I was invited to tell a story at the wonderful Lewiston-based storytelling event The Corner. The theme of the event was “Blush,” and so I told a rendition of the following story, which I’ve told here in a previous entry. Enjoy.
Here is how the story originally appeared (with a structural edits here and there) in this blog:
I spent 4 years of my teenage working at a place in the Maine Mall food court called Souper Salad. Not unlike now, I was really outspoken about what I did and did not like. I was also really into that super-crappy-but-kind-of-campy-and-cool Mark Harmon movie Summer School, in which a ne’er-do-well teacher encourages his class to write letters to companies they love and/or hate. I was a big lover of Fresh Samantha juice, a bottle of which I enjoyed every shift at the mall, and so I wrote the company a loving letter.
The wonderful people at the company sent me a sweatshirt and coupons for 5 free juices, all of which I drank in one shift. On the handful of bottles of orange juice I enjoyed, the company boasted in print that there were the equivalent of 16 oranges in every container. If that was true, this meant that I had consumed the equivalent of roughly 80 oranges before I actually thought about the implications this would have on my already vegan, greens-and-tofu-filled digestive tract.
I got into the car and started driving to my then-girlfriend’s parents’ house, where I was living at the time. The house was 20 minutes out, and I had just enough of a window of time to listen to Davy Rothbart tell a story about his mother’s relationship with the spirit of an ancient Buddhist monk on This American Life. Thanks to the archival powers of the Internet, I can look back in the show’s archives, find that story in particular, and tell you that this all happened on May 10th, 2002 (just in case you want to compare notes regarding what we were all up to on that day).
So I am soaring over these back roads in my 1989 powder blue Crown Victoria, which was basically like riding in a steel-encased magic carpet, when I feel that tornado of oranges twisting and turning in my gut. I realize I am very likely in trouble, but figure that I am just a handful of minutes away from the house and I have more than enough time to escape the danger zone. But do you know when you’re driving and it feels like the car is sort of gliding and you hit a bump that is at just the right angle at just the right speed and your stomach feels like it is floating around in your insides? That resultant sensation sort of feels a little sexual, right? And all of your muscles relax for a quick second… So that happened and right as that is going down, I let out a belly laugh in response to the part in Rothbart’s piece in which he asks his mother if the spirit of the monk she claims accompanies her through life looks the other way when she and Rothbart’s father “knock boots.” Not unlike the scenario that Dr. Gonzo is trying to make real when he is in the tub and wants Raoul Duke to throw the radio into the water at the precise moment Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit hits its apex in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the juice of the 80 oranges thrashing around in my gut, that erotic bump and that belly laugh all came together in a perfect storm. It all came out of me at once.
Somehow that is not all of it, because there I was sitting in that crescendo, seething for the short remainder of the ride home. This was embarrassing, yes, but I should have been fine, as no one was scheduled to be home. Of course, though, upon pulling into the driveway I saw that my girlfriend’s mother’s car was in the drive way, and the second I opened the door to waddle my way through the kitchen, she appealed to me emphatically, “Alex, your and Larisa’s room is in the Prosperity Corner of the house and…’ Remember how Feng Shui was a really big deal for a hot minute in the early Aughts? She kept that wing of the publishing industry alive. “… I need for you both to clean that, because there is no way any of us are going to get ahead when…” To which I interjected, “I am sorry, Linda, but I don’t have time for this. For the love of Christ, I need to change my pants.”