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.
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