By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
The last time I went on vacation, I left y'all alone for four days—a personal day on either side of a weekend!—and you wrecked the place. Oh, everything was fine when I left for my romantic assignation in wildest Mexico. We frolicked and mamboed and I passed out in the fire and my boyfriend peed my name in the dirt. But when I came back? Somehow John Bolton and his nefarious 'stache had been appointed ambassador to the U.N. Fire! Brimstone! Hell and high water!
This, I screeched at you as I've been wont to do, this is why we can't have nice things!
So this time, when I left for a whopping two weeks, I didn't have high hopes for the world that would await me when I returned. Did I expect Ken Lay to die without ever darkening the door of the cushy white-collar prison cell that was being redecorated for him? No, and that did dismay me. Did I expect World War III to break out? No, I can't say I expected that (but is anyone surprised?). But why can't we really have nice things? Because my good friend Bert, house-sitting for me with his two lovely children, saw fit to redecorate by exterminating all the pesky potted plants cluttering up my patio, coating all available surfaces with a fine layer of potato chip crumbs and topping it off with an insouciant scattering of blood in my bed.
Okay, it's sort of my fault: I did get home two days early . . . to blood in my bed!Dog and Cat seem healthy and hale, and neither my good friend Bert nor his two lovely children actually punched any holes in anything, and the blood did wash right out of those soft white jersey sheets, and all's well that ends with me actually giving the ol' homestead the kind of scrubbing it maybe had been needing for what might have been quite some time. Oh, my house, how she gleams and shines!
Except for the plants. They're as dead as Ken Lay, God rest his soul in hell.
* * *My boy and I had gone to the Sierra Nevada, up and down and all around, for camping and fishing and such-like American pastimes. (It turns out—and who knew?—I love fishing! Although it may have helped that I didn't actually catch anything but a deep, dark tan.) We'd started at Edison Lake, which is down 20 miles of barely paved one-lane road with blind curves on a cliff. No, please, Mr. SUV Guy, allow me to back down the mountain and off the cliff! No, no, really! Let me! There we met Ernie, the world's greatest camp host, a retired Fresno firefighter who took us fishing and showed me how to use my little propane cooker and explained to my son and his grandson (Ernie's grandson, that is) about the dastardly dealings of the Bush Administration in regards to Valerie Plame. We also met hippies, as Edison Lake is an outpost on the Pacific Crest Trail, so they were hippies hiking from Mexico to Canada, and if you called them "dirty," you would be utterly justified. I didn't mind the dirt (or the smell), but the fact that they had "trail names" just killed me. "I'm Solar," they would say, because when you're building your own society at the top of a mountain, you're not bound by the strictures of the society in the outside world! Nice to meet you. I'm Pretentious Twit.
Still, they probably had really good dope, and I'd take twits over twats in a hot minute. Twats? If anybody knows the old codger proprietors of Fish Camp's general store—their other home, they told me, is in Anaheim Hills—please let them know they're the latest incarnation of my lack of faith in all humanity.
Fish Camp, a mile south of Yosemite, only exists for people traveling to Yosemite. Yet if you buy your soda and ask the general store's proprietor whether there's camping available in the park, he will laugh at you—ho ho ho!—like you are a moron. "Not if you don't have reservations a year ahead of time!" he will tell you, ho ho ho, like you are a moron. And so you might heed his advice and leave Yosemite in the late afternoon so's you can head back out of the park the way you came and then 16 miles south to Oakhurst, where you will pay upwards of a hundred dollars for a room, only to have it turn out the next day that there are several campgrounds in Yosemite that are first-come, first-served, and they all have plenty of space, and that guy is a douche! In fact, he was almost as douchey as the gas station attendant in beautiful Mammoth who told me there are no hotels in beautiful Mammoth. Luckily, him I didn't believe.
Also in Oakhurst, a man yelled something unintelligible about my Phil Angelides bumper sticker, so I followed him until he parked at a hardware store and scurried inside like a rat, because he can yell things at women and children driving alone but is too much of a pussy when faced with 5-feet-2-inches of polite girl smiling (fakely) and saying sweetly (and thus fakely), "I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said!" to do anything but run and shout over his shoulder, "Angelides is a Communist! Too bad you didn't know that!"
At that point, of course, and as sweet as sugar kisses, I said, "Well, I'm a Communist too, so that works out great!" And then he said, all nasty and mean, "Why don't you go back to Germany!" before he hurried inside to escape anyone actually standing up to him.
Oh, dear dickweed man! There I'd been in Yosemite, feeling an alien emotion that utterly confused me: pride. It actually made me cry, the pride and beauty and all that nature, done saved up for you and for me. But you, big man in the minivan? There's the California I know and love!
We drove over the wicked high Sonora Pass to my brother in San Francisco, and down Highway 1 from there; it's the one vacation you can send any visitor on in full faith and credit that California will represent. Ain't nobody not gonna like Big Sur. My boy and I wound down the seaside for hours and days, finally arriving home to the potato chips and blood, whereupon I turned tail and walked out again. If I was home and it was Friday, it was time for the Canyon Inn. I met up with Long Tall Gina, and where the Canyon typically has your average bar cover bands who are generally pretty fun, Friday featured a wretched band that was all Creed-y, and I kept saying to Gina, "Ew, the singer was making Creed eyes at me!" and he was gross and kept flipping his greasy long Creed hair behind his ears and such, and the band was wretched, I mean WRETCHED, like they kept playing Stones songs but not knowing the words and "Sweet Home Alabama" but getting the verses wrong—what bar band doesn't know the verses to "Sweet Home Alabama"?—and the singer was sharp the whole time, and they sucked.
During their last song—Creed's "With Arms Wide Open"—we finally figured out how to make a finger-sign Jesus fish instead of your usual devil horns, so we were plenty pleased and happy to be home indeed.