I mentioned yesterday that I played some beach volleyball Saturday night at our local hangout where they have 2 sand courts. There's an outside bar as well, and several tables tented over along with a pool table. Plenty of room to hang out, chill, ponder the mysteries of the universe while sipping some post-game suds. Almost Nirvana.
Speaking of which, Saturday night there was a band playing there. They did that a few times last year, not always successfully, but this night the place was packed, even with an absurd $3 cover to get in. We paid, found we had 8 people who wanted to ball, and started playing even as there was rocking and rolling going on just behind us.
The first of what may be many asides: The combo playing within was a Led Zeppelin cover band. Now, I like Led Zep well enough. Rock and roll titans. And the band Saturday night was pretty good, from what I heard of them. The thing is, Led Zeppelin hit its stride about 35 years ago. I find it somewhat remarkable that, nearly two generations later, there are still people out there devoted enough to Led Zep to base their whole act around them. And the place was packed, mostly with young twentysomethings, so it isn't like these guys don't know what the audience likes.
My point is this: back in 1975, were there Andrews Sisters cover bands going to bars singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"? The time gaps are about the same. Were there stoned-out-of-their-minds slackers hanging out at Bicentennial celebrations swaying back and forth as three perky women belted out the "Beer Barrel Polka"?
Talk of people stoned outta their minds leads me to aside number two: After we finished playing we sat at some of the tables right by the courts and had a few beers, but it got friggin' cold and was soon unbearable. We went back into the bar itself, which is open-air but has a roof and is warmed by two big propane-tower thingys that kick out lots of warmth. There were five of us in a circle chatting about this and that, when out of the corner of my eye I spot this tall guy wearing a T-shirt with the band's name on it walking toward us. Well, "walking" is perhaps a bit generous. "Teetering" and/or "tottering" would be more appropriate. He shuffled forward, obviously intent on joining our little group for some reason, but in a world moving at 45 RPM he was definitely an LP set for 33. It took him about fifteen minutes to cover the fifteen feet to reach us, but when he arrived he'd certainly got our attention.
"Does...anyone...want...some...moonshine," he asked.
Not something you often hear in a bar, one of the patrons offering you a drink. Couple that with the fact that he'd directed his comment most directly at two young women we were chatting with and it was even more bizarre. The two ladies politiely declined, and my friend Rick asked if it was stuff he brewed himself.
He started talking, but I admit my mind wandered. At what point in the game do you you start bringing moonshine along when you're going to a bar?
? Had he had many bad experiences where he went to an establishment but their roster of intoxicating agents wasn't up to par? I mean, I know that Al
has, on occasion, emptied an establishment of all the SoCo on the premises, but has he gotten to the point where he's bringing his own bottles when he goes out? No, because I think that Al, and most of us who enjoy the odd tipple, are optimists when it comes to the availability of booze. When I hit a bar I don't go through the door worrying that they're gonna run out of beer. I have Faith.
Back to the staggering drunk. Rick couldn't resist questioning this guy, and he soon produced a Mason jar filled with an ominously clear liquid. He unscrewed the lid, and I swear I saw vapor rising. I caught a whiff of it, and thought it smelled like some kind of solvent used to degrease industrial turbines. The guy took a small but still wince-inducing swig. We were standing about 10 feet from the propane heater, and the guy was smoking a cigarette, and I took a step back expecting the guy to start spontaneously combusting. But no flames appeared, and he soon staggered off to talk to a bunch of girls sitting at the bar.
Another quick aside: As I was driving to the bar I was listening to Elvis Costello, and there's a line in the song "In The Darkest Place" that goes, "You may laugh...but pretty girls look right through me". As I returned from the restrooms back to my friends and beer I passed a trio of young fetching ladies. They walked past me without even acknowleging the fact that I was an obstacle in their way. At least cower in fear a little, please. I have been given much sage advice on this subject by my friend Jeff, I must make a careful study of it, incorporate it into my personal ethos. And start doing more push-ups.
All in all I had a good time. Played a bit, drank a bit. Why is it that drinking outside with sand between your toes is such a pleasure? As is drinking after an hour's exercise. Not such a difficult question, is it?