’m Arizona. She’s Wisconsin. He’s Louisiana. Our nametags boast the same homestates. Something to distinguish us. Make us not anonymous. Because when you leave context, you really are exactly that. Take away the people you know and love from around you, and your identity sort of washes out, like removing all the lights in the room. No shadow, no image. Just a t-shirt boasting your home state.

We got to the top of the hill and the moon was gold when it first came up from the mountain. Then it rose and started to light up the whole hillside pale silver. We stood up on the top and laughed and joked around. Cory claimed to be the second coming of the Indian Jesus. As people were commenting on how beautiful it was at the top, he said, “My butt is sweaty.” On the way down, we stumbled through rocks and loose gravel, slipping time to time and the girls screaming before catching balance. Stefanie was worried about mountain lions the whole way. Rabbit was lagging in back flirting with Beth, the Christian front desk girl. At one point he smelled her. He also said he’d hoist her down over the ledge and let her pee off the side. Then he said if she fell he’d send her mother a telegram. “I’d send her a singing telegram.” He was dropping wacky shit like that all night, in top Rabbit form.

We reached the bottom of the Rim and milled around the lodge for a few minutes before splitting up and calling it a night.

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