Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Home On The Strange

I’m standing in the hallway of a hotel waiting for an elevator with Hunter Thompson’s luggage in my hand, trying to figure out how it, and I, got there. And where am I going?

My girlfriend had finished showing me her latest appearances in a selection of poetry chapbooks and she read the puzzled look on my face correctly. All of this Sapphic content seemed tacked on. I mean, she’d never said anything about these sorts of feelings to me. In fact, she worshipped male rock stars like gods.

“You’re wondering about…”

“Well,” I said, “it’s not like you’re…”

“No, not technically,” she said, “but I was interested in exploring certain…feelings in my work. And they get accepted much more easily than my usual stuff.”

“So this is a…a short cut to getting your poetry published?” I asked. Her eyes flashed darkly.

“That’s unfair! These poems are perfectly legitimate! They’re part of who I am!”

“Ok, ok. They just struck me as…a little out of character.”

She made a frustrated sound. “That’s because men are so unyielding and…limited in their conception of how fluid sexuality can be. Women can move in and out of these states of being.”

“If you say so.”

We made an attempt to get over this conversational hump and play catch-up with various topics until it was time to leave for her office. I hadn’t the faintest idea where we were going, but the subway soon deposited us a few blocks away from a grim, plain-looking office building that looked even more depressing in the dusk.

She introduced me to her boss, who looked a little like the Sundance Kid gone to seed. He had this large 70’s mustache that was trying hard to be hip clinging desperately to an insurance salesman’s face. There was a feeling of sadness over the entire enterprise, but then again I felt that way about nearly every facility that employed people for the purpose of making a living.

“Well, let’s go get him!” the boss said, ushering us to his car. “We may have to…encourage him to get ready. Hunter’s not always easy to…motivate,” he informed us as he was driving. “I mean, he’s great once he’s up, but…”

The rest of the sentence hung in the air. What did encouragement involve? Was it legal?

Once at the hotel, the boss used the house phone to try and rouse the Doctor from what one assumed was slumber.

“He’s not answering,” he said. “I think we have to go up.”

Up? Go up? Why? Doesn’t the hotel do this sort of thing?

The three of us took the elevator up to the room, whereupon the boss started to knock on the door.

“Hunter?…Hunter? Are you up? It’s time.”

The knocks and entreaties continued until a strange barking sound came from the other side of the door.

I imagined the Doctor doing battle with the bedclothes, like Quixote with the windmills. Take that, you bastard. I’ll slice you down the middle like a cheap suit if you don’t let me out of this goddamned bed. Where’s my machete?

After no little amount of noise and commotion, the door opened and we entered.

I was immediately struck by how vulnerable this gangly, balding man looked in his robe without his glasses. Where was the artillery?

“Hunter, c’mon, we’re on a schedule here,” the boss pleaded.

“Sure, sure,” the Doctor replied, his head craning around the room as if searching for something. The boss quickly introduced us and we were immediately the recipients of what I quickly gathered was a natural sense of courtesy and politeness.

“Would you like a Heineken?” the Doctor asked us as he busied himself with his toiletries. It was then that I noticed the room service cart. The top shelf was taken up by six or seven Bloody Marys, while the bottom tray was reserved for the Heinekens. Now even as a non-drinker, I wasn’t about to say no to a Heineken from such an esteemed host. But just as quickly as he’d made the offer, the Doctor’s eyes darted to the Heinekens and quickly sized up how few were left.

“Er…maybe you’d like a Bloody Mary instead?” he suggested.

I nodded my head and took the drink. He looked relieved.

It then became plain that the “toiletries” I’d seen the Doctor fussing with were far from the typical hotel amenities. Suffice it to say that this much of the legend was true. In 5 minutes, the good Doctor demonstrated his facility with various pharmaceuticals until there was nothing left for the maid to vacuum. Thus fortified, he took a shower.

Soon he emerged fresh as a daisy, with no trace of the torpor he‘d been in 10 minutes before. I suppose it was partly the Bloody Mary, but I had trouble comprehending what I’d just seen. How was he still standing? I’d just seen him shovel in a small drug store and he was, if anything, more alert and sober than before.

It was time to go. The boss nodded to me to help carry some of the luggage, which at first I resented. After all, I wasn’t on the payroll here and he had some nerve treating me like the hired help.

But there was another part of me that said: Holy cripes! I’m carrying Hunter Thompson’s suitcase!

Conclusion: The Scum Also Rises


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