30 April 2006



This weekend myself, the Lung, Ryan and Nathan attended a bar crawl in lovely Hermosa Beach, California. Just like last year it was a hell of a day - drinking before 3:00 PM, wearing floral arrangements (including a headband), gesticulating wildly, general good times. I will save you the details of the crawl itself because we've all been on them and they're all pretty much the same. Nothing noteworthy happened that would surprise you, including my insistence of hitting only on girls in committed relationships or those who have extreme psychological problems. In fact, I've gone ahead and decided that my Official Future Issue (TM) is a married, bipolar dancer. So if you're out there and you fit that specification, contact me so we can just get it over with and I can move along.

What I do want to describe to you is what transpired after the bar crawl ended. Here's the setup:

After attempting to drive home last year post-fiasco - bad idea - we decided that the most prudent course of action would be to rent a hotel room in the area and cab it back once we were well-blasted. So earlier in the day we left Nathan's car at the Residence Inn in Manhattan Beach. We shall now fast-forward to Midnight.

We stumble into the room, all officially wounded, tired, and in a state that in no way mirrors sobriety. We find that the room is far nicer than anything we four idiots should expect for $99 - full kitchen, dining table, pull-out couch, Queen-sized bed. We have procured Taco Bell and begin eating. So far so good. As perhaps a harbinger of the night to come, Nathan and the Lung begin to fight over who officially has claim to the last taco. Nathan takes it from the Lung by force, only to open it and announce, in a sad-kitten voice, "It's empty." And it was - just a shell with nothing in it. Glorious.

Eventually we all make our way into our pre-conceived sleeping arrangement: the Lung and I on the Queen bed (no jokes about two dudes in a Queen bed, please), Ryan on the air mattress, Nathan on the pull-out couch that looks like it could have doubled as The Rack during the Spanish Inquisition. The Lung announces that he has to violently expunge his bowels, a tip that we all shrugged off as mere superfluous information at the time. Had we known the horror that was about to befall us we likely would have snapped out of our collective stupor and fought the situation tooth and nail. By the time the Lung makes it back to bed I'm passed out. The last piece of setup information that you need to know is that this is just around 12:30 AM - a full 11.5 hours before we're to check out.

1:30 AM - I wake up needing to move my own bowels. Badly. Incidentally, I should mention that the gastro-intestinal systems of four guys in their mid-20s, while likely at their respective functional peaks, are not built for days of heavy drinking followed by the consumption of questionable Mexican food; it's a recipe for disaster. The room sounds like a low-grade Taiwanese fireworks factory and smells like a swamp. I stumbled to the bathroom noting this, which I think is significant considering I'm still a little light in the head. I make it to the toilet only to notice - and thank Christ on a Stick that I noticed - that there was no water in the bowl. Before the small part of my brain that WAS clicking on its last synapse stopped my hand from moving I had already flushed the toilet.

Water begins to rise. Water does not stop rising.

The Lung, it seems, earlier crapped out an entire pygmy rhinoceros that, like a block of steel, has plugged up our only bathroom receptacle. Horrified, I rip the porcelain top off the commode and grab the ball, stopping the toilet from filling any further. Being an plumbing novice I have no idea how to disconnect the device so the water will stop running and, after several minutes of very, very hazy analysis, I come to the conclusion that I have no choice but to let the mechanism do what it may. I release the ball and watch in abject terror as the water fills right to the rim of the bowl...and then shuts off. We've skirted disaster as narrowly as a Catholic Schoolgirl on Ecstasy at a 50 Cent concert. Resigned to my fate, I grab a keycard and make my way to the main building where there's another bathroom. Silently, I've begun to rigidly hate my little Asian bedmate.

I get to the main building and find the bathroom; all goes according the plan, though the events of the last few minutes have left me with a decided stomach ache. Thinking it might be a good idea to get something light in my belly I use my last 75 cents to purchase a Sprite in the lobby. Like I'm in the middle of the most cliched movie in cinematic history, the machine jams and my beverage is stuck somewhere in the queue. The Night Manager informs me that he doesn't know how to unstick it and that I'll have to wait until the morning. Awesome. I amble back to the room convinced that there's little chance the night can get worse. Apparently, I have no sense of foreshadowing. Like a true diplomat, the Lung tells me that he's sorry for clogging the crapper and that he's already put a call in to Maintenance...which won't get there until noon the next day. Awesomer.

3:00 AM - I've barely slept and the situation in the room is getting worse. The Lung, who's advancing fast into Mariah Carey territory, has decided that the room is "hot as sh*t" and has turned up the air conditioning (though he denies it the next morning). Normally this wouldn't bother me, but it's significant in this situation for two reasons:

1. I have no blankets, as I'm laying on top of the covers so as not to violate the Guy Code that you don't both sleep under the them. So...it's f*cking cold.
2. The near-breaching water in the toilet is, to stay away from the graphic details, murky. The bathroom smells like gangrenous feet. The air conditioning vent is right by the bathroom door, and every time the unit kicks on - which is roughly every 9.6 seconds - it blows the stench from room into the sleeping area.

My eyes are starting to water from the smell. Apparently not wishing to help the situation, Ryan is asleep on the floor below me talking in his sleep. Of course it's all nonsense, but Ryan has the courtesy to also be as loud as possible. He's muttering gems like "waffle waffle toaster puppy" and "Hulk Hogan drives midgets to the beach". Just doing his equal part, Nathan is across the room on the sofa bed laughing indiscriminately at God knows what. He's not awake. I know that everyone has strange dreams and that you're not supposed to be afraid of your roommates...but at this point I'm afraid of my roommates. I'm beginning to feel that this night might never end and I know there's no chance I'm going back to sleep.

4:00 AM - Every time the air conditioner clicks on I'm convinced I'm going to die. The bathroom now smells like Chernobyl. I've been gifted with knowledge I never asked for or wanted: I can now tell you what a radioactively-charred Russian orphan smells like. I fully expect that, at any moment, one of those radiated deer is going to stumble into the room, but instead of having four legs it's growing a tire on its front quad and instead of antlers it has Donald Trump's hair. The fumes from the toilet are being wafted in at an incredible rate by the air conditioner that apparently is the same model they use to cool off the f*cking Superdome. I don't want to look at my hands for fear that I'll find that my fingernails are being peeled off.

In keeping with the theme of Prolific Modular Dream Night (TM), the Lung has begun to mumble and kick at me violently. Either he was a pommel horse specialist for the Chinese Olympic Gymnastics Team in another life or he's breakdance fighting with Hansel; I can't nail that one down. I always thought that with Asians dreaming was all karaoke and pandas and nightmares were ninjas forcing you to do white kids' math homework. I'm starting to think that maybe I was off on that.

Nathan, to his credit, has decided that he will do anything to get off the evil torture device that is the sofa bed. He wakes up and asks the Lung why the air conditioning is on. The Lung tells him that he's hot, and Nathan makes a bold attempt to improve his situation:

"Er...well, this sofa bed over here seems to be a cold spot in the room. If you want to trade."

Valiant effort. It resulted in mocking, but a valiant effort nonetheless.

I'm definitely not going back to sleep at this point.

5:00 AM - The Lung wakes up, plays around on his Blackberry (that he's very impressed with) and decides he's going to get some drinks. As soon as he leaves the air conditioner clicks on again.

Had you been a normal, conscious being - human or animal - that walked in to the room at this point, the scent would overwhelm you to the point that you'd almost certainly black out. Before hitting the ground, however, you would assume that, somewhere within the dwelling, one of us had collected a corpse, marinated it in vinegar, defecated on it, rubbed it in sulfur, let it sit in the sun for two to three days and then lit it on fire. The toxic fumes, I'm now convinced, have begun to wear away the enamel on my teeth. I'm afraid for a cell phone to ring, terrified that the tiny spark generated therein will be enough combustion to make the room explode.

Ryan is now snoring like a g*ddamned lumberjack sawing a log; he's officially chopping brocco-li. Fortunately, Nathan begins sucking loudly on the remains out of his Taco Bell cup (the contents of which, because of the fumes coursing through the room, would likely be quarantined and studied by the EPA), leading Ryan to mercifully wake up and initiate this exchange:

RYAN: Nathan.
NATHAN: (Ergh).
R: Nathan.
N: What?
R: What are you drinking?
N: What?
R: Out of your cup.
N: Melted water.

The Lung comes back and hands out Gatorade. He inquires as to why the room smells. I pray for a nuclear holocaust and hope he dies last and in a lot of pain.

9:30 AM - I have not slept. However, I have procured some breakfast, so that's a plus. I go to the main building to check out so we can get the hell home. Everyone at the desk is very nice to me, clearly indicating that they know, somehow, what I've been through. The Night Manager was even thoughtful enough to leave my Sprite for me; the girl checking me out hands it over with a smile. It's a nice gesture, but I've already had some milk and the rest of my Gatorade, so I'm no longer thirsty. Thinking I'll be a nice guy, I hand it to the adorable little Indian girl standing next to me and playing with one of the zippers on the pocket of my cargo pants. She smiles.

Then her father comes rushing over, rips the soda out of her hands, slams it on the counter, asks me what I think I'm doing, and then admonishes the kid for taking something from a stranger. It takes just about the last shred of restraint my psyche is working with not to throw the can at his head and evoke some kind of defamation against Gandhi. I now wished I had force-fed the kid a hamburger.

In the end I just walked out to the car, and the first thing Ryan says to me is, "I can't wait to do this again next year."

I'm amazed by how quickly I'm inclined to - honestly - agree with him. I make a mental note, however, that I'll be getting my own room and sh*tting only in the bushes.