naked man oh five hundred hours

I'm getting better at the night routine after a show: Sleep for a few hours, wake up when the bus slows to exit ramp speed, and jump off to check everyone into the hotel.

Our check-in times range between 1 am and 6 am and I'm improving in speed, coherence, and mood. I often now manage to smile when I'm handing over the key packs and sometimes even wrestle out a "See you in the morning" or "Sleep well" for the Idols or band members.

I usually doze in the front lounge of the bus and have been told by more than one person that I'm a bit of a sleep contortionist. Well, if sleep contortionists fall asleep with glasses of wine in their hand and dribble it down the front of their shirts, then I agree.

I'm also supposedly capable of rolling myself up into a ball smaller than any nearly six-foot tall person should be able to. I remain that way, tiny and coiled, until I explode all over the lounge so that every available surface area - couch and floor - is covered by legs, all without breaking my sleep.

It's a REALLY good day when I get chatty with the front desk staff. Focus on more than being polite, shepherding the flock to their rooms, and keeping the glasses on my face from being cocked at an angle greater than thirty degrees? Yikes.

Recently, after a short two-hour drive, I arrived at the Marriott feeling good, perky even. The guy at the front desk, Avi, was very happy to have us there. VERY. Somewhere in the midst of his gleeful yammering, Avi mentioned that it was his last night working at the hotel.

"You should steal something," SOMEONE ELSE said.

This made me laugh louder than the situation warranted because it reminded me of the King Missile song Take Stuff From Work and that's what happens whenever I remember King Missile songs (Jesus Was Way Cool, Meditation is Boring, Detachable Penis).

Since Avi and I had broken the conversational ice, I asked him about his last day. Avi told me that he's worked for Marriott for eight years, that he LOVES Marriott, that he's witnessed several Marriott employees fall in love and get married, and reiterated how much true love goes into the Marriott business.

But it's not all love, it's stress, too, and Avi can't take it anymore. It's affecting his health. He's already had ulcers, colitis, and, unless my ears betrayed me, a COLOSTOMY BAG thanks to Marriott.

Avi ran in the back and brought out a large homemade poster that his colleagues had made for him, wishing him well in the future. I smiled and wished him luck, too, and then decided it was time to go to my room.

Last night's drive was five hours long. I woke at 4:45 am and found myself alone in the front lounge, splayed on the couch using a balled-up American flag blanket as pillow. During check-in, I was swift and tidy but somewhat humor-free. In short, I wasn't fucking around.

Twenty minutes later, I was ready to take the elevator upstairs. The bellmen were delivering bags and the drivers were milling about the sidewalk, smoking cigarettes. I was waiting for our last person, Jamecia, to disembark and was slumped in an armchair, holding her key in my hand.

Mid-slump, I glanced towards the elevators and saw a naked man striding out of the elevator. His nakedness could be referred to both as STARK and BUTT-ASS and it didn't appear to bother him at all. Naked man pumped his arms, flapped his junk, pushed his way through the revolving door, and walked right past Jamecia.

In her squinty-eyed fatigue she looked at naked man but looked too tired to process what was happening. She'd nearly brushed up against some stranger's glory. I, on the other hand, was suddenly alert and couldn't rip my eyes off his rear end the whole time it tromped its way across the loading area and took a left up the street.

When I turned back to the lobby, I saw everyone displaying the same expression of NO, HE DIDN'T. The hotel manager, the bellman, the security, and Jamecia were all stunned into silence until the manager goes, "Well, he didn't have a key so he's not getting back in."

I went over to Jamecia, dropped my hands on my knees and hung my head, laughing at the naked man.

She looked around and out at the street. She looked at me and the hotel workers and kept huffing out the same sound over and over, unable to complete the whole word WHAT - "Wh- Wh- Wh-" - and after awhile I was laughing only at her.

Then I went upstairs, went to sleep, and forgot about him until today when the first round of "your boyfriend" jokes started.


101 things to do before I die

According to the book 101 Things To Do Before You Die, we can thoughtfully and consciously improve our lives by making lists. Lists! I love lists! But, according to the book, rather than just micromanaging ourselves with grocery and chore lists regarding cottage cheese and dry cleaning, we can chart our wilder desires and greater goals with the help of this zingy little paperback. The macabre yet cute introduction offers the following framework: ATTEMPT. COMPLETE. EXPIRE. What to attempt is open to personal discretion though a list of examples are suggested.

Catch a fish with your bare hands while skinny dipping at midnight, cook it to your own perfected recipe on a fire you made without matches.

Hm. I'm pretty sure that's not going to be on my list.

Complete is all about tracking your lifetime achievements by filling in the book's easy-to-follow forms. And expire, of course, tackles dying and possible regrets and what ifs and should haves and how if you want to avoid feeling like shit on your deathbed you might want to get off your ass and focus. Like right now. Kelly Dearborn gave me this book a week ago as part of a care package consisting mostly of toys (plastic pirate figurines, bacon-scented air freshener, glow in the dark stars) with which to decorate my bunk on the tour bus.

The last time I saw Kelly before hitting the road was in New York. It was the last day of school for the New York public school system and Alex and his colleagues, all teaching fellows in Queens, met for pints of beer and free popcorn at a Brooklyn pub to celebrate another year of teaching. I showed up with Kelly and Sarah for the Guinness, the Brooklyn accents as thick as East River sludge, and to do some drunken shopping whereby we traipsed through Boerum Hill boutiques knocking over handwoven baskets full of expensive t-shirts and irritating shopkeepers. We left each other on the downtown corner and and promised to meet again when Idol pulls through Long Island.

Since I'm currently living out of a suitcase, it would be challenging to pack all the useful gear suggested by the 101 plan of life enhancement. I'm having a hard enough time writing or returning personal phone calls regularly so I think it's okay that I don't spend time right now trying to get my hands on a confessional booth, spray cans, poker chips, and a ski mask. Luckily a few of the other things are easier like a pen, a strong stomach, glue, some strangers, some friends, beer, a fearlessness of heights, a reckless spirit, a stick of chalk, a celebrity, a good imagination, a sense of humor, and fruit. I've had only a quick look at the suggested list of 101 things but am thrilled to announce that I can safely attest to completing at least five of them:

1. Design your own cocktail

The Austin: campari, soda, vodka, cranberry. Thanks to Shane and Sunny for participation and inspiration.

2. Leave a job you hate

I'm sorry Feminist Press but I had enough right about when all the backstabbing started.

3. Bungee jump

Thrilling, frightening, so surprised I didn't poop my pants. And I don't recommend parking lots in Las Vegas where they have to dangle you upside down after you jump and then pull you ALL THE WAY BACK UP to the top of the tower feet first. That was easily as bad or worse than the jump itself.

4. Leave your mark in graffiti

If you're going to be indignant and self-righteous and decide to graffiti for a cause in high school, you should probably make sure you know how to spell otherwise you end up looking a fool. Also, it dilutes your intended message. My early-90s causes were anti-fur animal rights and freedom of speech civil rights. The word I had a problem with was CENSORSHIP.

5. Meet your Idol