What a man does when his woman isn’t next to him can really say a lot about who he is. And it’s different if he’s around friends, say at somewhere like a bachelor party, than if he’s on his own. What does a man do when he’s by himself? Maybe he’s darker and seedier when left to his lonesome. Or maybe…just maybe…he’s all the more boring. I don’t have a clear diagnosis of myself in either scenario. Seems like I’ve walked the plank with and without friends before. But I’ve also been known to take advantage of a quiet night to be mind numbingly normal, too. This weekend I had a little of each.
Rhonda and the kids were in Indiana seeing Ramona’s new baby. It was good timing as it allowed me to get some work done and also to go to a concert, if you could call it a ‘concert.’ Maybe I should just call it for what it was …going to see a band at a shitty bar in Lima. But it was a good band; I saw them open for Judas Priest at Red Rocks in August and was impressed. That they are playing in Lima was a bit of a shocker for me until I found out they’re from Michigan.
Friday night I mostly demonstrated how lame I am, which is slightly uncomfortable to share. Here’s what that looks like – the girls left later than they planned because Rhonda had a delivery or something to do at the hospital. I needed to work, but couldn’t because Heather was out and we had no other kid coverage. When Rhonda and the kids finally got on the road, I had to finish up the work that was still left from the day and by the time that was done, well, I didn’t feel like doing much else. There were a lot of thoughts. It’s important that I give myself credit for thinking about going to the Beer Barrel or dialing up some friends to see what they were up to. I thought about those things. But my body wasn’t following through and the ideas were fleeting, at best. SO…in t-minus 5, I had reheated the Japanese food from the night before and settled into bed to eat while watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Yeah. Out by eleven. House quiet as a tomb. Slept hard.
But if Friday was a subdued snapshot of grown-up Bubba’s life and interests, Saturday was a full blown regression that whisked me back almost 20 years to a life long ago that was probably better off lost. I wrote most of the day, both on work documents and some creative things. By four o’clock I was antsy, no question about it. The concert wasn’t until later, but no one at the bar was answering the phone so I wasn’t sure what time I should get there. This is a band that opened up for Judas Priest and Whitesnake that was now playing at a rundown little roadhouse in Lima. Surely it will be packed, I thought. Since I wasn’t going with anyone, I wasn’t all that eager to get there early and be the obvious outcast with no friends. But I’m also not that eager to have shitty seats when I go see a band…ever. Fortunately that bar is a rough one so they have to have law enforcement as security. And even better for me I have a cop friend that works there periodically. I phoned him and asked why no one at the bar was answering. “They don’t get there until about seven,” he said. It was 4:30. I had some time to kill. I cracked a beer and did some more writing.
Then it dawned on me that there was another event I knew about – One of Rhonda’s nurses was having a chili-dump. That’s where friends and neighbors gather to pour their own chili recipe into one big witch’s cauldron simmering over an open fire and then stand around and drink beer and eat chili, or whatever it is. I’d never been to one, but the idea of a few gallons of mixed Ohio chili sounded about as appealing as a blender cocktail made from the semen of 12 mongaloids. Vomit. Admittedly, I was curious to observe the process. And there was beer – huge draw for me. I got it together and by 5:30 I was in a backyard maybe 20 feet from the cauldron, sucking down Mich Ultra – maybe my fourth of the day – and watching people compete at throwing bags of corn kernels through a wood board. Aside from the host of the chili-dump, I didn’t know anyone.
And per usual, when I don’t know a lot of people I get anxious and well acquainted with beer. Then eventually I meet someone. Eventually they ask what I do, which I usually lie about but couldn’t seeing as some people there already knew, so I say politics, get raised eyebrows, hear the windup in their voice and start drinking more. Then they introduce me to someone else, lead with the political thing and WHAM, there I am snared and struggling in a deadfall trap set by Middle America. My estimations are that I had somewhere between eight and ten beers during my tenure at the chili-dump – about three hours.
One good side about rolling solo is that you can blend into the night and eventually disappear without being detected. Somewhere in between the condescending haranguing that I was getting for Obama’s birth certificate, position on the war, healthcare stance, corporate bailout responsibility and color, I pulled away to make an ‘important phone call.’ Of course I said that so they could feel a false sense of self-importance and speculate about what political insider I was calling to debrief this high caliber dialogue that was happening at the chili dump, but I was really calling the bar to find out how packed they were and whether or not I was going to be able to get in. 8:30. Time to go.
Even though I’d easily exhausted a 12 pack, my judgment was rapier sharp. Clearly I shouldn’t be driving myself to a bar or driving myself back home at the end of the night. I got that. And whereas a taxi might have made a ton of sense, so did my alternative plan; I called up my law enforcement buddy, who was working, and said “If you were a real friend, you’d pick me up in your cruiser, take me to the bar and then pick me up later and take me home.” Done and done. In less than 15 minutes I was escorted by uniformed law enforcement into the most dingy, decaying bar I have ever been to in my life. Now that’s public service. Then, delivering the equivalent of a hug and a kiss and a “Have a nice day at school honey!” my police escort gave me a nod and a “Call me later.” I was on my own.
Fortunately, I was really into being by myself and taking in not just a band that I wanted to see, but a slice of metal Americana – Lima style. And given that I had an alcohol induced jump start on the night, I was feeling hyper-insightful and eager to capture everything I could. So…I bellied up to the bar and pulled out my Blackberry and opened a new memo. Sure, maybe I looked like a douche. But what did I care? What follows is the exact transcript, as written by me over the course of the night. One minor adjustment has been made; in some cases the spelling was so bad that I have edited it here so even I could understand what point I was trying to make.
8:46pm – This bar is eleventeen times shittier than I ever would have imagined. The only thing that was benefited from me getting there early was seating. I have a seat at the bar that has full view of the stage. Two big girls next to me – real big – are doing ‘merchandising’ for the band on stage now, which is delivering horrendous monster howls over simple 3 chord progressions. I thought it would be sold out…not so much. Fucking empty.
9:42 – What the fuck, where is everyone?
9:55 – I just told the guitar player Travis says his band is Judas Priest’s bitch. He asked me who Travis was. I stared at him squarely and said I didn’t know. He said cool, tried not to look confused.
10:27 – Spilled an entire Bud Light across the bar (which is made of rocks), no one cared or cleaned it up. Beer is puddling in the cracks and starting to flow towards the edge. The bartender just asked me if I needed anything then set my new bottle down in the pool and walked away.
10:44 – This place is fucking gross. There is probably hepatitis in the soap dispensers.
11:01 – It’s ironic and hysterical that I had a cop pick me up in his cruiser, bring me to this rathole and walked me in so I can enjoy a safe night of heavy metal and drinking my face off.
11:10 – Fat girl stole my seat while I was gone. Every other seat at the bar is empty. She says she has to be close to the merchandising and that I can find another seat. I prepare to engage in a nasty war then change tactics saying “Great,” then faking like I’m looking for a business card. I buy her band’s cd, along with every other band’s cd and say I’m from a record company but can’t disclose which. She buys it, I assume not otherwise being able to figure out why an almost 40 year old guy is here by himself. I tell that bitch to get out of my seat and she does, then whispers to others.
11:17 – The bartender and I are friends. Probably because I’m the only person not ordering idiot drinks like vodka and pepsi or asking which beer is the cheapest and paying with change.
11:30 – Drummer, young black dude from horrible band talking to me. Wondering how to interact w/a band member whose band sucks, I buy him a beer.
12:00 – I looked from texting, where I was very focused, to the stage and almost vomited. I can’t see the screen anymore, trying to remember where keys are. Way drunk, when does my band start? This is ‘3 quarter fold’. That name blows.
12:09 – Not lame to log notes; I am an artist so fuck them.
12:13 – Lead singer from last band kissing Fat Girl…Jesus Christ son. Wait a few years.
(I lose track of time and stop time stamping entries)
Band guy next to me telling girls how little he gets laid. His worst statistic is my best year ever.
Just dawned on me that band dudes are all around me. What if they make it? I didn’t. I was caught btwn athletics and academics and ego, didn’t give it all to music. Great regrets.
Fat Girl is introducing me to all the bands. I ask her to keep my role btwn us. Clear she said I’m an industry rep.
1991 bubba is fully engaged.
Going to suck when one of my core friends dies. Emailed Cory – he told me to die first.
Fats girl has groupies
I admire these guys for playing their songs. Its gutsy
Watching the undercard sit at the bar and pay for their own drinks. Feel bad, know what its like, buy their beers
Ew a jager bomb! says the guy next to me. Groupie buying .- thinking about girls from my band era
I am covered I cigarette smoke
Hanging out w/ lead singers now. One of them telling me about how good other bands are are – love the attitude, tell him we will go far
I am buying Fat Girl drinks and some other trashy girls w/her. Say ‘what are you writing’ tell them ‘notes’. true enough
The guy singing is someone I got into an argument with earlier
I am a cancer factory
I have befriended groupies. leave my seat to piss w/out worrying about someone stealing my shit. Fat Girl keeps my seat open, tosses two guys.
Some drummer walks away after I buy him a beer. Fat wife said he’s not as good as band I’m here to see. Fkn pussy
I am buying concert shirts again
Just bought two big girls drinlk.
squattining int the bathroom corner with untield shoes, nervous that I migjht miss something in my head. I had a way wicked point that I forgot before
That look means she did think it was someone else but is gauging me for whether or not I want it to be me again
I scream IS THAT A GIRSDLEe? At her. leave to pee
$88 tab. For me. for what. Beers were $2. I need transport. rocked
Talk to band about red rocks and whitesnakeeeeeee.
Reject autograpshs exchange info w/.band
2:17am I am grilling a delicious chicken sandwich