That Shakubuku That You Do

If you have not yet seen the John Cusack staple, “Grosse Pointe Blank,” you need to. I won’t even go in to all the reasons why. Or the fact that they shot basically 3 different versions of the film and mixed the best scenes from all three versions for the final version we have.  Just trust me on this-you need to see this movie. And by “need to see this movie” I mean this. If you truly want to understand the way my mind processes some of the existential shit that I throw my way, you need to see this movie (see also “Say Anything,” “High Fidelity,” and “The Matrix.”).

OK.  Just bookmark this page, take about 107 minutes out of your life and see the movie. I’ll wait.

Cool. Welcome back.  SEE?!?!? RIGHT??  I know. It’s ok. You didn’t know, but now you do.

Alright. There’s a scene in Grosse Pointe Blank that pretty much mirrors what happened to me 2 nights ago. You see, I was a hit man and I was going back to my high school reunion.

No. Wait. That’s not right.

Oh, I was going out for beers with one of my super awesome friends that I had known since high school. THAT was it.

I’m going to pause here and let you know that I drank a lot on Tuesday night. The way it was presented to me was that it would be ‘going out for a few beers with Skaggs. It’ll be an early night.’

It was not an early night.

If my Irish Math is correct it was 10 or something pints. Which, if you’re converting from the metric system (as you do), it wound up being a fuckton of beer. Way more than necessary for a ‘few beers/early night’ scenario.

Honestly, though, the way the night was going it pretty much had to go the way it did.

I said as much on the recording I made at 1:30AM (AFTER the early night/few beers situation). I talked in to a digital recorder for 30+ minutes after Elijah brought me home because I wasn’t really in a state to sit at a keyboard and watch letters pop on to the field of white, but by the same token I didn’t want to forget any of the awesomeness either. So, I talked to the recorder (which basically translated to my neighbors as the ‘crazy dude in Apartment 2 talking to himself…again!).

So, back to the story.

The title of this post was almost “That’s Not Appropriate, Gary” based on how the night started.
And I have to be honest here, I really wasn’t sure what the hell was going to happen based on the first Uber ride to kick off the evening.

Rachel texted me and said “Gary. Silver Accord. Three Minutes.”  Standing on the corner 2 minutes and 43 seconds later (looking dapper AF, I might add, in my Save Ferris shirt), I see a silver Honda Accord zoom by and turn in the alley PAST my drive.

“Must be Gary,” I thought.

It was.

7 minutes later, Gary got it together and came back around. And waited IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET for me to get in to his car. Thankfully it wasn’t a Fourth Friday or we’d be talking about Gary in the past tense.  Well, I mean, I guess I kind of am. But you know what I mean. I mean he’d be dead. People don’t play on Fourth Friday in Uptown.

So…we’re on our way…and I’m giving Gary some alternate routing that will make his life easier.

He’s doing the standard chit chat. I’m doing the standard being polite but wishing he’d shut the fuck up. I find out he’s retired. He golfs. I’m like his 9th Uber passenger or some shit like that. WAY more than I really EVER need to know about any Uber drive (or so I thought).

And then he drops the bomb mack daddy Fat Boy of all conversation openers.

“So.  Has anyone tried to kill you?”


I had to pause a beat to make sure I heard the question, correctly. Apparently I did.  But I didn’t answer. And Gary just let that question hang in the air like a fart at a funeral.

As I’m giving my nervous chuckle followed by the “well…not that I know of. I mean, not lately. Why do you ask?” I have all sorts of questions going through my head such as:

  • Why the fuck would you think that’s a good conversation started with a stranger??
  • Oh my god. Am I going to die in an Uber and become some bullshit cautionary tale that no one will ever read because it will be some HuffPost click bait thing with an overly dramatic headline like “Just When You Thought Uber Safer Than Lyft – You’ll Never Guess What Happened!!” ??
  • Gary, please for the love of God say something. I don’t want to die in the back of a silver Honda Accord with an empty box of tissues and an Buckeyes hat. That is NOT how I’m supposed to go out.
After an eternity, he continues. Apparently one of his other passengers had a wife who tried to poison him with anti-freeze. Gary is loving telling me this story and I’m still kind of freaking out. Thankfully I’m pretty sure Gary couldn’t find my house again.  
The other reason I thought I was going to die in that ride (other than the very basic question which practically implies impending doom), was the fact that Gary did NOT have his cell phone mounted. He was holding it. Which meant he kept looking down.  I really didn’t want to die in a silver Accord, but so many things just added up to this being my last Uber ride ever. Probably my last anything ever.
Turns out it wasn’t. I made it. But damn…I thought it was touch and go there for a while.
I’m going to spare you the play by play of the evening. There were beers. There were apps. There was Keno (and there were Keno winnings). There was catching up about what was going on in each other lives. There was chatter about a couple of upcoming books I’m working on.  And there were beers.
Lots of beers. I might have said that. And then there were more beers.
As the night wore on, some of the regulars came in and out. And there was a big buff dude at the end of the bar. Looked like The Rock, Jr. No joke. And (I know this is going to sound weird), but he smelled good. My first thought was,  “damn he smells good. I wonder what that fragrance is and if it would smell that good on me (because, you know, chemistry).” 
My second thought was…Son of a bitch. I know him.
So, never being bashful after a few beverages, I asked him. Well. I told him. “You look familiar.”  
He said that he got that a lot.  And then he asked me my name. And I told him.  He lost his shit.
And I lost mine because I knew I knew that dude! And I did. Steve Ferrell. In the hizzous. 
There were some crazy conversations as we caught up.  And things fell in to place. 
And in the back of my mind for what was easily the 7th or 8th time that night I thought to myself, “There are no coincidences.”  I am not going to go in the depths of the conversations, because it’s not my story to tell. But suffice it to say, neither of us were the same dudes we were in high school. 
Somehow we got to talking about how I didn’t drink or do any illicit substances in high school. And I recounted the story of my first Senior Football party. I was a freshman, but I was invited because I was the athletic trainer and a couple of the upper classmen took me under their wing. We’re at this party and someone offers me a beer. I decline. They offer again. I decline again. The peer pressure starts. Then, Todd Huber puts his arm around my shoulder and looks the dude offering and says, “Skaggs said he didn’t want it. Leave him alone.”
It was one of those defining moments for me. I don’t know if he caught shit for it or not. Hell, I don’t know if he even remembers it. But I’ll never forget that. 
Steve asked me if I ever told him. I told him I never did. I said, ‘that was my moment. I have no idea if it was his or not.’
And Steve said the most profound thing to me…”What if he needs to hear it? To know he made that kind of an impact in another person’s life? Life’s all about ebb and flow. And sometimes you need that positivity when it’s on the ebb.”
Blew my mind.
We also shared some similar issues with our cardio-vascular engine.  Other things that were just too wild to be a coincidence. 
And then the night was winding down.   More beers with Rachel and her dude at her place before the Uber was called to pick me up to go home.
A black Suburban pulls up and I’m thinking, “Now, if I’m going to die in any kind of vehicle, it’s definitely going to be a black Suburban.”
Elijah introduced himself.  A box of pens and a Foo Fighters album went in the back seat. I climbed in the front.
As if there were not already enough moments of pure shakubuku this evening, the ride home with Elijah sucker punched me right in my third eye. 
He found out I was a writer (because I told him). His fiancé is a writer.  He’s a musician.  He’s the #3 Uber Driver in the city. We talked about Gary. He agreed that you should NEVER have a murder conversation as part of an Uber ride.  And then we talked about universal consciousness.
You know, that thing that I’ll spend hours talking about with anyone? That thing where I fully believe we are, each of us, the creator experiencing its creation. Yeah. That thing.
I told him that in this lifetime my mission was to be creative. And through that expression of creativity, inspire others to be creative and to find their creative centers (because I fully believe we all have them).
THAT was the 1-2 punch from the universe.  The whole night, the universe was peeling back the curtain and daring me to keep looking.  And by the end of the night I was fully convinced beyond a shadow that this is just a construct. It’s a cosmic diorama made with our mom’s Naturalizers shoe box and shitty construction paper and a pair of left-handed scissors that we grab by mistake because we’re not paying attention.
I am still kind of in a daze. I had to wait a day to make sure that his was a true daze and not just me being hungover.  I mean, I think I am still a little hungover, but it’s not from the alcohol.
It’s from drinking from the deep chalice of gratitude that the universe has been holding out this whole time for anyone who would stop and drink.

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