A lot of my relationships were degenerating into digitationships, where I see fewer and fewer real humans and “interface” with them more and more through texting, emails, or other inhuman forms of server-modulated, data-vacuuming contact.
Thus, we had a biker beer mixer at the Strand Brewing Co. in Torrance. It’s amazing how much more fun it is to talk to people than it is to scream epithets at Brad House on Facebag over the racist, Nazi confederate flag. In fact, live people don’t scream at all, except for when Dan-O and Lovely Laura staggered into the brewery with a half-dozen giant pizzas.
The screamer was me because it was the first real food I’ve seen since Mrs. WM scampered off to Japan and left me holding the bag, or rather the bags, containing 72 days worth of rice, pasta, instant ramen, chocolate chips, and flour. For the first few days it was kind of funny. “What are we going to have for dinner?”
“Ha, ha, ha.”
Then it got gnarly. “Hey dad, we’re not having pasta again for breakfast, are we?”
It wasn’t helping that I was saving the leftovers. Three-day leftover pasta that’s been reheated twice has the consistency of old carpet backing, although it doesn’t taste quite as good.
Before heading off to the mixer I had cleared out the last handful of corn tortillas by heating them in the microwave and putting on some salt, celery, miso paste, and jam. I thought wistfully about the Nutella I’d so disparaged, gone long ago and not coming back.
When Dan and Laura came in with the pizzas I was in the middle of a story about Billy Joe Hlavinka, a kid in junior high who used to always hang out with us. He really wanted to be cool. Who didn’t? And he had a job at the Kroger’s where he’d save up money to get a cool polyester silk-screened shirt, or to get his hair cut with wings at Joni’s Hair of the Stars.
But he wasn’t cool, he was a dork. The cool guy was Danny Martin. We’d stand at the bus stop on the hot July mornings, waiting to go to summer school to make up all the classes we’d flunked so that we could move up a grade in September. Summer school was much harder than regular school because all the subject matter was condensed and because we were so extra stoned from the extra-long wait at the bus stop.
As we’d stand at the bus stop, Danny would keep his eye peeled for cute girls. When one walked by, which was rare, he’d whisper to us, “Nice ass!” We’d all nod and then confirm it with a professional knowing smile, each of us saying “Nice ass!” in turn.
Billy Joe loved it when his turn came and he’d always embellish it with “Super nice ass,” or “Smoking hot ass,” or “Foxy ass.” Billy Joe would also try to improve on everything Danny said. When Danny would say, “Cute face,” Billy Joe would say, “Cute visage!”
It’s like he spent his afternoons reading a thesaurus, which in fact he did.
One morning we were all standing there and a really cute girl walked by. She was so cute and we were all holding in the smoke from a joint we’d been passing around that everyone was speechless except for Billy Joe, who was last in line and hadn’t gotten to take a hit yet.
As she passed, Billy Joe said loud enough for her to hear, and with a knowing leer, “Nice rectum!”
The smoke exploded from our lungs as we began howling with laughter. The girl gave Billy Joe a withering look. “What the hell did you just say?”
Billy Joe shook his head, not sure why we had all fallen down screaming and why the girl was about to clobber him with her 40-lb. handbag. “Nothin’,” he said, and backed away.
Well you don’t need me to tell you what Billy Joe’s new nickname was, and every time we saw something with an asshole — woman, teacher, dog, cat, man in wheelchair — we’d whisper, “Nice rectum!” and collapse in stitches.
It got so bad that everyone at Jane Long Junior High started calling him by his nickname, and the expression became ubiquitous. Someone would get a new haircut and we’d say, “Nice rectum!” Someone would haul out a smushed tuna fish sandwich from their paper lunchbag and we’d say, “Nice rectum!” Test scores, touchdowns, getting sent to the principal, you name it, that’s how we commented on it.
When Dan and Laura came in with the pizzas I was in the middle of telling the sad end of the story about how poor Billy Joe couldn’t stand being saluted as Nice Rectum so he moved away, to Tomball, until they somehow found out about it there, too, and this was back in the day when “internet” meant you’d tangled up a couple of fishing seines.
After three weeks of pasta and flour I lunged into that sausage pizza with abandon. It was the best food I have ever eaten in my entire life, and I washed it down with copious cups of craft water. Everyone was staring at me as my chin dripped tomato sauce and cheese. I’d attacked the pizza so hard that I’d bitten my finger and hadn’t noticed the blood draining down onto the floor, where one of the brewery dogs was lapping it up.
“Are you okay, dude?” Dan asked in a worried voice.
“Vicariously watching my biker buddies drink beer while breathing in the perfume of fermented hops and bleeding over a fresh pizza? Never been better!”
Then I glanced at the brewery dog, who was looking up for some more mixed cheese-and-grease-and-blood drippings. “Nice rectum!”
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PS: Don’t forget to take the 2015 Bike Racing Survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3R5KGQZ