The Dog That Ruined My LifeAnd Other Stories From the Road.

By Joe Guse

2 Crown Publishing, Copyright 2007

Introduction
Growing up we all accumulate our share of funny stories. I can remember as a teenager, standing in my backyard looking longingly into the sky and wondering if anything was ever going to happen to me. Now looking back, I realize things were happening to me, but it was just that I was too wrapped up in my own angst to understand. A couple of the stories in this book are about my early life with my family, and took place in these same years I was sure “nothing happened.” Looking back I would love to return to that time and place of my youth, as it has now become a rich tapestry of funny memories and stories.

Sometimes it just takes time and reflection to come to understand that you don’t recognize the most significant moments of your life when they are happening.

3 So it was after High School when I took to the road, desperately wanting to make something happen in my life, and some of those things are included in this book. My travels took me to 5 of our National parks, where I worked as a busboy, waiter, bartender, and pretty much every job in between. I can remember at one point vividly standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon when I was 22, again gazing longingly into the summer sky, wondering why the hell I was working as a waiter when I should be in school learning something. Again I had failed to recognize that while I was sure nothing was happening to me, significant and life-shaping experiences were occurring all the time, but that again, in the midst of my own angst, I had failed to recognize this. In writing this book, I have therefore attempted to acknowledge and appreciate some of these

experiences, and take a moment to celebreate some of the great characters from my past. If there is a personal

4 lesson to be learned here. I remind myself to take a look around and observe the world. . Now. More often than not I find that there is always something and someone worth paying attention to. it is to take notice in the here and now of the hysterical events and marvelous characters that constantly exist all around us. My life has certainly taught me that these events and people are all too real. when I feel that old familiar angst.

so I uneasily accepted having to share a home with this scraggly-looking mongrel. and this dog eventually became the bane of my existence.5 The Dog That Ruined My Life The dog followed me home when I was in 6th grade and I should have known it was a bad omen when he bit my hand when I attempted to pet him for the first time. He looked harmless enough and resembled a million other run of the mill Bengi-looking mutts around the world. Things went bad almost immediately. but my sister and brothers liked him. Strangely the dog chose only my clothing for this . and a particular favorite activity became urinating on my clothes which were normally piled in a corner in the room I shared with my brothers. but looks can be deceiving. The dog showed no aptitude towards being housebroken. After he bit me I took an almost immediate dislike towards him.

and would sleep with any dog no matter how big or small.6 activity. my dog’s homosexuality also reflected directly on my own. I should make clear that I was not opposed to homosexuality per se. On one particularly memorable occasion my dog impregnated a purebred German Shepard down the street. in the eyes of the other kids in the neighborhood. the dog also showed amazing virility and sexual prowess. I was called “faggot” by the other kids based solely on the fact that my dog had such an overactive libido. and soon. and the rest of the family found this process “adorable” and therefore made no special efforts to assist in training him to urinate and defecate outside. but. Aside from his digestive habits. through no fault of my own. and also showed no ability to discriminate between male and female dogs for his sexual conquests. (the logistics of this escaped me) and I was presented with a bill for an abortion by a particularly .

I quickly took his identification tags off . and therefore did not want to get personally involved in the situation. and what better candidate could there be than my own hated animal. These walks upset me very much. and simply walking with my “gay” dog opened me to even more stinging commentary by the various bullies around the neighborhood. After getting a couple of miles from my house I saw a place with a monstrous backyard that appeared to be a kind of makeshift shelter for wayward animals. In the end I paid for his sins anyway though. This put me in an awkward position.7 snooty neighbor. as they extended my time with the dog by nearly an hour a day. as my mom insisted I walk the dog on a leash on a daily basis so he could get his daily dose of fresh air without siring any more potentially Bisexual heirs. as I disliked both the neighbor and the dog. and on one such occasion I hatched a plan. Because of this I would often deliberately leave the neighborhood.

(I was the lone “neigh” vote) and soon my allowance was 25 dollars lighter as a result of this decision. We even took a family vote on offering a reward. I did my best to steer these searches away from the neighborhood I had abandoned him at. organized a massive sweep of the neighborhood complete with signs and door-to door searches to bring the hated beast to his rightful home. dreaming peacefully of living without urinesoaked clothes and regular beatings suffered for having a bisexual dog. and when . but eventually my mother’s diligence paid off. The first night following the incident I slept like a baby.8 and tied him to a nearby tree. Soon my peace was disrupted however. as my mother. and she received a call one day describing her adorable family pet. who had grown rather fond of the dog. but again I was sadly mistaken. thinking this would be the end of my time with this beastly creature. My mother made me accompany her to pick the dog up.

On the ride I swore I saw the dog look back at me and smile. it was clear she strongly suspected me. although I denied my involvement profusely. while my dog sat in the front seat enjoying a cheeseburger and fries my mom had purchased for him as a treat for having been found. and. When the owner of the shelter explained to my mom that she found the dog tied to a tree. “you’ve won this round” while disgustingly choking down my crusty fried fish. and I was forced to eat a dreaded filet-o-fish.9 we got close to the house I felt like a criminal who was forced to return to the scene of the crime. she immediately cast an accusatory gaze my way. The ride home was especially uncomfortable. as I was forced to sit in the back while the dog got to ride in the spacious and comfortable front seat. . and I looked away and thought to myself. On the way home my mom stopped at McDonalds.

but already miles ahead in experience and street-smarts. Looking back this was not the most romantic of choices. The following summer a near miracle occurred. After much negotiation and discussion and despite my intense fear and agitation. She was a year younger than me. and soon our relationship progressed to the next level. against all odds I had attracted the interest of one of the neighborhood lolitas in spite of my less than stellar reputation as a loverboy. and. but at the age of 15 these . which was already miserable. including my bed. Now in addition to urinating on my clothing. we agreed that we would consummate our relationship in my backyard on Friday of the following week. worsened considerably. the dog began leaving little piles of shit on my possessions. and I was virtually powerless to retaliate with the cloud of suspicion that hung over my head following the missing dog incident.10 After that my relationship with my dog.

and then I knew it was true. however. I had done it! I was having sex! And these thoughts continued to flood my mind. despite my anticipation I was utterly terrified when the big day finally arrived. and as this awful truth came over me. I looked into my bedroom window and saw two small . I looked down at my white teeshirt and saw it was covered by several long. I had just had my first sexual experience in a steaming hot pile of dog shit. and. was not so scared. until I was brought crashing back down to earth by a rather unpleasant odor.11 things are not a strong priority. as she had considerably more experience in these matters than I had. flowing stains of dog feces. and the huge significance of the event began to occur to me. Prior to the big event my anxiety continued to increase. With a great deal of fumbling around and her gentle guidance we did eventually begin to do it correctly however. and soon a horrible realization began to occur to me. My date.

and my dog drifted off to what I’m sure was a very pleasant night’s sleep. and as I did the shade closed. Looking up I saw my dog looking out at me. He had beaten me. He had won.12 paws on the windowsill. and again I saw the familiar smirking smile I had began to hate so much. My Brother Eats Diseased Fish . and I slowly nodded my head towards the window to acknowledge his victory.

the first being that there was no fishing pole in site. my brother Ricky stood out.13 Every family has a member who is considered the “Black sheep. Several things puzzled me about this scene. One summer after his first year of college. He was a year younger than me. we didn’t see much of each other. and as I did . and over the years formed a kind of unusual bond. although we fought often as brothers are prone to do. Ricky had returned to our hometown to live. Therefore I was taken by surprise when I was driving around town one day and in a scene reminiscent of The Andy Griffith Show saw him walking down the street whistling happily to himself while holding an enormous fish that was slung over his shoulder. we were like-minded in many ways. but even amongst this wayward flock. and. and because he chose to find his own place.” Unfortunately my family consisted of only Black Sheep.

and had large green growths coming out of the socket where the eye used to hang. and he informed me that he did indeed intend to barbecue the fish that very evening. and in particular the fish my brother was now holding. Before continuing I should mention that we lived very close to a Nuclear power plant that routinely emptied waste materials into the nearby Colombia River. . I was startled to see that the fish he was carrying had clearly been dead for some time. Needless to say this had an adverse affect on the fish. There were several visible open sores on the body of the fish. To say that I was puzzled would be an understatement. Surely he didn’t intend to eat this animal? When I inquired further my worst fears were nonetheless confirmed. and it was clear to me from looking at this creature that it had not. As I got closer I saw the fish was missing an eye. in fact died of natural causes.14 a quick U-Turn in my car to investigate the situation.

He had apparently been walking on the shore of the river. but this was money I was happy to relinquish if it would say my brother from the repercussions of going through with his planned “barbecue. but first and foremost it was clear that I couldn’t let him actually eat what was left of this diseased seacreature. to. Several options crossed my mind upon hearing this story. With this in mind I opened my wallet and saw I had seven lonely dollars in there.15 and that I was welcome to come by for the party. Not believing this incredible stroke of fortune.” When I first told him to give me the fish an immediate look of hurt and disappointment flashed . and raced home to indulge in a feast. he quickly swept the fish up. Further probing clarified the story even further. “clear his head” when he stumbled across the “gold mine” that he now carried in his hands. in his words. and that brought us up to the point where our paths had crossed.

I knew I had to get rid of it so know one else would have to come in contact with it. I also explained how eating this thing would most likely make him violently ill. and its other eyeball rolled slowly out of its head. although I heard him mumble the word “pussy” softly under his breath. and drove off. As the fish hit the ground it kicked up a flash of dirt. Although I was loathe to touch the fish. and with a running start hurled it over a fence into a weeded area where it looked like no one had been for quite some time. With that in mind I took it. and. Resisting a gag. he reluctantly took my money and handed over the gnarled animal. . telling my brother it was good to see him and that we would get together soon. and so when I reluctantly offered my seven dollars in exchange for the fish. I felt satisfied with the exchange. He couldn’t understand my disgust. He dismissed this as paranoia. and possibly even kill him.16 across his face.

I had driven no more than a half block down the street when I turned and looked in my rearview mirror and saw something I hadn’t expected.17 Although I would like to say that was the end of the story. jumping over to retrieve his glorious find. 7 dollars richer and happy that God’s good fortune had smiled on him on such a wonderful afternoon. There was brother shimmying his way up the fence. it unfortunately wasn’t. Dirty Dishes in the Bathtub .

18 Miraculously my brother survived eating the diseased fish. so when he called me up and invited me to live with him where he attending college. Arriving at his home. All the same it was a new adventure. with great trepidation I packed up my old Volkswagen bus and made the trip to live with my crazy brother. Still. I saw that had decorated his walls with beer boxes. and this made for a most unusual décor. I knew it might not be the best idea. With no parental supervision. but these discussions never seem to produce too many results. I really had little room to complain. and seeing as I was now a guest in his home. and sitting on is couch talking about how we should probably get jobs. and time continued to pass. living at home was an equally unattractive option. but after that we took a little break from each other. and so. and no dishwasher or shower in the house. hygiene began to become an . drinking beer. We settled into an easy routine. playing pool.

but soon there simply became no way to stack the dishes any higher. and the pile began to take on a life of its own as it expanded beyond the boundaries of the sink. and soon began to shower at the local YMCA where I played Basketball during the day with other shiftless types including several ex-cons. general cleanliness around the house had also fallen by the wayside. Not wanting to take baths and not having jobs to go to. . dishes soon began to pile sky high in the sink. I finally had enough of the sweaty beer smell that was emitting off me however.19 issue. At first this was amusing as the Jenga tower in the sink continued to rise. which was still preferable to bathing in our mold-infested facilities at home. Aside from personal hygiene. we slowly began to forget about personal hygiene as the smell of cheap beer in the apartment continued to intensify. and as our humble abode came without a dishwasher.

000 pound Gorilla in the room rearing its ugly head. but also having the pesky problem of needing utensils to eat off of. Eventually we began to eat off of paper plates. it was still capable of being cleaned. I knew things had to change. and we avoided eye contact while in the kitchen for fear of the 3. One day. and I realized as a guest in my brother’s house it should be me that made the first move to rectify the . after a heated game of basketball at the YMCA where I swore I heard one of the convicts mutter “bitch” in my direction as I got out of the shower. The dishes soon became a source of tension in the house. but even that was a problem as the utensils needed to eat off the paper plates were often buried under the neverending pile of filth. and messing with the tower meant disputing the equilibrium that delicately balanced the dishes together.20 This was a problem insomuch as neither of us wanted to do the dishes. Although our house was old.

I took a long look in the mirror. and it was not implausible to think it might have been several weeks since he had properly cleaned himself. Midnight Cowboy. I immediately . Somehow there had been a disturbance in the force of our humble home. Before I describe the horror of what I saw that day. I knew that something had changed. and knew what I had to do. This fact would soon become highly apparent to me. Like Joe Buck in the movie. but it took me a couple minutes to take stock and begin to comprehend what had happened. but in the meantime I soldiered on bravely towards the house to meet my destiny. and began the walk home determined to attack the horrific filth that was growing inside of our home. let me back up for just a moment. When I wandered into the kitchen and saw the tower had completely disappeared. Upon arrival. Although I had the luxury of the YMCA to shower in. my brother had no such outlet.21 enormous problems that was growing in the sink.

as this mystery continued to befuddle me. There in the bathtub was my very filthy brother soaking in a pool of old food and dishes in the bathtub without a care in the world. and the grim reality began to sink in. . I knew what I was going to find. but still nothing could have prepared me for the sight I was about to see. I heard a splash of water. It couldn’t be. could it? I dismissed these thoughts form my mind.22 felt a pang of guilt realizing that my brother had taken it upon himself to do the unspeakable deed of cleaning the dishes. as there did not appear to be a single dish in sight. I knew. Then. but when I heard a metallic clanging coming from the room next door. Opening the door to the bathroom. and the horrible idea began to crystallize in my mind. He smiled at me smugly as he saw my face. deep down in my heart of hearts what had happened. When I looked into the cupboard these feelings of guilt gave way to bewilderment however.

someone will tell me about a “crazy” . was too much. but for once in my life I was truly beyond words. Seeing the little beans of chili and spaghetti noodles floating across the top of the tub. as the memories of that day rush back into my mind and I feel that warm bile again rushing to the corners of my mouth. Often when I’m at a cocktail party or some other social event. I think about that smell emitting from the bathtub and the sight I had seen that fateful day. Now a grown man. but even now when I catch a whiff of cheap beer in a tavern. and “killed two birds with one stone” as he put it. and slowly the bile began to warm in the corners of my mouth. I still have a great deal of difficulty eating off unfamiliar dishes. and I went to the yard and violently retched at the horrific things I had witnessed.23 sure that I would be happy that he had taken such initiative. It’s been many years since I lived in that apartment with my brother.

but could have been much older or younger and it was really impossible to tell. His face had been scarred from years of heavy drinking. The Funniest Day of My Life He was about 50. Thinking about my brother and the bizarre drumbeat he marches to and the times we used to have.24 member of their family. so he couldn’t even really tell you with any certainty how . and most of the time his speech was unintelligible. and I simply smile and nod my head. but always my mind is elsewhere.

I was 22 and in a very adventurous period of my life.25 old he was if you asked him. . and meeting people like Pappy was precisely the reason I had dropped out of school to see the world. I met Pappy when I was a waiter at the Grand Canyon and he was a stock clerk at the gift shop next door. and he seemed satisfied to answer to that. He became known simply as “Pappy” to the kids he worked with. and during these moments of clarity some very amusing anecdotes would pour from his lips like fine wine. but often it was hard to tell if this was by design or not. He regaled us with stories of hanging out with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead in the 60’s. When he’d had enough to drink he would often start speaking clearly.” To hear him tell it he kept company with a great many celebrities in his time. but also told us he had to quit hanging out with them because they were simply “too lame. He had moments though when he said something truly funny.

How Pappy and I came to go to Las Vegas together was an interesting story. sobering up and realizing he had a whole day to do nothing. Pappy had called in sick that morning.26 including the Rolling Stones. promptly put on his patented corduroy smoking jacket and began drinking. and it would seem to be a logical decision not to drink at the bar adjoining the store you just called off to work from. As the story was related to me. but Pappy was not a man ruled by logic. In any case Pappy was suspended from work after knocking down several . who he briefly worked security for back in the day. and. and began with him getting suspended from his job as a stockboy. before the “pussy Hell’s Angels” butted in and ruined his close personal friendship with Mick Jagger. There were several bars in the Grand Canyon area. He might even have gotten away with it if he hadn’t felt a pang of remorse after half a dozen Jack and Cokes and gone in and starting stocking the shelves.

An hour into the trip across the blazing hot Arizona desert I was glad I had made the journey.27 items from the shelves. and found himself with another glorious week with which to enjoy his leisure time. I insisted on driving. and many other experiences which I was quite sure had no basis in fact. What would possess a person to get into a car with someone like Pappy you might ask? Morbid curiosity? A lifetime of material? To this day I can’t rightly say. but the fates had collided. and a half-hour later I was driving the pick-up truck of a deranged man en route to a city where a man like that could get into some truly serious trouble. As fortune would have it I also had the day off that day. Pappy had told me about his affair with Janis Joplin. (she was getting too clingy). We had . and it was around noon when I encountered Pappy who was now loudly bragging about his suspension and talking of going to Vegas. his time with the Doors. Pappy being already highly inebriated and barely able to walk.

and Pappy. already getting irritated with his new friend. “We’re going to give this Turkey a ride to Vegas. and Pappy began to pout and mumble out the window. which was nearly as amusing as having an actual conversation with him. and. and when “Paul” tried to squeeze in next to Pappy. and when I came back Pappy had befriended a muscular looking man who was drinking our beer and by the looks of it. The seating arrangements were a different matter however. having already had at least a dozen drinks that morning. began insisting I pull over roughly every ten minutes or so.28 begun drinking beer. After the third such incident I refused. and immediately the . When we pulled into a gas station I wandered into the store. Paul did not take kindly to this. as it was his truck I really had no call to refuse. he promptly informed him that he “ain’t no queer” and insisted Paul get in the back of the pick-up.” Pappy informed me.

As amused as I was at these stories. Paul. Paul reluctantly got in the back. who was continuing to burn holes into the back of the oblivious Pappy’s head as he told tall tale after tall tale. much to Paul’s chagrin. already angry at being banished to the back of the truck. after several hours I had begun to think about the reality of spending a weekend with this strange .29 mood of our little threesome had begun to sour. and we slid the window of the truck open so we all could chat. I would occasionally glance back at Paul. Pappy fell back into his storytelling rhythm as he consumed beer after beer. and soon we were back into a comfortable conversation.” slowly slid the window shut. and announcing he wanted to “take a little break from this Turkey. Pappy. and highly suspicious of Pappy’s stories. and he was now casting a menacing stare at Pappy through the window. was not pleased with this. used to a captive audience. began muttering epitaphs under his breath as we continued to drive.

who had not taken his eyes off Pappy for a couple of hours. I looked over and saw an image that will be indelibly etched into my mind forever. There. The next few moments happened very quickly. Paul. For Pappy.30 creature. who was now . shouting simply no! over and over again. had rolled down his window. was Pappy’s shriveled penis urinating into a 64 ounce cup that he had filled nearly to the brim. I didn’t get it until it was too late. Paul. to my horror. Questions began to run through my mind like bullets. should I drop Pappy at a shelter? Was this even his car? In the midst of answering these questions I looked over and saw a truly horrific sight. and began frantically pounding on the window. had anticipated the situation well before I had. and as he hoisted the cup full of piss. and looking back I don’t remember what actually happened first. who was unable or unwilling to understand that anything he threw out the window would directly affect Paul. the terrible reality hit me.

As Pappy’s bucket of piss drenched him. wanted badly to pummel Pappy with every fiber of his very angry being. whose nervous system was on a 5 second delay. but it was too late. Pappy took a quick look back as if remembering Paul for the first . began to cover his head. did not understand what this “Turkey” was so upset about. shouting “pull this fucking car over now” over and over while punching the glass at the front of the pickup. Paul looked like a soldier in a movie who had just been hit by a reign of the enemy’s bullets. Pappy hurled his jug of urine out the window. Pappy. he let out a guttural cry. and through a nearly unquenchable laughter I explained to him what he had just done. much like the image of Pappy’s gnarled member. who upon his recovery.31 in a frenzy. will also be forever burned into my head. which of course instantly began to blow directly backwards. that. In a gesture of pure grace. began beating on the back of the car. Paul.

It was the single best delivery of a line I had ever heard. anywhere. and after we got back he was eventually fired for eating bottles of Jelly and then putting them back on the shelves. Although Pappy is almost certainly dead by now. and one that I’ll never forget. finally informed me nonchalantly that.” To this day I have never heard anything.32 time. Although the rest of the trip to Vegas was very eventful. “He didn’t think it would be such a good idea if we pull over right now. . that brought me such a great deal of joy. and upon seeing a beat red Paul pounding his fist into his hands. Shortly after our return to the Grand Canyon Pappy continued his wanton ways. nothing could ever duplicate that ride. (Pappy tried to convince the theatre manager that he was a friend of Wayne Newton). he will always be immortal to me for that one fateful afternoon. anytime.

Although Pappy was not the most reliable tour guide to see Las Vegas with.33 Dying Laughing (The Plane) The title of this story implies something being so funny that a person laughs to extreme excess. but in this case it took on a nearly literal meaning. . visiting that city infected me with the “bug” to return and since Pappy had mysteriously disappeared I found myself with no reliable means of transportation to return.

. and in retrospect I was very close to being on the third. where I had just won 1. the particular airline I flew on had had two of their small planes crash over the years. they can be quite terrifying. and it was a balmy 103 degrees as I hurriedly readied myself to return to work. So it was on one particularly fateful trip back from Vegas that this story picks up. As anyone who has ever ridden on a small plane can attest. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky in Vegas. and soon I took full advantage of this promotion and hitched a ride whenever I got the chance. Although I didn’t know it at the time. and I usually remedied this by having several Bloody Marys’ prior to takeoff.000 dollars playing Blackjack but was now cutting it very close to making it back to work on time.34 Making some inquiries I found that the local airline at the Grand Canyon flew employees of the hotels to Vegas for 15 dollars on a space available basis.

As the line continued to move a man of about 22 in an airline uniform came and introduced himself as the pilot. as he seemed a much better conversational option than . Although he looked very disturbed.35 Lining up to board the plane I saw that there were six Japanese tourists in line in front of me. I looked him up and down carefully? This was the pilot? Did he go through a two-week certificate program to get his license? I tried not to be too judgmental however. and firmly took his hand and told him I’d love to sit up front with him on the way back. and asked me if I wanted to sit in the co-pilot’s seat with him. as the plane only held 8 seats and 7 of them had already been filled. and patiently waited for my turn at the ticket window with the rest of my fellow travelers. I chalked it up to a case of nerves. and one utterly terrified looking man pacing back and forth talking to himself and muttering foul language under his breath.

and looked over at the pilot who was also hiding a grin. which seemed kind of weird but something I also found pretty amusing.36 the Japanese tourists and the now nearly green man I had spotted pacing around before. and I slowly relaxed and settled in for the 4 hour flight which I knew would go by rather quickly. Despite his young age he seemed like he knew his way around the controls. and . and the Japanese had also taken notice of the man. I stifled a laugh to myself when I heard him mutter “Holy Fucking Jesus” under his breath. As we boarded the plane I noticed the terrified man had taken the seat directly behind the pilot. As we took off the Japanese tourists applauded as the pilot hoisted the plane into the air. The chorus of “Holy Fucking Jesus” coming from behind the pilot was getting slightly louder now however. and were now talking amongst themselves in their native tongue about this strange man. which in a plane that size meant I was extremely close to him.

and when the pilot told him “3 more hours” his face became twisted into the most pathetic ball. that the only real emotion you could feel for him was pity.” The tone conveyed such a pleading for reassurance and sympathy that it was hard to continue to laugh at the man. and. I looked over at the pilot and he rolled his eyes. he slowly leaned up to the pilot and asked in the highest pitched whimper you could imagine. although the man was still terrified. emanating the world-weary wisdom his 6 months of flying had undoubtedly taught him. 45 minutes later the plane felt like it had been hit by a thunderbolt and quite unexpectedly the whole plane shook so hard that people were nearly thrown out . they settled into an easy patter as the man continued to grip his hands together in prayer.37 although they were concerned. “How much longer do we have. The first hour of the flight was very smooth sailing.

I couldn’t help but laugh now. as he turned a new shade of green. and the man behind him took the opportunity to deposit the contents of his lunch into his barf bag. despite the seriousness of the situation around me. JESUS” was however the only response he got in exchange for this announcement. but he had enough poise to get on the radio and explain that how on particularly hot and humid days. as I looked back and all of the Japanese had simultaneously . FUCKING. “HOLY.38 of their seats. I couldn’t help but sneak a glance back to the man behind me. changes in the air pressure could cause turbulence which affected these smaller planes much more than the big jets. Although I was quite concerned in my own right. which he filled to capacity in a series of awful guttural retching noises. who now had a single tear rolling down his cheek. For the first time the pilot also looked concerned.

It began to pour rain.39 stopped talking and were now silently looking at their feet. I looked back at my Japanese friends and saw that they too were now fearful of this recent turn of events. and it looked to . as if on cue. Without warning a very loud boom shook the sky. right outside my window. and saw that he too had assumed another level of concentration as the plane continued to shake and rattle as we moved slowly towards out destination. They began speaking in hushed tones. and I looked out the window and saw lightning. It was clear from their behavior that they now perceived the man as a threat. and I looked back and the chorus of “Holy Fucking Jesus” had resumed. and looking at his terrified face and overflowing barf bag I wasn’t so sure they were wrong. this time in a pitch so high it might have resembled a dog whistle as he continued to repeat this mantra over and over. literally. I took this opportunity to check in with my friend the pilot.

Is this how I’m going to die? I wondered to myself. and the pilot looked at me as if to suggest it may come down to me physically restraining this man as he continued to yell in absolute panic.40 me if they were debating if death would come at the hands of the weather or at the hands of our fellow traveler. “Holy Fucking Jesus. how much longer” he repeated several times. and one day. as I looked had now grabbed the pilot by the back of the neck as he tried to continue to steer the plane. if I do survive I’m going to tell this story. If so it’s pretty fucking funny. who now covered their faces in terror. “I realize your scared sir. .” the pilot tried to say as calmly as possible. but our friend was no longer in his seat as he ran down the isle collecting the barf bags from the seat pockets of the Japanese. who. I thought.

I looked over at the pilot. and I watched the pilot’s shaking hands again grab the microphone. “We’re going to be going down a few hundred feat folks to avoid this turbulence. wise beyond his 22 years and sure. I suppose the appropriate emotion in a circumstance like this would have been fear. who between stifling a laugh of his own raised a finger to his mouth to shush me. but all I could do personally was laugh. and now the wind had picked up .” he announced. and I mean from the stomach laugh.41 But in the meantime the weather was getting worse. but the only words my friend heard were “we’re going down” and he soon emitted another high-pitched squeal as he simultaneously filled up yet another barf bag. I think that laughing was not the correct solution in dealing with this increasingly deranged man. or a sense of pending doom. As the plane descended the lightening continued to roar outside the plane. or perhaps dread.

and seemed to be considering that they may in fact survive this ordeal. and between filling up barf bags our friend had now curled up into the fetal position and continued to pray to his holy fucking Jesus as we continued into the night. although he was now clearly terrified himself. and. but philosophically was grateful I had at least experienced such a funny demise. and saw that for the first time in at least an hour the Japanese had lifted their heads. I really did think I was going to die. I took this opportunity to look back and get a little state of the union on the inhabitants in the back of the plane. . When one particularly strong gust of wind turned the plane nearly sideways.42 significantly. he had managed to steer us into clearer weather and for a few minutes the plane maintained a perfectly smooth equilibrium. My friend the pilot righted the ship however.

who had regained his composure. and I listened intently and noticed he was now bargaining with his lord. But it was not that simple. and this time the pilot. if “Sweet Fucking Jesus” would just see him through this experience. it seemed that we would indeed live to tell this tale.43 My friend however was now openly weeping. and now. just one hour from the Grand Canyon. I saw my friend’s hand again seize the back of the pilot’s neck. and for the first time everyone’s body language began to loosen as we collectively took stock of our predicament. and making a number of promises to live a better life. About a half-hour from the Grand Canyon. Miraculously the weather did eventually pass us. It looked as if our pilot had heroically gotten us through this exorcise. now yelled firmly “Please do not touch me sir” .

so if I happen to get loud. the pilot again shot me a glance to let me know we weren’t quite out of the woods just yet. and moments later I could tell it was with great trepidation that he announced that we would soon be making our final decent into the tiny Grand Canyon airport. And so with this new warning. a. and it was truly amazing he was able to get this many words out. I’m most afraid during the landing. but before the pilot had a chance to answer he continued on his own blubbery way. as he slowly curled up again in a ball. the chorus of “Holy Fucking Jesus” began . please don’t hate me sir. and like an old friend. This news invigorated the man. “Sir.44 My friend immediately retracted his hand however.” He said. how much longer?” he asked. “Because the thing is. and began slowly blubbering again as he again in his high-pitched squeal asked the pilot.

the . although it was highly inappropriate. This crossed my mind as well. and again. and once again the Japanese winced in horror. HOLY FUCKING JESUS. I began to laugh. and soon the man’s mantra was echoing in my own head as we sank down into the night. this time in an even higher and more desperate tone that conveyed he was absolutely certain that he was in fact about to die. sure now that this man would attack the pilot at the last moment and crash our tiny plane into the ground. During the final moments he got out of his seat. HOLY FIUCKING JESUS. So as we crept closer the cries got louder and louder. As the pilot touched the plane down to the ground. and I unbuckled my seatbelt and prepared for this possibility although my gut instincts told me that the man would not actually physically attack the pilot.” the man was now yelling at the top of his lungs. “HOLY FUCKING JESUS.45 again.

46 Japanese, having rallied together in solidarity, again erupted in thunderous applause as the pilot touched the plane to the ground. As we taxied towards the gate I looked over and smiled at the pilot, who smiled back as he gave me a knowing glance. When the doors to the plane were finally opened I looked back towards my friend, who was now leaping out the door, leaving his bag behind and sprinting into the night, screaming one more “Holy Fucking Jesus” as he went. He continued to run into a field, and into the darkness, and as far as I know was never seen or heard from again. Looking over at the pilot I pulled a flask of Jack Daniels out of my bag and asked him what was what on my mind. “Just how close did we come to dying?” He looked at me while taking the flask from my hand and taking a big swig of whiskey to calm his nerves. “Very fucking close”, he replied,

47 “Very fucking close,” and as he took a swig and handed it to me we both began to laugh at the utter absurdity we had just experienced. We sat that for quite some time laughing like that, and the next time I returned to the airport and inquired about his whereabouts I was told he had chosen to “seek another career path.” Later I would always wonder about those two men. One who had saved my life and another who had shown me what pure, unadulterated terror looked like up close and personally. At the time I went back to work and chalked it up to just another funny story to tell, but now looking back I realize my life had almost certainly been spared that evening by some force more powerful than myself. Years later, in the presence of my always cantankerous grandfather who had just been told one of his friends had died, I heard the term “Holy fucking Jesus” again, and the memory of that day rolled back into my mind like a favorite horror movie.

48 To this day that term has special meaning for me, and in moments of true shock and surprise, I’ll

occasionally utter “Holy Fucking Jesus” aloud in memory of my friends that fateful evening.

The World’s Worst Waiter
Many of the most adventuresome college students take to the road during their formative years, and I was no exception. During one such summer in my 3rd or 4th sophomore year I took to the wilds of Montana, and while there I met undoubtedly and unequivocally the

Although this was a small and somewhat insignificant gesture. and for those with a fair amount of organizational skills. Most waiters who have any kind of experience will become comfortable serving roughly four tables at the . Many people think waiting tables is an easy way to make a few extra dollars for the summer. Wendell was not without his charms however.49 world’s worst waiter. but he also had a very short temper. Wendell not only had no such organizational skills. this was Wendell’s little way of “sticking it to the man” that summer. who also happened to be my roommate. he was also prone to panic attacks. as if this wasn’t enough. this is the truth. and seeing the Moose with the cigarette in his mouth never failed to enrage the task-oriented manager. an Irish kid by the name of Wendell. and one of his favorite pastimes was putting a cigarette in the mouth of the large Moose who hung over the dining room in all of his splendor. and.

but for Wendell this number was closer to two. When things got particularly stressful Wendell would turn beat red. and generally showing a . and even this made him extremely nervous and uncomfortable.50 same time. and would often take his revenge by a measure known as “crop dusting” which consisted of passing gas near a particularly difficult table. Wendell continued to fall out of favor with the manager. Wendell became very upset when tables complained about him. As the summer progressed and the restaurant got busier and busier. Despite his limitations as a waiter. (often getting up in the middle of the night to do this). and then letting the “dust” settle as he went to the back and congratulated himself on his accomplishment. and often go into a pure state of panic over even the slightest of difficulties. as he continued to place the cigarette in the Moose’s mouth. begin sweating profusely.

driving an elderly woman’s electric wheelchair around the lobby. One particularly heated conversation occurred when a large group of elderly tourists had visited the restaurant. circling in and out of tourists in his waiter’s uniform while his tables in the dining room got more and more impatient. when she stepped into the lobby and saw a most unusual site. and the manager punished Wendell by giving him even more tables the next night. There was Wendell.51 daily inability to put even the slightest effort into improving himself as a waiter. which was a situation that would come back to haunt her. In a fit of absolute fury the manager scoured the Lodge looking for her wayward waiter. and as usual Wendell was nowhere to be found. This did not obviously go over well. As fortune would have it I was also working the night of Wendell’s punishment. and on this particular night he was particularly agitated as he fell further and .

and serving an 8 year old boy a glass of scotch when he brought him a ”Rob Roy” instead of a Roy Rogers. and a small explanation is needed to fully understand the incident that occured that evening. was Wendell’s undoing. In a fine dining restaurant. Wendell made several blunders that night. and had been summoned over several times by one particularly impatient table that . and this. on that fateful night. As luck would have it I happened to be working directly next to Wendell that evening. which was the children’s drink that the boy had ordered. bringing people their salads after they were half way through with their meals. including spilling a bowl of soup down an old lady’s back.52 further behind. the food is covered by a lid to keep the heat in and balance the entrees. So it was in a highly agitated state that Wendell and I crossed paths that evening. This particular night happened to be the Fourth of July. which in the summer in Montana is the absolute height of tourist season.

and told Wendell I would bring his food out to the table with the hot lids on them.” . in a pure panic reply back. So when Wendell grabbed me and pleaded with me in an extremely high-pitched voice to. “Dude. Wendell thanked me profusely and proceeded to take a couple of panicked laps around the dining room as he was prone to do.53 was absolutely furious with the quality of their service that particular evening. and when I set his covered food down at a trey stand near his already furious table. I heard the words. pleeeeeasssse bring the food out to that table!!” I felt it was the right thing to do to help my buddy out. “better late than never. I knew I would have to get out of there quickly. “about fucking time” as I quickly walked off. But then I had another thought. and Wendell. but it was up to him to actually pass the food out once I set it down.

and it seemed an eternity before the first brave table begin to quietly make small talk . a single cherry rested at the center of each plate.54 Seconds later I heard the single loudest most blood curdling cry of “FUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I had ever heard echo loudly through the dining room. As Wendell had lifted up the plates that covered his food. out to the picnic area. much to the horrified chagrin of the children who were playing nearby. and I knew my prank had succeeded. into the lodge. and this was the straw that truly broke Wendell’s back. where he proceeded to bury his head in the water. and lasted for a count of at least ten seconds before Wendell sprinted out of the room. His scream carried through the dining room. The entire dining room fell into a stunned silence. a man possessed with such pure unadulterated panic and frustration that he went springing towards the lake outside.

I was 24. Incarceration On one occasion I had the misfortune of being arrested. but before you jump to conclusions. I urge you to read on.55 following this incident. . but it was that moment that I most remember as I look back onto that glorious Montana summer. Wendell and I would go on to have many adventures that summer. and this story ends in a bathroom outside of a San Francisco gas station.

I felt like Jack Kerouac about to tackle the road for a great adventure. I had nearly 4. The trip down was relatively uneventful save for a short. unexpected detour into Mexico (I was terrible at reading maps) which was in retrospect the beginning of the end. and as I packed my 72’ Karma Ghia up for the long ride.56 That winter was a fateful one for me. I . I was undaunted. which I thought at the time was all the money in the world.000 dollars to my name. had landed back home after several cruel turns of fate. which was a bit of logistical problem considering I was over 3. and passed my time playing Nintendo and drinking beer with the other shiftless characters in my hometown. One afternoon I received a fateful call from an ex-girlfriend who I’d never really gotten over and who invited me to come to Georgia for a visit. as I had done very little in the way of work. and with my spirits high I took off. Still.000 miles away in Washington State.

000. On my first night there I saw her making out with another guy at a bar we went to. and. it seemed like it might have been relevant to mention this prior to sending me on a 3.000 mile wild gooses chase. With this in mind. When I finally arrived in Georgia. I left that wonderful city three weeks later with nothing to show for it but a very large collection of Hurricane glasses.000 down to less than 1. and quickly went from bad to worse. (I spoke no Spanish) and I was therefore three days behind where I said I would be. and headed home. calculating that I still had to get back across the country. this time detouring into New Orleans which quickly depleted my rapidly dwindling stash of 4. things were therefore pretty tense. I turned my car back around. . which seemed to greatly aggravate my increasingly impatient ex-girlfriend. and although I had no claims on her virtue.57 spent three days down there drinking bathtub tequila and trying to communicate with the locals.

000 dollars was now 400 dollars. my spirits were therefore once again intact. I figured it couldn’t hurt to stop downtown and have a drink. It was one of those perfect San Francisco . which was a decision that I would seriously come to regret. It started out as one of the truly great afternoons of my life. Looking back I remember trying desperately to pull my car away from veering into Vegas. but alas. budgeted correctly was still plenty of money to get back home. but I knew my mom would take me back in. the force was too strong. except for the very large problem that Las Vegas lay squarely between me and where I had to go. still plenty of money to make it home with my tail between my legs and my pride all but annihilated.58 Now 1. and 6 hours later my stash of 1.000 dollars. When I cruised into San Francisco. (again) and I could regroup and eventually figure something out. and seeing that beautiful city stretching out over the horizon.

I looked her over very closely. and settling onto a patio in Nob Hill. when a beautiful older woman sat down at the table next to mine and almost immediately struck up a conversation.59 spring days. As day gave way to night. I again felt it was a world of possibilities. we moved from the patio to the inside of the bar. And things only got better. forgetting that I was down to my last 400 dollars. and. I began to celebrate my reversal of fortune by buying rounds of drink for the bar. . and for one shining moment it seemed for me the world had turned. A large part of me knew this was a very bad idea. invited her over to my table. and music. literature. and soon I bought another round of drinks for the bar and then another. and soon we were involved in a wonderful conversation about travel. and deciding she probably wasn’t a prostitute. but this feelings was also soon to pass. but the large part of me that thought rarely won in those days.

60 From the title of this story you might have guessed that this didn’t end well. (a tip was out of the question) and told my new girlfriend I had to run to my car and I would be back in just a second. When I heard a banging on the passenger side window and saw a rather large police man wrapping my car with a nightstick. Getting back to my car the slow and horrible realization of what I had done began to occur to me. and knew I was in a bit of a bind. When I finally got my tab for 375 dollars. I rolled a 100 dollar bill around a bunch of singles. I was having such a good time that I had completely forgotten the money I had blown in New Orleans and then Las Vegas. which totaled 375 dollars even. and rather than give it too much thought I drifted off to sleep in an alcoholic haze. but this was not to be. Not thinking very clearly. and looking up at the very wary bartender and my new expectant lady friend. I suddenly remembered an old trick I had heard that .

en route to the San Francisco jail on a charge of public drunkenness. and soon I was in the back of a police car. and soon a large white froth formed around my mouth. and immediately sobered up and began to consider the potential implications of this latest course of developments. When the dust finally cleared and I got done explaining everything to him. I had seen a great deal of prison movies in my life. he was clearly not satisfied. and this was not a pleasant sensation.61 throwing pennies in your mouth would kill the smell of alcohol. Having shoved roughly 100 pennies in my mouth. but the second thing wrong proved to be far worse. and to the onlooking police officer I’m sure I looked like a raving lunatic. There were several things wrong with this plan. These thoughts were not necessarily helped by the fact we were in downtown San Francisco . I began gagging uncontrollably. The first of these was that the officer could clearly see me doing this. I immediately swallowed several.

I didn’t feel we would have a lot in common and therefore reserved the introductions until a later date. sharp. And then I remembered the “small fine” part of his statement and thought about the 25 dollars I had to my name.” which to be were the sweetest words I could imagine. I was fairly sure I was in for a sleepless night. My cellmate was named George. Although George did eventually stop shouting that night. With this in mine I politely asked the officer what I had to look forward to. and he told me.62 and soon visions of gang rape and forced sodomy occupied my troubled mind. I had been informed by the officer that since I couldn’t pay my fine and since it was a Friday that it would be at least Monday before I would actually see a judge and be released. A few hours!! I could certainly do that. “A few hours and a small fine and you’ll be on your way. Later that night I felt an intense. and when he entered my darkly lit room and began shouting to himself. .

(and possibly others) and this was something my already worried mind couldn’t accept. an. not wanting to generate any more possible waste products prior to my release. and when I finally did find one many miles north of the Golden gate bridge. it was in a rural area in a very dingy looking gas station.63 rumbling in my bowels and the horror of this bodily signal began to come over me. Getting the key from the suspicious looking manager was yet another hurdle. and only rose for the obligatory meal times. I jumped in my car and began driving as quickly as possible in search of the nearest gas station. I was going to have to go in front of George. . which I barely touched. but as fate would have it was so early nothing was open. When that fateful Monday finally came I needed a bathroom so badly my stomach was in knots. For three solid days I stayed huddled in that horrified fetal ball.

who all simultaneously entered the bathroom to use the sink and the rest of the facilities as I sat there in stunned silence. I heard someone grasping for the doorknob. children. but it was too late. But I had made a fatal mistake by not locking the door behind me. Entering the bathroom. and the stall in fact had no door. and this was a decision that would haunt me forever. he reluctantly passed it over. etc. Torn between holding my stomach for three days and needing to go to the bathroom worse than I ever had in my life.64 after buying 3 bags of cashews to earn my passage. grandmothers. Seconds after I had sat down. and I ran towards the stall in anticipation of my ultimate relief. and the sheer humiliation and embarrassment of watching this . as soon the bathroom was filled with an entire family of migrant workers. (the same setup as the jail incidentally) but to me it truly didn’t mater. I saw that it was possibly the single dirtiest facility I had ever seen. including women.

The tears eventually gave way to laughter however. insulted that I had dared to interrupt his morning ritual. The last shred of pride and dignity I had left had been stripped from me and soon I began to weep at the horror of what I had just experienced.65 entire family stand not 4 feet away from me go through their rituals. Nature gave way however. and soon. Slowly they began to filter out of the bathroom. and soon I began to emit some of the foulest and awful noises and smells I had ever produced. but the damage had been done. They looked at me and one of them muttered "mui loco gringo" as he finished washing his face. 23 dollars in my pocket and an embarrassing story that I was quite sure I could never top. and the family took pause and looked at each other in uncomfortable silence as if I was the one who had barged in on them. . I was back on the road on my way home.

My last summer at Jackson Hole was spent at a lodge in the middle of the Grand Teton Mountain Range. I had seen and done a lot. and felt it might be time to think about putting together a new game plan.66 Skynard My last summer working in the National Parks was kind of anti-climatic. Now pushing into my late twenties. .

So it was with my hopes for being a performer temporarily dashed that I returned to work as a bartender that summer. drinking cheap beer and line dancing into the wee hours of the morning. I actually made my debut as a comic that summer in Jackson Hole. rapid speech. where my obscure literary references. I had very little in common with either group. On one hand women with small dogs in mink coats stroll through the shops mindlessly spending money on useless trinkets. and odd appearance was met with reactions from confused looks to outright booing. and in fact had had multiple run ins with representatives from each. thinking that perhaps I could take up a career in small engine repair or perhaps .67 Jackson Hole Wyoming is one of those unique summer towns in the Western United States with a truly odd mix of people. and on the other “locals” in cowboy boots and 10 gallon hats ruled the night.

I was very familiar with this band. I couldn’t imagine what kind of “friends” he might have in the music business. it was in fact none other than the legendary Lynard Skynard. as you may have guessed from the title of this story. (I admired him a great deal). Looking at this towering redneck of a man in cowboy boots and wranglers. until I found . a 60ish man with a penchant for throwing around money and chasing teenage girls. and that a few of us would be chosen to take care of them and see that they had everything they needed. and had actually thoroughly enjoyed Sweet Home Alabama a great deal as a teenager.68 become a legal secretary like the adds on TV promised I could in just a few short weeks. To back up a second. Late that summer the owner of the lodge. He mentioned a few friends of his from the music business would be coming to the lodge to record an album. but. made a major announcement.

69 from a friend of mine that the lyrics may contain some racial overtones. as he yelled out “mama” and continued to swig Vodka out of a cheap plastic bottle. They were certainly rednecks. I found I agreed with him. I was the only guy that had been assigned to the band. . and soon I found myself nearly carrying the drunken base player up the stairs. and I vowed to get to know these guys as much as possible as I was sure many adventures lay ahead. Even still I volunteered to be one of the people attending to the band that week. Researching this a bit. and I knew that this would also provide some interesting developments. and soon denounced the band as “rednecks” as I moved on to more sophisticated bands like the Beatles. It was then I knew it was going to be an interesting week. and my fellow helpers were a number of pretty girls handpicked by the owner to ominously “take care of” the band that week.

I was one of the only guys working at the lodge that summer. and because we were somewhat isolated on the mountain. We had gotten to know each other late that summer. when she announced to her parents she was “taking some time off” from school.70 Soon this dynamic greatly upset my personal applecart. who truly . sweet. This was familiar ground for me. no other options. a concept that I was also quite familiar with. For her it was different however. as she was a Mormon girl from a small town in Utah. suddenly I clearly became door #2. This particular girl was the kind of young. and was something I took as a matter of course for all of the girls except for one. many of the girls begrudgingly hooked up with me as there was often. So when a band of famous rock stars came breezing into town. and immediately I knew she was a keeper. literally. innocent thing that was just gullible enough to believe the things I said.

and I was more than happy to introduce her to this side of life. My life was nothing but alternate reality. . and this category of man became a scary remembrance of my youth. but soon when she was introduced to “the band” I knew immediately her wild eyes were now seeing farther than me. In addition to the band itself. Even amongst the band itself years of hard drinking and drugs had certainly taken its toll. Could they even still perform. and we settled into an uneasy relationship. several roadies followed close behind.71 came to Jackson Hole to sow some wild oats and test the waters of an alternate reality.” Once I had seen an aunt of mine kissing one of these guys. The band truly was a grizzly looking bunch. I wondered? But soon I was startled to realize they actually sounded great. and my thoughts immediately harkened back to the terrifying men at carnivals my mom had told me were known as “Carnies.

was again clutching his Vodka bottle. By process of elimination I therefore became a roadie. What was worse was I was to report to the “head” roadie. and attempting to hold a conversation with a group of socialites who undoubtedly thought he . the culmination of a life’s dream. but helped him load the instruments in and out of the studio as he continued to lecture me about the fine points of the music business. and these positions were quickly filled by all of the young and pretty girls. He was a very selfimportant man. That night in the bar. the base player Leon who I had carried up the stairs. and seemed to thoroughly enjoy lecturing me on the cost and usage of each individual piece of equipment.72 The “service” positions the band required were little things like running up to the lodge for more Whiskey. I disliked him immediately. the very man who had made me revisit the traumatic Carny memory from my youth.

sat down at the piano. This man. and the events of that evening left me scratching my head in wonder. Meanwhile back to work the next morning and my temporary roadie boss had come in wearing a “honk if you love pussy” tee-shirt. I gently ushered him away from the women when he spied a piano and I witnessed an amazing thing. He had apparently changed his mind about me being his “helper” and now appointed himself my full-time . which I found absurd but actually contained a kind of dark foreshadowing. and before my very eyes turned into Cole Porter. he had all but lost the ability to speak. but could still entertain like no one I’d ever seen.73 was some kind of mountain man that came down from the hills. Before retiring fro the evening I stared at this amazing autistic man in wonderment. Soon a crowd had gathered around the piano and even the socialites wandered over to join in the fun. who could literally not spit out a sentence.

and this was something I was well aware of.74 supervisor as he absolved himself of any further responsibilities. On the other hand his skinny body was sickly and weak from so many years of hard living. and I was sure I could overpower . as I put my feet up in the back of the truck and took a nap. and soon we were in a heated discussion about my duties and responsibilities of that week. When he finally did find me sleeping in the back of the truck he was nonetheless enraged. Finally about mid-day I took stock of the situation and said fuck it. It seemed a good possibility that he was carrying some kind of knife or throwing star. knowing there was nothing my shitkicking Carny boss could really do to me except kick me off this project which had totally lost its luster anyway. I took full measure of him and evaluated my chances. When I called him a “Carny motherfucker” it seemed to truly push him over the edge and soon we were about to come to blows.

Right as we were about to engage. and was amazed to find that my friend the base player had chosen to speak.75 him if it came down to it. and I was hoping in his drunken stupor he hadn’t mistaken me for one of them. I was certainly grateful for the reprieve from my assignment as a roadie however. where his little shows had become a nightly occurrence. He quickly came over and told the roadie to stop fucking with his “buddy” and soon he shoed him away while throwing his arm around me and letting me know I’d be his “personal assistant” for the week from now on. I heard a “Hold the Fuck on!” come from behind us. As it turns out he was simply happy to have someone to help him around and back to his beloved piano. and found my new role to be a nice . What did this mean? Some rumors of hookups between the waitresses and band members had begun to circulate.

and eventually I was doing no work whatsoever as I continued to hang out with my new friends. who I had miraculously been able to keep from the band members the entire week. So as the week progressed I got to know all of the band members fairly well.76 break from the previous assignment of lugging around 1000 pound drum sets. It was the final day of recording. and I also hoped it would be a special night for me and my friend the Mormon turned Hedonist waitress. Hearing the stories from years on the road. Fate has a cruel way of getting even however. As the party progressed a strange thing started to happen. and soon found that they were actually very nice guys. and the next night a very embarrassing event occurred. and that night a wrap party for everyone involved in the project had been planned. and hearing them do all of their classics hits was fun. I looked around and suddenly this party of .

If these motherfuckers were going to desert me I would show them. and soon I began to collect everything I possible could that said Lynard Skynard around the room. and I was literally the only person in the room. I ran smack dab into the lead singer Johnny.77 nearly a hundred people had dwindled to 30. and then I looked around. “What the fuck you doin?” he asked . As I collected their stuff and hurriedly rushed to the door. and in that moment I felt totally alone. Even my friend Leon had managed to heroically walk without me. Collectign armloads of valuable memoribila that I would immediately put on ebay for thousands of dollars. My new friends had abandoned me. and in the midst of taking stock of the situation I began to look around and soon I hatched a plan. who looked at me with uncomfortable concern. and also my girl. and then 10.

Opening the door. and sheepishly made my way up to the suite with Johnny.78 “Well. I saw that the party had indeed been moved to a better place. bringing everyone their stuff. and he informed me that everyone had been asking for me and that the party had been moved to one of the suites. There was my little Mormon flower. people chugging all kinds of intoxicants and many other sites that confirmed I has arrived at a real rock and roll party.” I replied awkwardly. As my eyes scanned the room however I saw something that truly rocked my belief system to its very foundation. as I saw girls decadently dancing. but I seemed to have gotten away with it for the time being. straddling none other than the hated Carny/Roadie who had been the bane of my existence early in the week. and I quickly fled from the room in shock and returned to . It was more than I could take. I was horribly embarrassed. I was just ahhh.

That next morning as I said my goodbyes to Leon. Much like a home-run hitter who finds he’s lost a step who hangs up his cleats. Johnny. but there was one final indignity that I had yet to suffer. So that was my signal to retire from working in the National parks. an old beat up truck came swinging around. He let out a long “honkkkkkkkkkk” on his horn. he was in fact “honking if he loved pussy” just as his shirt had implied. I prayed I wouldn’t run into my sworn enemy the roadie as I couldn’t get the site of he and my girl out of my mind. Right as all of the cars started pulling away however. and I realized in that fateful moment. and the rest of the guys. but to this day when I . I wish I could say the story ended there. trying to whitewash that appalling site from my mind. It was shortly after this I moved to Chicago.79 my own humble quarters in horrified disgust. I realized it was time for me to hang up my aprons. and in it was the roadie and my girl.

A few more years and perhaps I would have been the one wearing the “honk if you love pussy” shirt.80 hear a Lynard Skynard song I am filled with a sense of longing regret mixed with a feeling that I was glad I retired when I did. “Nightrain” Bob Laine . and in that sense. I feel fortunate to have retired when I did.

and a long black matrix jacket that he never took off regardless of the time of year. He wore coke bottle glasses at least an inch thick. but none more so than a gentleman named “Nightrain” Bob Laine. He smoked cheap cigarettes constantly. and if you got too close the smell of Old Style beer and generic cigarettes that emitted from his gnarled mouth could be quite . and preferred it when no one was in the establishment so the bartenders would be forced to listen to his endlessly repetitive stories and opinions.81 During my time in Chicago I eventually landed a job managing a large nightclub in the downtown area. Bob was a customer for many years before I began my management duties at the club. Bib was a physical specimen unlike any I had ever seen. the bar I inherited was a failing sports bar past its prime. which still did well due to its location. While there I met a number of memorable characters. To back up for a moment. a brown fedora.

until one fateful afternoon when the bar’s owner stumbled in and announced he was tearing out the grill behind the bar and replacing it with stripper poles. Bob now had to struggle to even get a drink. Used to being the only person at the bar and receiving the attention from the bartenders by default. Eventually Bob came to accept the changes at the bar. Bob was livid at this new development. Under orders to make the bar more profitable. which immediately increased business and brought a new crowd into the bar which displeased Bob very much.82 overwhelming. When he tried to engage me in conversation I normally looked straight at the ground and continued walking. not wanting to be sucked into his stories which the long-suffering bartenders had heard over and over again. as the greasy hamburgers and cold French fries we served . and he voiced his displeasure about this to anyone who would listen. I began playing dance music on a nightly basis.

and during these performances he would look down at his newspaper in anger. and the bar . When the poles were finally in place it was a nightly occurrence to have people climb over Bob to get to the stage and strut their stuff. Both men and women were allowed on the stage.83 were likely the only nourishment his sickly body took in on a consistent basis. who had probably never seen a woman nude before. and no actual nudity occurred except the occasional flash. stripper poles were the last straw. remarking “you won’t have Bob Laine to kick around any more. Bob was however especially irritated when men would take the stage. and when construction began he stormed out. So it was during a particularly busy Thursday night when the “perform storm” occurred.” two days later he was back. and he was truly incensed at this latest news. which even an asexual gentleman like Bob appeared to begrudgingly enjoy. For Bob.

and Bob was at his usual place directly in front of the stage. and to this day it is a memory that still makes me laugh like few other things I have witnessed. The group of 21 year olds. As was my usual custom. I walked away quickly. furiously reading his paper and dreaming about the old bar he used to love and cherish so much. to my knowledge. including a bachelor party. and a group of kids celebrating their recent college graduation. came up to me at one point and ominously warned me to “keep those guys away from me” not. who had been highly agitated the entire night.84 was filled with several groups of guys. a particularly rowdy group from the suburbs had taken the stage after requesting Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. referring to anyone in particular. a 21st birthday party. In retrospect I saw the entire scene happening several moments before it actually occurred. . Bob. pretending I had an urgent matter to attend to.

who continued to read his paper in oblivious anger. Seeing that young kid in the air and seeing that he was on a direct collision course with none other than “Nightrain” Bob Laine. and I arrived just in time for impact. sailing right over the bar and up into the air. This is the part I remember so well. but miraculously recovered. highly inebriated and filled with the glory of finally reaching his milestone birthday. Now a second time. The kid who was celebrating his 21st birthday that evening had grabbed one of the stripper poles and begun swinging furiously in a circle. Once he swung around.85 The whole thing happened in slow motion. As the kid sailed through the air I began running over to get a better look. much faster. which sent both his cherished fedora and horn-rimmed . The kid had scored a direct hit on Bob’s head. As he completed his third spin his hands slipped from the pole and he took flight. which was the one that struck the fatal blow. and he nearly lost his grip. which led right into his third spin.

but the damage had been done. through . He scrambled about like a crab. Bob was in a pure state of panic. When Bob finally found his glasses he stood up in a furious. as no one had ever seen his balding head without the fedora which he was clearly furious about. but eventually he ran right towards a girl who was laughing heartily and wrapped his frail arms around her neck and began choking her. Bob sprinted out into the night. murderous rage. alternatively screaming MY FUCKING HAT. Bob took stock. The crowd quickly intervened and pulled Bob off. as he crawled around looking to salvage a last little bit of dignity. but he was also now completely blind without his glasses.86 glasses into the air and Bob himself tumbling to the floor. all laughing heartily at this rather unfortunate scene. Sizing up the men in the room. A crowd had now gathered around Bob in a circle. MY FUCKING GLASSES. surveying the crowd for an outlet for his venom.

and into an alley. but it is the image of Bob Laine that remains most firmly implanted in my head. To this day when I hear “Baby Got Back” I turn my head to the west and daydream of Bob Laine hurtling to the ground.87 two taxi cabs. but can’t help bit wonder if that one incident may have pushed him over the edge. I spent several years managing nightclubs and met thousands of interesting and beautiful people. I truly wonder what happened to him. Herpes . hoping to catch a glimpse of the brown fedora and thick. I never saw Bob after that. black glasses that let me know that Bob survived the crash on that fateful evening. leaving a group of people in near hysterics. and every time I enter a new bar I look around.

After toiling for a couple of years as a comedian and actor in Chicago. but much like Michael Corleone. This job. despite this I still managed to perform the job rather incompetently. and. there was a slight problem. and I retired from this profession several times. every time I thought I was out. More than any city . managed to secure several different fairly lucrative gigs in this profession. but as the title of this story might suggest. I eventually drifted into bar management almost by default. and this place was no exception. One of the charms of the local Irish Pub in Chicago is that you get to know the customers rather intimately. (and I’ve had dozens) truly sucked the life out of me. the profession seemed to pull me back in. On my last incarnation as a Bar manager I settled into a cozy Irish Pub where life moved a little slower. and. despite not being particularly good at this job. perhaps more than any other I have had.88 She was a very pretty girl.

and one particularly obnoxious friend related a story to me regarding him . and telling outrageous stories. Much like a High School locker room. and soon I was back to the late-night lifestyle that included chasing women. Chicago seem to embrace the consumption of alcohol like no place anywhere.89 I’ve ever lived in. gossip flies rather steadily around a bar. is that if you hang around a bar long enough. One facet of this life that remains constant. I eventually returned to the life with full vigor. drinking beer. on nearly every day of the week there is some occasion somewhere that brings the city’s inhabitants out to celebrate. both of which I was counting on to break a particularly dry spell in my floundering romantic life. all of which I had had a great deal of often unsuccessful experience doing. eventually you are going to pair off with someone as a natural course of the late nights and lowered inhibitions. and.

no exception and . Despite commercials that show happy Herpes couples walking hand and hand along the beach. Herpes is always something to worry about. but that she was not currently contagious and that it was nothing that he should worry about.90 and one of the attractive female regulars. the information you retain is selective and rather arbitrary. When you work in a bar. and lived to tell the story at the bar which made the rounds rather quickly. the sheer presence of the alcohol immediately designates roughly 50 percent of what you hear as bullshit. and right at the moment of consummation. It seems they had ended up together after a long night of drinking. I thought. and this story was. she stopped him rather unexpectedly and told him she had Herpes. real life doesn’t always work like this. Although you have to pretend to give each and every story you full attention. and my friend resisted the urge to continue this liaison.

Although in our modern age it is certainly not unheard of for a woman to make the first move. This was not the best plan of attack. Many weeks later I would regret not retaining this information.91 soon I returned to my normal routine unmoved by the story and on to the next one. and the very same girl from my friend’s story appeared like some kind of late-night angel. After a couple of hours of this banter I was shocked when she reached over and kissed me. the depths of which I had no way of knowing. as it proved to contain a kind of ironic foreshadowing. I was much more . As luck would have it I was at a late night party one evening several weeks later. and immediately looked around to see if this was some kind of joke that everyone was in on but me. and soon we were immersed in the kind of inane. boozy after-hours conversation which usually made no sense and at which I was especially adept at.

that perhaps it was just my time. .92 comfortable with my standard play. once again my self-destructive instincts kicked in and I looked around to make sure she wasn’t talking to someone else. When we arrived at my place I quickly ran in ahead to do some last minute reconnaissance. and we began the short walk back to my house. Despite my best attempts to sabotage this evening. it truly looked like finally the Gods had smiled on me. so when she kissed me again. followed by a moment of uncomfortable silence. and. We continued to make out on the porch at this party. which was to dive in reeking of jagermeister and have the girl awkwardly turn her cheek to the side. This was terra firma for me. hand-in-hand and enjoying each other’s company. I knew that perhaps it was no accident. and when she suggested we go back to my house. and like one of those nerds in the movies who inexplicably ends up with the beautiful woman.

93 because I had no air freshener. and quickly landed on my couch. where we picked up our earlier momentum and continued to progress into what I was now nearly positive would be an evening I would not soon forget. I consider myself the luckiest man. and we continued into the house. When she took my hand and began to lead me towards my bedroom. But this was the kind of night nothing could go wrong. and I continued to my bed feeling as good as I had in quite some time. I knew that we were now truly at the point of no turning back. heroically sprayed a bottle of Fabreze into the air several times hoping it would disseminate the pleasing odor around the room and prevent my new beautiful friend from exercising her option to change her mind at this late hour in the game. Lou Gehrig’s “Today. on the face of the Earth” speech ran through my mind. .

94 Although I’d like to think my bedroom prowess was at its finest that night, excessive alcohol and a lack of recent practice were both working against me, but still I managed to remove several articles of her clothing with only minimal interference. We continued to kiss and roll around like teenagers, and I knew now that we were only perhaps seconds away from the final approach into the promised land. So it was with great trepidation that I listened to a very small voice in the back of my head that shouted an ominous “warning” signal to me during my moment of greatest triumph, and I tried to shut it out but it simply played again. I temporally quieted my worried mind and retuned to my beautiful willing partner, but once again I heard the voice, and now my partner had begun to grow concerned. “What’s wrong,” she asked with a hint of agitation in her voice.

95 “Oh, a, nothing,” I replied eloquently, making a very unconvincing case as I tried to kiss her again. We resumed the position, and started up again, but now the voice was getting louder and louder, and the word had now changed from “warning” to “Herpes” and this was a word I knew I had to take a little more seriously. Shit. Herpes!!! Why would this be popping into my head right now? And then it slowly began to dawn on me like a horrible thundercloud moving into my mind, my friend’s story!! This was the girl from the story!! Fuck!! What to do? To reiterate it had been a long time since I had been with a woman, but despite this the small part of me that was still thinking rationally also wanted to have his say. Now I have always been a man of science, so it occurred to me that there might be options in this situation that hadn’t previously occurred to me. The actual time that passed as all this occurred

96 to me was less than thirty seconds, but in the heat of passion and soooo close to the big moment, it seemed like an eternity, and so when I politely told my new friend that I had to “run to the bathroom” she was clearly annoyed, but by my own calculations I still had not completely blown the deal. I tiptoed to the living room and as quietly as possible turned on my laptop, hoping to scour the internet in search of information that might guide me in this troubled situation. Meanwhile the clock was ticking. I knew I couldn’t simply leave her lying in that room forever, and that I would have to get the information I needed quickly and efficiently so I could return with an informed decision. I typed in “Herpes contagious” and waited for the results, and clicked on the first available website which proved to be a gold mine. The site had a plethora of information about the disease, including periods of

Through my fascination with this reading. arousal. etc. a stream of expletives following her as it slammed. my friend was already fully dressed and on her way to the door. So many conflicting emotions rushed through my brain at this moment I was unable to stop and process them all. I never did find out if she had Herpes. and to this day I wonder if she was the “one who got away” or if .97 dormancy. all flooded my nervous system. Guilt. and as I ran to the room to try and explain. I was unable to notice that the room had suddenly turned colder as a dark shadow fell across the computer as I continued to read. looking over my shoulder examining the Herpes website as closely as I was. and as I turned around I felt a hard slap across my face as she belted me across the jaw. all of which I became engrossed in as I continued to navigate the page. regret. new medications. surprise. fear. There behind me was me new friend.

Shortly after this I quit my job at the bar and returned to school. I still look over my shoulder occasionally when I think of her. and every time I hear my name in a crowd I wonder if another slap will follow shortly afterwards.98 that little interlude on the laptop actually saved my life. . Although I often miss those days. convinced that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere as I approached the age of 30 and was still getting tangled up in these situations.

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