As he trolls storefront to storefront on the strip of lower Westheimer known as the Curve, Jacob Calle is slowly muttering to himself.
"Gotta find a hottie. Gotta find one now."
He spots two young punk rock girls in a tattoo shop, one of whom is bending over. "Oh, damn," he says with a leer. "She looks good. Yeah, she looks real good." He strolls into the store, but as the girl turns around, Jacob stops dead in his tracks. "Damn," he growls as he turns and leaves. It's a case of the ol' "butterface."
There may be luck at Leopard Lounge. He saunters into the resale store and chats up the cute, black-haired girl at the counter.
"Hey, how you doin'?" he begins, working his grin.
"Fine. Are you here to make out?"
Jacob's a little stunned. "Uh...yeah..."
"Sorry, I just did. And the guy, like, mauled my face. I don't think I can do that again. Sorry, I wish I could help you."
"That's cool," he says, cussing to himself as the door closes. His frustration disappears as he spies the nearby Erotic Cabaret. He's on the sex shop like the paparazzi on Britney's falling baby, but the attractive blond girl in the store intercepts him. "I know who you are. I know what you're doing. I can't let you in," she says as she closes the door on him.
"We're closed!" Slam. Lock.
"Damn, I can't make out with anyone," he says. He bolts across Westheimer, missing a speeding minivan by inches.
It's 90 minutes into his Scavenger Hunt, and Jacob's already low on points. On a sweaty Friday night, he and his intrepid team -- his stocky brother Jory, the fall guy, and Lindsey, who drove in from Alvin to participate -- are casing Montrose, trying to check off tasks on a list with more than 100 items. He's up against stiff competition: six teams, including Team Vagina, Team Happy Fucking Birthday and Fuckemos. Jacob's group is Team Hell.
It's a big turnout for what started out two years ago as a way for Jacob's brother Chris to pass the time while he was serving in Iraq. Chris would e-mail stupid tasks to his brother such as Put Gum in a Teammate's Hair or Kick a Field Goal Naked. When Chris came home, Jacob turned the game into a welcome-home party.
Two hunts later, the now biannual trek is nearing local legend. Montrose hipsters know all about it. So do store owners. Message boards and MySpace bulletins explode when one's announced. It has even spawned smaller, copycat events (usually by high schoolers). The hunt mixes Cannonball Run-type race antics with Viva La Bam-style goofs. And with the race against the clock, it can play out like an episode of 24. Teams pay an admission fee, which goes to the award purse. Every task must be documented on video (or camera, in an emergency). For every new hunt, Jacob tries to up the ante. He offers this guideline: "When you're in the Scavenger Hunt, you have to throw your morals out the window." Losing your morals makes it easier to nab 25 points for tasks such as No. 24: Get a Hand Job on Camera.
Team Hell bolts to an apartment complex, where Jory heads upstairs, unzips his pants and proceeds to pee off the balcony (No. 65, eight points). The group then racks up some quick points with a teammate ear-sucking, mooning and licking the butt of Mr. Balls, the cat on the wall of Mary's in Montrose. For No. 125, Perform a Magic Trick on a Stranger, Jacob stops a man, explains the trick and then bites a quarter in half.
"Hey," says the man, "can you help me out with bus fare?"
"Are you a bum?" asks Jacob. "We need a bum."
Later, they run into David, a self-admitted bum, and for No. 106 (for the girls), Have a Bum Sign Your Breast and Act Like He Is Your Hero, he signs the top of Lindsey's breast. "You're my hero," she says to him. David also tackles No. 107 (for the guys), Have a Bum Sign Your Forehead. Next, they ring an apartment doorbell and serenade a confused Mexican man with "Feliz Navidad" (No. 52, six points). He slams the door in the middle of their out-of-tune carol.
The team hits the Proletariat for karaoke, where they perform a horrible version of At the Drive-In's raucous "One Armed Scissor." Driving down Waugh in Lindsey's SUV, Jory decides to give Lindsey a hickey (No. 12, three points). He sucks so hard on her neck that he actually draws blood. As everyone laughs, Jacob has an epiphany: "Homemade porn!"
Team Hell will nab 80 points for three simple items. All they have to do is engage in a hand job, blow job and intercourse -- on camera. There's a slight pause after Jacob's proposal.
"Fuck it, let's do it," says Lindsey. The backseats are dropped, and so are the panties. Lindsey and Jory, who have hooked up in the past, get after it, going awkwardly from manual to oral. Jory's having trouble staying aroused ("My brother's fuckin' staring at me," he yells), which pisses off Lindsey. "Hey, I do good work!" she yells at him. "Work with me here, godammit!" In a few seconds, Jory mounts Lindsey. "Oh, baby, yes!" she screams mockingly. "This is the best day of my life!" Jory yells out of an open window. Jacob steps out of the car. "My team is a bunch of sleazeballs," he says to no one.
Maybe it's the backseat coitus, but there's a buzz here with Team Hell. Jacob looks at the list: "No. 17, Run a Full Block Naked."
Hell, Jory's already naked. He opens the door and bolts down the street, dangling in the evening breeze. He stops to do a cartwheel (providing an especially disturbing view from behind). A few cars slow down as they pass by his streaking form.
"No. 116, Everybody in Your Vehicle Has to Ride Butt Naked Down Westheimer for One Mile," says Jacob. "Let's do it!" The trio strips and drives down Montrose. As they pull up next to a car, Jory calls out to the vehicle next to him.
"Hi, dude, you know I'm nekkid?"
"Hey, you want to go to a rave? You know where Havoc is?" the guy responds.
"Dude," says Jory, "I would, but see, I got no clothes."
"We're all nekkid, dude!" Lindsey yells.
"Why?" asks the guy, gawking at her breasts.
"We're all swingers! Whoooo!"
As they pull on their clothes, the "swingers" spot a couple of guys hanging outside an apartment. The guys are suspicious when Jacob approaches them, but Lindsey talks her way in. Soon the team is in Eric's house. The team starts with No. 31 (Drinking Game at a Stranger's House, 12 points) and No. 1 (Play Hide and Seek in a Stranger's House, six points). Eric's getting into the hunt. He forces some culinary S&M on Jory, throwing a piping-hot grilled cheese sandwich on the floor and forcing Jory to eat it (No. 127, seven points). "There's your fuckin' sandwich, bitch! Eat it!" Eric bellows. For No. 40 (and to reward Eric and his drunk friend Craig's hospitality), Lindsey shows the guys her boobs -- and scores eight points.
Time's almost up. The team nets some quick points via a dorky, homoerotic embrace at La Tapatia. Then Jacob convinces a table of ten to hoist him up in the air for some crowd surfing. Driving back to Kroger, the Scavenger Hunt's beginning-and-ending point, Jacob decides to Saran Wrap the inside of the car (No. 119, eight points). He wraps a long, clear plastic sheet around his head and through the front and backseats. He covers Jory's head and wraps Lindsey's face, ignoring the fact that she's driving. Somehow they make it back to Kroger for the hunt meet-up.
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The following night at the Axiom, the teams and their friends have gathered for a watch party and awards show. Last year, Jacob endured a belt whipping and a bath from a stranger -- and a punch in the face from a friend -- and still came in third. So he has no pipe dreams about tonight. But after the screenings and tabulations, Team Cypress comes in third, Team Vagina second. And in first place?
It's Jacob and Team Hell. As the room explodes in applause, Jacob sheepishly accepts the small handmade trophy. He gives the entry cash back to Team Vagina, who drove in from Austin, and his winning cash to teammates Jory and Lindsey. He just wants savor the victory. Dude comes off as quite the good guy. Whoa -- could there be morals in the Scavenger Hunt?
Hell naw, says Jacob, who's already planning to up the ante for next year.
"Okay, get this," he pitches. "No. 1: Kidnap a Stranger -- With a Fake Gun. Eight extra points if the stranger's a midget."