A burst of screaming kids blew out of the door , down the steps, and across the rocky front yard. "Happy Birthday, Donovan!" I yelled to one of the grubby little monsters as he shot past.
"Man, he don't know what's going on," Jess consoled me. "He just wants to play with his cousins."
Headlights brightened the yard as cars rounded the corner and dropped in to Jess's driveway. Jess's in-laws were represented by three squawking old ladies: his wife's mother, aunt, and grandmother. They bustled in to the yard and roosted, all big and fluffy-haired with silver earrings and smelling like Avon perfume.
Our only relief from the Passive Aggressive Olympics was Jess's dad, John, who pulled up a couple minutes after the hen party had arrived. "Well, boys, I think Donovan wants the three of us to get tuned up for his birthday," John said when he jumped out of his Jeep and offered us each a cold Bud Light from the cooler in the backseat.
"That sounds like the plan. Let's drag those barbecues around to the back porch so the smoke doesn't disturb the ladies," Jess said and winked. The screaming kid pack blew in to the front yard, three of them yelling, "Gramma! Gramma! Gramma!" at the orange-haired oldsters seated in the front yard.
"I'll bring the cooler," John yelled over the clamor.
As we rounded the side yard headed for the rear, Jess stopped in front of me. I bumped in to the back of his flannel shirt and hollered, "What the hell are you doing?"
"Shhh!" He wheeled around and whispered to me and his dad, "There's a four-point buck up on the hill behind the house. He's just laying there. We can scare him a little, stand him up so I get a clean shot, and take him down."
"It's not season yet, is it?" I asked.
"It's bow season, and I got a bow in the back seat of my truck."
With that, we tiptoed away from the side yard and in to the driveway where Jess retrieved his hunting bow and a quiver of aluminum broad-tipped arrows.
"I don't know, Jess. Is this a good idea?" I whispered, looking at the old ladies circled up and bitching on the front lawn. "I mean, it's a party and all. I don't think your wife is going to like us killing a deer in the back yard on your son's third birthday."
"That meat's going to save her about 500 dollars. Are you kidding?"
"OK. OK," John weighed in. "It's damn near sunset. It'll be dark in about half an hour. That thing isn't going to die quick, it's going to hop around that hill and jump through the neighbors' yards and be a pain in the ass. It looks easy on the Hunting and Fishing channel, but what they don't show is four hours of stomping around in the brush and weeds, looking for a dying deer."
"This ain't my first rodeo," Jess laid the debate to rest. "I've tracked wounded damned animals around in the weeds before. I'll kick myself if I let this thing jump out of my back yard like goddamned Bambi." With that, we turned our backs to the cacophony of crowing from the front yard and moved to the side.
"Jess?" his mother-in-law bleated. "What are you doing with that bow? You're not going to kill something, are you? It's Donovan's birthday," and the old blimp hovered from her chair and made her way over to us.
"I'm well aware of my son's birthday, thank you. Just stay where you are and everything..."
The old bag blew past us and in to the back yard. With her arms raised, she yelled, "Shoo! Shoo!" The prone deer started from its spot and stood, supported by its thin, muscular legs. Jess aimed his bow, drew it, and THWANG!
"Thanks, Evelyn," he said to his mother-in-law's face. "I couldn't have shot it while it was laying down."
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, September 15
The Lost Boys (1987)
USA 8:00 a.m.
Haimster and The Feld Man. The first onscreen team up of the two Coreys. Feathered hair, bicycles, and a young Jami Gertz. Look for "Bill" from Bill and Ted's as a vampire motorcycle punk. Classic.
Survivor: Guatemala -- The Maya Empire
KFMB 8:00 p.m.
Is this the first episode? I'm such a whore for Survivor it's gross. Flashing shots of women in bikinis, jungle foliage, and aggressive contests is heroin for my medulla oblongata -- that old part of the brain that's still mostly lizard -- lights up like a pinball machine at this crap. I hate myself for it, but I can't fight evolution.
Friday, September 16
HGTV 8:30 p.m.
A show about organizing a room. I weep -- weep! -- for the direction this country has headed.
Saturday, September 17
The Jackal (1997)
USA 10:30 a.m.
Bruce Willis makes out with a guy and Jack Black gets his arm blown off. Good morning!
Die Another Day (2002)
SPIKE 6:00 p.m.
Two weeks ago at Burning Man I finally had my first overdose -- 15 years of abuse and I popped my cherry this year. While I was already high and drunk I decided to do enough cocaine to stun a moose. I collapsed into the hardpan, dusty, desert floor and lay in the sunshine. My friends propped my head up and fed me bourbon and soda. When my racing heart slowed to a gallop I hopped up and said, "All right. Let's do some more blow then ride our bikes."
Sunday, September 18
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
KSWB 7:00 p.m.
Here's how this is going to play out. I'll be bored as hell sitting around Sunday evening. This is going to come on TV. I'm going to say, "Eh, got nothing else to do, might as well watch this." I'm going to look up on the DVD shelf and see my roommates' copy of THIS VERY movie and I'm going to be too lazy to put it in and watch it unedited and without commercials. God, I'm predictable.
Monday, September 19
XETV 9:00 p.m.
A successful show will run for seven or eight years. Does anyone else see a problem here?
Tuesday, September 20
My Name Is Earl
KNSD 9:00 p.m.
Small-town crook Jason Lee -- of Chasing Amy , Mallrats, and Dogma fame -- decides to make amends with the people he's hurt. See? I can focus sometimes. I'm not always all wild and coked up and drunk and crazy yelling, "BLEAH! BLEAH! BLEAH!" in the streets.
Wednesday, September 21
KNSD 12:00 p.m.
GOD! PLEASE! Let her bring on someone she was locked up in the clink with. PLEASE! PLEASE, GOD! That would be so cool.
Thursday, September 22
Everybody Hates Chris
XUPN 8:00 p.m.
Banished! For the crime of having a failed cable show. For the crime of making terrible movies. For the crime of hosting awards shows. Chris Rock, you are hereby banished from the heights of superstardom to the depths of a series on UPN! Banished!