The End is Where We BeganBy Slade Ham
December 29, 2009
2009 is almost gone. I feel like I made it through this year the same way I got through high school, which is to say I skipped most of it and barely squeaked by the rest. One of the greatest perks to writing as frequently as I do is that there is always a record of where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
I rolled into this year as unobtrusively as I possibly could, falling asleep on my brother’s couch an hour or so before midnight. “If I’m quiet maybe ’09 won’t notice me”, I told myself, and for the most part it didn’t. I spent January in the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced, -21 in Indianapolis. Negative. Twenty-one. At that temperature even your soul freezes.
That probably explains why I was so sick a week or so later in New Orleans. Instead of wrought iron and beignets and the banks of the Mississippi, I spent my time there huddled in the Ambassador Hotel hiding from fever induced nightmares. That didn’t stop Wild Bill Dykes and Sam Demaris from dragging me to Vic’s for a glass or two of James. I went straight from there to the Oklahoma foothills for a few nights of nothing but wilderness and fire.
There was a very blurry weekend in Shreveport somewhere around that part of the year, too. I remember Justin Foster not wearing pants for most of it. Sam and I stole a tree. We also almost fought Elmo and Cookie Monster. Wait, maybe that was last year. This year we beat up a midget. In our defense, he said he was in the UFC, which prompted the response, “Not unless Arianna Celeste writes a number on your chest and holds you over her head between rounds.”
I spent most of my May hopping around the Middle East with Don Barnhart and Bryan Bruner, which is not the place to visit during the summer. I got to bake in the Qatari sun and walk the streets of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. It was nice to find out that Saudi was so much different than I had thought it would be. I got to soak for a few unplanned off days in a lagoon attached to a luxury hotel in Bahrain. It was an oasis by every definition of the word and a very welcome respite from the hot desert sun.
While on that side of the world I got demolished in a game of soccer by Djiboutian children, met too many amazing people to name, played with wild cheetahs, and watched Christian Slater rescue a Marine girl from being attacked by one. A cheetah, not a Djiboutian kid.
Somewhere in that same time period a German woman decided to go skinny dipping with polar bears at the Berlin Zoo. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. We were soon inundated with more attacks from the animal world, this time in the form of the Pig AIDS. Swine flu. H1N1. People wore masks and we all watched as the death toll rose on national television. It didn’t take long for us to realize that it was a pointless thing to be afraid of. “Save your fear,” we told ourselves, “there are underwear bombers coming in December.”
The King of Pop died right in front of all of us this year, too. Sam was in Seattle when it happened, and managed to sleep through the news. As long as I can remember, he has had one line in his show that takes a crack at Michael. He called me that night to tell me he did the line on stage and was booed by the entire crowd. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“He’s dead!” yelled someone in the crowd, to which Sam replied, “No he’s not. He just looks like that.”
Here’s hoping nobody dies while you’re hungover in 2010, Sam.
I was almost arrested in Dallas on my birthday until the cop admitted that some friends of mine had set me up. He laughed as he took the handcuffs off, and I resisted the urge to kick my friends in the head. It wasn’t the only time I would find myself in a cop car this year. Back in Indianapolis, Billy D. Washington and I recruited a ride to our hotel from Indy’s most eccentric police officer. After tazing himself a few times in the leg, he invited us into the cruiser. What should have been a ten minute drive took forty minutes, reaching a conclusion only after I managed to pinpoint our location on my phone’s GPS. To this day I’m not certain we didn’t get a ride from a guy that had just recently stolen a cop car. Billy and I laughed until we cried, making that one of the most memorable weeks of the year.
I got to climb a bit in the Rockies this year as well. There was a lot on my mind this summer and nothing clears it like thin mountain air and thousand foot falls. Charlie Moreno and I watched a Gay Pride parade, a Mexicans for Jesus rally, and a Free Iran protest all take place in downtown Denver within a block of each other. We watched street musicians and crazy people for a few hours before heading back to the Springs. I was introduced to K’naan on the drive back, which only made the trip that much more worth it.
In July I got to briefly see my friends Kevin and Pete, who I see far too rarely. I also got share some of the finest Irish whiskeys in the world this year with BC and Mike Flores.
Fall was spent in Canada, riding trains across Ontario, and drinking Alexander Keith’s with a slew of new Canadian friends. For a comedian, the stage at Absolute Comedy in Ottawa is as close to heaven on Earth as one can possibly get. It is to comedy what Nirvana is to both Buddhists and grunge fans. I was also given the grand tour of Toronto by Jeff Schouela. If you have to spend a few weeks in Canada with anyone, you could do far worse than Jeff.
On top of all of that, I lost my two best friends. Tiger Woods fell from his perch at the top of the sports worlds. I saw snow in Houston. A family pimped their kid out with a childish balloon hoax. I fell out of touch with my favorite person on this planet. Billy Mays and Farrah Fawcett and Patrick Swayze and David Carradine and Jim Carroll died. I made a stupid bet with my friend Titus. I saw my friend Rachel turn orange. I met new people and reconnected with some old friends.
And with all of that said, I managed to accomplish absolutely nothing. I somehow managed to end the year precisely where I began it: in front of this desk, staring at this screen, drinking coffee.
Here’s to 2010. I don’t know anything about it yet, but like most wild animals, it probably won’t bite you if you don’t look it in the eye. I was a little passive this past year however, so I may very well pick a fight with this one on purpose. It might kick my ass the way ’07 and ’08 did, but I also might find a way to tame it.
Good or bad, it’s pretty much upon us.
Christian Slater saved a girl from a cheetah? Somehow this restores my faith in humanity…
It restored mine as well. The cat took a leap at the girl’s shoulder and he dove in between it and her, just long enough for someone else to step in and separate them. It was pretty fucking impressive to be honest. He was closer than I was or I would have totally done the same thing. Totally.
Don’t pick a fight with 2010, Slade.
You should pick a fight with 2009 because it will soon be gone.
Here’s to a new decade. May it be filled with cheer and cheerful cheetahs. Oh, and I hope you fall back in touch with your most favourite person on this planet.
Deal. I’ll give 2010 a chance before I form-tackle it at the door. And yes, I hope I reconnect as well. Cheers.
Christian Slater? That’s awesome! So much more so awesome than if a regular human being did it.
No, I’m not being sarcastic. I’m 100% serious.
For what it’s worth he’s a super cool guy, and this much I know – the girl’s story is way more interesting with him in it than it would have been if I’d saved her.
That was a passive year for you?!? Why don’t you get a real job so that we don’t have to be so jealous of you galavanting around this country and several others throughout the year while we slave away behind desks all day long.
Here’s to grabbing 2010 by the horns and riding it all the way into space or something. They have an open mic night at the restaurant at the end of the universe. It’s no Ottawa, but the drinks are strong and they make a tasty burger.
Hahaha, my apologies, John. I guess it feels that way to me only because I seem to have spent this year in what I can only describe as a stagnant laziness. I should be less mad at myself and more grateful for having experienced some amazing things along the way. It was a better year than most.
And I hope I draw a sweet spot at that open mic. The end of the universe sounds like an amazing destination for the upcoming year.