You know what you want. You KNOW you do. You want the hydrocarbon stink of my Harley pulling up to your apartment at two a.m. You want me to spank the dirt off my leather jacket, wash my mouth out with Jack Daniels, and spit on your front lawn. You want me to bang on your front door, shouting your name, and when you answer the door, confused and nervous in your bathrobe, you want me to glare over my Ray-Bans and say, “On the back of the hog, bitch. Now.” You want to go tooling with me, eighty miles an hour, slicing the tight Presidio curves like butter, only punching the brakes at the parking lot overlooking the Sutro Baths. You want me to admire the alien azure moon with you. But I may or may not do this. Despite the fact that you are wearing only a light jacket, and you are freezing your ass off, you want to say that you are having a lovely time. You want me to grunt in response. You want to drop to your knees in the parking lot and pleasure me with first-class, twenty-four karat fellatio, the moon glowing radioactive blue, the seals howling over the waves. You want me to have an orgasm, at the time of my choosing. You want me to make noises when I have this orgasm. But I may or may not do this. Afterwards, you want to be grateful. You want me to bolt the remainder of the Jack Daniels and rocket you back to your pad, eighty miles an hour. You want to be suffering from first-degree frostbite by the time we get there. You want me to come in, make instant coffee for me, get me to sleep in your bed. Hold you, touch you, make you warm. Drop the mask of maladjusted masculinity for an honest night of forever love. Talk in the morning. But I don?t have the time for that crap, you dumb bitch. Not tonight. You want to hug your bathrobe around yourself in your doorway, your red-rimmed eyes hopeful and dreamy, as my cut-out muffler rattles the neighborhood windows, and I burn tire tracks into your driveway. Yeah, you know what you want. Baby… you want ME.
The wife and I are at the Extended Stay in Newport Beach. We have been staying here extendedly, just over two weeks. There are two electric burners, a king-size bed and a refrigerator. The wife bought a coffee maker. Some nights we make pasta and grilled fish, and we sprinkle it with salt and pepper. We fall asleep beside one another, me on the left, she on the right.
Last week was Thanksgiving and we wanted to have it with our good friends Alex and Stacey. So we packed one suitcase each, leaving the majority of our stuff in Newport Beach. My wife flew into SFO, and I drove the Prius up the 5. The night before Thanksgiving we stayed at the Club Quarters in San Francisco. We unpacked our suitcases there, repacked into a shoulder bag and drove to Alex and Stacey’s place at South San Francisco. Thanksgiving was entirely vegetarian this year, and brilliantly executed by Alex & Co.: lemon green beans, pumpkin and blueberry pies, garlic mashies, celery sticks with cinnamon, red pepper pesto, yummy green stuff that was spinach cheese mushrooms and brandy we think, olives, lots and lots and lots of wine, two kinds of stuffing, real not-from-a-can cranberries, creamed onions, icy creamy, and a vegan un-turkey. The vegan un-turkey was made of seitan, which you pronounce “satan.” You can make many jokes about eating seitan, many of which can involve humor. After dinner the wife, the lesbians and I all sacked out in front of the tube. We watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas, all of us glorped into a delicious atavistic glorp of decadent stuffed bodies.
Yes, I got my wife to dogpile with lesbians. The trick, for those of you heterosexual married men wishing to emulate my success: find lesbians with whom your wife might feel comfortable dogpiling. It is a subtle trick. Do not say, “Wife, I have a yen to see you go snuggle with lesbians,” or, “Lesbians, I have a yen to see you go snuggle my wife.” That strategy will fail; they will catch on, and gently rebuke you. You will have to be nonchalant about the whole thing.
Anyway, we slept over (no, on the hide-a-bed, silly) at Alex and Stacey’s. We had sushi the next day with Klahr and Sean. They had light colds and dangerously distended large intestines. They had purchased the value pack Whole Foods Thanksgiving Meal for 2, which would be like a meal for 17 plus 4 dogs in any European nation. They politely inquired as to where we currently lived. I answered, entirely honestly, that I have no idea where I lived. At that moment I had space in a house, two hotel rooms and a guest room, all of which might have been called home. My supply lines are stretched all over California. Home is where the wife is, at any given moment.
Here’s my current plan. Tomorrow, escrow on 357 Hazel in San Bruno closes. The San Bruno house ceases to be ours. On Wednesday, an intricate and dangerous network of computers will cause hundreds of thousands of dollars to teleport from northern California to southern California. On that same day, we inspect current repairs we have demanded on our new house at 1072 Tulare (new back porch, new door, new drainage, new attitude). On Thursday, the Newport Beach escrow company counts the zeros, approves our new home loan and insurance. Our real estate agent picks up a key to 1072 Tulare in Costa Mesa. On Saturday, the alcoholic Irish movers arrive, and unload whichever of our personal items they failed to sell on Ebay. On Sunday, Sears arrives with a washer, dryer, refrigerator, box springs, and two new beds (we can push them together if lesbians arrive). Sunday also, Internet service is installed, along with satellite TV. Later on Sunday, I celebrate with beer, football and my wife’s tits.
That’s the plan, anyway. Shit could happen.
Other than that, not much.
Newport Beach, California. We park in the cavernous garage beside the gleaming 24 Hour Fitness gym. A sign on a yellow machine says “PAY HERE.” I ignore it and proceed into the gym. The gym is the size of a small airplane hangar, with a polished ceiling twenty feet high. I pass my membership card to the grinning, close-cropped dude behind the counter. He scans it with a wand and a screen beeps and flashes red. “Hmmm,” he says. “I see that you have a Sport membership with 24 Hour Fitness?”
“Probably,” I say.
“Well, this is an Ultra club. Your Sport membership doesn?t cover entrance fees here,” he says. “But we?ll be happy to let you work out here once, just to try it out. Follow me.”
I follow him into the wood-paneled elevator. Four balding, chubby white men in shorts follow us. Ding, ding: we?re at the third floor. Everybody piles out. The place is a glass-walled airplane hangar. There are two basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, a mood-lit yoga room, two racquetball courts, a volleyball court in synthetic sand, a special hypoxia chamber designed to simulate mountain atmospheric conditions, a rich kid?s ultimate complete barbell collection, stacks and stacks of stationary bikes, eight big-screen TVs, and a three-story glass wall for contemplating the trundling 405 traffic.
The old men pad off the elevator and lumber onto aerobic machines. “Now wait a damned minute,” I say. “You have maybe fifty Stairmaster machines. Here. On the third floor.”
“Actually, we have sixty-two Stairmaster machines,” he says.
“Wait a damned minute!” I shout. “How come everybody takes the damned elevator to go to the Stairmaster machines? That makes no damned sense! Why doesn?t everybody walk up the stairs to go to the Stairmaster machines! And why is there valet parking out front! Why can?t everybody who?s going to the gym? Walk from the parking garage, like fifty yards away!”
“Well, I’ll explain it to you,” says the dude. “There?s this guy. Really buff. Maybe fifty, fifty-two years old. Every morning he comes in real regular, six-thirty a.m. And he?s always in a super big hurry. Just scans his own card, real fast, says I gotta get to my locker, runs in, throws a duffle bag in the locker, and runs back out again. That?s the total time he spends here. Just about thirty seconds. Me, I?m thinking, hey! You wanna just give me your membership fee directly, I?ll stand out front and you can hand off that duffle bag to me and I?ll take care of it! You know what I mean?” says the dude, laughing good-naturedly.
At this point, my head explodes in a shower of sparks, and my robot body falls lifeless to the floor. The dude says, “So, are your goals, like, weight loss, or are you looking to build more muscle?”
The Sheraton in Burlingame, California. We’re living out of suitcases. Amanda cuddles up next to me in bed and says, “It’s like living on the run. Not that I know anything about that.”
Heber from Cummings Moving is a large and doughy man with a north-Irish floating brogue. He sits on the grassy stoop in front of my house, shuffling and marking papers on his clipboard. Heber taps the clipboard. “Nine hours for the move out to storage, one hundred fifty per hour, you want the full replacement value, five storage cubes for two hundred fifty, two sixty-five for packing materials — looks like it will come out to eight thousand eight hundred seventy-five dollars exactly.”
“Now wait a minute,” I sputter. “Your quote told me it wouldn’t exceed seven thousand?”
“Yes,” Heber interrupts, “but that quote assumed you wouldn’t be moving anything into storage. Here, we’re moving these items into storage for two weeks. That’s equivalent to two moves. We have to move everything here into storage in addition to everything there, and then move everything together down to Newport Beach.”
Frank, one of the three movers, has a thick head of unkempt hair and the same north-Irish lilt. He scruffles through the garbage bags we’ve placed on the sidewalk, and he finds an unopened bottle of Bass Ale. “Real shame here, to waste perfectly good beer,” says Frank.
“I called you two weeks ago,” I mutter angrily. “I explained two weeks ago to your receptionist that I wanted to move these items into storage. Why didn’t you tell me it’d be an extra fifteen hundred then?”
“But you didn’t talk to me, did you?” says Heber, turning red. “No. I’m honoring the quote exactly here. I?m delivering exactly what I promised. You told me that you were going to be moving everything directly down to Newport Beach. Not to storage. Right?”
Frank takes a rock and gently chips away at the bottlecap. He hits it at a crafty angle and the cap flies off. “One won’t hurt,” he says.
“Yes, that’s what I said,” I say meekly.
“Just charging you for additional time and materials. We’re not making any money on this, believe me. And I’ll need a personal check for the full amount,” says Heber.
“I’ll give you a credit card,” I say. “Same as I told you before.”
“Ah, well,” says Heber. “I suppose you?re good for it. We have all your stuff now.”
The last ten years of my life have apparently been spent maximizing possession of cables. Ancient Mac SCSI cables, USB to mini USB, SATA, MIDI, serial to parallel (including a few LapLink cables), several Firewire variants, defunct mouse cables, joypad cables for game systems long obsolete, multiple Dreamcast A/V cables, at least a dozen transformer/DC converter/wall warts, various power bricks of the 1980s and 1990s.
Cables are expensive, I tell myself, but the Freudian implications are all too clear.
Two Hefty bags, full of nothing but goddamned cables, went to the curb this morning, and another must go. It was heart-wrenching, but it had to be done. At least one major piece of furniture in the new house will have no particular function, as it will not be containing cables anymore.
Even more unsettling (but perhaps ultimately liberating) is the realization that my most treasured possessions are information, not objects. Double-notched Commodore 64 disks, my canonical arcade ROM collection, my stageplays and teleplays, my contact database, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of my friends, pictures on the wall and of every play I?ve ever been in, my movies, the music of the Hungry Hungry Hippos: a finite, fixed incantation of zeros and ones. Since pi never repeats, it contains all possible finite sequences of digits; therefore every object of value in my life could be concatenated and archived by finding the corresponding digit sequence in pi that concatenates all the information from my life. Pi, with an extremely long (but finite) index or subscript, would serve as both an epitaph and a backup copy of my life.
The two objects that must travel with me as we transition into temporary housing: the laptop that I?m tapping on now, and my Montaya acoustic guitar. Everything else is negotiable.
The wife is in “breakfast mode”. To her, all tasks can be accomplished, simultaneously if need be, with sufficiency of willpower. I’m a tad worried about her, but she?s damned good at managing these sorts of things. She’s a listmaker, an organizer, a type-A problem solver. I bought her a teeny little laptop for telecommuting from Costa Mesa, and she carries it about like a teddy bear. For both of us, the move on Friday and Saturday will be tough (but finite). I’m a little more concerned about her finding a posse of friends from the isolation of temporary housing in SoCal — as much as she loves home decorating, she’s simply not stay-at-home material.
The old Johnbyrd.org server is encased in bubble wrap in the garage, so I’ve moved my blog to a web hosting facility. We move out of our current house day after tomorrow. I quit the old job last Friday. New job next Monday. Tempo!