It just so happens that when I was finishing up Hick — and by “finishing up Hick,” I mean procrastinating furiously — I was living at a place called Rancho Malcontento. Aptly named, as it was a dirty white, wooden house in the Echo Park hills with the words “Rancho Contento” dancing festively above the threshold in playful western font. Here are some of the things you could find at Ranch Malcontento:
4) Probably some kind of drug.
I was living with my beau, his friend, and one other roommate who had a vocabulary of three phrases, used interchangeably. These phrases were:
1) No Way
2) All right.
3) Good luck.
Hard as it may be to imagine, our roommate could sum up any and every problem, concept, sentiment, or phenomenon with those three words. Example:
Random Person: “I’m gonna take that yoga class and really start to get my life back together.”Roommate: “Good Luck.”
Or, say, take an event of intriguing and enormous proportions, like, say, the house catching fire:
Roommate: “No way!”
Or, how about, say, if the roommate walked in on two people having sex:
You see, these three phrases could and did manage to encompass any and all aspects of the human experience.
It just so happens that Roommate was friends with a CRAZILY FAMOUS celebrity. We’ll call him “Buddha.” Buddha was very kind, unassuming, and unkempt. You would never know he was, yes, that Buddha, so much so that, at my birthday party, my friend Kirsten, visiting from NYC was so confused to find Buddha in our ramshackle midst, that she actually said to him, at some point, “You know who you look like? You look exactly likeBuddha!”
At which point he said, “Um… I am Buddha.”
This filled my friend with a confusion I can only liken to that scene in Moscow on the Hudson when Robin Williams has a nervous breakdown because there’s too much food in the grocery store.
It made no sense to her. This place… this “Rancho Malcontento” was a wooden, crumbling house that might’ve actually been a rather sweet house, had it not been inhabited by a band of pirates.
She had come from a faraway place… I believe it’s called “New York” or something like that… where people, actually, matched their places. In this “New York” you would know that you were seeing Buddha because you would look around Buddha and see all these nice things, finery, mirrors, girls holding martini glasses. That she could be somewhere in the hills of Echo Park in a house that looked not unlike the set from Animal House and right there, next to her, in all his unkempt Buddha glory, would be the actual Buddha, was too much for her.
But, that was just the beginning. At some point of my birthday party something happened to me where I found it difficult to, say, talk to people… or… stand. It was at this point that I excused myself, to a room full of people who didn’t seem to notice, and fell on my face in the bedroom.
I forgot to tell you I was wearing a pink evening gown. It was my birthday, after all. I was, also, wearing a tiara. My friend, Kirsten, visiting from back east, came in to check on me and found the sight of me, face down on the floor, in my evening gown and tiara, on my birthday… well, disturbing.
What she didn’t realize is that two seconds later, something even more disturbing would happen, which is that my boyfriend would come in the room, now in his underwear, put on his gun belt and go back into the party. If you’re wondering if there was a gun in the gun belt, the answer is yes. If you’re wondering if he was wearing tighty-whiteys, the answer is yes. If you’re wondering if the gun is loaded the answer is… um, yeah.
It is here that I would like to clarify that all guns in the house were legal. Filed and registered with the great state of California. When I pointed this fact out to my friend, it didn’t seem to give her any solace. This is probably because, at some point in the party, my six-foot-four boyfriend decided it was time for everybody to leave and that the way to get them to exit quickly was to raise his gun above his head and pronounce, “Alright everybody party’s over.”
It’s one way to end a party.
(No shots fired. Don’t worry.)
It was at this point that my friend decided to take a cab back to West Hollywood. She was not the only person exiting the building and calling a cab. In fact, at some point Roommate looked out the window, saw the line of cabs going down the street and said, “No way!”
After the great exodus, only the elite few were allowed to stay, I know this, because I heard them mumbling downstairs, in the basement, and detected some unknown scent wafting up through the floor. Whatever that smoke was, it wasn’t cigarettes. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t registered with the state of California.
Something about the gun-toting, the smoke-wafting, the mass hysteria lured me off of my face and onto the bed, where I grabbed my trusty notebook out of the bedside table drawer and wrote the very last page of Hick. It had been eluding me for months, that damned page, little did I know it would take an evening gown, a gun belt, copious amounts of alcohol, and a Buddha in the basement to inspire