Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Days of Discordia, chapters 1 and 2

This was something I started working on last semester as a lark. Every time my friends and I would get together, eventually, given enough time, alcohol, or both, we'd start telling stories about the summer of '09. Between just Tyler, Greg, and I, we had enough material that the stories rarely ever got tired, and so, one day, I decided to start writing them down. This is that chronicle, titled "Days of Discordia: One Man's Tales of Dark Times and the Friends They Make"


Chapter 1: A necessary introduction

I might be wrong, but I think it’s a safe assumption to make that pretty much every group of friends around my age works in more or less the same way. You get together in one place or another every now and again, you screw around, you tell jokes, and you tell stories. And, as I’m sure is the case with most people, with my group of friends, the stories are more often than not the funniest part of the whole experience and everyone’s got a few stories attached to them that get told time and time again just because they’re funny as hell. For example, we bring up the story about how our friend Tom once told an entire joke one poker night just so he could mention that he can touch his dick to his asshole all the time because that’s just who Tom is. We still haven’t stopped making fun of another friend for the fact that he’s drunkenly screwed two chicks without condoms (well, we do it less after we made him swear an oath to bag up from now on). And Tyler still cracks me up when he says that the first time he kissed one of his exes, he used the line, “Your face…is close to my face.”

That’s the thing: These stories aren’t just things we’ve done or things that have happened to us, they’re who we are. Tom is the kind of guy who would hear a joke about touching one’s dick to his asshole and would instantly have to go try it. TP is a damn smart kid, but he can learn lessons awful slow sometimes. And Tyler may be one of the most well spoken and intelligent people I know, but he is absolutely terrible with words from time to time.

Therein is part of the point of this little collection of stories. What you’re about to read is in no way fictional, it holds very little exaggeration, and nothing has been added for shock or entertainment value. These are no fish tales meant to impress. This is an account of the summer had by a couple of guys and yours truly, a story made of stories that explain a lot of things about us. Who are we? Why does knowing us matter even a little? Nobody, and it doesn’t. But hopefully, you’ll get a kick out of reading it all just the same, and maybe you’ll learn a bit too.

After all, part of a good story is having a point you’re supposed to be able to glean and think about. It’s my/our hope that by reading our tales, you gain a bit of wisdom to help you in your own lives. Because, really, while parts of these stories are ridiculous, the situations that caused them and the people in them are not. We’re just a handful of average people, just like the majority of people that’ll pick this up.

Chapter 2: Creating the Trifecta

My friends and I have this theory: You can have as many friends as you want, but you’re always going to have friends that are closer and more vital than others. With these friends, the optimal group size is always three. With three people, you have size enough to get multiple opinions and have the talents of extra people, but you don’t have anyone that isn’t necessary, there’s no having that one friend that just doesn’t really fit, and there’s no need for a leader position because every member is equally vital for any plan to go off without a hitch. Thus, the theory requires the creation of the Trifecta, the group made of your two closest friends and the two people you trust the most. My Trifecta consists of myself, Greg Reince, and Tyler Kuisti.

I met Greg Reince in our sophomore year of high school. The two of us had the same Honors English II class. There’s really nothing special about how we met, and if anything, it’s only remarkable for how completely and totally unremarkable it was. The two of us sat next to each other one day, I saw he was wearing a UCLA hat and we proceeded to just run through like a checklist of similar interests.
You’re from Southern California? Me too…
You like UCLA and not USC (which would totally be a deal breaker)? Good…
You’re into planes and flight? Okay, I think we’re friends now.

From that point forward, Greg and I were more or less instantly good friends.
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Greg is just a universally likable kind of guy. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone that didn’t agree that he’s a great guy, nor is Greg ever really pissed at anyone. The best way I can think of to explain Greg is with a video game metaphor.

Growing up, one of my favorite games was called Harvest Moon. If you’ve never played it, it’s a game that, much reminiscent of The Sims and the like, is a game that should not be fun to play, only taken to a unique extreme. Whereas playing The Sims gives one the feeling of being a god, toying with the lives of lives of lesser beings at your whim (‘cause let’s be honest, pretty much everyone has deleted the ladder to the pool and watched them drown or trapped them in a room without a door and watched them panic, piss themselves, and then starve), Harvest Moon gives you no such omnipotent satisfaction. No, in Harvest Moon you control one character, and your goal is to make a successful farm, make everyone in your town like you, get married, and spit out a baby. And this entails everything you’d think it would: sowing seeds, watering, buying and caring for animals, harvesting, collecting milk, eggs, and the like, talking to everyone in town, giving girls presents, etc. It’s like Farmville… just not fucking terrible.

But the game isn’t slow and daunting like real farming, because then it’d be as boring as it sounds. Oh no, one minute in real time is an hour in game time, and there are only about half as many hours in a Harvest Moon day as in a real one. So every day, your little farmer wakes up, eats his breakfast, checks the weather…and then proceeds to work his ass off at breakneck speeds until he gets enough done to justify sleep or passes out from exhaustion wherever he may be. And this was every fucking day.

For like three years.

And is your overworked, overstressed little protagonist ever depressed? Nope. Does he ever complain or refuse to do things? Only when he’s so tired and physically exhausted he’s one hoe-swing away from collapsing, and even then it’s only a way of saying, “Watch it jackass, if I pass out, I’ll wake up late and won’t be able to get as much work done.”

I have this idea that anyone can be content in pretty much any circumstance. I’ve met single moms who work all day every day just to scrape by in jobs they hate that were totally content with life. My grandpa lived in a nursing home for years after having a stroke doctors said should’ve killed him, getting around on a wheelchair with a diminished ability to speak, and he was still pretty content with things most of the time. My mom works two jobs, gets home, does every chore around the house from cooking to laundry, gets a handful of hours of sleep a night, and is still pretty happy with things for the most part. At the same time, I’ve known countless people who have perfectly good and easy lives that bitch and moan and are always depressed. Happiness and contentedness are things that anyone can have at really any time, you just have to be mentally ready and willing to just be happy.

Harvest Moon Man, then, is the embodiment of this idea. His life sucks a whole lot of ass when the game starts. He gets dropped off with a one room house, an old run down farm, and a town of strangers and told to make it all perfect or go home in shame. He then works harder than most real people could for the duration of the game to make it happen, and is perfectly content the whole time. He’s set in his routine, he has his work to do and his goal to reach, and that’s all he needs.

Greg Reince is Harvest Moon Man. That boy works himself to the bone every day in school, in his job, and in his internship. He studies constantly, gets stellar grades, maintains an ever growing number of friendships, etc. And he’s rarely ever depressed, he seldom complains about anything, and in five years of friendship, I’ve only ever seen him well and truly pissed maybe once or twice. He makes friends more easily than anyone I’ve ever known, and there are always a handful of girls into him. At the end of the day, he knows who he is and what he wants, and he’s got the work he needs to do to get to the goals he has set for himself, and that’s all he needs.

Tyler Kuisti, however, is a very different sort of man.

I met Tyler one week into my freshman year of college. I had gotten a call from Greg earlier that week saying he planned on going home that weekend because it was a three day weekend and, as brand new freshmen, we were all a little homesick. He offered me a ride back home if I wanted it, and I gladly accepted, already missing the comforts of a summer that had ended and my home. A few days later, when we were planning things out, he mentioned we were getting driven up by two friends of his, and I was totally fine with that. To be perfectly honest, I had left high school with a lot of friends whose company I thoroughly enjoyed and had entered college to find an intellectual wasteland, filled mostly with people I couldn’t stand. My hope was that, if they were people Greg could enjoy, they might just be people I could too.
My hope was half fulfilled. On the one hand, I met Lindsay Oden then. From the moment we met, I couldn’t help but notice the signs of an overwhelming douchebaggery that lurked just beneath his exterior. I couldn’t put my finger on it yet, but something about him was annoying, like every word he said had the distinct edge of I-think-I’m-better-than-you. On the other hand, I met Tyler. I knew from about 15 minutes into the hour and a half ride home that Tyler and I were of a very similar sort. My introduction to him came in the form of a story told to Greg and I about how Tyler had once gotten peer-pressured into trying to power slide around a corner in the snow. He dropped the e-brake to his Neon, the car spun sideways…and then just kept going the direction it had been heading, wheels spinning pointlessly. The Neon ran up a snow berm, gutting its undercarriage, leaving shattered bits and pieces of its intestines and a stream of the orange Kool-Aid colored transmission fluid in its wake. At this point, the car was nearly totaled without showing any overt signs, and Tyler had a choice to make: call for help and just leave the car where it was or limp home in his wrecked car and wait for his dad, a mechanic, to get home.

He chose option B and managed to make it home. His dad got home later, checked the car out and told Tyler he was damn lucky the deathtrap he’d driven home hadn’t exploded halfway. They called and make the insurance claim, but Tyler realized he couldn’t tell the insurance company that he had wrecked his car because the guy sitting next to him had dared him to try to slide around a corner in the dead of winter. Instead, he tells them there had only been one other person, TP, in the car, and that they had hit some black ice while driving home, slid, and the car had wrecked. After offering this far less costly story, he hangs up, dials TP, and establishes the story with him. Sure enough, the insurance company calls TP the second Tyler hangs up, and they get away with it.

Here was what I had been looking for in the Palouse, someone with, for better or worse, a lot of sense and a brilliant mind. As we talked, I was sure that was who Tyler Kuisti was; from the way he talked and the stories he told, you could tell the boy had a brilliant mind. But at the same time, I could see a piece of myself in him, the sort of apathetic reluctance to take the hard road in anything but what interests him, despite the capability to do well on that road in most situations. You can tell he knows it too, and part of him laments being that way, part of him wishes he could be a Harvest Moon Man. But he’s not. Tyler is a man of a whole lot of potential, but a real drought of Give-a-Fuck who lets the weight of his world rest heavy on his shoulders.

And I think that’s the essence of Tyler Kuisti. As easily one of the smartest kids I’ve ever known, Tyler would have no problem with being a 4.0 student, landing a great career, and getting loaded. But because the steps to get there and stay there would be entirely uninteresting to him and wholly unsatisfying, he goes down a different track. Because, in his eyes, you can have your down times (as being smart naturally lends itself to being a bit morose a bit more often), but if you’re not enjoying life on the whole, if you’re not happy and having a good time or working towards that, there’s no point.

When I was talking to him and trying to ameliorate some of his concerns about his future awhile back, I had to bring up the Harvest Moon metaphor for him. I said we both knew that, Greg, were he to be dropped into that world, would do exactly what the game expected of him. He’d work his ass off day and night until he had his wife and kid, his successful farm, and the adoration of all the townsfolk. And what’s more, he’d be happy doing it. Then I asked him what he’d do if he were dropped into the Harvest Moon world. His response: “I’d probably plant just enough crops to make money so I could sit in the bar all night with my handful of friends and hit on the skanky bar chick.”

So those are my two. That is the Trifecta I was dealt by the steady hands of fate. At the time where all three of us started hanging out, though we all had the gut feeling we’d be good friends for a good long while, we had no idea we were the Trifecta. We were just friends, hanging out once or twice a week to play poker and shoot the shit.

1 comment:

  1. is it creepy if i end up commenting on all of these?

    b/c i thoroughly enjoyed this.
    and i believe there were two points at which i said "Chris Rice. I love you." to my empty room.