Part V: Candy
The pasta bolognese was spicy and steamy. D had sauteed up a storm of sausage and parsley, while I primed the pasta, poured the vino, and protected the sauce from any stray particles of the mysterious substances that were wafting through the air from the dining room.
B and the ravers chowed down, their bites of bolognese interspersed with quick lines. When you are gearing up to rave, it’s important to maintain a steady intake of carbs and coke to maintain both your buzz and your endurance. Much like running, or an epic game of table tennis.
I surveyed the scene in front of me, and reflected on the day: five strangers, a new friend, and an old friend, and me were nestled in a jewel of a dining room, surrounded by soft candlelight and bottles of wine. Lines of crack had sifted gently down to one side of the table, like very tidy snow, and the ravers took turns tending to them lovingly, with the occasional nasal harvest. Little drug farmers dressed as disco balls at a dinner party at three in the morning.
Laughter rained down as we discussed the concert, the festival, the food, and what exactly would protect us in case of zombie attack. Rifles? Shotguns? A barricade? No one really knew, and no one really cared. It was more about coming together to discuss the important things in life.
When dinner was over we meandered to the front living room. I felt it was time for D and I to officially leave the mansch, that much was apparent, but how?
“Are you like totally sure you can’t come with us?” said Kevin sadly. “I just think, like, it would be so great.”
“Next time,” I promised him as we gazed at each other from across the fringed ottoman. “Next time.”
“Well you better not forget us, and we need to make sure you don’t,” Kevin said, a little moist eyed. I read somewhere that crack makes your eyes water, but I prefer to think that he was emotional about my departure. Teary eyed, glassy eyed, there really is no difference, right?
“Give me your hand,” Kevin said, wiping away the tears. “Hold your fingers up to mine.”
I held two fingers up to his, like ET phoning home, plus one finger, and minus the creepy little alien guy.
“See?!?!” Kevin said, excitedly through the tears. “We’re making a peace sign!! For PEACE.”
“Uh huh,” I said, not entirely sure where this was headed. I’m all for peace, but usually peace doesn’t come at me in the form of a walking fireworks display. Between the crack and the carbs and the crying, I was a little afraid Kevin could combust at any moment.
“Now make a heart,” Kevin said, bending his fingers toward mine in a strange circle. “That’s for LOVE.”
“And now hold my hand,” he said, as we wove our fingers together. “This means TOGETHERNESS.”
“Great,” I said, trying to sound upbeat. The most peaceful thing I could think of at that point was exiting the mansch in a timely fashion, and holding hands with Kevin wasn’t going to help my mission. And forget about togetherness – I hadn’t been together since early that morning, when AKB spotted me in my altogethers making breakfast. It was not my best day, and I think the word “together” was well behind several other words, such as “bizarre” and “poor judgment” and “hot hot mess.”
Over my shoulder I could see another raver had cornered D and was performing the same strange sign language ritual on him. He was giving me the look, but there was nothing I could do to help: we were stuck.
I started to pull away and Kevin held on tighter. “No, not yet – there’s one more thing!” Kevin said frantically as I almost unclasped our hands. “CANDY!” he yelled.
And with that, he looped a bracelet from his own wrist over our woven hands, and slid some candy onto my wrist. It was beaded blue and florescent yellow, and stretchy, like a drug store candy necklace from my childhood. And then he twisted it to the front so I could read the beaded words: it spelled out L-O-V-E-L-Y in black lettered beads.
“That’s for you, because you are,” Kevin said. “You are lovely.”
And then he blew me a kiss and danced off into the depths of the mansch, twinkling madly, burning bright, never to be seen again.
Once out on the street, D and I walked home in the quiet chill of the early San Francisco morning. We passed Ghiradelli Square and the crooked part of Lombard Street. We heard only the slapping of the water against the wharves and the slapping of our feet against the pavement as we trekked the rolling hills.
“Can you even believe this life sometimes?” D said quietly. “I’m pretty sure that was the weirdest day I’ve ever had.”
“Yeah,” I said, considering. “But I don’t know. Despite the hippies and the contact high…and the lost Benz…and the dinner party…”
“And the drugs,” D cut in matter-of-factly. “Don’t forget about all the drugs.”
“Yeah, and the drugs and the candy…it was weird, but, I don’t know…I guess it was kind of a good day, too.”
And it’s true. Despite all the weird – and there is so much weird – sometimes this life, in this city, with all these crazy people, is just lovely.