Starring Matthew Modine and Linda Fiorentino, with a Special Appearance by Madonna

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.





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24 responses to “Starring Matthew Modine and Linda Fiorentino, with a Special Appearance by Madonna”

  1. jess Avatar

    I, too, would be happy to put someone up in my backyard and deprive them of food, for large amounts of money. Wanna start a business together?

  2. Claudia Avatar

    Wait, I want to be part of the business…can I inflict a little pain, just for fun…too.

  3. flutter Avatar

    that photo made me lose all of my remaining bladder. I blame you.

    and God.

  4. Claire Avatar

    That surgically enhanced cat-faced woman is creepy as hell!
    Friend of a friend has too much money and time on his hands. I prescribe a heathly dose of service (she said trying not to sound sanctimonious).

  5. citizen of the world Avatar
    citizen of the world

    Clearly, a true spiritual experience.

    BUT, let me just say that I have not even had my coffee yet and the photo of scary cat woman nearly made me jump out of my skin. Gah!

  6. Jazz Avatar

    I don’t know what to say, other than spurting hot tea through your nose hurts. It does.

  7. furiousBall Avatar

    my eyes!!!!

    not since mike reno’s assless pants on the loverboy comeback tour have i … ahhh my eyes!!!

    wait, did i just admit to going to the loverboy comeback tour?

  8. lime Avatar

    the phrase more money than brains comes to mind. i have a backyard full of oaks and hemlocks and a fire pit. maybe i should start my own vision quest business.

  9. Lone Grey Squirrel Avatar
    Lone Grey Squirrel

    I enjoyed this story. Ah, the romance of the story and your cynicism were brilliantly contrasted.

  10. falloutofline Avatar

    i was always taught that when people told stories about ‘friend of friends’ they were really talking about themselves. but i don’t think that’s the case here…

    i hear you like my comments…check out my blog!

  11. cathy Avatar

    If they don’t like your back yard they can come to Greece and I’ll introduce them to The Mysteries”
    Hell there’s loads of stuff I don’t know!

    (“liumm” – that is my word verification. Do you think it’s some kind of mantra that will make me a better blogger?)

  12. Jonah K. Haslap Avatar
    Jonah K. Haslap

    Wait. Do you have to be 12 to enjoy many-a-private-diddle? Because if that’s true, I’m really immature.

  13. Jonah K. Haslap Avatar
    Jonah K. Haslap

    Oh and you forgot Bette. For shame.

  14. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    The Bride of Wildenstein, also known as Jocelyn, is so terrifying that I was torn between reading your delightful post and hiding under my desk in a fetal position.

  15. coastrat Avatar

    Cub Scouts and Vodka, huh? Hmmmmm, the Cub Scouts have changed… When I hear about cub scouts, I’m always reminded of Robin Williams’ crack in “Good Morning, Viet Nam,” – “Errnnnt! What’s the difference between the Army and the Cub Scouts? The Cub Scouts don’t have heavy artillery!”

  16. Glamourpuss Avatar

    If your single friend-of-a-friend wants company in Vegas, I’m available? Is he fit?


  17. Diesel Avatar

    Our organization offers a Prophetic Vision and Trench Digging package.

    Prophetic visions not guaranteed.

  18. Jen @ The Cubicle's Backporch Avatar
    Jen @ The Cubicle’s Backporch

    Wow… I bet you could’ve offered it to him at half price and everything!

    If I ever did a vision quest, I better do it alone b/c if I don’t eat something after about 8 hours, I get REALLY cranky.

  19. Minnesota Matron Avatar
    Minnesota Matron

    I want to be partners with Jess. Good idea! I have some children who are good at posing as wild creatures. Hey, I’d also like to fly by my own volition. Vegas, here I come!

  20. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    Crap, I’d put people in my back yard and starve them, but I’d have to charge a fee. Starving people is a lot of work.

  21. SQT Avatar

    What kind of vision quest told that woman to disfigure her face like that?

    Keep the friggin’ peyote away from me!

  22. chelle Avatar

    hehe silly friend of a friend!

  23. Karen MEG Avatar
    Karen MEG

    Great post!
    Vision quest… you know, I don’t think I ever caught that whole movie.

    Should be interesting should he hit it big on the circuit. What an interesting path (including starvation and hallucinations) to a career change.

    I heard that the past president of my company (which shut down local operations) went on something like that and came back looking gaunt. He’s still looking for work too, apparently. Probably picked the wrong backyard.

  24. Diana Avatar

    Here is where you start muttering about a fool and his money.

    Unless, of course, you are now going to tell us that he actually WON the poker tournament and now is trying to figure out how to invest his 10 trillion dollars.

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