Leaving Rod and Teresa
I spent a couple of nights with Rod and Teresa. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, and I wasn’t even sure what my welcome was — I had hitched a ride to El Paso and kept stretching it: motel room, continuing to Phoenix, and then accommodation in Phoenix. I had definitely pushed it. Rod and Teresa had been really good to me. So, to give them a break, I contacted a CouchSurfer, Dawid, who said I could stay with him no problem.
I proposed the idea to Rod. I didn’t want to just bail on him and reject his hospitality, but I knew he wanted some private time with his wife, without an extra, strange body in the house. Rod was like, “Yeah, that might be a good idea.” It was a funny response. He was straight with me. I was expecting, “No dude, no, not at all. You can stay as long as you like,” and I was going to interpret it as “Dude, I need a little space.” I guess it didn’t matter how he was going to respond; I was going to give him a break no matter what. Guests are like fish; after three days they stink.
“Psychotic” Host Dawid
Dawid doesn’t have a cell phone, so I just showed up. Luckily, he was around. And he gave me a great welcome. When I walked through the door, it was high energy. He’s traveled a lot, including a trip down through Central America, and also a backpacking trip in Eastern Europe, like me. He was rattling off a fresh, new vocabulary. “Dude, this shit’s psychotic in the Summer.” He kept spouting off this shit, and I just listened. It was entertaining.
Dawid was pumped I chose to go South to Central America. He wanted to come too, but he’s gotta hang out in Phoenix for some business. He was telling me I’d be living like a king in Nicaragua, and that “Central America is like elementary school. When you get into South America, that’s some serious shit. That’s like high school or college. It’s a whole different level, bro!” I don’t really know what that meant.
Dawid and his now ex-girlfriend, Kristin, bought the house a few years ago. Then they broke up, but they’re still living together with some other roommates. Pretty cool they were able to work that out. It speaks to their easy-going nature.
He made it clear that “Mi casa es su casa.” Dawid had some hair clippers in the bathroom, so I gave myself a fresh cut. #3. And I didn’t fuck it up, Ryan; I kept the guard on the whole time! ;P
I went out to Safeway to get some essentials, including a gallon of milk. When I’ll be somewhere a few days, I like to get milk and drink the shit out of it. Nourish my body. I love milk.
I also found a deal in the brownie aisle. Duncan Hines buy 2, get 3 free. Holy shit!! 5 boxes in my basket.
Then I went on a brownie baking binge. First victims: Dawid and his girlfriend, Janessa. They just got browned!
Dawid told me that another CouchSurfer would be coming by, “a real morbid nomad.” Knock at the door, and a low-energy, skinny shit with glazed eyes drifted through the door. Dirty backpack, gallon jug of water, guitar slung over his back, troubadour black hat, worn down black boots, bandana tied above one of his boots, sunken cheeks, boney bastard. His name was Chris. He didn’t introduce himself, and waited for people to ask him questions. He was from Memphis.
The three of us headed out to Tempe, the nearby university town. Chris took his guitar. He wandered ahead of us, swaying from side to side. Man in black. Johnny Cash, Jack Kerouac wannabe. Bad boy.
We were going to take the light rail to Tempe. Dawid forgot his wallet and was going to ride the train illegally. My attitude towards riding public transportation for free changed a lot when I got caught on MARTA in Atlanta. That was a bad deal and I had to pay it back with community service. I paid for Dawid’s ticket. Chris didn’t buy a one. I let the free spirit be free.
When we got to Tempe, Dawid and I split with Chris, who wanted to play street corners for coins.
Bizarre Time in Tempe
We walked around Tempe, which was a weird, ultra-clean, outdoor mall. A black guy sitting on stoop with his friends asked us for some money for food. He had bizarre pale blue eyes. I had brought brownies along with me, so I offered those. He didn’t want any. Hypocrite. But a couple of his friends did, so I handed them out. The weird-eyed guy shouted to his friends, “Take ’em all!” an odd, selfish outburst. And then he yelled out to Dawid, who was wearing a hat with feathers, “Hey man, gimme sum of dose feathers man!”
Dawid and I decided to avoid wasting money at a bar, so we went to a Jack in the Box to drink a bunch of refills. Two fat guys were in there watching the parking lot, busting non-customers. While we were there, they had a car towed. They told us they were “contractors. “Shitty job. Sitting around all day trying to bust people. The guy whose car was towed came in and confronted the fat guys. Their sweaty, pudgy faces tried to shake off the blame.
Dawid and I walked back to meet up with Chris. “Hey, do you guys listen to hip hop?” I denied any interest in hip hop. Dawid got sucked in and put on the headphones. A minute later, Dawid told the guy it was unoriginal stuff. The guy and Dawid got into a long discussion that was going nowhere. “‘Black’ and ‘African-American’ are both names given to us by the oppressor, so if I get to choose, I’ll choose to be called ‘Nigger.'” I walked away.
As they were talking, I noticed an overweight belly dancer dancing on the side street. She was dancing for money, but no one was interested, and she didn’t have any musical accompaniment. It was a lonely sight.
Across the street, there was some sort of Bible awareness group. I saw some alternative types in their parachute pants stop to get into some stupid religious argument with these guys. Is it really worth it?
As Dawid finished up his talk with the hip-hop guy, and we continued walking, I was immediately solicited with a fake $1 million dollar bill asking the Million Dollar Question. Oh great. Young guy asked, “Have you ever heard of Jesus? You know the guy who died to save the world. Do you know who he is?” Condescending boring shit. I just shut down and didn’t say much. I said meekly, “I don’t know.” He asked, “Well, do you have a couple of minutes to take a quick test? I’ll ask you the Million Dollar question to see if you’ve got what it takes to get into Heaven.” I was so disinterested but I also felt bad. With a scrunched up face, I said apologetically, “No. I don’t want to.” and left. I had gotten the same run-down from Shawn, our generous host in Liberty, TX. Everybody with this Million Dollar Question.
Dawid and I kept walking and came to young guy down on his luck. He sat on a planter with his backpack, his dog, and dog food laid out in front of him. His head was down. Dirty looking dude with nasty dirty blonde facial hair lining his jaw and chin, loose shitty jeans, and a cut-off t-shirt that was cut way down on both sides, football-player style. We offered him a brownie. He perked up and took it. He asked for a light, and told us he’s on probation. He seemed in decent spirits. Then he saw some people coming and ducked his head down again. He was looking for pity and playing his dog for some coins. A few people stopped to pet his dog and that opened up a conversation for him. Pathetic young guy. His parents are probably rich. He’s just rebelling and trying out the homeless parasite life. It’s like summer camp.
Chris, the Troubadour, found us, and he earned enough money to buy a cup of coffee.
A young sweaty white kid with basketball shorts and carrying a duffel bag came rushing past us. Then he saw Chris and said, “That bitch just sucked my dick.” He was ecstatic, but didn’t stay long. He rushed away. Chris filled us in. This kid was underage and asked Chris to buy him a beer. While Chris was getting the beer for him, some girl became quick friends with the kid, as he was waiting outside. I guess she wanted to get into his sweaty shorts. Bizarre. I think he was carrying some drugs in his duffel bag. That probably has a lot to do with it.
Then an overweight, really sweaty Native American guy with long, dirty hair came up to Dawid as he was sitting on the bench, interested in the feathers in his hat. “Why’d you kill my morning bird?” He had this deep “duuuuh” retarded sound in his voice, had screwy eyes, and missing teeth. Dawid messed around with him for a little bit, and then weird Native American guy started sniffing the air. “I smell Bob Marley.” He kept sniffing and scooted off, following his nose. “I’m gonna find that Bob Marley.”
We met up with Dawid’s girlfriend, Genessa, and headed back to the light rail. A crowd leaving the Diamondbacks game squeezed into the train. Chris started playing some Johnny Cash. He was great, really good. The crowd started singing, clapping, and dancing.
As we were walking back home, we passed a fenced-in empty lot with a dumpster in it. Dawid was shocked. There had been some art project that he’d helped to build, and now it had been torn down and tossed away. He peeled back a plywood door that had been nailed shut. Chris got interested too. I wasn’t going in there. The plywood door came off. I set it next to the fence, so the nails weren’t sticking up, waiting to be stepped on. As Chris came out, he picked up the plywood and started carrying it away. I said, “Dude, what are you doing? “I’m taking it to the [community art house]; they always like wood.” “You should leave it here.” “Why?” “Because it belongs in the door frame.” “Who says?” “Whatever dude, you can do the work of carrying it.” So, he hauled it off, guitar, black hat, huge piece of plywood, and all.
Dawid, Genessa, and I got back to the house, and sat around for a bit. Then Chris walked in. “Are we gonna go out and get some beer or what?” Dawid said, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll head out in a minute.” There was some delay. Then Chris says, darkly, “If you guys are just going to sit around here, I think I’m gonna head out and round up some trouble.” Cool guy. Troublemaker. Firestarter, twisted firestarter. Who is this guy? Unbelievable.
See [Ethics: Stealing a Can of Beer] for the next piece of the story.
Then the four of us went to Cruisin’ 7th, a tranny bar. That was my first. A weird experience, mostly because I’d see these normal-looking guys with a cross-dresser, or transvestite, an odd, undercover sexual preference. It was like I stepped into a secret.
Rod, who had given me a ride to Phoenix, called me up and told me that his wife, Teresa, was gone to Michigan, and that if I needed a place to stay, he’d be happy to host me again. That was cool since I had been with Dawid for about three nights. Flip-flop so I wouldn’t be burdening anyone too much.
Rod invited me to a pool party that his sister was putting on. I went. They welcomed me in, especially since I brought a box of brownies. The two seven-year-old girls, Anna-Bell and Tessa, were pumped. I was able to load up on food, and my paltry gift of brownie mix made it okay.
I made new friends! John Mark, relax.
I stayed one more night on Dawid’s couch, making it four nights there. I think Dawid and his roommates got pretty used to me being there. They were sad to see me go.
Kristin agreed with my philosophy to flow like water. She came up with an analogy about how if the ocean is shaken, it keeps flowing. I don’t know. I wasn’t really listening. I was busy flowing like water.
I asked Dawid to come outside so we could capture a jumping shot before I left. We were both unused to the timing of when my camera takes a photo using the self-timer. So it was trial and error for a while …
… until we nailed it.