Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Anti Rape Spree (Three)

“Steve, we got a problem.”

I was still hallucinating. Although my peak was over and the overwhelming orgasmic body buzz had settled from earthquakes to tremors, the colors were still far too bright. Wet looking trails of light slithered across my sight like neon caterpillars from an old arcade game.

Four years between acid trips didn’t cause me any problems. Using high grade mind altering substances has proven to be like riding a bicycle: once you have the skill, you keep it. Some people wig out, lose their grip on reality, and become mental vegetables. Others, like myself, react positively and love the stuff. I consider dosing to be a condensed vacation. I always emerge feeling clean and refreshed, my accumulated stresses incinerated.

Still, this was no time for me to engage in crisis management. Unfortunately, I was the go-to guy.

“Okay Steve, listen up. I know you’re fucked up but I need your attention now. Some guy is a grabbing girls by the lakeside campsites. The campground security guys already know, but since this is my party, they’ve deferred to me. I can’t leave the front here, so I need you to go sort it out. Marv’s guys are watching him, and they’re waiting for you there.”

A steroid case decked out in a buzzcut, a wifebeater, and chinos was surrounded by the campground guys. The meathead seemed confused, unsure why several biker types were standing around asking “You gonna be cool or what, man?” over and over. In his mind, he’d done nothing wrong. He kept trying to leave the circle, but couldn’t get through the bikers. His captors were taking no action to remove him, just keeping him in one place, waiting for me to get there. His confusion and hostility were rising rapidly.

I jumped in, deciding a personal approach might yield better results than looming intimidation. The bikers allowed me access, trading smirks and glances with each other that said “This oughtta be good. How long until the punches fly, you think?”

“What’s your name, man?”

“Matt. What the fuck is with these guys?”

“I’m Steve. We’ve had complaints that you grabbed somebody. Some girl.”

“Naw man, I just, I mean, I’m…”


“I got here late, okay? All my friends are sleeping right now. I can’t…”

He seemed more lost and confused than dangerous to me, though I kept mindful of his cannon arms. He could break my jaw easily, and to forget that would be very, very dumb.

I turned to the guards and whispered to one. “Keep an eye on us, but I’m gonna take him to the main stage, see if he calms down and enjoys the music. I don’t think he’ll be a problem if we just let him cool off.”

“Your call man.”

A half hour later Matt and I were near the main stage, talking about parties, smoking a joint. I asked him about drugs, and he confessed to taking ecstasy.

“So you’re rolling?”

“Yeah, it’s crazy. I’ve never taken ex before. It’s like… I don’t know.”

“Wanna hit this joint?”

“Okay. Never smoked weed before, either.”

“Really? How old are you?”

“Twenty-five, why?”

“Just curious. I’m twenty-seven. So what happened with your friends?”

“They got here yesterday. They’re all asleep, and I bought these pills for us but they wouldn’t wake up, so I took them all.”

A rookie to drug use tossed back several pills at once? A guy with a testosterone problem? No wonder he'd been flipping out. A girl walked by. Matt stared at her, then jogged up behind her. I followed, hoping like hell he knew her and wasn't just dogging after strangers.

“Hi, who are you?”

“Uh, Cheryl. You?”

Matt just stared at her. This made me nervous. I introduced him. “Cheryl, this is Matt.”



One of the security guys tapped me on the shoulder. “Make up your mind, man, we’re not following this guy around all night.”

“He seems okay. See?” The biker looked at the joint I was holding. I pinched it out and pocketed it before repeating myself. “See?” We turned around to look. Matt was now dancing in the main stage crowd, punching around like he was in a mosh pit. People gave him a wide berth.

“You sure? I think he’s gonna be trouble.”

I thought about this, watching Matt's violent lunging dancing, seeing him pause occasionally to yell into one girl or another’s ear.

“You’re right. Let’s get him out of here.”

The security bikers converged on the crowd, but between the darkness, the flashing neon colored strobes, and the sweaty mass of ravers, we lost him.

“Where is he, man?”

I answered. "I... I don’t see him.”

The security bikers waited with arms crossed, stern expressions, and impatience. I searched around the stage area until I finally found Matt standing by the entrance to the women’s showers. Just as I approached, he grabbed a pretty brunette by the arm as she exited the showers and tried to walk off.

“Hey, what the fuck! Let go!”

“What’s up, baby?”

“Let fucking go of me!”

“I’m just trying to make new friends. No need to be a bitch.”

I interceded. “Matt, what’s up man? I lost you.”

“Look man, I don’t wanna be your fucking friend, okay? Fuck off.” He shoved me away.

Our exchange gave the brunette an opportunity to slink away, which thankfully she did. I left Matt at the shower entrance and raced back to my biker mob.

“Guys, he’s over by the women’s showers harassing women. Take him out.”

We all ran back there. Once again, he was gone. We all stood around looking stupid, listening for women’s screams from inside the showers or off in the forest. All the bikers kept looking to me, angry, yelling “Where?” over the loud music. Finally, I saw him. He was up the main stage mosh dancing, dangerously close to bumping the turntables. The DJ looked pissed off and scared and was looking around for help.

“Guys, there he is, up there!” I pointed.

The bikers asked him nicely to get off the stage. He complied.

“We’re gonna have to ask you to leave.” They quickly and deftly pulled Matt’s arms behind his back and locked their elbows in his, one biker on each side of him. Backed by several others, they marched him a mile to the main gate, a golf cart following, illuminating the whole sorry march. I trudged behind Matt but in front of the cart, terrified that Matt would look back, see me, and silently decide to sneak back later to torque my head off my neck.

Ravers stared at my parade, gawking, smoking their cigarettes. I kept my head held high, letting my security lanyard sway across my chest. I was safe. So was the party. I did good.

With the bright glare of headlights backlighting our expelling squad, my acid trip began to breathe back to life. Bizarre squares of light and dark blinked in and out of existence, superimposing crossword puzzle grids atop everything I saw. I felt dizzy and desperate for a few swigs of alcohol to settle my nerves. A confiscated bottle of Johnny Walker Black was stashed at the front desk. I thought about it, visualizing it, my carrot on a string.

Finally, we reached the edge of the property. Sheriffs were waiting for us. I excused myself and left the dirtiest of work to the professionals.

No more undercover peacemaking bullshit next time. On that future day, I’ll simply say “get him out of here” and go about my merry way.

I went back to the front gate, grabbed the scotch, and shared my mediocre story.

3:31 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, September 18, 2006

Beer For The Ruthless (Two)

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When I volunteered to direct parking in the muddy field, Lydia gave me additional instructions:

“Search everybody as soon as they park, especially their coolers. No glass bottles. Confiscate them and, um, I don’t know, bring them up to will call. Yeah. We’ll stash them in the fridge until we hand them over to the campground staff. Just take them away so we don’t get fined.”

“I’m not searching people. I have no legal right. I can ask them, but I can’t really make them do anything.”

“Look, just keep you eyes open, okay? Jesus. So much bullshit.”

I arched my eyebrows and remained silent. Lydia had been working for 24 hours straight and had no rest coming anytime soon. As one of only three main organizers at the massive event, she was stretched paper thin. She was exhausted and her temper was shot. I didn’t want to contribute to Lydia’s skyrocketing stress level nor did I want to be her target for verbal catharsis. Hence, my silence.

As she stalked off to her next organizational duty, I sheathed my flashlight, staked a pair of tiki torches into the ground, lit a cigarette, and waited for the next wave of mentally scorched ravers to motor up to me.

In order to stand upon my tender feet in the hot sun for eight hours straight, I decided a steady regimen of cheap beer would be a prudent idea. I dragged a cooler to the front gate (all beer in cans, of course, being a bottle sipping hypocrite would be tantamount to urinating through ravers’ tent windows) and cracked open a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Cars arrived in waves. I sipped, I pointed, I welcomed. Occasionally I even warned them about glass containers. Not once did I confiscate a single bottle.

Hours after dusk, when my volunteer shift ended, I stumbled away to find friends who were scattered throughout the campground. With five sound stages and acres of dark woods before me, my prospects for success were bleak.

I did find Chris. We wandered around drinking and laughing, happy to be shitfaced in the wilderness. When we ran out of beer, despair began to lurk, and our drunken giggles became murmurs of desperation. Thirst set in, and we stalked up and down the trails, eagle eyed as drunks in the night can possibly be, our alcohol radars sweeping at maximum range.

A golf cart nearly ran us over. Upon it was Cassie, a short, slim, cute Winona Ryder lookalike that helped out with parking earlier that day. She'd given me a beer then, a gesture of camaraderie, and now I hoped she had more generosity in her heart.

Before I could beg or plead, she yelled for me.

“Steve! Come here!”

“I am here! Right here! I think! Hello!”

“I need you to do something for me.”

“Anything, Cassie, name it.”

“These guys over at the main stage have been calling us on the walkies for two hours asking for beer. Will you bring these to them?”

“Um, okay. Who?”

She was drunk too. “I don’t know, whoever is complaining.” Not very helpful, but I decided this vagueness might contribute to my plausible deniability later on.

“How many go to them and how many do I keep for myself?”

“All of them go the main stage. ALL OF THEM. Got it?”

“Why yes, most certainly, I’ll locate your plaintiffs and deliver them beer presently.” (Yes, I actually talk like that when I’m plastered. Punch me in the face next time you see me.)

She gave me a sweet smile, handed over seven lukewarm cans of PBR, and said “Thank you sweetie!”

“The pleasure is all mine. Really.”

Chris looked at me like I’d just birthed from a whale’s vagina. I stood there, stuffing cans in the pouch of my hoodie and into my pockets. As soon as Cassie and her cadre of fucked up golf cart hippies motored a safe distance away, I began jumping up and down, hollering, having a general spastic freak out. I was raving in the traditional way.

“Holy shit Steve! Was that fucking real?”

I gibbered something back and passed Chris a beer before cracking one open for myself.

An hour later the seven beers had nearly been killed, and as we sat on the country stage, which wasn’t in use that night, a girl named Christa from Minneapolis (no, not Duluth, I wish) snuck up behind us and nearly scared us right off the two story drop at the front edge of the stage.

Upon regaining my wits (a meager portion of them, at least) we introduced ourselves and spoke of raves and DJs and traveling the interstates. I gave her the final PBR, and a short time later, she invited us to her campsite for further refreshment.

She offered beer from her well-iced cooler… bottled beer. A no-no. I let this egregious violation pass and happily indulged in the golden ambrosia. By this time I didn’t mind that it was Miller Lite, as I was drunk enough that any beer would suffice. (Who am I kidding, I would’ve drank it sober, too, but with a grimace)

Two of her friends arrived a short time later, an effeminate wisp of a boy named Dylan and a hairy Jew named Jacob. (pronounced Yakkob, he was serious about his ancestry) Jacob, studying to be an anthropologist, began to explain the aboriginal history of the digeridoo, an Australian “instrument” that produces guttural moans akin to elephant mating calls when one blows through it. He demonstrated, and the sound was truly awful, sending waves through my guts, unseating a lifetime of swallowed bubblegum from the walls of my intestines.

Two unnaturally skinny blond girls wandered by, somehow attracted by the soul damaging bellow of the digeridoo, and the lot of us made introductions. The girls were from Wisconsin. The trading of names led to a pair of uncomfortable moments.

When the tall blond told me her first name, Sierra, I asked if her parents were environmentalists or if they played computer games in the eighties. Shockingly, she understood neither reference, and I was forced to explain my horribly geeky childhood playing Sierra quest games. No response from her. Next reference, then. When I told her about the Sierra Club, which preserves bears and trees and honeysuckle, or some such shit, a flicker of recognition passed across her eyes for the briefest of moments. “My parents were hippies, a long time ago, I think.”

I can’t remember the other girl’s first name. Sarah, maybe? Her last name was Rommel. As in Nazi General Rommel, he of the Panzer tanks. I had to ask.

“Yep, he was my grandfather!”

Jacob stared, speechless. I spoke up.

“Wow, I wonder if your grandfather rounded up Jacob’s grandfather and put him in a concentration camp!” Drunk, I laughed at my own tasteful wit. Chris laughed, too, but nobody else around the fire did. They all just stared at me like I’d just been puked out by a walrus. God, I was great. More humor! “So Sarah, how much room have you got in the ashtray?”

"Fuck you."

I made a mental note: Holocaust humor is never, ever funny, and is frowned upon among persons of a serious demeanor, persons who hold certain things sacred.

Our welcome worn out, Chris and I left, promising to return later in the weekend for more good times.

“Dude, I can’t believe you said that shit. Her fucking ashtray. Jesus! Are you drunk?”

“Drunk? Me? No! Never! Let’s get more beer!”


“I have no idea, but things’ve worked out splendidly so far. How could we probably, uh, I mean, how could we possibly fucking fail?”

I was still wearing my security badge and my walkie-talkie was still secured to my belt. As Chris and I walked towards the will-call, the unofficial gathering spot for all our friends, Lydia’s voice sqwauked over the walkie. “I got bottles in the parking lot. I’m confiscating them.”

I looked at Chris. “Run!”

We met Lydia in the lot and took the twelve pack of Goose Island 312 away so she could continue to park vehicles. She admonished me to stash them at will call, as the campers who brought them wished to pick them up upon departure.

“No prob, Lydia, anything else I can help with?”

“No, not now. Thanks, Steve.”

I ditched the cardboard. Chris and I stuffed five bottles each in our pockets and opened the remaining two, which we heartily enjoyed as we walked the trails.

An hour later, at nearly four in the morning, I tipped my third Goose Island to my lips as I walked past a mass of twenty people.

A girl pointed directly at me, outraged, and yelled “That’s my fucking beer!”

Chris and I kept walking.

Ten minutes later, my walkie buzzed. It was Lydia.


Oh shit. Busted.

1:09 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kill All Hippies! (One)

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“This shit is bunk. That pudgy little fuck ripped us off. Seventy bucks, down the drain. Fuck.”

“Nothing? Not even a vibe?”

“Nothing. Seven cubes of nothing but sugar. No acid at all. I’m a fucking staff member here. This shit will not stand. I’m gonna go find him. Who’s with me? Steve? Will you help?”

“You bet.” I flicked a cigarette away. “Let’s go.”

The rave scene of the nineties had an unofficial motto of “peace, love, unity, and respect,” or for short, PLUR. It was essentially a regurgitation of the hippy ethic with the activist politics removed. Still intact, however, was the empty-headed hedonism. There were also musical differences between the ravers and hippies, but I need not elaborate upon those, right?

Now the rave scene is eviscerated, the majority of the participants having moved on to adulthood, clubbing, or both. Six years ago, in Chicago, legislation enabled law enforcers to crack down on promoters and DJs, holding them liable for any and all disasters. The rave scene evaporated, with most of the organizers electing instead to host legal events in establishments with liquor licenses, dress codes, and fire marshal imposed attendance capacities. Despite this, the hobbled rave scene stumbled forward on the outskirts of dance culture, continuing to provide teenagers a venue to purchase and consume hard controlled substances. Parties moved from the city proper out to backwoods farms and suburban warehouses. I had nothing to do with this.

Even among those mid-nineties crowds of MDMA-lathered gentle sheep children, wolves prowled the farms, selling fake drugs. The kids would share intelligence, trading names and descriptions of the non-PLUR drug dealers who bunked them. Ecstasy was the king drug, leading to spikes in sales of medical masks and Vicks Vaporub. Acid and mescaline ran a close second, with weird combinations of speed, ketamine, and crack bringing up the rear in the popularity race.

Back to the present.

During Labor Day weekend, I cavorted about a campground in central Wisconsin known for hosting country music festivals and adult lifestyle gatherings. Upon arriving, Marv, the owner, greeted me and handed me a flyer for an event next year called Spank. He bragged to me about the previous month’s event, during which he chained a 23 year old girl to the tractor in his barn and had a dominatrix whip her. I wasn’t sure whether I was envious or appalled.

As the weekend of hypnotic dance music progressed, I found myself in several strange situations, though none rivaled Marv’s tractor kink. One of these involved a drug dealer bearing the unfortunate name of Stanley.

Stan was selling ecstasy and acid. Several of my event security cohorts procured sugarcubes from him, each purported to be doused with three drops each of LSD.

When Hector ate one and failed to even twitch after an hour of waiting, murmurs of dissatisfaction simmered. Although Hector had abused his body with at least eight other substances during the previous two days, we figured his immunity couldn’t build up that fast, enough to nullify a three drop cube. When another hour passed, it was decided that repercussions must be aggressively pursued.

John and I commandeered a golf cart and sped along the forest trails, forcing surprised ravers to leap from the gravel into roadside mud pits lest they be knocked senseless by the front grille. If we’d had the bullhorn, I’m sure we would’ve screamed messages of Satanism and intolerance with the goal of unhinging the delicate chemical-addled minds of the colorful little chipmunk ravers. John was angry about getting ripped off. I was just pretending, riding the emotional bandwagon, glad to be enjoined to a noble cause. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in my lifetime, vicarious hatred is always a good idea at a rave.

We found fat Stan deep in the forest, cowering on the edge of the campground property. His big dumb eyes shifted, seeking escape routes as John and I disembarked the golf cart and hulked menacingly up to him. Stan sat in a little collapsable chair, a bottle of Corona Light clenched in a death grip. I started the little talk.

“Stan. You know there’s no bottles allowed, right?”


Stan was fat, short, and soft. John and I were tall, angry, and well-practiced at looming. This accounted for Stan’s nervousness and stammering.

“No lime, either? Tsk tsk. For shame.”

“Uh, sorry?”

“So you’re the guy with the fake cubes, huh?”

“Not fake, no! I sold thirty already, all my friends and tripping hard, man. Shit’s good.”

John took over.

“Well, you sold me seven. I took mine two hours ago. Look at my pupils, Stan. Look deep. See any dilated pupils? Cause I don’t feel a motherfuckin thing.”

“Give em more time, man, I promise, they’re good, they really are. Did you eat food right before… I mean… Did you?”

“Not a damn nibble, Stanny. Just the sugar.”

I knew John hadn’t eaten any cubes, only Hector had. John still had a handful of them in his pocket. Was I part of something dishonest and sinister? No backing out now. I might even develop a taste for extortion. I might even be good at it.

“Well, I don’t know what to say, I mean…”

“I want my money back for all seven. Now. See this? It says Security with a capital S. That’s my badge. You ripped off the wrong guy this time. I’m no fucking friendly hippy that’s just gonna feel dumb for getting bunked. I’m the kinda guy to do something about it.”


“Pick now, Stan. I’ll forcibly eject you from this party, right here and now, and I ain’t gonna be gentle about it. Pay up.”

I cracked my knuckles and narrowed my eyes, giving my best intimidating stare. People who know me would laugh at this charade, but poor Stan just saw a tall, bloodthirsty son of a bitch with an axe to grind. He never stood a chance. He capitulated. John and I hopped back on the cart, him $70 richer, me feeling a burning ball of power deep in my intestines.

Later that day, I asked for a sugarcube. John flipped it to me, and I ate it. I felt a weak vibe, but nothing approaching an acid trip. Perhaps we’d been right.

I was with one of the three main organizers, Rand, who’d invited me to join his staff and wield his authority throughout the event while he was trapped at the entrance collecting money and slapping on wristbands. We were on a green golf cart, cruising aimlessly, when we ran into Stan, whose eyes grew large as I approached.

“Rand, hold up. I gotta talk to this guy."


"Hey Stan. How’s it going?”

“I saw your fucking friend tripping, man, what the fuck?”

“I dunno man, he said they were bunk and I believed him. If we ripped you off, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”


Somebody walked up and bought a gumdrop from Stan. Now his “acid” was on candy instead of sugarcubes.

“Well, Stan, sell me one of those gumdrops. I’ll pay you. No fuckery, I promise.”

I’d forgotten about Rand standing behind me. Stan handed me the candy, warily, awaiting his cash.

“Hey Rand, let me get ten bucks, I left my money back at camp, I’ll reimburse you.”

Rand walked up and gave me a look of pure hate. He didn’t like being seen consorting with drug dealers at his own event. Still, he decided to make the best of it, and turning from me to Stan, he busted out with some half-baked stolen-from-TV mafioso bullshit.

“You’re in my world, Stan. You wanna make money at my event? Then you gotta pay your fucking dues. I brought these people here. I saw your fat cash wad. You got four grand there at least. Pay your fucking rent. $150, now, and you’re getting off cheap. NOW.”

Stan paid, again, and glared at me with burning hatred as Rand and I left. Twice I set him up. But what could he do, call the cops? Rand promised me a cut off his extortion bank, which he said would be separate from the main party bank, but nary a penny ever materialized.

I shouldn’t be surprised.

I found other opportunities to lie, cheat and steal that weekend. I’ll confess soon.

Oh, and the acid gumdrop? Real. Very, very real. My brain bubbled softly like spaghetti sauce gone thick from simmering too long on the stove.

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2:37 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

European Pumpyfunk

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I've got stories from the forest rave to share, but no time to write them until later this week. This is a reworked combination of two previous entries from 2004. I fixed this up to submit to an online Chicago zine. They rejected it. Since the earlier versions were posted here before I had visitors to this site, let's pretend this is new.

I’m an alcoholic shut-in with a penchant for pouring drinks over my head and howling like a wolf, so it shocks me every time my nightclubbing friends seize me by the scruff and drag me out of the house. I’m unfit for the public eye. A first impression of me might yield the following: wrinkled clothing, tousled hair, bloodshot eyes, hostile sneer, lazy posture, and a bad attitude. In short, I belong among washed up old drunks in dive bars, not among the young, shiny, successful types that squeeze into downtown nightclubs, all glitter and spice and everything nice.

To be fair, I took the nightclub lifestyle out for test drive a few years ago, but the experiment failed. My personality type clashed with the scene, like death metal against pastel. Due to this brutal disconnect, I rejected the culture in favor of one more fitting for me, one of cynicism, self-destructive substance abuse, grating misanthropy, and indie rock.

My friends did not follow my lead, and to this day, they reserve Saturday night for dance music, strobe lights, overpriced drinks, and the occasional designer drug. Every week, usually around dinnertime on Saturday, I am gently coaxed, then laughingly teased, and finally aggressively recruited to join the clubbers’ cadre. Very rarely do I accept.

On a recent Saturday evening, these friends of mine managed to lure me from the safety of home by choosing a slightly different nightclub destination. I was intrigued to learn the establishment bills itself a nightclub cafe. Located on the outskirts of Chicago, in River Grove, Totu serves coffee and Polish cuisine and segues from a casual coffeehouse atmosphere to a full-blown dance club as the night progresses. Could this unusual fusion provide me a comfortable venue for my exacting brand of social catastrophe?

I arrived early, at eight, and entered a wooden barn-like room dimly lit in red lights. I took a corner seat and fished a menu from underneath a pile of scattered karaoke flyers. I couldn't read a word on the menu or the flyers, as both were printed in Polish.

Some examples from the drink specials placard:

Westchnienie ulgi bizona powracajacego z za krzaka
Bieg rozsazalalego Shamana na golasa ku rzece
Sep zdechly z nudow
Skowyt Czejena dzgnietego wlocznia w posladek

I was the only customer present. In the world of nightclubs, eight might as well be noon. There were two waitresses sitting at the bar. One was gorgeous, a svelte brunette in tight shiny leather. The other was hideous, apparently maimed by some unfortunate mishap. Her eyeball hung loose from its socket, a pendulum listing back and forth across her rosy cheek when she turned her head too quickly. The two conversed in Polish with the chef, who wore chef's whites and accented his booming speech with grandiose hand gestures.

The pretty waitress strode up to me and spoke words I couldn’t comprehend. I looked up at her, blinking and dumb. Realizing my quandary, she grabbed a translated version of the menu from another table. I scanned the selections. They served borscht, Hungarian meatballs, and fried vegetables, so I ordered coffee.

I began calling friends, my voice booming over background trance mix playing quietly from the overhead speakers. The staff trio were alarmed at the English words and shot me sidelong glances. They saw me looking about and heard me describing the decor and atmosphere. I think they were trying to discern whether I was a policeman, a fire marshal, a newspaper reporter, or simply a bedraggled reprobate scouting hot spots for friends.

I love listening to foreign languages, especially a room full of them murmuring, babbling, exclaiming, and rebuking. Despite this, I was desperate for conversation of my own, and after an hour of sitting alone, fifteen Poles had wandered in, most of them propping up the bar, ordering Okocim beer. Finally, the first of my friends arrived. Patrick had been practicing his house set for a few years, and was now accepting unpaid DJ gigs wherever promoters would take him. I’m not sure how he hooked up with the Polish crowd, but somehow he landed an hour at Totu. Finally, I had someone to talk to.

When Polish Tom arrived, Patrick’s gig made sudden sense. He plopped down beside me and the pretty waitress returned. They exchanged a few frantic words in Polish. I added a coffee to his order. My fourth cup of coffee was much stronger, came in a smaller cup, and contained muddy silt at the bottom. They'd been serving me domestic swill instead of their native brew. I was glad to be served their homeland mudcup. It packed a punch, though it was nowhere near as dirty or offensive as the Turkish or Armenian equivalents, both of which I hold in high esteem and affection.

By the time Patrick was slated to begin his house music assault, I was surrounded by ten friends. We drank European beer and prepared for the performance. Patrick decided to wear a costume that night. He wore a sport coat, tie, blue jeans, fake afro wig, and giant yellow sunglasses. I witnessed as my friend, a strange American boy, played giddy house music, acted like a cartoon, and made devil horns with his fingers before a crowd of sixty bewildered Polacks who couldn't decide whether to dance, kill him, or leave. I was impressed.

As the night wore on I spent plenty of time talking to a multitude of people, all of them English speakers. We formed a cadre of eleven, planted in the middle of a Polish nightclub, cheerful, the lot of us symbolically waving the colonial flag and representing our country amidst an enclave of European stubbornness.

Patrick finished his set and dashed off to the washroom. He’d been squeezing it in for a while. As he left the bathroom, he was accosted. A few Poles lurking near the exit grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around to face them.

"Hey, Mr. DJ! We DJs too, we play the music!"

One grabbed his tie, tightened it, (a little too much, according to him) and adjusted his collar. Patrick, feeling nervous, smiled, nodded, and scurried away as quickly as possible.

I had a distinctly weirder experience during my bathroom visit about twenty minutes later. I walked into the bathroom expecting to void my bladder in silence and comfort. I entered the washroom to a peculiar sight: One hyperventilating mouthbreather was standing near the sinks. He began coughing, clearing his throat, and stamping his foot as soon as I entered. I noticed another fellow who appeared to be drinking from the middle urinal. I was not distressed by this unsanitary behavior. The drinker quickly hawked up some buttery loogies and loudly spit them into the urinal. He then craned his head to peek at me before shooting more gobs into the porcelain, concerned that I might be watching him.

It was plain to me they'd been taking turns snorting rails from the top of a urinal. I had no desire to cause either of them consternation, but I had to pee. They were using the middle of three urinals, so I walked past the loogie hawker and stood before the rightmost porcelain. I was enjoying a leisurely piss when a hand clamped upon my left shoulder. A face hovered within inches of my ear, breathing raggedly and yelling in Polish. I mumbled incoherently, unable to speak any sense. I kept pissing.

He said something else. It was time for me to respond. "I no speak-a the Polish." I hoped that would suffice. It did not. Was he looking down at my tinkling genitals? I flexed my shoulder and craned my head. He backed up. Thankfully.

The two of them began glancing at each other, mumbling and wringing their fists, searching for the right words. Finally the snorter's eyes lit up and he pointed at me. He exclaimed "Security! Security?"

”No, no.” I was finished draining. I shook, tucked, and zipped. They laughed uproariously and patted me on the back. I smiled and said, "Yes! The fun." I quickly rinsed my hands and returned to my table. Patrick was still talking about the weird tie straightening incident. I trumped the hell out of him, regaling the table with my tale of the mouthbreathing cokeheads.

I had fun, but there’s no chance of my friends dragging me out in public next Saturday. I’m staying in.
11:17 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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