“I saw the Dead for the first time in St. Louis in ’94 when I was 14 years old. I almost dropped out of 8th grade after that.” I could see the LSD of days gone by in this woman’s eyes. She was slow in reaction and had a hundred yard stare when talking to me. There was no doubt she’d sat around a nitrous hose outside the drum circle a time or two. She was an aging festy-chick with clusters of dangling bracelets, a thin ethnic looking scarf, and funky earrings. She went on to discuss other arbitrary years and shows regarding different music she saw. Next to her was sleazeball of the century Missouri Todd.
Flashback about an hour earlier, Missouri Todd struts up to the bar mumbling to himself, emulating a restlessness that only cocaine and/or caffeine addicts have. He yanked out the bar chair sliding it a good four feet behind him and just stood at the bar, fidgeting and messing with his phone. He was a stumpy little businessman with the teeth of an 18th century sailor and the moxie of Bret the Hitman Hart. Upon asking for his ID he says, “wow I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.” I reiterated to him like I do many others that I HAVE to check everybody’s ID, so don’t feel special. About the same time he got to the bar, another visibly drunk goon sauntered up behind him.
Enter Brent from the Bay Area. Classic California fella with some kind of surf shop white T-shirt and slightly curved San Francisco Giants hat he got from his local Lids. His face and skin was lobster red from either the sun an/or the booze he’d had. I told him I could tell he was from California before I checked his ID and he took offense. “Man you just labeled me! Dude you totally just labeled me! Fuck you man! Fuck you!” He was saying all this with a smile and the slur of a tipsy surfer. After that it was nothing but attempted fist bumps after everything we even remotely agreed on.
One way or another the three of us started talking sports. Todd was apparently a die-hard fan of the Cowboys, St. Louis Cardinals, and Tom Brady. Dude was a Grade A bandwagon asshole. Cardinals were understandable since he was a Missouri native. But the rest, I mean come on. Bay Area Brent and I gave him hell for it. Naturally Brent was a Raiders fan, to which he gave me a most proud fist bump for my respect of the people in the Black Hole.
“So where are you heading to tonight?” I asked Brent.
“What the hell is in Ohio?”
“Awesomeness.” Enter young girl at the end of the bar.
Bad decision lady. Immediately, the hammered halfwits diverted attention to her and there was no stopping them after that. Todd bumbled through the chairs separating them and got up closer to her. The girl was having a ball impressing the bufoons with her sports knowledge. The three of them talked Cleveland sports, mainly the Cavs and Lebron for a bit. I was waiting to jump into Browns talk had it emerged,which of course it did. We got talking about different football teams and Todd had the audacity to say that the Jaguars would WIN THE SUPER BOWL this coming season. This guy was a regular birdbrain. Not just make playoffs which is bold enough, but win the Super Bowl. Jags fans I know you have a pretty mean offense but give me a break.
The girl knew her shit and the shmucks were impressed. Todd was so impressed he offered to buy her another drink after she cashed out. “Come on live a little! You don’t have to catch that plane. Stay with us come on we’re having fuuuuun!” This was much more of a devious suggestion than it was friendly, mind you. Without a split second’s thought and understandably so she booked it from me and the bozos.
Shortly after the girl departed, Brent was next to follow, but not after he drunkenly repeated Big Lebowski lines over and over. “YER OUTTA YER ELEMENT DONNY!” He kept saying as he continued to attempt the fist bump with me. Quit making a damned fool of yourself and just go already guy.
Then it was just shmohawk Todd and I. There were others scattered around but none as interesting. In comes festy-chick who posts up next to Todd at the bar when they begin their chat. Again, Todd can’t get enough of a strange woman talking to him. He milks the shit out of it. Todd claimed he was at the same Dead show in St. Louis that same year, and went on to tell some non-sensical story of him and his uncle on some drug fueled odyssey. Whether it was true or not, they got deeper into talks of their youth.
“I did enough cocaine to kill a small cow in my early thirties.”
Exact words from Todd in regards to his late-blooming adulthood in the sense of getting married and having kids when he was nearly 40. Todd was touching her bracelets and scarves complimenting them and getting real greasy with her. But given her own seemingly greasy nature, she was into it. Eventually Janis Jr. cashed out and again Todd used his line to get her to stay. Ultimately it was a no go on her end too. Real shocker.
While driving home listening to some creole ragtime music on NPR, a man on a motorcycle came ripping out in front of me at a fork in the highway. He continued to weave his way through traffic going a hefty 75 MPH or so. He zipped through the night alongside a most majestic view of the glowing city skyline. The arch of the Gateway Bridge was lit purple and a crescent moon hung directly over the city. What a life, I thought.