Saturday, May 5 2001
In the morning Gretchen and I managed to work out our issues from last night. She doesn't want me to ever call her a bitch again, and it seems like a reasonable request to me.
My network troubles were so horrible and so utterly unfixable that I actually tried "upgrading" to Windows 2000 as a solution. Amazingly, just as all seemed to be lost, the network came rebounding back to life. No one can possibly understand the ways of these complicated machines.
My housemate John dropped Gretchen and I off near the south end of Santa Monica on Main Street and we walked from there to the Venice Boardwalk.
Armed with some SPF-30 sunblock, various grapefruit-juice-containing beverages and four examples of a popular recreational serotonin unleashing substance, we headed out across the wide sands of the beach itself. We didn't have a towel or anything, we simply found a comfortable spot and lay down on the sand. I had to piss so I discretely excavated myself a latrine and dealt with the problem unseen.
Before long, we were, unsurprisingly enough, really enjoying ourselves, taking up handfuls of sand and squeezing it out repeatedly. We talked candidly about things we found erotic as we saw them, like for example the girl who took her wet swimming shorts off after putting on a skirt and then left the beach obviously wearing nothing underneath. One of the coolest things about having a lesbian girlfriend is the fact that you can both enjoy a conversation about the sexiness of other females, be they Catholic schoolgirls or Cokie Roberts. And since we were in California feeling empathetically connected to everyone in the universe, we also talked maybe having sex with some third woman or perhaps another couple sometime.
Periodically we'd form a structure with our heads and shoulders, a dark shelter from the intensity of the sun. We referred to this structure as "the cave" and would imagine it as a temporary landform that mice might move into and raise a family if only we'd maintain it for a long enough time. It's sad and pathetic when you imagine that all structures, in the grand scheme of things, are as temporary as our dark sandy-floored cave.
I found a tiny plastic squeeze bottle mixed in with the sand detritus, and somehow it came to serve as the token gift, the virtual engagement ring, in an engagement ceremony we performed there on the sand. The subject of my commitment and faith came up spontaneously in conversation, so I asked for Gretchen's hand in marriage and she accepted and I gave her the tiny squeeze bottle, after first managing to fill it with sand. The sand was comprised of tiny white pieces of quartz, greyish-yellow spheres of amethyst, round dark nuggets of basalt and ruddy chips of flint.
Every now and then we'd smoke Parliament cigarettes from a pack Gretchen had brought. In the state we were in I just wanted to smoke them one after another. They seemed to each evaporate in my hand, consumed by only a few drags. I suppose part of the problem was the fact that, as a non-smoker, I wasn't really inhaling. We went through something like four cigarettes each while we sat on the sand.
Others came to enjoy the beach, each taking up places equidistant between existing beach tenants in an array that from the air would have probably looked like a six-around-one honeycomb structure. When all the locations in the grid were full, some brave soul would come in and set up camp on the frontier of existing hexagonal beach tenant territories, catalyzing another wave of settlement at twice the previous population density.
Once we'd had enough of the beach, Gretchen and I brushed the sand from our bodies and walked back to the boardwalk and wandered southward to the end of the commercial corridor. We paused for a time to watch the one-man band playing his drums, sax, and foot-bass, but when he never got around to playing the Stevie Wonder he'd promised, we moved on.
In the very center of downtown Venice, at the corner of Windward and Pacific, we went into the coffee shop and ordered coffee and more fancy fruit juice. By now I was already missing the serotonin flood.
Ultimately we found ourselves at a crowded Waterfront Café drinking Erdingers and just sort of enjoying the din of the crowd. There was a lesbian couple there, one of them wearing a silvery plastic princess crown. Our waitress was the huge German woman who always works there. Gretchen thought she seemed earthy and "for real" in a not-especially Los Angeles sort of way. My chest was full of the sort of cramps one gets when one eats not-properly-cooked catfish. I wondered if this was perhaps related to all the sand I'd inadvertently ingested.
We were among the evening's first customers in the Circle Bar. While I was out on the corner phoning my housemate John to have him come pick us up, Gretchen told the waitress our whole love story, including the part about our sudden engagement this afternoon. She'd had a particularly good day with her boyfriend, so she wasn't cynical about Gretchen's joy at all, offering us a round of free Jameson whiskey. When John finally picked us up (in Chun's convertible Saab), I left a $10 tip for the waitress, though we'd only bought one drink. I feeling pretty good about everything, considering the fact that the last time I'd been drinking in the Circle Bar, I'd been kicked out.
While John went off to the Santa Monica Promenade to hang out with Chun and his sister Maria (who was reportedly in top comic form), Gretchen and I enjoyed some quality alone time in the living room.
Gretchen and me on Venice Beach with elevated serotonin levels.
The one man band entertaining chicks on the Venice Boardwalk.
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