“Where did you come from & are there others like you?”
So, on the last night of the con, Sunday, I had dinner with my friend Gina, and Keith tagged along for dessert. On the way back, we dropped Gina off at this top secret party thrown by Kevin Smith’s View Askew folks; I swear there was a treasure map/scavenger hunt just for admission. Anyway, Keith and I were left to fend for ourselves for the evening’s entertainment. Keith called his friend, Mark, and we ended up meeting back at a hotel bar downtown. We were all settling in, when we were introduced to Rachelle *cue glitter effect and cartoony harp music; throw the action into slow motion, just for good measure*, who’d be taking care of us for the night. Immediately, it was obvious that there was something about Rachelle. First of all, she carried herself so well. It’s hard to convey in words, but she had this confidence, this air about her. Also, she played the role of gracious hostess, without any hit of boredom or condescension. She’d come through, with a simple, “What can I get for you, gentlemen?” and it was like time stopped. She really seemed pleased that we were there. And the feeling was mutual.
Now, Rachelle had this Kelly-Packard-post-California-Dreams look to her. She was an attractive girl, who just screamed “girl next door”. We were all stupid and drunk, so we took a shine to her. Keith, most of all, seemed interested. We sort of had this plan to find him a wife in San Diego, as part of our ongoing quest to figure out our lives by grasping at grandiose straws. It sounds like hyperbole, and you’ll think I’m full of crap, but she really was perfect. She was the that perfect girl you’re always told is out there; the one where God broke the mold when He made her. She’d reinstill your faith in women. I can’t reproduce the conversations of that night as they just flowed. She was witty, she could match you word for word, and she always seemed to find a way to surprise you. An hour into things, we all had a crush on this girl. I think I uttered something like, “Where did you come from, and are there others like you?” Yeah…
So, at that point, she actually pulled up a seat, and we learned about what she was studying in school, how she loved the beach, stuff about her hometown, etc. As the night wore on, she and Keith really did seem to connect. This was awesome, as I’m “Captain Vicarious”, so it was like I had won, as well. Man, I really need to get a life, but we’ll chalk this up as “Will being happy for his friend”. When we were about to leave, Keith said something like, “You’d better be careful, ’cause I’ll totally come back tomorrow night.” She didn’t seem fazed, and said that he should definitely come back. She told him the hours she’d be there, and that she hoped to see him again. We’re all being stupid, obnoxious jerks as we’re high-fiving him, and debating whether or not he should actually go back the next night.
Well, the next night, Keith and I decided to try out the SD bar scene. We went to this place whose name I can’t remember, but we have a picture online somewhere. Anyway, they seemed to be having some kind of private party that we managed to get into, but we realized all of the women were engaged. All of them. WTF?! I’ve found that every woman in SD is hot, tattooed (I swear, every woman had a tattoo!), and married. Well, we got bored with that pretty soon, so we started thinking about what to do next. That’s when we remembered that Rachelle would be working. Now, I was really starting to adhere to that whole “You can’t go home again” philosophy. I don’t know if it’s my disdain for plans, or me just being bitter, but I never feel like those situations end up like you want them to. If we’d just run into her, that would be one thing. But the whole thing was just too…premeditated for my liking. But I was drunk, and we had nothing better to do. So, we start heading in the direction of that hotel. Here’s where you might want to start paying attention, ’cause it’s a doozy:
While we’re walking, we realize we don’t have a camera. For some reason (maybe this blog), I start to think that we need a picture with her, or no one will ever believe the story. Yeah, THAT makes sense. Well, we now had to get a camera to remember this forever. We get to the hotel, and there’s this guy leaning against the outside wall, smoking. Now, if we’re judging a book by its cover, he seemed kind of like the jerky frat guy. Probably has a string of girls whom he treats like shit, while he prefers to hang out with his bros. Anyway, we’re drunk and we need help, so I ask him “Do you know if there’sa drug store or 7/11 nearby”. Oddly enough, he was cool and directed us to a 7/11 nearby. We walk the couple of blocks to the store, we get caught in the maelstrom of the locals stocking up on cigs and soda before the next bus comes along. We finally get the camera, check out, and walk out the door.
Now, I need to explain something else: Keith had had Lasik about a month prior to our trip to SD. They’d screwed up, and the surgery didn’t take, so he was in a sort of “holding pattern” as they waited to see if the eyes would straighten themselves out. He could get by, in that he wasn’t going to walk into traffic or anything, but he couldn’t make out features or details. So, I was constantly describing things and women to him. He’d see the outline, realize it was a girl, and ask, “Ooh, is she hot?!” Got all that?
OK, well, as we’re leaving the 7/11, Keith’s looking across the street to the next block, and he asks, “Ooh, is she hot?!” I was busy opening the camera, so I look up and mutter: “It’s her. Fuck.” Crossing the street, directly at us, is Rachelle in street clothes. She’s no longer the classy, hostess with the mostest. She’s still attractive, but she’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And walking, with his arm around her, is fratboy smoker guy who’d directed us to the 7/11 in the first damn place! He’d been waiting for her. It was too poetic to be fake. We’d been crossed by our own savior. So many emotions at once. How was someone so perfect with this guy? Stock dropping rapidly….She didn’t even see us, nor did he seem to acknowledge us. They passed us by, and she, out of our lives. I felt really bad for Keith, ’cause I really did want that unrealistic Hollywood ending. It really wasn’t about me anymore, but I just wanted to witness the whole thing. I wanted the ability to say, “I was there.” But that wasn’t to happen. Because life doesn’t work like that. To quote The 40 Year Old Virgin, “You can’t put pussy on a pedestal”. And that’s why you have to live in the moment, take every experience for what it is, and you can’t build castles on quicksand (yeah, I was going for two California Dreams references in one post; sue me!). Keith was great about it and just kind of laughed it off. That’s the kind of guy he is, and I hope I can learn to do that one day. In any case, I cursed for a couple of blocks until we came up with the grand plan to explore San Diego’s strip clubs. I’m gonna leave that story for another day, as it’s really Keith’s story, and being the master storyteller that he is, I could never do it justice. I will say, however, if you’re in the San Diego area, and you know a redhead with “Danger” tattooed across her lower back, e-mail me!
Keith and I continued to have a few crazy adventures those last few days. We ended up at the beach one day, where Keith and his “mystical connection to the water” forgot to put on enough suntan lotion. You’ve heard of sunburn, but he got sun poisoning. It wasn’t even apparent until about 12 hrs later. The worst part was that we were flying home the next day, which became an unbearable experience for him. The skin behind his knees was raw, so while sitting on the plane, these areas would start to heal, but when he stood up, the wounds would rip open again. His dealt with this for weeks after our return. He was like a blind leper. I probably should’ve just shot him to put him out of his misery. But it had taken so long to get home that I think we were just glad we made it back.
What happened, you ask? Well, when we got to the airport in SD, we were told that our flight was at least 2 hrs late, due to storms in the midwest. We’re waiting for our flight, while Keith just wants to die from the sun poisoning pain. We finally get on the plane, and it has a layover in Phoenix. We don’t deplane, but it sits on the runway for over an hr. Now, Diamond had arranged a shuttle for us, based on our being back to BWI at midnight. Well, with the unexpected delays, and empty promises that “we’d make up the time in the air”, we didn’t get a chance to call the shuttle. Not to mention the fact that I realized they had scheduled my shuttle for a day earlier. So, not only was Keith going to be late for his shuttle, there was no guarantee that there was even going to be room for me. Well, we land at 3 AM and the shuttle’s not there. We call the place, but there’s no answer…because it’s 3 AM. So, we find a Super Shuttle, and I start to haggle. I get him to agree to take us to Timonium for $40 because “that’s all the money we have”. Man, were we about to get hosed. The guy agrees to take us, but he has to drop someone off first. We’re fine with that.
Now, stay with me for this geography: BWI is in Baltimore, but this drop off was near Columbia, about 35 miles in the opposite direction of where we need to go. But we didn’t know that before we got on. We drop the guy off, no problem. Then, about 5 minutes away from the drop-off, the shuttle gets a flat tire. So, we pull off to the side of the road, but the driver doesn’t have a flashlight, so he’s doing this by the light of the moon! Plus, his jack won’t lift the shuttle high enough, so his master plan is to release enough air from the spare so that he can slip on the spare. This whole process takes about an hr. Once he gets the spare on, he realizes he had let out too much air, and the spare was going flat. So, he uses the GPS to find the nearest gas station. When we find it, it’s closed…because it’s 4:00 AM. We manage to get to another station, and he fills the tire. We finally get back to Diamond at 5:30. And we had to go to work that same day. I’d laugh if my entire life wasn’t exactly like the scenario I just decribed. People keep telling me I’ll win one day. We’ll just have to see about that…
So, what did we learn, kids? San Diego’s awesome, but Comic Con is pretty overwhelming. It’s something that you really only need to do once in your life, but also take time to explore the city. Why? Because’s everybody’s hot, and the weather’s beautiful. The most important thing I learned was that whole “live in the moment” philosophy. I can’t say I’ve adopted it, plus it takes a whole lot of alcohol and “what have I got to lose?” attitude, but I’ve certainly acknowledged its validity. I think that’s something we could all take into ’08. And that, my friends, is the story of how the West went West.