Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lowering the Bar -- Bar Story #4

So, Brandon graduated and I never saw him much after that. With no reason to drift over near Amarillo Boulevard I stayed out of the dives and no respectable bar (is there even such a thing) would let me in so for a year or two the closest thing to a bar I got was a handful of visits to some pretend teen clubs. Instead I hung out at the ag farm, friend's houses, and various parking lots that kids tended to gather.

Matter of fact it wasn't until my second year of college until I again ventured to real bar.

I was taking a class called interpersonal communications and we had a group assignment. I was the youngest member of our group and the only one under 21. Our assignment was to somehow show the various forms of communication. I wish I could remember now the 5 or 6 forms we had to use but sadly I cannot.

Anyway, my group decided to make a movie or more like a music video. We pretty much stole the script from the old Garth Brooks video, THE THUNDER ROLLS.

One member was a bartender at the local Holiday Inn so we began filing there.

No, I don't count he lounge at the Holiday Inn as a real bar, I'll be getting to the real bar later.

I was in charge of the script and the filming so I didn't actually appear in the video. well I did, but I wasn't supposed to.

We shot scenes at Holiday of a married man, we knew he was married because of my fantastical camera skills in which I zoomed in on his finger as he took off his ring and hid it in his pocket, drinking and then slipping into a room with a woman who was obviously not his wife. We then cut to a woman sitting at home, obviously worrying about the whereabouts of her husband.

The whole video started out pretty good. My camera work was steady, the "actors" voices unslurred, but pitcher after pitcher of beer is not conducive to academic pursuits and though we didn't really realize it we were all inebriated long before we departed Holiday Inn. We then traveled over to a guy named Jaime's house for the big climactic fight scene of the husband coming home and getting physical with his wife. 

We shot the thing in like two takes and were so pleased with ourselves we then decided to head to this country bar called Wild Wild West. I'm not sure how I got in. Perhaps they never carded any of us int eh group or maybe somebody knew somebody working the door. I do not recall, but I wound up purchasing a large plastic cup for I believe 7 dollars. Possession of said cup meant unlimited refills of any draft beer.

Details from that point on are fuzzy. I remember accompanying a classmate over to some girls apartment. I remember him rousting me awake from the comfy confines of a beanbag chair, and the next thing I remember was my alarm going off at 7 AM for my 8 AM class.

The snooze button is a fickle but  much welcome friend.





Each time it went off my head would throb and I would say to myself, "Man i don't wanna get up and got o class, but then that little voice would say but you have the tape and it is due today." 

That's right in full collegiate procrastination we shot the video the night before it was due. I grabbed the tape and made it to class unshowered, unshaved, and unable to fully open my eyes a full fifteen minutes late.

I no more than walked in than the professor said, "Well look who decided to join us. I trust you have the assignment since Ms. Finnery does not."

I looked around and noticed only myself and one other group member was present, the ever diligent Ms Finnery. When our eyes she she gave me a desperate longing look of please have the tape.

I whipped out the tape and stuck it in the VCR. of course I had to rewind it because we hadn't even done that much after filming.

Like I said it started out okay but quickly transcended into a  train wreck of shaky camera work, slurred lines, and glossy-eyed stares. In the big climactic domestic abuse scene you can see me in the closet mirror standing with an old camcorder hoisted to my eye and a goofy grin plastered on my face.

Somehow we managed a B. I'm still not sure how.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mauled -- Bar Story #3

In December of 1988 I turned 16. For those of you who have read THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES you know my first kiss was with a girl named Anna Ochoa (least that is the name I gave her int he book). That kiss was a result of a game of spin the bottle.

The first kiss I ever received of a completely free will nature came from a
no that's not right woman no that too is wrong old lady I got it wrinkly cougar at one of those dive Amarillo Boulevard joints I described in the last installment of bar stories.

It was New Year's Eve. We were saying goodbye to 1988 and hello to 1989. Brandon's mom had set him up with this new bartender at a joint called The Corral. She was only 19. Brandon was 17. It was a private New Year's party for the regulars. No one questioned either Brandon or me or our friend David who was either 17 or 18 at the time. The bartender was the only girl any where close to our age but we didn't care. We were spending New Year's in a honest to God bar. Drinking honest to God booze. 

Frankly I had no idea about the whole kissing at midnight tradition. I was happily buzzed as midnight approached and sure both Brandon and David had teased me all night about the "old lady" that had bought me a rum and coke and pinched me on the rosy cheek saying, "Ain't you a big ol' cute teddy bear."

But I was ill-prepared when the clock struck twelve and the woman grabbed me by the back of the head and laid a lip lock on me. 

These days the term cougar is common place back then there was no term. But there was chock ... fear ... and yes, revulsion. Becasue sadly the cougar that attacked me looked nothing like this ...

And a whole lot like this ...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Little Rummer Boy -- Bar Stories #2

 In the last bar tale I confessed to the fact I'm a beer snob. But if I'm going to tell the complete truth I must admit my first attempts to become a beer drinker were met with shuddering frowns. I hated the taste of beer early on so my first alcoholic beverage of choice was rum. Here is the tale behind my first rum and coke. Which I might add came in a place that has seen more beating, stabbings, and booty plundering than the deck of a pirate ship.

After my early childhood experiences of smoky back rooms, shadowy bars, and whiskey in general, I headed into adolescence with a negative attitude towards both alcohol and the establishments that thrived by keeping its customers glasses full of firewater.

Then I started hanging around a guy that I'll call Brandon Pettibone for now. Like myself, Brandon was being raised by a single mom. My dad became a bit more scare with each passing year until came a better than six year span when I didn't speak so much as a single word to my father. Truth be told that was much more my decision than his but I'd grown tired of the effort, the broken promises and, the bullshit. But that is a tale for another day, another story.

Back to Brandon. Unlike myself, Brandon's mom was not a model parent. The woman had no job. She and Brandon survived on Gov't assistance. But that didn't keep her home. For at night, and I do mean EVERY NIGHT she patrolled the bars up and down Amarillo Boulevard.

Amarillo Boulevard once was the glory road through Amarillo. Part of old Route 66 it led to the Air Base when it was still here. But the base closed in the late 60's and the construction of I-40 stole the shine from Amarillo Boulevard.

By the late 80's the road was notorious for prostitution, seedy bars, and sleazy motels. My buddy Brandon lived in a rundown trailer park on the far eastern end of the Boulevard. Just past the bowling alley and the Vietnamese grocery store.

Brandon's mom would be heading out for the night about the time we arrived home from school. Now before you ask, no she was not a prostitute, but I yeah she was a whore. You've all heard of a crack whore but this woman was a whiskey whore. Gravelly of voice, wrinkly of skin, I suppose once upon a time she had been pretty. The remnants were there but only in a dimly lit, smoke-filled environment would the pieces of the faded puzzle fit together into a presentable package. I occasionally spent the night at Brandon's throughout junior high and high school and never did I see the same man at the breakfast table.

Brandon was a year older than me and therefore acquired his driver's license a full 15 months before I did. This fact was both a curse and a blessing. Having a buddy with wheels was cool except our plans often got derailed by his mother. Who would invariable call just as we were leaving his house to say she needed us to bring her a pack of Virgina Slims to THE MULE BARN, CATTLEMAN"S, or whatever dive bar she happened to be in at the time.

Times were different back then, and at the age of 16 Brandon had nearly a full beard so he rarely had trouble purchasing the pack of smokes his mom demanded he fetch to her. Matter of fact the hardest part was scrounging enough dime and quarters around the house but once he had sufficient cash the salesclerks at the convenience stores rarely questioned Brandon. Of course they should have known he was buying the smokes for his mom. No self-respecting teenage boy would buy Virginia Slims over Camels or Marlboros.

Generally speaking I waited in Brandon's old Chevy pickup while he ran inside the bar to drop of the smokes to his mom.

But on this one occasion his mom called, and we had hell digging up enough coins to buy her Virginia Slims. Then we had even More trouble finding a store to sell us the cigarettes. One store. Two store. Three stores.

I can't remember how many stores we hit before finally someone sold him a pack of cancer sticks. Five or six I'm guessing and by the time we arrived at Roustabouts, Round- Ups, or wherever it was we were supposed to deliver the cigs Brandon's mom had moved on to another bar. After the third of fourth bar Brandon decided we'd find her faster if I went in and helped him look over each place.

Three or four bars later we finally found her cozying up to some skinny bowlegged cowboy. She was drunk and so was the cowboy who had to be twenty years her senior. But the two of them were having a hell of time and when she introduced Brandon the old man threw an arm over my buddy's shoulder and pulled him in nearly as tight as he clutched my friend's mom.

The cowboy then insisted upon reciting an x-rated version of The Night Before Christmas. Of which I can't remember but a single line except ... there was Saint Nick staring at her gash.  

That ought to give you an idea of the bawdy nature which I can tell you was quite hilarious to my 15 year old mind.

The next thing I knew the man had ordered both me and Brandon a whiskey.

As told in my last post me and whiskey had far too rocky of a start to ever be pals so I turned the drink down. Which earned me a fifteen minute lecture from the old cowboy about never turning down a free drink. it went from there to never turning down ... insert you own feline synonym here ... to  refusing to drink with another man is on par with spitting in his face.

"At which point I gathered my wits about me enough to say, "Oh I'll drink with you. I just won't drink whiskey."

The old man laughed, and said,"Well name your poison son. And let's have a drink."

I chose rum and the two of us have been friendly ever since.

I'll keep with the them of firsts and tell y'all about my first New Year's Eve kiss in the next installment. It WASN'T a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Set 'em Up Joe

I've confessed on here before that I'm pretty much a beer snob. I'll only drink certain brands and types of beer and never from a can. But despite my affinity for beer I've never been much of a bar goer.

Matter of fact, my history with bars is shaky at best. Until I find a new distraction I'm going to write about my various experiences in bars. I'm not going to follow a chronological order but a rambling one as I see fit though I'll start by saying the first ever bars I entered was as but a young child.

Yes, I wrote as a young child. But it's okay ... because I was with my dad.

For my entire life my dad has been a salesman. Automobiles, hardware, vet supplies on down to hair products. Many other titles could be bestowed upon my father. Hunter, cowboy, alcoholic. To name a few. He was and is a big man. These days he's no taller than my own six foot five but before back surgeries and year of hard living forced a stoop to his spine he stood within a couple of inches of seven foot. Like myself he was never a lean brand of tall. But thick-shouldered, broad-fisted, and all-too-willing to prove his strength if necessary.

He was a man other men feared. And while I never spent a great deal of time with him as child the time I did spend was either in t he field hunting, on the lake fishing, or in some smoke-filled dimly lit room watching him play poker and drink Canadian Whiskey.

Not all of these rooms were technically bars but I think of them as such. Even the backrooms of liquor stores, the shadow filled appliance store long closed for the night. the rural barns out in the boonies. I would eventually drift off to sleep with the sound of various splashes filling my ears. Those of poker chips hitting the table and whiskey tumbling over ice.

The sounds that woke me were never as tranquil. Shouted curses. Fleshy smacks of a fist meeting a nose. Slamming doors.

These memories are not so much plentiful as they are memorable. Three maybe four occurrences but to this day the right combo of smells will bring them to the forefront of my mind. And that combination of smells is most often found in a barroom. 

And that is why I've never been a fan of bars.

But as you'll learn in coming posts that distaste alone wasn't enough to keep me from visiting my share over the years.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Won't Delete this Post

In the last 19 days I've written 5 blog posts. 

Where the hella re they you might ask?

Well, I got so far as to post two of them but I pulled 'em off shortly thereafter. They didn't quite convey the feeling or sentiment I wanted.

Here lately my writing has followed that same path. I write lots of words, only to delete them later on.

Okay, I don't actually delete them. I stopped doing that years ago after realizing that the mood, the notion, the aura I've captured might not be right for this project but it could be used somewhere else. That's right folks I am a word hoarder. I have an entire computer folder stocked full of discarded bits of stories, plotlines, and wayward thoughts. I have later used many of these passages in a differnet spot so I beleive in the practice.

My current issue is with the fact that this file is growing faster than pile of ex GOP candidates.

And my works in progress are not.

Is this due t me being in a real writing slump. Or an imagined one? Am I too critical of myself, or just being true about what I'm creating?

Hell if I know. It's now that I miss my old critique group. Over the last years my group dwindled but sadly the three of us that remain never get together and that is mostly my fault. You see time has become my enemy. People used to ask me how I found time to write, work full time, be a dad, a husband, blog, tweet, facebook and still breath comfortably.

Now I too am asking, how the hell did I get all of that done. Of course, some measure of success has muddied the water. I have my promo stuff for the feedstore chronicles, my freelance gig writing football stories, and I've been busy fulfilling tasks for the reality show. (no, nothing is settled, but I am still optimistic that I will be able to share news soon) So here I am at what should be the tail end of yet another post that I'm not sure is worth posting.

But I'm going to do it anyway, hoping it will relived the pressure of a 19 day dry spell so that I can think about the next post instead of the the slew of ones that I let slip away.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scootin' Along

There is nothing classy, refined, or even decent about this post ... and yet once again my first thought upon experiencing this incident was ... I gotta write about this on the blog.

There we were, grocery shopping at United Supermarkets.

It was somewhere between the beer section and the aisle that supports my wife's unhealthy addiction to Trappey's pickled jalapenos when a powerful stomach pain hit me.

So I made my way to the restroom. Now there I was, minding my own business, taking care of that urgent pain when in walks a man wearing fancy leather dress shoes. That is all I can give you for physical description as that was all that was visible from my throne as the man strode up and stood before the adjacent urinal.

It was at this point that Mr. Fancy Shoes first spoke these words, "Come on, Scooter."

At first it was sort of a whisper. But the both the volume and intensity increased with his second, third and fourth --  "Come on, Scooter." 

Now  I might have assumed the man had one of those fancy bluetooths or was otherwise on the phone if he had left it at --  "Come on, Scooter." 

But no, after only a few seconds Mr. Fancy Shoes let out a relieved sort of sigh and a "Oh yeah, Scooter." 

Then with a zip and a flush both he and Scooter were gone. Without washing up I might add.

Now if I was a guessing man, I'd say Mr. Fancy Shoes has prostate issues, and while I'm a fan of motivational speech I hate to break it to the Zig Ziggler of Urinals, but those things to the left and right of Scooter are not ears, so your cheerleader chants of  "Come on, Scooter," do nothing more than make you sound ... NUTS.