Chapter 50 – I’m Not Always a Man of My Word
While exploring the ruins of Persepolis in Iran, our tour group had been strolling along an ancient stone wall on which there’d been old-ass carvings of lions tackling gazelles and shit like that. And as we walked past one of these lion depictions, I was struck by my trademark immature inspiration.
“Hey Tom,” I said to my photographer buddy from Minneapolis, “come take a photo of me over here. I’m gonna stand just behind that Simba-lookin’ lion relief on the wall there to make it look like I’m fuckin’ it in the ass. And while you stand back there you can tell me where to move and shit so everything is where it needs to be.”
I took my position and he took his.
“Alright,” he said while peering into his Canon. “Take one step closer. Okay. Now stick your crotch out and lean your upper-body back a little bit. Good. Now your left hand – stick it out with the back of your hand facing towards me so it looks like you’re gripping the lion’s side. Okay, there’s good. And your right – try to put it flat and even with the top on the lion’s ass so it looks like it’s resting there. Little higher. Stop. Great. Now make your best fuck-face.” His camera clicked several times. “Alright, I got it.”
While Tom had been giving me those instructions, a bunch of stereotypically middle-age Japanese tourists with bucket hats and cameras around their necks had crowded around to see what we were doing. And when they saw what we were doing, they started laughing and snapping photos as well. I stayed posed in the position until every one of ‘em that wanted a photo of me butt-stuffing the king of the jungle had gotten one.
“Domo arigato,” I said to them and bowed.
In addition to the Japanese tourists, a pair of local dudes about the same age as me had been watching this shit as well. The both of them were wearing jeans, tight t-shirts and cool-guy sunglasses. They didn’t speak a word of English but seemed friendly enough and offered me a cigarette. I accepted and thanked them with a “mamnoon.” Following a few minutes of standing there and puffing while trying to play charades with each other, I dropped the cigarette, pulled out my camera and used the only other Farsi phrase I knew to ask them if they wanted to take some photos together.
“Mitunam aks begiram?”
They nodded yeah and we assembled in front of a different part of the same old stone wall – a part where there’d been two-thousand-year-old carvings of spear and shield wielding Persian warriors. After taking a couple “normal” photos, I got right back to the sick-o shit and posed for one where I pretended to be masturbating and another doing a D-Generation X style “suck it.”
From what I could gather, the guys also seemed to enjoy doing perverted poses. While one of ‘em had been sticking his tongue out, licking his fingertips, reaching down and pretending to stimulate the female genitalia with an open, upward-facing hand, the other had been doing something that wasn’t quite a “shocker” but had been shocker-esque insofar as using the pinky and index fingers as part of a “one in the pink, one in the stink” approach to pleasuring a woman.
After the photoshoot, I showed them the results on the camera and they smiled and laughed before starting to talk to me in Farsi. I obviously had no idea what they were saying and they gestured that I follow ‘em. They then began talking to some random girl who reached into her purse, pulled out and handed them a pen and a piece of paper. On it, one of them wrote an address and passed the slip over to me.
“Aks begiram,” he said to me while pointing at the piece of paper. “Okay?”
“Oh shit,” I replied. “Like, don’t you have an email? It’s way easier for me to email the photos.”
Several times before, I’d gone through the process of finding local photo shops, trying to overcome the language barrier at these places when attempting to convey to employees which of the photos I needed printed, then after that, finding a local post office and dealing with the same language barrier to get the photos sent out to people to whom I’d promised copies of the ones I’d taken. It’s a total fucking pain in the ass and something that I’d prefer not to deal with ever again.
“Email?” I reiterated. “No email? Computer?”
He again just pointed to the piece of paper.
“Okay,” I nodded as I lied, “I’ll send ‘em there. Okay, mamnoon.”
I hate lies and I hate lying but at Persepolis it was way easier for me to just say, “Yeah, okay, I’ll mail you these photos,” even when I had no intention of doing so than it would’ve been for me to express the way I really felt. The lie here was just the easy way out.
Before I learned to set boundaries in my life and straight-up tell people “no” when I don’t feel like doing something, whether or not I’d end up carrying out the plans, the action or the favor requested of me in the end, I’d tell people all the time that I’d do things that I had no interest in doing whatsoever because I was afraid of letting them down or having them get mad at me and other ridiculous self-guilting bullshit like that. So then I’d either end up begrudgingly doing shit or not doing it altogether and having people get pissed off at me because I said I’d do that certain something or other I didn’t feel like doing and it was all a big fucking mess. And although my human experience has been comprised of many insignificant occurrences that follow this formula, due to the immediacy and tangibility of the consequences of me not having done that which I said I’d do, to me, one instance stands out above all the rest.
During my senior year of college up in Milwaukee, all my buddies and I had been getting wasted at a place called Buck Bradley’s on a Saturday afternoon after having watched a Marquette University basketball game at the nearby Bradley Center. Everyone was shitfaced because we’d all stayed out late the night before and then got up real early on Saturday morning to start boozing again so we’d be “drunk enough” to go and root for the Golden Eagles.
Buck Bradley’s claim to fame is being “home of the longest bar east of the Mississippi.” I’m not exactly sure whether or not that statement is true, but it is a long-ass bar that has dozens and dozens of stools posted up alongside it, all of which had been occupied on the day of the aforementioned game by Marquette students and alum as well as non-university-affiliated drunkards who were just there to feed their addictions.
At some point in the late afternoon, I’d been standing near the back of the bar talking to a freshman kid named Downey. I suggested to him that since Buck Bradley’s is reputed as the longest bar east of the Mississippi, we should make our own claim to fame by being the only people to have slapped the face of every single person sitting at the longest bar.
“Yeah, oh my god, we should do it,” he laughed. “I’m in. Let’s fuckin’ do it. Who’s goin’ first?”
“I, uh,” I hadn’t expected him to take the proposition seriously, “uh – how ‘bout this? I’ll go stand at the opposite end of the bar and you can come running towards me with your arm out, slapping everybody in the face and I’ll trip anyone that comes running after you and then we’ll run right out the front door and get away. That should work, right?”
In my imagination, the idea sounded hilarious and since I was prancing through a drunken dreamland at the time, I wanted to believe in it and see it carried out. But on the other hand, the rational part of me which’d still remained somewhat grounded in reality knew I didn’t have the audacity to trip a bunch of people and risk physically injuring them – not to mention getting my own ass beat – over something so fucking ridiculous. But Downey had total faith in me and my plan and I simply couldn’t tell him “no.”
After I’d assumed my position at the front of the bar and let him know I was ready, Downey started running towards me with his arm extended, whacking the face of each and every person who’d been minding their own business, just tryin’ to get their drink on. It was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. By the time he’d gotten up by me in the front, I remained silent and still and watched while the bouncers grabbed onto him as he tried to make the easy escape I’d prophesized. The police weren’t called or anything like that, but I’m pretty sure the bouncers took away his fake ID when they booted his ass out into the snowy March coldness where he’d been condemned to serve his exile while I remained on the toasty interior of Buck Bradley’s getting wasted with the rest of my alcoholic peers.