Thinkin’ or Drinkin’ Thing?

Country Singer Trace Adkins Punches New Lenox Trace Adkins Impersonator on Cruise Ship: Report

Joseph Hosey  NewLenoxPatch, January 16, 2014

“The dustup reportedly landed the real Trace Adkins in rehab. We imagine fake Trace Adkins is landing back in New Lenox some time or other…”

I don’t know which is more indicative of self-loathing:  drunkenly hitting a surrogate version of yourself, or being a Trace Adkins impersonator.

And I really hope he never reads this and tracks me down in my home on Central Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota.


My buddy Mike and I sometimes kill some time in the morning by hanging out in the plaza outside the federal building.  Sometimes I drink, but Mike does virtually every day.  Because what better place to commit a petty misdemeanor than federal property?  Mike realizes he’ll have to tithe, as roughly every tenth beer will need to be poured out at the behest of a cop.
Here’s part of our conversation this morning, punctuated with laughter as usual:
“There’s two nice little asses,” he needlessly pointed out as two Spanish girls walked up to the building.
Since we assumed that every foreigner was there for its immigration services, I commented to Mike, “‘Hey Rosalitas, if shit doesn’t work out for you up there, you can marry us for the green cards’.”
“Just pay for the honeymoon; a week in a hotel and a keg or two.”
“And it’s got to have cable.  I may be good for consummation eight times a day, but that still leaves 23 and a half hours to kill.”
“You can leave after the first day.  I don’t care.”
“They wouldn’t go for you anyway.  I’d be creepy old too them, but you’d be creepy old-old.”  Referring to Mike’s irritation at being mistaken for a Mexican, I quipped, “Plus, you’d remind them too much of their homeland.  They’d go for me, the Arab or Jew or Greek or Italian.”
“Look at that chick!”
“She’s got high heel boots on, dressed all nice, but she walks right through that muddy grass rather than take a few extra steps to stay with the concrete.”
“She’s a natural hiker like me.  With an appreciation for Euclidean geometry.  Take the shortest distance between two points.”
“Or else she just wanted to stay as far away from us as possible.”
“Shit, you’re probably right.”
“Here comes this fuckin’ asshole,” he motioned to an approaching homeless guy, “he’s here every day, sitting at that bench and panhandling.”
“And you would know because?”
“Because he’s on my turf, motherfucker!  He annoys me.”
“This is how homeless wars start, man.”
“Yeah, and I’m a Marine.  Didn’t exactly fight in any wars, though.”
“Hey, the Cold War was a war.”
“Yep.  We didn’t have to wear vests; just needed a blanket.”
“I crack up at some of these panhandlers that don’t know what they’re doing or do it in a lazy way.  Even the experienced ones.  Like, ‘Dude, you don’t deserve a quarter’.”
“Or like that chick asking for a couple bucks [whom we saw earlier].  I don’t even bother trying to be nice to people asking for more than a little change,” not that Mike is known for trying to be nice to anyone.  “Shit, I’ll help them out if I got it.”
“If that guy’s there every day, let’s meet here early tomorrow and set up a scavenger hunt for $20 that I hide somewhere, just to see if he does it and can uncrack the riddles.”
“I don’t think that guy’s smart enough to crack nothing too complicated.”
“Well I figured that.  We’ll make it simple and easy.  ‘Fish in cages’ will be the Aquarium.  ‘Sounds like there should be art there but there’s stores’ will be The Gallery.  We’ll even give him a mulligan for one and just give an address.”
“You want to go to all this trouble to maybe lose $20, even though some other asshole will find it long before he gets off his ass?”
“That makes it a game for us, to see whether he starts it at all, provided we can convince him there really is $20.  We’ll give him an hour, and if he doesn’t move, I’ll go up and say, ‘Excuse me, I left something here.’  Then I’ll pull out the 20 spot I taped underneath the bench.”
“Then send him on a wild goose chase the next day?”
“Sadistic bastard.”
“Yep.  You ever see that guy a block away?  The one that just sits there with a cup and says, ‘Change, change, change’?”
“Actually, I saw him earlier, and he was just saying, ‘Ch, ch, cha’.  But he was standing.”
“He can’t even get the word with one syllable out anymore?  The fucking people are going to be halfway down the street before he spits the word out.”
“I don’t know; maybe he’s a big David Bowie fan.”
“Yeah, and he’s singing for money.  ‘Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes’!”
“Maybe we could make him a sign.  I’ll splurge on a marker.”
“But we have to spell it wrong.  I’ll try to spell it right because I can’t spell anyway.”
“As much as you read?”
“You’re right.  I just can’t remember if there’s one j or two.”
*   *   * 
Before we parted ways for the day, we went to the aforementioned Gallery so I could rid my bladder of coffee, he his of beer.  On our way out, we saw the stuttering panhandler, who greeted us with a ‘Hey, my brothers, how’s it going?”  He was carrying a soda.
Unlike Mike, I try not to be rude (read: I’m a phony).  Yet I couldn’t help but laugh as Mike and I exchanged puzzled looks 20 steps later.
“Damn,” I remarked, “that change did him good.”

He Didn’t Seem Ready for a Discussion on Authenticity, but I’m Sure He’s Always Ready for Ready

You see all kinds of druggies, crazies, and people who are both in any city.  The other day, I passed one who was practically walking down the middle of the street.  “I don’t give a fuck!” he thrice loudly proclaimed to no one in particular.  In an even louder voice, he yelled “Fuck” at least twice. 
Since I do give a fuck about my personal safety, I resisted my philosophical, counseling, and ministerial instincts to raise a logical point to him.  “Excuse me, sir,” I wanted to say, “but if you really didn’t give a fuck, you wouldn’t feel the compulsion to so vehemently announce your attitude to a world that really doesn’t give a fuck about you.  Let it go, bro.  Enjoy the weather and your crack high, and only pay attention to the happy voices in your drug-addled mind.  In the meantime, could you kindly do the civilized world–its numbers declining as we speak–a favor and SHUT THE FUCK UP!?”

Pussy Problems

A Conversation with My Baltimore Friend Dan:
Dan is one of my strait-laced friends in this city, unlike some of the others I’ve written about in these posts.  As I was anticipating the arrival of some money, I began devising a budget and list of items to purchase.  Such planning is unusual for a freewheelin’ cat like myself (dude). 
Me:  Help me think, Danielle.  What do I need most?  What am I always bitching about not having?
Dan:  And I guess the more stuff you can add to that list, that’s less money you’ll end up spending on alcohol.
Me:  Let’s not get carried away here.  I have to allocate some money for booze.  I’m eligible for my eight-day chip today, but I sense that my liver is starting to get a little too cocky.
Dan:  So you just want to remind it who’s in charge?
Me:  Right-o.
Dan:  How about underwear?
Me:  I can go without that.  Prefer to, actually.
I begin to sing a distorted and unaccompanied version of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.”
Dan:  Uh, that’s TMI.
I slam down my pen in mock indignation. 
Me:  Listen up, you bastard.  My mom was preggers with my sister when that shit at Three Mile Island went down in ’79, and we lived only 20 miles away.  We’re pretty sure that’s why she has three fingers on one hand, eight on the other.  Not to mention the mental capabilities of me after I’ve spent a few too many days with my Russian therapist.
Dan:  No, I meant–
It is difficult to get Dan to genuinely laugh, but I’m starting to succeed with my BS.
Me:  And another thing:  I lived near TMI in the 9/11 days, and I was freaked out, worried that it could be a target.  I stashed all my money in my car in case I had to suddenly flee.  Even kept some porn in the trunk in case I ended up somewhere with no women.
Dan:  Now that’s too much information.
Me:  Three Mile Island’s incident came before the genuinely serious Chernobyl, and now we’ve still got that shit going on from that Fuck-a-shima whatever thing in Japan.  The lamestream media is downplaying its severity.
Dan is practically a flaming liberal, so I love provocatively using right wing terminology in our dialogues.
Dan:  Well, let me explain something to you in terms you’ll get.  If some kind of disaster hit Baltimore–let’s say the earthquake had been worse–wouldn’t you want to be wearing underwear in case you shit yourself?  Or if you got, not piss-drunk, but shit-drunk?  It would be like an extra line of defense that could help you save a pair of jeans.
Me:  True, but there’s also a more likely and common scenario that makes it prudent to wear underwear.
Dan:  Uh, do I really want to hear this?
Me:  Doesn’t matter, because my sense of self-importance compels me to tell you.
I affected the tone and cadence of the flute-as-dildo chick from the Oscar-winning American Pie movie.  (Or was it American Beauty that was so critically acclaimed?)
Me:  This one time, at Giiiaaant, I had to stop in to buy some cat food.  There were like, four or five cute girls, all dressed in shorts, outside chatting.  From what I overheard, they were all on spring break from college.
Dan:  Are you sure they weren’t high school girls?
Me:  Seriously, does it matter?  They were all hot, and my body reacted in its predicktable way.
Dan:  Oh man.
Me:  Wait; it gets better.  Or worse.  I’m wearing loose-fitting pants, sans underwear, and there’s just no way for me to hide my hard-on.  Luckily, the store wasn’t crowded–
Dan:  So you went to the bathroom to take care of business?
Me:  No.  I just wanted to get in and get out, so I made a beeline to the pet food aisle.  Walk it off, you know?  I just couldn’t let my cat (Dude) down. So when I get to where I need to go for the cat food is, there’s this–I don’t know–let’s say seven or eight-year old girl right where I need to get to.  The only other soul in the aisle.
Dan begins to boisterously laugh at this point.
Dan:  Oh, Jesus Christ.
Me:  I’m just thinking, “If someone shows up, sees me standing near some kid with a visible erection, it’s going to look really–and I mean really–bad.”
Dan:  You’d be trying to explain the situation as her dad is kicking your ass because of TMI:  Too Much Inflammation. 
Now I burst out laughing at his turn of phrase.
Me:  Daniel-san, I’m going to have to run this by the committee, but I think you should get the award for joke of the day.  If they clear it, you’ll get your certificate within seven to ten business days,
Dan:  Whoo hoo!

Williard’s Billiards

I went to a bar this weekend, an activity I rarely treat myself to anymore.  I also played pool for the first time in a while.  When I used to play frequently, I joked that I played pool like I played tennis and wore my underwear:  streaky.
Encountering obnoxious and annoying people in such environments is par for the course, but I ended up shooting a game with a lady that took the cake.  It would take five minutes for her to take a shot because she was too busy flitting about, talking to everyone whose ear she could get ahold of.
I wasn’t that drunk, just my normal self.  I was certainly a little less loquacious than normal, however, because I was getting so peeved at her distractibility.  I mostly played and waited, and waited, in stony silence.  At some point, she exclaimed in exasperation, “Oh my God!  I can hear your thoughts and they’re driving me crazy!  You’re so, so damn intense.”
I certainly believe that some people do possess such ESP, but I’m quite sure she was not one of them.  If she knew what I was thinking about her rude behavior, she probably would have cracked me on the head with her cue stick.

Same Old Song and Dance

I’ve written about my friend Mike before on this site, and he’s on the Picture page of my blog.  Mike has a steady alcohol buzz throughout the day, yet rarely gets really hammered (as opposed to me, a binger).  His disability and (sold) food stamp money will last him about two weeks.  When it runs out, he won’t panhandle, instead walking around and checking the parking meters for errant change. 
He’s a slight fellow, but whatever toughness the Marines instilled in him over 30 years ago must have stuck.  He was hit by a car several months ago with enough force to throw him 10-15 feet, but he was largely unscathed. 
Even when we’re both sober, our conversations are punctuated with very frequent laughter.  He’s a cavalier jokester like me.  Here’s a conversation we had this morning, while he awaited the opening of Rite Aid (which amazingly sells alcohol in Maryland):
He greets me with a “What’s up, bud?” 
“You got the paper, of course.”
“Yep, and I always make sure you’re not around so you don’t know which machine’s broken.  I don’t want you beating me to the punch.”
“Oh, I think I know where you go, but it’s easier to just meet you here and read about the world in five minutes while you’re still on one stupid article in the Sports section.”
“You’ll be excited about today’s.  Tennis gets a whole paragraph!  Nadal beat Is-ner.  Serena lost.”
“I predicted both.”
I read briskly, in part because I’m somewhat of speed reader and big picture guy.  Also, The Baltimore Sun is so shallow that we’ve joked before that even when you get a free one, you still feel ripped off.  My main concern is that I know that he intends to be at the door of Rite Aid at 6:59.  As I’m on the last page, his time to depart has arrived.
“Alright, Bud.  Fork it over.”
“Seriously, you can’t wait three minutes until I finish?  They’re not gonna’ run out of your Nasty Ice.”
“I can’t take that chance.  You know how many other drunks will be in line?!”
“But man, I’m almost done with this article about Egypt.  I want to see if it has a happy ending.”
“I’m pretty sure it DOESN’T!”
“You could have at least given me a Spoiler Alert there.”
“You know Rite Aid worries about me if they don’t see me by 7:05.  I can’t screw up their beer order.”
“Shit, you’ve probably got that [mean] old lady listed as your next of kin.”
“Yep.  Not my sister, not the ex, not my boys.  ‘In case of emergency, notify Rite Aid’.”
“That cranky bitch’ll be identifying you at a morgue some day.  ‘Yeah, that’s Mitch.  Good riddance; son of a bitch always tried to pay with seven pennies’.”  (Their policy is five or fewer.)
“Son of a bitch?  You leave my mom out of this!  You’d be a bitch if I was your son too!”
“Suicide by the time you were five.  Hopefully, you’d have become a lucky orphan like Annie.  I could see you in a red dress with a red wig.  Odd look for a Mexican, though.”
He has an ongoing gripe that he’s always mistaken as at least part Mexican.
“Cross-dressing is your area, you goddamn Unitarian.  Now you’re eating into my time with my real best friend, and you haven’t made any progress on that article.”
“Alright, man.  Probably see you tomorrow. I know it’s 7 o’clock and you wanna’ rock; wanna’ get a belly full of beer.”
“Quoting Elton John. That’s exactly what I was talking about with the Unitarian joke. Take it easy, Dude.”
We will surely repeat the routine tomorrow.  Our jokes will be fresh, yet most likely follow the pattern of good-natured ribbing.
Egypt will also probably still be fucked up.

I Do Have My Political Future to Think About

As a popular guy, I necessarily have more people that like me than I care for.  In some cases, they’re people whom I loathe so much that I’d rather beat my head against the wall than talk to them.
I had a five minute conversation with one such person today, a conversation that was 4:55 too long for my liking.  When I ended it with a “Well, it was good seeing you again,” I was left with such a feeling of being a phony that I wondered if I could still self-identify as an authentic straight shooter.
In the future, perhaps I’ll just conclude such interactions with more honest farewells.  “Well, we saw each other and will probably do so again in the future.”  “We talked, but now I must go.”  “The next time I see you, I will risk getting hit by a car in crossing the street to avoid you,” however, is too mean-spirited.