We took the long drive to rural North Idaho to visit our humble origins. There were three of us in the car and the ride was about nine hours. Besides recognizing the path, it was obvious to me that we were getting close when I took a shit in a grocery store bathroom in Rathdrum, Idaho. The vandalism on the toilet paper dispenser was indicative of our geography, and made me question the inner monologues of the local townsfolk. "4:20" appeared twice, "Fuck" five times, a swastika that someone tried to cover up by connecting the lines so that it looked like four conjoined boxes, "GET R DONE!" in large, box letters, "God will forgive" and "Idaho Native" all stared me in the face as I voided myself for the homestretch. Apparently, when given an anonymous form of expression such as vandalism, that is all the minds of Rathdrum, Idaho, have to report. About an hour later, we had finally arrived at our friend's apartment in Sandpoint. He had a new chainsaw wound that looked like this:
We drank beers and then slept. In the morning, we drove even further North into the unshaven, miner's prostitute's armpit of Idaho to obtain illegal fireworks. On the way, we went to the Bonner Mall for liquor and a memory card for my digital camera. Fortunately, of the eight or nine businesses boasted by the Bonner Mall, there were two to accommodate my needs. At the liquor store I beelined for bottomshelf bourbon and made my way out. At Staples, a salesperson asked if he could help me find anything and I said yes, he could, and proceeded to unroll my camera from the large sock I'd been keeping it in. He steered me towards a memory card that would fit it and even recommended a case that he claimed would provide faster access to my camera than the jumbo sock, and it looked like it would even provide better protection, so I bought that too. We proceeded North and had a late breakfast at a place called "The Badger's Den." I wanted to order a Coke to pour whiskey into, but they only had Pepsi so I just drank straight whiskey in the bathroom before our food arrived. The food and service were both pretty good, but I found the prices a little steep.
The first place we went for fireworks was an RV in a casino parking lot. I paced around while my friends shopped because I don't really go crazy for fireworks like a lot of people do. I admired one man that stood back while his large, significant other made her independence celebrating selections. This man actually had a sheath on the front of his belt that contained a pair of pliers. Apparently, this man does so much plying, that even a trip to the neighborhood casino parking lot would have grave uncertainty if he wasn't adequately prepared for anything that might need his services during the mid day adventure. The selection at the RV wasn't satisfactory, so we proceeded even further North to this house just off of the highway to Canada. Signs advertise fireworks, you park on the side of the road, then you follow the signs through the yard and around the back of the house to a basement with a screen door, where, upon entry, you would see makeshift counters set up in front of the local Native Americans, who are rightfully capitalizing on the freedom mongers who oppressed their people in recent generations. My friends spent lots of money and I stood and paced and fidgeted with my cell phone like I'm good at. When they were finished we went back to town to meet an old friend's firstborn child. I drunkenly inquired why he did not name it after me and he found that far less amusing than I did.
We moved on to a barbeque and then to JW's Mom's house on the lake. The City of Sandpoint is always happy to find frivolous expenditures because that helps them not spend money on things like road repair, public recreation, and schools, and one of those expenditures is the annual fireworks display, visible from our host's dock. There were lots of people that were younger than me drinking beer. Some of them got in a roman candle fight. If you've never witnessed a roman candle fight before, they look something like this:
photo by some guy who goes by "Topher"
When a participant gets hit in the face with a roman candle discharge, it looks something like this:
it's all fun and games until what?
This charming young man is the younger brother of JW. He fabricated a weak lie about how his injury was a result of falling on the dock so he wouldn't have to drunkenly endure his mother's wrath. He insisted on JW patching up the blood soaked crater that replaced his eyebrow, and JW complied, which probably sucked because we had eaten acid earlier and I'm pretty sure administering amateur medical attention to a family member while under the influence of a strong hallucinogen is no fun. The bleeding subsided and his eye swelled just about all the way shut.
"It doesn't look that bad..." The young man said.
"Ya know, actually, it really just does." I countered.
Once the excitement died down, I sat with an emo girl on the porch steps for a while. She used her mouth as a microscope to put her problems under and make them seem huge. It was evident that she found social profit through her own inconvenience, so later I made sure to steal her cigarettes not because I wanted them, but just so she could complain about not having them. A later conversation with company that she kept revealed that the disappearance of her nicotine did, in fact, come up. Good.
The sun came up and I spent some time on the dock with my whiskey and digital camera trying to take pictures of bats that probably existed and were feeding on the insects over the water. None of the pictures turned out. We really didn't want to deal with what the morning would bring at that location, what with the hungover, young people and inevitable conversations concerning fireworks safety, so we left for JW's Dad's house on the backroad.
It was a pretty drive down a poorly maintained gravel road that mostly bordered the lake. A few birds pecking at something in the street scattered as JW rounded a corner. He said slowly:
"There sure are a lot of birds out for this hour..." I looked at him and took note of his pupils and grip on the steering wheel.
"Dude, you're totally still frying."
"That's why we're taking the backroad."
"Oh. Yeah. That makes sense."
I had been fiending for a burrito all morning, but one more devastating truth about buttfuck, nowhere, is that there are no 24 hour burrito joints. In my town there are several and they are a convenience that I do not take for granted. So, we raided the pantry at JW's Dad's house deep in the woods. I was having trouble finding much that was vegetarian. Yes, I'm a vegetarian. I've heard all the jokes, fuck off. JW rummaged in the freezer and said
"You could nibble on this for awhile." I turned and saw this:
(not a vegetarian meal)
"Oh, Ferdie Bird! You still haven't buried him?" Ferdie was JW's cockatiel when we met in 6th grade. He died sometime when we were teenagers, and years later is still frozen in plastic. We explained to Kyle that the ground was too hard to bury things most of the year in Idaho, so it was easy to keep putting these things off. I had a similar situation with a guinea pig at a point. I chose not to eat Ferdie and instead heated up a can of refried beans and used wheat thins to dip.
Sleep proved hard to obtain but eventually came our way. The next afternoon we went into town and there were tourists everywhere for a couple hours before it became a ghost town again. I got a ride to my Dad's house up on a mountain. We had dinner and drinks and he showed me all of his landscaping and decorating projects before we sat down and he talked for a great length about the corruption of the local high school swim team, the only athletic club in town with a pool, and the organizers behind public swimming events in the lake. My Father has always been passionate about swimming, but apparently the North Idahoan swimming subculture provides him with few emotions other than disgust. Like with most people that live around there, I think he should move. I drank into the night and slept in my old room and it wasn't bad I guess.
I woke up to my Dad yelling on the phone and it was nostalgic. I emerged from my room once he was off the phone and he explained that there was a bunch of garbage dumped on the road, and the city officials he'd just spoken with wouldn't do anything about it. Apparently that's a problem now that the geniuses in city council decided that they would provide all the citizens that paid their property taxes with a pass to dump garbage for free, whereas those who did not earn the pass had to pay $5. So, the more scenic, unpopulated roads have naturally become more cost-effective waste disposal venues for the lower class. Go Idaho.
I found my way back to town and caught back up with JW and Kyle. The friend with the new child had some left over firework we decided to shoot off for the sake of killing several seconds, which is the ongoing goal in that area. We walked to a nearby park, which is the biggest in the area, and theoretically the nicest, save for one thing: it's conjoined with a sewege treatment facility. The entire park smells like decomposing human fecal matter. The grass is a very vibrant green, I'll give it that, but the stench really does detract from the foliage. Kyle pointed out one of many barbeque grills built into the ground.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Who would eat here? Jeff, do you want a hot dog? What about some potato salad? Jesus, do people actually eat here?" We made a last round through town before getting back to the south side of the village to crash at JW's Mom's, so we could be close to the highway the next morning. We left and pulled into a gas station in some godless town. It might have been Rathdrum but it might have been some neighboring village. Kyle was in charge of pumping gas because he was born and raised in Oregon, where it's illegal to pump your own gas.
We drove for hours and ate at an amazing buffet in Washington. Hours later, we gassed up in Oregon, a hundred or so miles outside of Portland. The girl who pumped our gas was gorgeous and seemed out of place in Boardman, a three gas station town along the Columbia River. She informed us that whoever had pumped our gas last had misplaced the cap. Kyle suddenly remembered leaving it on the pump in Idaho. We got back on the road and left the most beautiful woman for a hundred miles in any direction to pump gas in her own version of Buttfuck, Nowhere. I cracked a beer in the back seat as the sun set behind the Columbia Gorge. I drank and looked out the window and thought about girls and guitars and all the usual stuff. Idaho was getting further away by the minute and that was just fine.
really old months: