I stood in the airport Tuesday morning hung over, bleary eyed and kind of ugly (like usual). A series of bewildering numbers and letters that probably meant stuff flashed on boards. I didnt even try to comprehend them. I walked up to the nearest uniform and handed her all of my papers with both hands.
I have this many, I told the woman.
I what? Oh, you need help? OK, youre at gate 32, Runway C. She smiled pleasantly at first, but after several minutes of intense, silent staring the expression began to waver. Its uh its that way. Theres a picture of a fish at a seafood restaurant kind of by the gate. Look for that.
Once shed finally used her fingers and picture-words to guide me, I set on my way. Ive been working for this site for over a year now, but despite all the hilarious stories we tell here, Ive never really met anybody in person. But that was all about to change: Cracked was having a party a real, official, ball-busting gala to celebrate their many successes and when they first invited me, Ill admit I was a bit skeptical. The phrases not ever attending and your dipshit parade may have been bandied about a bit. Then they offered to fly me out, all expenses paid. Yet still, I remained reticent. Regrettably, somebody may have brought up the possibility of airline tickets being shoved up somebody elses asshole sideways. Then they told me it was an open bar.
...and I left so fast it made a man-shaped hole in the wall.
After a hilarious misunderstanding about my new sneakers being the bomb and a not so hilarious misunderstanding about my anus being a glove, I finally boarded my plane to California. When we touched down, an impossibly small man-thing met me at the airport. He held a sign that read Cockway in beautifully calligraphic lettering. In slightly less impressive scrawl, the way part had been scratched out and replaced with gay. This latter had been underlined several times, and whoever did it applied enough pressure on the last underline to actually tear through the signboard. There were spots that may have been blood.
Im assuming youre DOB? I leaned down to shake the mans hand, but he was so terribly small it seemed inappropriate. I ruffled his hair playfully instead.
DOB: Actual size.
F-f-f-fuckin cut it out! Oh my, he has a stutter! The trip was already becoming rapidly worth it.
I got the c-c-c-c-company car over here, he motioned for me to follow. We reached an empty corner in the parking lot, and he smiled proudly.
Hop in, he said, gesturing to the open door of a burrito truck.
I began to form a question, but he quickly raised a hand to cut me off. He was obviously used to this reaction.
We do d-d-d-d-double duty: By day Cracked is a c-c-c-comedy site, sure, but by night we convert the offices into the best burrito c-c-c-cart this side of the 101!
"Yeah, could I get two tacos, an enchilada and the top 5 worst examples of sexism in GI Joe?"
Is that impressive? I asked. Like most every other subject, I knew very little about California. I know their capital is Schwarzenegger and the state bird is a forest fire, but thats about it.
No, he replied, downtrodden, n-n-not really.
We got in the truck, tied the rope seatbelts together and set off towards adventure! Oh wait no. Im sorry I misread that. That said Ventura.
We set off towards Ventura.
When we pulled up in front of the bar, I knew somebody was fucking with me. It was a long way to go for a joke, sure, but I know that if anybody would fly a person all the way down to California just to spite them, its Cracked. The place was goddamn gorgeous! It was a palace: a mecca of glittering fixtures, expensive booze and stunning women looking sexily aloof and sensually disinterested. (Thats not saying much--all women making eye contact with me tend to look aloof and disinterested. But these ones looked damn good not paying attention to me.)
I don't know what they're smiling at, because I have literally never seen that expression on a woman before.
No fucking way this is the place, I told DOB, as he deftly hopped out of the still-moving vehicle and disappeared from view. A moment later he reappeared, jogged back up alongside the truck, and desperately hurled a wedge of wood in front of the wheels. The burrito cart slammed to a stop, covering the back of my head with carne asada.
Sorry, those brakes are a little rough. But this is the place, man. Some things we just d-d-d-dont skimp on. Sure, maybe my office is technically the grill on a burrito c-c-c-cart, and sure, maybe our health insurance is an expired bottle of Tamiflu we all split, and sure, maybe our 401K is a t-t-t-Transformers lunchbox that I keep stealing, but we dont f-f-f-fuck around about getting tore up. Now shut your meat hole and get inside. Weve been waiting on you.
I opened the double doors to a smattering of applause that quickly died when the partygoers got a good look at me. Was I disappointing somehow? I took myself in: filthy bathrobe, pink fleece sweatpants with the word juicy emblazoned across the ass and completely, blindingly shirtless--nope, lookin' good. I glanced to DOB for an explanation, but he was nowhere to be seen. In his place stood an eight-foot-tall monstrosity of a man, roughly 97 percent limbs and skull.
Hey, Swaim! I said to Swaim (it was Swaim, everybody!)
Pictured: Swaim's creepy, but somehow still erotic dancing.
Hey, he replied absently, clearly eyeing the room for somebody more interesting. The applause weren't for you. They are waiting on Seanbaby.
Psh, good luck, I scoffed, he never shows up in these stories.
Our tables over there, he pointed at a far corner with his Stretch Armstrong limbs, and we started off.
So, whats with the ginormous statue of the devil? I asked him, pointing to a ginormous statue of the devil that was there.
Well shit, somebodys gotta pay for all this, he replied.
And its Satan?!
What? No, dude. Its Red Devil Caffeine Pills. You been eatin retard sandwiches or something? Do we need to get you a seatbelt so you dont fall out of your chair?
Do we need to hire a guy to monitor which throat-tube you put liquids down so you dont accidentally breathe your gin and tonic?
I get it. Im sorry I asked.
Do we need to get you a crash helmet for dinner so you dont mistake your own head for a meatball and stab yourself to death with a fork?
Jesus Christ! I said I was sorry! That last struck too close to home. How did he know about the helmet?
Never again, helmet. Never again!
Do we need to- He started up again, but luckily at that moment Gladstone had clambered up onto the horns of Satan and was doing his best Teen Wolf impression.
Look at me! Give me all of your attention! Im the Teenage Wolfman! It was not a very good impression. Im snowboarding on a station wagon like in that movie with Kirk Cameron!
God you are so old! Everything about that was wrong and I hate you for it! DOB screamed up at him, shoving the statue with all of his short-guy rage. The mooring lines gave way, and the whole thing came crashing to the floor - Gladstone piggy-backing the Caffeine Devil all the way down to Hell.
Red Devil Caffeine Pills: When you really need to just MURDER THE DAY AND FUCK THE CORPSE.
We finally arrived at the columnists table. It was an opulent spread bedecked in rare furs and set with crystal goblets. Some terribly bored and obviously well-paid skanks were sprinkled liberally about the booth in various states of repose, and in the center of this debauchery, on a black granite dais, sat Editor in Chief Jack OBrien, his hand-carved wooden throne lined with seal fur. I went to shake his hand, but was roughly shoved aside and sat down.
You do not talk directly to Jack, DOB hissed in my ear, unless you want one of two things: a paycheck or a savage dick-beating.
I spent a good deal contemplating the latter, wondering if it was an intense beating focused exclusively on the genitals, or an intense beating performed with a penis wielded somewhat like a chain flail. I decided not to risk either and stay quiet. An eager, well-kempt young man flopped down next to me, utterly beaming with earnestness.
Hey guys! said Bucholz, grinning widely in his overalls and idly chewing on a piece of straw. Isnt this exciting?! We might finally have a real story to tell about the Cracked writers getting together! Not just those fictional adventures!
"Back home in Canada, we drink milk straight from the cow!"
Sh-sh-sh-shut up, Bucholz. DOB snapped, somehow managing to stutter a sh sound. Nobody would believe anything that happened here, anyway. Weve lied and embellished t-t-t-too often.
Yeah, no youre right, continued Swaim, this does seem a little unbelievable. Its like another weak premise for one of those stupid stories.
DOB began to shift uneasily.
What if this isnt real? he whispered conspiratorially. What if... what if were not real?
youre finally getting it, arent you? I smiled knowingly at DOB.
Getting what? All color drained out of his face.
Youre finally seeing the thin veil that separates reality from fantasy and how easily torn it can be. Are you ready, Daniel? Are you ready to see how deep this rabbit hole goes?
I held two hands out, palms up. On one rested a blue pill; the other, a red.
"What these? Nah, I always carry the reality bending pills on me. Why do you ask?"
Choose one, Daniel. The blue pill will take you back to the reality youve always known, and this will all become a distant memory. But the red pill? Take the red pill, and the veil will be lifted. You will see reality as it truly is.
With trembling, hesitant fingers, DOB reached out and plucked the red pill from my hand.
Swallow it and see the truth, I told him.
Thats what I told your mom last night, he whispered reverently, and downed the capsule. He wandered off in a near-religious trance, ready to see the light.
What was the red pill? Swaim asked me.
And the blue pill was Swaim started.
Another Quaalude, yes, I finished.
So why do you have multi-colored Ludes in your pocket?
Because its Tuesday, man. Lude day!
And the colors?
Well, its a party aint it? Im just being festive. Taste the rainbow, guy!
Quaaludes: Taste thr rsinboooooooooooow
Good god, Swaim swore. Im going to need 18 drinks if Im making it through a night sitting next to you. Wheres that bar?
Shit! I had nearly forgotten about them--the two holiest words in the English language: "Open" and "Bar." God, look at them together. Theyre like poetry. Say them out loud; dont they sound beautiful? The lilting cadence of music plays in and out of their syllables. They are a minor incantation of joy, working real magic into the cynical science of this world whenever they are spoken truthfully. Open bar! Open bar! Openbar! Openbaropenbar!
I felt as if in a dream. My legs seemed disconnected as I floated over to that shimmering isle of spirits. I was here! I had finally reached it! My god, do you know what Im going to do to an open bar? Im going to make love to it so passionately it might be a war crime. They will write epic ballads about this night. Generations from now, they will sing of it in hushed voices around the campfire and the tale will be passed from father to son. This is oral history in the making! This is how legends are born!
Bourbon, please, I told the barkeep. The best youve go-
It is now, apparently, Wednesday. I am typing this from what I believe to be Mexico, in what I sincerely hope is not a shallow puddle of human blood. There is something in the bathroom, and I am hoping with the desperate fervor of a Pentecostal that it turns out to be a woman, but from the sound of it, I have doubts that it is even human.
Please, if youre reading this, I need you to do three things for me: First, call a doctor and ask if youre supposed to move if you think youre missing a kidney. Second, call Cracked and ask somebody if Im fired. I mean, Im pretty sure Im fired, but its nice to have validation. Finally, while youre on the phone with them (and assuming by some miracle that Im still employed) tell them Im calling in sick today.
You can pre-order Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead on Amazon, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots, and if you do, can you bring saltines and a steak sandwich? Shits getting real over here.