Monday, May 30, 2011

Generic Cover Letter

To Whom It May Concern:

I feel that the qualities I posses: drive, perseverance, loyalty and intelligence; along with my experience from [redacted] and UCLA make me an excellent candidate for this position.
Over the past two years, through my education, workplace exposure, personal entrepreneurial endeavors, research and a spot on the main stage at a renowned westside improv comedy theater, I have made myself an expert on story, scenes, relationships and how all of these mix together to market, entertain and get an audience to invest in the whole that those parts make.

I have studied under Hal Ackerman, Richard Walter, JD Walsh, Neil Landau, and Bennet Cohen. I have spent every ounce of my free time totally consumed by entertainment be it stage, screen or page. I have worked non-stop for the past two years to make myself as attractive to employers as possible, and have a lifetime of hard work to give, if only given the chance.


Gregory Boytos

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cold Turkey

            Sitting in my college dorm room, I try and think of my first cigarette. I remember smoking at the golf course across the street from my high school, and at band competitions, and in my back yard, but none of them have the feeling of being a “first” memory. I think as hard as I can, and I remember a time when I did not smoke, and a time when I did, but there is no clear line between the two.
If I was forced to estimate when and where, I will admit that it is a vague memory. It was after school in my sophomore year of high school. I was on the junior varsity golf team, and we would walk across the street from our school every day to practice at the local golf course. I remember that day the varsity team was there as well, and a couple of seniors had joined our group at the conclusion of their practice.
Same old story, the young kid wanting to fit in with the older ones; I asked Josh for a cigarette. Josh was a senior, and he was good at golf. He hit it long, straight and was an all around good golfer and I looked up to him. Josh had a hard time getting it lit, because he was using matches and the wind on the course that day was particularly harsh.
He and another player, along with my good friend Elliott squatted behind a tree to cover us from the wind and struck match after match until one lit, and continued to burn long enough to light the cigarette. Looking back now, I laugh at how four people could share a cigarette, but it seemed normal at the time. We all hit our shots and walked down the fairway, passing the cigarette between us until we were finished.
The rest of the year continued like this: one guy would get his hands on a cigarette, or better yet, a whole pack, and we would pass them out and smoke them. I got so attached to them, that I was soon asking the bums in the Claremont to buy me packs so I could be the guy who had them, and the guy who gave them out.
I would ask my brother or his girlfriend to pick me up a pack when they went to the store. They were so surprised the first time I asked, but after awhile it became common. Every Friday like clockwork, I would ask for a pack for the upcoming week. I would bring it to the parties we had that weekend, or tuck it into my sock drawer for the weekdays on the golf course. One pack per week was more than enough for me and my friends to survive off of.

My junior year was more of the same, except for the fact that I was now a legal driver. My increased independence from the parents only led me into worse and worse trouble. I kept a special jacket in my car so I would not smell like smoke when I came home from wherever I had spent the time after school. Knowing what I know now, I have no choice but to believe they could still smell it, but due to their liaises-faire parenting, they did not say much; or perhaps they believed that I was not smoking, and did not want to alienate me through constant interrogation, under which I surely would have lied.
During lunch breaks at school, I would go off campus, and smoke on the way to and from campus in my buddy’s car. I even got brazen enough to smoke on the driving range at practice, in full view of my coach’s un-watching eyes. I took to smoking at home, when my parents were asleep or away. Fortunately for me at the time, they were both very busy and as a result I had quite a bit of free time at home. Add the fact that my brother was a smoker, and I could explain away any errant cigarette butts they found, or the occasional stench of tobacco that lingered if I cut it too close with a secret smoke break.
As I got closer to my eighteenth birthday, I became less and less inconspicuous about my habit. I stopped using the smoking jacket I had in my car, and even started smoking in my car. My favorite spot to smoke was still the golf course, but I added other local spots to my repertoire. The AMPM where my friends and I spent most of our free time on weekends was a good spot; police came through, but only to use the bathroom and drink the free coffee they were provided inside, so they could not be bothered. Our favorite pizza joint became a nice area as well. Over the years, and through classes in school, my friends and I had become quite close with most of the workers there, who did not mind a kid stepping out the back door to have a cigarette. I am not quite sure if they knew what was happening and did not care, or simply thought nothing of it, but either way, I still came out on top.
About this time is when I got the job from hell. Everyone has their horror stories when it comes to less than enjoyable employment experiences, but this bordered on breaking the law. I worked at the local mall, at a kiosk. I was often alone for six hours at least, and I was not allowed to eat at the cart. The food court was so far away, that the bosses told us not to go there to eat, and just to bring food to eat on the bench that was in full view of the cart and cash register. For awhile, it did not matter much, but my patience and enthusiasm soon wore thin, and so I began to have increasingly more smoke breaks, just to escape the hell that was that cart.
Nothing ever came of it. My bosses were unaware of my growing habit, and did not notice that I was taking a ten minute break every hour to go enjoy one or two cigarettes outside the mall. If they ever showed up while I was on smoke break, I had the cart covered by a friend of mine from the cart across the courtyard, and I had the key to the register, so it was all kosher in their books. After all, my interview was conducted over a half a pack of menthol cigarettes.
By the time I graduated from high school, I had left the mall, and to some extent slowed down on the whole smoking bit. I had gone weeks without a cigarette and it was really no big deal at all. I never craved a cigarette. I never really had to have one. I was just a person who would smoke when I got my hands on a cigarette, and beyond that, I was indifferent. I was an escape smoker: someone who smoked to get away from being in the same place with the same people for too long.
I remember the first pack of cigarettes I ever bought by myself. On the streets of Maui, on the way to the airport on my eighteenth birthday, I asked my parents to pull over so I could exercise my new right to purchase, possess and ingest tobacco products. I walked back to the car with the pack in my hand, after not being carded in the store, to my dismay. It was the first time my parents had ever seen me with a cigarette in my hands. I got this look from them from the front seat of the car. Their eyes and mouths both hung wide, trying to get as much surface area exposed with which to best soak up the explanation that they were daring me to stumble over.
I played it off, I said that I was eighteen now, and I had to do it since I never could before. I was also going to buy lottery tickets and go to the strip club upon our return to California. I also smiled, winked and mentioned that I would be sending in my selective service card on the following Monday, which got my dad away from the subject, and my mom dropped it without saying a word as well.
Oddly enough, that one pack of cigarettes was the one that started it all. From then until the end of the summer, I steadily increased my consumption until I was smoking three packs a week. My friends were not even smokers anymore. A couple would enjoy the occasional smoke with me while we were drinking, but the crowd from the golf team really was not my primary circle of friends. Although they never were, I drifted farther and farther from them as I got older and closer with my group of friends. I was often smoking alone, and finally, the night before I was leaving for college, I handed a pack that I had just bought that evening to my good friend Elliott and said the smokers mantra for the first time in my life. “I quit.”
Two days later, I was sitting on the ground at UC riverside, locked in the smoking area with my neighbor sucking back cigarettes to no end. We rationalized because we met the other smokers and increased our social network, and besides, there was nothing to do in Riverside. You can only watch so much television. The fluctuation of consumption ranged from two cigarettes per day to two packs a day, and it all came to a head when I entered the Silverman Era. I quit again. For two months I averaged less than one cigarette per day, in utmost secret: only before showers and after she went home for the night. On days we did not speak I would not smoke for fear of her pulling one of her random show-ups which she was quite fond of.
After that crashed and burned, used my severance pay from two months of mistreatment about twenty times a day, and I used it for the next nine months or so in the same fashion and frequency. That Zippo went through hell and back with me, fueling my habit out of spite for a long while. One day before the life dance incident began, it ran out of fluid, and I ran out of replacement fluid for it as well. Added to this was the burnt out wick, and spent flint; the lighter had died. I bought my first lighter in months at the store and continued on with my habit like nothing had changed.
It was not the lighter’s fault that I kept smoking. It was not the town’s fault, for I smoked all over the United States: both coasts, the mid-west, dirty south and the islands contain the spent shells of my smoking frenzy. I was however raised catholic, and experiencing the first phase of the life dance, so I got bold. I called it, “the cold turkey project.” And it was exactly what it sounds like: I was going to quit cold turkey, for lent. Coincidentally, I also gave up beer, which I had recently formed an exclusive bond as my sole inebriant with.
This project was two fold. At the onslaught of the life dance, I had promised I could quit smoking, while drunk. This was a mistake, as it may appear, but I had to at least qualify it, so I did not seem like a complete liar. She laughed when I told her on a sober afternoon, as did everyone else in my life, with the exception of my supervisor, who, like all the others, knew I would fail miserably, but still congratulated me on my latest ploy for attention.
Fat Tuesday saw me with a pack of unfiltered lucky strikes as well as two tall cans of beer, as sort of a bon voyage party on the golf course near the university I attended at the time. The pack was burnt in a day, a step back up from my recent reduction to two packs every three days.
I had what was to be my last cigarette for forty-three days on the balcony at some random girl’s apartment, alone while she and a mutual friend hung out inside watching queen music videos. When I came in with the announcement, I was greeted with smiles and nods. It is likely that while I was outside smoking, they were running a numbers game with everyone I knew to choose the day I would break down and light up a cig.
The hard part about quitting is not the cravings, but suffering the snickers and whispers of those closest to you, and pretending not to notice them to avoid accusations of being “antsy,” or a “fiend.” However much it hurt to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, it was that pain that kept me going for the whole time period. After the third day, it was no longer about a religious sacrifice, it had turned completely into a fight for pride, and in the end I won.
It was during this time of complete cleanliness that I learned exactly what cigarettes did to me. For the first week, I would sleep all the time. Eight hours a night, and two to three naps per day totaling another three to four hours of sleep. When I was awake I was lethargic and time seemed to move ridiculously slowly, so when I did move it seemed like it took so much longer than I had remembered. I made no effort to capitalize on my newfound health by exercising regularly. In fact I snacked more and stayed indoors for most of the day.
The clincher was the rapid realization that my sex drive was almost unhealthily high when I had no cigarettes in me. This was probably another contributing factor to my seclusion, as I had no significant other at the time. I almost wanted to quit quitting so I could rest without the risk of injury while I slept. Luckily my resolve proved stronger and the first week went swimmingly.
I will admit it, I “cheated.” Since I quit smoking cigarettes, I took to smoking hookah and cigars. I figured a cigar every other day was so much less damaging to my body than two packs of cigarettes in the same time frame, and the hookah plain tasted like magic. I had been smoking hookah semi-regularly before the cold turkey project, but now that I had no cigarettes, I would always suggest bringing my hookah to a get together, as opposed to swinging by a liquor store and grabbing a pack of cigarettes.
The cigars were indeed closer to cigarettes, but fundamentally different in the way they were smoked, appearance and duration. People would stop me all the time and accuse me of cheating, and I was constantly defending myself in exchanges similar to this.
Self-righteous jerk: “hey, I thought you quit smoking!”
Me: “I did quit smoking cigarettes.”
Self-righteous jerk: “what are you holding then?”
Me: “this is a cigar.”
Self-righteous jerk: “Psh, cheater.”
            Each time the smirk on whoever’s face would grow, like they were inventing an original joke that I had never heard before. I took it in stride, I made no claims to stopping all intake of smoked goods, nor had I implied that my tobacco intake would stop completely. I bore no ill-will towards any of these people. I understood then as I understand now that people doing great things will always be hampered by those to weak to try. And while I do not see myself as a celebrity for halting my cigarette habit by any stretch of the imagination, the people who were attempting to outsmart me had no chips on the table, and were trying to put me down for the sole end of their own perceived greatness, and that is the most dishonorable thing any human can do to someone they remotely care about.
            Another facet of my cold-turkey project was the absence of beer. I had been drinking beer since somewhere around junior year of high school, but in the year or two before this project, it had also taken a larger role in my life than I would have liked to have given it. I suppose the downside to being an addict would be the general mindset. I could not drink beer because I had given it up with cigarettes. I no longer smoked cigarettes, I smoked cigars. It was fitting that the void left by beer would be filled with something that was not beer- also known as whiskey. And so began my love affair with whiskey, which, sadly did not die once the beer was allowed to return. Thanks to the new whiskey habit, I needed more and more alcohol to get drunk, which is, of course, the whole point of college.
            So along with my growing tolerance to alcohol, my increased tobacco intake during this period was troublesome. Instead of twenty filtered cigarettes every day, I would smoke between two and four cigars, unfiltered, and inhaled. The readers who are cigar smokers can empathize with me, because as they know, cigars taste noticeably harsher than cigarettes by an exponent close to if not exceeding one-hundred. So instead of twenty cigarette breaks, I would take the cigar breaks, which lasted about four times as long, and did about ten times the damage.
            About twenty days into the Cold Turkey Project, I realized that I was doing more harm than good, yet I did not change the pattern in the slightest. I embraced it and laughed about it, much to the dismay of some of my friends. Cigars were soon complimented by chewing tobacco, which is a whole other story which was luckily over almost as soon as it began. Interestingly enough, I quit dip with the understanding that I would receive a carton of cigarettes every other month for a year. The irony in that agreement was noted, but not explored.
            Easter Sunday was the break of the cigarette and beer fast. I set my alarm for midnight, and at that time broke open my carton of cigarettes that I had received as a souvenir from Thailand and smoked my first cigarette in forty-three days. It had no effect on me. It was just another night in a back yard under the influence of alcohol, with a burning stick in my hand.
            The quitting only increased my acceptance of the dependency to which I was enslaved. Instead of weaning myself off of the things to which I was addicted, I merely exchanged potency for frequency. This resulted in my need to immediately cut back on general intake of alcohol and tobacco. The first three days after lent saw me smoking two packs per day while drinking as much beer as my stomach could hold. Realizing my error, I began to attempt to curb both habits and with moderate success, I returned to my former lifestyle.
            Overall, I would assign the Cold Turkey Project a failing grade with mitigating circumstances. First of all, before beginning this project I did not consider myself an addict with regards to tobacco or alcohol, and as the project proceeded I was faced with insurmountable evidence to the contrary. Through this, I made the first step to an eventual self-intervention, by acknowledging a problem which was present and active. Secondly, cigars and whiskey are much more expensive than beer and cigarettes. Ignorance in this case was painful with regards to my wallet, and this fact only helped drive the point home that I was involved in a pattern of willful self-destruction.
            At the end of the project, as I said, I returned immediately to the habits which I was attempting to quit. Ironic as it is in the end, living for the forty-three days without a cigarette was symbolic to say the least. As much as my self-righteous (asshole) friends snickered at me behind my back, and sometimes to my face, I felt like that I was taking a semantic stand and at least I have the courage to stand up for the things which I have promised, and not the things that are assumed when certain promises are heard. I did not claim to quit smoking or drinking, just no beer and no cigarettes, and I accomplished that goal. I viewed the people who looked down their noses at my “cheating” as snobs who had never been addicts.
            The support I received from friends and loved ones during this project was amazing. While my “friends” made jokes while I burned cigars, my friends admired my persistence. My family understood as well, and I never heard a sour word from anyone. If I said I had remembered all those who helped, I would definitely be lying; however I remember the insidious remarks made, and every day I lived with the knowledge that those I held dear gave me no credit. To say that did not help would be an understatement, and to say it hurt would be obvious.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drunk Driving

            I will be honest. like most people my age I was distracted by my personal myth of high tolerance and general invincibility, and I was not thinking. It was a night like any other, some time after I turned 21. I went to my friends’ apartment and we drank a bit, then walked over to the bar around the corner for the weekly celebration that kids around Riverside simply call “Cask.”  Essentially, the Cask and Cleaver restaurant by some strange and unknown circumstances has become the place to be on Thursday nights in this college town.
            The drink specials are not that good, and the bar is small. It is always packed with all of the popular people in riverside. The fraternities and sororities are well represented along with the people like me: lushes who seem to get along well with the college Greek community. The Thursday night in question was special for us. It was early in the school year and it was the first week where everyone in our crew was 21 years old and available to go out drinking, which usually takes about two days.
            First you wake up the morning of the event, or the afternoon and clear your schedule. Finish your work for that day and the next day and have a lunch that involves a lot of protein and no caffeine. Once you have finished eating, get back to work for a couple hours, whenever you finish, you must take a nap, as the debauchery usually lasts until sunrise, and you need to be awake and alert and alive enough to hang. When you wake up, eat a good sized dinner, not so much food where you feel disgustingly full, but a lot of carbohydrates like bread and potatoes. This meal is encouraged and is definitely the secret to any good binge drinker’s routine. Caffeine is advised, french fries, pizza and sandwiches are encouraged. After dinner, finish any work you still have, do a light workout; racquetball or a half-court basketball game works very well.
            After the workout, go home, shower, get ready and make phone calls. You must call at least half of the people who live where you plan on starting, just to make sure everyone is on board, and any people who you may be trying to sleep with at the time. Once you have made all your phone calls, head to the gas station or the liquor store and get your drink of choice. The evening in question left me with a 12 pack of natural light, which only cost five dollars and was very likely to get me drunk enough to forget whatever I would end up doing. After the liquor store, head to where you are drinking, open one on your way from the car to the apartment.
            We usually drink until about 10:30pm and play stupid video games and talk shit to each other. Once we have a healthy buzz, we’ll head over to the bar, drink until last call, head back to the apartment, play more video games and finish whatever is left in the fridge and pass out. This is where that Thursday night went wrong. For whatever reason, instead of passing out on the couch, waking up still drunk, going home to my place and sleeping more, I decided that I needed to sleep in my own bed. I wish I could remember the reason for my idiocy, but knowing myself and reading my own stories I am sure it had something to do with a woman. I do not remember who or what the issue was, but I could wager a bet that it was something that was no big deal and I blew it up in my head, drank too much and just wanted to be alone in my own bed, so I told everyone I was leaving.
            They knew I should not have been driving, but they know me, so they did not tell me to stay, because I would not have. Once I make up my mind, I am set on it and no logic or violence will change it if I am not willing to let it be changed. Knowing this, my friends asked, “You sure you’re okay to drive?” and “Where are you going drunkass?” instead of challenging my abilities to perform under the influence, which were stellar and have only since improved.
            So I leave the apartment as my friends shake their heads and sipped their leftover domestic pilsners. I was psyching myself up to drive while walking down the hallway to the stairs. There is a rapid sober up technique that I had learned soon after I turned twenty-one. I cannot share it, because it is a family secret, but I will concede that it involves different breathing techniques and various core and limb stretches all while singing a nursery rhyme in your head as loud as you can.
            I made it to the stairs in the middle of the second chorus and concentrated heavily on the descent. It was rough and each stair made the words shake a bit in my head. When I hit the pavement at the bottom and starting rounding the corner to my car I was smooth sailing. I was hitting perfect stride, striking the heel of my foot on the down beat and rolling forward. My head did not bounce with each step like it normally did. I should have dawned a shako and a plume and rejoined the marching band for the drunken stumble to the car parade just for the trophy I surely would have been awarded.
            Until I made it to the row of cars just before mine and tripped over a parking pyramid. I flailed my hands up and screamed like a woman who had just seen a mouse, but instead of climbing up onto a chair and sweeping madly at the ground, I fell and laid there laughing hysterically for far too long to still make an argument for being sober enough to drive.
            But I stayed there on the ground with my knees tucked into my chest thumping the iambic pentametric laughter of a man who should not by any means be allowed in the back seat of a car, let alone behind the wheel. But when the hilarity subsided I did exactly that. Driving was not too difficult actually. I wasn’t drunk enough to see tracers from street lights and I smoked cigarettes at a furious pace to keep me alert.
            In total, the drive was two miles with only two turns (aside from tricky one way parking lots) so it was a fairly simple task especially for the seasoned professional that I already was. I was cocky. I broke all the codes of drunk driving.
            I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. I left my windows all the way down while blaring music, smoking cigarettes and tossing them out the window, and I failed to use my turn signals overcautiously. I hit the final straight away and my foot fell onto the gas pedal without any notice or control on my behalf. The streetlamps started streaking by as if I was traveling light speed and I panicked and looked down at the speedometer.
            Eighty miles per hour in a forty-five zone and my whole leg jumped. I began to slow down and was so nervous about who had seen what and the possible ramifications of excessive and drunken speed. I wasn’t exactly shaking, but my movements were sharp and quick and without reason. I’m sure I crossed a few lane lines which breaks the first rule of drunk driving: don’t cross lane lines.
            All of these things combined drew a lot of attention to the red comet of death on that particular evening, and when I blew the stop sign just before my apartment’s parking lot, it was the final straw. I got hit with the lights and I never saw it coming. I had no clue how long the cop had been behind me. What did he see? What does he know? I had to think of something fast.
            I breathed heavily, must have smoked an entire cigarette before the officer got to my window. I looked out the window; his cod-piece was directly at eye level. His flashlight beamed into the backseat, onto my lap, onto the ground outside of the car and clicked off. The metal slid and clanged as he put the light back onto his utility belt. He leaned down and his polyester pants screamed for mercy as he settled onto his haunches.
            “Hello officer,” I said, keeping my hands securely attached to the steering wheel at ten and two.
            “How you doing tonight son?” He smiled when he asked me. Some sadistic smile, looked like he had baby blood on his teeth.
            “I’m doing okay, how are you tonight sir?” I gripped the steering wheel especially hard, but my elbows were relaxed, probably because of the alcohol.
            “I’m doing fine.” He licked his teeth in slow motion. I waited for the hammer to fall, that inevitable four in the morning side of the road question and it came. “You been drinking tonight?
            I didn’t know what to say. I knew I had and I was raised with the awful idea that honesty was the best policy, but I also know that is only the case when your lies aren’t believable enough. I decided in a flash to start the lie mill. “No sir, not since dinner.”
            “It’s four a.m. Dinner was a long time ago.”
            He made a good point. “Well, I had so much food that I went into a food coma, just woke up and headed home.”
            “Hm,” an odd noise for an officer to make. “You sure?”
            I was most certainly sure to be selling it if he was buying it. “Yes sir.”
            “Ok. Do you know why I pulled you over?”
            There was a list of possible answers, but I stuck with the lie. “No, I can’t imagine. Is my brake light out?” My brain smiled to itself.
            “No. You were swerving and changing lanes without signals. Now are you sure you haven’t been drinking?”
            “Yes sir.”
            “Then explain to me why your driving was so erratic.”
            Why the run around? What the hell was this guy trying to prove. Did it get him off to bust drunk drivers and then add insult to injury by playing dumb? If I had told the truth would I have been on my way home now? Would I be on my way to jail? My brain kicked itself, which jostled something loose.
            “I uh… um… I was um… picking my nose.”
            “Picking your nose?”
            Picking my nose? I don’t know where that came from. I used to pick my nose when I was a kid and my entire family teased me for it giving me massive social issues that had to be resolved through self medication, probably one of the reasons I was drunk at 4am on a Thursday night and driving home to sleep alone in my bed. Fuck it I thought. I’ll run with it.
            “Yes sir. When I sleep I get terribly large obstructions and it makes it difficult to breathe properly.”
            “Obstructions? You mean boogers?”
            “Yes sir, boogers.”
            “Big ones?”
            “Yes sir.”
            “And they make it hard to breath, so you dig them out?”
            I held up my left pinky, “Yes sir. They’re lodged in there pretty good, otherwise I’d blow them. I guess I got a little bit distracted.”
            “You sure did. Can I please have your license, registration and proof of insurance?”
            I grabbed my wallet and leaned over, dug the registration out of my glove box, sat back up and handed them to him. He took them and walked back to his car. I waited with my hands back at ten and two for him to return. He did a couple minutes later with my information, handed it back to me and squatted down again.
            “Well, I was just checking to see if you had any warrants Mr. Boytos, and you don’t.”
            “I must be the only one in Riverside without a warrant huh?”
            He was less than amused. “I guess so.”
            “So is that it? Can I go?”
            “Where do you live?”
            “Right over there.” I pointed to my building, about five hundred yards down the road.
            “Mr. Boytos, I can still smell alcohol on your breath, but you made it this far.” He smiled again. “So I’ll make you a deal.”
            “A deal?”
            “Yes. A deal.”
            A deal? If I would have known this was a bargaining situation I wouldn’t have lied. I would have been straight forward and said I was drunk and let me walk home and I am sorry sir.
            “What’s the deal then? I am interested.”
            “If you can show me one of these boogers, I’ll let you drive home, if not I have to pull you out of the car and take you into custody.”
            “I’m sorry?” He wanted to see one of the boogers that did not exist or he was going to arrest me and book me and have my car impounded and I would lose my pizza delivery job and I would not be able to get to school and I would not be able to get to another job if I could get one with a dui on my record, and basically I would have to beg my parents for bail money, then move back home and get a bus pass and a shitty warehouse job that didn’t care about ex-cons working for them.
            “Show me one of these boogers that are so big that they distract you from driving to prove to me you’re not as drunk as I think you are.”
            I had no boogers on file. Where would one keep boogers and why did this officer expect me to have one for evidence? I was confused.
            “I’m embarrassed officer. I uh… I don’t have any.”
            “Why not?”
            Why not? I did not know why not. That was an excellent question. I stared at my windshield awhile; saw how dirty it was. I guess I got lost in thought and the officer was getting impatient with my drunken shenanigans.
            “Step out of the car please sir.”
            “I ate them.” Wow. I still don’t know where that came from.
            “You ate them?”
            “I ate them. That’s why I don’t have any. They are in my stomach.” That would be where they went had I eaten them, it seemed like a reasonable statement.
            “Interesting.” He stood up and leaned down on my window sill. “Well… show me.”
            “I’m sorry? Show you what?” Surely he heard me say I hadn’t any boogers to show him.
            “Mr. Boytos, I want to see you eat a booger.”
            “That wasn’t the deal, you said all I had to do was show you one.” I was comfortable debating at this point, seeing as how it seemed as this officer was bored and wanted to have some fun.
            “That is the deal now. I make the deals Mr. Boytos.”
            I was uncomfortable again. I looked at the ceiling and sucked in a lungful of air. I counted the burn marks on the ceiling, seven little black circles from yellow lights I ran through while smoking, hitting the ceiling and sending a shower of sparks down into my shirt and on any unlucky passengers. I let all the air out.
            “Ok,” I said and plunged my pinky into my nostril. I could feel the inside of my nose. It was like an upside down funnel for smell collection to my brain. I swirled my pinky around, nothing but mucus, I pulled it out and smiled at the officer. “Empty,” I said.
            I tried the other nostril; a gold mine. I hooked one with my fingernail and pulled it out in all its mucoid magnificence. It looked like Massachusetts, square with a little tail on one end. I showed it to the officer, he smiled the baby-blood smile as he looked at it.
            “Hungry Mr. Boytos?” He grunted a low cackle. I looked at the emerald coagulate on my pinky, then looked back at him.
            “Actually, I have been eating the whole way home, I was planning on saving this one for breakfast.”
            “Put it back and hop out of the car then.”
            “Ok ok ok.” I closed my eyes and pursed my lips. “Ok,” I said, opened my mouth, stuck my finger in, wiped it on my tongue, closed my teeth and scraped my finger clean, showed it to the officer who began to laugh and I swallowed. It tasted like a salty baby slug and the aftertaste was only slightly better. The officer’s laughter echoed on the street between the buildings like some awful metropolitan hyena.
            I sulked in my driver seat while the officer regained his composure. He stood up, adjusted his shirt, banged twice on the roof and walked back to his car. He started up and rolled past me, eyes straight ahead, deadpan face, cop computer glowing inside the Crown Vic interceptor. I watched him drive down the street, make a quick U-turn, throw his lights on and speed back past me.
            I lit another cigarette, rolled up my windows, took the key out of the ignition and hopped out of the car. I locked it up and walked home, vowing never to drive drunk again, but that lasted about as long as the hangover; and to think I almost learned my lesson.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jeans: A list of grievances.

I don't get why people are so in love with jeans. I own one pair of jeans. I have only worn one pair of jeans in the past 20 years. Not one pair at a time, mind you. One pair total. I bought them last summer. I kind of hate them. I only wear them to fit in and that makes me hate them more.
When I was in pre-school I used to love to wear sweatpants. If it were up to me, I'd wear nothing but sweatpants. I would wear nothing but the one pair of sweatpants that I liked the best. I used to spray my sweatpants with lysol rather than lose them for the ninety minutes it took for my mom to wash them. I loved sweatpants. They were comfortable. They were cozy. They were black. Full disclosure, I would also dress in all black because I thought I was a ninja. I didn’t do any ninja things, aside from wearing black, but wearing black was close enough.
Towards the end it got a little rough as the sweatpants were full of holes and my mother took a stand. I would get dressed thusly: I would put on what I thought would be appropriate for the day and pitch it to my mother who was an image consultant and would either accept or deny my outfit. It was a simple process and it worked. It still works today, except my girlfriend has taken over as threshold guardian.
One day she said no. I asked what the problem was, she said there were holes in my sweatpants. I asked for another suggestion and she suggested jeans. I protested. Jeans were notoriously incongruous, yet this was allowed? Jeans are allowed to have holes. Jeans are allowed to have holes? What kind of denim double-standard is this? What did sweatpants do to you to hold them to such impossible standards? This is a hate crime! My mom just shook her head and reminded me that I was four years old and couldn’t form clever arguments like that. I wore shorts for the rest of the year.

Reason # 1 – Jeans get special treatment.

          People usually ask, when hearing about my jeans boycott, what I wore instead. As an avid golfer and wannabe punk rock kid, I wore khakis, slacks, Dickies and corduroys in different phases. Mostly I wore shorts, because I was also quite fat and with extra weight comes higher body temperature, but when I wore pants I wore the ones I mentioned above.
          One thing all of those pants have in common is pockets. They all have nice, deep pockets that come in sideways and hug the sides of your legs. You can keep stuff in them. You can access them while sitting down. You can access them while walking. You can access them without having to be rigid, straight legged and you can access them without having to cock your damn arms out like some cowboy with low self esteem.
          Jean pockets are poorly placed, poorly designed and poorly executed. They’re too tight, too high, too small, too up front, too narrow and too thin. Jean pockets are the Sarah Palin of pants: only there to look at and make fun of; not to be taken seriously or utilized for any natural or normal purpose.

Reason # 2 – Jeans have shitty pockets

          Everyone loves jeans. Some people wear jeans every day. Everyone crosses their eyes at me when I reveal my secret like I’m crazy for not owning jeans. I am the crazy one for not liking jeans. I thought comfort was subjective. I thought America was about standing up for what you believe. I thought I could make my own decisions and as long as no harm came to anyone else, that choice would be tolerated. I thought wrong. Jeans are not a status symbol. They are more than that. If you don’t have jeans you do not exist. Jeans are that old shitty comedy movie from your childhood that you watched every day because it was the only VHS tape you had, and you think that anyone who can’t do a shot for shot remake from memory is not worth the air they displace.

Reason # 3 – Everyone has jeans and everyone who has jeans thinks everyone should have jeans.

          Last summer I was in target buying socks. My girlfriend, a denim enthusiast, told me to give jeans a try. I had suffered the slings and arrows of the entirety of human civilization over the previous twenty years and was tired of it. Bums have more than one pair of jeans, she said and that did it. She bought me a pair. And I bought myself a new pair of sweatpants.

Reason # 4 – I now own jeans.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vegas Chapter 4 - The Only Afternoon

I take a survey of the room. It is dark but the clock says 1:45. I sit on the bed, no sheets, no pillows, off kilter and of course the body that lays next to it and if it weren’t for the snores I’d swear there was a murder there. I flip the switch to open the room darkening shades and as the sun creeps in more and more every second I have to look elsewhere to keep my eyes from stinging.
The bar is twinkling because of the gold flecks in that goldschlaeger bottle and it is making a sound. It’s like glass chimes hanging above the hammock and my brain Pavlovially processes the taste of iced tea, and while the shades are opening I am pouring and they click at the end of their tracks and I hold the glass up to the strip outside the window, smile and shoot it. It is far too much for me to handle at this point. I gag a bit, cough but hold in that burning sensation in my esophagus until it dissipates and spreads through my body, all the way down to my fingertips which had been numb without me noticing.
My eyes are now used to the light and I can now properly survey the room. It is still the way it looked in the dark, only messier. Min’s vomit covered pants are laid out on the floor as if the wearer had been transported out of them, I grab Min’s shoe and scrape his pants into a corner knocking over a table full of beer cans causing a great racket that is some how instantly hilarious. I struggle to contain myself when my wanderlust strikes again and I fill my pockets with beer and set out to find Sam on the casino floor. 
The hallway is especially long this time and seems to be rotating faster the farther down I look, so I keep my eyes on the wall and wait for the elevator doors to appear so I can stop. The beer is cold and outside looks warm so I stand by the window and try and get some sun to wake me up. Down on the strip it looks busy as all hell. What kind of place is this? What are all these people doing here three days before the birth of Christ? Surely the same thing I’m doing here, fucking heathens.
I can’t get down the elevator fast enough to join the hedonism. It dings and I run out and the first thing I see is a midget couple. They were just normal people with shorter limbs, holding hands and wearing backpacks on a Saturday afternoon in vegas but for some reason it made the hedonism that much more appealing. Godless people are one thing, but godless “special interest groups,” were a group I hadn’t ever thought I’d be able to party with. 
I grin and nearly bowl these people over as I run to the bar instantly regretting my enthusiasm when I see almost every retiree in the world milling about with their coupons and walkers, and surly looks at the man that could be their great grandson run into a room full of them with his proverbial pants down. There is a brief moment of silence before they get back to complaining about how cold it is, where this nation is going, what it was like when they grew up and how there is just no respect left in this world and it hums through my booze soaked bones so I make exit to greener pastures: the sports book.
Any gambler knows that the sports book is the catholic church for gamblers. Quick drink service, too many tv’s than are necessary or comprehendable and the best addicts in the world. The only thing it needs in order to be the truest bastion of gambling in the universe is a pawn shop and I am sure it would have one if it weren’t outlawed, but that doesn’t matter; these people have been here an average of twenty hours and I’m strutting in at lunch time on possibly no sleep, or at least no sleep that I remember, and definitely no shower so I fit in immediately.
A bearded fat man in a leather fedora nods to me as I plop into a sofa chair and look at the board. It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. The only sports book I have ever been in is the MGM grand the last time I was in vegas and I was kicked out after throwing up into an ash tray after about three minutes, but this time was different. I am not there to sleep, I’m there to gamble and they smell the blood in the water. I pop a cigarette into my mouth and a cocktail waitress lights it for me before I realize she is even standing there. I am surprised.
“Wow, thank you, didn’t even notice you standing there.” I smile as she puts the lighter into her apron.
“Sure thing Rodney.” 
I look down at my shirt. No name tag. I play it off. “You remembered?”
She blushes and smiles. “Do you?”
I offer her a seat, she looks over her shoulder and scrunches her nose before she smiles and declines at the same time. “How could I forget sweetheart? Did you make it home okay?” I was playing the odds. Surely she hadn’t been working when I was blacked out, and I most certainly was blacked out and in her vicinity because she referred to me as Rodney which is for some reason the name I give attractive women when I am excessively intoxicated.
“Yes I did. I’m so tired though. I almost called in sick, but then I knew I’d be working the book today.” Apparently we had made a date of sorts.
“Good choice.” Oh lord what other lies did I tell? “How about a whiskey?”
She giggles and writes it down. “Whiskey Christy, that’s what you kept yelling last night.” I laugh. It rhymes, and it’s an awful joke but both are habits of mine so I believe it. “Where’s your friend?” She asks. Darby was sleeping, Min had wandered off, and a memory flash of the Bullers getting escorted from the floor points the finger at Sam or a stranger.
“I think he went back to blackjack.”
She agrees very adimately, “Well, go with what works right?”
I nod and she turns to go fetch my whiskey. I watch her leave before catching myself leering and I turn my attention back to the chariot races, horse races, stock car races, bowl games, local boxing, mixed martial arts and whatever other sports were in the flood that spilled out of those countless monitors as I rack my brain trying to figure out the circumstances around my rendezvous with whiskey Christy. It had to have been early in the night otherwise she wouldn’t be at work now, but that is slim logic because she is tired but that isn’t much of a counter argument because I didn’t even black out until four or five, but either way I had no way of knowing without Sam, so I ditch the book.
And right as I’m about to make my exit she rounds the corner and I’m caught, but I’m smoother than that, I am glass. “What time do you get off Christy?”
“Beautiful, I’ll be back.” I wink, which is out of my normal behavior but it pops up every now and again when I’m laying it on thick, and I’m sure a girl like her gets it on all the time so I have to be more memorable, more smarmy and less reserved than anyone she has ever met so in the event that I do come back before she gets off I have a chance however slim. I brush past her and let out a sigh of relief.
“Wait.” She didn’t buy it. She’s going to go all tough chick on me. “At least take your free whiskey,” and as I turn the ice clings against the side of the tumbler that she extends almost to my lips as she smiles this cute little just one side of the mouth smiles and I know instantly why I was attracted to her the night before. I sip and return the smile and we both go our separate ways.
I weave my way to the casino floor through the mall shops which are now open and apparently doing very well for themselves and it seems as if the median age is slowly decreasing the farther I get from the lobby bar, or the whiskey is setting in and people are only seeming more attractive, but either way it is getting better the closer I get to the floor.
At this point I had been gambling in casinos for five years including one stretch where I was spending forty to fifty hours a week in one for a solid six months after a particularly vicious series of break-ups and a stint in the hospital and doing surprisingly well, but even with all that experience and the general trash that is associated with casinos, as soon as I set foot on the colored carpet and light up a smoke and pose for all of the amazingness that surrounded me, I get this feeling inside that is akin to waking up next to a girl you love: just safety and giddy and invincible all at the same time.
After the cerebral overload diminishes I make my way back to where I thought the bar was but as I round corner after corner I am consistently proven wrong. I look for higher ground but this place is flat. I secure a stool from an obese lady playing three slot machines: mashing one with her fat hands and using an expertise far above my preconceived notions of women of her size, she used the cane to operate the other two machines, and all I can see from up there is more slot machines and a Mercedes on a spinning platform surrounded by slot machines, so I jumped back down to the floor.
I immediately apologize to the security guards and their vein’s swelling reduces itself immediately as I soberly explain how I know I should not be climbing on casino property and it’s not just a security issue but they are safety officers first of all and if everyone climbed on chairs this place would be chaos and it wont happen again, but do you know where the main bar on the casino floor is? And they point.
I swear I have been this direction before, but who knows. I follow the brown stripes in the carpet until they hit the blue stripes then turn left and right in front of me is the bar from the night before and a dozen or so blackjack pits. There is considerably more life this time as it is a decent hour, but Sam is still at a table with all the other old Asian men. He is talking to one in Korean probably. I don’t know the difference, but Sam is Korean so I feel like I can make that assumption without being completely racist.
I sit next to Sam and he looks surprised to see me, or surprised that I survived I am not sure, but there is identifiable surprise on his face. It fades into his trademark grin with his teeth showing, mouth slightly open as if he is about to ask a question but never does. “Hey Sam,” I lead out. He shakes his head and laughs.
“You don’t remember shit about last night do you?” I don’t, but he is a story teller and a business man so I can’t just agree and push him for an explanation.
“What are you talking about?” 
“Last night after you went back to the room with Darby.”
“I remember that.” 
“But do you remember coming back down?” He asks as the dealer hits on soft seventeen, catches a four and apologetically takes everyone’s money including about two hundred of Sam’s dollars. He bets another two hundred and turns back to me with the smile again. “You came down, lost four-hundred dollars before you got your first drink and then dragged me over to the lounge.”
“Yeah, I know, that’s where we met whiskey Christy and her friends.”
“Oh, so you do remember… never mind.” The plan backfires, but Sam wins two hundred. I don’t particularly know how I lost so much so quickly or why I thought it was a good idea but I knew it was about lunchtime. 
“You want to eat?” 
“I already did.” Sam points towards a plate behind the dealer, wins two hundred more.
“Oh. Alright, I’ll go get Darby.” I get up to leave. 
“Here,” Sam says from behind me, I turn and he’s handing me a little stack of chips. “Lunch is on me.”
“Thanks man.” I walk back towards the elevator with a pocket full of chips. This feeling is new to me. I don’t like walking around with money in my pocket, especially in twenty-five dollar denominations. The magic of gambling is that the chips don’t feel like money so you don’t feel like a fool for throwing these little clay things in the trash at whatever game they have tricked you into playing. 
I count them in my pocket. There’s six of them. Why on earth Sam gave me a hundred and fifty dollars for breakfast I’ll never know, but there it was and there is the craps table. I haven’t been carded for anything since I have been nineteen, but this pit boss seemed intent on verifying my age for whatever reason, so I complied, no big deal. Then he starts.
“What’s your birthday?” He holds the card halfway between his face and mine comparing me now to me when I was 19 which is about 40 pounds, a beard and the signs of a life quite possibly lived on the streets. My license is not a picture of me, it is a reference point and the older it is the longer the story connecting that picture with the man that carries it and quite often I don’t have the time.
“July twenty-second.” I say, already tired of this shit. He squints at the picture. I take of my glasses and try and bring my double chin back, my usual joke when someone is giving me a rough time about my id. He doesn’t find it as funny as I do, probably because I’ve been drinking for 14 hours and he was at work. He looks at me out of the corner of his eye, then again at my license.
“Thank you, Sir.” And he hands me my id back and I place my bet. I have a hundred and fifty dollars, but I’m down four hundred that I know of, so I put twenty-five on the pass line. I win. It’s a good sign. I put seventy-five on the pass line and back it up with a hundred. Craps. Well I wanted to buy myself lunch anyway. 
Back in the room the vomit smell is as thick as ever and Darby is in the shower. I turn on the tv for background noise and make myself a rum and coke and wait. Darby comes out of the bathroom after a couple minutes, and his face looks like he scrubbed with a pumice stone. 
“Dude what the fuck happened? What is that smell?” 
I point to Min, he nods knowingly. “How’s your head feel?”
“Thirsty.” He pours two shots and waits for me to follow his lead. I do.
“Want to go get lunch?”
“Champagne brunch?”
“Champagne brunch?” You mean we aren’t the only people who drink before lunch? They have a place for people like us that don’t have coffee cups hanging on the wall and weekly bingo games? Not only is it acceptable to drink before dinner but it’s so prevalent that it has a name? “Ok.” I say, and Darby ties his boots and we go. Or at least I’m pretty sure we go. To be honest I finish the rum and coke, blink and I’m on the floor in the room and it’s dark.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vegas Chapter 2.5 - Min Tun's Night Out

Min leaves us at the bar because he is feeling rather drunk and extremely tired from the flight. Min flew out because when we were ready to leave he was lagging and he lives about thirty minutes out of our way, so when he told us to “hang out for a bit while I get my shit together” we told him to “fuck off,” so he took a cab to the airport and bought a ticket for the next flight to Vegas, and he had been up since six in the morning on Friday after a vigorous night of “partying” (read: drinking and masterbating) on Thursday night, so he was tired. 
Min stumbles away from us at the bar and wanders to a neighboring and still unidentified casino in the forty degree Vegas pre-dawn where he gambles an undisclosed amount because that is his “scam” to get free drinks. Feeling even more drunk and tired still, Min stumbles back to the Flamingo Hilton only to get lost in the maze of tables, flashing lights, closed store fronts and a cocktail of geriatric ointments and cigarette smoke which combine in the air to form the best kind of MacGyver smoke screen ever.
Min is lost. Min is drunk and lost in the Flamingo Hilton and none of the staff are willing to help him find his room because he is not on the guest ledger, does not have a key and in all likelihood couldn’t operate it if he did. He does what feels natural, invokes his animal instinct which organizes priorities as: shelter, warmth, and apparently: sleep.
Min wraps up in his jacket, zips it up, walks to the nearest elevator, pushes the button, gets in, sits in the corner and lights out. I imagine him dressed in black on the floor of the pink walled elevators snoring at an incredible volume while strangers shuffle in and out, up and down, somehow not surprised that a brown man is using the elevator as his personal crash pad because after all, this is Vegas where the drunker you are the more money you spend and as long as you spend money you’re okay.
Min wakes to bright lights flashing and hushed laughter. The smell of perfume, red wine, and cigarettes stings his nose and he puts his hands up to shield his eyes. The hushed laughter stops and a sweet female voice asks, “Are you okay?” He nods his head and struggles to stand up, eager for the attention.
“You girls want some more pictures?” They roar with laughter, the same sweet voice replies in the affirmative and the bright light is back, and the giggles, and the warmth of a hip touching his hip and these women are connecting with him.
“Where are you staying?” One of the girls asks him.
“Flamingo Hilton,” he mutters.
“Then at least you’re asleep in the right elevator,” and the laughter erupts again.
“I’m thirsty,” he slurs, “really thirsty, with a capital thirst!” He smiles and puts his arm around the one standing next to him, and although he can’t see a bit, his arm is still aware of what to look for and he checks her sides for muffin tops which aren’t there. His arm runs halfway up her back before reaching the lower edge of her long hair and he smiles again.
“We have some drinks in our room,” the photographer or someone standing next to her says and the elevator dings. The one he is holding pulls him off the lift car into the hallway where he stumbles like a retarded raptor all the way down the hall, pauses while one of them opens the door, and struts into the room with the two girls who were taking his picture while he was passed out on the elevator floor.
He hears a beer pop and feels it cold on his free hand. He wont let go of the girl next to him, and she doesn’t want to be let go. She leads him over to the bed and sits down. He hears two more beers pop and he takes a sip. Cold, so cold and refreshing like the first sip after a salty dinner and it turns into a gulp, which turns into a chug and his beer is empty. 
He crushes it in his hand and throws it onto the floor, the two girls follow and giggle, the one sitting next to him gives him a kiss on the cheek. “You’re cute,” she says. “We rode the elevator for twenty minutes trying to wake you up so we could take you back here,” she confesses and Min grins.
“Oh yeah? What for?” He asks, and the girls are silent. The one sitting next to him lays down and with his arm around her he is pulled down as well. He feels his grin growing at relatively the same rate as, well, other things that are growing in anticipation but as soon as his head hits the mattress the room starts to rock back and forth.
Back and forth over and over and over and then around and around at an incredible pace. Even though he is blind he can still see colors swirl and the voices start to fade even though the breath on his neck is just as hot as when they were close up, and this realization makes the room spin faster and faster until Min springs up and yells, “I have to pee!”
He slides off the bed and feels for the door, slides it open, turns on the light, which starts the room spinning again so he turns it off and walks to the sink. He splashes water on his face and his vision is restored. He splashes more and more until his shirt is wet and the floor is slippery from all the missed droplets that form a thin puddle on the tiny tile. He steps back and slips a bit, catches himself on the counter and the room’s rotation starts up again.
He holds on for dear life, every fiber of his being convinced that if he lets go of that counter he will be spun off the earth and float away into space never to be heard from again. His stomach growls at the constant rotation and he feels a burp rising in his chest. He breathes deeply to push the burp back down but with every breath it climbs closer to the top of his throat and eventually out. It isn’t a loud burp, more like air escaping a balloon, but the smell is horrendous. The room spins faster now but on a new axis that weighs him down to the floor and his shoes feel like they’re made of bricks.
Still holding on to the counter but walking in place to get used to the changed gravity of this strange bathroom universe another burp rises. This one faster and there is no stopping it. It breaks through and brings a stream of vomit along for the ride. It splashes onto the mirror and into the sink which is really just a bowl with a drain ontop of the counter and very post modern, especially with the mixture of crown royal, Johnny walker black and stomach acid bubbling down. 
Min’s survival instinct kicks in again and he turns to run but his heavy feet provide no better traction than his old ones and he falls into the puddle of water on the floor. He throws up again, this time half alcohol and half sushi, once more mostly sushi and again but nothing comes out besides spit and an awful groan for medical help. He is disgusted by the mess he has made, pulls the towels off the hooks and starts to wipe it up, dry heaves some more, wipes to no avail, then tries to get up but the gravity is still against him so he gives in, piles the towels up and uses them for a pillow.
A knock on the door awakes him. Men in black leather boots force the door open and walk dangerously close to his face. Their voices are assertive and booming considering the mess they are there to take care of and the general acoustics of a bathroom. They hoist Min Tun up by his elbows and drag him out of the room past the two girls that called security when they heard the first load squirt onto the mirror, down the hall, into the elevator, up to the seventeenth floor and to room 17004 where it is discovered that Min doesn’t have a key.
Min asks to be let go, they comply. He pulls his wallet and gives them each a twenty and they disappear. He takes off his vomit covered jacket, rolls it into a ball and lies down on the floor using his head as a knocker to wake whoever is inside up. When he regains consciousness he explains to me this story, and that I saved his life by dragging his puke smelling half-corpse in and putting him on the couch before heading back down to the casino floor to watch the sunrise, which sounds like something I would do, but only circumstantial evidence to prove my case to myself, so I am still not quite sure.