The autumnal equinox today. Halfway from summer to winter.
I woke up on the floor beside my hammock well past noon, looking at the world as diffracted through the empty bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold lying before my eyes. Everything was rippled and distorted, like a late Van Gogh. Couldn’t figure it out for several minutes. The tile floor was blessedly cool, breezes off the Gulf of California blew in, and I’d been lying there so long my body was numb. All in all it felt pretty good.
But, then I had to pee. Past fifty, prostate the size of a tennis ball, I find the urge often comes on with little fanfare and suddenly one is in desperate straits. So, I had to get up.
I swear that every single cell, every molecule in my body cried out in pain. A twenty-year old can spend a dusk-to-dawn session in a smoky cantina, trading shots with locals who hide their contempt behind Cheshire grins, while Carmelina keeps the beer coming, and the table dancer, Estrelita I think her name was, does remarkable things with shot glasses—I swear it’s ruined me on the labia minora for life—and the god-awful cover band insists on playing the best of “Men at Work” over and over, later getting mugged and rolled by the same locals who helped drink my tequila, kicked in the ribs and kidneys so that I’ll piss blood for a week…a twenty-year old could do all this and roll out of bed at eight, wander into work by nine only a little worse for wear, spruced up fine after a single hair-of-the-dog warm beer in the kitchen. Do the same thing at age 57, and the next morning you will pray for death as a preferable alternative.
It took me about twenty minutes to get up off the floor and stagger my way to the veranda to piss off the balcony into the alley below, promising to light a candle to the Virgin at the cathedral later for the indiscretion.
An hour soak in a hot tub took the edge off the joint pain. Four Norco blunted the headache. The aforementioned warm Pacifico shooed the hair off the dog. A couple of diazepam battled the shakes. I dressed slowly. It was hard to get my arms up and through the shirt sleeves. I fell once pulling on my pants. I didn’t dare look at myself in the mirror.
Shielded behind mirrored Ray-Bans, I climbed gingerly down the stairs and hobbled to the little corner cafe that made decent espresso. By then the drugs had begun to take hold. I could be persuaded to refuse a quick death if it presented itself.
Since the lockout started, I just haven’t been able to get my feet on the ground. The familiar squeak of sneakers, booming of basketballs and rattling of rims from the practice gym below my office, the hubbub of trash talking, the griping of coaches—it all was gone. Instead, I had to listen to Brown glad-handing and politicking up and down the hall like a Republican in Iowa, Jimmy Buss telling everyone that none of this was his doing, while Jerry calls me twice a day asking me if we got Magic to sign that twenty-five year contract yet. Phil sends me emails three times a week with pictures of massive trout he’s landed, cheesecake snaps of Jeannie at the lake, bad jokes about Jimmy.
“Why did Jimmy Buss cross the road?”
“To show he didn’t need Phil and Kobe to do everything.” “Because ‘Drew had already taken the handicap spot on this side.”
Can’t call the players. Can’t even mention their names to the press. No one’s willing to talk trade. I really think we could score Steve Nash this summer, but they won’t even take my calls in Phoenix. Been such a bear at home, the wife decamped with the kids to Vancouver for the summer.
So, I took my vacation time and rented a convertible for a month and headed south. By the time I got to La Paz I was road-sick and ready to crash. No email, no internet, no phones. No one knows I’m here.
Later I’ll drive out to a beach out on the Gulf, take a swim, lie in the sun, nurse a couple more Pacificos and say a prayer to the Sun Gods. They were fearsome, the Gods of the Aztecs and Mayans. They demanded blood and sacrifice.
Man, I’m tired.
I’m thinking about Phil’s coffee shop ideas. Maybe up in Montana or Wyoming or wherever the hell he is.