Having a front row seat to the theatre of the absurd was not what I had bargained for when I sat down at one of the outside tables at one of the hundreds of Starbucks in San Diego after ordering my plain black coffee. But there it was unfolding before me: Mr. Universe wannabe, muscles breaking through tattered T-shirt, cyclist’s shorts that left nothing to the imagination, and blonde in a bottle bimbo, waiting for her big break, but would settle for a supporting role in a beach party porno flick. It started out normal enough, a typical couple out for a refreshment together; each one nose deep in their individual smart-phones, only communicating with each other in monosyllables about whatever it was that they were texting and reading.
Then, without any preamble or even the courtesy of looking up from her electronic device, Ms Bimbo exclaimed, “We need to break up.”
And the ever erudite Mr. Universe answered, “Wait . . . what?”
Ms. Bimbo, while still looking at her phone, started to twirl a lock of overly processed hair, “You know . . . I think we need to break up.”
Mr. Universe sat back in his chair, the back making that awful creaking noise of metal on the verge of snapping. “Uh huh. But why?”
Ms. Bimbo actually looked up. “My agent, Bernie, you know, he says I need to live in L.A., you know, and, you know, it would be better for my career if I was single.”
“Uh, okay, but why do we have to break up? It’s not like we’re exclusive.”
Wow, how can you argue with logic like that? And Ms. Bimbo actually stopped everything she was doing to think about what Mr. Universe said.
“Yeah, okay,” she finally replied as her eyes drifted back to her tech device. “It’s like, how would they know anyway?”
Mr. Universe bobbed his head, not up and down, but forward and back. “Awesome.” His eyes then refocused on his phone.
After a few seconds, it seemed as if a lightbulb went off in Ms. Bimbo’s head and appeared above her like a tarnished halo. She looked at Mr. Universe with a very serious expression. “Hey, you wanna . . . like . . . I don’t know . . . have break up sex?”
“That’s a sick idea!” he answered.
Mr. Universe and Ms. Bimbo scraped their respective chairs away from the table and headed back down the street from the direction they had originally arrived. At the same moment the waitperson brought out their coffee order only to find the table empty. An audible “Fuck!” escaped his lips.
As he turned to go back inside, I waylaid him. “ ‘Scuse me,” I uttered. He turned to look at me, irritation written all over his face. “I’m curious, what did that couple order?”
A massive sigh escaped his lips. He thrust his right hip out while he kept the serving tray with the beverages at shoulder height. “ ‘Muscles‘ ordered a double shot espresso half caf soy foam tepid, and ‘Dingbat‘ had nonfat latte decaf with a shot of chocolate.”
I shook my head as I dug into my wallet. I threw out a twenty to the waiter. He stood up soldier straight. “I’ll be right back with your order,” he purred.
You can’t make this stuff up, was all I could think.
– – – – –
This story is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge.
Let’s go Gonzo (without the LSD)
Hunter S. Thompson was an American author and writer. (He was also a drug enthusiast, among other things, but that’s another story for another day.) His infamous, detail-dense, first-person narrative, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, spawned a genre of reporting called Gonzo journalism. Gonzo journalism differs from typical reporting in that Gonzo journalists renounce claims of objectivity, often place themselves in the story as a first-person narrator, and include verbatim dialogue to capture and convey their first-hand experiences. The work can often have a “stream-of-consciousness” feel to it.
And now for the challenge part
There are three different ways to participate in today’s challenge. The goal is to stretch your writing style by experimenting with and emulating a new form. As always, the goal of any writing challenge is to get you writing. You’re welcome to adapt the challenge to your needs as you see fit. For example, you may choose to include only one, two, or all three hallmarks of Gonzo journalism listed above in your post.
- Report on one event/gathering/happening from your week in Gonzo journalism style. The event can be anything from your life: a slice of your weekly drawing class, the conversation between the butcher and the man buying stewing beef at the meat counter in your local grocery store, or what you observe and hear while you’re at the gas station filling up. Cram as many details in as you can. Record any dialogue as accurately as possible: include pauses, slang, stumbles, inflection, etc. Your post needs to be a minimum of three paragraphs long.
- Write at least three paragraphs reporting on a scenario that you imagine in Gonzo journalism style.
- Choose one of the following three scenarios. Imagine the scenario taking place in as great a detail as your brain will allow. Write at least three paragraphs reporting on the scenario in Gonzo journalism style.Scenarios:
- You’re standing on a busy street corner. A car runs a red light, hitting a cyclist crossing the intersection.
- You’re waiting at gate 23 at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport’s Terminal 7 to board an Air Canada flight to Vancouver. The flight has been delayed two hours so far. The gate agent announces a further three-hour delay before take off. To your right sits an elderly couple. She’s in a wheelchair. To the left, a family of four, with a boy, aged five and a newborn infant girl.
- You’re in a street-side café in San Diego, California. The couple seated at the next table is breaking up.