Day 35: The girl in Pueblo
We awoke, surprised, in the shade. The portable storage unit that we’d camped behind in the soccer field had shielded us from the morning sun. June 21st, La Junta, CO.
That day we were headed to Pueblo, where we’d be staying with Patti, a friend of Vanessa’s. Excited at the prospect of a rest-day, we packed up quickly and rode for a fastfood place to change our clothes.
We made it, ate, and split for Pueblo.
Coming into La Junta, the terrain had taken a turn for dry and rocky. The ride into Pueblo showed us even more of the beige, arid emptiness that we’d seen the night previous. It felt nice to see the flavor of wilderness change again.
The ride was predictably uneventful. We passed another cow city or two and experienced the accompanying kick of dung-scent. It was an uphill ride, but our cadence was steady out of excitement for a few soft days of rest at Patti’s.
In the early afternoon, we hit the outskirts of Pueblo, which were fairly desolate. We saw a turnoff for the Pueblo Chemical Dump; Mike asked if I wanted to visit that scenic landmark. I yelled back that they must have an awesome gift-shop.
We entered a residential area and, after a few turns, we hit Patti’s house. We dismounted, I took off my helmet, and smoothed my hair.
I didn’t know what to expect; we’d been talking to Patti for months over the internet, albeit sparsely, and she’d been following our trip since the beginning. This was the first time I’d be hearing her voice, let alone meeting her in person. I was piqued.
We walked through the front door and saw a slender girl with chestnut-brown hair, which was shoulder-length and had subtle, light streaks. I said hi and she welcomed us nonchalantly in a warm, calm voice like finished rosewood. She showed us the downstairs that we’d be annexing for the next few days.
The house was clean and relatively spacious. Art made by friends was scattered around the middle level of the house with a few primary pieces featured in the living room.
Mike and I took showers simultaneously (there’s a new trick) in two different bathrooms. I finished washing, slipped my mesh shorts on, and padded down the stairs to talk to Patti. I stood on one side of the kitchen counter while Patti stood across from me on the other side, making guacamole. We traded questions, both answering coyly, while she traversed the kitchen making other preparations for the barbecue to be held tonight in honor of us crazies1.
Mike joined us after finishing his shower and, characteristically, went right to work on Patti’s roof trying to fix the air-conditioner. Patti and I sat on her shady porch after helping Mike ascend the ladder to the roof. We talked leisurely and I looked her over like a tipsy detective studying the femme fatale.
After Mike yelled down from the roof, signifying that he hadn’t died, we steadied the ladder once again and he alighted from the roof.
Mike again at ground-level, we decided to go on a beer run. Patti gave us directions to a liquor store that she couldn’t identify by name but told us it’d be next to a pet grooming place named K9-Cutters on Norwood. We met Patti’s roommate, Lisa, and promptly thereafter were given keys to her car for the beer run.
I jumped at the keys. Since Mike is weary of automatic transmissions, the rare privilege of driving a car wasn’t something we had to rock-paper-scissors for2. We hopped into Lisa’s white Dodge and were off3.
The reduced field of vision hit me as soon as I landed in the driver’s seat. Going from 2000 contiguous miles on a bike to a short ride down the street in a car is like going from a go-kart to the Millennium Falcon. I went at a snail’s pace down the road, looking around neurotically in wait for a family of five to jump onto the hood of the Dodge.
A few long minutes later, we got to the liquor store and negotiated the lethargic Asian teenager working the counter. Another round of white-knuckled Oregon Trail later and we were back at Patti’s with a fair amount of beer4.
We sat out with Patti on the porch, talking pleasant miscellany and enjoying our new home, however temporary. Patti queued up Rome, which is a collaboration between producer Dangermouse and some Italian spaghetti-Western composer, on her vintage stereo. She only dug the songs that featured Jack White.
The drinking began and guests started to show. The first round of arrivals were a group of three: Randy, Andy, and Alan5. Randy and Andy were a couple: Randy a lively girl of copper complexion and Andy a native-Coloradan welder with an Illinois accent. Alan was heavy-set and initially very quiet, although he turned out to be well-educated and good for talk.
Patti began grilling and we mingled with guests. Gabriel, an artist and a friend of Patti’s, showed up and we talked about working shitty jobs to build character and grinding lucrative careers to fund explorations into less secure lives. Gabriel was polite and friendly and a pleasure to speak to.
John, a publisher, showed up. John was witty and bearded: he told me about the tribulations necessary to properly format a book of poetry in Amazon’s MOBI markup. I cornered him for his opinion on Oxford commas6 and Randy jumped in, emphatically agreeing that the commas are necessary to resolve ambiguity. We high-fived and went through all the congratulatory rigmarole of meeting someone with grammatical competence.
We moved the discussion outside, where Alan jumped in and argued that the comma is “superfluous.”7 The conversation then progressed into language and economics and about 10 other subjects that I can bluff through but have little-to-no formal training in.
The tablewide conversation then took a turn for the topics of prostitution and erotic dancing. One girl, whose name I don’t remember, told us that she had taken her boyfriend to Vegas and ended up with a $700 tab for a lapdance she didn’t order. We talked at length about that.
Andy then told a lewd story that everyone laughed at. The story is in the footnotes because I’m sure not all readers will appreciate its vulgarity.8
The backyard darkened and mosquitoes antagonized the majority of us, so we moved the party inside. After a few rounds of Apples to Apples, Randy, Andy, and Alan split; John followed suit soon afterwards.
Guests slowly and evenly tapered as the clock worked.
The end of the evening had Patti, Mike, and I sitting in the living room. Patti and I did the conversing as Mike stared into space.
Patti sat in an armchair and I sat on the floor facing her and asking questions. I told her she had beautiful feet9 and I had a strong compulsion to hold her but restrained because this isn’t the Paleolithic and you can’t simply hit a woman over the head and drag her into intimacy.
Mike and I forced our stiff legs down the stairwell and we fell asleep in the basement, Mike on a collection of pillows and me on a couch. A surplus of guacamole and beer was left in the fridge.
and the summer solstice, but who cares about weather when you’ve got lunatics↩
or more realistically, roshambo for↩
Mike will tell you that I almost got into an accident reversing out of Patti’s driveway. This isn’t quite the case: Mike alerted me to a truck coming down the road, approximately seventy feet away. I woulda caught it. Probably.↩
after a case of High Life and a box of Franzia had gone uninjured at our going away party, we’ve learned to temper our preparatory buys.↩
begging for a sitcom? maybe a song-and-dance trio?↩
I do this to everyone I meet who has a responsibility to know English especially well. I’m set in one particular argument (the commas are necessary) but I do it for fun anyway.↩
A friend of Andy’s brought home a stripper and her boyfriend to his apartment. The stripper and boyfriend immediately began screwing violently on the poor kid’s couch with an innocent, awkward bystander betwixt. Another roommate walked in from work. The shocked entrant screamed, “GET YOUR CUNT OFF MY COUCH!” and began beating the stripper.10↩
which she does; they are small and sculpted with gradual, even curves.↩
Dollars to donuts that every one of you read that footnote.↩