Wednesday, October 06, 2010

An Evening Cruising with A Good Friend

Many years ago, I found myself with a dear friend, four one-dollar bills, a car and an evening free of any real distractions. With the grand brain-trust we shared, we decided to spend the money on fuel and drive the night away. I guess it was not even fathomable to use the money on food or entertainment we could take home to either of our parents’ houses. The price of gasoline was not nearly as outrageous then as it is now or the drive would have been blessedly short.

We climbed into my four-door 1968 Toyota Corona, the color of which was a terribly unmanly baby blue, and headed to the gas station where we proceeded to dump all four dollars into the tank. The radio in the car played only the AM stations so we carried with us a portable radio/cassette-tape player for additional entertainment. We called it a Ghetto-blaster but it was not nearly as impressive as all that. Still, our night was set before us and we had a sound track ready to go as well.

I don’t remember what discussions we had or even everywhere we went. It was seriously not at all that exciting as anyone could imagine. I remember a few of our stops. We made it to the hotel where I worked as a night security guard. After that stop we headed south toward the beach and before heading home stopped in a couple other places.

At the hotel, a grand tour of this no-name establishment was in order. A single tower of 14 floors (13 really but there are too many superstitious people out there), the tour wasn’t really all that grand or super interesting for my friend I’m sure. We road the elevator to the top floor and found our way to the roof to look over Disneyland and the surrounding areas. Since the design of Disneyland and the civil codes of Anaheim prevented seeing anything outside of the park from the inside, the view into the park from the outside didn’t really reveal anything either. Yep, that view was the less than exciting capstone to an otherwise boring tour.

Before heading back to the car, we stood at the top of one stairwell and sang a few lyrics from a popular song of the day. I don’t remember which it was though I’d like to think we sounded pretty good. The echo that returned to our ears probably helped our illusions of grandeur. The majesty that was our post-pubescent voices was almost assuredly not something others would like to have heard. Looking back on that evening, I hope no one heard us. I also hope we weren’t singing any Spandau Ballet, A-Ha, or The Culture Club. That would be a terrible tragedy. There were a couple lines from a Frankie Goes to Hollywood song that echoed pretty well but I would prefer to imagine that even that wasn’t among our play list standing at the top of the stairs.

We headed south on Harbor Boulevard toward the beach. The Anaheim police made every effort to keep prostitution away from the tourism centers but we stopped and talked with a couple girls who were walking along Harbor. They were hoping for a little more than some conversation but we weren’t buying their goods. I often think back to that day, wondering how girls get so desperate and lost. Interestingly, a few days later while I was working at the hotel, someone left a note on the windshield of my car. It was hard to understand for the spelling and grammatical errors. It said something about remembering our talk and the car.

We actually made it to Pacific Coast Highway, where we turned east toward Newport Beach. I guess we were running low on fuel or there wasn’t anything more memorable than driving in the dark but that’s pretty much all I can recall from that night. Given the chance to run the night through again, I don’t know what I would change. We had the choice to sit in front of a TV and vegetate or do something equally unproductive at home but we decided to waste some fuel and spend the night driving. No more productive in some ways but far more in others.

I wonder if my friend remembers that night. If he does remember, I wonder if he recalls the night differently. I wonder how close to true my memory, or his, really is. By the time we leave this life, all we have are friends, family and memories. It is a blessing, I think.
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