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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
Cash, Grass Or Hash

This is exactly why I avoid the service industry, and its people. It's always some shit like this. Spanking each other, texting you their scrotum pictures, everybody's sleeping with each other, everybody is weird and angry and they smoke like constantly and their girlfriends all do yoga. I hate it because that much money at one time is just asking for a coke problem, but mostly I hate it because it is incomprehensible to me.

"All I want in a boyfriend is for him to smoke a lot of pot, smell like a lard patty at all times, seethe with constant vegetarian resentment, be in a band despite his lack of discernable talents of any kind, and a really striking belief-in-self that only increases by the beer, along with his weird homoerotic/homophobic comments. And if he should text me a picture of his scrotum at some point during the day, well, it's nice to know someone is thinking about you."

So note that today, Shawn's going to the park to find other mommies just like him, while Mike heads to the "Quad" to find somebody to bone, whereas the last time we paralleled them this way -- basically in a normal environment, basically before Mexico -- they were both trying to sleep with Nancy in different ways.

Shawn impresses the ladies with his Yippity! Dragon and some slick talk -- "I wanted thick tires with good tread, for all the rainy days we have" -- and they discuss how a similar one was Yippity-Ki-Yayed out from under their friend Savannah, presumably by "a bunch of crackheads." Shawn, because he is still strange, immediately spins them this tale about how Avi is "what happens when your school teaches abstinence-only," and that the baby mama is dead, having been blown up in Qahtaniya. Maybe he's on the make, maybe he's just riffing, he's such a freak you never know.

"We met when she was a senior and I was a freshman. My locker was next to hers. Then I went to summer school, and she went to war. I drank soda, and she..." They ask how he's doing it, and he admits that Nathalie helps. "She's a maid, and we live in a motel. Sometimes she drinks." All technically true, yes. "But you can't choose your family, right?" Not really true at all. They huddle around Shawn. He's not alone anymore.

He's not alone anymore. There's kids Mike's age all over the college, doing their thing, riding their fuckwad fixed-gears, hackey-sacking and downloading music and whatnot. Mike looks at all the talent with a voracity just shy of a Tex Avery hornball, then wistfully joins a Frisbee game and acts normal for the first time since like high school.

It's kind of sad -- that he will always be denied this life, or that he's been bent into such a funny shape that he would never fit into this life -- until you think about the facts, which are that he was a useless little shit until around the time his mother burned down their whole city for him and he lost everything he had. He didn't want to go to college; he did horrible things to deaf girls so they couldn't either. And then again, if they'd stayed with Esteban he could have gone to college like their sister, but he wasn't interested in that either because that was his Doug-crush/mini-Nancy/drug-dealer wannabe period.

He had to get strange and die and become a Newman in order to understand normalcy at all. So if you were to mourn for his childhood -- or any childhood, your childhood, my childhood -- and the shape it was supposed to take, it would only be clichés and the romance of things that never really would have happened at all, because they don't really happen to anybody. And if they do, they don't look like you expect. And if they do, they don't feel like you expect. In the end there's just you, wherever you are. Instead of feeling sad, in the sunlight, Mike just smiles and thinks about the future, for the first time.

Nathalie forgot to tell the jerkoff concierge that she was offering hash, so he's like, "What is this, the Gaza Strip?" and tries the stuff. "Fine, but roll the joints tighter. This is a classy hotel, presentation counts." Heh. There follows a sort of Ocean's Eleven bit in which, as the jerkoff concierge shows how it's going to work, we pass the time seeing it in action. He tells Nathalie he's put new rooms on her schedule, the guests leave money under their pillows, she brings him his cut at the end of his shift.

That makes me sooo nervous. You know what's way worse than going to your dealer's house and pretending to like him as a person? Giving your dealer the keys to your house. I don't know if you know this, but your house is where all your stuff is. A hotel room plays that same role, when you are on the go.

"Yeah, sure! Just leave the drugs on the bed and take only the money I have left for you. Or you can chill out if you want, we got Cinemax. Beer's in the fridge! Don't do anything drug dealers would customarily do! Just kidding, you're totally allowed to rob me. Because of my poor choices!"

Anyway, he says he wants 25% now because it was hash, not pot -- which I don't know at all about hash, something truly terrible, like "execution-style" terrible, happened to my friend's roommate in Costa Rica, so I don't believe in traveling -- and I don't know about the economy of scale there. Is it more expensive? Less so? I honestly thought hash was just pot + tobacco. That was a fact I made up in my mind and decided that it was available only in Costa Rica at a terrible price.

So he calls himself "the one going to a party tonight at Sir Mix-A-Lot's house," which is hilarious and sad, both, and Nathalie then is "the one who will be here cleaning semen stains" when he's gone. She gives a halfhearted "I'm doing this for my family" and he says his funniest line -- "Oh? I'm doing this for a jet ski" -- as he gets up out of a random suite's bubble bath and waggles nakedly around and heads out, big-buttward. "Clean up the room before you go!" he says. I bet he will come to a bad end, this kid. He is a little fucker.

Cesar and Ignacio are playing 20 Questions on the trip to Seattle, which I didn't really realize how far that was, because in Texas you get used to everything being really close together that is not in Texas. In Texas, going to another city is like going to another state, in the East. Or like going to another country in Europe. That blew my fucking mind when I was a little kid, that you could hop in the car in somewhere crazy like Spain and then before you're even sick of being on the road, you're in a totally other crazy country with different languages and foods and attitudes and faces.

Texas? Drive 300 miles under a big hot sun and you'll have traversed the world from Amarillo to Abilene.

Abilene and Amarillo, which are the same town, not just congruent but isomorphic, the same town in the same way that Scooby Doo keeps running by that same vase. You have gone nowhere, you are dusty and whining and for no reason, and with no notable result at all except you are that much closer to the hell that is Fort Worth.

So Doug is whining because they're playing 20 Questions in Spanish and he wants to play along, finally telling them if they want to know where he's got them headed they should guess. "Come on, I want to play. I'm good at games! I was on $25,000 Pyramid! But they never aired my episode because I tweaked Betty White's nipple. She's not as cool as everyone thinks."

(What will Betty White Backlash look like? Did we just skip that part? Can we? The Betty White Thing is just about as horrible to me as Old Spice Guy; somewhere above constant talking about bacon but well below the hated "THIS!" God, I hate that. If you don't have anything to say, fucking don't say anything. It's not a complicated concept.)

Doug, because if it's not about taints it's about clichés, starts telling the boys facts about him -- Threw javelin in college, sleeps with a body pillow, afraid of heights and leading a life of no significance, "My favorite movie is Cool Hand Luke but really it's Steel Magnolias," etc. -- and since it's obvious what he's doing, we don't need to discuss it further. Let's go back to the part where Ignacio goes, "You kill him, Esteban kills you. I move up." That part has promise. I believe in Ignacio.

Randy's talking about the art of apprenticeship, I guess in the pursuit of explaining this storyline, or maybe just justifying his Spanking Machine experience. "Watchmaking. Cobbling. Ninja ... ing. The mysterious lessons. Frustration. Montages. And then, just as the pupil is about to give up... Oh! The teachings coalesce. The hierarchy is challenged. Student surpasses the master!"

After that pretty good little fugue, Randy works on his celebuchef catchphrase, focusing on "Ooh! That's almost too good!": "With... you go up on the too: 'Too good!'" Bored of other people's accomplishments and still stinging from her young son's accusations of bad drug dealering, Nathalie sort of desperately goes on and on at length about how great she was at selling hash today. Nobody really cares. She says she deserves an Eagle Scout badge, but Randy just reminds her those are for boys.

She tries to give everybody the chocolates she emptied out of the chocolate boxes to hide the hash, but everybody wants money. Shawn wants more "contrast toys" for Avi, who I guess is at that part, and his lady friends all have "teething necklaces," and nobody even wonders why he only hangs with mommies now. "You did receive money for selling your drugs today, right?" (How did Shawn become the best one?) The other boys line up as well; Mike says he's auditing a class and his mother doesn't believe him.

Later, Miss Jeanette has discovered Nathalie's laundry machine/hash maker, in which the hash has somehow gone rogue. N

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