The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 111
Late September. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. My cousin had picked me up at 5AM in his brand new BMW SUV. Impressive. Impressively loaded with his shit: propane stove and lantern; a couple fully stocked coolers; four person tent; backpack and daypack; firewood; mountain bike: MacBook Air; two bottles of gin.
Everything I brought along was either in or attached to my backpack.
We hadn’t exactly parted as friends 19 years earlier. He and his wife had grown understandably tired, (well, sick and tired), of me living in their house, not enjoying their dogs, or not oggling over their latest material acquisition. Most annoyingly for me was them secretly—yeah, big secret—doing lines in the bathroom, then behaving like confrontational, pseudointellectuals on a late night TV talk show.
To simplify the scene: they were hooked on coke, gin martinis and Wheel of Fortune. I much preferred beer, Beavis and Butthead reruns on MTV. And since there were TVs in every room, I’d abandon them and their show, their shit, to go watch mine.
There was little eye contact and zero speaking between us near the end.
So why, I asked myself, had he invited me on this trip?
The answer, for me, was more an astonishing revelation than a campfire crackling, martini induced, momentary insight. It explained everything: his competitiveness, his explosive temper, his pathological desire to prove he was better, that he owned better stuff, that jam band music was better than ambient, on and on and on.
It went all the way back to the sudden death of my mother when I was 19; to my girlfriend, the floozy, suddenly leaving me in less discreet fashion; to my plans for Banff Art Institute having already gone up in smoke; to his parents, my aunt and uncle, deciding to open their home to me, this potentially suicidal kid.
Sure I was bummed, strange, lost, uninspired, grateful for their love, but it interrupted the love and attention Tim, my cousin, needed even more. They stole it from him and gave it to me.
An honorable mistake, but one Tim never recovered from.