Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'll do anything for a friend. . .

This was my recurring thought while I stood in the back of the 24-hour K-Mart, shirtless, pummelling wood with a crowbar.

She had thrown a party to celebrate the 10-year friendiversary of her and her best friend. The guest list consisted of people from throughout their middle and high school years. Those in attendance were subject to the initial awkwardness of "catching-up" with people you hadn't seen in years, though they all lived within the comfort of the same zip code. For me, this awkwardness was compounded by the fact that I had no basis for any type of relevant connection with any of these people. But knowing how much work and planning she put into this night completely overshadowed any thought of my comfort. This was her night, and with that, I made my best efforts to be a trophy friend.

My humor didn't really help. One of the guests asked, "Does anybody mind if I tell a joke with the n-word in it?"

"Hey! Some of my best friends are n-words!" I shouted back.

He began apologizing, not recognizing the irony in my statement. She did. That's why she's my friend.

The vulgar depiction of the guests isn't meant as an insult. In fact, everyone in attendance was friendly and cordial. We simply shared no foundation. So when the fire died down, and the wood ran low, I saw my opportunity to escape the scene for a few minutes.

I drove to the 24-hour K-mart. After three-phone calls inquiring as to the status of the firewood, I realized late summer was not the peak season in sales of fuel for fire.

I studied a dresser that had been marked down to forty-dollars, in clearance. Though heaps of fun, I saw the purchase as being highly unpractical and continued browsing. This led me to the garden section were I found plants stocked on pallets of cheap wood. This brought the remembrance that most inventory is shipped on pallets. Leading to the deduction that discarded pallets are sitting in a disposal bin behind the store.

I pulled around the shadowy back of the K-Mart and found pallets overflowing onto the pavement. Though a main road runs parallel to the store, I decide the dark provides enough of a cover.

Flashback. The previous summer.

"That's a giant crowbar you've just purchased, Angel. What are you going to do with it?"

"I think I'm going to keep it in my car. You never know when it'll come in handy."

I pulled the crowbar from my backseat, and used it's crooked end to begin tearing the nailed boards apart.

Within minutes a healthy sheen of sweat was about me. Knowing I couldn't soil my shirt in the stain of hard-work, I removed my sports coat and shirt, baring my chest to the night air. Free from the restrictions of clothing, I began a crazed ape-shit pulverizing spree, not unlike Mario circa Donkey Kong.

I pounced on boards to weaken their joints. I threw whole pallets against the ground and wall. Thinking, with each blow, of how she needed this wood. A splinter lodged into my oblique. "She hand decorated four-dozen cupcakes with individual dollops." A nail catches my tricep, "She spent weeks asking me about the invitations." My shin catches the crowbar, "If people take the fire dying as a sign of the party being over, I'll never forgive myself."

I return with most of the bleeding stopped, and a trunk full of crushed pallet.

Though it burns fast, it burns bright. I can see her smile. I know it's from the sentiment.

You're a good friend, Cait.

One of the best.

No comments: