I am bored. I know that statement is pathetic. It is virtually impossible to be bored in The City of Lights. There is always some celebration of some culture, sporting event, or holiday from around the world. There is always a private function, public function, impromptu function, promising good vibes and good libations. There is always some house party, club party, fundraising party (ugh), street party, willing to accept donations or generous spirits. There is always some art exhibit, art installation, art walk, art class to enjoy; contemplate life or watch people walk around looking like Cher from the nineties with a splash of Academy Awards’ Bjork. There is always a museum, showcase from a dead civilization, a society honoring a dead icon, or a theatre screening a dead-medium (silent movies) from a dead visionary. My point? There is always something to do in The Land of Palm Trees.
‘I am bored’ probably has nothing to do with the lack of activity in my chosen city as it has more to do with the lack of enthusiasm I have for my current state in life. That is why when an old—I am talking about Sanford and Sons’ old—unfriend calls me out of nowhere saying, “I’d like to make amends. Can you come over for dinner?” I am enticed. “I can, but will I?” I said, with a bit of spite in my voice. "Can I ever catch a break with you? Just once.” “If you truly want to make amends, you would realize you caught all the breaks and broke them all. You are lucky I answered the phone.” Silence. “Point noted,” he exhales heavily. He is never acquiesced anything, not even letting someone, namely me, go through a door before him. “If it is in a public place, I will meet you in ten,” I offered though every bone in my body advised the opposite. “That may be difficult without a car. Unless you’re willing to pick me up,” he said with a hint of giddiness. As much as I was not comfortable going over his house, I was more uncomfortable having him in my car and tasked with the responsibility of getting him back home. One thing us Angelenos love—our freedom to flee without declaration, negotiation, or worse…caretaking, which is the nice way of saying babysitting. But, as it stands, I am bored. And when I am bored I tend to let my defenses down, which is a fancy way of saying I will walk into the jaws-of-drama. It is like strapping myself into a roller coaster I know will cause me to vomit and defecate. Not necessarily in that order.
Walking into his place I see nothing has changed. Same furniture. Same bad art. Same phonograph (told you he was old!) playing the same music from the same deader-than-dead musicians who were barely musicians when they were alive. “Drink?” He says with a coy smile. I notice his teeth. That is different. His teeth used to remind me of this British boxer I met at a party who used to open bottles of beers with his teeth. Veneers? Caps? “Braces and a lot of reconstructive surgery,” he divulged. My astonishment must of have been obvious. I guess something has changed in five years. He brings me my drink. Wow. Gin. Strong. Perfect. “I remember,” he winks as he heads back into the kitchen. His kitchen looks as if a Russian immigrant grandmother was paired up with an African tribe high priestess, on a reality show to decorate a modern-day kitchen, except he had better appliances.
I am starting to wonder if I should bring up the mends-making so we could get down to business or wait to see whatever he may have up his sleeve. “Mini quiche or lobster pâté?” He whisks a full tray of tantalizing treats under my nose. “Alrighty,” I said. But to myself I was saying, “If this fool is starting with hors d'oeuvres he wants to make something, but it is not an amends.” “Let me clear something up befor—,” I stop in my tracks. From his bedroom, a barely twenty-year old Islander walks in wearing a see-through sarong, no underwear, barefoot, wood bracelets on each wrist, no underwear, and one single braid that encompassed all his hair and went all the way down his back past the sarong. He turns off the phonograph. He turns on the compact disc player. He dances to Banjaara. Did I mention his sarong is see-through and he does not have any underwear on? Just making sure. I look at my drink, then to my old unfriend. I am wondering what else he put in here. “Oh, that’s Vishal, he’s Fijian. Isn’t he sweet?” “How would I know? I have not met him, but I have clearly met his penis.” It came out so fast (pun desperately intended—HE HAS NO UNDERWEAR ON) I had not realized I said it until my old unfriend volunteers, “Oh, that’s the best part. He says it constricts the flow.”
I understand. I walked into this. I put it out into the ether by tempting the universe with my glib statement, “I am bored.” So, it answered with a resounding, “How you doin’ now?” I did not know if I should put my drink down, leave my jacket he put in the closet when I arrived, and bolt out of the door with the speed of Montezuma’s revenge. But let us be serious, I do not leave unfinished drinks, especially when they are delicious. And I am not about to leave my vintage MJ jacket (not that MJ, the other MJ. No, the other one). I take a gulp of my drink. “Can I freshen that up,” he says with a twinkle in his eyes. “If you are pouring, I am drinking.” Vishal continues to dance his ass off. His moves are a combination T’ai Chi and Madonna’s “Vogue”. Yes, Vishal has yet to speak. Actually, he has not made any sounds. My old unfriend, giddy as Alex P. Keaton would get when anyone would talk about money, stares in awe.
I decide it is time to act out a scene from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. But before I could, another barely twenty-year old Fijian saunters out of the bedroom, as if the music was beckoning him. At least he is displaying his penis behind a mock-wedding veil. Now this guy has class. “What have I gotten myself into?” I utter, under my breathe. He has a colored waist strap-on. It is maroon with some type of stones or rocks embedded in the seams. Yes, he is dancing too. His style? A harmonious marriage of Anita Baker and Joe Crocker when they sing. They do not dance together, as if they do not see each other.
“Please, tell me they are not brothers,” I said with pleading eyes. “For God sakes no. They’re cousins,” he declared with indignation and horror that I would suggest such a thing. I do not know where this is going but this homing pigeon is ready to make its return trip. “Look, is there something you want to tell me? Because I got to go and your Fijian version of American Bandstand is about to take a wild right turn and I am going left. Exit stage front-door left.” He nods as he freshens up my drink, again. Without notice, he pulls me in close. He puts his arm around my waist, like we are going to bust out with some unorthodox waltz. “An old friend of mine is meeting with the GOD of LA.”
the GOD of LA
by stephán amery mckenzie
I interrupt, “You know the GOD of LA?” “No. You know the GOD of LA?” He quickly reciprocates the question. “I am confused,” I say exasperated. He hushes me the way I have seen rapists do on the television show SVU. Not cool. He pulls me closer. “See if this deal works out and I’m brought in, I’ll be vetted. Depending on the ‘wrong’, I could be cancelled out.” It is all coming together now. He needs me to be ‘cool’. “I need you to be cool about whatever happened between you and me. It was a long time ago and I’m truly sorry. I thought I’d make amends. I brought gifts. They’re legal,” as he directs my eyes to the Sky Dancing meat sacks. I feel like Louis, my old unfriend Lestat. He was trying to buy forgiveness the only way he knew how, the way he would want to be propositioned. Like Lestat, he would never understand.
I finished my fresh drink with one gulp (I told you I do not leave unfinished drinks and it was delicious. Besides, there was no reason to be completely rude, though he was). I hugged him. He held on tighter and longer than a man who claims he just wants to be friends. I murmur, “Thank you,” in his ear. His face lights up. I go to the pseudo Happy Meals. I open my wallet, hand them each a twenty-dollar bill, “Get on a bus, the Metro, or take Lyft for all I care, but get the heck out of here.” I head for the closet, retrieve my MJ jacket and head for the front door. I open the door. “But…but you said," he beckons. I turn around, “Yes, thank you. I am no longer bored. I am cured.”