“Well, I dooooo declare! Mr. Andrew Lowry, as I live and breeeeeeeth! Time to riiiiise and shiiiiiine!”
That was Luke. He was being loud while standing over me with a sloppy grin.
“Was I not asleep ten seconds ago? Who are you? Who am I? What time is it?”
“Yes. Luke. Drew. 6am. You have sixteen questions left. Let’s go, Bro! We need to put you to work.”
Get lost. I traveled two days to get to this dump. Almost died getting here, could’ve gotten tossed in jail for dragging around a couple pounds of weed (courtesy of your dipshit friend), ran over who knows how many chickens on the drive, spent a few hours in a church mourning the loss of some flea-bag pot dealer and got assigned a hotel room so as not to disturb your domestic bliss, such as it is. Blow me.
“You are evil and you must be destroyed. Coffee. Must find coffee….”
“Café is in a thermos in the jeep where you need to beeeeee! We have a long drive. Rick dropped off all coloring books from your room.”
“Rick? Who’s…., oh, the hotel guy who really, really really wanted to send me two 15-year-olds for some all-night mattress testing. And, no, I didn’t take him up on the offer.”
Luke laughed. “Ah-ha, that’s why he told me you’re gay. So, now that we have solved that mystery, get up. Time’s a wasting.”
You couldn’t be bothered to come down stairs last night to say hello. Now it’s time for me to be free labor.
“Yes, Mother. May I, pretty please, go tinkle first?”
Luke pretended to be annoyed. “Oh, sure, fine, there you go. Putting yourself ahead of needy children, as usual. Go ahead. Oh, I forget to mention, it’s great to see you, Big Guy.”
“And, you, my friend. This’ll be an express tinkle. I’ll do the self-service option.”
“Hi-yeeeee!” Sara entered the room. “While you two were busy fondling each other, your Auntie Sara got everything loaded in the jeep. What’s up, Sleepy Head?”
“Oh, me. I’m astonishingly refreshed after my nine solid minutes of sleep. My immediate plan is to go do number one. I shan’t be long.”
Sara jumped up and down in mock-excitement. “I wanna watch, I wanna watch! Pleee-yeeez?”
I feigned grave concern. “I’m worried about you.”
“Well, join the club!” Sara looked at Luke. Luke looked back and abruptly walked away.
Two minutes later, we were destined for parts unknown in their 300 year old open-air jeep filled with boxes including the coloring books and my suitcase with all its contents.
Luke casually mentioned, “We’ll be staying overnight. It’ll be fun. You get to pass out the coloring books. Every kid in the jungle will love you.”
“Every kid in the what?”
“Jungle. Listen, why don’t you get some shut-eye. We’ll stop in a couple hours and get you some food.”
The jungle. Well. Isn’t that….lovely.
So, I slept. Jammed between boxes on the flatbed of the jeep while Lukey announced ways to fix Mexico problems, improve the lives of the downtrodden plus return peace and love to the valley.
Well, that’s fine. You fix the entire country’s problems in five minutes.
Which reminds me, I am currently working on two critically important projects to better the lives of my fellow citizens. One will, in a matter of weeks, exponentially increase the country’s GDP. It involves urine.The other will finally unite the political parties in pursuit of one common goal. It involves hats.
When these projects are complete, I guarantee this here “Land of the Free of the Brave” will ascend to unthinkable heights of wealth and happiness.
It’s the least I can do for my country.
This first one is ingenious. When you apply for a job in the good old USA of America, you have to provide a urine sample. This is because we want to make sure you aren’t taking drugs. This is very important. You can be a violent criminal. That’s fine. We’re good with that. You can storm into work with a machete and threaten to kill all the administrative staff. The worst that’ll happen is a manager might suggest you contact Employee Assistance. However, thou shalt not bring thine filthy drugs to our holy and sacred workplace on accounta drugs are bad.
This fixation with drugs in the workplace is, of course, ridiculous and a complete waste of time. Drugs aren’t the problem. People are. Plus, it doesn’t keep anyone from taking drugs after getting the job. If you stood up in a corporate office and said the drug testing will start in five minutes then 80% of the employees will immediately urinate on themselves.
There’s a reason for that.
What corporate America urgently needs is a urine test for stupidity, willful ignorance, laziness and corruptibility. Just think what your company could accomplish if you got rid of those kinds of people.
If you had a urine test that identified the losers ahead of time so you could avoid hiring them then your net earnings would quadruple.
This is where I come in with my breakthrough AJUT (Anti-Jackass-Urine-Test). I’m getting close. We completed an initial trial with the Nestlé Company. Unfortunately, all the employees at the company tested positive. All of them. Perhaps Nestlé wasn’t the best company to run our beta. It turns out that a consortium of Mafia families refused a merger opportunity with Nestlé on the grounds that, “Yes, fine, we’re criminal but we’re not THAT criminal.”
It needs a little fine tuning but we’re getting there.
My other project relates to the pathetic state of politics in this country. You see, in the good old USA of America, politicians aren’t elected based on qualifications, accomplishments, experience, expertise or personal conduct. Even the political ads are meaningless because they all say the same thing: “Vote for me and I’ll give you whatever you want. PS, my opponent sells child porn to finance his campaign.” No rational person takes these ads seriously.
(Now, before you get tuned up, I’m neither Democrat nor Republican. I’m Independent. Primarily, because Democrats and Republicans tend to scream the answer at you before you’ve even had a chance to ask the question. For those unfamiliar with the major political parties in the Land of Milk and Honey, Democrats are the ones who keep making the same stupid mistakes because they refuse to learn from the past. Republicans are the ones who come off as knuckle-dragging morons because they refuse to stop living in the past. The only thing they agree on is they should make it impossible for a third party to get anywhere.)
When it comes to politics in the USA, everything that should be meaningful isn’t. Everything.
Look at Donald Trump. What public policy experience or political expertise did he have? None. Other than filing bankruptcy a lot, what did he actually accomplish? Not much. Did he mention any specific domestic policy? No. Entire foreign policy? Build a wall. Personal conduct? The guy is an HR manager’s worst nightmare.
However, Donald had a hat. It was a baseball hat and it said MAGA (Make America Great Again) on the front. Other than the hat, he had nothing. But, he became president because of that hat. Half the people who voted for him probably didn’t know what MAGA stood for. It didn’t matter. People rallied around that MAGA hat. Hillary Clinton didn’t have a hat. Case closed.
All you need to do is determine a unifying thread. A notion upon which all Americans strongly agree. Identify that one issue, make a ridiculous slogan about it, pull an acronym out of your whatnot, put that acronym on a hat and you, my friend, can be elected president.
And, I think I found the perfect acronym:
MEGA – Make Excellence Go Away.
I believe all Americans are prepared to vigorously defend the country against anyone’s pursuit of excellence. On this point, we’re solid. We are resolutely….uh, resolved….in our WASTE (War Against Striving Towards Excellence).
I kid thee not.
Exhibit A: The MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), who govern collegiate sports for the state, recently threw STU (St. Thomas University), a member school, out of the conference because their football team kept beating the other teams in that conference and those other teams didn’t like it.
You think I’m kidding.
It made the students with other schools feel bad about themselves. They were sad, probably all ended up in therapy, were immediately diagnosed with PTLD (Post-Traumatic Loser Disorder), put on medication and remain unemployed because they can’t pass the drug test.
Now, I know there may be some lowbrow, mouth-breathing, radical, anti-slothers out there right now asking, “Gosh, wouldn’t the people on the other teams be motivated to work harder, work smarter, improve their performance and become a better team so they can beat St. Thomas University?”
Are you out of your mind? This is America! Where Amber waves her grain upon these fruited planes [sic] over Dawn’s early light in the home of the bombs bursting in air! We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of feeling good about ourselves without having to do anything to feel good about! Says so in the first amendment, you EPOYD (Extremist Piece Of Yak Dung)!
Exhibit B – Public Schools. Schools in the States teach all children that everyone’s a winner. Everyone. No one is a loser. Ever. This includes giving all children trophies saying they are winners.
Of course, there are some flatulent free-market types who’ll make threatening and demeaning statements to the effect of, “If EVERYONE is a winner then no one’s a winner. Stands to reason.”
Fine. Fine, fine, fine. It’s a tie. Everyone is tied.
Anyway, this is how it works in public schools:
Let’s say you have two 5th graders. One is called Natalie. The other is called Jasper.
Natalie shows up 30 minutes early to school everyday, gets 100% on all her tests, is 50 weeks ahead on her homework, helps her classmates with their homework, is the 3rd ranked chess player in the world and was recently published in the top science journals where she repealed Avogadro’s Law.
Then, there’s Jasper. Jasper shows up 2 hours late because he can’t remember the name of his school, is 36 months behind on his homework, still isn’t toilet trained, has a GPA of -0.5, picks his nose and vomits on his desk.
As far as the school’s concerned, there is absolutely no difference between Natalie and Jasper. They’re both winners. They both get similar trophies. Natalie gets one for her breakthrough quantum theory of gravity which will enable scientists to determine the origin of the universe. Jasper gets one for zipping his pants up after going to the bathroom. In fact, Jasper is lavished with prizes and awards when he’s only 45 minutes late to school.
Jasper gets an “A” for effort and Natalie gets detention because all her good work and success is making Jasper feel bad about himself which is a prosecutable offense under WIGS (Worthlessness Is Godliness Statute).
The school administrators encourage the other students in the class to beat up Natalie because she’s thoughtlessly overachieving which is in direct violation of the school’s SHIT (Schools Hate Independent Thought) mandate.
The parents of Natalie’s classmates run a smear campaign against Natalie claiming she slept with the entire high school wrestling team one night and speculating she’s a direct descendant of Satan.
Eventually, Natalie decides pursuing excellence is more trouble than it’s worth so she goes on a tequila binge for the rest of the school year where she receives a trophy every time she makes it through the day without vomiting on her desk.
So, now that Natalie has gotten with the program, everyone’s a winner again. We can all go back to doing nothing and feeling good about it.
As you can see, everything is back to normal in our public school system:
One more thing. Did you know, in the good old USA, all children are considered “special?” That’s another insight public schools insist on bellowing:
“All children. Special. No exceptions.”
What no one tells you is when you are no longer special. There must be an age where you migrate from “special” to “just another useless, fornicating little jack-ass who’s holding up the line.”
Where was I?
Right. Mexico. Driving somewhere to see kids in a jungle.
When we arrived in the town of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Sara woke me up with another kiss on the lips. I surveyed the environment for a minute. We were stopped in front of an open air market. I didn’t see Luke anywhere.
“Did we just end up on page 20 of ‘Animal Farm?'” This, to me, was a highly appropriate question because, in the middle of a state filled with extreme poverty, Tuxtla Gutiérrez was home to the excesses and decadence of the state’s filthy rich. These were the privileged few against whom the animals in Orwell’s book rebelled. Nice homes and communities were behind large iron gates and protected by armed security guards. According to Sara, 1% of Chiapas’ wealthiest residents accounted for well over 50% of the state’s income and most of that 1% could be found in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
In terms of wealth, Tuxtla Gutiérrez wouldn’t have been confused with Monaco. It was comparable to an upper middle class neighborhood in El Paso.
But, juxtaposed with the rest of Chiapas, the residents were billionaires and they looked the part: ridiculously dressed, unaware of their surroundings, flabby and possessed with the same vacuous, dull-eyed facial expressions most bored rich people have.
Sara’s face was about six inches from mine when I woke up.
“You’re cute when you’re asleep.”
“You’re cute when you’re awake so we can cover all 24 hours with cuteness cooties. What did you do with Lukey?”
“Uh-oh. I knew I forgot something. I think I left him in a porta-potty an hour ago. Darn. We can pick him up on the way back. For now you’re mine, all my-yiiiine!”
Too much. Something is way off the mark. Comfort level at Def-Con Two. Change the subject.
“Is the youngster okay? From what I overheard last night, it seemed his neurons were misfiring. Badly.”
“You heard us?”
“The entire ordeal including him shouting his eternal love and you doing a fine job faking a big one.”
“Gawd! I told him to shut the door.”
I smiled. “I heard that, too. Hey, it’s okay. I lived in the freshman dorms. Heard it all before.”
“Do you think he knew I faked it?
Why did I mention this in the first place?
“He was way too busy being self-conscious to notice. I understand he’s insecure but whoa. Why is he pretending to be so happy and can you make it stop? I mean, he’s the one faking.”
She stared at me for a bit and then rested her head on my chest and ran her finger lightly around my face.
I was worried Luke would see us. “Shall we saunter along the promenade and cast aspersions upon the local hordes?”
Sara did the nose twitch girls seemed to always do when I said something incomprehensible. “Once more in English?”
“Yew wanna go fer a walk ‘n make fun uh duh natives?”
“If we’re not here when His Hiney gets back then he’ll break into a million-billion pieces and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men….”
“Couldn’t put Hiney’s ugly ass back together again. Got it. Are you two wacky kids actually thinking of staying here and getting married?”
Sara’s facial expression was one of a person who just sat on a thumb tack. “Oh, pul-eez. This little girl? No, no, no, no, no. Uh-uh.” She continued in a mock Mexican accent. “Ah don wanna get the marrieeeed. Ah don wanna live here ’til I a ol’ señora. Ah don’ wanna deal with all dis sheeeet. Ah don’ wanna be bossed around by Meeeester Perfecto.”
“Hmmmm, what do you want?”
Ooooh, shit. Please tell me your kidding. Please, please, please tell me your kidding.
She gave me a soft smile. “I so wanted to sleep with you last night.”
You’re not kidding.
I had no clue she found me attractive at all. I really didn’t. For the first half of my life, I considered myself ugly but made up for it by convincing myself I was stupid. And, fat. Don’t forget fat. And, morally defective. Plus, I was certain I’d be dead by the age of 30.
A positive self-image was not a strength. Not that I felt sorry for myself. I figured those were the cards I was dealt. So, it was always a surprise when someone found me attractive. I figured it was bad taste on their part. I mean, who wants to hook up with a guy who looks like a fat, greasy, low-rent version of Quasimodo after a 6 month heroin binge, with an IQ in the 60s, a life expectancy of 45 minutes and, when he does kick the bucket, is going straight to Hell on accounta the moral defects.
It’s not an ideal attitude to navigate your way through life but there you go.
I was flattered that Sara took an interest. I really was.
Sara was charming, funny, unpretentious, good-natured and pretty. However, even in different circumstances, I’m not sure I would have inflicted her with my stunning romantic charm. I don’t know. Probably not. Besides, we had been friends for a few years and I was never interested in rocking that particular boat. In my experience, the best way to muck up a nice friendship is for all parties involved to take their clothes off and exchange recipes for a night or two. Just to make things more convoluted, Lukey had made some recent noises about marrying her. In my opinion, It was a hornet’s nest best left undisturbed.
Before I had time to reply, we heard Lukey in the distance talking with someone.
Sara quickly and inconspicuously moved back to the passenger’s seat. She looked back at me, smiled and said, “To be continued.”
“May not hurt to talk with the young man. I don’t think he knows how you’re feeling about….”
“We’re not talking at the moment.”
Why doesn’t that surprise me?
Without saying a word, Luke jumped into the driver’s seat, gave me a couple burritos, didn’t acknowledge Sara, started the jeep and floored it.
This is just duckie.
The tension was thick with Sara and Luke. I ate and then pretended to go back to sleep.
Working out pretty well so far. I wonder if this is how people on the Hindenburg felt once they understood there might be a bit of turbulence during the landing.
Nope. Don’t think this one’s gonna have a happy ending.
On the other hand, they’re good people. They mean well enough. Maybe they can find their way together.
Well, no, actually.
———-END OF PART 5———