It occurs to me that I’m living a plethora of dichotomies, all at once. And as I sit here, my mind is racing with unformed thoughts. So brace yourselves for a rambling mishmash of assorted mumbojumbo. Let’s start with a song to enjoy while you read this bullshit, mkay? Mkay.
With the music sorted, let’s start with… Oh. I know. Music. Duh.
As I was listening to a song earlier, on the way back to work from the post office, it struck me as how different it was to my usual proclivities. I was listening to Jake Bugg’s Lightning Bolt. Now, here’s the thing, y’all. This Louisiana-born-and-raised chick loathes country music. Loathes. I’ve refused to date country-music-fan dudes, because music is too important to me to compromise that harshly. (Yeah. I said harshly.) I mean, super recently, too. Within the last couple months, I let a good dude pass me on by, because – while he shared my lust for live music – he was all and only about country. Major. Serious. Country. Everything else about him was cool as shit, but we just couldn’t hang, because he was always listening to some ear-bludgeoning nightmare – and proved equally unwilling to listen to my jams.
And yet. There I was. Jamming out to Lightning Bolt. Singing along, for fuck’s sake. Alarm bells went off in my head, and then I just said fuck it and went with it. Granted, dude is hardly country in the traditional sense (or even in the modern sense), but there’s a palpable country vibe to it. I tried to forgive myself because of his obviously overwhelming influence by Bob Dylan, one of my all-time favorites.
But yeah. One day, I’m listening to Fugazi’s brief discography. The next, I’m going all out on some Trombone Shorty and Keb Mo. Following that with Wax Taylor and Portishead. Then, I’m all up in some Pharcyde and Mos Def. Let’s not forget my love of the Peppers. How about Leon Bridges or Band of Horses? Fucking hell, if I could only stop listening to Clint Mansell and Damien Rice. Then, there’s my new little occasional metalbar haunt, and Church of the Cosmic Skull, for fuck’s sake! So, should I really be surprised by yet another style of music? No. And yet I am.
Lifestyle stuff and stuff
I’m also contemplating my sudden love of Downtown. The whole downtown scene appeals to me, on a visceral level, really. I love the sites and sounds, the absurd snippets of dialogue as random passersby, well, pass you by. I love the snatches of music, the invisible notes and melodies losing the chase as you stroll on down the sidewalk. The various aromas, at once arresting and enticing, alluring and repulsing. Thai spices and incense. Rose petals and cat food. Greek salad and craft beer. Gasoline and perfume. Sex and vomit.
But it’s so fucking weird to me. To like it, nay love it, the way I do. It pulls me, draws me, keeps me locked in when I give in to the call. And it makes no sense, because I’m a trees girl. I’m a sky girl. I’m a mountains and rivers and stars girl. I’m a birdsong and wind girl. I’m a bubble over with giggles and laughter at the sight of a tiny woodland creature girl.
I’m a fuck society girl.
So, no, I don’t get it. This sudden fascination, even obsession, with downtown. Or do I? I think it’s part of me coming into my own. My self. One of the many parts of me that I denied for all of my life: being social. Not hiding myself away from people and society and the sorts of experiences only exposure to a place like “downtown” can bring. And damnit, I’m loving every second of it. Even the ridiculous, frustrating, maddening, and absurd. I’m fucking loving it.
My favorite bar is a jazz club. They have live music all the time. All. The. Time. Jazz, funk, blues, soul. And I’m in fucking heaven, every single time. I sit at the bar, smiling, and clasping my hands in joy, and groovin’ to the music. I stand outside, on the sidewalk, and laugh and dance in the rain. It is so…freeing…and perfect.
I also strangely enjoy the metalbar. It doesn’t have live music, and it doesn’t necessarily have the kind of music I dig (generally speaking). But I appreciate it for precisely those reasons…it’s different; it’s new; it takes me out of my comfort zone (but not to an extreme level). It’s great for culture-learning/people-watching. And I really fucking like their pineapple cider.
Another little spot is a wine bar; a friend of a friend plays his trombone and keys, while we drink wine, snack on an appetizer, and talk about meaning and purpose and music and books and life and whatthefuckever. People meander on down the sidewalk, occasionally stopping to drop money into the tip bucket or chat with us or peruse a menu.
This amorphous entity that is downtown has me in its grip, and I love it.
It doesn’t stop me from going kayaking, checking out nature trails, spending an entire afternoon reading beside the lake. But there is less of that than I would have expected of myself. Not because I’m holed up, depressed in bed, but because I’d rather be downtown. (Then, there are those brewery crawls. A whole ‘nutha story!)
I’ve suddenly talked myself out. So I’m calling an abrupt end to this particular post.
What up, homeslices. See how hip I am? I still say “what up” and am so gangsta I didn’t even use a question mark. Yeah, bitch.
So. Y’all already know I’ve been pushing myself lately. More than usual, I mean. You know I had the April thing get canceled and I carpéd the fuck out of those diems (I just indecently Latined all over your faces. You’re welcome.). With the haircut. Masturdating with Deadpool. At the bookstore. At the park. At the park again. I even willfully introduced myself to a stranger! And the little turtle peeking out of the shell didn’t get her little neck cleavered! Do wonders never cease?
They do not.
For the tale I am about to tell is a tale of public Stephanie in public at public places with public people doing public things.
Did I mention I did more things in public. Because I did.
I publicked my ass off. (That’s the correct way to past-tense verbify public. I know. I’m an expert on these matters.)
Ass Publicking Chapata One (That sounds so fucking wrong. So I’m leaving it.)
Rewind to Friday, April 22. That’s, what? Two Fridays ago? This dude suggested Happy Hour to me months ago, as a great way to loosen up, kick back and just enjoy life a bit. But I was adamant in my refusal. No. Fucking. Way. Was this ever going to happen. And then this dude pushed me to go “network” at Happy Hour for weeks. Relentlessly for weeks. WEEKS, I tell you! So I finally relented, but it was no easy task.
There’s a cool (and very popular) Irish pub within walking distance of my house. I’d been once before when the greatest history professor to ever walk the earth took all his Historiography grad students out for a couple of rounds on him. But that’s the only time I’d ever been.
Other than that, I was always on the outside looking in. I drive past the joint on a regular basis – in fact, I did so daily for several years.
But I was always outside.
At the people looking out.
At the people unwilling or unable or uncool enough.
To come in.
But this would be the day that I’d make the transition. I was fucking determined. But I was not going alone, damnit. That’s just pathetic. Single fat chick sitting alone at the bar during Happy Hour on Friday night? No.
So what’s a girl to do?
Round up a posse of course.
I was having a slow work day, so I wandered around the building herding geeks. Y’all know those little decorator crabs? The ones that wander around, plucking pretty debris from the seashore and affixing it to their shells? So that they may adorn themselves in their very surroundings and be hidden and protected?
That was me.
Unwilling to remove my shell, I wandered the building plucking rogue geeks and affixing them to my shell. They followed me around like Mother Fucking Goose. I was the Pied Fucking Piper of Geeks, trying to lead them down the path of rowdy drunken carousing.
At one point, I had about seven geeks straggling behind me. I’d formed my own posse. And we were going pubbing.
If we could get The Sloth to go.
See, these boys are a unit. And I was going to be the ultimate Dungeon Master, corralling them all for drinks and vulgarity and laughs.
Well, The Sloth would only agree to go if we could get Pookie to go.
So commenced The Hunt for Red October Pookie.
We couldn’t find him. I texted him silly pictures of The Sloth and Buttermilk doing slothy semi-gay things on warehouse equipment.
“LOLOLHAHAHA” came the mature and measured response.
Posse in tow, we rounded corner after corner until we had Pookie in our sights.
Naw man. It’s not pay week.
I told him I’d buy the first round.
I said, “I’m not being weird, you little fucker. Bring your damn girlfriend.”
He blushed again.
Well, I’d HAVE to bring my girlfriend.
I stared at him.
He blushed harder.
I stared at him.
He looked down at his book.
I stared at him.
I just really can’t. I’m broke! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!
“Pookie,” I glared into him with rage in my eyes and condescension dripping from my voice, “you’re dead to me. Now The Sloth won’t go. And then Buttermilk will back out. And then no one is going to go.”
What about Thundercat and Lebowski?
“I asked THEM before I asked YOU. But Thundercat is home alone with his spawn tonight, and Lebowski has to go to some viewing for a dead uncle he never met. You’re dead to me, you understand?”
As I walked away, he was laughing, blushing and apologizing.
I flipped him off without looking back.
So, as anticipated, everyone backed out. I nearly had The Sloth convinced, until he remembered he had other plans. Looking up at me from the filthy warehouse floor, looking every bit like he’d just disappointed the potty-mouthed version of Mother Teresa or gotten caught sniffing his finger after scratching his ass, all wide eyed and hesitant, he tells me…
Aw fuck, I wouldn’t have been able to go even if Pookie went. I promised Dangerhole I’d drink with him tonight.
“That’s a thing? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me right now, Sloth?”
Noooooooooo. It’s his drinking weekend, and last time I wasn’t there to keep him calm, he broke someone’s face and went to jail. That cost us a month of drinking money, man. I’m sorry, but I promised.
I called them all lousy motherfuckers, told them to enjoy their weekends jerking off in their mothers’ basements and stalked off. This whole mission lasted about two hours.
I had a decision to make, and fast.
To Happy Hour alone? Or to Home?
And then I remembered: you don’t have a home. You have a dwelling. A domicile. A house. Is that where you want to go? You want to go cry in bed? That’s preferable to going out just because you don’t have the support of a group of semi-friend stoner geekboys from work? You barely fucking know them anyway.
Decision made, I clocked out early and determined to open the place. It opens at 4:00, and I knew I simply Would Not Go if there was already a crowd before I got there. So if I was gonna tackle this, I was gonna do it on my own terms.
Fuck the Geek Squad.
Everything happened in slow motion:
I pulled into the parking lot.
I braked to a stop.
I put the car in park.
I looked at the guy unloading liquor from the back of a pickup.
I looked at him look at me.
I killed the ignition.
I palmed my keys and wallet.
I pushed my shades atop my head.
I opened the door.
I stepped out.
I closed the door.
I walked to the front (because I wasn’t a regular and didn’t realize there was a back entrance).
I opened the door.
I observed the old men at the bar.
I chose a stool near the register.
I sat on it.
I put my things down.
I made eye contact with the regulars observing me, the stranger.
I smiled back at the bartender.
Do y’all have cider?
I opened my very first bar tab.
Haha no, I’m not new in town. I’m just new. To going outside.
A big exhale.
My first sip.
And I was in.
Listening to the old men, who trickled in one at a time, talk about golf and wives and exes and crooked dicks and business trips gone wrong.
Right about the time I agreed to try Irish Champagne (apparently just some sort of Irish beer mixed with cider), Wes plopped down beside me.
Soft. Blonde. Blubbering. Gay. Twenty-something. College student. Clearly a regular. At some point, he simultaneously cracked open a Miller Lite and a lame joke. I laughed politely.
Then he showed me the picture he had up on his phone, “That’s my granddad.”
Is he flexing?
“Why is he in his tighty whities?
“Haha Haha………Haha. I don’t really know. I took a picture of the picture, and I think he must have been posing for grandma back then.”
The bartender, a chick, chimed in, “So that’s where you get it from.”
Haha no way, he was definitely posing for grandma, not some guy.
Much much laughter.
“That’s not what I meant,” she said, “although…but I meant the flexing in your underwear.”
He laughed and agreed that must be the case.
Wait. Wait. You flex in your underwear? And people…people know this about you?
“Hahahahayeah, wanna see another one??”
And from that point forward, I called him Flexy Wes and finally just Flex.
At some point in the midst of all this, I took a phone call. Laughing my ass off, I went to one of the tables by the window for the call. And I saw it. I became aware of what I was doing.
I was one of the ones on the inside.
I was looking out.
At the ones looking in.
I was looking out.
At the ones unwilling or unable or afraid.
To come inside.
I wasn’t one of them anymore.
By the time Flex left, I was about four or five ciders in and was feeling righteously buzzed. Also, the Friday night crowd was fast filling up the place, and I felt it was time to make my exit.
Fucking proud of myself, too.
I sat in my car for quite a while, waiting out the buzz. It was worth it. Totally worth it.
Ass Publicking Chapata One, Part Two
I got home. Changed clothes. Plopped down in bed. Updated stupidityhole about my “networking.” Played on my iPad.
And then The Anklebiter texted (about two hours later). She had been updating me off and on throughout the evening, telling me that she would perhaps, maybe, eventually make her way to the pub. But she never did. She kept trying to get me to go to this big party. I refused.
And now she was texting.
“Where are youuuuuuuuuuuu?!???????? Are you in bed???????????????”
I replied, “How did you know?”
“LOLOLOLOL that’s where I’d be! Come back! We’re here! Pleeeeeease! It’s my biiiiiiiiiirthdaaaaaaaaaay!”
So you know what I did?
I went back out. Met up with The Anklebiter and her friends. Wished her a happy birthday. Had more drinks. Listened to the band. Had more laughs.
And had a fanfuckingtastic time.
Booyah. First Happy Hour a rousing success.
Ass Publicking Chapata Two
Chapata Two occurred this past Friday. And it was happening because of me. You see, I had asked a certain group of people to do Happy Hour with me before I ever tried to get the Geek Squad. But most of them had prior engagements and promised they could go out next week. But I couldn’t wait. I had to go that first night – it was a now or never kinda thing.
I no longer wanted to go, though. I knew it would be fun, but I had a raging day-after headache from the Modest Mouse concert I’d gone to the night before. I always have head-splitters on the day after a concert. (And I went to that fucker by myself, was the only one standing in my section, danced and sang and cheered and had a blast. An absolute blast.)
But I took care of my headache, drove home from out of town, gave myself a pep-talk and went to the pub.
And this time was soooo different.
It was me, Anklebiter and Her Little Dog Too, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, The Woman Formerly Known as Crankles, UberGeek McHottiepants, and even my supervisor, McFly, for a half hour or so. (Thanks a lot, Anklebiter.)
And I laughed so hard my stomach and chest hurt.
And then I drank some more.
A lot more.
And then I laughed so hard we became that table. We were outside, under the covered patio part, and we were the obnoxious ones.
And it was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in my adult life. Hands down.
I got there before anyone else – had to open the place to quell my anxiety. Got a cider or two in, and the old men from the first Happy Hour talked to me this time. Called me a snob for drinking cider. And I called them cheap old fucks with their PBR.
When the crew got there, UberGeek McHottiepants made me follow through on my promise to do an Irish Carbomb with him. HOLY. SHIT.
Everyone laughed and asked, “how was it?”
And the antics continued. There’s photographic evidence of me cringing as I slammed the carbomb with Uber. There’s photographic evidence of me sucking on a lime wedge after slamming Patron with Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.
It was hilarious and vulgar and fucking fantastic. Uber and I made some of the dirtiest jokes…but we were at a separate table for a bit, so we had a blast making the others wonder what was so fucking funny.
Once the band started setting up, everyone wanted to leave and go to Anklebiter and Her Little Dog Too’s house. Everyone except Little Miss. She bailed. (And McFly had been long gone, though he did witness the carbomb.)
Ass Publicking Chapata Two, Part Two
I went because I didn’t have a choice. Uber and I couldn’t drive yet, so we rode with The Woman Formerly Known as Crankles over to Anklebiter’s place.
There was talk of Karaoke and mixed drinks.
But we mostly chilled and talked about the concert I’d gone to the night before, concerts, 90s bands, gardening.
We listened to music. They learned how vulgar I was (this group had no idea – well Uber did. And Little Miss did. But the rest had nooooo idea).
I only had one more drink once we got there, because I needed to sober up to drive.
It was nice. Chill. We played with the dogs and had a fuckton of laughs.
And it made me question my judgment of The Anklebiter. She’s not what I thought she was. She’s not what she presents as. Well she kind of is, but not in a malicious way.
Before we left, Anklebiter had us all take a group selfie. One of them has a dog licking my boob. And the other one has Her Little Dog Too’s bare abdomen in it.
Not low enough for Grandma’s mustache.
Ass Publicking (Future) Chapata Three
And tomorrow night?
Happy Hour at a Mexican restaurant for three dollar margaritas with The Anklebiter and The Woman Formerly Known as Crankles.
I don’t want to go. It’s going to be extremely crowded. But The Woman Formerly Known as is like me in the sense that she’s trying to put herself out there for the first time. I never knew that. But she shared it with me, because I told them it’s what I was doing. They knew, anyway. I’ve rejected everything I’ve ever been invited to – granted, it has never been much. But I’ve never participated.
So. Even though I hadn’t gotten along so well with The Woman Formerly Known As back when I first started working here (she reminded me of my mother – and that’s a bad thing), she’s working on herself just like I am. And she asked me to go, so I’m gonna go.