The BSAC was holding its annual pajama carnival so the lads and I put on our shorts and wifebeaters and headed down to the grange.
It was a business opportunity was how we saw it, cuz the BSAC (say it B-sack, dude) was a great place for prospective sponsors to check out the majes (1) and suss out our bionics and our vision of where our bionics were going, cuz if you were hot and could string together a few words they were knifing each other in the back to use you in their ads and maybe underwrite your next implant. (2) And if you were hot, and oppositional, and played in a maje rock band, it was a damn lucrative way to go.
Matthew and Tyler and Tommy were shuffling out to the van in their slippers, but I said fuck it and wore Adidas. I mean, you can’t project the kind of moxious roguishness that tells a sponsor, “This is the guy we want to front our ten-second Times Square spots for $12.7 million a year” if you’re shuffling along in slippers.
As usual, we were on the list, meaning we got comped a fat bag each of tokens recycled from the video game parlors of times past. The value of each parlor’s tokens changed very quickly as the local nostalgia market fluctuated, so you had to be strategic and follow the relative strengths of a Chuck E. Cheese and a Magic Hobittondowns and a Galaxopolis and a UH Student Union so as to get the best entertainment value for your fake money.
So we checked the exchange rates on the reader board as we came in and used our tokens thusly:
And tickets won you chances in the Raffle.
And Grand Prize this year was a keg of Buck Beer. (3)
Buck Beer, you know, was no ordinary beer—and I’m not just talking about how it came in kegs made of cast iron and was fortified with the amino acids and the latest costly performance enhancers favored by the maje crowd but how it had something only rumored, whispered about; something that gave any real maje-head a chill—you couldn’t have bought a pint of this stuff for all the tokens in the grange tonight, because, so the story goes, the very microorganisms populating it were bionic—tiny unicellular robots engineered to get your muscles pumped, do routine maintenance on your bionics, and get you loaded. So hell yeah we were waiting to the end on this raffle.
The evening wore on and finally the MC was all “Welcome to the Bionic Society Association Club’s thirty-seventh triweekly party AND annual pajama carnival YEAAAAHHHH” and our President climbed up on the stage and started turning the big cage with the little balls in it.
And Jackie Pinkerton, this dude with bionic vocal cords, started calling the numbers. “TWOfer seven seven thirty eight forty….three!” very slow and dramatic.
“Well now who is the lucky winner? Come on up to the front and choose your prize!”
At this point the lads and I swore a solemn oath to pool our tickets and share the keg if we won. Like we naturally did with everything else. That’s why at the time we were all living in this totally rhubarbed-out villa Tommy bought with a sponsorship from Conde Nast. You shoulda seen our guitar room, you shoulda seen our skate ramp.
OK. So we’re sitting there out on the grange patio with all our tickets spread out on the picnic table and we’re looking for the one with the magic number and it just takes three calls for one of them to hit. So Ty-Ty marches on up there to pick his prize, only it appears (now that we start paying attention to the big screens overhead that show a closeup of each prize as Tyler passes it up) that these are indeed some bum-hip prizes. Bum-hip indeed: I’m talking keychains and fridge-magnets and pens obviously sent as promos to BSAC in hopes of currying some brand favor; and so Tyler was dilly-dallying around when he should’ve really just grabbed something small he could throw away discreetly.
And the whole grange hall full of maje-heads and the President and Jackie Pinkerton were getting very impatient waiting for him to choose when they shoulda just gone ahead and called the next number already. But nooooooo.
Finally he came back with a scented candle emblazoned “Ford Trucks Are Maje Tough!” And then we looked at all our tickets spread out over our laps and table and everything and we realized we had about 163 more chances at that keg, and in the meantime, hell if we were going up there for Vivendi Universal lighters, Arbusto Energy lip balms and all that.
Of course once we spread that message, no one else would dare step up, so when Pinkerton called the next number nobody took notice. But this was an “Everybody Wins” raffle, explained Our President (about whom we were starting to wonder just how majed was this guy), and before they would give away the Grand Prize, they had to call all the ticket numbers and give away all the lesser prizes. Pinkerton (about whom the four of us were now thinking who knew this guy was so cumpy, didn’t he buy us a round of Hennessy earlier?) kept yelling the number in strident bionic tones, and the President was all like “I don’t get it,” and being all insulted and threatening not to give away the Buck after all so then of course we all changed our tune and people started going up and taking whatever, the first thing we saw, and just hucking it on the floor or at someone’s head.
But it went pretty slow, you can imagine, cuz a ticket would get called, and the owner would be in the john or using his last tokens at the bar (4) or on the phone or whatever and we would have to hear Pinkerton say the number like forty times before the guy slogged his way through the snowdrifts of unwanted promo crap to claim his little Viacom travel sewing kit and we could move on to the next number. But then finally we got down to the point where there were two balls left. And the guys and I still got a ticket. And Pinkerton let it rip: “TWOfer seven seven thirty eight twenty….seven!” And we just flipped out, cracked the table in half with our like sheer exuberance, because WE WON IT, we won a KEG OF MOTHERBARKING BUCK BEER and we ran like crazy up to the front practically weeping and dislocating each other’s shoulders with bionic high fives and shit. And we were whooping and jumping and the whole hall of guys was like applauding kind of fake-excited and secretly pissed and the President was smiling and holding out his hand for the ticket. And I handed it to him and he looked at it and said this isn’t the ticket.
So, yeah, we had jumped the gun a little, because the second place prizewinner had never come up, had he; and I looked over to see indeed a last lonely wallet-sized Exxon tide calendar sitting there waiting to be taken home and loved, loved indeed; and nobody was coming up to claim it. And talk about anticlimactic because then after our manic furniture-damaging outburst of victorious bloodlust we just had to stand up there waiting for this loser to get his calendar and listening to Pinkerton’s annoying bionic whine and suddenly there’s a flurry as this chick runs up excitedly saying her boyfriend was the one who, and I forgot to mention this earlier, this guy had been a little slow getting his leg out of the FootTrap game—talk about idiotic, challenging the FootTrap without bionic reflexes, without a single bionic enhancement in fact—got in here as a guest of this chick (who just happened to be the only majed female in this chapter of the BSAC, too bad she was so goddamn farby) and it chewed up his leg, the whole right side of his torso and part of his neck until he was like basically C-shaped—and he of course had to be rushed away for drastic reconstruction. (5) So his girlfriend (displaying a totally malevolently flat affect I may add) was saying he’d won just one ticket before the accident and it was probably still in his pajama pocket or what was left of that item of clothing after being chewed to shreds. (6) (7)
All this time, you know, while everyone had been searching for this ticket in their pajamas and totes and prosthetic skin sacs (remember how Vuitton had that great metallic marsupial look in the beginning? but then it just totally deteriorated into these gross flesh fannypacks, and some of the knockoff pouches that night were not looking good), the four of us lads were getting jamped to re-launch our victory parade even if it meant fighting our way to that keg.
So the second the President started in with “Well until we get that ticket back there’s no” we pitched our riotous comeback, and bellowing our rebel yell WE WON BUCK BEER and then Tommy’s brilliant addition PINTGLASSES FOR EVERYONE we hefted the keg onto the bar and as quickly as we could while keeping up a steady triumphal roar we started passing glasses of Buck around the room to all our new best friends.
And would you believe that pussy President of ours, instead of rolling with our victory, he called in the BSAC Police, and suddenly the grange was swarming with security wielding riot shields, and brother it was ON. We pounded our pints and rallied round that keg, tossing cops over the bar, tasting the way the Buck pumped us on the cellular level, bustin’ heads and breakin’ teeth, and it was MAJE RAGE all the way.
Or well, actually, maybe it didn’t go down exactly like that, although that’s how they dramatized it in the miniseries; and maybe I should take a moment here to explain the kinds of bionics most of the guys in the BSAC had at the time, cuz to be honest I may have been mischaracterizing the situation just a little, and leading you to believe that we were sporting massive cyberbiceps or majed-out chassis or like that. Actually, it was more common to see a guy with a bionic earlobe, or thumbnail, or eyelid. The four of us lads had some really high-quality work mind you; I was lucky to have a majed kneecap, and Matthew had those mardic sideburns; but that was unusual. All Tommy had was an enhanced metacarpal tendon, and Tyler’d had a molar worked on. (8)
That should give you some idea. As for the security, they were all talk. Riot shields…that may have been a little poetic license, you might say. There was indeed some yelling, out on the patio that night, and some blustering, and some threats of lawyers being consulted, and it was in fact looking like someone would get shoved in a moment, when just then up rolled this massive trailer, I mean one of those gigantic Hollywood moviestar trailers, I mean like a bronto-trailer, like shouldn’t be allowed on streets huge, like only legal on the movie lot colossal; it was about the size of a football field and had to roll down two streets at once on huge struts. So there’s this big ol’ delty trailer blocking out the sky above us, this like vasty trailer looming overhead like the mothership, and we were all like hushed in awe, and before we knew it there were camera crews pouring out of it everywhere and the stylish host was in our faces yelling “Welcome to MTV Pimp My Bionics!!!!!!” and we were all like whoa.
But the thing is that when they went in to so-called pimp our bionics, they were just like overawed at the originality and sheer caliber and pureness of our majes and had to just kind of Step Back in appreciation of the genius. Matthew’s sideburns, thanks to underwriting by Microsoft, could not only wrestle, but recommend socially conscious gifts for every occasion, and make the perfect cup of fair-trade coffee. Tyler’s molar (sponsored by Halliburton) was programmed to take his dry-cleaning to environmentally sensitive vendors and select the choicest cuts of grass-fed beef. My kneecap was capable of nonviolent conflict resolution (when I wanted it), and Tommy’s tendon could lobby Congress on issues that impact maje-heads and the businesses that cater to them. So MTV did the logical thing and gave us our own show instead.
The show was huge—it’s in reruns now and then; maybe you remember it. It was just us, just the four of us talking with celebrity hosts about how the kids of today have a moral obligation to make sure their bionics can contribute positively to society; how our genre-defying music stemmed from our deep roots in Blink 182, Vangelis and Hoobastank; how getting majed was a metaphor for our overweening contempt for authority of all kinds, and how we ultimately forgave the BSAC President for his infamous role in the Prosthesian War (as that year’s pajama carnival riot came to be known in maje-head legend) which like I’ve said became the subject of an epic miniseries that brought the four of us residual checks in just silly amounts.
On top of it all I got a sweet deal with Adidas, who’d been represented at the pajama carnival that night; they liked the way I’d been caught on camera waving my bionic kneecap threateningly at this security guy’s crotch, my Adidas gripped in my fist. They bought the original footage and ran it with the slogan “Like a bionic kneecap in the groin of authority” and then the exposure from that deal got Maje Lads a three-record contract with Fred Durst’s label (a division of AOL Time Warner, no less—boy were our parents proud).
Those were good times, and I don’t regret a minute of it, and yeah it does kinda suck these days to have to be on VH1 “Maje-Heads: Where Are They Now?” just to pay for basic maintenance. But it’s the drippies’ turn to be the alpha puppies, and all I have to say to those kids is, have fun and get a good accountant.
(1) If you asked us the origin of the name we call ourselves (Majes: We get ourselves majed, we have dope majes) you’d find we remember where it started but we don’t take it to heart. Lee Majors isn’t exactly a role model is what we’d say. Six million—you’d pay more for a bionic knuckle.
(2) Indeed the bionics industry started by helping people in desperate need: those missing fingers, salivary glands, and septums. But the cost, the insane cost! You could feed seven African villages for a year on what it cost to bionicize an eardrum. It was taking a terrible toll on the bionics providers. There was no other way for them to expand into the consumer market and increase shareholder value but through major corporate sponsorship.
So, big deal, before you got your maje you’d have to sign a waiver saying you understood that Wal-Mart, Phillip Morris, Nestle, British Petroleum, Nike, Anheuser-Busch, GM, Pfizer, IBM, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and/or Cinnabon owned your bionics. Of course, there will always be haters who can’t appreciate the sacrifices being made for them. You get your sternum upgrade, you’re paying no more than a few thousand against the enormous total cost, and you’ve always been a Pepsi drinker, but suddenly you’re buying Coke by the case. Cry me a river. Are you really gonna complain to me about a little implanted product placement, a little neuronically enhanced brand loyalty, considering the massive financial contributions those companies have made towards your happiness? You best trot yourself straight down to the mall, buster.
(3) Why, indeed, get so hyphy over a keg of beer? Remember: Ordinary booze—with the notable exception of Hennessy—was still at that point toxic to bionics because it created enzymes that compromised the neurocyber membrane. I mean it still does that, the makers of Hennessy were just first in the market to reformulate for the maje crowd. Because their marketing director’s son was a maje himself, and a former BSAC President as well. Of course not long after that you had everyone coming out with the latest maje drink in their product line, targeted right at us. I mean us specifically, me and Tommy and Tyler and Matthew. Because we were their focus group. That was around the same time Hennessy started buying our product loyalty for months at a pop, if I recall correctly.
(4) Shockwave tokens had shown such dramatic economic recovery in the course of the evening, we were regretting having spent them so freely earlier.
(5)To be fair I should definitely point out that FootTrap™ carnival entertainment systems have only killed three since June.
(6)We knew this didn’t entail the shredding of the ticket, because the BSAC always issued indestructible tickets woven from titanium filament courtesy of Lockheed-Martin.
(7)We also knew the BSAC would want its ticket back. All tickets revert to BSAC at the end of the night. No exceptions.
(8)Not that we didn’t want more, but we were just coming up at the time, plus there were all these laws back then crampin’ our god-given right to maje freely. Bionic ejaculation for example is still illegal (though I hear you can get it on the black market).