Losing My Edge & Winning My Tickets

Who wants tickets to see the LCD Soundsystem at the Nokia Theater? Shit Robot’s opening! Send email to me with the subject line “LCD Soundsystem” and a description of the moment you realized you were losing your edge. Contest closes at 6, with the winner’s story posted here. We have a winnah! Story posted inside.

Buy tickets or pick ‘em up at the Mercury Lounge box office (since it’s Bowery Presents) if I hate your story, or if you hate this contest. Come to think of it, if you hate this contest, email me with some good contest ideas. Best idea wins a torn hoodie that smells like liquid smoke. Suckers!

We had some pretty decent entries, a couple really funny ones, and at least one outright threat of physical violence (double counted ‘cos it was funny) but this, our latest entry, was left-field and great. You could eat out on this story for a year.

Winning Entry:

“Whatever you do, don’t stop for cops. Ever.” That was the only advice we were following as the four of us set off on our motorbikes to explore the hills of northern Vietnam. It was May and the end of our year in Nam. “Our tour,” we joked, it being 2003 and US-led conflicts having moved elsewhere. We thought we had our edge intact. We called ourselves the Pig Fuckers (some drunken extension of our mantra “Fuck the Pigs”) We had loud Belo-Russian Minsk motorbikes. When it was too hot we took off our damn helmets and exposed our skulls to the pounding sun overhead.

We sped along dusty gravel roads, following a folded pencil-drawn sketch we’d copied from a provincial wall map at our guest house. When we were tired of riding, we stopped at random roadside stands for tea and lychee fruit. (We’d save the turpentine-flavored rice wine and pharmaceuticals for later.)

Maybe it was the lychees. When it was getting late-ish, we came to a river – a big river – that our bikes couldn’t make it across. We decided to stop for the night. We got off our bikes and were immediately surrounded by two-dozen villagers, at least half of them under the age of 5.

Cara and I, the two women in our group, sustained a direct assault. Every child picked an arm or a thigh and clutched onto us, their collective brown eyes beaming upward. Bob and Shane laughed at us, heading off for a soccer game with the men. We should’ve shaken them off; we were no maternal types. We weren’t there on some Save the Children mission for Sally Struthers. But, damnit, they weren’t even asking for a handout or anything — just taking tactile delight in these new, strange people appearing out of nowhere. And I could feel it then, each tiny hand rubbing off a piece of my edge. How dare these little urchins with their blasted humanity!

It got worse from there. They took us swimming in the river, diving off rocks and doing tricks. An impish boy dumped out the last of our bottled water as a joke and I thought briefly about wringing his neck Homer Simpson-style (possibly my last remaining shred of edge), but then laughed and slapped him on the back, maybe a tad too hard.

We were invited to sleep on the floor of a stilt-house by the guy who seemed to run things in the village, and the apparent father of many of the children. We asked with signs and pointing what happened to the bridge that was in ruins over the river. “American” he said, then made an exploding sound. “Where you from?” he asked. We looked at the floor, mumbled some lie about “Canada.”

That night, the four of us sat by the riverbank, sharing some shwag Vietnamese weed chopped up with cornhusks or some shit. There was an electrical storm overhead and fireflies flashed like papparazzi from the bushes. We didn’t even smoke the whole joint. It was like we didn’t even need it. We were — God help us, we were “high on life.” And it wasn’t even in quotes. What was happening to us?

The next day we rode over the river on a hanging plank bridge. We got close to the border with China when a cop waved us over. No, we didn’t stop. We knew that was a mistake. But we didn’t keep going either. In a line, one after the other, we turned around and went back the way we came. Our motors in unison declaring we’d surrendered our edge.