I have a friend of a friend.
It could happen. I might have a friend, like from Cub Scouts, and this friend might talk to a bartender sometimes, and after about four vodka tonics, my Cubby Scouty friend suddenly has a new shot-pouring, swizzle-sticking "friend" blurrily weaving around there behind the expanse of oak. See?
Chant it with me: we are all part of a vast and thrumming--a harmonically converging--interconnectedness of spirits. We are all just friends who haven't met yet.
Especially when Cub Scouts and vodka are involved.
So Friend of Friend is single, sans kids, which means he actually has time to sit and stare and partake in self-exploration. Were he twelve, this would mean he enjoys many-a-private-diddle.
Oh, all right. Even though he's in his late thirties, I suspect it still often means that he's using his vast personal time to, em, wet a tube sock.
However, sometimes free time and self-exploration take another form, something woven into ancient cultures and traditions, something sprung from the very heartbeat of the earth. Sometimes Friend of Friend gets on a plane and flies to a place where he might find himself.
Sometimes Friend of Friend goes. on. a. Vision. Quest.
...and pays hecka lot of money to Vision Quest Company, Inc. for the chance to sit next to a fire, amongst the trees of Oregon, unmoving, fasting, pondering, awakening, for five days.
Indeed, for a substantial fee, Friend of Friend bought himself an experience that can be had in my backyard, for free. I have trees. I have a fire pit. I am always happy to strap people to a bench, as well, and refuse them food. Even better, I toothpick their eyes open and make them watch me eat a steak-dangling-from-a-string right there in front of them. I wear ear plugs as I do this, to block out their intestinal growls and pleading mewls. In fact, I have replicated the entire "Vision Quest Enriched By External Torture" experience on several occasions, for well beyond that pansy "five day" stretch. If the wind is blowing the right direction, and the yard's squirrels are otherwise occupied giving each other Mary Kay facials, I can make a steak-on-a-string last for a full week.
But okay. Friend of Friend needed to pay the money to make the experience "authentic." So there he was, in Oregon, staring at the fire, letting his mind drift, getting hungrier and hungrier, and whaddya know? 'Round about Day 3, the hallucinations began; as it turns out, hunger is the new peyote.
Most Vision Quest participants welcome the hallucinations, for it is through them that life direction is revealed when their Animal Guardian decloaks. Modern Man will pay big bucks for an Animal Guardian. Look at what that sod Alec Wildenstein put up with in a wife, just to keep a cat nearby.
Curiously, for Friend of Friend, no Animal Guardian revealed itself. Could it be that his Vision Quest fee would have been better spent on the purchase of a really gnarly home theatre system?
Fortunately, just as despair--and the dream of an Arby's Beef 'N Cheddar--threatened the success of the quest, Friend of Friend began to channel,
The surreal images wafting through his brain started to align into some kind of sense. For some time, he had been seeing a queen. Then the king. Then their son. The entire family sent messages of jubilation; they were flush with victory. They were Friend of Friend's Guardians-- not animals. Nay. Royals.
At the end of the five days, Friend of Friend emerged from the wilderness, greeted the civilized world by gulping down a dozen Krispy Kremes, and then, simultaneously cleansed and sugar-buzzed, analyzed his hallucinatory revelations.
It was easy, really.
Clearly, he was meant
--had always been destined--
to play in the World Series of Professional Poker.
His vision complete, and with $1500 still burning a hole in his wallet, Friend of Friend promptly entered the first qualifying tournament. With his Guardian Queen, King, and Jack (Daniels) by his side while he plays the circuit, he is a shoe-in for the finals.
As Celine, Penn, Sigfried, Carrot Top, Blue Man, Wayne Newton, and thousands of gals teetering around in pasties and enormous head dresses well know, all the best quests end in Vegas, the city where bruised hope staggers back to the hotel at dawn in search of a cheap buffet.