Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 10, pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series… it is suggested that you click here to start from the first post

You know that movie Friday? The one with Ice Cube, Chris Tucker? Almost everybody that I’ve ever met loves that movie. “Oh, it’s hilarious.” They will say. 

To be honest though, I don’t really care for it. In that movie a drug dealer is trying to kill Chris Tucker. That movie isn’t very funny when you owe a drug dealer money, and the first time that I saw the movie Friday I owed my dealer Jason some cash.

I was trying to dodge him, but he lived right next door to me, so how the fuck am I supposed to do anything without him knowing it? Fuck. It really sucks living next door to a coke dealer given my propensity to easily justify why I might need coke. The best justification seems to be because it’s the only thing that keeps me going. Cocaine would help me get through my life and I was almost always in the mood to do some self-medication, but that type of medication is really expensive. I would justify spending money that I shouldn’t by figuring out how I could pay it back to myself or to a friend / family member. I ended up coming up with these great plans on how I would make up the financial craters that I was digging with my nose, but after the coke was gone and I was coming down from my cocaine perch of wonderful plans and business ideas I just always seemed to find myself broke and in worse shape than before. I just hated that feeling, but I couldn’t stop. I’m an addict.

I end up just crashing with different friends for a week or so until I have most of Jason’s money. I finally get caught up with Jason and I’m broke as a joke. John is getting married, I’m not sure what the fuck to do, and I’m just making bad decision after bad decision, but at the time it seemed like the only options that I had were from a pool of bad decisions. I was in the middle of the storm so to speak. I would tell myself over and over again that I was going to be ok, right after I got a few deals together or if this gig comes through. There was always a possible hustle of some sort, but never any real substantial hope, I just had pretty much the same comedic dreams as any other open mic comic that was on the list at the Velveeta Room on any given Thursday night. We were all hoping that someone would come in and save us from this pit, just as Mike Judge had done for another comic years before.

That outlier of a chance can keep a comic practicing in the mirror on both their routine, and sometimes a comic might even perhaps catch themselves having those private moments alone when the comic is practicing, in their heads to themselves, what the conversation would be like when they are on the hot late night talk show at the present time, or being interviewed by Oprah. Ha ha, I bet almost every comic has daydreamed similar circumstances while getting ready before a show in the one bedroom that they share with two other comics, or when they are sitting in the car-pool lane, whatever their world dictates for them to accomplish, but on Thursday nights we all just waited for our 4 or 5 minutes onstage and hopefully we wouldn’t hear the Ding from George the bartender’s bell. When you heard that bell, your set was going to hell. It wasn’t the “Man, that’s a great joke”, bell.

The bell meant that every comic within earshot was now going to have a reminder that someone onstage is sucking it really hard. The sharks begin to circle. I still to this day have no idea why I ever did comedy in the first place other than I was just trying to find something to do. I really didn’t have any good material for years. I was just awful, but I kept going. Somehow the stage really bothered me, but the boos from the audience or the “you suck!” just didn’t hurt very much. I later would yell at the audience, because well, it felt good to yell at another human being while holding a microphone. You should really try it. Go buy a Shure SM-58 microphone, a microphone cord, and a Kustom brand 50-watt PA system, which is brand new for $99. Plug that shit in and use it to yell at the wall. It feels great. Tell some jokes or some stories. It’s fun as fuck. Then pack it up and return it within 45 days, if you don’t love it, of course. I’m kind of kidding, but I’m kind of not. Honestly, though when I was in some of the worst days regarding my depression, when it was mixed with my emerging alcoholism and drug use, being around other open mic comics saved my ass. Most of us were broken is some sense and I hate using the island of misfit toys bullshit analogy, but there is a reason why it was used so often. We were all broken comics it seemed at the time, all hurting from something, it just so happened that we were all there on a Thursday night, hearing the bell go off at the Velveeta Room, feeling the hair tingle on the back of the neck, looking to the other open mic comics that were part of the small group of comics either smoking together outside, doing a mind-eraser at the bar with Beecher, or waiting in the greenroom to go up. You hear that bell and some crowd heckling, and the same question gets asked in each comic subculture just listed. Ding! “Who’s on stage? Let’s go see.” And then the comics would slowly gather with their own patented “so, you’re a new comic” comedian confidence killers… “Do your good stuff!” … “Take off your shirt!” … “Not that joke, you did that last week!” … or the sound of God from the back microphone as I mentioned in an earlier post. “This is God. I’m sorry that I made you. You suck. Quit comedy.” The open mic comics, including myself just howling with laughter. The laughter of which we could never create on our own from an audience, but when a new comic was eating shit onstage, during those days, I’ve just never seen anything like it. It was a motherfucking comedic bloodbath. I’m so embarrassed regarding how I treated some other individuals while I was there, but it was motherfucking comedy war. There were no rules there. You didn’t even have to be funny. Really, most of us weren’t that funny. Stand-up comedy can be an excellent example of both confirmation bias and groupthink.

Like I said, stand-up comedy and the Velveeta Room in particular really helped me during those times. It’s so exciting when you’re young to have an impossible dream that seems so likely, when enjoying the confirmation bias and groupthink conferences that were the smoking sessions after shows. Everyone discussing their upcoming gigs, past triumphs, biggest laughs and worst ever performances, both of the comics own doing, and some stories of comedic failure that were blamed on a really bad audience, complete with drunken hecklers. Those late-night stories and comic-only parties were a really fun place to just be a fly on the wall.  The laughter in the Velveeta Room was such a life saver on some nights. When I was on that stage, I was so fucking scared and petrified, that I didn’t worry about my life, my problems, my debts, my impending eviction or my upcoming marathon of couch surfing. No, I was just concerned with how I was going to make some stupid jokes funny enough to inspire laughter from complete strangers. I always felt so out of place there, but I’ve felt out of place most in most situations. I just do and I’ve actually grown quite comfortable with it, but that didn’t happen until my 40s unfortunately. Until then I was just very lost and just drowning myself in booze and propping that drunken mess up with some cocaine. It seemed so “rock and roll” at the time, well at least the rock part.

I’m 28, but I’m about to crash with a stripper for a while.

If you ever see John Rabon at the Velveeta Room, and he does still perform there, PLEASE do me a solid and ask him if anyone has ever told him that he bears a striking resemblance to the former bay area rapper by the name of Mac Dre. It’s an ongoing joke that has no reason to exist at all. It’s just so stupid. John is hilarious though and he’s been through his own shit. You’ll have to have him tell you his story though and I really hope that he does some day. John is an amazing and talented person.

That being said we had a lot of just random fun being roommates that I will always treasure. John slept on an inflatable air mattress for at least 6 months and EVERY night he would have to blow it up using his mouth. Every time that John inflated that air mattress, starting with the first night, I would sit back on the couch and make sounds like I was getting a good blow job. John would get so annoyed and I would just cry laughing like I am now 20 years later. Holy shit that would piss John off, but I would just keep going. Hahahahaha. Tears are in my eyes, just thinking of him “Damn it, Kendrick. Is it really that fucking funny? Making blow job noises while I’m blowing up this air mattress?” Tears in my eyes.

John was with me when we were at the Ritz Lounge, with a local comedy legend when the legend slipped, while walking down the stairs, and fell ass over teakettle, knocking himself out in the process. John pulled his car around to the entrance of the club just in time, as the cops had already been called and were on their way. John and I sat up with the local comedy legend all night to make sure that he didn’t die. I’m sure the fuck glad he didn’t die that night, because honestly, what the fuck were John and I going to do? We would have just stared at each other saying “oh fuck!” while our friend died. We weren’t qualified to do much else in a medical emergency. Maybe go through the deceased’s pockets looking for cash? Look for beer in the refrigerator? John and I would head into our early Saturday morning Lawnchem jobs hung-over, but sometimes needing to stop to look at a customer’s yard in order to prepare a lawn care estimate for a monthly service program. Usually, one of us would be so hung over that we’d be throwing up, either on the side of the road, outside of the car window while on the highway, or even on that poor customer’s lawn. Yes, I did throw up on a customer’s lawn while John and I were working together at Lawnchem. “I think we found the problem with your yard sir; you have some yard corn and half-digested frozen pizza looking fungus developing right here.” What a time to be alive.

I fucked up John’s rental history, credit, and I used his rent money for drugs. What do you mean I’m not an usher at your wedding? Actually, John’s wedding was a small ceremony where I wasn’t really in either party. I had been fucking over the groom and the bride absolutely hated me. Of course, John’s girlfriend, then fiancé, then wife hated me. Smart girl. She saved John and he was smart as fuck to get out any way that he could. I stood there in attendance at John’s wedding and remained rather quiet. I was happy for John, but I knew that our friendship was going to be done soon. I congratulated him with the best fake smile that I could muster, trying not to give him any signals or non-verbal communication of any sort regarding the financial standing of the lease to our apartment, or all of the lies that I had been telling him in order to perpetuate my fraudulent behavior and actions. John and I laugh now, he has his own scars and stories, and it seems like the time that we were roommates lasted a lot longer than it really did, perhaps because we started comedy together, but I love that guy. I really do. I love Mac Dre.

I had been making phone calls for a while trying to line up a roommate situation because I couldn’t get an apartment on my own. Matter of fact, I couldn’t be on the lease, or gas bill, the electric company hates me, water, yeah not so much. How about the cable bill? Ha ha no. I do however know a guy that has a hard hat, a ladder, a vest, and he used to work for the cable company. That connection gets me a few couches to crash on until I find the one person who is willing to take me in at the time. Her name was Kim and I don’t remember her last name. Kim was a dancer at a local strip club where she was entering the twilight of her career and she had a slight smell of Brasso about her.

Kim was a vegetarian, unless she wasn’t that day, a regular juicer, only shopped at Whole Foods, and was just getting bored living all alone by herself and her dog, in South Austin behind the Continental Club. Oh, shit. I’m back in that area, but now I’m living with a stripper. A stripper that I’m not fucking. I’m not even close to fucking her. I’m just living in her upstairs, used to be an attic, loft for $200 a month, which I paid for in coke. Kim knew people at the Continental Club, some very well, and she knew a lot of musicians. Everyone from Herman the German to Bob Weir was on her list of musician friends that were not necessarily fucking her. Some might have been, but from what I saw most of the musicians that came by her house seemed to just want to hang out with a pretty woman, that wasn’t 21, as Kim was in her 30s. Honestly, that is what is seemed like. It was a surreal experience to have Bob Weir calling the house, but that’s what happened. Kim had been in some national commercials, she had done some light acting, had been fucking a local comic, and had been given a horse as a present by one of her musician friends. Seriously, dude gave her a horse. “Nice BJ. Here’s a horse.”

The horse lived in some stables just outside of Austin and I would go with her to take care of it on occasion. Kim was a beautiful woman, driving a silver Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, with an odd convertible top that appeared to have been crafted by Dr. Frankenstein himself. There were the normal, patterns of stitching that one would find on a convertible top, but then there were all of these other random, some short in length, others longer, but at least a dozen places where an artisan had performed a type of emergency, convertible top stitch-work surgery after a horrible attack with a mountain lion that was accidently locked in the Alfa Romeo overnight.

I asked Kim about the repairs to her convertible top and she just says, “People don’t like smart, independent women.” “I’m sorry, what?” “I get my top cut a lot in parking lots!” Kim explained impatiently. What the fuck was she talking about? It soon became quite clear.

We were on our way to Whole Foods in Austin, not the original building, but right after they built the new one, and after we parked, I began to witness why her convertible top looked like it had been installed by Edward Scissorhands. There are many words that I could call Kim that would both be accurate and justifiable, but I’m not going to use them though. I don’t want the obscene nature of those words to distract from the way that Kim acted towards other people. As soon as we walked into Whole Foods, Kim started to treat people like shit. She was condescending to employees, rude to other customers and kept telling people to “just shut up and do your job.” Holy shit, what the fuck did I get myself into? She acts entitled and rude to everyone when she is out in public if they are working in the service industry, unless they are a bartender. If you are a barista, you suck. I witnessed it over and over again. I was terrified by her explosive behavior towards others and I was very concerned regarding my own preservation. Because, if I piss this girl off, I’ll be homeless in a motherfucking second if she chooses. Within a few days of living with Kim I realize why she is so lonely all of the time and why her best relationships seem to be with people who are only in town when their band’s tour bus pulls into Austin. She’s a really pretty girl, but she’s just an awful human being at the moment.

I only spent a couple of months at Kim’s house before she kicked me out of her house for being late giving her my $200 worth of coke. It was getting more difficult for me to get coke now because Jason had moved out of his apartment about 2 weeks after I moved out of mine and I wasn’t sure where he was. I’m now getting shitty coke at an even shittier price. Fuck. That’s really not good as it’s disturbing my supply chain.

I begin to take small amounts of mushrooms on a daily basis, which a buddy is getting really cheap, and I start riding the bus a lot. I just sit by myself and ride the bus. I have to get off at the stops every once in a while, when the bus gets too busy, but I really like riding it when it’s slow and there aren’t that many people using it. I find it oddly relaxing.

I’m 29 and I’m about to move in with an Esther’s Follies employee.

Published by Steven Kendrick

I'm a recovered cocaine addict that used to smoke crack. I went back to school when I was 41 starting by taking one Spanish class. Since that time I have earned an Associate of Arts from Houston Community College, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from the University of Houston, a Grad Certificate in Business Development and Management, and I'm about to earn my MBA in August 2018. I have made the Dean's List and I've also been a research assistant for the Bauer School of Business at the University of Houston. I've finally accomplished enough that I can tell everyone about my past drug addiction.

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