“And he puts his cocaine in the microwave. I mean, who does that?” Los Angeles, Los Angeles. It’s such a ridiculously stupid city. People would rather spend hours in traffic than get behind some kind of comfortable and effective public transportation scheme. And I am one of these people. I am one of these people sitting at a table in an Ethiopian restaurant hearing about the exploits of an entertainer with a $500-a-day cocaine habit. “There were lines going everywhere. I mean here, there, on everything.”
I like stories like this because it makes me feel as if I am rather normal, like I’ve made out okay in the stinky stanky tarpits of life. I’ve never even done lines. I credit Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Do It),” but also just the idea of doing an expensive, addictive, and often life-threatening drug doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like heroin. Let’s count the casualties. And this is something you will pay to do?
Hell yes. South of the border a drug war is ongoing. In fact, it’s now referred to as The Drug War, so as not to be confused with the War on Drugs. As it was explained to me at the Ethiopian restaurant, the armies of the drug lords are stronger and more effective than those at the disposal of the central government. The enemies are carved into pieces. When they recently found a human head in a plastic bag near the HOLLYWOOD sign, it was thought at first to be related to Mexico’s drug war, though it’s more likely some local out to get national attention (and they all are). Should demand for Mexico’s wares diminish in the Estados Unidos, the revenue base of the drug lords would similarly decline. But until then, more heads and hands and feet, more entertainers with $500-a-day cocaine habits, more traffic.
The Ethiopians eat with their hands. Their beer isn’t half bad either. Better than Saku, not as good as A. Le Coq, easier on the gut than those jars of brown stuff the Setos sell from the back of their cars during the Setokuningriigi Päevad. One downside to knowledge of the Estonian tongue is the inability to speak about Estonia without using Estonian words or expressions. Like Setokuningriigi Päevad. It translates as “Seto Kingdom Days.” But that just sounds clumsy and awkward. How else could you say it? “Days of the Seto Kingdom”? Just as bad. How about Viljandi Paadimees, the “Viljandi Boatman.” That also sounds odd to my ears. And it doesn’t matter how you translate it, because Seto Kingdom Days and Viljandi Boatman don’t mean anything to anyone outside of Estonia because nearly all people on Earth are unaware of the existence of the Seto people, let alone their kingdom, and they have never heard of Viljandi, and therefore are completely ignorant of its mystical Boatman!
They do know about Kaksteist Kuud. This means “twelve months” in Estonian, but is interpreted by English-speaking ears as “cocks taste good.” Everyone knows about Kaksteist Kuud. Go to some small Polynesian island and raise the blue black and white flag of the Estonian republic and you’ll see the little naked children throng the shores shouting out, “Kaksteist kuud! Kaksteist kuud!” They’ve all seen the YouTube clip where the smarmy backpackers get pretty Estonian girls to say it over and over again.
Listen, even at the lowest points of my sad and alcoholic pre-marital life I did not stoop to the levels of these YouTube clip-uploading cafoni. Cafone is a southern Italian dialect word. It means a disreputable or ill-mannered person. I was once called this by an older person when as a teenager I ordered three hamburgers at lunch. But now I am calling you all out. It’s time to let it go. Just as MTV retired “Ice Ice Baby,” it’s time to retire Kaksteist kuud.
But you know they won’t let it go. No one will. Our friend recently was injured in Viljandi. She was walking down the street when someone dropped a couch on her head from a second-floor window. Just a minor concussion. But still! Our friend was hit in the head by a couch. I don’t know why some part of me still believes life could be some other more rational or sane way. Couches falling from the sky. Microwaved cocaine. Kaksteist kuud. When the plane landed in New York it was snowing. Our driver was an old man, half my height. We listened to Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra all the way home. “Papa loves mambo, Mama loves mambo …”
People keep inviting me to all kinds of events. One journalist wants to interview me about jealousy in relationships. Someone wants me to give a presentation at an assembly of Estonian teachers on the local education system. Sometimes I would just like to scrap it all and start playing João Gilberto tunes in some club somewhere. Or even Dean Martin. I could sing like Dean Martin. At this point, why not? In a way, it makes perfect sense.