b Papa Dog's Blog: When We Were Younger, and Nihilists (I Suppose)

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

When We Were Younger, and Nihilists (I Suppose)

Thane was unprepared to live into his thirties, much less his forties, which is where he is now. His dad died young and he always assumed he’d meet a similar end, so he lived his twenties as though they were all the time he’d have. I don’t think he could find a reason to have any regrets about that, but I do sometimes get the sense he’s somewhat embarrassed, not by his youthful recklessness, but by the fact of his survival. Kind of like a weatherman who predicted rain and got a heat wave. Or like a pollster who predicted good news for all and hope on the way and got a second Bush term instead. “Awfully sorry. Don’t know where we could have got it wrong. The forecast was for dead by thirty.”

I’m of a more conscious nature and have always been keen on longevity. The time we were most eerily in synch on the “die young stay pretty” thing was that summer night (1992, I think) in LA, the world’s capital of hope abandoned but unnoticed. Thane was trying to find ways to pack a little more excess into a day, and I was trying to find ways to evaporate from a life that had let me down. In our own ways and for our own reasons we were both rather welcoming of annihilation.

We were crashing at the home of a couple of actress-model-secretaries (the archetypal Hollywood hyphenates). They’d told us a couple of clubs to check out, but of course the game in Hollywood was (and I assume still is) to make the clubs impossible to find if you don’t already know where they are. No signs, no addresses, no reasonable way of deducing which blank façade houses the den of iniquity in question. Thane’s kind of hopeless when it comes to following even good directions, so the whole thing was a recipe for disaster. The one place we managed to find was deserted. Maybe 11 o’clock was too early? Who knows. We didn’t stick around to find out.

Headed back to Sherman Oaks, Thane was furious for the first while, venting his loathing of “the scene” in all its snotty incarnations. He manifested his anger through speed, blazing through the strangely empty freeway. Then for some reason he calmed down and we got talking normally – though with no noticeable reduction in speed. I don’t know what we talked about. The Fugitive, maybe? That was always good for an hour or two. At any rate, we got so intent on whatever it was that neither of us noticed the change in road conditions right away. We both looked up at the same moment and realised that the we were speeding along on the wrong side of some traffic zones.

“Huh.” I said, mildly, casually, like pointing out a new donut shop, “looks like we’re driving through a construction zone.”

“Oh yeah,” Thane agreed. “I guess I should get back to the other side.”

“I guess so.”

He heaved to the left, scattering a row of cones, exiting the construction zone just as we came around a sharp turn. As we rounded the bend, we saw a bulldozer, parked straight in the path we’d been hurtling along a moment before. Had we waited even a few seconds longer to cross the line of cones, we would have hit the dozer like Petrocelli in Vanishing Point.

I don’t know quite how to explain our reaction. Any other night, Thane would have been left amped on adrenaline from such a close call. Any other night, I would have been shiting it and swearing never to get in a car again with that crazy-ass mofo.

Instead, Thane took a look at the rear-view and said, like he’d just ducked a boring conversation with a longwinded co-worker, “I guess it’s a good thing I changed lanes.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, thinking it over. “I guess so.”


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