We sat on the front porch and waited for Ethan. He was bringing the title to me. The air-conditioner units from all thee floors above spit down on us and for a few minutes I mistook it for rain. Jason, our neighbor, showed up first. He lives on the first floor. We usually know when Jason is at home because of the smell. Jason smokes more pot than any one person I have ever met. He smokes first thing in the morning, and then first thing upon arriving home. The guy is always high. Our conversations have ranged from 2 words all the way up to 17. We know very little about him and he knows nothing about us.
He walked up between us and unlocked the front door.
About five minutes later, the sweet smell began to waft from his air-conditioner which hung about 3 feet from above heads. I continued to be rained on by condensation. I have always enjoyed the smell of marijuana. It’s ten times better than cigarette smoke. But Jason takes excess to an excessive level.
“I wonder if people who live above bread bakers eventually grow tired of the smell of baking bread.”
“Hmmm. Don’t know. Dude didn’t even wait to put his keys down.”
We were buying a car. The idea excited me and made me feel uneasy. I felt sick to my stomach. I imagined a chorus of “I Told You Sos” coming at me from every angle and in every voice. This was such a waste of money.
Just when I was entering Level 7 of “I Hate Myself”, the door opened behind us. I must have been really deep in thought because I hadn’t noticed that Jason had put down the bowl.
“You guys just hangin’? Mind if I leave the door open while I run to the store?”
The store was directly across the street.
“Of course not.”
Toby and I watched him walk away.
“That guy is so fucking baked.”
And he was. He’s the only person I know who sounds completely drunk while high. I assumed it was the potency of the weed, but lately I was beginning to buy into a most concentrated form of stupidity, and should he choose to talk to us more while sober, we’d probably discover that his blissfulness might all be attributed to a thick, stupid fog.
“Dudes, you guys seem so, so, so pensive, so serious. Gettin’ things done. Waiting.”
Jason had returned. He carried something Hostess as well as a Coke.
“Nah, pensive isn’t the word.”
“Actually, pensive works just fine.”
“You OK? It’s like you’re about to make things happen. Organized. With your paperwork. Yeah. Ready.”
He laughed. Actually, he giggled. He giggled at himself. I love it when high people become their own laugh tracks. His self-created amusement trickled down on me like the droplets from air-conditioners.
“We’re fine. Just waiting on a friend.”
“OK. Cool. Good. Have fun.”
Ethan showed up at around my 7th mosquito bite. He was carrying a manila folder. He looked sweaty. I had the two blank checks sitting next to me on the stoop. I had a pen in one hand and the phone in the other. I had no idea who was planning on calling or who might call, even. But I was ready. I was ready to either write something or call someone.
Ethan and I discussed things. Toby chimed in from time to time regarding the NYC sales tax and how I was to finally get all the paperwork taken care of. There is so much to buying a used car. The last time I went through anything like this I lived in central Pennsylvania where buying a car was like buying a six-pack of beer. New York City doesn’t make anything easy. I really can’t think of anything “necessary” that comes easy. Everything you need takes time. And everything you need that takes time is often given with resistance. If there is any one thing I’d change about New York City it’d be the undertow of unnecessary bureaucracy. I’d cut through all the ugly red tape.
I wrote the checks out and handed them to Ethan. He signed over the title and we discussed meeting again to draw up a typed “Bill of Sale”.
“Let’s meet first thing tomorrow morning at Mama Bees. I can print it for you.”
“That sounds good. I’ll call you from…”
The door behind us opened again. Jason was standing there holding something large. It appeared to be a picture of some kind. It was covered with an old towel.
“Hey Jason. You heading out?”
“Nah. Gonna put this in my car. My friend is buying it. Won an auction.”
Ethan looked up at him. Jason was standing at the gate. Like Vana White or some other stoned gameshow host, he stood there ready to present it to us as one might a new work of art.
“Wanna see it? It’s really fucking cool.”
Suddenly, he stood up straight and pulled the towel off of the rectangular object. Before I knew what had come over me, hearty laughter began spewing from my face. It was a real laughter, one hadn’t experience in quite some time. It took me a few seconds to realize what I had just done could be seen as the rudest thing ever. I regained my composure immediately.
He proudly displayed the poster to us. It was an original screen print from an old Phish tour. The frame was wholly intricate. It was surrounded by gold leaf and wood. This poster was massive. And Jason was proud. And it’s a crying shame he fluffed up his feathers for such an ungrateful audience.
“You don’t even know…. You don’t even know…. expensive…. rare. You don’t even know….”
Had it been any darker, I may have mistaken the condensation droplets for tears. He walked towards his car. A mosquito bit my arm. I slapped it. Ethan and I continued our business, the business of buying the type of car that probably sustains more Phish stickers than any other make or model.