Introductory Disclaimer: This is a collaborative short story written, drawing on themes from realistic fiction. This short story does not claim to be teaching a lesson of morality, however if you happen to learn something during the course of reading this expose into the banality of existence, then you are probably reading very far into the message of the short story. The main characters in this story are composite characters named Sloth, Hippie, Whale, and of course Monkey. (Monkey in this case does not have a derogatory racial overtone, if you perceive that meaning of the word, then please stop that, and redefine Monkey to the popular slang meaning, “a computer code monkey”.) None of these names has any real meaning in reality, other than being overly generalized exaggerated character descriptions to help the reader keep track of the story. I would have numbered the characters, but Gus contends that is a bad way to write stories.
Chapter One: The Memorial Day Barbeque
This story starts at an average, run of the mill Memorial Day barbeque, at an apartment in a relaxed Midwestern college town. Nothing could be as harmless, friends getting together and celebrating a national holiday with a few alcoholic beverages while standing around the grill. I am one of those people who likes to bring different groups of people together. It is not coincidence, that on Memorial Day a few friends changed the life of a few old friends forever. Most of the time I wish this was a fictional story, but otherwise I simply pretend that it did not happen. Most of the names in this story are fiction in an effort to protect the guilty from reality.
We were sitting outside on the balcony of a third floor apartment, talking around the grill, when Courtney started talking about how we should be careful not to introduce the Sloth to the Hippie. Evidently, the Hippie was on the prowl looking for a very particular set of qualities that represent the exact value necessary to be enticing. In the midst of conversing about the long-term consequences of United States foreign policy, such as arrangements of inaction and protest, we somehow lost track of the Hippie for a few minutes. One of the people at the party looked through the window to see that the Hippie had joined the sloth on the chesterfield.
This was not the first time, in which the two of them would make a mistake, however today someone had mistakenly found the Sloth. This was the first time that the Sloth had met a new friend without any effort. Some of us from time to time refer to this as the highlight of a young Sloth’s life. Probably a fundamentally life validating moment for an individual who spends so much time in the same place that the chesterfield has a permanent imprint. Of course, things did not turn out perfectly after that. The Hippie forgot to leave a phone number and so several weeks of talking about various things went by before the Sloth got the number and made the phone call.
I have to give you a little background about the Sloth. If you have ever had a truly lazy roommate, then you are starting to get the picture about the Sloth. For example, I have left Lawrence to drive to Kansas City, and came back several days later and the Sloth was still laying on the Chesterfield in the exact same position as when I left for the city.
The most shocking part of the part was when they suddenly best friends. Going everywhere and doing everything together; even going as far as signing up for the same classes, geology, and geography. Maybe all of this studying where rocks are on maps contributed to some serious miscalculations in judgment. Soon enough they were spending more and more time together. It was a very strange scenario, because people had to remember to invite both of them to parties. People were not ready for them to have a relationship and honestly, “Who would have ever guessed?”
Chapter Two: Tests and Relationships
If you could not guess from the title of this chapter that this story is about to change directions, then perhaps I have not tipped my hat. This is a chapter about change, and about how relationships change. People experience influence from serious life events, and when those life events involve a relationship things can change very quickly. Relationships begin and end for all sorts of different reasons, and sometimes you can learn a fair amount of information about people by listening to stories about relationship ending events.
Some things just destabilized relationships. One of those things is definitely a pregnancy test. A symbol of permanence that definitively changes two lives forever. The strangest of best friends received an extreme reality test. Of course, I called Courtney immediately to attempt to figure out how to deal with the shock of finding a pregnancy test. I had never really thought about the two of them having children, and honestly, I did not really want to know. Neither the Sloth nor the Hippie ever really talked about the results, but things were never really the same after that.
It was only a matter of time before the Sloth tried to create some distance between the two of them. The Sloth has an exceptional fear of commitment that extends beyond just having to do physical activity. A little later, the big breakup fight happened at the apartment. For some reason the Sloth wanted to borrow an Oceanography book, and at the same time thought that, it was time to end the relationship. The strangest part of the whole situation is that both of them insisted for months that they were not in a relationship. I called them the quasi couple for months. The Hippie came over to the apartment and started to have conflict with the Sloth, which somehow turned into the Hippie’s foot under the door. Then all of a sudden, the Sloth was trying to open the window and pitch the Hippie’s stuff out of the window, the whole time a foot was under the door.
This is when the idea of the Sloth being worth thirty dollars came into being. The Hippie wanted to, be made complete again, from all of the time invested in the relationship. Even getting to the point of asking the Sloth for a leather jacket or some article of Fraternity clothing, and then moving to financial compensation changing the way I viewed the relationship. It turns out that about nine months of time with the Sloth as a value of about thirty dollars. For some reason at this moment in time, the Sloth starts talking about calling the police and reporting a disturbance. Sloth was even going as far as talking about potential drug charges. The evening ended with the Hippie leaving the apartment in a fit or rage, things found no resolution, and conflict was everywhere.
Chapter Three: A Night on Massachusetts Street
The Sloth is legendary for going out on the town and picking up a certain variety of individual. Of course, this is about more than just drinking it is about going out to get drunk. This is about a night on Massachusetts Street. Ironically, this is not a story about the Sloth’s ability to drink a pitcher of been in one fluid motion.
Somehow, I got a call from a friend who was driving down Massachusetts Street and witnessed a very odd occurrence. The Sloth somehow ran into the Whale. Now I am talking about a very strange individual, who told me three things: (1) that I would be a failure in everything I did in my life, (2) that I am one of the dumbest individuals ever, (3) I am a drain on everybody that I meet in life. Now keep in mind all of this happened before I ever managed to say a word.
I have to drive them both home with them in the back seat the entire time just making out. Think about it in terms of sounds that still haunt my dreams. One of these days I will be able to tell the Sloth about how terrible an evening this actually was. It was the beginning of a new direction for the Sloth and the Hippie.
Two competing versions of what happened that unfaithful night. Sloth contended for the longest time that this was a one-night stand and that it was part of a much larger smoke screen designed to convince the Hippie that the Sloth was a terrible individual. Personally, I do not think that the Sloth is a terrible person, simply misguided, and of course a little self-centered in a purely lazy way. For those of you reading along on the home version, I cannot exaggerate or overemphasis the degree of laziness embodied by the Sloth. I once came up with a title for the Sloth’s autobiography, “A two toed Sloth, living in a three toed world.” This is probably the most accurate title I have ever come up with in my years of writing. That however is another set of stories for another day. Perhaps a rainy day, because it is a very long set of stories, for a person who really is very inactive.
Chapter Four: The Graduation Party
Like all normal college students who manage to graduate, it is about time to have a graduate party and invite everybody to have a few drinks. It was at a joint graduate party between three friends from very different backgrounds ranging from Aerospace Engineering to Communications Studies. We rented out a large upstairs room at Johnny’s Tavern a drinking landmark in a city of college students. At Johnny’s Tavern, the “UP & UNDER” room is one of those places that might be legendary for VIP parties, depending on who you ask, and how many drugs they have consumed.
Partly because of the rotation of the crowd to the bar to get beer, and probably a little bit to do with fate at some point the Whale ends up meeting the Hippie. At first, they were civil to each other, because they really did not understand the full extent to the connection they would one day share. Soon after a little conversation and probably too much drinking, the drama really starts to begin. Something about college graduation and free beers always seems to contribute to those now is the time moments when people engage in very private conversations, very publicly.
At this point, the Sloth spends the entire evening hitting on the Whale. I am talking about standing in the corner of the bar together simply making small talks, laughing, and attempting to enjoy the evening. Who knew that in the middle of the Sloth hitting on the Whale the Hippie would find a moment to sit on his lap and start some serious making out? Then the Hippie told the Whale that they had engaged in activities between the sheets a couple days earlier. For some strange reason this did not slow the Whale down at all and of for some reason they may or may not have ended up back at the apartment again.
The Sloth even walked up to a friend David, who would one day in the future break a very legendary streak, and said some very terrible things, about being or out of a relationship. Things were said, and I seem to remember something like, “It is just wrong for you to toy, with David’s emotions, get in or get out!” Who knew the benevolent agenda of America’s favorite Sloth, would be so different in rhetorical theory.
Some people say that this was all a big setup and that this whole thing was misdirection. Who knows what really happened? I have talked to most of the people involved in that evening, but I am afraid that I was not sober enough at the time to bring forward an accurate account of the evening. What I can say is that at one point my friend Blue had a friend of ours walk up and slap the Sloth in the face. This is funny because the friend of ours is one of the biggest coolers I have ever met in my life. (A cooler is an individual who is truly capable of removing every ounce of fun from a situation with a limited amount of effort). Even with people walking up to the Sloth and the Whale and saying things like, “I vote NO!” Nothing could have stopped those two from ending up together that evening.
Therefore, in case you were not paying attention. Two people engulfed in the conflict that they were creating at a graduation party caused conflict for everybody. Some people who knew the Sloth and the situation tried to resolve the situation through conversation and in one case even a massive slap to the Sloth’s face. Yeah, it was a very eventful evening, according to the scorecards, only the French judge disagreed, and has ruled that chapter four should have an amended title, “My Bastille Day.”
Chapter Five: A Birthday Yard Party
Some people enjoy celebrating birthdays more than others do. David had a birthday celebration that involved some seriously planning, invitations, drunken phone calls, and bar hopping. During the festivities, our friend Blue managed to invite out the Sloth who was previously not going to receive an invitation, because the Hippie is the chosen one for attendance at the birthday party event. Sometimes people have to take sides in arguments and after awhile, everybody seems to get used to the completely taking sides argument. At which point the Sloth was not winning on most scorecards.
In this case, the Sloth got an invitation from Blue, who was not fully aware of the different conflicts of interest. The Hippie had thrown drinks in the Sloth’s face throughout the city at different bars. We ended up at a bar called the Ranch. Blue and Sloth took turns buying David shots of Crown Royal Liquor all night. It turns out that the two things that David really hates are Crown Royal Liquor and pickles. If I could get a shot of Crown Royal with a pickle slice in it at a bar, then I would be able to see David in absolutely debilitating pain.
When the evening ended, the after party started at David’s apartment. Only conflict was that nobody invited the Sloth, because the Hippie was going to attend. I got a phone call then ended up in an argument about who was, “Being the Asshole.” It turned out that even though the Sloth was not invited an ultimatum, that if the Sloth showed up, the Hippie was going to start some serious conflict. Obviously, the Sloth could not help avoiding the conflict.
I left that party as fast as I possibly could. I found out later that a big fight occurred. Evidently, the Sloth sat out on the steps drinking for the longest time until everyone had left the party except the Hippie. Then all of a sudden in a fit of rage, the two of them started talking and in the middle of all the talking ended up rolling around in the front lawn punks, headlocks, and even some slapping occurred. It was not a good scene by any stretch of the imagination.
Without stating the obvious, repeatedly, “OVER & OVER” again in the end, the Sloth gained access to the less than distinguished title of ‘disavowed friend’. It is a sad day, when you have to pick one set of friends over another set of friends. I know that not everything stays the same, and that change is natural in relationships and friendships, but sudden change always seems to make me go a big rubbery one. I cannot help it I just get overly emotional, maybe my last little poor maligned feeling only cares about change!
Chapter Six: A Night of Dollar Drinks
Everything was going just fine. Everybody had come to grips with the reality that two friends in the group did not want to see each other. Sure, it was uncomfortable and caused some conflict from time to time. Something happened on a Wednesday night that had never happened before, the Whale’s boyfriend Monkey was out at the bar.
I made a prediction before I went home, that since the Monkey was rather large, somewhat pasty, and of course a little sloth like, I thought that the Hippie might just turn the tables on the Whale.
Little did I know that the story would come full circle? It turns out that after everyone was leaving the bar a few people decided they would have a little after hour’s party. Some people went and engaged in recreational activities at the Hippies house. The last person to leave was the Monkey. Evidently, the monkey wanted to engage in some recreational activities with the Hippie. While the Whale had allowed the Sloth’s aggressive pursuit at the Graduation party, the Hippie got the last laugh on dollar night.
The story actually diverged into two stories one in which, the Hippie had aggressively gone after the Monkey when everybody left the apartment in a very inappropriate way. A version of the story even went as far as quoting the Hippie as saying, “You know I am only doing this to get back at the Whale!” Since you are probably a rational coherent individual you probably know that the reason the Monkey went straight, back to the Whale to report what had happened was because, maybe it was only a matter of time before information dissemination would bring the story full circle. Sometimes self-reporting is the best option especially when you are a Monkey that is about to be in some serious trouble.
In the end, somebody has to write this down. Of course, only a collaborative short story written, drawing on themes from realistic fiction, could capture every angle and perhaps explain things through a holistic description of the details. It seems like only in the movies, do such strange spider webs of interpersonal relationships, develop from the pen of a writer. Fiction and reality are sometimes twins in the strange game of relationships.
Oh yeah, if you managed to learn some lesson of morality, through reading this story, then could you tell me what it is? I did not manage to learn anything during the course of writing this expose into the banality of existence. In all honestly, then again, ten minutes from now I will still be convincing myself that it did not happen.