My Nineteenth Birthday

Friends convinced me to rent a hotel for my nineteenth birthday. This was so we could get bombed. None of us had apartments at the time so our options were our parents’ basements, dead end roads, or rented spaces.

Clerk dude at hotel charged me $60 and asked if I was in town for the hockey game. Told him sure was. I had an afternoon to kill before my friends were to come over. Crashed out on hotel bed to some bad cartoons and decent pizza. Blew out imaginary candles on the pizza. The sheets smelled like sweat. Decent way to start off being nineteen.

I lost my phone a few days before and had a lot of anxiety over not having it. My first girlfriend and I had just split a few weeks prior and I thought maybe she’d call me.

You can read about her and that relationship here:

Went to the Verizon store and they told me it would cost $150 to replace the phone since I didn’t have my mom with and it was on her plan. With my mom along it would’ve been $50. Phone was a cheap rubbery piece of shit too. I wasn’t going to be able to get a cell with my mom until the next day so I spent the $150. Somehow thinking a call from her would mean something despite the fact she’d lost her virginity to her new boyfriend the week before. I was delusional, thinking she’d come around and back to me on my birthday. I was going to be nineteen, after all. With my $150 hunk of rubber I headed back to the hotel. Gripping it in my hand the entire time in hopes of feeling the buzz of a call or text.

Friends started showing up around early evening. These were the guys that I’d been close with in high school. They were all in college now and I was the only one taking a year off. It was spring break so they were free. I didn’t go to college right after high school because I had no idea what direction I wanted my life to head. Felt like a hydra with eyes looking down fifty different career paths that were all related to napping and unemployment. Had no interests or passions that could be converted into a paycheck. Or even a sense of purpose. So instead I spent that first year after graduation seeing this girl, watching Family Guy, and working at a shitty gas station in my hometown that I’d started at as a sophomore. It only took about three months before I was burnt out on this lazy life. By the time my birthday came around I was buku ready to jump back into school because I felt so lost from boredom and the breakup. Still had no clue what to do with myself, but figured college would make it so that I could stave off any real decisions for a few more years.

My friends brought a bunch of beer. I can’t remember who all was there, but I think it was four guys and two girlfriends, drifting in and out through the night. I was still very new to drinking at this time. My father has been sober fifteen years and because of that I never wanted to drink in high school. Still have weird alcohol issues to this day stemming from my father. Didn’t start until the summer after graduation. First at a Canadian strip club, then a boozy night on a friend’s deck. But still, at this point I’d only drunk a few times and can only remember being wasted once.

Everyone knew I’d just had a breakup. I don’t think they understood quite how fucked up I was over it since I rarely talked about the girl while I was dating. But still, they knew I wasn’t feeling perfect. Normal goofy Nolan had checked out and was replaced by this comatose kid who just wanted to sleep all day. It was my idea to drink. Wanted to get wasted so that I could relax. So I could forget. Wanted a reason for us friends to have a hang out night again.

Started cracking beers quick. The cardboard case was ripped open and Natty Ice got shot around the room granny style. It wasn’t long before I was falling all over the floor. I’d try walk and my legs went sideways. Curses to you, legs. Curses. I’d tip and people pulled me up like a fallen basketball player. Every time I went down I could feel the phone in my pocket. Waiting for it to buzz. Angry that it didn’t.

Began blabbing to friends about this girl. My friend’s girlfriend said maybe she would come back to me. Then I started telling them how that wouldn’t happen since she was sleeping with this new guy. I’d talk about her fucking him and then fall back into a wall. Collapsing to the floor, cursing the bitch’s name. I wanted her but at the same time hated her so completely. Felt angry for everything she’d done to me. Pain she’d put me through and then dropping me from her life as if we hadn’t shared a lot together. Angry at myself for being a shitty boyfriend and unable to get over my jealousy. Unable to deal with the loss. Cheap beer wasn’t helping me relax, just making me act ridiculous.

Somehow we ended up outside in the parking lot of this hotel. Friend was so hammered that he got in his car and started blaring its horn. A few weeks before my car had blown up and I was driving this piece of shit that I called the Sweetmobile.

God damn, what beauty.

The Sweetmobile was an ’89 Chevy Celebrity — the car one pictures in their mind when thinking of a single mother in poverty. Since I got the thing for almost nothing I decided to destroy it the day I bought it. Friends and I went to Wal-Mart and bought a ton of spray paint and stickers. Convinced a Wal-Mart employee to come join us in the destruction. Took it out to the country and beat it with hammers and bats; sprayed it with our best attempts at street art. Dumped strawberry jam ice cream topping all over the hood. Stacked bagels on the antennae. Pissed on the wheels. Spelled out SKYLINE on the back with stickers.

Glued a plunger and gummy worms to the hood and TMNT figures to the roof in various sex positions.


The goal was to destroy the Sweetmobile as much as possible while keeping it drivable. We had a history of doing this, as with another friend’s shitty car we would light off fireworks in it and once bolted a chair’s footrest to the trunk as a spoiler. With the Sweetmobile we always kept a bat and hammers around so that we could beat on it when we wanted to. It was more of a communal vehicle than just my own. A friend put a hole in the back window with a hammer and we duct taped in a can of Mountain Dew to fill the gap. Backseat became unusable because it was filled with glass and dry cement (bags of which I used to anchor down the trunk once it would no longer close). Once while destructing in a store parking lot and a woman drove up asking why we were doing that to someone’s car. At the time I was on the hood pouring mustard on the windshield while a friend stuck Hardee’s fish sandwich stickers to the back window. I thought it was funny that she thought vandals would put that much flare into their work as car exterminators.

At the hotel on my birthday night I was working on raping the Sweetmobile even more. Banging out every ounce of frustration. Jumping on the roof. Honking the horn (you had to touch some wires together since the horn piece was broke). Kicking the doors as hard as I could. Three of us were trampolining on it at once in the parking lot. After we went back to our room a young hotel clerk came around and said there had been multiple noise complaints against us. The police would be called if there was one more. I don’t know how we were so dumb to not see that coming. None of us were of age, so that cleared the party out quick. I was still wasted. Scared I would be in trouble with the police. Everyone except one friend left.

That night him and I lay in the dark having one of those drunken conversations where you touch on the topics of life and its meaning. He was enrolled in this Humanities program at college (which I joined the next year) and I guess that shit was floating around his mind. We’d gone to school together our entire lives and never before had a conversation like this. I don’t know what all we talked about, but pretty sure we discovered several paths to world peace that night (solution found: beer on hotel sheets will stop war). We spoke in hushed voices. I slept with my head against the rubber phone. Waiting to feel it buzz.

Next morning I tried to film a small triangle I made out of beer cans somehow thinking this was important to preserve. Got into the Sweetmobile and drove home listening to Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning CD which I bought myself as a present. This was my first time listening to the album and I was into it right away. It’s a record that to this day I never stop revisiting. So I drove home feeling slightly hungover, but good. My ex didn’t contact me which I realized was for the best. Turned off my phone. No more delusions of hope. I had this really great music playing, and in that moment it was enough to make me content. Pop cans in the backseat rattled against all the pieces of broken glass.

When I got home my mom called me downstairs to the computer in the basement.

Say hello to my mom.

First thing she said was “Nolan, we need to talk about something.” No greetings of happy birthday, my handsome son. My stomach felt horrid when she said we needed to talk, like a rat was swimming through my intestines. Thought the hotel had called home since I gave them that number and now I was fucked.

But instead she opened the favorites folder on Internet Explorer and I saw that it was filled with hundreds of links to porn. These were not my links. I hadn’t looked at porn on my parents’ computer for years. She said I was the only person whose they could be since they didn’t belong to her or my dad or my sister. Bitch thought she had me nailed. I figured out that it must have been some type of spyware thing and tried explain that to her. Eventually she half believed what I said, but then told me some bad news. In her rage after finding the porn links she went to my room and threw away every piece of objectionable media she could find.

My mom has a weird control issue involving things which she finds to be “crude and vulgar.” Growing up this meant we never got to watch PG-13 movies, play video games, or watch The Simpsons. She was also opposed to Shrek and Pixar movies, but we could watch them when she wasn’t around. Every now and then she’d confiscate things of mine (purchased in high school with my own money) like Halo and Marilyn Manson’s autobiography. One day I’d have them, the next she’d decided they were trash and threw them when I wasn’t around. Claimed she hid them in the ceiling somewhere; that I could have them back when I moved out. Of course this wasn’t true.

If you’ve read an entry or two from your humble narrator Gabfrab you know that I have different tastes and values than my mother. Once I got a job, along with the aide of the internet, I began opening myself up to a new world of books and music and films that I hadn’t imagined before. Educated myself in the perverse and the provocative. Who knew something like a dubbed VHS copy of Pulp Fiction could change a farmer’s kid’s perspectives so much. I don’t know if it is in reaction to her or just what I gravitate toward naturally, but I have no limits in terms of crude or heinous things. I’m fascinated by anything fucked up (e.g. Especially if it’s done well.

The rationale for her throwing away my things the morning after my birthday was: her house, her rules. Naturally I freaked out. Went upstairs. My room looked more trashed than it normally was (and it was pretty fucking trashed to begin with). Saw that at least half of my prized VHS collection was missing, along with CDs, a toy action figure of Mr. Brown, books, and some movie posters. She left all kinds of horrid shit behind like a VHS anime porno I bought as a joke at a pawn shop, so obviously she just swiped at random. I imagine her going around the room with a black trash bag, stepping over dirty clothes, blindly throwing in tapes and The Vagina Monologues and pieces of candy while muttering “My son, the pornographer.”

Old hag told me she’d burned everything that morning. I went around our yard (which is big, my parents live in the country and have a lot of property) looking for a black puddle of melted VHS plastic. There wasn’t one and no burn smell either. Slipped into rage mode. Told the bitch she owed me thousands of dollars (used VHS and free movie posters were much pricier back then, you see). We had a huge screaming match. I came on the verge of tears out of frustration. It was the morning after my birthday, my ex was fucking some asshole, and my friends hadn’t even hung around to spend the night at this hotel I got.

With my younger sister we went in search of what had been taken. Drove over to our grandma’s and checked the Dumpster. In it we found six garbage bags filled with my things. I knew my mom and her hiding spots too well. I opened a door of the Sweetmobile and dug every bag out of the trash. My sister then threw them in the backseat. I kept the stuff in there until night under the cover of a blanket, then returned it all to my room when the old hag was asleep. Dumped everything out on the floor in a pile. She didn’t know I got it all back. So sneaky. Somehow my favorite brown teddy bear had wound up amongst the things she threw. And now he smelled like garbage.

I was happy to have my shit back. Not so much because I wanted the actual stuff, but because it was such a violation of my trust for her to do that. I was nineteen, an age where I wanted to be free and was technically an adult, but still very dependent on my parents financially, emotionally, etc. Not ready for the world yet. So I had to make a trade and deal with things like her assumption that I used the computer to masturbate to porn. Of course she never uttered the word masturbation, but apparently me doing that was what she feared most. Naturally I’d been blowing my load in her house for years, and what she really should’ve worried about was how much a month I was costing her in toilet paper.

I spent the next few years exacting revenge by looking up all kinds of porn on their computer. Downloading bestiality and death videos just for the hell of it. Now that stuff largely bores me, but for awhile it was fun to expose myself to all kinds of horrific things just so I could say I saw it. Just so I could get an inkling of understanding of what was out there in the world, good and bad, beyond the borders of North Dakota.

About a month later I was driving the Sweetmobile to work in the morning. My mom was out biking on the same road. The car was in rough condition at this point. The back windshield caved in and I taped up a massive Land Before Time poster in its place. For weeks I’d known the Sweetmobile needed oil added to the engine but I couldn’t do it since the hood wouldn’t open from us beating it in so bad. Just figured it’d be okay. As I drove by my old biking hag mom the engine exploded and a shit ton of smoke blew out the exhaust, shrouding her in a black cloud. The Sweetmobile was dead.

R.I.P. "Sweetmobile." 1989-2005. Cause of death: bad cocaine. No known living relatives.

My mom sucked in the last fumes that car ever produced. Ended up selling it for $20. This was my final year as a teenager. I was not spending it well.

I was nineteen, living with my parents, not in school, dead end job, recently dumped, and had no car. But hey, at least I owned 600 VHS tapes.

6 thoughts on “My Nineteenth Birthday

    1. I am so glad you can remember nights like that, dude. They were such a blast. And so reckless. I think I have nothing but fun memories regarding that car. If I could bring the Sweetmobile back from the dead I’d let you beat on it some more.


  1. I stumbled upon this post, checked how long it was, and told myself I’d just skim it. Ended up reading the whole thing plus a lot more. I really, really like how you write. I am simultaneously fascinated, inspired, and intimated. I really admire your honestly and ability to broach, ah…intimate subjects. Very cool.


    1. I woke up to this comment this morning and it made me feel really good. That is awesome that you enjoy my writing so much. Over the years of writing I’ve found that to be honest, tap into the emotions I was experiencing during a situation, and not be too afraid to embarrass myself is what makes for a really good read. I’d probably have more readers if my posts weren’t so dauntingly long haha, but once making that leap most seem to enjoy. Keep in touch and comment more if you’d like. I’ll check out your blog. Many thanks.


  2. This is awesome! Well the writing and pictures to go with it because I honestly wouldn’t have believed a word you said without them. I love the story and can totally relate to being a certain age or just coming to the realization that something has to give and that you must do better than what you’re used to doing.

    Liked by 1 person

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