Friday, June 9 2000
Today Kim and I had a visitor from the distant humid east. He was none other than Kim's previous boyfriend, the ever-enigmatic Paul. As you might recall, the last time I had any contact with Paul was during the summer of 1998 as I was showering in Kim's apartment at 911 Wall Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kim and Paul were still living together at the time, and when he came home that day, he was still unaware that she was already seeing a new boy. I don't recall the specifics of the heated exchange between Kim and Paul as I nervously dried myself off in the bathroom, but one line I remember went something like "you expect me to calm down when there's some other guy in my shower?"
Paul works as a cook at Café Zola, a trendy coffee shop in downtown Ann Arbor. Kim also worked there for a time, and that's how the two originally met. Of late Paul has been working so industriously and reliably that the owner of Café Zola decided it was time to send him on an all-expense-paid trip to wherever he wanted to go. Having rarely ventured outside of Michigan and never having gone to California, he decided he wanted to go to Los Angeles. So the other day Kim received word he'd be visiting. It was cool with me; I've heard a lot of stories about Paul, but all I knew about him from first hand experience was hopelessly distorted by the emotions of a bygone era.
This evening after I came home from work, Paul appeared after an afternoon of walking the streets of Santa Monica. He's a medium-sized muscular guy with a shaved head, a goatee, and several rings in each ear (and plenty of holes to spare). Paul doesn't talk a lot, but when he does, it's almost always a humorous sampling of something that stood out in his mind from earlier in the conversation. Because of this, conversations with Paul have a tendency to lapse into numerous tangential loops that inevitably return to some nugget of nonsense or wisdom that can be succinctly stated in a single sentence segment. Oh, the joys of alliteration! Much of the time, though, Paul stares blankly into space with a trace of existential sadness in his eyes. It's the sort of expression that can elicit intrigue, concern and sympathy all at the same time. If I had to compare Paul to other people I already know, I would say his personality is something of a mix of the emotional climate of Johnny Boom Boom Mancini, the conversational style of Erik Von Rippy, a trace of the physical comportment of Matt Rogers, and just a dash of the cerebral distance of my own brother, Don Olin Mueller.
The scheduled entertainment for the night was a "party" to which Kim had been invited by one of her friends in the Ocean Park hair care scene. He's a DJ who frequently spins for "dance parties" and had told Kim he could get her into all the cool parties in Los Angeles.
So we drove downtown and went to a place called "The Laboratory." As Kim parked the car in a desolate parking lot, a youngish homeless squeegee guy came up to us and said it was cool if we parked our car there, that it would be safe, etc. But he said it in such a way that implied we should give him money. So Kim gave him some "lucky coins."
Yes, it was true, Kim was actually on the guest list, as was "one friend." So, between us, we only had to cough up the entrance fee for one. I'm still not sure why it is that attending a rave costs so much, but we forked over the $15 like good little ravers.
About this time, we realized our unfortunate demographic situation. We (particularly me) were by far the oldest people in the building. The average age of attendees was something like 15 or 16, half my age at best. I felt a little like I would have felt back in 5th grade to have accidentally stumbled into a kindergarten classroom on the first day of school. It's an icky kind of discomfort, a mild form of the feeling you get when you imagine what it's like to be a child molester. Without alcohol or other drugs to soften our unease, we stood around near Kim's friend the DJ for awhile, watching the computer-generated animations projected on the wall and jiggling a little to the 4/4 rhythm of the raver music. For his part, Paul didn't do much except stare into space.
After about ten minutes, Kim came up with the obvious solution: that we leave. She was sort of embarrassed that she'd invited our hard-core partying friend Cash to such a juvenile event. The lesson learned: don't always trust a seemingly cool guy when he recommends a place to party.
Prior to heading out to the kiddie rave,
Kim clowns around in front of the camera. As usual, her skirt is having some trouble hanging in a ladylike fashion. The guy with the close haircut is Paul and the other guy is me. Some of my paintings are hanging on the wall in the background.
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