August 25 - Hockey Wrap Day 2/Grundler Bend In The Horizon

We weren't done wrapping yet.
There was still a truck to take back.
Crew members to call about citizenship status.
And pungent, disgusting used hockey gear to trap in a box, tape shut, and mail somewhere.
Whoever got that would have problems.

The feature that Holli asked me to work on was called Grundler Bend.
Grundler Bend is a notorious road out in the craggled woods of the far west suburbs. For decades its legend has loomed large and uninformed over the region.
Tales of haunted barns, derailed trains, ghost children, and vagrant murder have kept this stretch of road eternally autumnal.
My first Friday night as a licensed, American, 16-year old driver was spent driving down Grundler Bend. Back then a dilapidated barn lay dead alongside the gravel road before it encountered a rough levee of unguarded railroad tracks. A black, vociferous hound tore up the night, tethered to a weathered, one-room, one-bulb, one-man bungalow.
Creepy and fun and real.

That same year I got a job at the mall a few miles from the spine-goosing road.
During lunch breaks I blasted Danzig tapes from a boombox in the backseat of an '81 Buick Skylark, and roared down the speed limitless farm roads to Grundler Bend. Even during the day, that road had the breath of a sinister succubus.
One night I drove three theater girls, Laura, Kristen and Shelley, down Grundler Bend.
We stopped incredulously at the railroad crossing.
It was the one and only time anyone ever saw a train on those tracks.
A slow moving freight lit only by our headlights.
We waited, getting spooked out by Laura's tale of once entering the barn with some gymnastics guys, only to be chased away by hell-raisers with baseball bats. The shitty goons dented up her car.
Just then a beam of headlights shone in the rear view mirror.
I watched as an old black Chevy Blazer pulled up behind us, its idle loud and grumbling.
While the girls continued chattering about other boys, I got very nervous.
My imagination grew dark.
Not about ghosts or any of that stupid horseshit.
But about humiliation.
The rattling beast behind us probably housed teenage boys with a healthy amount of wayward testosterone. Judging by the mucky truck, they weren't the sons of doctors. These were shit kicker's kids. Generally speaking, they thrived on daddy's beer, kicking ass, and hee-hawing at the pain of the weak.

Trapped by the train, I was ill-equipped and Heterosexually outnumbered to successfully defend the honor of my three female friends.
The engine behind us revved.
I called attention to the truck.
For reasons unknown, Shelley chose this moment to open the car door.
Did she want to chat with the cementheads in that evil truck?
Discuss the current state of theatre with them?
Inquire about their latest rape conquests?
Whatever the reason, she had balls.
More balls than me.
The open door illuminated the interior of the Skylark, exposing a carload of naive theater chicks and their scrawny Danzig wannabe chauffeur. I panicked.
It was a parental tone I used only in emergencies.

The train showed no signs of ending.
Tired of waiting for the possibility of shitty painful nonsense, I took a less-than-bold action, but an action nonetheless.
I turned the car around.
Strangely, the truck did the same.
Synchronized 5-point turns on the narrow gravel bend.
Now we were behind them heading south.
It felt better, but not quite right.
The truck was driving intentionally slow in the middle of the road.
Less than 10 mph.
I tried to pass it on the left.
It swerved left.
I tried to pass it on the right.
It swerved right.
The truck was caked in a film of proud, cretin dirt.
On the side someone had scrawled WAR PIGS with fat artless fingers.
I knew this truck.
I had seen it parked near our horrible windowless high school.
Oh yeah.
It was Keith's.
He was a red-haired wrestler.
A senior.
He would sometimes pester my friend Denise in the cafeteria.
Keith and his posse could easily beat the shit out of me.
But I wasn't afraid of the known.
I tried to pass him one more time on the left.
Keith swerved left.
So I rode his ass annoyingly all the way back to the next intersection.
The girls didn't think this was a good idea.

At Musket Trail, instead of turning, he continued south on Grundler Bend.
Grundler Bend south of Musket Trail became an idyllic neighborhood of affluent horse ranchers.
I stayed on his ass through the tony pocket pasture.
The girls now thought I was being a stupid asshole.
But I knew what I was doing.
From my many lunch break getaways I learned that Grundler Bend dead ended after a few blocks. If Keith kept going south toward the dead end, it proved that he was now running from me.
Sure enough, the truck had just passed the last street that led out of the wine 'n' equine maze.
I made the left toward the main rural route and let Keith and his scathed-knuckle War Pig pals find their folly on their own.
I went from piss-pants wimp to empowered twerp in ten suburban minutes.
On Grundler Bend.

Since then the road has been paved.
The barn has been torn down.
The shack and its dog have long vanished.
The railroad tracks got a facelift.
Now it has guardrails.
Oh, and a large sprawl of mirrored suburban homes have been built just southeast of the misfabled spot.
But teenagers still cruise down it on the weekends.
They stop their cars onto the tracks and put it in neutral.
Then they pour baby powder on the bumper.
A cold chill is scheduled to occur at this point, and the car is rocked off the tracks.
Upon inspection, a child's mangled fingerprints mark the bumper.
These prints belong to the ghost of a schoolboy whose bus was hit by a train on the Grundler Bend tracks.

I believe this story.
Wanna know why?
Because it has happened in 4,000 other small towns around the country.
50000000 Elvis fans can't be wrong.

Last year I wrote a song about Grundler Bend.
The chorus has a good hook.
But the "middle 8" is a disaster.
And some of the lyrics are cringey duds.
It has sat unworked for eleven months.
I emailed the embarrassing song to Holli.
"I think you were meant to work on this."
So I said yes.

Verdict: Win

August 24 - Hockey Wrap Day 1

The convoy of box trucks returned to Chicago.
A bit of a French goodbye to Rockford, but hey, we had a lot of shit to do.

Today was the wrap.
Everything goes back.
Vehicles, gear, hockey equipment.
The deflated, re-dead Crowd goes back In-A-Box.
Everything gets counted.
Wardrobe, petty cash, time cards, meal penalties.
Everything gets eaten.
Donuts, popcorn, organic trail mix, gummi worms.

Everything goes back.
Including the 20' stick shift box truck with air brakes.
Julio and I went to the lighting company to pick up the truck.
It wasn't ready so we ate Mexican food.
Over tortas I asked him what he wanted to do in the business.
He liked the idea of directing.
Can't doesn't exist.
"Anything is possible."
It's true.
I was about to drive that kooky truck to the suburbs in rush hour traffic.

I straddled that damn beast again.
First gear still proved elusive for whatever reason.
But my air braking prowess improved.
Soon I was bouncing from the Ike to Stevenson with Julio on my trail.
Traffic felt obligated to happen and it did of course.
Our exit was clogged all the way up the ramp.
I chose this moment to have more difficulty finding first gear.
I had to put a lot of weight on it, like the Avenging Disco Godfather.
In doing so, I let my foot off the brake and started coasting backward toward Julio.
"You almost hit me back there," he would later say at the gas station.
But I was just trying to rid the streets of angel dust.

While I pissed my stress away in the clean suburban unisex restroom, Julio filled up the tank.
When we got back on the road, I noticed it wasn't completely full.
Finding another gave station proved to be a clustered, construction zoned, suburban planned, mall islanded, labyrinth of turning around to turn around again. I frenched a few curbs with the big growling truck.
It turns out you have to fill up these diesel tanks until the pump is dripping the last drops of fuel above the rim of the tank. A bartender's pour.
The truck was returned in one piece with no damage, and I proudly ended my tenure as a commercial truck driver for this job.

On the ride back to the city Julio sang along to The National.
He sang in a soft, pleasant off-key that was similar to his speaking voice.
Tomorrow he would begin an all day road trip to New York City.
While Julio sang, Holli called to see if I would like to PA for a feature.
It would be three weeks on overnights out in the west burbs.
I told her I would think about it.

Three weeks of work.
I could certainly use the money.
And I like Holli.
After all she got me into this business.
I sort of owe it to her.
I would just have to talk with Lauren.
Three weeks is like a tour.
On overnights it's like a European tour.

Verdict: Win

August 23 - Tony Mendoza: On Ice!

Outside the ice rink it was a zoo.
We all beat the sun to breakfast.
All 100 of us.
Another 100 were on their way.
I devoured something delicious and made-to-order from a truck, then started a now forgotten pre-dawn project the thin man had given me at the end of yesterday.
We were all making a commercial today.

The call sheet had listed the thin man's title as Phantom Tech.
It sounded spookier than it was.
Phantom is a camera that seems to run on a PC-based program.
If you're into cameras it might be of interest to you.
The thin man seemed pretty over cameras.
His Mac with Windows shared a cart with a monitor and a hodge podge of accessories.
I helped him maneuver the cart, tethered by a hundred foot snake of cables, onto the ice.
He told me to stay away from puddles.
Earlier I had seen a grip eat shit on a puddle while transporting an unwieldy beacon, and somehow keep it from falling with him.
Could have made the blooper reel.
Or the OSHA file.

The image I had of today was one of rushing across the ice to grab lenses, holding up white balance cards, maybe even slating the takes. But on the ice I met two camera assistants who were actually familiar with Phantom, its lenses, their purpose, making commercials, education, and knowledge.
So they did all that shit.
I would rush across the ice though.
To retrieve water and coffee.
Like PA's do.
Because I'm a PA.

Meanwhile the Horsey-Cam guys were having laid back problems with their mighty contraption.
The little city of beams and tracks and electro-pulleys had no juice.
The camera hung lifeless with potential energy.
Cody the director used kinetic energy to display impatience and frustration.
The Horsey-Cam guys didn't seem too worried about it.
A decision was made to manually push the camera down the track.
We watched as a large chunk of the budget was reduced to a man shoving a camera down a space age curtain rod.
From our perspective at the monitor, the image looked shaky and slow.
Like the player at home was a fraidy cat.
Cody pulled the plug on Horsey-cam.
All that crap had to come down.
All that money down with it, too.
I heard it cost something like $10,000 just to ship.
The Horsey-Cam guys invented a dent in the equipment as an explanation for the failure, and enjoyed the rest of the day away from the rink.

Some local players donned in Blackhawks and Flyers jerseys entered the ice, along with a man from the NHL clad in referee stripes. They skated around the set, stepping carefully over the myriad of wires and cables. Occasionally they would snag a cord with the edge of their skate.
I sometimes wondered if the combination of metal, electricity, and frozen water would make for a death-filled afternoon.

A famous hockey player I had never heard of was summoned to set.
He was handsome and nice and short a front tooth.
The female extras took note.
I think even some of the Crowd-In-A-Box corpses livened up.
The assistant director began shouting with great enthusiasm.
And action!
The locals skated quickly while the camera stayed fixed on the talent.
The extras cheered from behind the glass.
The art department flashed camera bulbs.
And cut.

Everyone did this a lot.
Between takes Cody came to us to review the shot in slo-mo.
Then he would mumble something that Jane - the script supervisor - couldn't hear.
I liked Jane.
She seemed flighty and spoke in non-sequiturs.
I became the translator and liaison between the director and the script supervisor.
Eventually Cody, the AD, and the ref choreographed the action and got the shot.
I noticed I was the only PA on the ice.
The thin man had me get him a water.

Sven - the production coordinator assistant - seem surprised to see me.
"I forgot you were on this. You're like a ninja!"
At the craft services table, a tall funny lady named Gail asked me my name.
I gave her this information.
"Holli told me to be nice to you."
Surprised, I used the word "wow".
Thank you, Holli!

For the Steady-Cam shots a little wooden playpen on pucks had been built. The camera operator was a Midwestern curiosity with a weeble wobble waddle and a farmer's bouffant.
Her name was Billie.
Billie sat cross-legged in the 3'x3' box while two grips on ice skates pushed her at top speed.
The Steady-Cam caught the pro athlete racing down the ice.
I ran alongside them in my sneakers keeping the cable snake away from the skates.
Non-union ice gaffing.

By now it was close to 3pm and we were goddamn hungry.
Someone brought us some paper plates and chicken.
We ate on the ice.

A few minutes later we were given an official lunch break.
I laid down as best I could on the floor in the cab of the camera truck.
It meant my right leg was elevated on the seat and my head used the parking brake as a pillow.
I wilted into this uncomfortable shape, resembling a Crowd-In-A-Box refugee, and stole fifteen minutes of actual sleep.

The second half of the day was mostly spent in the upper deck, away from the action. The grips were up there making wisecracks on their own radio channel.
"She ain't from this planet, I tell you dat."
Poor Lyne.
The pro athlete had wrapped at lunch and was long gone.
His stand-in skated for him.
The art department tossed scoops of chipped ice in the air.
He really did look like the back of the pro athlete.

A glitch with the PC-based Phantom camera held up the end of the day.
The thin man explained that the problematic program was designed by two feuding brothers who sabotaged each other's work.
In the end one of the brothers won because the glitch never went away.
That's a wrap, I guess.

I helped the thin man break down the endless wonderland of camera minutia by taking a very long time to unravel and wrap the 100 foot snake of frostbitten cords. They were tangled like a college kid who just discovered reggae and was trying to grow deadlocks.
Between my sleep deprived grunts of "fuck", I listened to the thin man's advice.
"Don't get seduced by this business."
I assured him I wouldn't.

Nash and Julio - two PA's I had hardly seen all day - helped me load the camera truck.
Nash gave me some shit.
"I saw you out there on the ice. Schmoozing with the producers."
I went back to wrapping up the 400 feet of cable.
"He wants to be a cameraman but he doesn't want to load the camera truck."
Jesus, man.
For the fucking record, I did help load the fucking camera truck.
After I untangled and wrapped that 400 foot rat's nest of goddamn cables.

The hockey player guys all changed back into their civies.
I had no idea how horrid hockey equipment smelled after use.
Holy shit.
It's like crotch rot incubated in a sauna fueled by farted-on sweatsocks.
Call The Johnson Smith Company, we've got a new gag perfume.

I spent the next set of hours doing traditional PA chores like collecting radios, tables, chairs, coolers, drinks, snacks, garbage cans, and garbage. And looking for more things to do.
Around 9pm there were no things to do.
Except beer.

In a hotel room, Ned, Chip, Julio, Sven and I split a case and dished laughingly about the day.
I learned that one of the hockey guys had walked off the shoot.
It seems wardrobe had talked at him like he was a stupid child.
I liked wardrobe.
She had a fiery spirit.
I guess that's a euphemism for bitch or the other word.
On a particularly stressful pre-production day I had taken her food order.
"Just get me a fucking chicken salad."
"So that's one fucking chicken salad," I repeated.
She didn't laugh.
Still I liked her.
But I could see a hothead hockey guy walking off the shoot and using the other word.
That's the word in case you were wondering.

Spendy - a PA mentioned earlier in this saga - drove the shuttle between the set and the hotel.
When the Horsey-Cam guys got an early cut, he drove them to the hotel.
He was gone for over three hours.
The last time Spendy shuttled the Horsey-Cam guys, their tongues hung out as they passed State Street Station, a gentlemen's club. They expressed a vocal interest in the club.
We, too, passed the strip club.
It's a grey windowless rectangle further tackied by pink and turquoise neon garbageness.
Our tongues remained within our mouths.
In the three hours he was gone, Spendy did not answer calls or texts.
He returned wearing sunglasses and seemed a bit blurry.
"Where were you?" asked Sven.
"Traffic was bad on State Street."
This would become a catch phrase.
"Do you need me to work tomorrow?"
Sven said no.

Here's a one-liner I learned today about the industry:

The beer felt good.
It had been a long day.
Then Ned and I split a bottle of cheap chardonnay.
That did not feel as good.
Time to end the endless day.

Verdict: Win

August 22 - No Sleep Til Rockford

4:45 a.m.?
Oh yeah.

I joined a convoy of box trucks making their way to an ice rink in Rockford, Illinois.
A thirty second commercial for a video game about hockey would happen tomorrow.
Today we were preparing for the shoot.
I drove the camera truck, filled waist high with metal roadie cases.
Chip - a big hockey fan who was happy to PA for this shoot - and I unloaded it.
Everything was heavy and pricey.
Many cases were eight feet long, resembling giant robotic french fries.
A thin man in the middle of his life appeared and offered detached direction.
Me and Chip sheathed 100 feet of cables in a mesh, velcro snakeskin.
It took a while.
After that Chip hung around wardrobe, where the girls are.
I stayed by the thin man and unwittingly became his assistant.
My purpose found me.
The thin man had me find outlets to charge batteries, create a shiv to balance his computer evenly on the camera cart, bring him water and coffee, search under the bleachers for extension cords, and separate camera cases into two piles: Red and Horsey-cam.
In the pile of things to be organized laid a heavy lump covered in a furnie pad.
"See what that is," the thin man said.
I unwrapped the weighty papoose to reveal the jack and tire irons for the camera truck.
I decided this would be a good time to try out some fun humor.
"It's a human skull."
The thin man looked up, puzzled.

Meanwhile, the Horsey-Cam guys arrived about an hour late.
They were an LA duo, a couple of Van Nuys looking guys.
One had a food-filled track coach look, the other seemed like an updated Regal Beagle regular.
But they were polite and talked to me like I was a fellow citizen.
Horsey-Cam is a larger-than-death erector set of adjustable beams and electronic pulleys that allows a camera to travel like a bullet down a track. A glorified Late Night Thrill-Cam if you will.
It took ten men and as many hours to set up on the ice.

During the set up, Cody the director put on his skates and channeled his inner brat, zig zagging around the grips while they assembled the tall, heavy architecture on the freshly zambonied rink. Behind the plexiglass, Joanie - the nice woman who had hired me - made phone calls and tied up all the loose ends of the production.
I guess at some point yesterday Cody pointed at Joanie and told other people in the room that he did not like her, or something cool and awesome like that. So today Cody took the opportunity to fire pucks directly at the glass in front of Joanie, which added an obnoxious boom to the day. Joanie politely asked Cody not to do that. Technically Cody is an adult.

The thin man went on a break so I wandered around looking for work.
Chip and Ned - a joker of a PA - were by the bleachers assembling the Crowd-In-A-Box.
To avoid having to pay an extra 100 extras, the art department rents this accurately named bizarrity. Inside the box is a crowd of deflated human torsos with heads, crammed and smooshed like rubber seaweed. Four different types of people are represented: a black guy, a blond guy, a woman with olive complexion, and a guy with a baseball goatee.
The black guy has the 100 yard stare of a lobotomized cat.
The blond guy looks as if he seen every war horror in Afghanistan, Vietnam. and both Iraqs.
The woman still hasn't gotten over the complete loss of her uterus and legs.
The goatee guy looks like it's the last day of his life, and he's at an Arby's.
They are morose and weird.
I helped Chip and Ned strategically place them with variety throughout the bleachers. It seems this game is a real melting pot.

From the bleachers I looked around the rink:
Grip and electric, the Phantom camera, Steady-cam, Horsey-cam, sound, the director, assistant director, director of photography, video tech, art department, wardrobe, the production coordinators, and us.
Hair and make-up, the 2nd assistant director, script supervisor, the editors, craft services, the talent and extras would arrive tomorrow.
150 people for 30 seconds.

It was getting late, close to 9pm.
We had to be back at 4:30am.
The hotel was 30 minutes away.
Joanie handed Ned and I a stack of call sheets to deliver to each individual crew member.
Ned and I grouchily spent twenty precious minutes slipping them under their doors.
Around 11pm, I laid down and set my alarm for 3:30am.

I learned a lot today.
I'll learn even more in a few hours.

Verdict: Win

August 21 - The Parents Meet

Dark, street lit sweat left damp shadows on the air mattress sheets, like bacon grease on paper towels.
"Time to make the Go-Nuts."
Sometimes I make inside jokes that are just for me.
Usually around 6am.
Lauren went back to sleep.
I drove to Albany Park and picked up a guy named Spendy.
We were to drive down to Hickory Hills, where one of us would drive a truck back to a lighting warehouse in the city.
I immediately messed up the soul handshake he offered, diluting it into an awkward vertical boy scout handshake.
It's 7:30am.
Car Talk doesn't even come on for another 90 minutes.

In Hickory Hills, we explored the rental truck garage, looking for signs of life.
I climbed some stairs that led to an indoor rooftop of supplies.
Eventually an easy going guy in coveralls found us, but couldn't find the truck we had reserved.
The only truck he could find was a 20 foot box truck with a manual transmission.
"Can you drive stick?" Spendy asked, 'cuz Spendy couldn't.
I could and climbed up into the cab.
"It's a nice truck," said the easy going guy in coveralls.
"6-speed, air brakes..."
I got nervous.
"Air brakes?"
Oh no.
I drove air brakes once.
Ten years ago.
It was stressful and difficult and dangerous.

And just like that we were off.
The shifter was long like a sword.
It jutted out forward from the floor, like it wanted to be a parking brake.
Or like it had killed the parking brake and now ruled the truck as a dictator.
First gear was hard to find.
I had to sit on the edge of the seat to shift.
My forearms used the steering wheel as a fulcrum.
The hydraulic springs made for a lumpy ride.
It felt like driving a fat metal camel.

At the tollbooth I pressed the brakes and came to a harsh stop 20 feet in front of the attendant.
Then struggled to find first gear.
The air brakes sneezed and wheezed.
They seemed irritated.
I was now glad it was 8am on a Saturday morning.
Less humans to maim.

The expressway was nice.
I even put the radio on.
But all I could get was John Mellencamp.
It seems NPR isn't a preset on these 20 foot box trucks.
Hey but ain't that America.

Pulling off onto Western Avenue proved more complicated than I had hoped.
The light turned green but I couldn't find first gear.
I tried and I tried.
It felt like I was being forced to find the clitoris on a drunk dead girl at a frat party while asshole douchebags with video cameras lewdly jeered on.
Well, maybe it wasn't that bad.
But that green light sat there for a while and so did the truck.
And there were a few horns.
Fuck it, I got it to the lighting warehouse, drove Spendy to Fletcher in my van and ended my work day by 9:30am.

Lauren's folks and I enjoyed brunch at M Henry.
We beat the crowd and ate well.
Poached eggs, poblano pepper & asparagus quiche, blackberry blisscakes.
"Fucken' yum yum, man," I chose not to say.

Then I gave them a driving tour of Chicago.
In the late 90's I used to drive those stupid trolleys and give goofy tours of the city.
Some of my stale jokes came back to me.
Near the museum campus there stands a statue of Christopher Columbus, with one hand in the air.
"That's a statue of Christopher Columbus when he discovered..the taxi."
Still gets a laugh.

We saw the Mag Mile, Hancock Building, Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building, Daley Plaza, Thompson Center, City Hall, Board of Trade, Carbide and Carbon Building, Jewelers Building, Trump Tower, IBM Building, Marina City, Leo Burnett Building, 333 W Wacker, Merchandise Mart, Lyric Opera, Chicago Stock Exchange, Sears Tower, Lower Wacker construction, Smurfit Stone Building, Art Institute, The Bowman & Spearman, the "cliff dwellers", Millenium Park, Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, Soldier Field, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, lakefront view of the skyline, Navy Pier, Lake Shore Drive, and much much more.
It lasted 14 hours and they loved it.

For dinner we drove out to Arlington Heights and met my mom at California Pizza Kitchen.
We decided on a casual spot, but I forget why.
I think so when the bill came it wouldn't be a big thing.
All of our parents'es all got along with one another.
I was even less of an asshole toward my mom than usual!

Then we walked to the Arlington Heights Center for the Performing Arts and watched Lauren reprise her role as Lisa Madigan in Rod Blagojevich: Superstar! The show still holds up a year and a 23 hung juries later.

Afterward and for no reason, Arlington Heights was throwing itself a party in the street.
Some of the cast hung out with our folks, drinking plastic cups of beer and wine under a tent without enough chairs. Meanwhile an AOR cover band blasted out spot-on versions of Journey, Boston and Guns 'n' Roses chestnuts.
I was getting the social yawns, offering very little in conversation.
Tomorrow was going to be a long day, starting at 4:45am.
I had to economize my speech and friendliness.

We walked our respective parents back to their cars and decided it was a good night.
My mom even made plans to come out to Pittsburgh with us for Thanksgiving.
We'll have to figure out the logistics of sanity on that one, but ultimately this is a good thing.

Verdict: Win

Delay Part III

All that shit you hear is true.
About having to live life before writing about it.

The last entry was distracted.
Trying to write about the near past while the present has control.

I'm working as a PA on a spooky indie movie.
We work every day from 5pm 'til sunrise.
Irish whisky has replaced everything.

I miss my loved ones.
I miss writing.

I will be back.

August 20 - Partly Party

Today Lauren's parents drove in from Pittsburgh.
It was their first time visiting Lauren in the Windy City.
For the occasion I got four hours of sleep.

It was another dumb sloppyhot day in this town.
We kept cool with summer cocktails.
I like Lauren's folks.
They're no phonies.
Lauren's dad, a longtime music teacher, acquired a french horn for our apartment. My girlfriend scored my cocktail-induced nap with muffled scales from the living room. I awoke to the savory aroma of dinner.
Why has no one invented an olfactory alarm clock?

Lauren's menu:
Cheese and charcuterie from Spain and Italy
A tri-mato caprese salad of roasted tomatoes, fresh tomatoes from the Dowden's garden, and tiny marble tomatoes that burst and blast in your grateful mouth
Homemade ricotta gnocci in a homemade sauce
White peach crisp

We ate and sweat in the clammy confines of our modest kitchen.
Everything tasted delicious and humid.
During dinner, I got a call to see if I could PA tomorrow.
Normally I would say yes, but tomorrow Lauren's folks would be meeting my mom.
Work understood.
During desert, I got another call to see if could just pick up a truck in the morning and get paid for a half day.
I said okay this time.
After all, the big meeting would not take place between 7am and 9am.
Besides, when did I ever need sleep?

An inflatable mattress oppressed the living room.
The high velocity floor fan bullied the sound quality.
We watched The Party at high volume.
Peter Sellers and the heat hypnotized me.
In the trance my satisfied belly told me to sleep immediately on the mattress in front of the TV within the first eight minutes of the film.
I was out by the end of the set up.

Party animal or partly animal?

Verdict: Win