Saturday, November 17, 2012


Note: this is a long post, so get ready for some reading.

For a few months now, I learned that Josh, a real good friend of mine, was going off to basic training. Well now it's go time. Earlier this week, he posted that he was leaving Sunday (the 18th), so I began to get a little nostalgic.

Back in June, after my last performance with the Mariachi at my school, I was outside talking with him and some of his Ballet Folklorico friends that I'm friends with. While leaning on a window, I told that before he left, I'd print him up some photos that I had in archive of him. As I left, I said that I'd give him a photo of me. I was being serious, but I think he was playing around when he said he'd like that.

After that and graduation the following Saturday, I really didn't talk to him. Just saw his Facebook posts and that's it. Well, after reading his Facebook post about his departure, I began to think of a way to treat him on his last week in Texas. So I got to thinking and organized with a friend of mine, Johnny, to take him out to a hookah bar that I frequent with some buddies of mine. Johnny said yes, and that he'd ask some of other guys to see if they wanted to come. 

Since I had just gotten paid, I offered to treat them since they've treated me many times before.

Thursday night/Friday morning, I chatted up Josh on Facebook and he was up for it. After confirming everything, everything was set. I gave him my cell number, and when he was ready, we'd go pick him up. Well, soon enough it was Friday night.

Nine o'clock came.

At nine-thirty, I got a call. Thinking it was Josh, I excitedly picked up. To my disappointment, it turned out to be the lady at the Walgreen's telling me that the computer system and printer were off-line. She said they'd be ready by ten o'clock the next day. "Oh, alright. Tomorrow? Yeah, sure that's fine." 

"Great," I thought. "There goes my gift."

Ten o'clock came.

Nothing special.

Eleven o'clock came.

I waited around, waiting for the call.

Eleven-thirty came.

Now I was getting worried. The call was to come at any moment.

Eleven-fourty-five came.

Now I was alarmed. The call was fifteen-minutes late. Johnny called me and told me if it was still going on. I told him that if nothing happened by 11:55 that it'd be off. Then I learned a friend of ours dropped out because he was tired. I didn't want to go with just three people, so by 12:00 AM, we had called it off.

By 12:05, I had already gotten un-dressed and into my shorts. I was on Facebook, watching Seinfeld on my television. Suddenly, at 12:10, my cell rang.

It was Johnny. "Hey Josh just called me. He said he's ready to go. I'll be at your house in ten minutes." 

I got excited as if it was Christmas morning. I put my pants and shirt back on, suited up with my wallet, and was ready to go by 12:15. Before I left, I got my film camera and extra roll of film (just in case). We were off by 12:18, and in front of Josh's house by 12:22.

As we parked in his driveway, we noticed that there were lights on. Johnny blinked the headlights, but no response. I volunteered to go get Josh, so I walked up to the house. I noticed the door open and with three light knocks, the door opened. One of his brothers was standing in front of it, wearing one a long, sleeveless shirt with straps.

"Go get your brother," I whispered to his brother.
"No, he's at the store getting some cigarettes. He'll be right back." replied his brother.
Then I swear to God, his dad walked up.

I've always been a bit frightened by his dad. 
He's six-foot-tall, blonde-haired man that towers a foot over me.
Once, after an after-school rehearsal, I saw his silhouette through
the window of his Ford F-150. That scared me.

"Josh went to the store for me. He'll be back in a minute," said his dad.
Like a roach scared by a light, I replied, "Oh, okay," and shut the door behind me.
I caught my breath. That scared I tell ya. (I need to man up... later.)

As I walked back to the car, I began to motion with my thumb going across my neck to say that he wasn't here. As I did that, a truck pulled up next to the car. Out of the truck climbed out Josh, clad in his senior sweater. "Hold on guys. I went to the store. I'll be right out." He ran inside.

A minute later, he climbed in and we left, with the hookah bar in our sights.

On our way there, he spoke why he was late. He had spent sometime with some of his church members in another part of Dallas and it had gone later than planned. 

He spoke most of the way to the lounge. I'd say what he spoke about, but I don't think it adds to the post. But we did have a nice back-and-forth debate. Love that guy.

We arrived around 12:35 and after finding the interior packed, as it usually is, we sat in a table close to the door so we'd get good service. A few minutes later, a waitress that I'll name Wendy came out to serve us. We had a little banter with us, and after helping us choose our flavours, she rushed back in.

Sitting in the cold, us three guys talked. We talked about civil rights (i.e. gay marriage), the support of vets, and finally religion in politics. About twenty minutes had passed when Josh asked me how hardcore of a Democrat I was. "Well," I said, "I'm more hardcore than gay porn!" My timing was well off, as our waitress carrying our hookahs had come out and heard me utter the famous phrase.

"Ewww! What the hell!" she said.
"Oh shit." I thought. I turned to her and said, "You weren't supposed to hear that."

As she sat the hookahs down, she and Josh had a little discussion that led to an exchange of numbers and Facebook friend-ing. Wish I had that much game. Maybe it's because I'm Eddie... or Hispanic? Just kidding.

He told after that he didn't know what he was going to do without me. Totally.

For about the next hour, Josh, Johnny, and I inhaled, relaxed, and talked like no-tomorrow. But by 1:30, it had gotten to cold for our tastes, and we headed inside to a table close to the door. I was against it because I was worried about my jacket smelling of the smoke, but when it's 39°F outside, fuck it.

We talked some more and then came two events. First, Johnny accidentally knocked over the coal dish, the small thing at the top of the hookah contraption that holds the coals. Oh shit. After Wendy came over and discovered our misdeed, she replaced it and charged us the $9.99 for it. Then it came. Josh asked me about my sexuality.

Something I don't really think about is sexuality. I'm just living my life. Let come what may.

I stopped him in his tracks. "I know what the question is, and all I have to say is that I'm just living life. Never really thought about it before." When they heard that answer, both of Johnny and Josh's eyes grew as if I had just told them I had murdered somebody. Then Josh asked for a clarification.

He asked, "Do men turn you on?" I was inhaling when he asked me that, and then I said, "No." He followed up, "Do women turn you on?" I answered quite no-brain-ingly, "Yes."
"Then O.K.," he said, "you're not gay."

Folks, let whatever come come.

By now, it was 2:35, and we just spent hours smoking. By 2:50, Wendy replaced the coals and she got to talking with us. I asked her about her pay, and she said that she gets paid $2.35 plus tips and that that night would be her week. So out of generosity, Josh gave her a $12 tip. Mother. I couldn't beat that. Jealous.

We smoked some more and by 3:15, Wendy was back, chatting with us. We told her earlier why we were there, so to commemorate the event, she had me take a photo of her and Josh. I took one with his iPhone, and I took two with my film camera, one with flash and one without. Taking advantage of the situation, I had another employee that Josh knew via some friend take photos of the group and Wendy. 

The guy commented on how I tried to hide my smile. I can try, right? Ha-ha.

By 3:25, we paid our bill and said our good-byes to Wendy. I gave her a $3 tip since I don't really have the resources for a $12. I'm poorer than Josh.

We dropped off Josh and we waved good-bye. Before we left, I asked him to stand in front of the car's headlights to test out my camera. I took the shot and we waved good-bye. He told us that he had a busy Saturday, so we kept him out until 3:30 AM.

I was dropped off by Johnny at 3:38 AM, and after taking down recycling and trash, in bed by 4:30. 

Before taking the trash down, I wrote this on my tumblr page:

Spent the last three hours at a hookah lounge.
I reek of hookah. My jacket smells of lazily exhaled smoke.
But I had a great time with two of my best friends; one which leaves for basic training on Sunday.
Sometimes I’ve hated him, and sometimes I’ve felt he was the coolest.
But it all goes away when you can share a hookah with them.
What is friendship? An intangible feeling.

And really, that's what that night was all about. 
Getting together a friend going off to do what he thinks is right.

God's speed, Josh. God's speed.

Coming soon... intro

Adapted from a tumblr post
Coming Saturday afternoon to the ESF