Becoming Heathcliffe Huxtable.

“Larson. I’ll be in town next week. Maybe we can get some dinner.” This was the message I received late last week. It was a friend from another time in my life, not someone particularly close, but someone whose company I enjoy nonetheless. And although I knew I wouldn’t be able to get together with said friend, I must say that a pleasant dinner sounded fun and inviting. Then the second message came.

“Nothing crazy!!!!”

There might have been three exclamation marks. Or perhaps five. I can’t say for sure. I suppose the amount of exclamation marks is irrelevant, only that they were there.

This friend wasn’t the first to write something along these lines over the last decade. It doesn’t bother me, not in the way you’d expect at least. It only bothers me because I feel like such a letdown if we actually do hang out because I am most certainly not crazy. This is just another example of how guys like me are idiots when it comes to these types of things. That is to say, we're idiots for thinking we need to live up to an image someone has.

When it comes to hanging out, I am not crazy. I have never thought I was crazy. I don’t think that’s how people would describe me. Put it this way, I wasn’t the guy staying up until four in the morning in college. I wasn’t known for stealing mascots, getting my stomach pumped, or streaking naked.

That isn’t to say I didn’t and don’t like to have fun. I think whatever craziness I possessed was regulated to the openness of an adventure. I wasn’t doing something moronic like chugging a bottle of Rumplemintz. However, if you wanted to go to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night dressed as a gorilla just because? I was up for that. I was definitely up for that. If I could steal a line from the musician Mike Doughty, I “like to let the sunshine in.” I’m definitely game for anything involving new people and new places, and all the more better if there’s some sort of costume involved.

I find this to be nerdy, not crazy.

But these days I’m far from an adventurous guy, and so when incoming friends visit, I feel the need to morph into who I once was simply as a way of not disappointing them. It’s almost like an athlete psyching himself up to play in a big game. My motivation just isn’t there anymore.

When my pals Kendrick and Buddha came in years ago, somehow we ended up running full-speed down a seedy alley as an overweight strip-club bouncer chased us, unable to catch us due to his constant need to avoid empty plastic water bottles hurled at him like some sort of weird real-life Donkey Kong game. In hindsight, empty plastic water bottles don't seem to be much of a defense, but he never did catch us. This might be attributed to his weight. Hmmm.

If only Kendrick and Buddha knew that at that point I hadn't been to a strip club more than twice in my entire tenure in Hollywood. In fact, to this day, I've never been to Jumbo's Clown Room. NOTE: If you don't know what that is, it's an LA thing that I've been told is best seen rather than told.

I’ve become Heathcliffe Huxtable, filled with a child-like innocence that never totally goes away. If it were a question between a night boozing in Hollywood at random bars or one filled with board games and just a smidge too much wine? There’s no contest. Pass the Pinot.

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cosby

I’m utterly lame. But I’m not sure how to convey this to my past friends. Their zest to go out probably has far more to do with my environment than me. Los Angeles is a tantalizing destination for those in the Midwest. I know. It seduced me like an alluring exotic woman just out of my league, but one I was still willing to talk to. I definitely had my fun when I first got here. It's impossible not to.

Now? Hollywood looks like a shiny girl that tanned too long and has far too many self-serve yogurt shops. I see the wrinkles and the incessant need to look fit and healthy, even if that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

At this age, any adventures need to be meticulously planned, especially around the prospect of a hangover. Speaking of, why didn’t any of you older dudes tell me the hangovers get longer and harder? I mean, no one spoke of this when passing along the dude Bible. I knew about the injuries and the belly fat and the graying hair… but none of you ass clowns could have mentioned the hangovers? Was this some sort of secret prank you like to play on new dudes in the not-exactly-young-anymore-dudes-club? Listen, if you’re younger than 30 and reading this, they get worse. They get bad. The stretch into the week, usually in direct correlation with the amount of drinks you had over the limit. One drink over the limit = one day of sluggishness. 2 = pain. 3 = you’re screwed for the week.

When I was younger, random spur of the moment Vegas trips happened every year. Nowadays, they need to be planned, preferably around the sleep arrangements. The bedding options become way more important than you’d have ever thought, whereas in the past a simple floor would have been adequate.

And the mention of Vegas brings me to my impending bachelor party. There are serious expectations for what is to go down, and I have to be fair that I’m just as much a part of that as anyone. I certainly like to hype it up to my friends. I did make a dossier after all, one filled with ball-busting insults about those most likely to be in bed by midnight. I did this mostly on account of my desire to make sure everyone has a fantastic time. It’s because of this that I am at fault for perpetuating the notion that getting together with me might lead to “something crazy.”

Truth is, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up come October. I’m old. Not old in the sense that I can’t go decently strong anymore, just old in the sense that I find myself yawning while trying to get through a simple movie on TBS.

Still, I’ll probably find a way to extract the old persona. I want the weekend to be remembered for some time, though I’m not completely sure why.

I think it’s a dude thing. We can be so moronic and absurd at times, never more so than when we’re trying to be ‘crazy’ or do ‘insane’ things. It’s like we’re trying to top other dudes and their level of craziness, as if that somehow makes us better.

Let me tell you, I’ve seen dudes in Hollywood do genuinely terrifying crazy and stupid things. I didn’t think they were cool or bad-ass. I thought they were idiots.

I am not crazy. My friends are not crazy. Pulling up to a drive-thru while wearing stormtrooper helmets is not crazy. It’s mildly amusing. At best.

It’s something Heathcliffe Huxtable would do.

And I’m content with that. Now I just need to convince the idiot dude inside me that it’s okay to be like that at all times. I don’t need to play up to anyone’s expectations. I can just be me.

Sigh… that feels best of all.

NOTE: The author would like his bachelor party companions reading this to know that they should make sure they pack a passport, some sort of mask/helmet (preferably Star Wars related), a reptile no longer than a an average human male leg, a Chinese throwing star, painkillers, one copy of the film Beastmaster, a working pager, a stuffed monkey, a pair of mesh shorts, a Sam Donaldson autograph, a shirt that you aren’t sure you can pull off, and a cool pair of shades.

You have to be prepared fellas.