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Journals of an Insane Genius – July 1998

There was this movie that came out in the early 70's (I think) called "The Endless Summer". The movie is basically a semi-documentary about these two surfer guys that keep following the summer from country to country all the way around the world for an entire year so that they don't have to stop surfing. The surfer music in the movie is probably better than the movie itself and that's what most people remember the movie for. I had just settled in with a huge bowl of popcorn to watch this classic when there was a knock at my door. It's my buddy Tom. He wants me to ride with him to the airport to pick up his cousin. As an added incentive he suggests hitting some of the bars along the way for Happy Hour. I wasn't going to go, but he presented me with a quart of "Mississippi Mud" Black and Tan ale to convince me. Suddenly this seems like a good idea.

We started out at Famous Sam's where Happy Hour starts at 4:30 and features a lingerie show and the worst chicken wings in town. This is apparently how aspiring young models pay their dues before a meteoric rise to the top of the fashion industry. Unfortunately for them, Tom and I appear to be the most upscale portion of the crowd. These waif-like young ladies stroll gracefully around the bar stopping at each table to discuss the merits of their outfits. What amazes me is that everyone in the bar pretends that this is normal and we are all really interested in fashion. The burly biker type at the next table is asking, "What kind of material is that? It drapes nicely."

The highlight of the show is, of course, the swim wear. Two of the models come out in identical metal studded leather thong bikinis. Fearing that this was a bit understated, they decided to accessorize with eight foot long whips. Tom bets five dollars that I won't tell the girls that "I've been very bad". It is at this point that I see just how hopeless and predictable men can be when they are excited. I tell him that they've heard that joke at every table they've been to so far. To prove my point we overhear the bikers at the next table saying, "Ooh I've been a bad boy". Eventually the show comes to an end and Tom quickly loses interest with Sam's. Now he's hyping the Happy Hour at The Windemere, which lasts until 7:00.

We hit the Windemere with a half hour to spare. The buffet consists of carrot sticks, celery, cucumbers, and tortilla chips but no salsa. This is like Happy Hour if your mom planned it. I accuse Tom of never actually eating at home but instead living off the land, picking this bar because he needed a vegetable course in his dinner.

Our waitress arrives, she has a delightful German accent. I ask for a Michael O'Sheas Black & Tan because I've never heard of it and there is a cardboard advertisement for it on our table. If nothing else I will get an addition to my beer bottle collection out of this. She comes back with bad news, they're all out of Mikey O'Sheas. I ask my usual question, "What do you have that's really dark and nasty?" She tells me and a chill runs up my spine. I say, "excuse me" and she repeats it, her voice having roughly the same effect on me that Kathleen (Body Heat) Turner's does. "That's what I want." Tom asks what I just ordered. I tell him I have no idea, I just couldn't resist the way she was saying whatever it was she was saying. It turns out I ordered a 'Blackened Voodoo' beer from a microbrewery in New Orleans. Definitely a candidate for the bottle collection. I resist the urge to tip our waitress extra if she'll just softly whisper "Blackened Voodoo" in my ear one more time. Tom suggests that the Windemere is less than happening tonight. I concur, we leave.

The Sports Gallery isn't exactly happening either. Tom is trying to flirt with the waitress when he notices the ring on her finger. She's engaged, but the wedding isn't for almost a year. Mysteriously, Tom seems to take this as a sign that he still has a shot. He begins quizzing her about the guy and his prospects. After giving him sufficient chance to embarrass himself I rescue the waitress by saying, "Now for the normal response, Congratulations! I hope you guys are very happy." I get better service for the rest of the night.

The seventeen year old looking kid that works in the kitchen was trying to leave early and had already cleaned the grill when Tom decides he's starving and needs a sandwich. He's trying to convince the waitress to sweet talk the kid into cooking a turkey sandwich for him when I notice what an amusing name the menu has for this dish. "Make him ask for it by name", I suggest to the waitress. She also finds this amusing. Tom gives me his 'you jerk' look and mutters, "can I get a Gobbler, please". "Make him say it loud.", I encourage. "A Gobbler, I'd like a Gobbler please." he says louder. The waitress says, "Eh?" Other patrons seated at the bar are looking our way now. "I'm hungry for a Gobbler!" Tom half yells. Laughing, the kid agrees to make his sandwich. Tom suddenly recalls that we're supposed to meet his cousin at the airport in less than an hour. As he gobbles down his sandwich I try to explain the irony to him. He is less than amused.

We rush to the airport only to discover the plane will be late. This gives us an opportunity to sample the airport bar's Happy Hour. Beers cost five dollars each. We decide we're not that happy and wander back down to the gate.

There is no staff at the gate, which means that the computer terminals are unguarded. The screen savers are password protected. Tom bets five dollars that I can't hack into the system. I notice that the screen saver at this terminal has the caption 'Gate 5' scrolling across the screen. I glance at the next gate. The computer there is scrolling 'Gate 6' on it's screen. This is too easy. When multiple people have to use the same password it's usually written down somewhere near the computer. I type 'Gate 5' for the password and the screen unlocks. Fingers fly. Three minutes and eighteen seconds later Tom and I both have an additional 100,000 miles in our frequent flyer accounts. "How was your visit to Guam?", I ask.

The plane arrives. Tom's cousin Dave is ready to go. Dave likes to go to the college bars. I feel just a bit old for this so I disguise my reservations by drinking too much and acting immature, for some reason this is never difficult.

Both the Bum Steer and the WildCat House are dead. It's about 10:00, so it's not too early or too late. We decide to check out this place called The 3rd Stone. About five blocks of the street it's on have been restored and there is an interesting mix of bars, art stores full of people browsing, and college types trying to look disinterested. Since college students are notoriously cheap all of the bars want a cover charge. We decide to walk down one side of the street and back up the other to see which bar looks the most promising.

In general the bars are dead. The only attractive females present are the waitresses and that's only because they're paid to be there. We pass our first set of street performers. I've never heard the Nine Inch Nails song, "Closer", played as a folk song before. I didn't care for it, but they did have a crowd of people jamming with them.

The next group we pass is apparently "taking five". What concerns me is that they either have a small horse or an extremely large dog parked right in the middle of the sidewalk. Then I realize that the dog is engrossed in a rather personal canine sponge bath and has no use for anything else right now.

We had narrowed our choices to the 3rd Stone or 'Da Blues' bar. They both had live music. The 3rd Stone had young white boys playing the blues. Da Blues had a more mature mostly black band playing. My opinion was there would be a better college aged crowd at the 3rd Stone and better music at Da Blues.

Then we met the man we would soon know as Fred. We noticed him as we approached the intersection. Fred was loudly pestering passers by for directions to 3rd and Stone, qualifying it by specifying ,"the bar, not the intersection!" After the third person pointed to the giant 'The 3rd Stone' sign directly across the street Fred's targeting acquisition system engaged and he went on autopilot, staggering directly into the oncoming traffic. Fortunately the driver's reflexes were better than Fred's. Recognizing the universal language of loud horns and upraised fingers as a request to return to the curb, Fred complied.

By this time we had also reached the corner. "Oh lord, I'm surrounded by yuppies again!", Fred observed while staring in my general direction.

I silently curse myself for having made eye contact and attempt to use humor to discourage any further conversation. "You must mean these other three guys.", I reply indicating the empty space to the side of Tom, Dave, and me.

Fred totally misses the carefully veiled insult. "No I mean you!", Fred says while swaying to some secret rhythm that only he and the hygienic dog can hear. "The only thing worse than being surrounded by yuppies is being surrounded by lesbians!"

The light changes and we start across. Fred is apparently enjoying this conversation because he struggles to keep up. "That happens to you a lot, huh?", I ask. I begin to think that Tom has decided that we're both insane because he's pretending not to see either of us.

"Happens all the time!", Fred exclaims. Fred seems to exclaim everything, which I guess must be normal to people who find the world such a baffling ordeal. "There's nothing worse than finding out some chick you've been talking to is a man! It's happened twice to me in the last month!"

"It's interesting that you seem constantly drawn to that kind of bar.", I snicker.

Again, Fred has missed the point and is now concentrating on walking. We are approaching the entrance to the 3rd Stone. "The last bar said I'd had too much!", He loudly whispers in a conspiratorial tone. "Let's see what they think at this one!"

"Hello Fred.", the bouncers say in a 'not again' tone of voice.

"Looks like we're in for some good music", I quip to Tom as without a word we both know that we aren't going to the 3rd Stone now. I convince Tom that he'll enjoy the music more if he agrees to letting me pay for the cab ride home. Tired of trying to behave himself, Tom agrees. The band jams. Dave is the only one that manages to convince anyone to dance. Suddenly, the blues seem appropriate. Our cab arrives just as the waitress informs us that it's 'Last Call', so we call it a night, our endless Happy Hour having lasted over nine hours.

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