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Risen Apes: B Movie

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Risen Apes: B Movie

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S.M. Park’s column Risen Apes about being a 70-year-old boomer. In “B Movie,” Park talks about life, going to pro football games then versus now, and hooking up during a blackout.


I have many quotes taped to the wall in front of me, but my favorite is Nikki Giovanni’s:

i hope i die
by the life that I tried
to live.

I’m pretty sure I will, even if it’s felt like cheating along the way. I remember how, in my early drinking days, I’d badger friends and strangers alike about Free Will, whether they believed (like I did) that we were mere actors, bit players in a cheesy cosmic farce.

They didn’t as a rule (depending on the psychedelic they were on, anyway), so I’d revert to the rationalization I’ve used since childhood, that of course I’d think that way … I was a cartoonist.

Except—ever since the whorehouse I moved into at eighteen felt like a prop—I’ve been suspicious. How could it be, for instance, that I was so comfortable with all the squalor, penury, addiction, criminality, drifting and madness in the years ahead? Why did they feel more like a blueprint (a simple matter of course) than grievous personal failures?

Just lucky, I guess, because good fortune in tight spots is part of the package, too. (Along with a heavy dose of irreverence.) So when it comes to measuring the life I’ve lived we’re talking a pretty low bar here.

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I spoke with a member of a local psychedelic society recently, and when I described my own experiences with mind-benders she huffed, “Well, it’s more of a spiritual thing for us. Just getting high isn’t the point.”

Au contraire,” I said.

Which meant I couldn’t wake up on piss-soaked sheets in a wino hotel—the rum and ’shrooms wearing off as the d.t.’s kicked in—and think I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere.

I was one.

* * *

In my lifetime few things have changed as much as attending a pro football game. (I’m sure this is true of baseball and basketball games, too, but I haven’t been to one of them in decades.) It used to be an enjoyable experience: you’d go to the stadium, present your ticket, take your seat and be responsible for entertaining yourself in between plays on the field. (This often took the form of drunkenness but that, too, was up to you.)

Now? Well, you’d be thrown out of any arena in the country for being half as shitfaced as my Niners buddies and I were, but beyond that’s the notion the game isn’t enough anymore, that the modern fan requires constant stimulation.

I was reminded of this when my friends Donna and Bud took me to the Niners/Seahawks game this December. They figured I’d eaten too many edibles (or maybe the climb to their seats was too much for a guy my age) because I spent long stretches of the game with my eyes closed.

But I was just soaking in the din (it reminded me of my mental ward days). There it was screeching and babbling (with a few sobs thrown in), but at Lumens Field (with all the piped-in music and blaring videos as a backdrop) the “cheering” was mostly old people in clown outfits cupping their hands around their mouths and screaming “AUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!” at the top of their lungs.

This isn’t unique to Seattle, but (with a reputation for being “jet engine loud”) Seahawk fans want their roar to be the last thing their kids ever hear. I wore earplugs, pulled my wool cap down and buried my head in the collar of my jacket and still left with my ears ringing.

Seahawk fans want their roar to be the last thing their kids ever hear. I wore earplugs, pulled my wool cap down and buried my head in the collar of my jacket and still left with my ears ringing.

I wanted to think I had it better than they did on the ferry ride home (they’d lost their voices, too), except they were the ones with shit-eating grins on their faces.

Because once again—as they have eleven of the last twelve times we’ve played them in Seattle—their team kicked our ass.

Fortunately Russell Wilson was traded to the Broncos last month. I can’t speak for San Francisco … but somebody was dancing in the streets here.

* * *

Her name was Sadie and I met her at the Longview, Washington Elks Club. I was in my third or fourth term at Lower Colombia, the local community college, and there were dances at the Elk Hall every Saturday night. I wouldn’t have gone as a rule (much less known they existed), because I was more into drugs and alcohol than women at the time.

Or that’s what I told myself, anyway (billing my abstinence as a “community service”), when in truth I was just too drunk and lazy. Then I hooked up with Jay Turner, a kid who’d grown up in the nearby town of Kalama. We’d played on the ’66 LCC basketball team together, and (as the only chain smokers on the team) had shared a special bond.

I was in town a couple years later when I ran into him at a tavern. He was working in a paper mill at the time and after plying me with pitchers and slugs from his pint of whiskey I found myself accompanying him to an Elks Club dance.

All I remembered afterwards is flat beer and a worse band. Woke the next morning with a thin, pale blonde woman in the bed next to me.

That was the first clue something was amiss, as I slept on the floor at home. I sat up, looked around. It seemed we were in the back of a dark, messy trailer, and even as I struggled to recall details of the night before I felt a growing sense of pride.

Goddamn! I thought, I finally got laid in a blackout!

Just the notion made me hard. I rolled over, cupped the stranger’s breasts, rubbed against her ass.

She stirred and squinted up at me.

“Who the fuck are you?” she groaned.

“Who cares?” I said, and when she snickered I knew it was love.

She was a drunk, too, of course, and we lasted three weeks or so (a pretty good run for both of us). We might have gone longer except that trailer was behind her stepfather’s house and—whenever he was home and I stepped outside for a smoke—he’d open the back door, call to me from the hallway behind.

“Hey Stretch!” he’d say. “How was it?”

I never actually saw the guy (he kept to the shadows), and when I asked Sadie about it she laughed.

“Oh, don’t mind him,” she said. “He knows exactly how good it is.”

What did that mean? (Is that how she paid the rent?) I tried not to think about it, concentrate on the depravities at hand instead (the only mirror in the trailer was over the bed), and after partying with me and seeing my apartment (it was even dingier than her place), I guess Sadie figured I was up for anything.

So when I woke face down and naked on the trailer floor one morning I had a worse feeling about the night before than usual. Peeled my face off the carpet, tried to shake off the vodka hangover, finally looked up at the mirror.

Sadie was still asleep, but who was the fat naked guy on the bed next to her? Could it be the stepfather? Had I been part of some sick menage a trois with those characters?

And more importantly … why would I want to know? I dressed hurriedly, bottoms upped a warm beer on the kitchen counter and tiptoed out, never to return.

Even I had standards.


S.M. Park is the author and illustrator of his memoirs High & Dry and The Grass Is Greener, both published by University of Hell Press.


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S.M. Park

S.M. Park lives two blocks from the Salish Sea in Port Townsend, Washington. His passions include walking, wondering and weed. Park, in his guise as Wilson High, has written and illustrated two memoirs, High & Dry and The Grass Is Greener, both published by University of Hell Press.

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