Welcome to the Patch, Mother Fucker!
I should have known there would be trouble when I met him in a bar nicknamed The Dirty Bird, and the first thing he did was guide my index finger to the crease between his nose and cheekbone, where I discovered a set of screws holding his face together. Dubbed Lucky 13 by his hockey buddies, he had broken his nose multiple times and crushed his face with a jet ski instead of going to Hawaii with his water polo team—hence the titanium mug his parents paid for when he was 16.
Sometime during the course of our two-year relationship, he managed to skewer both his front truck tires—simultaneously—while driving over a pile of nail-ridden firewood in our desert campsite; he later totaled that same white Ford F150 while we trudged up Big Bear Mountain, skidding on black ice into a camper van in the dark because he couldn’t find parking to put on chains. Then there were countless nights of alcohol-fueled mayhem, one ending with his vomit dripping from the vents of my dashboard.
Even his good luck started as bad luck. His favorite pair of red metal Spy sunglasses flew off his face into three feet of fresh powder during one of his snowboarding “yard sales”; later, they became wedged between rocks at the bottom of the swift-moving Colorado River. While losing the expensive glasses in the river, he lurched to save his precious Coors Light, yelling, “My beer!” Twelve hours later, he stood up from our late-night campfire and boasted, “I’m gonna go find my glasses.” We told him he was crazy. His glasses had reached Parker Dam hours ago, but five minutes later, he walked up with his glasses back on his face after scanning the bottom of the murk like a crime scene investigator skimming for dead bodies. Somehow the glasses survived the harsh mountain elements and rocky desert without a scratch, but every time a puck flew within two feet of his face, his nose was broken.
One particular night, I was the DD again: the Designated Dumbass driving the 23-year-old home from the Liquid Lounge again. Only this time there’d be a stop at Del Taco on the way because we were was famished. (Why did we always only crave Del Taco late at night?)
After we placed our order, a small car pulled up behind us. It teemed with kids, the driver most likely the only one old enough to have a license. They were giggly. With the windows rolled down, I listened to them tease each other.
Unexpectedly, one of the boys jumped from the white beater and skipped to the front of my Integra. While we stared at him perplexed, he pulled his shorts halfway down his backside, exposing a shimmering crescent moon. He bounced onto my hood and smacked his baby butt three times, pulled up his pants and hopped back to his friends, where they all laughed and high-fived each other.
My boyfriend and I laughed at their innocent dare, and as I drove closer to the window, already putting their antics behind me, the imaginary light bulb dinged above my companion’s head.
“Watch this!” he said eagerly.
“Oh no, what are you going to do? Please don’t.” I knew his retaliation wasn’t going to be either a) appropriate or b) guided by a clear, sober mind. My pleading was lost on him, and the door was closed before I could make my case for sanity.
As he jumped out of the car, instant silence fell from the car behind us. They expected an angry adult. What they got instead was much worse.
I cautiously turned my head to see what he was doing, gripping the steering wheel, hoping for something less disturbing than what I imagined. I was wrong. Lucky 13 bent over like a gymnast—head to knees—pulled his boxers to his ankles and began to shout, “Ya like that? Ya like that? Welcome to the Patch, Mother Fucker!”
Squeals emanated from the car behind me. Arms flailed out the window. Girls shielded their eyes in horror. Boys screamed in dread for what would become of their bodies in less than a decade. This tall, gangly nightmare gave them a full view of his twig and giggle-berries in their headlights. Worst of all, they had gotten the Patch initiation—a tender moniker bestowed on the forest growing between the two now-spread cheeks my boyfriend’s saintly mother gave him.
By this time, not only did I have a death grip on the wheel, I hung my head out of sight and was saying the prayer of the mortified agnostic: “Please, please, please let there be a great force in the cosmos who will slap sense into my inebriated boyfriend before he causes any further damage to these poor children’s psyches. Help me, won’t you?”
After effectively ruining what formative years the kids had left, my boyfriend jumped back in my car, totally amused with his inner exhibitionist, ready to feed the beast a Works Burrito. I, however, was not nearly as pleased. I was livid. I gave him the “you-could-have-gotten-arrested” lecture. My goal at that point was to grab our food and get out of that drive-through as quickly as possible.
“Oh, come on. That was hilarious!” he said.
“No, it wasn’t. You totally disturbed those kids!” I replied.
“Whatever. They started it.”
“They had probably never seen a grown man naked before, especially not one so hairy,” I said.
He laughed, and I quit talking.
After we had our greasy grub and were cruising back to the main road, I peered into my rearview mirror to watch the teens screech away, turning the opposite direction from us. They high-tailed it the long way through the parking lot, bounded over a planter like the Dukes of Hazzard, and unabashedly crushed flowers and bushes, leaving a plant funeral in their wake.
More than a decade later, he and I are good friends again, and not surprisingly, his drive-through mooning days are ancient history, but I can never see that Del Taco without thinking about the night those poor teens picked the wrong car to mess with.