happy birthday, asshole.

yesterday, my friend from school, joseph, turned 25. it was a miracle that i had actually remembered. it was probably the first time in 25 years that i had wished him a happy birthday on the day itself. he called me around easter to invite me to his grandpa's birthday party, but i never called him back. i think that i am afraid of him. i am afraid that if we hang out, i will begin to understand him, and because our situation is now similar, i will emulate him. cops will find me waiting on the ledge of the golden sacramento bridge, an ounce of dope in my pocket, and they will say, "don't do it, asshole. seriously. the jump isn't even that high. it won't kill you. you'll just jump in and we'll have to save your ass, and we really don't want to do that."

i've been watching episodes of reno 911! lately. the show isn't that funny, but it has its moments. like in one episode, these two redneck cops decide they want to go down to the border and build the "symbolic" fence to keep the mexicans out. but because it's hot and they are lazy, they end up paying two mexicans $40 to finish the job. there are a lot of jumper scenes, too, and it's the same comedic routine. the cop on duty always inadvertently makes the person go over. one time, the mustached man with biker shorts threw a pen at a guy, and he went over. okay, maybe it's not that funny. still, i laughed.

anyway, joseph invited me to his birthday party dinner in folsom. as soon as he said this, i knew i didn't want to go, but i'm kind of a wishy-washy person in that i won't actually say, "no" immediately. i don't know why i do that. i have friends and family that say, "no" right away, and it always irritates me when they do. but i guess it's worse to leave the other person hanging when you mean to say, "no," but you prolong the refusal because you want to come up with a better excuse than "because i don't feel like it." after an hour between our conversations, i came up with: "i can't make it. i'm broke. but give me a call and we'll hang out this weekend." i'm a terrible friend. i know we won't hang out this weekend, but i said it anyway because you know, how else does one end that little nugget of rejection? "no. i can't make it. i will never make it. you will turn eighty, and i will never make it to any of your birthday dinners. furthermore, we won't hang out. ever. goodbye."

the truth was, i didn't really want to drive all the way out to folsom, since the last time i checked, gasoline was $4.57 a gallon. also, i didn't want to surround myself with his brother, his sister, his mom and dad, his grandpa, and all his cousins. what am i supposed to say to these people? they will ask me about things, and i will only be able to create this image of myself as a person who watches reruns of reno 911! and can perform a terrible version of avril lavigne's "when you're gone" on the guitar. "i'm still working on the bridge," i'd say. "you'd be surprised. it's actually kind of difficult."

maybe i'm being selfish. maybe you're just supposed to suck it up, especially when it's somebody else's birthday. on visiting new york for a conference and interview, charles schulz once remarked to his wife, joyce, "i don't want to do that. i don't have to do anything. why must i always do things i don't want to do?" isn't that what life's all about, though? doing the shit people expect you to do, even if you don't want to? going to school, getting a job, getting married, having kids, opening up an ira. but not just an ira, a roth ira. there's a difference, a difference i know nothing about.

when i go to washington mutual, the clerk always pauses to look at my measly savings account. i think they have something on their monitors that tells them the number of times i've been solicited about a credit card. each time, i tell them, "no." i don't have a hard time doing that. i don't buy anything, so what would i need a credit card for? but other times, they tell me that i should start an ira, or at least a cd. "you're not earning anything on your savings account. it's like 25% and that's nothing." i always say that i'll start a cd or something, but that i'll do it online. i never do. i'm too apathetic when it comes to earning more interest. possible responses to this scenario in the future: "you know the world is ending, right? we'll probably all be underwater by 2020, so what am i going to do with a retirement account? i plan on dying young anyway. it's much more glamorous and cool to die young, you know? i mean, who wants to grow old? it's so uncool. definitely not sexy."

other clerks, the younger women, usually start off with this line: "i haven't seen you around lately." i've only seen this line used on men. i think that it's supposed to flatter them or something. it's supposed to create this thinking that, wow, this cute young clerk actually notices me! she remembers me! i should bank with wamu forever! i've had this line used on me once before. if i was a different person i would've said, "that's because i'm not making any money. you haven't seen me around lately because there's no point in me going to a bank when i don't have any checks to cash. what are you, stupid?"

this is my life. a series of events where i think of the right thing to say moments later, when it is too late. that is also the tragedy of writing. i'll come up with a better conclusion fifteen minutes from now, but i won't bother editing it.


chest rockwell said...

during that bridge incident, i sent the birthday boy a zinn book thinking it might help. i'm 99.9% sure he didn't read it. it's probably sitting in a landfill right now along with collected works of sue grafton and all the other relics of our collective idiocy. i don't know what the hell i was thinking.

brock landers said...

he once asked to borrow the divine comedy. when he returned it, nearly two years later, i asked him if he read it. he laughed. "i didn't even open it," he said.