Archive for May, 2009

It’s Always Snowing in Nova Scotia: “Rattlesnakes”

I wake up to cats puking.

“Shit!” Danielle yells, grabbing the cat and sprinting away from the rug. The cat lets out another burst of vomit and it barely misses my open suitcase.

It looks to be to opening of a fantastic day.

*****

Things are pretty quiet until Stephen Lawless arrives. Stephen Lawless. It’s a name that deserves to be said in full. A name that calls to mind some sort of dashing rogue or noble highwayman, plundering riches and evading justice through the sheer force of overwhelming charisma.

The truth is not far off.

For awhile I took to telling my friends in Vancouver “Stephen Lawless Stories”, tales in the vein of Chuck Norris Facts detailing Stephen’s legendary feats and prowess. The thing was, many of these stories were actually true, like the time he organized a football game with me as the ball (and was gracious enough not to spike after the touchdown), or the time he tried to combine us all into a giant fighting robot. Yet the true stories were so bizarre that they seemed no different than the fake ones.

Stephen Lawless was always a man who could convince you that a bad idea was good. A renowned layabout, he once skipped forty days of school in a single term. During his long stretches of unemployment he would bum money from his friends. But what would have been annoying or outright contemptible in other people was mostly forgiven with Stephen; he was just too damn charming for you to care.

Or at least, that’s how I remembered him. Since I left Amherst Stephen had gotten a job and settled into a serious and committed relationship. He was getting ready to join the Navy and planned to send his girlfriend part of his paycheck while he was gone. Once he even listened to me talk about my problems, and then gave good advice.

This was not the Stephen Lawless I knew.

Needless to say, I was somewhat apprehensive about seeing Stephen. Of all my friends, he seemed to have changed the most. It was going to be strange, the clash between my expectations of him and how he was now. I wasn’t sure how I’d react.

Of course, Stephen turned out to be pretty much the same.

*****

I break the news. “I’ve been telling my friends stories about you. Not true ones. More like those Chuck Norris memes”.
“Yeah?” Stephen asks. “Like what?”
“I told them that one time you used a rattlesnake as a condom, because it was the only thing you could find that was long enough.”
Stephen just looks at me, and without a second’s pause puts me in my place;
“You forgot one thing. When I was done, the rattlesnake came.”

*****

Stephen brings us team shirts, to celebrate the reunion of the League of Something Dammit. Apparently Danielle designed them, and he took care of getting them printed. The League is an old joke of ours; Benji, who wasn’t in the League at the time, swears to become our supervillain.

Stephen tells me about all the stuff he’s been doing to get ready for the Navy. He got his GED (a necessity due to his legendary high school truancy), had surgery to fix his eyesight (Stephen Lawless was carved by lasers), quit work at McDonalds, got a job at a call center, and is now just waiting to be called up. Despite being just as witty, charismatic and crude as ever, Stephen has somehow grown up and gotten more responsible. He’s not different, like I expected… he’s just got his shit together.

Later Jon gets off school and comes over. He talk about where to go for my birthday dinner; I suggest Cinders, a local steakhouse I used to really enjoy. It would be nice to get a good steak for my birthday, especially since the year before I had gone to a vegetarian restaurant simply because so many of my friends didn’t eat meat. It just seemed easier that way.

Unfortunately, I’m told that Cinders kind of sucks now. We run through some options, and someone tosses out the Big Stop, a nearby truck-stop diner. What follows is inexplicable. Jon, Stephen and Benji just start repeating Big Stop’s name, the tone getting deeper each time; soon they descended to a serious of low, guttural sounds that are either meant to convey manliness or to imitate pirates. This display goes on for several minutes. The idea of Big Stop is clearly very popular.

What the hell. I haven’t eaten at a truck-stop diner in years. Big Stop it is.

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May 8, 2009 at 10:06 pm 2 comments


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