…with our beans baked… (Part III)

Parked, Ernie tucks three over-stuffed joints down his sock, into his shoe. He didn’t tell me the joints were in a plastic baggie, so I had to cope with the ostensibly presumed inevitability of smoking a reefer laced both with sock stink (assuming his socks stank), and maybe a few stray feet hairs (assuming his feet were at least half as hairy as mine). Well, this was, at least for me, supposed to be a night of living dangerously. So bring on the sock stink, the feet hairs! There are way worse things you can press your lips to, right? It’s not like I’m gonna pull a drag off some wild baboon’s ass, am I? 

Ernie slams back a beer. Outside, after locking the car doors, he chugs down another one. He leaves the can on the curb. My full bladder saves me from following his lead. Besides, I’m not a chugger. I’m a nurser. My stomach sends back anything it’s forced to accept in haste. 

Through darkish, residential Uptown, I’m wincing and walking funny. It’s like God’s giving me a wedgy every step of the way. And right beside me, Ernie’s also wincing and walking funny. He’s worried about those fragile reefers in his shoe. Three blocks from the Riv he thinks he feels one break. So he slows down. A block and a half away, he thinks he feels another one break. So he slows down more. Every block, I’m desperate for a dark alley. Only they’re all cantaloupe-orange bright. Who the hell thought the city looked better bathed in cantaloupe-orange? Maybe that Whomever is colorblind. Or maybe he’s got an orange fetish like Steven Tyler’s got a pink fetish. 

Sudden dawning advice to Ernie: “Maybe don’t walk that funny-limpy way into the Riv, huh?” But he already knows that. 

By now, at the Riv, the opening act is winding up its set. The pat-down line stretches all the way to Lawrence Ave, but it’s moving along. These pat-down dudes aren’t trying real hard. When I reach them they look at me like I’m in the wrong place, like I’m gonna get hurt if I take one step into the Riv. This kinda sucks given how much work I’ve put into cultivating a Don’t Fuck With Me mien. They pat me down like I’m eggshell fragile. Not that I wanna be groped. But if you look like a Threat, then you don’t look like a Wuss. 

Once we’re in, I follow Ernie past the beer-bracelet line down a flight of stairs, into the bowels of the Riv. That’s where the restrooms are. There’s a squeezed-in bar down here, too. Really, right now, with all these metalheads, everywhere is narrow; everything’s a squeezed-in situation.  We’re talking an agoraphobe’s worst nightmare. 

And throughout my entire first-ever, very brief visit to the Riv, every girl that looks at me, are they thinking, “What’s this geek doing here?” 

19 & 20 November 2004

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