Kids, No Chaser

Fear and Loathing in Oklahoma: Remembering 9/11

Monday, September 11, 2006 posted by Henri

So thanks to Metrodad's post about 9/11 I'm all choked up and usually to drown out any signs of sensitivity in my body I would normally have to drink or get into a fistfight. Well OK I'm boasting about the fistfight part because I never fight (my karate skills are so massive I don't want to kill anybody), especially on 9/11. So instead I need to tell my own 9/11 story which involves Greyhound and the great state of Oklahoma. (Continued...Click Read More)

So on September 11, 2001 I was in the great state of Oklahoma. Don't even get me started on Oklahoma because that deserves it own blog entirely, just know that I was there on a clinical rotation. Man, yeah send the LA Korean boy to Oklahoma, great freaking idea...OK OK I absolutely have to not get started on Oklahoma.

Ok just a few highlights.

Henri and Lula's(not my current wife) Adventures in Oklahoma

(10 minutes into Oklahoma)
Lula: We need alcohol.
Me: OK
(10 minutes later in the grocery store)
Me: Where the hell is the alcohol?
(1 minutes later at the checkout)
Lula (talking to the cashier): Where's the alcohol?
Cashier: Rubbing alcohol?
Lula: Gin
Cashier looks at Lula (pretty white girl from LA) and me (short funny looking Korean guy from LA): Umm yall not from around here?
Lula: I said Gin.
Me: No...
Cashier(interrupting me): I didn't think so.
Me (finishing my sentence): ...Whisky.
Cashier: Um you can't buy that kind of stuff in the store.
Lula: Why not?
Me (thinking): Hmmm maybe because you're with a Korean guy? And obviously you must be kidnapped right now.
Lula: Why not?
Cashier: You can only buy that stuff at a liquor store.
Lula: What (the Fuck)?
Me (thinking): There's no place like home, there's no place like home.
Me: OK where's the nearest liquor store?
(A slow horrified look of shock starts to spread across the cashiers face.)
Lula: (Speaking slowly)
Cashier: On a Sunday??!!

Turns out it's easier to buy bullets than liquor in Oklahoma. Not to disparage my Oklahoma readers, and I must admit Oklahoma has the nicest people that I have ever met in the entire world (conversely they must have thought Lula and I were the devil incarnate), but for those of you not familiar with Oklahoma, you cannot buy liquor in the grocery store. You have to go to liquor stores which look like seedy adult book shops. Huge signs out front "Must be 21 or over to enter". Blacked out windows and total 1980's headshop vibe. Oh and I forgot to mention, they are ALL closed on Sundays.

(months later)
Me: Umm Lula, all the TV stations have turned into the weather channel. Does this have something to do with the sky being green all day?"
(ten minutes later)
Me: Hey so tornados like kill people right?
Lula(packing up a bunch of crap): Not funny Henri.

(One day at a breakfast meeting)
Me: Ok let me get this straight so for $4.95 I get a 1/4lb chicken fried steak, bacon, sausage, two eggs over easy, toast, country fried potatoes or hash browns or combo, a bowl of grits, and a side of biscuits and gravy?
Waitress: Yes.
Me: So I have to pay extra for waffles?

(Multiple times per day, each and every single day at work for months straight)
Me: How long have you been diabetic?

(One day talking to a nice Oklahoman)
Oklahoma Dude: So where you from?
Me: Oh right the accent right? Yeah I'm from California.
Oklahoma Dude: No I mean where you from?
Me: Um, specifically? Northern California right now but I grew up in Southern California.
Oklahoma Dude: No I mean where you really from?
Me: Well you probably don't know California real well but I'm specifically from the San Gabriel Valley.
Oklahoma Dude: No, I mean where you from?
Me (getting confused and a wee bit pissed): OK, ok I'm from the city of Walnut.
Oklahoma Dude: I mean are you Chinese or are you Japanese?
Me: I'm Irish.

(at THE sushi restaurant in the state of Oklahoma)
Lula: I can't believe they have sushi here.
Me: I can't believe you believe they actually serve what we would call sushi here.
Lula: Just stick to something safe.
Me: What...rice? Screw that I want to see what they call Uni here.
(The Uni was surprisingly acceptable. Considering the fact that this restaurant had the word Raw in the name because raw "sushi" was such a novelty they had to advertise/warn about it)

(at a gigantic nightclub with cowboy hats)
Lula: This place is nice.
Me: Where's the mechanical bull? I was promised a mechanical bull.
Lula: Well there's the mirrored saddle instead of a mirror ball.
Me: (shooting 50-cent-beer-night beer out of my nose) Oh crap that's a good one. Lula, could you imagine if they really had a....(following Lula's pointing finger)....oh dear mother of god it's true.
(And there it was. Gleaming above a roller rink shaped dance floor upon which a sea of people two-stepped in a clockwise direction, a glittering mirrored saddle shone its loving multi-faceted light upon large hats and pointy boots.)
Me: Shoot me now. Life will not get any better than this.

OK so during my eyeball tour of duty through Oklahoma, 9/11 hits. And Oklahoma has had enough crap to weigh her heavy heart so this really sucked. The weekend after 9/11 was the wedding of my childhood best friend D-Loc. I was the best man. I need to tell you something about D-Loc...

I met D-Loc when I was seven years old at the school bus stop. He was wearing a Harley Davidson T-Shirt and I believe cowboy boots. He had just moved into the neighborhood he has been my best friend from that day on. D-Loc is also a popular mofo because he is the only guy I know who has been the Best Man at four weddings so far. And I'm not counting repeats, four different dudes asking D-Loc to be their best man. So he is a man among manses. So D-Loc's best man is Moi (I am the Best Man's best man) and I need to get to LA the weekend after 9/11 and I got one little planes.

Southwest: Hello Southwest how may I help you?
Me: Umm you flying today?
Southwest: Not right now but we should be up and running as soon.
Me: Umm how about tomorrow?
Southwest: We're hoping by tonight.
Me: Ok Cool.

Southwest: Southwest how may I help you?
Me: Any flights yet?
Southwest: Not today but we should be up and running soon.
Me: My flight is in two days.
Southwest: That shouldn't be a problem.

Southwest: No we're not flying.
Me: I haven't even asked my question yet damnit.

(Later on in the day)

Greyhound: Yello.
Me: How much is a ticket to LA?
Greyhound: $74
Me: Wow that's cheap.
Greyhound: What day are you leaving?
Me: I need to be in LA on the 14th.
Greyhound: You have to leave in on the next bus then.
Me: When's that?
Greyhound: One hour.

So there's the dilemma. A greyhound bus leaving Oklahoma City takes 30, I repeat thirty hours to get to San Bernardino in Southern California. There is a chance but no guarantee that Southwest will be flying on the 14th. I have 10 minutes to make up my mind while the cab is coming to my apartment.

What would you do?

SO I board a freakin Greyhound Bus bound for LA in Oklahoma City. And I look at the itinerary, oh wow look at all the Greyhound bus depots I get to tour:


Now if you're not from LA you don't understand the ingrained aversion we Angelinos have towards busses. I spent 30 hours on this bus. It is just too horrible and impossible to convey the experience to someone who hasn't experienced it. I mean hell, I don't even want to do something I like for 30 hours straight.

"Hey you wanna go fishing/snowboarding/drinking/hiking/or drinking?"
"Hell Yeah."
"For thirty hours?"
"F off tosser"

You know how it is when you run a marathon? Yeah me neither. Ok you know what it's like to run a high fever and you get kinda delirious? Punchdrunk, that's the word I'm looking for. That bus didn't take me to San Bernadino...that bus took me on a journey to enlightenment through suffering.

00:01:00 Oklahoma City
One friggin minute into the journey and it's going bad fast. I pick a window seat in the back and I watch the bus start to fill up. I watch the humanity filing in. I see a large beast of a man lumber on to the bus. I don't even dare form the question in my mind as to where this gentleman will sit, it is too painful to even picture the horror of him possibly...
He sits next to me. The bus shakes a tiny bit. He's huge. He's wearing shorts. I am too. I realize that I will have to test the endurance of my inner thighs as I try, very easily at first, to keep our thighs from touching.

My thigh muscles give out. My leg is touching big man's leg. He's sweaty.

04:10:00 Amarillo Bus Depot 1:00 am
Oh god the humanity. Nothing in the entire world is more lonely than sitting at the Amarillo Greyhound Bus Depot 1:00 in the morning wondering what type of hamburger combo your going to order while hoping a plastic dirty boothseat will open so you don't have to eat your hamburger sitting on the ground at 1:00 am at the freaking Amarillo Greyhound Bus Depot. Hey I got a great idea...I'll start smoking!

04:11:00 Amarillo Bus Depot 1:01 am
Wow they sell a pleather jacket here for $24.99. That's a deal no matter where you're from. What's this rash on my leg?

04:15:00 Amarillo Bus Depot 1:05 am
This hamburger is a little dry. Maybe I should speak to the chef.

04:20:00 Outside the Amarillo Bus Depot in the freezing Texas night 1:10 am
I forgot how fun smoking was!

05:00:00 Amarillo Bus Depot
Getting back on the bus. Oh excuse me big man let me squeeze past your sweaty legs to get to my window seat. Ahh I detect you've sampled the Bus Depot Chili. Wonderful. Hmmm lets see we only have 23 hours more to go! Hey is that pleather?!

Oh what a beautiful morning! That's funny I feel as if I haven't slept at all. Oh that's right I haven't slept at all have I? Silly me. No big man it was not your snoring or the cloud of human funk in the ventilation system, I think I'm just too excited on this bus trip to sleep.

11:05:00 ALBUQUERQUE inside the Coffee Shop
Yes I would like the breakfast burrito please and one coffee. Yes I am aware there are no refills thank you for making that clear.

11:09:00 ALBUQUERQUE parking lot
Hello stray New Mexico parking lot dogs. I have the sinking feeling that your bus will never come. Here I'll share my burrito with you guys.

Yay! Less than 20 more hours to go!

16:00:00 Flagstaff Arizona Noonish
What did the driver just say? Something about the air conditioner?

16:05:00 Flagstaff Arizona
Oh yeah I guess the air conditioner did stop working now didn't it. Hmm Arizona sure is hot in September.

20:00:00 Phoenix
We had been on a bus with no air conditioning driving through Arizona for 4 hours now. They were changing drivers and so we were on the bus waiting for the new driver to arrive. A large angry woman couldn't take it anymore and started shouting.
"What the f*** is taking these mutherf***ers so goddamned long to get on this mutherf***ing bus?!" And then she works her way up to the drivers seat and I'm thinking oh cool she's gonna try to drive the bus, this is gonna be fun. But instead she just starts pressing on the bus horn. And I'm cracking up. And she's screaming
"Let's go! Let's go!" Then the driver shows up but with security and they escort her off the bus. And the driver says, "Anybody else have a problem?" And I'm thinking, you mean other than the fact that I've been on this Greyhound bus for the past 20 hours, 4 of them being absolute hell without air-conditioning?! So she got kicked off the bus and I always worry what the hell happened to her because at the time Greyhound or rail were the only modes of transport available. And on we go...

24:00:00 California Border
Oh sweet Jesus thank god. I'm in California.

29:00:00 On the way to the last stop.
Driver: Ladies and gentlemen, we've had an unfortunate incident and we will have to be diverting to another stop.

No. This can't be happening. Less than an hour from getting off the bus I find out that some idiot got on the wrong bus at the last transfer and now we are diverting our route to help this idiot get home. I've been on this bus almost 30 hours straight now.

I step off the bus and see D-Loc and our buddy GSpot waiting for me. I have never seen a more beautiful sight in my life. The relief that I felt leaving that bus was one of the greatest pleasures I have ever known.

The next day I was on a yacht drinking Champagne toasting my boy and his beautiful bride.

Looking back on that bus ride from hell I realize that we make our own happiness in all kinds of situations. In madness we find love. Through wicked times we raise kids. Amongst sorrow we celebrate life. Through tragedy we find hope. So here's a toast to finding grace between the tears and may we all help the grieving shoulder their heavy load just a day longer. To friends who've lost friends and family that day, and especially to fathers who've lost their sons and daughters, I'll share a traditional Irish blessing because damnit I'm Irish (just ask that dude in Oklahoma).

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.



Blogger lf said...

i wanted to let you know that greyhound has a special coupon right now. $20 off any $20 purchase! HAHAHAHA... you in?

11:50 AM


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