September 06, 2008

The Journey of 35,000 Miles Began with One Bong Hit

By Rob Hogan © 2008

Between October of 1999 and February of 2001, I circled the globe. This is the genesis of that story.

The judge ruled that everything was in order, finalizing the divorce. Time to celebrate at home with a neat bourbon and a good cigar, but the house was hers now. I had to dissolve my businesses and liquidate all my assets in order to give the newly ex-wife half, and then she asked for more cash. Paying her off sped up the divorce proceedings, but left me with no income, car or home and very little money.

Stoner John put me up on his couch for the weekend. Like always, the usual gang was there, and for three days straight we were baked out of our minds.

"I'm going to Ireland," was the proclamation I announced in between bong hits.

"Fuck yeah," was Stoner John's response. "Let's all fuckin' go. Get high till we can't see straight, then drink Guinness till we piss ourselves." The whole clan of stoners voiced their agreement, and just like that, seven high retards were planning a trip across the Atlantic.

Six hours later, the herb was depleted and reality was setting in. Danny had an early class, but was totally down for making the trip over summer break. Other Rob had to get to work, but as soon as he could get some time off he was down. Chewie had to get his kids to school, but he was going to ask his wife if he could go. Eggie was saving up for his wedding. Erin thought we were nuts, but would tag along if everyone else was going.

Which left Stoner John and myself. That morning he took me to the airport and waited in line as I bought my ticket. Despite what anyone thought of Stoner John, that douchebag was a hell of a nice guy. He walked me through security and we found a couple empty seats in the terminal to wait out the three hours before my flight.

"She really fucked you up man," Stoner John said with the tone of a pastor counseling a lost member of his flock.

"It's not just her, it's everything. With all the shit I've been through growing up, with my family and everything, I just—"

"You're lost dude. Just accept the fact that anything you do will fail until you get your head straight."

I nodded toward the bathroom, "Let's go spark up. That'll get me straight."

Stoner John shook his head. "No bra' it's out there," gesturing to the tarmac outside and the taxing planes beyond. "This place has got you trapped. Great escape is what you need."

The tail of an America West plane held my attention till I felt Stoner John's hand on my shoulder. He offered me the other to shake, and I grasped it firmly. "Some day you'll find yourself in a place where you never thought you would be. When that happens, you'll think of me and laugh."

With that, Stoner John spun around and strutted back across the terminal. It was the last time I saw him, and in me right hand I found the last gift he had to give. A wad of bills, probably his entire bankroll from the last month, sat in my palm. When I looked back, Stoner John was gone.


A short time later my flight was headed across the Atlantic, and I was seated next to the cutest Irish lass you could imagine. O'Beautiful was born near Cork, but grew up in Belfast, where her parents were active in the IRA. She was now living in Dublin, with some important sounding job at a bank. Her gorgeous red hair set my heart aflame, but her ability to drink me under the table cemented my affections for her.

When we landed in Dublin we went straight to O'Beautiful's favorite pub. It was surreal to walk into a joint with a gorgeous girl, where everyone knew who she was and they were all glad she came. We squatted at a table in the middle of the busy establishment, which was my home for the next six hours. People came and went, most all of them stopping by our table for a drink. There was Lil' Bono, Rocky (a Bronx ex-pat whose native dialect was mingled with the local accent), Irin (that's Erin with an I) and the illustrious Chips, who had all the connections.

As we pounded back shots of whiskey with beer chasers, I felt a feeling that was more then being drunk. This wasn't another night with my stoner friends pretending like we had everything figured out. I was surrounded by a room full of strangers who shared in my pathetic tales of a failed marriage, while enthralling me with their own stories of bad relationships and piss poor decisions. It was an instant camaraderie that connected us on the most basic of human levels. For once in my sad excuse for a life, I felt like I belonged.

Later that night we stumbled out of the pub, and O'Beautiful inquired about which hotel she could drop me at. Of course I hadn't the foresight to book a hotel before jumping the pond.


I woke up with O'Beautiful sprawled across my chest, the sunlight dancing across the brilliance of her flaming red hair. Her apartment was sparsely furnished, which didn't seem to matter. The bed was comfortable and the fridge was stocked with beer. The next eight weeks would be lived in and around this shabby little flat, and in that time I would fall in love, violate a treaty, go broke, get rich, almost get deported and break someone's heart.

Rob Hogan grew up in Vegas and L.A., traveled around the world, settled down in Ohio, and (when you get a few drinks in him) will enthrall you with stories that he keeps meaning to write down and get published. He's also a snappy dresser.

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