Baby. Dr Pepper. Biblioteca.

Today began with sleeping in until 1. I was up until 4, for no reason in particular. Went car shopping at local dealership. My childhood friend since 4th grade’s dad is my car salesman which is a cool thing. He took me up to say hi to the owner of the dealership whom I also know fairly well because I’m so fancy here in my hometown. Got free coffee and fawned over a Camaro I really shouldn’t get but might NO!… it’s too impractical. Trading in my lease this week, how exciting.

Got gas. Got lunch. How exciting.

Got home just in time to leave again. My loving dad says, “Where ya goin’?” *door closes* I respond, hurrying out the door to meet some old improv buddies in Martinez to work on film stuff. We read through scripts and filmed some things. How productive.

Filming ends. A few of us stay behind and jam on guitars and bass. Haven’t done that in years and boy do my fingers hurt. How recreational.

On the way home I get a text from a dear close friend of mine: “Are you ready to be an uncle?” He’s having his first baby and they’re in the hospital. How omg.

I get home and whatever for a while. My sister is home from Ireland (she lives there as of three months ago) so it was good seeing her. She and I went upstairs and saw my dad together. He was lying on his bed. She hugged him, I held his hand. We hung out for a few moments like that. How cherish-this-momenty.

Sister comments on how much I need a haircut. I’m getting one tomorrow. I have an appointment with someone special in San Francisco … twas a Christmas gift from my sister … I tell my sister how much I like my longer hair and how I think it’s great, and pose several arguments for why I should keep it. She disagrees with all of them. I go into the bathroom and go a little crazy with the hairspray. She’s in dad’s room keeping him company. I hear them talking from outside the door, something they’ve missed doing for oh so long, a moment I probably shouldn’t ruin…. can’t help myself, I knock and let myself in. I hover over her pointing to my hair and said, “What if it’s punk rock like this?” “STOP!!” she responds. “C’mon now!…” says my dad. “I love you.” I responded, and quietly closed the door as I left … I annoyed them. Being away from home now, and with my sister living over seas, annoying them for the first time in so long was a pretty awesome moment. I smiled about it as I drove myself to the hospital to visit my soon-to-be-a-dad friend.

He asked if I could bring him Taco Bell. It was about midnight when he sent the text—I’d already told him I could come by if he needs bro time, and he knows I’m the nightliest of owls—This first draft is being written the night of all you’ve read so far, and it’s currently 3:20 AM. And he JUST texted me… no news thus far. It’s now 3:21 AM. Moving on. Wait! News: They’re going to start pushing at 4 AM. Hella cray. This is my first CLOSE friend who’s having a baby. Do I feel old? Nope. I feel lucky AF to be single and alone and able to eat Chipotle whenever I want—In response to the 4 AM push time, I just sent him this photo and said, “She’s coming!!!”

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Taco Bell. On my way to Taco Bell I grinned with pleasure at how happy I was at the fact I annoyed my dad and sister. Ahhh.. just like old times. So I’m heading to Taco Bell at midnight to get pre-fatherhood treats for my dear friend in the hospital who’s counting the minutes until he becomes a father after just losing his own father two weeks ago after getting married last year after getting diagnosed with stage 4 c-word just before that. Sure man, Taco Bell? Glad to help.

I pull up to the speaker at Taco Bell and the guy said, “Hello, allright, how we doin’ tonight?” Awesome, he’s got personality. “I’m doin pretty coo, how bout you?” I said because it rhymed. “I’m excellent my man. Ex-cell-ent.” “Oooh yeah I hear ya there,” I said. Then silence. He didn’t ask me what I wanted to order so I didn’t wanna be rude and start barking demands at him now that we’re friends. He finally said, slowly, “Ready when you are…” I was ready. Ordered, said some things, he laughed out loud, I drove over to pay and whatnot. He handed me my Dr. Pepper and said, “Here you’re prune juice.”

“Oh? Is that what you think of it?” I laughed.

“That’s what it is,” he asserted. Not smiling. Very serious. “That’s why they changed the name back in the day.”

“So.. this is prune soda?”

“Yep.”

I took a sip. Oh my god … Dr. Pepper’s taste is quite reminiscent of prune taste! Especially when thinking about prunes while drinking Dr. Pepper. Mind blown indeed ….. Okay just looked it up. That story is total fable and folklore. Though “Does it contain prune juice” is a frequently asked question on Dr Pepper’s website (notice I didn’t “.” the “Dr”? That’s because I know now that Dr Pepper doesn’t use the “.” How interesting. AAAnd they have their recipe divided into two parts in two separate Texas banks so that no one person can ever have the entire recipe at one time. How intuitive). Dr Pepper states on their website, “Does not contain prune juice.” Just like Sunkist does not contain orange. Interesting. Prune-flavored soda. Who knew? Many people it seems, actually..

I continue to the hospital. Park at the ER, walk in looking around aimlessly. The security guard abruptly asks, “Can I help you?” I turn to her with two hands full of Taco Bell food, and a drink. “Labor and Delivery?” She looks at me judgmentally and says, “Down the hall, turn to the elevator, second floor.” I start walking down a LONG hallway. Keep looking for elevators but none yet, more walking. Finally find them, there’s a stairway to the left, I take the stairs instead. Only one floor.. I look for signs that read “Labor and Delivery” and saw this:

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Nope.

I pause, look back and forth a few times, spin around in a circle. I go downstairs and look around. Nothin. The guard did say to take the elevator… so.. I take the elevator to the second floor instead. Right back to where I was before. I knew that would happen, but ya know, just in case. Harry Potter IS a thing now.. I go to my phone to read a text that someone will be meeting me at the ER entrance. Great. I walk ALL the way back. I meet the person and she takes me right back AGAIN to where I was, and then past it. Guard gave awful directions and I’ll resent her forever. After leaving that night I ended up walking this hallway four times, three of which with Taco Bell in hand:

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Finally I see my friend and we hug sensuously. After consulting with the wife he takes me in and I see her lying on the hospital bed with a blank stare right at me as I hear this loud heartbeat of the baby echoing throughout the speakers in the room. I walk up to her and take her hand as my hug for the evening. She doesn’t say anything, I don’t say anything, nobody fucking says anything and oh my god it’s intense. That heartbeat.. so loud.. and strong. And her blank hazy post-epidural gaze. And the mood of medicine and health and baby and fast-approaching pain oh man, that was intense. I took her husband with me to eat Taco Bell, leaving her and her sister in the room, alone; I felt like such a great influence.

We sit in the waiting room together and eat crap food. He said, “I’m gonna get through this pregnancy then I’m gonna get over this cancer and then I’m gonna live for 50 years,” he said as he dove head first into a cheesy gordita crunch. I acknowledged that and we laughed. “Okay 45 years,” he corrected. Hahaha.. twas a good moment.

Right before we finished eating his side of the family arrived. I hugged them all hello, I’ve only met them at his wedding, his Relay For Life event and then again at his dad’s memorial, and now for the birth of his baby. When his mother walked in I had my face buried deep in a quesarrito (I don’t care how they spell it (by “they” I mean, ya know.. THEM..)). The look on her face was perceived by me to be something like “Oh no not him again. Why is he here?” Hahahah.. My hair is all long and shaggy, I have loads of Taco Bell in front of me, I was just a tad stoned, SUCH a great influence I obviously am.

So his mother uncle and cousin (I think) all sit next to us as we finish eating. They all start talking in Spanish. I finish eating. They continue talking in Spanish. I sit there not knowing Spanish, consciously controlling my urges not to get out my cell phone. I felt like this was more of a family venture at this point. Time to find my window to leave. We chat for a bit, my friend acknowledges my monoliguisticness, he makes me say “biblioteca” to his mom then I leave.

Are you still reading this? ReallY?!? Even if you hated this story, the fact that you’re reading these very words is the greatest compliment you could give me. If you made it this far please let me know. The time is now 4:04 AM.

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