Sunday, January 28, 2007
We are still using them. I guess he ate out a lot.
When I was a boy of about six I was playing with a Matchbox car with my older cousin, Denton Lee, at our grandparents' house. We were just doing as boys do, rolling it around on the hardwood floors.
It rolled under a dresser in the back bedroom, and we couldn't retrieve it, couldn't reach it to get it out.
When my friend Steve and I were kids, we'd have contests with our Matchbox cars. The object was to see which car could be rolled across the carpet the farthest without tipping over. Without a doubt the champion was a white one called "Pantera 8." I had a fine little collection of cars, but nothing came close. With it's wide wheelbase and heavy construction it won our contests over and over.
I went out and bought a pair of them, and after that the contests lost some of their lustre.
As a young man of about 21 I was in my grandfather's house one day, and I remembered the lost car.
I went into the back bedroom, knelt down and peered under the dresser.
There it was, where it had sat motionless for 15 years. I pulled it out and marveled at the shiny green Matchbox race car with the orange windshield. You'd be surprised how exciting it can be to find an artifact like that, a direct, tangible connection to a moment when you were a child. Suddenly I was back in that moment, back in that time when I had no worries, and nothing was scarier than some monster movie on a UHF channel.
At 21 I was about to undergo very grownup heartbreak, maybe a year from leaving home (man did I wait a long time!).
I still had those old Matchbox cars though, collected nicely in a little carrying case.
I had a new stepbrother (again) at the time, a young boy of about 10. He was a sweet young kid. He and his older brother really touched me, really felt like family.
I gave the young boy my carrying case full of Matchbox cars. He was happy to have them.
A year later things had changed, and I never saw him or the cars again.
Last night at the Japanese hibachi restaurant, the chef stacked onion rings, with the biggest on the bottom, the smallest on the top. It was shaped sort of like a volcano. He squirted some oil into the top, struck a match on the hibachi and lit the volcano. Flames shot up about a foot, and for several seconds. It was really kind of amazing. Everything seemed to be okay. The kids were at home with a sitter, I had the love of my life by my side, and I was watching onion-based pyrotechnics.
We were so impressed that the chef did it again.
My six-year-old son had some leftover Christmas money, so today we went to the toy store. He picked out several toys, and when he had only a few bucks left he decided to get a five-pack of Matchbox cars.
They're pretty cool too, really clever little designs. My daughter and I played with them for a while, and my son did too. And I couldn't help but wonder where the little green Matchbox car is, lost and found and lost again.
We had a date. A date! Yeah, we hired our super duper babysitter to watch the kids while we headed out for an evening of dinner and otherwise not-so-fully-planned-out revelry.
We hit one of those hibachi places for supper, where our genuine Mexican chef worked the not-so-genuine Japanese hibachi and cranked out fine food between softly spoken jokes about butterflies (SPLAT!) and Sesame Street.
It was low-key yet delightful, to be honest.
MOBB looked nice, and heck, I shaved and got a haircut.
(I went to a REAL barbershop too, Denman's, because I'm tired of the hack jobs I get at the Pro Cuts and Cool Cuts 4 Kids places).
BB's current therapy: Alpacas Orgling by L.E.O.
After stuffing ourselves at dinner we hit a Starbucks (what else?) for some sugar and caffeine.
Then 'twas on to the new Borders, where we took our bloody sweet time perusing the books and such. It's where I bought this L.E.O. CD I'm currently listening to.
[Side note: You know, part of the lure of this L.E.O. CD is the fact that Andy Sturmer, vocalist for the legendary Jellyfish, contributed. He's mostly been a producer and songwriter since the 'Fish days, and his fans have long ached to hear him sing again. So here he is singing on new material--FINALLY--and he's pretty much just got one verse on one song. That... that's just plain cruel, okay. There are tons of folks who'd pay cash on the barrelhead to hear him sing, say, the ingredient list on the back of a Frosted Flakes box. Why oh why must he tease us this way?]
I was poking through the martial arts books and picked up one called, I believe, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Kickboxing. I noticed that the man in a photo was Guy Mezger. I thumbed through some more and realized that he was featured in pretty much all the photos.
A look at the spine: Ah, he WROTE it. Well cool.
I didn't buy it though.
Funny, after I picked the sitter up we stopped at Quizno's to grab some food for the kids. The sandwich-makin'-lady asked, "So are you two related, or are you dating?"
I laughed. "I am 20 years older than this young lady. She's the babysitter, and she's going to watch my kids while my wife and I have a date."
The sandwich-makin'-lady was mortified, and that wasn't entirely necessary. It was amusing, that's all.
I woke up feeling like hell. I slept okay, but I was tired nevertheless, and something about breakfast had caused my stomach to talk back to me. I'd briefly considered bailing out of Krav, but decided to man up and go.
And it was a good class! My stamina was good again, and I felt like my striking technique was good today. I'm not a big strong guy, so I really have to rely on good mechanics to produce power, and today I did.
Next week I'll only get to go twice at most (dang!), so I'm glad I got my ass over there today.
Bedtime approaches. Be good. Mostly.
Friday, January 26, 2007
BB's current therapy: Black Sabbath, especially songs like "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," "Lord of This World," "War Pigs," and "Into the Void."
In two consecutive Krav classes I paired up with new guys to train. They had some traits in common: Namely, they clearly had training and skills from other schools/disciplines, yet were humble and good to work with.
And I mean real skills. The first guy, on Wednesday night, was taller than I, and certainly more muscular. That is to say, he had muscles, whereas I do not.
He hit hard, and when I pressed him to share his background he just said, "Oh, this and that."
The second guy, on Thursday night, made things pretty interesting. Again, he was humble and good to work with. However, he owned up to being a Krav student at another school. He was about my height, but again, big and muscular. Probably 30-40 pounds heavier than I.
And last night was ground. After the first "buck and roll" drill when I ended up on my back with his forearm on my throat, I knew this guy had BJJ as well.
So he just slaughtered my techniques. Not in that bad way, like guys who anticipate what you're doing simply because they're training it too and screw you up just because they can. No, he presented real resistance, really made sure that I did it right, because doing it wrong would mean pain in a real fight.
I got slammed, rolled, torqued, kicked and split like a wishbone. Once in a while I managed to do the same to him. Afterwards he confessed that yes, he did have "a little Jiu Jitsu" in his background. "But I'm no expert," he said.
A good, challenging class.
So check out what Pete Townshend says about Internet porn:
As for the porn industry (and I warned you about them too) - forget the problems caused by High Definition, get on with developing the Virtual Sex Glove. Handjobs over the internet.
I think he's onto something.
Jacked up the sciatic nerve in my back, even before last night's ground class. You know what that does, right? It sends shooting pains down into your legs. I took a hefty dose of Benadryl last night, hoping I'd be too knocked out to notice the pain. Nope. I was just groggy and in pain. I didn't sleep worth a shit.
So I showed up at the chiropractor's office unannounced this morning. 12 hours later I feel better, but not perfect. Still got some of these random pains, but not as bad or as often. I'll bet I can sleep tonight.
And he disagrees with the podiatrist's assessment of my leg injury. In fact, he treated it and helped it quite a bit.
The treatment hurt like hell. I told him I was about to "bark like a seal." I'm not even sure what that means.
So just for you folks following along at home, the leg injury has been treated or diagnosed by:
I know a good dentist, but as of this point I don't believe I know a witch doctor to add to the list.
It's been diagnosed as:
Medial tibial stress syndrome
And screw all that. I'll keep going, bubba, keep going.
Yeah, so I spent the day in sort of a daze. I felt so damn weird... I didn't know if I was groggy from the Benadryl, tired from the lack of sleep, coming down with something...
Damn, this reads like the blog of a hypochondriac.
Generally I feel fine. Really. I work, I work out, all that. Just some nagging injuries here and there. I've had periods like this before. I'll get over it.
I've prattled on long enough. Good night, have a good weekend.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? No, but I expect thousands to be named after me
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Watching Intervention the other night
4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Not really
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Ham's nice
6. KIDS? Two.
7. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Yep. I'd find me hysterically funny.
8. HAVE A JOURNAL? Um... er... (psst... you're soaking in it...)
9. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yep
10. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? HELL NO!
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? The shoes that have laces, yes.
12. FAVORITE SONG AT THE MOMENT? Oh... how about... "Sweet Life" by Varnaline?
13. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Yes
14. What is your favorite ice cream? Mint chocolate chip never disappoints
15. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Whether they have devil horns and a tail
16. RED OR PINK?red
17. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR SELF? My current list of nagging health woes
18. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My Brazoria County family
19. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Doesn't matter
20. What color shoes are you wearing right now? brown
21. THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Crackers
22. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Traffic going by on Magnolia Street here in Ft. Worth
23. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Color I don't know, but I'd be TRIANGULAR, so I wouldn't roll off the damn table in restaurants and infuriate toddlers and send distracted daddies digging around looking for me.
24. FAVORITE SMELL? This leather coat, at the moment
25. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Whit, methinks
26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? YES
27. FAVORITE DRINK? Iced coffee
28. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? MMA and baseball
29. HAIR COLOR? brown and grey
30. EYE COLOR? brown
31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? no
32. FAVORITE FOOD? Beef pho from Miss Saigon in Hurst
33. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? happy ending
34. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Underworld--Evolution
35. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Burgundy
36. SUMMER OR WINTER? SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
38. FAVORITE DESSERT? Apple pie a la mode
40. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Amanda!
41. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? Couple textbooks, and I'm pluggin away at Cracked by Dr. Drew Pinsky (again)
42. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? N/A
43. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? A few minutes of Dog the Bounty Hunter
44. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles
45. FURTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Barcelona
46. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENTS. With one hand I can remove a pen cap and place it on the other end of the pen. Try it.
47. LEAST LIKELY TO SEND T HIS BA CK? Men Without Hats
48. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Freeport, TX
Ganked from Whit...
1. Who is the next person you'll hold hands with?
Wife or kids most likely.
2. Do you sleep with the TV on?
No way Jose.
3. Have you ever drank milk straight out of the carton?
4. What did you do today?
Got up, got THEBOY ready for school, dropped him off and came to work.
5. How fast can you type?
Fair to middlin'
6. Eye color?
7. Do you like your life right now?
A little bit from column A, a little bit from column B.
8. When's the last time you chose a bath over a shower?
Couple days last week. One was too cool, the other too hot. Dang.
9. Do you knock on wood?
10. Are you drinking anything right now?
11. Do you have good vision?
I'm far-sighted, need reading glasses just a bit.
12. Can you hula hoop?
13. Could you ever forgive a c heater ?
Wow. I hope I never have to find out.
14. What are you thinking about right now?
Whether I have an upset stomach or I'm just hungry.
15. A movie you watched when you were little
Darby O'Gill and the Little People
16. What song's in your head right now?
"Walk" by the Wiggles
17. What are you doing next week?
Got a presentation to do as part of my job. Otherwise I'll still just be kicking ass. I don't bother taking names.
18. Plans for today?
See if I can get through the day without my stomach going nuts. Then child/adol counseling class tonight.
19. What color is yo
20. Name some places you've gone....
Boston, New York, Tucson, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, Toronto, Cleveland, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Charlotte...
21. When was the last time y ou tol d someone "I love you"?
Last night. I believe I was talking to an antacid.
22. Last stupid thing you did drunk?
Drove home from the brew pub. That was on or about August 17, 1995.
23. How are you feeling today?
24. Are you black?
No, I'm a nice shade of beige
25. Have you ever been suspended or expelled from school?
26. Have you ever crawled through a window?
Not lately, but yes.
27. What's for lunch?
PBJ sandwich, chips, that sorta thing
28. Have you ever eaten dog food?
A dog biscuit, sure. I was wondering what the hell Mickey (our dog back then) was so damn excited about. It didn't taste all that great. Mickey needed to get out more.
29. Can you handle the truth?
I have no choice
30. What did you do last night?
Went to marriage/family therapy class, came home, put the kids to bed, crashed hard
31. Buy anything lately?
Got my wife some bitchin' new house shoes.
32. Any cool scars?
Sure. One above my eye from when I peeled off my eyebrow in a bike wreck. Or the hook-shaped one on the side of my head from when I sliced open my cranium in a clothing store in about 1977.
33. Name an old school song you like?
"After the Love Is Gone" by Earth, Wind & Fire
34. How many kids do you plan on having?
Two. Snip snip.< BR>
35. Do you want to get married?
36. How often do you talk on the phone?
37. Do you talk to yourself?
38. Is there something you want that you can't have?
Currently, it seems to be health.
39. Name five things about the opposite sex that you first notice...
1. Their gender
2. Whether they speak Esperanto
3. Whether they have 2 legs or 3
4. Do they have parasites?
5. Can I see the scar from where the aliens left the cranial implant?
40. How do you feel about the word wawa?
I thought it was used very effectively on Cream's "White Room."
41. Name a fault?
Uh... the San Andreas
42. What was the last thing you ate?
43. Something pretty you've seen lately?
My daughter in her sequined gown
44. Last movie watched?
45. What do you want to hear?
"War Pigs" by Black Sabbath
46. What do you want most?
To crush ze enemy, to hear de lamentations of de vimmen... oh wait... uh, at this point I'd like to feel well all day. Crossing my fingers.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Started off with Krav this morning at 11am. Today was defenses against stick/bat attacks. I had to work harder than necessary, found it harder to focus than it should have been. That's just how it works when my kids are around, even when they're behaving.
But it was a grueling, good class.
The trailer for the new Fantastic Four flick looks pretty flippin' badass.
Finally got a doc who says authoritatively that he knows what's wrong with my leg, and that he's the one to treat it. It's got a big long name, but it amounts to damage to the tibia and surrounding muscles. Treatment is likely to be some time in a cast/boot and steroids. No surgery, which is cool.
I may have one more MRII or even a bone scan to confirm this, but he says he's quite inclined to believe this is what it is.
Oh, and he says it's due to the fact that my right leg is about 2cm shorter than my left.
Hit the CD store today, and of course, they had nothing I walked in looking for. I did go ahead and get a Black Sabbath compilation, an import.
I also walked into a Sam Goody in the mall for a real laugh.
In 1988 I worked for Sam Goody for one day. Yep. After a couple years at the Hasting's across the mall, I switched. I'd been led to believe I'd be paid better than most record clerks. I saw the pay rate, though, and it wasn't so great.
And you know, the manager had the biggest booger hanging out of his nose during the whole "welcome aboard" speech. I told him "nevermind" and split.
Rented Ong Bak today. It's pretty badass. Certainly full of cool Thai culture and some bitchin' Muay Thai stuff. It's got some crazy choreography in there.
Kelli insists upon calling it Bok Choy though.
Ya'll take care.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
He's been kind wrapped up in these online games on the Lego site. I know they've got some clever stuff up there. He really likes some sort of Star Wars game.
So this morning he woke up babbling about Star Wars. As you may know, I'm not exactly a devotee. For example, there really is a character whose name ISN'T "Queen Ooby Dooby," though it takes me a second to think of what it really is. (Still thinking)
And he was asking me, I eventually realized, who this one character is. "He's got white skin and red hair and a blue light saber."
"That doesn't tell me enough about what he looks like," I said.
"He looks like LEGOS."
Needless to say, I had no idea who he was talking about.
In one of his books is a line I simply cannot say aloud: "What would a witch want with a winch in a swamp?"
I always sound kinda like Elmer Fudd when I say it.
Just like when I said my wedding vows: "With this wing I thee wed."
I wondered what the hell everyone was laughing at.
School began Tuesday. Child/adolescent counseling looks promising enough.
Marriage/family therapy is the one I begin Monday.
My stats service went belly-up. Before I troll around for another, does anyone have one they'd recommend?
What DIDN'T get written about in my previous post was what great care the McClendons took of me. We ate like royalty, enjoyed hanging out. I feel quite at home there. Thank you Whit, Christina and Connor (my out-of-town security guard) for everything.
Worked on ground tonight in Krav, which I enjoyed. Krav ground is dirty.
I'm thinking of setting a goal. I gotta mull this a bit, because I don't want to toss it out lightly and realize I've made some sort of gross calculation.
But I'm thinking I'd like to shoot for brown belt.
Shower time. Night night.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
(I love that joke).
But it's true.
BB's current therapy: The Hard Stuff by Wayne Kramer.
It's a snow day here, hoo yeah baby. Of course, I'd awakened at the usual time, showered, shaved, made breakfast, dressed myself, and roused THEBOY before I walked past a window and saw all the... whiteness. Jeez, better turn on the news, I thought.
We could have all stayed in bed.
So he's in his room playing a video game, and I'm starting to check out what promises to be a really cool collection of Jason Falkner bootlegs (are you paying attention, Toland? This is likely to end up being a care package for you at some point. And I'll throw in some socks).
So the weekend, the weekend. Some things went well, some didn't. When push comes to shove, I suppose it would have been smarter to stay home. Seriously, though, it was hard to get a forecast that gave the slightest indication what road conditions between Houston and Ft. Worth would be like even 24 hours ahead.
Whit and I ran the half marathon last year, as you know. Since I'm injured I'm out this year, but I still wanted to go down to lend the guy a hand.
It was bitterly cold when I left Saturday morning. I checked the tires on the car, and the brass nozzle on the air compressor stung my hands.
(Never did find my gloves)
Whit and I had to head into Houston from Katy that afternoon, as he'd yet to pick up his race packet.
We're so damn alike in some ways.
That is, he got lost in Houston. He swears it's unlike him, but it's the way I roll.
So we got to the convention center. Just had to grab his confirmation letter, run in, and grab the race packet.
Now let's see... where's that confirmation letter again?
Yeeeeeah. It was nowhere to be found. There we were, with no time to return to Katy, and the confirmation letter, which was emblazoned with something along the lines of YOU'D BETTER PRESENT THIS OR YOU DON'T GET YOUR PACKET, SUCKA across the top, was missing in action.
We started rifling through his car, reaching into the netherworld beneath seats that any God-fearing person typically avoids.
Minutes went by. Steam came out of Whit's ears. I felt reasonably certain that, of 15,000 runners, he wouldn't be the only person to lose this little piece of paper.
I suggested we head inside to see. With some trepidation, we did.
I had to hang back, though, as parking tickets were being handed out the next block up, and in our haste we hadn't exactly paid attention to all of those brightly colored signs.
Whit headed in, and I checked out the signs. Shoot, where we parked was fine, and sure enough the ticket folks drove away even as I stood there.
And yes, they were able to print out another letter for Whit inside.
So we got back in the car, sat down, and there it was.
Yes, IT. The missing letter.
It was tucked into the visor.
We laughed until our sides hurt.
We had a similarly funny episode on the way back to his house. My sister called to tell me they had a new dog.
That is, they'd paid lots of money for an exotic dog with some bowel issues.
"You got a $500 dog that farts?" I asked her, and she and Whit and I just died.
But yes, Slugger drops ass a lot.
"When Mrs. Kissel breaks wind we beat the dog."
Anyone? Anyone? Llorca? Amanda?
So Whit, again behaving just like me, got all wrapped up in getting the right MP3 player for the race, and stayed up too late after that. In fact, homeboy set his alarm for FOUR in the morning instead of FIVE.
At least he didn't wake ME up any earlier than necessary. It would have been an old school Krav Maga versus Kung Fu showdown. Word.
That is, I'd have beat him with my woobie.
The race, the race... well, he didn't win.
Okay okay... the weather, which had been a constant threat, was kind. It stayed mid-50s and overcast, but the temp never dropped, and the skies never opened up. Good running weather. I was right at the finish line, in fact, when some guy named Hall came BLAZING by to set the new American record for the half marathon. WOW could that cat fly!
Whit gritted it out, mangling a toe while shaving a minute off of his time from last year. I got okay footage of him just about at the finish line.
He had a well-deserved sprawl on the convention center floor afterwards. When we left we were in absolutely no hurry, which was as it should have been, and in fact, was also as fast as we could have gone.
We hit the noodle joint, got massages, and settled in for a big day full of nothing else.
Again, which was as it should have been.
Thing is, the spectre of the weather finally raised its ugly head. The front, which I'd beat to Houston, was coming, slowly and steadily. Reports were that the DFW area was getting bad, and not due to improve. As bad as things were, it seemed like leaving immediately was the best option.
I stopped in Huntsville to get a sandwich. The guy asked where I was headed, and when I told him he said, "Boy, you crazy."
Thank you, and yes, I'd like tomatoes on that.
For much of the drive the precipitation was the real problem. I was blessed with a long dry stretch, but most of the time it came down. And down and down. Ever drive with the wipers on the fastest setting and it's still not quite enough? But I had to plow forward.
I became hyper-alert, hyper-vigilant.
After speaking to MOBB I decided to stop in at the inlaws' place in Corsicana. I was awfully worried about what lay ahead.
As I exited, though, MOBB called me back. Seems father-in-law had checked online, and wished to report that all was clear between there and Ft. Worth.
Note to self: Father-in law is a funny guy.
At that very exit, in fact, is where I first knew something was really, really wrong. That is, I waited for my green light there by the gas station. As it turned green, the guy in the Caddy who was supposed to stop just slid through the intersection, right through the spot where I should have been driving.
After that, it was on, brother.
I was proceeding slowly up 287 to home. For miles and miles I'd be the only car on the road. As I got closer to Ft. Worth the roads became increasingly iced-over. One car proceeding the opposite way was flashing its brights at me as I crossed a bridge. Ice, ice everywhere.
The roads themselves were passable, or so they seemed. I mean, as the only guy on the road most of the time, with no one to watch... do I go 50, 60? Or 30 maybe?
I was running on adrenaline. Whit had just shot footage of me playing a song for his son. My life insurance is paid up, my kids had been sweet on the phone, and I figured that this was the stuff they'd be talking about at my funeral. It's a perfect script to lead up to a fiery crash.
Closer to the DFW area I saw more and more police cars. One parked at the near side of a bridge was getting out of his car as three people walked up the embankment towards him. I gather their car was down at the bottom, closer to the river than the road.
As I hit I-20, which is about 20 minutes from home, things got nuts. Many bridges were closed with wrecks on the other side, as I crawled forward on my side. I passed wreck after wreck, some empty and cold, and some with people still inside.
And finally it happened: I hit a bad patch of ice and went out of control.
I slid at a 45 degree angle to the right, a 45 degree angle to the left... and straightened up. More adrenaline.
Between I-20 and home I believe I passed 16 wrecked cars.
I got home about 11:55pm. I briefed MOBB as to what had happened. By midnight I was asleep in a hard 10.5 hour crash.
Finally, yes, I crashed.
I've gone on and on too long.
It's good to be home, good to be alive.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Sunday, January 07, 2007
I'd done lots of related work for years, like spending six months being a roadie for a country band, making four-track recordings at home, that sort of thing. After a few puzzled months as an English undergrad at UT, I was swayed by my work-study job at the PBS station to follow my audio muse.
There's always the question of exactly what to do with one's degree. Austin's certainly got a lot of audio work, but you know, I felt like I had to take a stab at a bigger arena.
I knew someone who knew someone in Nashville. Right after graduation in May of 1994, I headed that way in my powder blue Ford Escort.
I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking. This woman to whom I had a loose connection was some sort of assistant to a bigtime agent or manager or somesuch. I thought I'd drop the name of our mutual acquaintance and hit the jackpot.
It's about a fourteen hour drive from Austin to Nashville if I recall. It was getting late when I hit Memphis, so I stopped in a cheap hotel to crash. It didn't seem particularly eventful when I left my pocket knife in the room. I was in Nashville before I realized it was missing. It was a high school graduation gift, though, and losing it pissed me off.
I got myself a hotel on the northwest side of town, unpacked, and headed out to see my connection.
I guess I don't need to go into much detail about what an awkward scene it was when I showed up at this important guy's office, asking for his assistant. She was there all right, and my mention of our mutual acquaintance didn't do a doggone thing to make things comfortable. She was a blonde about my age, and her very presence in that office intimidated me.
She had a good idea though: She was going to attend a showcase for an up and coming songwriter that evening, and perhaps I'd like to join them there. Yeah, cool. I liked that idea just fine.
A showcase, as you probably know, isn't your typical gig. It was in a club all right, but the scene was altogether different from the countless nights I'd spent in honky tonks, watching people two-step. A showcase is held for the sole purpose of impressing a bigwig, or multiple bigwigs. Heck, I've even heard of artists paying to play a showcase. Maybe that's the norm for all I know.
So I showed up at this bar, paid my cover, and walked in.
It was packed, and in fact, there were generic, purty blondes everywhere. I am not good at telling blondes apart. I ordered a beer and commenced to searching the crowd for my contact.
I was uncomfortable, and I felt like all eyes were watching me as I searched.
I tried to settle in and pretend to like the songwriter. I can't recall who he was, but honestly I was too distracted to give him much of a shot.
I sat through his whole gig and never found my contact.
Dejected, I went back to my hotel room and got shit-faced.
At some point later that night, as I flipped the channels, my contact called. I don't know how she found my hotel. I suppose I must have told her where I was staying.
I don't know what we talked about, but we talked for hours. I'm not kidding. I was completely drunk, doing my best to sound sober. And how we killed all that time on the phone I can't say. Even 24 hours later I couldn't have told you.
But I never saw her again, and certainly didn't end up getting a job or anything close to it.
I pursued a couple other ideas while there, seeking some quick audio work for a few days, but I didn't get any serious nibbles.
I ended up with time to kill and nothing to do. An idle mind...
There was a porn shop near my hotel, and I stopped in. It's not like I had a VCR or anything in my room, but I figured it was worth a look around. I've always had a fascination with sleaze anyway. Between the hangover and the overwhelmingly trashy appearance of the place, my head was spinning as I walked in.
It stunk in there. In fact, it smelled like farts. I should have taken that as a warning.
(If you are squeamish, Bible-thumpin' or otherwise disinclined to learn about those places some people won't dare go into, you should probably click away now.)
I walked around and looked at the merchandise, just killing time. But a dark hallway jutted off from the main room. The woman behind the counter bore a strong resemblance to someone I know, and that's why I felt quite at ease as I approached her.
"What goes on back there?" I asked.
"Well, you put $4.25 in quarters in the slot, and you can watch a movie," she said with a smile.
"Okay. I'd like $4.25 in quarters," I said as I handed her a five.
I was naive as hell, and we both knew it.
It was a long, dark hallway lined with booths. Lots of men were standing around. Most of the doors were closed, and I tried to discern the order at work, tried to figure out who had dibs on the next booth.
My anxiety got the better of me, though, and as I walked down a ways I found an open door.
Screw waiting, I thought. Those turkeys don't seem to have noticed this booth.
I darted in.
As I turned to close the door, though, a man rushed in behind me. He closed the door behind him.
I'm 5'11", and this fat, redheaded cowboy towered over me.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"It's okay, buddy. Let's just watch the movie together," he said.
"Yeah, come on buddy, we'll just watch it," he said.
"I want to be alone in here," I said.
"It's okay," he said. He grabbed my crotch. "Let's watch the movie."
I stepped back as far as I could, made two fists and said, "YOU HAVE GOT THE WRONG GUY."
He stared at me, and in that moment I thought I'd be fighting this huge guy in this tiny booth. Fine. I'd have to be dead before he'd get a chance to do whatever the hell it was he had in mind anyway.
We stared at each other, and you know, it's true what they say about time slowing down when there's a crisis. He stared at me, I stared at him, and I wondered what the hell would happen next.
He turned and left. He looked embarrassed, flustered. But at least he was gone.
I locked the door behind him and stood there, trying to catch my breath. My heart was pounding, and I wondered what the hell just happened.
Damn, does this booth have a sign on it about wanting gay sex or something? I thought to myself.
I turned and took in my surroundings. There was a vinyl seat and a TV screen. I won't get into just how disgusting the place was. Let's just say that I decided not to sit down or touch anything.
In fact, I stood there for a moment and formulated a plan. I mean, I had no idea whether BIG GAY COWBOY was still there, you know?
I mapped the route in my head and darted out the door. I set a new land speed record getting out of the porn shop. I doubt BGC was still there, but I didn't exactly pause to take in my surroundings.
I'm not sure what might have happened if I'd had the knife I lost in Memphis.
The funny thing about being sexually assaulted is that, well, it's hard to sleep that night. As I lay there in my hotel bed, I couldn't calm down, couldn't stop thinking about what a disaster the trip had been.
At 12:30am I got back in the Escort and headed back to Texas.
The drive back was grueling, and in fact, I stopped at some rest area (with the doors locked, thank you) and slept for a couple hours. When I woke up I could see my breath in front of my face.
It wasn't enough sleep. I know the route home took me through Little Rock, but I don't remember much of that part of the drive.
I got back to Austin about 6pm.
In case you wonder why I didn't report the incident to the cops, well, just think about it a bit. I mean... I didn't want to approach Nashville PD to tell them a damn thing having to do with, oh, a porn shop, a gay cowboy, what I was doing there, etc.
And I certainly didn't want to have to call my wife from a Nashville police station and explain it to her. As it was, well, it took a while for me to share the specifics of what happened with her.
I've often said that trouble finds me, but you know, I have on occasion managed to be the one to find trouble.