I’ve consciously put off writing a column only once before. The subject was my French bulldog Boris’ untimely passing. A year after the occasion, I felt that I was finally ready to share the anguish that I went through when he suffered from a broken spine and was misdiagnosed, his little body finally giving out in veterinary limbo.
It was alongside Boris that I lived some of my strongest personal and professional highs, including my first story published in CityBeat in March 2008—a cover story, no less—and two months later, what would become my claim to quasi-fame, a nightlife column called The Enrique Experience.
I now have a tribute tattoo in Boris’ honor that takes up most of my left forearm. It pictures him standing akimbo, wearing blue championship shorts, glove-covered dukes (put up, naturally), and says “Fighter Till the End.” I’d like to think he’s proud of me and how far I’ve come since that first column—a first-person take on the Mr. and Ms. Cinco de Mayo pageant at the LGBT Center—and how, regardless of whatever challenges I’ve had to overcome with my homespun English, I’ve been lucky enough to not only make a career out of it, but acquire a following doing it, as well.
It’s now the night before my deadline, and for the second time ever, I can’t bring myself to write. You see, this entry marks the last Experience.
OK, I’ll start it right after my lunch date, I told myself earlier today. Hold on, a marathon session of Bravo sounds really good right about now, I thought as I made my way home (big ups to Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding). The evening was capped with: Nap? Sounds good to me!
I had a very stressful nightmare during that siesta, one revolving around yours truly engaged in an international taxi-cab-carjacking operation, and I awoke taking the deepest gasp for air imaginable and singing “Get Happy” aloud like a crazy person. Sing Hallelujah, come on, get happy / Get ready for the Judgment Day, I intoned with the gusto of a regular Uncle Remus.
I figured it was God’s way of letting me know I needed to get on it at the risk of losing whatever little sanity I had left. So, armed with my two biggest muses: the Soundscapes music channel and a steaming Cup-O-Noodles, I faced my demons and started typing.
At times, I’ve felt as if my tenure at CityBeat has played out like low-budg version of The Devil Wears Prada (“a million girls would kill for your job” is one of my many mantras). So, with my love not just for alt-media, but journalism in general, still intact, I decided to kill the baby, so to speak.
I announced this decision to my editor months ago during a rare one-on-one meeting and told him that it was my wish to reach the mini milestone that is this space’s four-year anniversary before the infant-bludgeoning.
A lot was said in that meeting, both good and bad, and although I had the Mommy Dearest boardroom monologue memorized and ready to go, I never once lost my cool. At risk of damaging his street cred, I’ll share this much: We sealed the encounter with a hug.
Don’t tell the guy, but I have a deep admiration for him, and the gesture meant a lot.
I’ve always thought of myself as the Oprah of Chula Vista, so in preparing for this issue—along with the tunes and the ramen, I watched snippets from her final talk-show episode. “Gratitude is the single greatest treasure I will take with me from this experience,” she professed.
So, to my boss for upholding our gentleman’s agreement through a round of budget cuts so I could get to this very meaningful landmark, I say thank you. I would also like to say thanks to all the editors and writers I’ve had the pleasure of working with: Your criticism—both constructive and not—has made my already crocodile-thick skin that much thicker.
Most of all, though, I’d like to thank my regular readers (all three of you). You’re the ones who kept me and this award-winning (I know, right, what was the San Diego Press Club thinking?) column going.
You’re the ones I owe the most to, and this love letter is dedicated to you. We’ve LOL’d, shed a tear or two and have grown to be comfortable in our own skins together. Furthermore, you’ve always accepted me for the work in progress that I am, no questions asked.
From the gin-soaked ashes of this column’s origins to its semi-legit present, you’ve spent Christmas in jail with me while booked on a bogus charge, have partied alongside furries in East County, accompanied me to L.A. to meet one of my idols (Larry Flynt) and have even put up with my tales of procrastination when it came to replacing my toilet’s chain in the Experience’s first longer-form incarnation.
Ironically, getting revved up for this last entry, another integral part of my WC’s operation, its flapper, gave out.
Because of all the aforementioned adventures and the many others that form part of this column’s catalogue, if a future alien race ever descends to Earth to study humanity long after we’re gone, it’s my wish they stumble onto my hard drive and go from there just to fuck with ’em.
Chances are, you’ll still see my byline around these pages. Like The Force with young Luke, a faint case of Stockholm Syndrome is strong with me.
In the meantime, taking one last page from the big O’s book, I won’t say goodbye, but rather, until we meet again.
Thanks for the mammaries. Off to fix my toilet now.