In Part One of this story:

I flew to Wisconsin to be the best man in my brother’s wedding. At the airport, I was greeted by two of his college friends, Chris and Mark. They were to be my brother’s groomsmen. While on our way to the hotel, we drank. We smoked. Once we reached the hotel, we proceeded to raise hell at a local cheese store. Then we went to a bar across the street and drank more. We got so drunk, in fact, that we completely lost track of time…

 

Part II

Chris, Mark and I are standing in the bar
We’re completely shit-faced

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We’re wearing our ridiculous Dipsters bathing suits
We’d purchased from a vending machine earlier that day

We’re also face-to-face with my brother
Who’s understandably very, very pissed

“You guys really fucked up,” he says. “The rehearsal dinner’s in an hour.”

I grab Chris and Mark
We stumble out to the parking lot
Pour ourselves into their Datsun and head out

Back at the hotel
We do our best to take quick showers and get into our nice clothes

Once I’m ready
I pull out a small paper bag
From it, I produce the string cheese I’d purchased earlier at the store

“Hey you guys,” I slur. “I’m gonna make this into a ring and give it to my brother when we practice the wedding.”

Mark and Chris think my idea is hilarious
After all, we’re in Wisconsin
We’ve already deemed the wedding to be all about cheese

And even though our stupid actions have already messed things up big-time

We believe everyone will find us to be the life of the party
We believe my plan will go over like gangbusters

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I quickly fashion the string-cheese into a ring
And shove it into my jacket pocket

We head out

The wedding rehearsal is just short of disaster
We miss our cues
We have to continually be told what to say, what to do

When it comes time to hand my brother the ring
I reach into my pocket for the string cheese, but think twice

Finally, the thinking part of my brain is kicking into gear

Things are already bad enough, I realize
If I hand him the cheese ring
He has every good right to kick my ass all the way back to California

Instead, I reach into my other pocket
Pull out the real ring instead

From that point on
The rehearsal continues without another hitch

But later at the rehearsal dinner
Word gets out that I play music
And that I even brought along a guitar

I do my best to play something
To celebrate my brother and his soon-to-be wife

It’s no good, however
My hands aren’t connected to my body or brain anymore
I’m too far gone

Color me blue
Color everything I do for everyone blue

That night I go to bed early
Try to get my head ready for the next morning

But no matter what I do
No matter how many sheep I try to count
No matter how many bottles of beer on the wall I try to count

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I can’t sleep
All my brain hears is noise
White noise

The next morning, however, I hear a different noise

“Hey, Rich, get up.”

It’s Mark and Chris
They’re waking me to tell me about their brilliant plan

Still another brilliant cheese plan

“Check these out,” they say
They show me bags of Cheetos they bought from the vending machine down the hall

“We’re gonna throw these at your brother instead of rice after he’s married.”

“I don’t know,” I say. “We’ve already fucked things up enough.”

“Come on,” says Mark. “Your brother’ll think it’s funny.”

Blame it on my lack of sleep
Blame it on my massive hangover
They finally convince me that their plan will be a huge success

After the wedding
The three of us wait for my brother and his new wife on the church steps

When they show up
All smiles and newly married bliss
We pelt them with cheese doodles

Needless to say
My brother doesn’t find this funny
Neither does his new wife

They now have orange stains all over their beautiful clothes

But all this fun with cheese doesn’t stop there

Later at the reception
Mark, Chris and I break into the champagne
Once we’re good and drunk
I run to my car and retrieve my secret weapon

It’s a huge block of Swiss that I purchased the day before at the cheese store

“What are you gonna do with that?” says Mark

“I’m gonna jam it into the tailpipe of Bob’s car,” I say

“Are you serious?” says Chris

I nod
The way my drunken brain figures
The experience will be a way for me to surreptitiously reconnect with my brother

It’ll be just like the old days when, as kids, we’d jam potatoes into car tailpipes on Halloween

“Well, good luck,” says Mark

“Yeah,” Chris echoes. “Good luck.”

Then they both give me a look that says: Hope you don’t get caught

And I don’t

Get caught that is

The whole time I’m smoother than 007
Faster than The Flash

No one notices a thing

Once I wedge the block of Swiss
Into the tailpipe of my brother’s car
I head back to the party

Since the reception is taking place on a lake
Chris, Mark and I decide to go water skiing

We grab my brother

Since he’s already a little drunk himself
It doesn’t take a lot of convincing

“Can I ski first?” I say

No one argues

Out in the water I strap on the skis

“I’ll drive,” says my brother

Before you know it
He’s whizzing around the lake at top speed
We’re going so fast I can barely hold onto the rope

He’s zig-zagging back and forth
Forcing me to cross and re-cross my wake

It’s a miracle I’m still standing

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Part of me wonders why he’s driving like such an idiot
But then another part of me realizes he knows exactly what he’s doing

He’s getting back at me for all the shit I’ve caused

Fine, I think
I deserve it
I can deal with it

But I’m so drunk
I can only handle so much speed
Finally I hit a wake the wrong way and go tumbling end over end

When I resurface
I see my brother circling me
He and the other guys are laughing their heads off

“It’s not funny,” I say. “You could’ve killed me.”

“Don’t be a pussy,” my brother yells, toasting me with an open bottle of champagne. “Get back up and ski like a man.”

I grab the rope
Again, he zooms off

But once I’m standing
I quickly realize I’m not wearing my Dipster anymore

The bathing suit was so cheap and flimsy
It completely shredded in my fall

The only thing left now is the waistband

That means there’s nothing hiding my manhood from the world

My brother, Chris and Mark
Are laughing even harder
They drive faster

They cruise close to shore
We pass home after home

Me, I don’t know what else to do but flap in the breeze
And wave at all the families hanging out in their yards

After a while I notice a boat speeding toward us

As it draws closer
I’m able to read the letters on the side of it:

Wisconsin Water Police

They motion for my brother to stop
He complies

As for me, I unstrap the skis and swim toward them

Once on the boat
I realize we’re being cited for lewd conduct

That’s when Completely Drunk Me gets another stupid idea

To be continued…

 

Part III…Reckoning

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RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

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