By Alan Johnson
“Russell just posted a photo of himself kissing the Blarney Stone,” said Logan.
I looked up the photo on my phone. Russell was smiling as Das and Will lowered him down to the bottom of the Blarney Stone. They were tickling him, causing him to thrash around, which made the photo blurry. It had 97 likes. It was a good photo.
“You know, the locals pee on that same stone. He’s kissing dried piss,” I said.
We were supposed to be on that trip, kissing urine soaked rocks and racking up the Facebook likes from distant acquaintances. After all, that’s what everybody from Greenhill, our prep school, did in the summer before college. Drink some legal beers, take some photos, and go to a prestigious college in the fall.
“It looks like fun,” said Logan, taking the weed out of the baggie and placing it in the grinder.
It did look like fun, but it wasn’t for us. Despite being accepted to numerous institutes of higher education, we told our parents that we weren’t going to college. Our parents said, “No, you guys are going to college,” which, understandably, bummed us out. After threatening to live in an Amsterdam hostel for the rest of our lives, they cancelled our European backpacking trip and made us a deal: If we could find careers in the three months before classes started, we didn’t have to go to college. If we failed, we get a degree and never bring this up again. It was a sweet deal.
“We need to find jobs tomorrow. If we get nothing else done, we at least need to find jobs,” I said.
Our parents set us up with an expensive apartment in Glad Acres, the nicest apartment building in downtown Dallas, paying for facilities and furniture except for a second bed. My parents gave me money to buy a bed, but we decided to put it towards buying this expensive medicinal marijuana from California, from this guy Logan knew. We agreed to sleep in the same bed, head to feet, for the greater good.
“I, for one, would like to abuse my lungs,” said Logan, lighting the joint. He took a deep drag before offering it to me.
“Tomorrow, we’re getting jobs,” I said, grabbing the joint.
The next day, we didn’t get jobs. We didn’t leave the apartment. Logan found a bunch of old Jeopardy episodes online and we marveled at Alex Trebek’s mustache for a few hours. We both decided that watching Jeopardy would become a regular occurrence in our household. It was going to be our education. This was a college episode, with contestants from Auburn, Wisconsin, and Georgetown.
“He was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States and not a British subject,” asked Trebek.
“James Madison,” said Logan.
“Who is Martin Van Buren?” answered Mr. Georgetown.
“Right,” said Trebek.
“That was my second guess,” muttered Logan.
I didn’t feel bad about not going job hunting. It was a Tuesday. Nothing happened on a Tuesday. Rome wasn’t built in a day and, if it were, it wouldn’t have been on a Tuesday. Besides, Logan brought his weenie dog, Earl, to the apartment and Earl was a certifiable chiller. After Logan begged them for weeks, his parents decided to let Earl stay with us for the summer.
“Yo, Earl dawg, come on over,” I said, while grabbing the already rolled joint. Present me loved past me’s forethought. Once he saw the joint, Earl came running over, almost falling over his little legs, which made me laugh pretty hard.
“Doggy want a little weed smoke?” I barely got the words out, before Earl jumped on top of me and began licking my face. I pushed Earl off, lit the joint, and took three big hits, blowing it all in Earl’s face. Earl slowly walked away and rested on his side.
“Earl is the biggest goddamn lightweight,” I said to Logan. He stopped watching Jeopardy.
“Do you think he likes getting high?” asked Logan.
“Dude, he jumped all over me to get that joint. Earl is a veritable pothead.”
“Yeah, but then he just passes out. He might just be really stupid and forgets that he hates it.”
This was beginning to bum me out.
“We need to get jobs,” I said.
A few weeks later, I got a job at Dominos, slinging pizzas for minimum wage and tips. A far cry from Europe, but it had a perk or two. I hung out in my 2012 Mercedes all day, listening to my three CDs: Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap, and a mixtape I curated of the best hip-hop beats on YouTube. I hate to admit it, but I listened to that last CD the most. I’d pop it in when I had a delivery and start free styling over it. I mostly rapped about how big my penis was and, conversely, how small other penises were, but sometimes I’d rap about real stuff. I’d rap about my parents. About Greenhill. About every girl I’ve ever loved. But, yeah, mostly about my penis. Besides that, there wasn’t much glamour in the minimum wage lifestyle.
After work, Logan and I would sit on our bed, share a joint, and split a case of Keystone Light, the official beer of the underemployed. We talked a lot about becoming commercial fisherman, but that meant moving closer to the Gulf and we didn’t know anything about over there. Plus, we didn’t know much about fishing, but we thought we could pick it up, if need be. We talked a lot about doing different jobs.
“We could become directors, man,” Logan said, after taking a hit of the joint.
“Directors? Like movies?” I said.
“Yeah! I could totally direct movies! I could be a genius at directing movies.” Logan got off the bed and started pacing around.
“I don’t know, man.”
“Think about it. If you take the average person with the average sensibility and compare it my shit, I’m way more interesting and better. I could be the next Kubrick! Or at lease the next Spielberg.”
I was silent.
“What do you think?” Logan asked.
“I don’t know, man,” I said.
“What don’t you know?”
I took a deep breath.
“I don’t know, because I don’t know anything about becoming a director. Do you know anything? Have you ever made a movie? I haven’t, and I don’t know anything about it. Maybe, you could do it, but I just don’t know. Now, pass the joint.”
Logan gave me the joint.
“I could totally make movies, man.”
For the Fourth of July, Logan went to Cape Cod with his family, so I went to a friend’s lake house. I say friend, but really we were just both in town, which seemed to be the most important aspect in friendship these days. The whole party was full of kids who knew each other from one class or used to play baseball together in 5th grade, but we all had one thing in common: We were the dregs of private school Dallas.
That’s why I was surprised to see Nicole Daniels there. She used to be my next-door neighbor and we always carpooled to school. She was the type of girl that people would call nice and kind or kind and nice but I always dug spending time with her. She was an NYU girl and NYU girls usually had better places to be than here.
“Nick! How are you?” We hugged.
“I’m good, I’m good. You want to chill for a bit?”
“Yeah, sure. What do you want to do?”
We smoked in my car. College had been good to Nicole. She had a different aura to her, like she was more mature, more mysterious. We shot the shit for a while.
“You seeing any dudes in that big city?” I asked. Nicole smiled at me.
“Actually…yeah, I’m seeing this one guy.”
“That’s awesome! How is that going?”
“It’s good! You actually might know him.”
“I doubt it. I don’t really know anyone from New York.” Nicole smiled once again.
“Well…he’s Gabe Day-Lewis. Like the son of Daniel.”
“Like the dude who played Lincoln?”
“What the fuck? How did you meet?”
“Well…he was visiting a friend at NYU and we were doing coke and one thing kind of led to another.”
I paused for a moment.
“You do cocaine?”
I got back from the party and started thinking about Earl. He hadn’t been enjoying our living arrangement. I was beginning to think blowing weed smoke in his face everyday wasn’t the proper way to treat a dog. We didn’t treat Earl well at all. We forgot to feed him all the time, never took him out for walks, and never played with him. All he did all day was stare out the window. This was bullshit.
“Earl, my dawg, my friend. Want to get out of here?” Earl’s ears perked up at the attention. I opened the front door. “Then get out of here.” Earl walked out and I closed the door. He was in a better place.
The next day, Logan came home, Earl in tow. “Dude, how did Earl get out of the apartment? They had him at the front desk, waiting for someone to claim him. They found him in our hallway, shitting everywhere. We have to pay for the fucking cleaning bill,” he said.
“I let him out,” I said.
“On purpose? What the fuck, man? He could have run away.”
“That was the idea.”
“The fuck is wrong with you? I go to Cape Cod for the weekend and you let my dog go?”
“Nicole is dating Daniel Day-Lewis’ son,” I blurted out.
“What? Nicole Daniels?”
“Yeah, and I want do that too and I don’t think I can do it here.”
There was silence for a moment.
“You want to date Daniel Day-Lewis’ son?”
“No, no, no, but you know what I mean. I want to do stuff like that.”
Logan started laughing.“I mean, I don’t know Meryl Streep but we can see if her daughter would be interested.”
“Fuck off, Logan.” I went over to the bedroom and sat on the bed. We still only had one bed. One bed, but great weed. Logan started watching Jeopardy again.
“His ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ is considered by many to be the world’s first detective story.”
“Arthur Conan Doyle,” said Logan.
“Who is Edgar Allen Poe?”
I looked at Earl. He was back at the window, staring at the blue sky. He wanted to go home.I wanted to go home, too.
The next day I quit my Dominos job. I thought I’d have to put it in my two weeks or something, but no, they were accustomed to people quitting pretty regularly. I guessed it had something to do with the lack of benefits, upward mobility, and the abundance of fake mozzarella cheese.
On my way home, I started a dope freestyle. “Former boy wonder like Wikipedia Brown/But I’m still in charge cuz I’m wearing the crown.” It was a pretty good couplet. I didn’t know if it was the medicinal weed or all the Dominos pizza I had been eating, but I was hitting a creative peak. And that’s when it hit me.
I rushed home to find Logan sitting on the couch.
“Yo, you didn’t find a job yet, did you?”
“Uh…well…nah,” replied Logan.
“Good, because we’re going to need as much time as we can get,” I said.
“For our rap album.”
We decided on Glad Acres 315 as the title of the album. It was the name of our building and the number of our room, but it also sounded like it could be somewhere dangerous and would give us much needed street cred in this oversaturated market. We also picked rap names. I was White Plague, a play on the pandemic and my ethnicity, while Logan was Yung Raspberry, for self-explanatory reasons.
To buy all of the recording equipment, we told our parents that we needed money to buy suits for job interviews, even though there were none of those on the docket for the rest of the summer. Neither one of us had made beats, so we culled the depths of YouTube every day, finding beats that were both “ill” and “fresh” to rap over. Eventually, we found twelve beats that fit our criteria and we just started rapping.
We rapped for hours at a time, only stopping to smoke and sometimes not even stopping for that. We even let Earl get a couple of barks on a few tracks. He appreciated the attention and the opportunity we gave him to drop some of his knowledge. I learned a lot about Logan that I didn’t know. For one, he apparently had a large penis. But also, he wasn’t really digging our living situation either. “I wish I could just go back to prom/I really miss you mom/I miss you dad/This whole thing was just a dumb fad.” It wasn’t going to make the album, because it was a pretty terrible construction of words, but it was very revealing. I kind of thought Logan was still pretty happy.
On the last day of our lease, we finished the album. We had both put our deposits down for college and were leaving in a few days, not giving us enough time to devise a marketing strategy for a release, so we just made copies for each other. It was pretty good for two guys with minimal flow and life experience. We reflected on our success over a joint.
“You’re a pretty good rapper, man,” said Logan.
“Hey, you’re not so bad yourself,” I said, exhaling the smoke.
“So, I guess this is it, huh?”
We sat in silence for a few moments, just passing the joint.
“Yeah, I suppose so,” I said.
I packed my bags and loaded them into the trunk of my car. We said our goodbyes and I drove home. On the highway, I rolled down my windows, put on Glad Acres 315, and turned the volume as high as it could go. I started rapping along, even barking during Earl’s verses. I got a lot of looks, but I didn’t care. It was a good album.