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August 20, 2004

Go Sell Crazy Someplace Else

“OK…just so I’m clear on this…a construction worker sketched out a map on a cocktail napkin and you drove across the Baja Peninsula in Mexico alone in a rental car using only the cocktail napkin as a guide??

“Yeah. And, the truth is, I should have known it wasn’t a good idea because I had to return my rental car at the border, and get another rental car that I was allowed to take into Mexico. I had to purchase all this additional insurance. I even mailed all of my nice bras and panties back into the U.S.?

I’ve resigned myself to the inescapable conclusion that women are not sane. But, instead of beating my head against a wall, I decided to approach it from a different angle. I want to try to gain insight into just how crazy women really are. To try to divine what compels them. To discern what mechanizations drive their erratic, capricious behavior.

On my first foray, I met a girl out at a place called the Keg in downtown Denver. To her, it was technically a blind date. For me, it was a chance to see the world through a woman’s eyes. To gain insight into the mind of an alien species. It was not unlike being allowed to operate on the body of a space alien recovered from a crashed UFO.

“How long have you lived here in Denver?? I asked.

“About five years. I moved here from Missoura. You have to forgive me. I’m like totally cracking up. From talking to you on the phone, I thought you were a total hick.?

“I’m sorry if I disappointed you.? I explained.

“No. No. I mean. I think you look great. I just thought you would be this total hick. Flannel shirt. Boots. See, I wore my cowboy boots just for you.? She said.

“OK. So I’m a hick. Let’s focus on you. How did you come to move to Denver?? I was trying to keep her on track.

Laughing. “Where did you grow up?? she continued.

This was harder than I anticipated. “Look. I did eighteen years in Mississippi, OK? I didn’t grow up in the middle of nowhere, but you could see it from there. I lived in New Orleans for two years. Dallas for seven. I’ve been here for about eight. You can do the math later. Let’s get you a drink. Waitress!?

I had it on good faith that she was well versed in astrology, birth order, and karma, so I knew it would be entertaining. But I was having a hard time getting her to focus on her own shortcomings. I was beginning to think she was going to have the upper hand and I’d be beat at my own game when the waitress appeared.

“I had a drink here once...? my date began. “I don’t know if it’s on the menu any more. It was fruity…had cranberries in it…was served in a carafe…it had an umbrella in it…? High maintenance warning flags were popping up like prairie dogs. It was Janet all over again.

“Most of our drinks are served in a carafe…? the waitress explained. Awkward pause followed. I just lowered my head. I didn’t want any part of it. “I’ll ask the bartender.? The waitress apologized and left.

“OK. So, I used to live in Missoura. Then, I went to Oxford to study Autism.?

Sure. Somehow, going to England to learn how to deal with developmentally disabled seemed to make sense.

“Then, I went to Paris. I really liked Paris, but I don’t speak French, of course, and I was on my own, and so I was kind of wanting to meet some Americans. Then, they played that song “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, Here I am…?

“…Stuck In The Middle With You - by Jerry Rafferty…? I interjected.

“Yeah. And then, I got this rush of energy from the music and right then these people walked by and one of them had a Teddy Bear sticking out of his backpack and so I started following them…?

““Whoa.Whoa.Whoa. You got a rush of energy from the song and so you started following a stranger around Paris because he had a Teddy Bear in his backpack??

“Yeah. I figured they were nice people and so it turned out they were from America. From Denver no less. And we stayed in touch, writing letters…snail mail they call it today, but back then it was all there was. So, we stayed in touch for three years, and then we all had a reunion in Winter Park, Colorado.?

“Did you know how to ski??

“No. And so, they rented me these long skis and took me to the top of Mary Jane and pushed me down the mountain.?

Mary Jane is a mountain that has only expert runs. There are no blue or green runs on Mary Jane. It’s all Black Diamond and Double Black Diamond.

“And what was that like?? I asked.

“Very painful. I still have scars.?

“I bet. You’re lucky you lived.? I added.

“I have scars all over my body. I mean, when you move out here as a flatlander, you don’t really know what to expect. I came out here with a tennis racket and water skis. I had no clue.?

“How could you have known there’d be mountains in Colorado?? I sympathized.

“No. I mean. I knew there were mountains, but I just didn’t get it. We went rafting down in the Royal Gorge. This was a long time ago… before the rocks fell into the river…it was all class five rapids back then. And I was asking them where we were going to put the beer. They were like ‘we didn’t bring any beer’ and I was like ‘who planned this trip?’ In Missoura, you always take beer when you’re on the water.?

“You drink beer in the Royal Gorge and they’ll be dragging the river for your lifeless carcass.? I cautioned.

“Now I know. I’ve got scars from that too.?

“I bet you do.?

“My body is covered in scars.?

“Yes. You mentioned that. So…you said you do work from your home? What kind of work??

“Well…I used to work in Irvine.?

“California??

“Yes.?

“What’s in Irvine? Taco Bell’s corporate headquarters. PeopleSoft. McCormick and Schmick's. Not much else, right??

“Right. So, one weekend I drove to San Felipe, Mexico. But there’s no maps…and so I’m driving across Mexico by myself in this rental car…?

“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. There’s maps of Mexico. I mean, the conquistadors might not have had good maps, but there’s fairly accurate maps available today.?

“I had a map…someone had drawn for me…?

“By hand??

“Yeah.?

“Who drew it??

“This guy…a construction worker…he was remodeling my friend’s kitchen. He was the one who told me about San Felipe. He sketched me a map on the back of a cocktail napkin.?

“Where is San Felipe??

“It’s on the gulf.?

“The Gulf of Mexico??

“The Gulf of California.?

“OK…just so I’m clear on this…a construction worker sketched out a map on a cocktail napkin and you drove across the Baja Peninsula in Mexico alone in a rental car using only the cocktail napkin as a guide??

“Yeah. And, the truth is, I should have known it wasn’t a good idea because I had to return my rental car at the border, and get another rental car that I was allowed to take into Mexico. I had to purchase all this additional insurance. I even mailed all of my nice bras and panties back into the U.S.?

Sputter. Choke. Cough. “Why??

“Because, I didn’t want anything to happen to them. They were very expensive.?

“Right. Like, I don’t necessarily care if I live or die, I just want to make sure my panties are safe. I’m with you.? I agreed.

“I just didn’t want some little Mexican to wave a machine gun at me and steal them from me.?

“I’m with you there. That would be a tragedy.?

“Some of those cost a couple of bills, you know??

“I wasn’t aware of that. I don’t spend much time in Victoria’s Secret. I mean, I’ve got a lot of problems, but that’s not one of them.?

I decided to bring out the big guns.

“Have you ever killed anyone?? I asked.

This is a great question to bring out on a first date. You’d be surprised how many people have been responsible for the death of another person by the time they reach the age of thirty something. Janet had shot a man below the waist with a horse pistol at point blank range at the tender age of 17. Laura’s ex-husband ran down a homeless person while drinking and driving and fled the scene, but was later convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. These are stories you don’t want to miss. And, if you’re buying the drinks, you have the right to steer the conversation anywhere you see fit.

Surprisingly, she began to laugh, in response to my question.

“Well, I was watching this person that had assburger disease…?

“Ass Burger Disease? I’ve never heard of that.?

“I’m not sure how you spell it. Maybe is has a “P? in there somewhere. Asperger? But, in any event, it’s like Autism. You can’t make eye contact with them, or they’ll try to kill you.?

“Sure. Sounds like some people I knew in Mississippi.?

“So, I show up at his house to watch him, right? And I’m wearing a baseball cap and shades with mirrored lenses, right? And the first thing he does is go to the refrigerator, get out a pickle, open my cup of McDonald’s coffee, put the pickle in, and then pour it all over my jeans.?

“Ouch.?

And this was back before that old lady sued McDonald’s, so the coffee was really hot. And his parents are just standing there like it’s no big deal, and then they’re like ‘OK. Well, you two have fun. We’ll be back Monday.’ And, so I’m watching this kid…well, mentally he’s a kid, but he’s actually twenty four and about six foot eight and weighs about two fifty. But, he can’t talk. He can only make signs with his hands. And I know sign language, but this kid has made up his own sign language, because his parents never bothered to teach him international sign language. So, he’s making all this signs, but I can’t tell what the hell he wants. It turned out he wanted me to unlock the soda cabinet so he could have a Coke, but I didn’t know that at the time. So finally, he started smashing out all of the windows in the house with his bare hands. He smashed in the television screen with his fist.?

“OK. Now hang on there. I used to sell televisions. We used to take the old ones out to the dump and try to smash their picture tubes with cinder blocks. It was nearly impossible to break one from the front. It isn’t made out of candy glass like they always show in the movies. That glass on the front is nearly an inch thick.?

“God as my witness he smashed it with his bare hands. Blood was going everywhere. So, they had given me these red pills. I was supposed to hand him one, and he would take it with a drink. But, I started making a drink, and putting ALL of the red pills in it, to calm him down. I was putting everything I could find in there. His parent’s Valiums. Xanax. Everything. Well, I gave it to him to drink, and then I barricaded myself into one of the bedrooms. I was sure that I had killed him. That he would be dead when I came out. I was trying to hear if he was still breathing.?

“Through the door??

“Right.?

“Why didn’t you call 911??

“I figured I’d get in trouble.?

“Yeah. You got a point there. You might have had some exposure…?

“Exposure??

“Liability…?

“Right. So, I called my girlfriend on my cell phone. I wasn’t sure what to do. I stayed in the room all night. When I came out the next morning, he wasn’t moving, but he was alive. He was breathing at least. Eventually, he woke up. Monday came, and his parents didn’t show up. They didn’t come back until Friday.?

“Who could blame them? Boy, look at the time. I didn’t realize how late it was. I’m sorry but I’ve got to go home and rewind all of my DVD’s. Waitress…Check please!?

I’d reached my limit for the evening. I was afraid she’d end up showing me her scars. Based on my observations, a woman seems to be driven more by emotion, timing, and astrology than by logic and reason. To a rational person, on the surface, this defies explanation. But there must be something to it, otherwise the human species would be extinct. There must be a Darwinian component to a woman’s behavior, or it would have been bred out of existence in prehistoric times.

I thought about San Felipe. She described it as an undiscovered paradise, a thin, farraginous population where rooms are twenty dollars a night. It sounded exactly like the beach Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth) in the movie Y Tu Mama Tambien. Maybe her world wasn’t as crazy as it appeared at first blush. Maybe San Felipe was a cool, undiscovered place.

“You wouldn’t still have that cocktail napkin, by any chance, would you?? I asked her as we were leaving.

Posted by Peenie Wallie on August 20, 2004 at 9:32 PM