zaps forwarded to @anita (100%)
Hunter S. Thompson and his Lawyer Oscar Acosta, Las Vegas, 1971
The events described below are mostly true. Names and locations have been altered in some cases to protect the identity of those involved. Assume any illegal actively is purely fictionalized
When I arrived at his house the Little Lebowski was sitting out on the back deck. It was noon, but there were already three empty Stella bottles lined up to his right with the labels partially peeled off. He was working on number four. I hoped he wasn’t driving us to lunch. My old college roommate, the Big Lebowski, came out through the back of the house and handed me a joint. I wondered why I agreed to meet these guys. I guess I assumed that things were different now that we were all senior citizens. Nope.
Their family and friends call them the Lebowski Brothers for obvious reasons, though neither one resembles Jeff Bridges. Big is tall, maybe six foot one or two. He’s got wide shoulders, with some muscle on him. He would be intimidating, except that he has the face of a gecko. An actual gecko. You know, goofy smile, bulging eyes. Big was a housemate of mine during our senior year in college. We all liked him, but he kept pretty much to himself. He was kind of a loner. I know what you’re thinking. No, he did not turn out to be a mass murderer as far as I know. I met Little briefly back then too. He crashed on our couch rent free for a while. During the day he pretended he was our father. He lectured us on the importance of a clean living environment. When the sun went down and the party started, we had to convince him that it was NOT a good idea to burn down the house. He is much shorter than his younger brother, with “the build of a welterweight”, as he liked to say. He claimed to have been some sort of boxing champion in the army. I don’t remember the details.
Big moved to Denver thirty years ago. He was back on Long Island to celebrate his brother’s 68th birthday. I make it a point to meet with old friends now that I’m retired, so I accepted this lunch invitation to relive younger days.
Little lived out in the Hamptons. I looked around the property. Pretty fancy place. I wondered how he could afford it. He is a retired Bronx public high school teacher and an avowed socialist. I doubted many of his fellow travelers were living like this. Big read my mind: “He got this house when he and his third wife divorced. Now he lives here with number four.” Little just sat there expressionless. Big explained that his financially successful ex-wives were more than willing to pay him off if he would just leave. Number four was on a business trip and wouldn’t get back home until tomorrow. Little now had a long beard and a ponytail, but he otherwise didn’t look that much different than when I knew him forty something years ago.
We brought each other up to date on our lives. More beers appeared. Another joint was passed around. I wondered when you get too old for this shit. I guess when you’re dead. Little was always a bit of a Don Quixote character. He told us that he wants to run for Congress and wanted political advice from me. Why me? I have no clue. I just nodded. Big was a Denver High School history teacher. He was in the process of retiring. He talked about his pension. The potent weed caused him to confuse some figures while discussing years of service calculations, but it didn’t matter. We weren’t paying attention.
Siggy’s Words of Enlightenment
Then they asked about me. I spouted my well rehearsed retirement story. When I was done, they looked glassy eyed and as uninterested in my story as I had been in theirs. There was a lull in the conversation. I had recently promised myself that I would try to orange pill everyone I met, but I thought it was completely pointless with these two. Still, I gave it a shot. I launched into my bitcoin pitch. Big rolled another joint and gave me an astonished look. “Siggy, no offense, man, but, like, I think you lost your fucking mind, man. That shit’s a scam, man.” Little was leaning over a little to his left and seemed more focused on maintaining his equilibrium than listening to us. I pressed on. I picked up steam. I was throwing out terms and connecting concepts left and right. Pristine asset. Scarcity. Decentralized network. Proof of work. You name it. They both turned to look at me. I was on a roll. The words flowed like fine wine. Slowly I got their attention. I started imagining myself as a more eloquent combination of Szabo, Antonopoulos, and Saylor. I was a legend in my own mind. I could feel the excitement at the table. It was working. I’m glad no recording exists of my little performance. I knew deep down that my monologue was incoherent, but they didn’t care. The marijuana was now talking. We were thinking as one. Or, more accurately, like three idiots. They shared my enthusiasm. They understood bitcoin. I pulled out my graphene pixel (now I’m bragging) and showed them my Phoenix wallet. I explained that I would treat them to lunch if we could only find a restaurant that accepted bitcoin. Little snapped to attention.
“My friend Bobby will take bitcoin, man. He’s got a seafood place right in town.” I was pretty surprised to hear this. He misunderstood my reaction. “Don’t back out man, you’re treating.” I assured him that I would happily pay for lunch if the restaurant accepted bitcoin. I was skeptical. “Are you sure he takes bitcoin?” “Look, man, I eat lunch there like twice a week. He’s my friend.” I still had my doubts, but it was worth a shot.
On The Road
Neal Cassady, 1960s
The brothers were energized. My bitcoin speech must have inspired them. Or, perhaps, it was the beer and weed. Little would drive us in his 20 year old Ford Explorer covered with bumper stickers supporting lefty causes. A side window was broken. There was also this brownish stuff caked onto the front windshield and wrapped around the wiper blades. Little saw me looking. “Yeah, fucking cop. He’s my neighbor. He thinks because he’s a cop he can play his music loud all night. The other neighbors are scared of him. I told him to turn down the music, man.” Apparently the offended neighbor has now made it a point to get revenge on Little. Every week or so his car is mysteriously damaged. Tires get slashed. Windows get broken. One morning he found a dead squirrel cut in half with the entrails smeared into the windshield wiper compartment. Little hadn’t fully cleaned it off yet. He plans to set up surveillance cameras to catch the cop in the act. Someday.
I was so distracted by my orange pilling success that I never considered the wisdom of letting this guy drive. I climbed into the back seat, but had to dump empty water bottles and fast food wrappers on the floor to be able to sit. There was an unpleasant odor I couldn’t identify. The car was beat up and outdated, but there was nothing wrong with the sound system. Little started the car, pressed a few buttons on the radio, and announced “King Fucking Crimson, man!” He turned it up loud. Really loud. I wondered exactly how I had gotten myself into this mess. I had visions of a geriatric Wayne’s World as Big bobbed his head in the passenger seat.
Luckily it was a short drive to the restaurant. It was a typical South Fork seafood place. Everything was blue. Fake lobster traps everywhere. Big was all excited because he can’t get fresh fish in Denver. I didn’t tell him that he’d probably be eating frozen fish shipped from Nova Scotia. I searched the front door as we walked in for the unlikely bitcoin sticker. No luck.
Little asked the receptionist if Bobby was here. She looked puzzled but ignored him and showed us to a table. As soon as we sat down Little asked me if I had enough bitcoin for a few cocktails with lunch. I assured him that I did.
The first round of drinks arrived and we checked the menu. Big settled on the spicy crab cakes. I chose the blackened shrimp tacos. Little wanted to hear the specials. After our waitress finishing describing the various offerings and the Catch of The Day, Little ordered chicken tenders. This did not please Big. “What the fuck, man?” he inquired in a far too loud voice. The adult onset hearing loss didn’t help. I felt all eyes in the place turn towards our table. “What are you, a fucking five year old? You’re a grown fucking man, ordering chicken tenders in a seafood restaurant?” The waitress backed away from the table. I stared at something on the floor. Little responded with a clever rejoinder: “Fuck you!”
I tried to calm them down. The waitress left to fill our order. Little put his elbows on the table and leaned towards us. He spoke in a low voice. “I think she likes me. Did you see how she was looking at me?” This really got Big going. “Who, the waitress? What are you, an idiot? She’s young enough to be your granddaughter.” Little was undeterred. “I’m going to ask her for her phone number.” Big looked at me. “He’s married. I can’t take this guy, even for a week. I can’t wait to go home.”
The food arrived and we began eating. Big was disappointed. “These crab cakes are spicy.” I was confused. He had ordered the spicy crab cakes. Little couldn’t resist. “Should have had the chicken tenders.” This sparked more brother to brother verbal combat. I stayed out of it and ate my tacos. At one point the waitress was summoned again for another round of drinks.
Finally, everyone was done eating and drinking. I had forgotten all about paying with bitcoin by now. I just wanted to go home. Little, however, still wanted his free lunch.
He called over the waitress. “Darling, could you ask Bob to come over to our table for a moment?” The waitress glanced around the room. “No Bob works here.” Little was indignant. “Of course he does. He manages this place.” She kept calm. “Sir, I’m sure no Bob manages this place. Christine is our manager. I can get her for you if you like.” Little sat back in his chair, then slowly looked around the restaurant. He stared at Big and me accusingly. “Wait a minute. This isn’t Bob’s place!” He appeared to be somehow holding us responsible for this mishap. Big started yelling at him again.
Christine the manager came over, along with a busboy. “What seems to be the problem here?” Little took over. “Ma’am, my friend Siggy here wishes to settle our bill with bitcoin.” She was in no mood for this. “We don’t accept bitcoin. Cash, credit or debit card only.” I reached for my wallet. Just then, the bus boy called towards a well dressed older gentleman standing near the entrance to the kitchen. He was speaking Spanish. Then the three of them huddled by the receptionist station, but I couldn’t hear a word that was said. The busboy then approached me. He just said “Walking” in a heavy Spanish accent. I had no idea what the hell was going on. He beckoned me to get up and follow him. It dawned on me that I was getting kicked out of the restaurant. This was ridiculous. I was the peacemaker. The most polite guy at the table, trying to calm these lunatics down.
Bukele Saves The Day
I realized that he was leading me to the kitchen. He kept saying “walking”, which was strange, since I was walking. He pointed to a man in the corner who was opening the steaming industrial dishwasher to unload some plates. We walked over to him. The busboy got the guy’s attention, and then they spoke a little in Spanish. I caught a word or two I learned during high school. The busboy poked the guy in the chest with his index finger, and once again said “walking.” I finally understood. “Ahh! Joaquin!” I understood. They both smiled. We stepped into a corner. Joaquin looked at me. “Guhzhob?” he said. I pulled out my favorite Spanish word. “Que?” I asked him to repeat himself. “Guhzhob?” I had no clue what he was trying to tell me. He reached into his pocket and opened an app on his phone. “Yes! Cash App!” I was so happy. Finally, something went right. I patted Joaquin on the shoulder. He patted me on the shoulder. We smiled. We laughed. He spoke to me in Spanish. I caught exactly three words: “Bukele”, “Salvadoreno”, and “Teep”.
Now another group huddle formed that included Joaquin, the busboy, the older well dressed guy, and Christine. I awaited the verdict. They spoke for a few minutes. Then Christine walked over to me. “Okay, Joaquin will accept your payment in bitcoin and then settle up with the restaurant. But, you have to tip him twenty five dollars in bitcoin for his trouble, and the waitress must be tipped in cash.” I was getting squeezed, but I figured what the hell. I had come this far, and I didn’t want everyone to think the bitcoin man was a cheapskate. So, I agreed.
I returned to our table to share the good news. The brothers were very happy to hear they wouldn’t be splitting the check. Little even agreed to pay the waitress her tip in cash. He wanted to talk to her some more anyway. There was one final glitch. Cash App does not support the lightning network in New York. That meant we would have to wait around for the transaction to be confirmed. Little wasn’t bothered by this at all.
“No problem, man. We’ll just go to the bar. One for the road. My treat.”
I considered explaining that “One for the Road” wasn’t really a thing any more, with, you know, drunk driving laws and everything, but what was the point?
Against all odds, everything went smoothly from then on. I was happy, the brothers were happy, Christine was happy. Joaquin was happy. All in all, it was a good day.
I got home pretty late that night, but my wife understood. It’s not the first time I had lunch with old friends.
I learned a lot that day. I made some mistakes. I took some chances.
Orange pilling can be tough, but somebody has to do it.