The Rise of the Machines: A.K.A. The most random night in recent memory
by David Lacy
I looked at my iPhone confusedly.
“It would seem to make the most SENSE to take the 405,” I muttered at the so-called “smart”phone. Instead, GoogleMaps instructed us to take a labyrinth of more inland freeways and seemingly assured us (with its large red pin) that we would expediently arrive at our destination.
But sense was the last thing on the itinerary for the night.
“I think we’re near the Grapevine,” Lauren informed Christy and Steve via her apparently far more reliable Blackberry.
We needed to be at a hotel near LAX. Those of you familiar with California geography will find this discrepancy humorous.
Lauren may or may not have covered the speaker on her phone at this point to spare me the embarrassment of hearing NorCal residents laughing hysterically at the lost SoCal driver.
Blushing, I seriously wanted to throw my phone out the window. I did curse at it a few times.
On their end of the line Christy and Steve pulled up Mapquest and relayed our new route to my more trust-worthy human navigator.
We pulled into the hotel driveway where Christy and Steve were waiting. Lauren and Christy – best friends since childhood – hugged and laughed while Steve complimented my ride.
“A Benz? Doing well for yourself,” Steve nodded approvingly.
I bring this up not to gloat about my car but because it’s the second overt instance of foreshadowing of the evening.
As the now four of us pulled onto the freeway I noticed it was abnormally dark.
“Shit,” I hissed. I flicked my lights on. They should have been in the “automatic” setting they were normally in. Flashes of Donald Sanders’ column about his wife’s car taking on a life of its own flickered through my mind.
When we arrived at the bar I could swear all of our eyes swept to the ground. The dive pub was a clientele collusion of the best and worst of L.A. all crammed into one simultaneously tired and raucous room. The people were amiable but the vibe was somewhat unsettling.
All of this was exacerbated by the fact that the DJ (“DJ Jade”) felt the need to showcase his beat-boxing skills between EACH and EVERY singer. Even when there was a line of wannabe singers a mile long. As a former karaoke DJ myself, I can affirm that this sort of self-aggrandizing behavior is obnoxious as fuck. However, Steve’s own beat-boxing skills were unrivaled by anyone in the bar, “Jade” included. (I swear Jade is either a contestant on the new “American Gladiators” or a part-time porn star.)
At this point, I’m not going to lie. The middle of the night is kind of a blur. So I now resort to copy/pasting Christy’s summation of chronological events here. It’s the most reliable account of the middle portion of the evening I have:
“- watching you sing with 2 guys in mechanical wheelchairs spin around in front of you.
– Lauren freaking out as she feared for your life when it looked like one of those guys. might be licking your ear.
– Lauren getting hit on while she’s trying to attend to said guy as he spewed blood all over himself 🙁
– Nurse Christy to the rescue.
– Song after song and US really getting the party started there. (You did “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Living on a Prayer,” and “Semi-Charmed Life.”)
– Lauren and I making bff’s with a pink haired cutie.
– Steve beat boxing with the douchebag DJ.
– That amazing voice on that big black guy who later told me he was in love with me (shhhh, don’t tell Steve, hahaha).” – Christy Sillman
Somewhere amidst this lineup of insanity I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. I stumbled past the bouncer who, for some reason, gave me an enthusiastic fist-bump and a hearty handshake. “Alright man,” he bellowed. “Way to show ‘em how to drop!” I had no clue what he was talking about.
I stepped aside a few feet, pulled out my iPhone, logged onto Facebook and tapped “I love life” into my status update. When I went to return the phone to my pocket I dropped it on the cement. I gasped. Picked it up. Spiderwebs of glass traversed the screen.
“I’ll teach you a lesson for considering throwing me out,” the iPhone chirped.
“We said, what are you doing out?” Lauren and Christy called from the doorway. I quickly shoved the traitorous phone in my pocket and re-entered the Twilight Zone.
We eventually left the karaoke bar and walked ten blocks (it felt like half of Los Angeles) to a pizza joint that was open late.
I scarfed a couple of large pieces of pepperoni pizza in nanoseconds and then stared longingly at the rest of the pie on the pan. Lauren may have sensed my un-satiated hunger, or she was simply aware of the fact that her driver could use as much bread and cheese as possible to sop up the remnants of alcohol in his bloodstream. Either way, she grabbed the last slice, slashed it in half, and tossed the larger portion onto my paper plate.
We soon made the epic excursion back to the car, running into the fist-bumping bouncer and the pink-haired cutie along the way. We said our farewells to them and some other stragglers and turned the corner to my car.
“Can I get my purse out of your trunk?” Lauren asked.
Easy enough. I clicked the trunk button on my plastic key. Nothing happened. I opened the car door, pressed the interior trunk button. Still nothing. I slid the key into the ignition. Click. Nothing. I slammed my forehead into the steering wheel and cursed.
I popped the hood. Steve and I began surveying the Mercedes’ innards for some semblance of a battery. It was like staring at the engine of an alien space ship.
Before too long a car full of guys who had been at the bar with us rolled alongside and offered their assistance. They had jumper cables but they too were flummoxed by the foreign design. “Sorry man,” one said, clapping me on the shoulder. And without they were off.
I pulled out my roadside assistance card and Christy read the phone number by the light of her un-cracked cell phone. The operator on the other line assured us they would get someone out there … within 45 minutes.
It was now 3:30 a.m.
Steve and I nodded off in the front seats and from what Christy told me later, the ladies had drunk dialed a friend in Northern California. I awoke to squeaking breaks and large halogen lamps.
“You might want to see how they do this,” Steve suggested. Realizing I could potentially appear quite manly by assisting the service driver I stepped out and watched him click one clamp to what appeared to be a thin plastic Lego. The other clamp he rested against a metal portion of the car. The ignition roared to life.
We dropped Christy and Steve off back at the hotel and made our return route – via the FUCKING 405 – to Orange County.
I rolled into town at nearly six a.m. The rising sun from the east was just beginning to light up the ocean with its faint rays.
The following morning – ahem – I mean at 1:30 p.m., I woke up and texted my NorCal friends the following message: “A broken iPhone and Mercedes in need of a jump start at 3 a.m. are mere reminders that the toys that come along for the ride aren’t worth shit compared to the amazing people you’re laughing life away with.”
And today my cell phone bill came in. Punk-ass is still angry about that whole GoogleMaps debacle.