Friday, April 07, 2006

Newport Story

One night Eric, Rob, and I were hanging out in the living room getting drunk with our friends Taylor, Jimmy Riley, Dinah Pepperoni, and her friend Kim. Actually, with the exception of Taylor, the rest were Rob and Eric's friends. Talk about your cartoon show: every guy except Taylor had a metal-mullet of kind or another, even Rob's big Ronald McDonald 'fro.

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[This is not a picture of my housemates and me, circa 1990. But it might as well be.]

Dinah and Kim subbed in for Laurel and Hardy. Kim, who had a metal femullet, was a stick, while Dinah at 5'2' was as wide was she was tall, with a freckled face like a Garbage Pail Kid. Dinah had a screeching laugh and hectoring voice that could shatter glass, the accent recently represented by Lois Griffin on The Family Guy. She sat on the sofa across from me between Jimmy and Tyler, drinking Bacardi out of the bottle and screeching. The turnbuckles she called her legs were spread, and grey-purple blobs of her flesh peeked out from where the inside seams had split. She weighed as much as the five of us put together.

Taylor, like Bobby Francis the wrestler, was kind of the oddball in our scene. He'd gone to high school with me, and in fact we went to CCRI together. He was more clean-cut than the rest of us. Taylor looked, and sounded, like one of the Chipmunks if the Chipmunks were fraternity brothers.

Taylor was there when I met Pam, the girl I was dating at the time. We had been at a party somewhere off of lower Thames, I think Dearborn Street. Eric was talking up, and Sara Hanos, whose name and obesity had conspired to dub her "Heinous Sara" during high school, but who was actually a pretty nice girl. I was busy with Pam, and I didn't see Eric until the mext morning on the way to school. His head was drooping, and I asked him if he had a hangover.

"No man, I'm not hangin'. But look," he continued, "next time you see me getting like that with... oh man, someone like Heinous, dude you gotta stop me."

"I thought you knew what you were doing last night," I said. "You didn't look like you were shitfaced."

"Man, when I get a couple drinks in me..." Taylor trailed off. "I just do stupid shit, I just stop thinking with my head, you know?"

I laughed. "Alright. If I catch you getting into that situation again, I'll make a point of stopping you."

And so it was a few weeks later that we were hanging out with Jimmy and Eric and Dinah and Kim and Rob. It was summer, and the apartment was sweltering. The ceiling fan was spinning on medium, and Dinah was rolling another joint and cackling at the top of her lungs like some demented Muppet. Jimmy was stoned out of his head already, and his scarecrowlike body seemed to cave in on itself and sink into the sofa as beads of sweat dripped down his face.

"Yo, what we oughta do is go down Forty Steps and take a dip," he mumbled. Forty Steps, or as it's pvopahly pvahnounst, Fawty Steps, is a landmark along the Cliff Walk, a three-and-a-half mile long scenic trail that winds along the ocean behind the mansions.

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It was an alternative to the sand and fees at the beach, and a great place to cliff dive (but nowhere near as good as Doris Duke's, where during summer her menagerie of llamas would wander the grounds behind the mansion, in full view of us dirtbags leaping 30 feet into the waves below).
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We all agreed this was a great idea, and piled into my Cutlass and Kim's Escort, blasting up Van Zandt, down to Rhode Island Avenue to Narragansett. We ran down the steps, stripped down, and dove into the cool salt water. Deana and Kim stayed on the rocks, smoking cigarettes. Jimmy let Eric get halfway back up the crag before grabbing the elastic of his briefs and pulling him back into the water, while Rob tried to pull Kim in. The moon was nearly full, brilliant white in the sky, shimmering off the waves on us as we bobbed drunkenly like the seaweed.

I guess we were nearly dressed and ready to go that we noticed that Eric's trip to take a piss had gone on altogether too long, and that Dinah was gone as well. oh shit, I thought, he's done it again.

"ERIC! WE'RE ALL READY TO GO," Rob hollered.

"WE'RE COMING!" Dinah hollered back. I rolled my eyes.

We can be cruel when we're young men and women (we learn a different, more subtle, style of cruelty as we grow older I suspect). One way in which we're cruel when we're young is by putting so much emphasis on physical appearance. That said, going home with a person like the aforementioned Sara Hanos was very different than going home with Dinah. I can think of a few things right of the bat about Sara: she had a great smile; she was smart and funny. Dinah had none of these things going for her. She was a truly unpleasant person, the sins personified: greed, sloth, avarice. Her breath stank; she left a trail of crumbs, to-go containers, and empty bottles in her wake. She started fights. There was no way I could morally allow my friend to have sex with Dinah, but I was reluctant to be rude in front of her. Dignity and all that shit.

So we piled into our cars, and ominously, Taylor announced Dinah would be riding in the Cutlass. So much for the suspension. I back out, pull a three-point, and head back to the apartment.

"Since it's on the way, you can just let me out at my folks' place," said Taylor at the corner of Old Beach Road, so I made a right. A few blocks later, I pulled over across from the house.

"Dinah's coming with me," Taylor said. I had to do something, and as they crossed the street, I called "Taylor, you forgot my gas money!" He came rambliing over. He leaned in the window thrusting a few crumpled bills at me, as I tried to change his mind quickly and quietly.. "You can't do this. I'm your friend and you wanted me to stop you if you were going to do something stupid and dude don't do it." Rob

"No man, it's cool, nothin's gon-- goin' ta happen..."

"I'm serious man, I don't want to be responsible," I hissed.
"Don't do it, man!" Rob piped up from the back. "Don't do it!"

"I'm cool," Taylor insisted, "nothin's gonna happen." He threw the bills in my lap and ran across the street. Rob and I shook our heads. At least we'd tried.

I called Taylor the next afternoon. "I know what you probably think. I never did nothin' with her." Nevah did nuthin widdah "Seriously, all we did was watch tv." Seahvissly I gave him a long glance. I didn't know if I believed him, but didn't push the issue.

Rob and Eric got a report as well. "All night long!" Rob shrieked, imitating Dinah. "Oh, he was WONDERFUL, it was so good, the best I ever had!"

"She looked like she meant it," Eric mumbled. I known Dinah a long time, and I never seen her so happy, never." He chuckled. "You'll see. She's really excited.

"Hey, you wanna get high?" Eric offered, as he lit up a joint. The afternoon sun poured in through the blinds as the smoke swirled into the ceiling fan.

I took a hit, and when I saw Dinah later that night, she was radiant.
I never said anything, but Taylor never came by our place again.


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