September 19, 2000



What Up, D?!?


That's how I open every conversation with Danielle when we talk on the phone. I'll call and she'll answer, or she'll call and identify herself, and then I bellow into the mouthpiece in an oddly strained voice, "What up, D?!?" Why do I do that? No idea; I'm a creature of habit.

I guess a little background on D may be in order. Danielle and I worked together back in the dark recesses of time known as the 80's, and somehow we ended up sharing an apartment just off Wilshire Blvd. in the Miracle Mile district of L.A. It was a strictly financial arrangement that netted us a very nice 2-bedroom, 2,000 square foot apartment in a small pre-war era building where, if memory serves, neither of us ever got laid in the 6+ months we shared the place.

Danielle ultimately moved out and got her own place, which led me to a procession of dimwit roommates before I finally traded up/down to a one bedroom apartment in a building overlooking MacArthur Park, which is where I lived during our 1992 "uprising" (read: riot) and from which I was able to watch buildings just a block away burn during the first few nights of merriment. But I digress...

Danielle and I were roomies and co-workers for awhile, and then she up and moved to Nashville to pursue a singing career. I haven't seen her since she left L.A. back in... whenever the hell it was, but we've kept in touch throughout. In fact, she has been instrumental in shaming me into updating here from time to time, proof positive that sometimes you really should just let long-distance friendships die. It saves you a lot of annoyance and aggravation. Just kidding. Sort of. Point being that I hadn't seen Danielle since she came to my wedding, so when I found out I was going to Mississippi I had to switch it to Tennessee so I could hook up with D and Mike Reed.

(Some of you are probably scratching your head right about now, wondering what I'm talking about with this Mississippi business. Long story short: Bigbux Financial Institution had originally assigned me to the Jackson, Mississippi office, but I traded with my co-worker Gavin, who was given Memphis, but who really wanted to do Jackson so he could be with fellow co-worker Candace, only once we switched we found out that Candace had traded with Ralph to get Houston, which meant that I -- or, in this case, Gavin -- had Jackson with Ralph, which kinda sucked since while we both like Ralph okay, neither of us much wanted to spend two weeks with him. And that's how I ended up in Memphis. Clearer now? Got all that? Good.)

Anyway. I hung out with Danielle for an hour or so the first time I got there, talking and forcing her to listen to Kevin Gilbert cd's as she nodded and said, "Oh yeah, he's... good" in as sincere a voice as she could muster. I made snide comments about her computer (My God! It's a 386!!!), she made snide comments about my hairline -- it was as though no time had passed at all. Then we made plans for dinner and I left to drive to Murfreesboro so Mike could meet me and make snide comments about my hairline in his journal. (By the way, Mike says I needn't worry about having been a bad guest: I was one, but I shouldn't worry about it, sez he. Great.)

A few hours later, I was back, having had dinner with Mike and Dollie and Max at the world famous "Puffing Billy's Neighborhood Pub." So obviously it was time to have dinner again. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant we went to, but it was virtually identical to one I ate in in Memphis. Chain restaurants: ya gotta love 'em. I had the barbequed mystery rib-type bone things and D and I sat and talked until we were practically the last patrons there.

At this point, I was exhausted. As tired as I had been at Mike's, I was the poster boy for somnambulism now. In fact, I had spent most of the drive back from Murfreesboro slapping myself awake in the driver's seat as I weaved from lane to lane in a half-asleep stupor. Now, a few hours later and with a 500 mile drive ahead of me, I was a bit trepidatious about making the drive safely. Sleep deprivation was having its way with me, which is never a good thing when you're going to drive long distances at night. Common sense shouted one simple word: Hotel!

Or... maybe not. For perhaps the first time in my life I heeded the call of Common Sense, but Life was having none of it. Danielle took me to the hotel she puts her family in when they come to visit. We went in together to inquire about a room (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), only to be told that there was only one left, and the door couldn't be locked since the lock was broken.

Aha!, thought I, Discount!

Uh-uh!, said they. Full highway robbery price!

Fuck that, said I.

I opted to at least begin the drive back to Memphis and stop a bit further up the road, outside the city, in the land of reality, and look for a more reasonably priced room there. So I drove for an hour and was still awake. So I drove for another hour and still felt pretty good. And I eventually just drove all the way back to Memphis and got in at something like 5 minutes before the crack of dawn, and was wide awake throughout. Apparently I only fall asleep at the wheel in broad daylight; nighttime is the right time for me to drive.

Mission accomplished.