Mine is in California - part 1 (By Stephán Amery McKenzie)

There is no way I could head back to the great sunshine state without seeing my bro-husband. I would not hear the end of it. If he visited California and did not see me I would cut off his balls, so I understood. We have been friends since before we were potty trained, at least that is what we tell people because he wetted the bed until he was well into his formative years. Not many things last that long, except the surprising longevity of reality television.

He and Laurie are going to make me dinner, which means I needed to bring the booze, a lot of it. Then at some point we would end up toilet papering or egging a childhood friend’s home. Ah, simpler times. But before I knock on his door, I can tell something is up. I am not sure what, but I have a feeling this is not going to be the same old night I have come to favor.

​He opens the door. He is wearing a new shirt that has a digitized picture of us on it. He bear hugs me, lifting me up in the air. I bang the top of his head like bongos. Letting me down he gives me a big kiss, on the lips. Yep, he is drunk. This kiss is not a ‘I’m almost drunk so if we have sex I can blame it on the alcohol kiss’, it is a ‘I love you but I’m emotionally fucked up and social constructs says I can only show affection if I’m drunk enough that I think I can wrestle a polar bear’ kiss. Now I know he has had a fight with Laurie. That is the only reason he would be drunk this early, that and if it was football season. Unfortunately, baseball was just edging out of pre-season.

​“What happened?” I decide to get it out in the open to see what the deal is with him and Laurie. “I missed you. Do I have to have a reason to have shirts made with me and my best bud on it? I got you one,” he deflects. He heads to the kitchen counter. I see the back of the t-shirt. It has just a picture of him with an arrow pointing at his face. Underneath it is reads, ‘I’m the prettier one’. I cannot help myself; I let out the loudest laugh. “Hashtag truth,” he says, laughing his ass off. He brings a tray of shots and beer. Eight shots and four cans of beers. “I guess there is no time for tandem jumping,” I say, anticipating the damage. “Go big…,” we both say, “…Or suck my cock!” We down four shots each and shotgun two beers each. I belch so violently I get a concussion. “You got 9-1-1 on speed dial, right?” I ask, with all seriousness. “That only happened once! Stop being a cocksucker and get over it,” he says, as he tries to pick a wrestling fight with me. See the last time we got as messy as a ‘Mel Gibson rant’ I fell into an empty pool, broke by ankle and cracked my head open. I almost died from blood loss because he was dialing 1-1-9 for twenty minutes. He has never forgiven himself for it.

​"Are we going to talk about it? If we do not do it now it is going to come out later and at the most inopportune time,” I beg. “California has made you soft. You watching OWN now?” His deflections are masterful. “Let’s go,” he squeals. He is super giddy. Either something really cool is about to happen or I am just not drunk enough yet so I am missing the joke. “Yes, you’re not drunk enough,” he says bringing me two more cans of beers to shotgun. It is like he is Darryl Revok from “Scanners”. If you finish these two beers before I can grab that beer off the counter and finish it, I’ll wash your car naked.” “Next to my Bible thumping neighbor?” I clarify. “Wherever. However, if I win you must dress up as Mrs. Doubtfire and go to church with me and my mother.” His giggling is more infectious than Anderson Cooper’s viral video. “This is the same church where they did mock burnings of witches and preached the real burnings were in actuality the weeding out the first seeds of homosexuality?” I shake my head as I watch him nodding and rubbing his hands together like a diabolical evildoer. “You are Satan’s spawn,” I declare. He dances a little jig. Unfortunately, we never turn down a bet, no matter how depraved or humiliating losing will be. It is one of our things. I already know he is going to cheat. So, I am not listening to his count down, I am watching his feet. He is counting down from five to one, but as soon as he hits three he books it to the counter. GAME ON!

​Pissed, he checks my clothes. We have an implied no spillage rule. One drop and you forfeit. Not a drop anywhere. He uses the magnifying glass he keeps handy in his silverware drawer to double-check. I am as dry as a group of sixteen year olds standing outside the neighborhood liquor trying to get someone of age to buy them wine coolers. “Your neighbor is gonna have a field day,” he says, realizing the magnitude of his loss.  “I can see it now. Your untanned ass. My neighbor, with Bible in hand, spouting hell and brimstone verses. Your snake of Lucifer shaking its eye in my neighbor’s face. Causing my neighbor to try to perform an exorcism on you. Life is good,” I gloat, with no shame. “Hardy-har-har. You got this one. But this ain’t over. Enjoy it while it lasts,” he shouts, as he moons me before leaving the room.

​He is right. We have had some epic (God, did I just use epic? Ugh.) bets that have had both of us ‘showing our asses’. There was this one, we had to be nineteen, where we said the last to smoke an entire ounce, and get a bum to break a five-dollar bill, had to walk in on the other’s parents having sex. I have only seen people in porn do stuff like that. I still cannot look his mother in the eyes. To this day his dad still comes up to me and says, “Next time you wanna to see Ness, just ask. Everyone else does.” Ness is his nickname for his…attachment. Its full name is “Loch Ness Fucking Monster”. As if ‘Fucking’ was really necessary. If you cannot tell, he is super proud of Ness. Ness is bigger than all the lies his son and I told in junior high school. There was a segment of our youth when we went through an oral phase. We would bet on eating or swallowing a bunch of vomit-worthy stuff. During that phase, we bet whoever puked first after drinking a mix of a half a cup of hot sauce and a half a cup of vinegar would have to masturbate in the gym locker room. All of our fifth-grade classmates called him Harry P. When substitute teachers asked him his name, the class would yell out H.P. Every time substitute teachers would call him Harry P. the entire class would laugh. H.P. was short for Harry Palmer.

​We walk down the block, both of us wearing these ridiculous t-shirts with our faces on it. The back of my t-shirt has a picture of me with an arrow pointing at my face. Underneath it is reads, ‘I’m the smarter one’. I will not tell him but I love the heck out of these shirts. He (probably) knows anyway. We turn the corner and there is a bunch of our party-friends preparing to play Ice Shoe Relay. Someone by the keg yells, “Hurry your asses up. We’ve been waiting!” It feels like I walked in on my own surprise party. I dance a little jig. “See aren’t you glad you’re home,” he says, patting me on the ass as he runs over to join in the fun.

​Ice Shoe Relay is the best of the best group games. You need a grassy hill, preferable big. Blocks of ice, one for each participant. A keg. And two stakes and six horseshoes. You split the participants equally into two teams. Both teams start at the top of the hill. Each team member slides down the hill. If a team player falls before s/he gets at least three-fourths down the hill that person has to rush back and start over. If that person makes it at least three-fourths down the hill and falls s/he can carry the ice block the rest of the way. The three-fourths point is marked with caution tape or spray paint. After the person reaches the bottom s/he will have to fill a clear plastic cup full of beer from the keg, no foam allowed. After s/he pounds full beer, s/he must hit a ringer with one of the three horseshoes or pound another beer and try again. This continues until the player hits a ringer. Once this happens the next team member can start the trek down the grassy hill. My t-shirt twin hollers, “Let’s go ugly one!

​Wet asses. Sore throats. Bloated tummies. Stupid fun. Who could ask for anything more? Ruht-roh, he is beckoning me over. I can tell, now he wants to talk. “Laurie gave me the ultimatum.” Now I can see why he did not want to talk about it. I am surprised she waited this long but I cannot say that. I cannot be that guy. “I am surprised she waited this long! You are a fuck-up for not nailing that down sooner.” Okay, I am that guy. What can I say? I am drunk. And I am me. “I know. But I’m scared shitless if I do and scared shitless if I don’t.” “You are scared because she is the best, probably the best you will ever find but she is also the only one you have known. I think that is natural. But that is why you are a man, to make the hard decisions and the right one, which you have been doing. Do not fuck that up now.” My words hit him like a deer in the headlights. “Maybe I should come out and stay with you for a while, clear my head. See what’s going on out in your neck of the woods.” He pretends this is the first time he has thought of this. “You’re more than welcome to come ‘visit’, you know this. But your life is here. Mine is in California.”

Mine is in California (part 1)

By Stephán Amery McKenzie