Ever have those weeks/days/even just an hour when you don't just suspect, but you are positive that the magnetic and electronic forces in the universe are all conspiring to bring about your demise?
I biked to my shift at The Saint last night — a mere two miles or so, but through treacherous, badly-paved New Orleans surface streets, populated by insane locals and drunken tourists.
Biking in this town is always treacherous; you have to constantly be on your guard for other people's mistakes, because they all make them, and a bit of clairvoyance doesn't hurt either. Ben's not allowed on bikes any more because the last five times he's ridden one (once a year, approximately) horrible things have happened to him.
Me, I have good enough vision, fast enough reflexes, and a wee smidge of precognition that I usually do okay.
I knew yesterday it was going to be one of "those" days the moment I got my bike onto the street and saw some crazy fucker backing down my street the wrong way swerving around like a scuttling cockroach-car. And it just got worse from there.
People parked in the middle of busy streets, jolting forward at obscene angles the moment I became hittable.
People stopping at green lights and running red lights.
People flinging open doors of their parked cars one after another after another, always timed so a slower reflex would ensure a crash.
It became a video game to me, each and every car representing a threat. I tried to figure out what this SUV or that minivan would do wrong the moment I got near them, and more often than not I was right. "This guy in the Hummer…what's going to happen with him? I think he's going to suddenly signal left, then make an abrupt right. I better be on his left." Sure enough, the yellow behemoth bumblebee blinks left then cuts violently to the right, which would have squished me like a bug if I hadn't guessed his bad driving skills.
My Tweet from last night:
If biking Uptown were a video game, someone set my console to EXPERT/DIFFICULT.At one point I got a bad feeling about a redneck in an enormous flatbed truck and jumped my bike onto the sidewalk. And I'll be damned if the guy didn't actually swerve into the space I had occupied two seconds ago and actually hit a tree in his mad effort to commit manslaughter.
I hadn't eaten anything yesterday, and I was a bit shook up by the predictable unpredictability of NOLA's murderous motorists. My electrolytes were spent. I was dizzy. Didn't have a lot of time before I opened the bar, so I stopped by the Burger King on St. Charles for a tiny burger to take to work.
There were two people in the restaurant. One, a skeevy older gentleman in a wifebeater that proudly displayed his gout, goiters, blisters and lesions. He looked like a warty toad. I gave him a wide berth.
At the counter was a black version of my favorite woman from last year's CrackWhore Ball. Her hair was a strong diagonal that begged the question: What The Fuck? Short-shorts rolled up showing more than I cared to see. A filthy polyester-satin slip, perhaps pink once-upon-a-time, with the right spaghetti strap falling off her bony frame. A faded "DERRICK" tattooed badly between her scapulæ. Neon orange toenail polish underneath a forest of hairy black legs.
The patois was familiar New Orleans to me: "Gimme a small drank. Nah. A mee'jum. How much dat be? How much a small fry be? Gimme dat. Ahkahava free sample?" And on and on. For ten minutes.
Once her complicated, cracked-out order had been placed, I stepped forward, wanting to get this transaction over and done with and open my bar. The hour was growing late.
Suddenly, a friend of hers materialized out of the Matmos. I mean that literally; one minute it was me and boil-man and DERRICK's ladyfriend, and then next, in a puff of smoke, there was her girlfriend.
Girlfriend had a teeny waist and the most ginormous ass I've seen in a long time, made more jarring from its disproportion to the wasp-like midriff. I seriously considered if she had put water balloons down the back of her once-upon-a-time-pink pajama bottoms she was wearing over her knock-off Swarovsky-crystal-embedded flip-flops. Her junk was liquid.
She had somehow materialized in front of me. And wordlessly, she turned to me, gave me the hairy eyeball, raised two fingers ominously, waved them once to the left, once to the right, and uttered her decree of, "UH-uh!" Her way of inquiring if she, perforce, might essay the temerity to cut in line, I gathered.
She turned to the counter, ass a-jigglin' and began her complicated order. "How much a [meow-meow-meow] be? Does that [meow-meow] with a codrank? Gimme a [habba-zabba]…" Etc.
Finally water balloon ass and DERRICK's bitch sat down to await their repast. I put in my simple order, paid the $2, and stood off to the side to wait.
This being the BK on St. Charles, there were eight busy bees behind the counter, seven of which were completely idle, and the eighth was conspicuously absent. We all waited. A long time.
Wifebeater man started popping his boils and blisters and scratching his corns. I scooted away from his pustulance.
Water Balloon Momma, exasperated at last, walked up to the counter and yelled, "HEY!"
She snapped her fingers at the air. "HEY! Ahkahava courtesy drank!?"
A WHAT? I thought? The very word "courtesy" seemed to have no place in this particular circle of hell.
"HEY! C'MERE! AHKAHAVA COURTESY DRANK!" she screamed, sending ripples of liquidity down her backside, flip-flops twinkling merrily in the florescent lights.
To my amazement, one of the girls working actually handed this fine lady a small cup, who betook it to the soda machines and filled it with something neon-colored that matched DERRICK's friend's hobbit-like toenails.
That's when I sorta lost it. I stood, very small, in the corner, laughing/sobbing to myself, thinking, "I'm surrounded by insane people. Oh, please don't let me get hurt. Or touched in any way."
Then I realized that I made the fourth of the insane quartet in the BK lounge. I was The Guy In The Corner Giggling/Crying To Himself.
Finally my victuals arrived, I beat a hasty retreat, dodged a few more video game demon cars on the short ride to The Saint, ate my little burger, and quickly threw it back up.
Some time later in the night, a short, squat black woman came into the bar while I was busy serving four or five other people. She yelled at me, "HEY!" I ignored her.
"HEYYYY!" she screamed louder over the music.
Then she snapped at me in exactly the manner Water Balloons did earlier: [SNAP!] "HIGH LIFE!"
I stopped what I was doing, walked slowly over to her, leaned down into her face, and said through gritted teeth, "My name is not High Life."
The whole Burger King experience had left that bad a taste in my mouth — in all senses of the phrase.
De La Soul said it twenty years ago, and it still applies today:
Bitties in the BK lounge.