I think it was George Carlin that said something once about how the secret to great comedy lies in exaggeration, or specifically the ability to take one particular thing and embellish the almighty hell out of it until even a retelling of something as mundane as ripping ass in an elevator has the potential to destroy a live audience. I agree to an extent, especially as someone who’s long been a fan of movies and other entertainment that tend to push the viewer to the limit (Blazing Saddles would be a good example of this). I think there’s a lot to be said for the ability to tell a good story; as well as to be able to hook your audience and be able to hold their attention until you’re done.
For some of us, though, the tendency to exaggerate or embellish a story doesn’t really exist because the story itself is fucked up enough as it is. If there’s one thing my almost 40 years on this planet have taught me, it’s that I am a magnet for insane people and situations. No matter where I go or what I’m doing, the whackjobs and freak-a-leeks always find me. I am serious on this one. I can go to something as tame as an art opening and I can guaran-fucking-tee that the most questionable people that are lurking around will immediately draw a bead on me and creep to their hearts’ content until I am able to find the nearest exit and bamboozle my way out of there. Of course, this holds double true for shows and fests of any sort. It doesn’t matter how many people are there; if there is some random coked out metal dude wanting to start a band or drunk girl putting the moves on me in front of her massive, Cro-Magnon boyfriend, you can bet your sweet ass that they will get me in their crosshairs. This may sound stupid, but a lot of times I get stuck with people who, intoxicated or not, think I’m cooler than I really am. I will admit to looking kind of like someone who would be in a band or something potentially raging like that, but I would honestly rather spend my off hours reading books or having a mellow dinner with a friend than slamming fifths of whiskey or doing lines off…well, you get the idea. When I’m recounting a story of some crazy shit that’s happened me, I tell it just the way the whole thing went down. I don’t exaggerate because I don’t have to.
That said, I would like to transport you at this time to yet another insane night at my job. As I have said in the past, there are chill nights and there are wild nights at my work. Then, though, there are the ones where I come in through the back door and say to myself, “What in the fucking Wide World of Sports is going on in here?” Apparently on this night there had been a “Jug Band Battle” at the Cabooze, and all I could think was “That fucking figures, dude…I always have to schedule myself on nights where there’s some dumbass show that empties out a bunch of drunk hipsters into the cafe.” It would certainly explain all the goofy “steampunk” attire going on and the fact that everybody and their grandma had a banjo and the whole night would have been a jangly-arsed jam session if I hadn’t been continually shutting people down so I could listen to BOOK OF BLACK EARTH. Take all that and add in a couple more drunken creepers, plus a couple of loud broham-type dudes and you can guess what state of mind I was in…the kind where you’re deathly quiet but secretly on the verge of violence. If it hadn’t been for the flask of bourbon that I had stashed on the cook’s shelf, I do believe hell would have been unleashed that night.
Anyhow, it was about 3 am when I heard the front door slam shut and I noticed them. Two girls, probably mid to late-20s in age, one brunette and one with kind of blondish hair…both weaving their way to the counter like a couple of drunken sailors. They were walking as if they were maneuvering their way around a bunch of road cones and somehow their eyes were locked on this poor bastard right here, who was just doing his best to maintain some semblance of order and keep his place of employment from getting completely ripped to shit. I noticed that they both were sporting tons of tattoos, wearing skintight dresses, and looked extremely out of place in this cafe full of people fucked up on booze and who knows what else. I kept waiting for the inevitable UFC fighter-types or tattoo artists that girls like them are always with but nobody followed them in. Instead, here I was with these two wild-looking tattooed women and I was doing the typical dude thing where you try to look badass like you don’t give a fuck about anything but you’re secretly shitting Twinkies sideways and trying to figure out what to do. Being that I was single at the time, I had a crazy notion to try and spit game on the brunette…that is, until she and her friend got to the counter and I couldn’t help but notice that she smelled like she’d just puked up a whole bottle of Skyy vodka.
“Oh….my…..God,” she said to her equally besotted but not quite as vomit-smelling friend. “I want this one.”
I looked around thinking there may have been one of my co-workers standing behind me as some sort of backup. No such luck. I was stuck there and her friend wasn’t making things any easier by saying, “Oh girl, I will tear this boy apart. We have to get him back to the hotel room.”
As I said a couple paragraphs ago, it doesn’t take much to look at me and piece together that I am a musician or artist of some sort. Even though I’m older than a lot of people that I meet from playing in bands, going to shows, etc., I would like to think that the years have been good to me. I still have my dreads, all my original teeth, and have managed to stay in shape somewhat. While I don’t think I lack confidence, I don’t think there is anything that remarkable or great about me. So you can guess that it’s tough when I get put on the spot like this and I am trying for the life of me to know when to walk away and know when to run (as another older and wiser man once put it). I wonder sometimes what would happen if I ever got famous or reached any sort of notoriety for anything-besides writing for Profane Existence, of course. I think I would have a blast for a couple of days and then retreat into Michael Jacksonesque wingnut territory, never wanting to show my face in public and being content to marinate in my oxygen tent at home. I’m not as introverted as I used to be, but I just don’t think I could handle people thinking that I’m the shit when all I’m really interested in is just doing my thing and trying to be happy in life.
But back to the story. I had somehow convinced, through no small amount of arm-twisting, to get these two tattooed trainwrecks to order some food since the grill was still open and it would give them something to cut their booze with so they weren’t hungover as fuck the next day. The blond ordered a quesadilla and a bowl of soup for the both of them and then suck a $20 bill in the tip jar, which I hustled out of there and stashed immediately, lest someone else decide to be cute and stick their greasy mitts into our hard-earned cashola. This happens sometimes. So they placed their order and you’d think the thing to do would be to find a table and sit down before you fucking fall down, right? Au contraire, Sonny Jim…these two stayed at the counter eyeing me like a couple of chicken hawks. I noticed that I had subconsciously moved closer to the counter to keep the brunette’s eyes off the (ahem) crotch of my pants. I managed to stammer out a weak “Uh, hey…there’s a booth over there if you guys wanna sit down” and they somehow got the hint and staked out the table. After they plopped themselves down, though, both sets of eyes were still locked on me as I tried to take care of other equally shithoused customers. I had become uncomfortably aware that the blond was a good five inches taller than me, and was wondering if I’d be able to wrench myself loose if she decided to take it to the next level and make a grab at me while I was trying to bus tables.
I say “trying” to bus tables because there were so many other goddamned loaded people in that place that the dining room area kept getting trashed. I would go out there with my rag and bleach water and make an attempt to clean shit up only to look out there five minutes later and see that it had gotten fucked up all over again with piles of napkins, plates full of half-eaten food, and spilled drinks as far as the eye could see. It was at this point that I felt my patience starting to crack a little, like a zoo animal about to maul a little kid that has been poking at through the bars of its cage with a stick. In my two years at this job, I have seen people do all kinds of mentally deranged shit and act up to the point where there’s nothing left to do but grab them by the collar and literally toss them out on the street. On this evening, though, it was impossible to get anywhere without these two ultra-tatted Devil’s Reject types watching every move I made, and if the shit they were saying to me was being said by two guys creeping on a girl barista, I can say that they would have been lucky to just get thrown out without having to make a stop at the emergency room on the way home. Even as I sit here in the relative safety of my apartment, I can shut my eyes and hear them and believe me, they weren’t talking about quantum physics! I’ve been creeped on right and left by women as well as men while working the graveyard shift and I have my tricks that I use to duck people who are coming on too heavy while I’m just trying to make some green and keep beer in the glass. For example, if you see me wipe down the espresso machine when I just wiped it down a minute ago, chances are you are creeping this old dude out and you should just save whatever dignity you have and shut your flytrap immediately. I get the heebie jeebies from other people on a daily basis and I usually just try to ignore them until they fuck off and find some other person to inflict their loserishness upon. Of course, this was a little hard to do when I kept having to come out from behind the bar and pass these two blacked-out ladies. As I made yet another pass out to the dining room, the blonde one managed to get a hold of one of my dreads and pull my ponytail loose. I turned around just in time to see her companion wet her index finger and stick it in her mouth. And I inevitably dropped my rag on the floor and had to bend down right in front of them to pick it up. Things were not looking good.
But the sun shines on a dog’s ass every now and then, and soon my favorite part of the night came along. And by that I mean closing time-when the magic hour of 4 am rolls around and that is your green light to light a torch, get the Dobermans out, and herd everyone towards the exit. Of course, this only means it’ll soon be time to sweep and clean the toilets and all that fun shit but at least you can do it without anyone getting in your grille or yelling to anyone within earshot about how they’re gonna kidnap you for the sole purpose of “rocking your world straight to hell.” I have to give credit where credit is due-despite being obliterated drunk, they were very specific about where their hotel room was and what was to happen to me when I took the light rail out there after my shift was over. I told them I would have to see how I felt at 8am when I would get off my shift (if I was lucky). “Well, you’d better make it,” the brunette said, “because we’re both ready to party.” I just smiled and said “I’ll see ya,” as the two of them staggered on their high heels towards a cab waiting outside, climbed in and disappeared into the night.
I didn’t go to the Super 8 by the Mall of America after my shift, or even do anything else besides ride home, drink a beer, and pass out. Kind of lame, I know, but when you live life like I do, you eventually learn to believe about a third of what people tell you and that’s on a good day. Maybe I could have gotten off my shift and taken the train out to Bloomington to have a hot-rockin’ party and get daysted with two girls who looked like the first round of castoffs from Bret Michaels’ Rock of Love Bus Tour. But I doubt it. I honestly feel like what would have happened had I gone out there could have started with one of these girl’s boyfriends, or pimp, or whoever hiding behind the hotel room door with a baseball bat and waiting for me to show up. Then, after a flash of white heat, I would wake up in a bathtub full of ice and find stomach stitched together where one of my kidneys had been stolen. There would then be a map to where they had gone with it, and I would no doubt have to embark on a perilous journey that would make even Jason Statham jealous. Hijinks would no doubt ensue.
Sometimes I feel like I think too much and overanalyze things instead of just going with the flow. But then there are times where I feel lucky to be able to see when I’m being led down a bad road. There are a number of gifts that I feel like I’ve had bestowed on me since I’ve managed to live past the age of 30, with one of the big ones being the ability to question everything, form my own opinions, and use rational thinking as a way to get through touchy situations without getting myself killed. Now here comes the time where I take some fucked-up thing that’s happened to me and somehow seal the deal on turning it into a legit column for Profane Existence-are you ready? Good! If there’s any point that I want to leave the reader with this time out, it’s that the weirdos and bullshitters are everywhere. I know all too well about the excesses and partying that can go along with being a raging crust punk metal hellion warbeast or beastess. Just try to keep your wits about you, keep your mind sharp and don’t let anyone-no matter how cool they seem or how many tattoos they have or what band they’re in-get you into a situation that you can’t get out of. And, if there are any other so-called “hunky death metal baristas” out there in Profane land with a similar story to tell, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I think we could help each other out. I really do.