Ernest Baker is a writer living in New York City. He moonlights as a professional rock star.
I fall asleep on Brian’s couch in Newton with my middle finger up. I’m always on-brand.
There’s a small party going on in this suburban home. In Utero and 56 Nights are blasting on the Sonos speakers.
My hazy state of consciousness can be attributed to Brian’s wisdom teeth. He got all four of them removed last week and now he has a surplus of Percocet and Xanax.
I took a two milligram bar yesterday before our massive homemade brunch in the late afternoon. Euphoria set in while devouring waffles to Gucci Mane and persisted through the game of 500 in the park that followed shortly thereafter.
I went for a walk through the woods with my girlfriend, Rosie, after tossing around the football. We smoked a joint and watched fish mate in the shallow part of the lake near Brian’s house for at least an hour. I dozed on a bench with my head in Rosie’s lap around dusk.
Part of my fatigue stems from the fact that I’ve barely slept this week. The rest is the pills. By the wee hours of the holiday morning, I’m essentially a zombie, rising for 15 minutes at a time.
I get up for just long enough to gorge a hot dog, chug a beer, smoke a cig, ramble some nonsense and cuddle with Rosie, before inevitably passing out again.
Rosie drags me from the hammock on the front porch to bed. The next hour of activity is dreamlike. I’m so exhausted though. “Please don’t take Xanax again tomorrow,” she says.
Bitch, I’m back out my coma.
We watch Lana Del Rey’s “National Anthem” video in bed.
The squad is mobilizing. Morning smokes are had. Coffee runs are made. Grocery store pick-ups are underway. Rosie wants to make a salad and slaw to complement all of the meat. Mikey is already picking up burger patties and lobster tails so I text him her list of needs:
“2 large carrots
1 small head of purple cabbage
2 large bushels of kale
2 ripe peaches
1 sharp provolone wedge or something OR parmesano
Toasted sesame oil
Raw apple cider vinegar”
“WHAT ARE THOSE”
We take 2 West to Phillipston. Mikey, Toll and Eddie are in one car. Me, Brian and Rosie are in the other. I’m driving. We listen to Lana Del Rey the entire way. I complain about how she didn’t perform most of her best songs at Governors Ball.
Our friend Alex was here last time, but he just moved to Atlanta. I miss him. Sometimes we talk about how great of a year 2004 was for rock music. The Killers released a classic. Modest Mouse released a classic. I text him:
“Did ‘Michael’ off Franz Ferdinand turn you gay because it did for me”
“yesssss turned gay af immediately”
I ask my girlfriend if she would be down for a threesome with me and Shia LaBeouf. “No, he’s a ween boy,” she says. She would prefer to bring Future into the bedroom.
We stop at Patriots Package in Templeton to grab a ton of cheap brews for the lakehouse. I feel like Hunter S. Thompson making beer runs with the Hell’s Angels. We settle on Narragansett lager and shandy. The rain is really starting to come down, but this is my favorite weather.
The first order of business is swimming in the lake. The rain makes the water warm. I brought swim trunks, but going back inside the house to get them seems like too much work when the lake is right here. Rosie swims much better than me. I kind of struggle tread the water and do just enough to not drown. She maneuvers through the water like she was born in it.
We listen to “Living in America” by Dom under the gazebo. I’ve always wanted to listen to this song on the 4th. They’re from Worcester, which is right around here. No one is worried about anything. I could do this forever.
It’s time to get serious about this food. It feels like we’ve waited too long already. Mikey starts cleaning the grill. Toll starts boiling the lobster tails. Rosie goes to work on the vegetables. I tell Mikey that the way he works the grill turns me on.
I’ve been eating for hours. I’m eating the way the Vikings probably ate after they won a battle or something. The sun comes out and me and Rosie take it in while sitting on the dock, smoking more, drinking more, taking selfies, basking in a perpetual state of bliss.
Mikey’s dad breaks out the cigars. His friend shows up. He has a pickup truck and is wearing full body camo. Deliverance vibes are real. Apparently, he won a million dollars in the lottery a while ago and now he gets paid $50,000 a year just to exist.
The sun is setting behind the forest. Steam is rising over the lake. The entire scene is so picturesque. It has a Camp Crystal Lake horror movie feel to it, in the most beautiful way. The only thing that’s scary is the size and amount of these mosquitoes.
We keep playing “Kiss Off” by Violent Femmes and running back the countdown part. That song is too real. We start rocking Back to Black in full. All me and the squad ever talk about is war and pop culture. This is a good day to do both.
It’s pitch black outside except for citronella candles and lights from the house. Fireworks are going off at other houses that line the lake. I take my aux cord duties seriously and make the transition from Squeeze’s “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” to American music.
Ramones. Devo. Blink 182. Then it’s back to In Utero and 56 Nights. Like always.
We cheer and applaud across the lake. People shout back, “Only 45 more!” We get another 10 minutes of explosions.
Someone makes the ill-advised decision to eat more. The guys run to pick up Domino’s. It’s the only option at this hour, on this day. Rosie and I stay back and make out in the kitchen.
Everyone’s sprawled across two couches watching Almost Famous. One by one, we drift off into our dreams. We have the rest of our lives ahead of us. It’s all happening.