Features // January 30, 2020 // UrbanAroma Staff

Al Green: Chapter Four

Al Green: Chapter Four

I’ve been extremely disciplined about maintaining my New Years resolution of quitting TV and not smoking indica during the day. Strawberry Haze and porn, on the other hand, have become my 2020 daily routine, which is not the start to the new decade I was hoping for.

Strawberry haze is a mythical strain of sorts.  Grown by Arjan Roskam, it’s a mix of Northern Lights, Haze, Kali Mist, and a Swiss Sativa.  It tastes like a spring picnic, and when I smoke it at home during daylight hours, I subsequently find myself on a deep dive into the porno ether. Much to the chagrin of my manager, Tutu, and dispatch, I’m consistently late for deliveries, then desperately biking to back to my midtown apartment with the quickness to continue my sordid schedule. Extreme sexual one-ups-man-ship keeps me going.  I’m engaged in a competition with myself to find something more fucked up than the gangbang video in front of me, scrolling and toggling to more severe and sordid scenes of bondage. Days pass into night. I frequently find my dog Goof hiding in the bathroom, cowering in the corner of the one room in my apartment impervious to the sexual surround sound.

Get a grip, man!

You are broke, approaching 40, spending your days jacking off and rubbing elbows with Chinese delivery guys in the bike lane, selling weed for a living!  I decide that during office hours, from 1pm-10pm, I will continue to smoke strawberry haze, but only while based out of the local coffee shop so that I might better focus on getting a new job while waiting for delivery calls. (I would go to the library, but it stinks like urine and is populated with homeless men jerking off to porn.)

A 6-foot, 26 year old German painter named Lottie serves me overpriced matcha as she questions why I am always coming and going, riding my bicycle in the foul weather.  I tell her that I am a beat writer for a small local paper, waiting for grizzly crimes to occur, at which point I must dash to the scene on bicycle.  I signal my notepad as proof of employment.  “Stop the presses!” I say, in an early 20th century, trans-Atlantic accent. She finds this intriguing. I find her very attractive. She has her hair braided into 2 pigtails that fall down her chest, draped over a vintage ski sweater that accentuates her Bavarian background.  When she leaves, I down my drink with the quickness, only to yodel in her direction for another matcha. I don’t particularly like matcha, but coffee gives me diarrhea, I have a serious adversity to using public restrooms, and if I don’t purchase anything, I can’t take up space at the café.  The “For Customers Only” sign makes this very clear.  Another matcha it is.

I reach out to editors, reminding them that I am no longer in a coma and looking for work. I pitch a story about the porno crisis as told through my own personal experiences.  I seriously question whether facials have become the norm.  When I was a kid, I had a single Playboy magazine hidden under the washing machine.  These days, kids have access to all the same fucked up shit that forced me to relocate to this coffee shop.  Some of the editors respond, but I never follow up. The truth is that I don’t want to write again.  Getting back into writing is like getting back into jousting.  It might as well be a medieval pastime at this point.  There is no money in long form journalism, and besides, I never thought it was my calling in the first place. I would have made a better lawyer, I tell myself.  Alas, I’m too old to go to law school, and even if I was accepted, the brain injury I received has resulted in the short-term memory of a mouse.

My phone beeps as I get a text from dispatch.  Lottie’s ears perk up from across the cafe, wondering if a crime has been committed.  I mouth the word “MURDER,” leaving her aghast as I walk out of the coffee shop.  Actually, she’s not aghast at all. She looks rather turned on.  I question her sanity as I head out into the rain.

I sell a box of Wedding Crashers to Paige, a young professional who lives in a massive high rise near Wall St.  We take a few hits together and start talking.  She works for a perfume company and is studying to be a professional “Nose.”  A sommelier of scents, the Nose sources the flowers and other ingredients that are then combined to create perfume. Paige has her nose exam coming up, and she takes out this large cardboard advent calendar of sorts and puts on a blindfold. I pop open the different compartments of the cardboard that release scents in her nose's direction. Sunflower, saffron, sassafras, she discerns between them all so I guess she has a good nose.  To me, they all just smell like nature, which reminds me that I haven’t left the concrete jungle in months.  I consider making a sexual advance as I can only assume that’s why she would undergo blindfolding herself in front of a stranger.  She finds my hand, and as I go into kiss her, like the corny fucking movie that is my life goes, my phone beeps, and she takes off the blindfold.

While I am resigned to the fact that our service must blindly accept new customers without vetting them, I would rather sell crack cocaine on the corner than have to bicycle to 149th st. in Washington Heights. I’m no goddamn Lance Armstrong.  Previously my zone was limited to the southern tip of Manhattan to 100th st., but now we must take any and all customers so that we might stay in business. Why don’t we deliver to New Jersey while we’re at it?  Faced with a 20 mile round trip in the January frozen downpour, I say goodbye to Paige and head uptown.

It’s pouring sleet needles that hit my face with rapid acupuncture.  To make matters worse, thanks to the Chinese delivery guys who ride in the bike lane illegally on pseudo motorcycles (aka electric bicycles), Cops have started ticketing everyone in the bike lane for minor infractions; and just my luck, I am being pulled over with 20 1/8ths of marijuana, oils, shatter, and edibles in the pelican case I have in my backpack. Seriously, this police officer doesn’t have anything better to do? I remind myself that marijuana may have been decriminalized, but it is not legal- especially to distribute.

The police officer exits his car, huffing and puffing while approaching, as if he has no choice but to take his fat ass out into the rain. He has the defeated gait of a cop that fucked up a real criminal investigation and was demoted to bike lane duty. I consider booking it, but I’m near central park; the streets are long and spread out, and it’s raining; it would be too risky.

“Sir, are you aware that you ran 2 red lights and nearly killed that elderly woman?” He asks me.

I go into my spiel: “Officer, after 8 years my girlfriend left me. She’s currently moving out her stuff, and I’m just trying to get home in time to convince her not to leave me. If it makes any difference, I’m a member of The Police Benevolent Association.”  My cousin Jimmy is a Cop, and he personally elected my dog Goof the official NYPD Gaelic Football team mascot. Every St Patrick’s day I go to the march with Goof, and we collect these "get out of jail free" cards from all the cops as they fawn over Goof’s ridiculous leprechaun outfit. Usually the card is all a Cop needs to see before letting me go; but this Cop is Puerto Rican and unsympathetic to the NYPD Gaelic Football Team.

“What’s in the bag?” He asks me.

“Camera equipment,” I tell him.

“You’re a photographer?”

“Not really. I take photos of Instagram girls in front of green screens, and then I change the background to make them look like they’re on beaches and private jets.”

The Cop is mystified.  It begins raining more heavily. “They do that?”

“Yeah, most of those b-rate models you see living extravagant lives…they’ve never been to Antigua, let alone left New Jersey.  It’s a real racket, the influencer game.”

He asks me some more questions about girls on Instagram and then let me go.
“Good luck with the girlfriend,” he says, as I speed off.

Close call.  Why do I have a courier backpack? I don’t want to look like a courier. I want to look like a photographer who takes pictures of Instagram chicks. Tomorrow I will get a normal backpack.

I hit the new customer on 149th st. He’s a very mousy writer with no furniture, just thousands of books piled and stacked to the ceiling. I wonder whether he’s actually read any of them, or if it’s just a way to impress chicks that come over. After going through my detailed marijuana spiel of our various products, he settles on the cheapest outdoor Pineapple Express we have to offer.  I leave with 60$.  My take: $20.  I can’t help but curse the literati given the sheer distance I have covered in the dismal weather.

There aren’t many customers in the coffee shop, so Lottie sits down next to me, uninvited. I’m ok with it. Obviously. She has bedroom eyes and a very pensive expression. She always seems deep in thought and/or hoping I will ask her what she’s thinking. I ask her what she’s thinking, and she tells me that she only moved here to get away from her boyfriend Reinhard, an industrial rock musician from Dusseldorf who was recently imprisoned in Berlin for stabbing a heckler in the audience.  She seems stressed about getting a Visa, making a living.  Her life is even more complicated than my own, I guess.  When her boss isn’t looking, we take a hit of Sgt. Salmon’s homemade Indica distillate.  When her boss gives her the signal to go back to work, we try not to laugh, but it’s too hard to keep the vapors in our lungs.  We both start hacking, hysterically, as the vapors ascend.  Her boss is not pleased.  We make plans to hang out sometime, albeit in that “let’s make plans to make plans” non-commitment.

Read Al Green: Chapter 3 here

Read Al Green: Chapter 5 here