birra's Journal

birra's Journal


Honor: 13    [ Give / Take ]


3 entries this month

Seems like yesterday… but it was long ago…

06:50 Mar 29 2007
Times Read: 925

Sitting on my flight home, I consider what a friend just told me today.

“You’re a mystery.”

I have trouble with that observation, only because I consider myself so simple.

As I sip my drink I consider this: Do others really view me as mysterious? I wonder. I guess without asking directly I won’t know. But my introspective, I don’t look at getting to know me as the metaphorical equivalent of “peeling an onion.” More like, peeling an orange. You can get past the surface pretty quickly with little effort and without destroying what is inside.

That is, if one cares to.

But it’s not going to peel itself – it does require a little effort.

Lately I’ve been regressing. I’ve been finding myself reflecting on life. The things I’ve done and people I’ve known. My experiences and upbringing. My successes and failures, and there have been many of both… but I feel, more of the former.

My failures don’t bother me. Success and failure are intrinsically related – not as diametric opposites as one might casually observe. To find success in life, to find happiness, one must take risks. And with every risk taken there is a better than average chance that risk will ultimately lead to failure. In that regard, success and failure can be one in the same. But those that risk nothing, do they ever find success and happiness at all? Do they even have a chance to? Can success be defined without first knowing the pain of failure?

No, as I see it, the opposite of success is mediocrity and banality.

And I refuse to be mediocre; I can accept my failures and learn from them but I refuse to be boring.

I reflect on those past failures and successes when I have time to think; Sitting on a plane, driving in a car, working alone with nothing else to occupy my mind as I plow through routine tasks. In times of reflection I tend to work my psyche back into my youth. People do this, often without conscious effort they’ll surround themselves with things that they take comfort in – comfort foods, places they went in their youth, old friends.

I rediscover music I listened to when I was young. It’s just my way of going back and finding things that help me feel what I felt then. To reconnect and reconsider experiences past. It is completely conscious, but I find new meaning in the old as I move along in life.

“I remember what she said to me; how she swore that it never would end.

I remember how she held me oh so tight…I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

Isn’t it funny how our minds work? How things trigger our memories?

We all grow up different – no one’s experiences are the same and everything shapes who we are. It’s often during our development we ask the question, “who am I?” Then we spend years, sometimes decades trying to find that answer. Trying to define ourselves and not let others or society define us. And do we ever succeed? Can we ever define ourselves in our own mind or is who we are always a matter of how others perceive us? How many people ever truly get past not worrying at all about what other people think? I don’t think most of us do, and even through I’m older and more confident as a person I still care. I care about people, and their feelings, and how I affect them, and what they think of me. This I feel, many times, is my largest undoing in terms of intimate relationships.

Seems ironic, doesn’t it? The fact that I care about people and my friends actually leads to more difficulty in getting closer to the people that I’m interested in.

Should I expand on that? It might seem a dull dissertation. I’ll let it rest for now unless the question is posed to me.

We get older and life presses on. I’ve met a lot of young people here who express many of the same troubles I had when I was their age. My advice to them always is, nothing will seem as devastating in 10 years as it seems to you today. Keep your friends by your side – those are the truly important relationships. And if they don’t mature at the same pace you do and you drift apart, that’s ok too. You can’t recapture everything you’ve enjoyed in the past, but you will find new people and experiences to enjoy as you grow.

I’ve changed a lot as a person since my youth. My upbringing and the experiences of my adolescence would have seemed to have me destined to be in therapy as an adult. But I’ve managed to avoid it to now at least.

A lot of learning experiences and a lot of pain reshaped me in a hurry as I moved from adolescence to adulthood. I still might need that leather couch, but right now I have something better – a non-stop life that leaves me little time to think about my troubles.

“The years rolled slowly past, and I found myself alone.

Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends,

I found myself further and further from my home.

I guess I lost my way. There were oh so many roads.

I was living to run and running to live.

Never worrying about paying or even how much I owed.”

An almost perfect summation of my life as I get older I think. This song was always one of my favorites growing up.

My current life is busy – almost too busy to bear at times. I do find refuge in making new friends.

On this most recent trip I got to meet a couple of VR’ers, we had a great time. The conversation flowed and we laughed a lot. This is the best thing about being on the road. Experiencing people and places – learning, always learning. I try my best to listen and absorb what others can offer.

But now I’m flying home, possibly never to return to this area. I wonder if I will ever share an evening with these new found friends again.

It becomes a saddening thought to me – to have people, people that I enjoy, in my life physically so briefly. Virtual conversations, text and emotes are no replacement for sharing a meal, making eye contact and exchanging smiles with people you find and enjoy. This has happened with every chance meeting on the road so far – never a repeat visit.

But tomorrow is another day, another trip, another opportunity to make new friends in new places. Every day has become an adventure – I enjoy it and at the same time it troubles me. I love to travel and at the same time, I miss the comforts of home. I love to have new experiences every day and at the same time I look to something more stable to make my life feel more complete.

Yet, it hasn’t happened. Not that none of it isn’t there. I just haven’t found what I feel to be real satisfaction in my life.

Maybe I’m one of those restless souls that just has to keep moving – a drifter, always searching for something more but never finding what I truly want or perhaps when it comes down to it, I don’t even know what I want.

“Eight miles a minute for months at a time, breaking all the rules that we’d bent.

I find myself searching... searching for shelter again and again…”

I guess in a way it comes back to how I define myself, and like many others I sense all too often I define myself based on how others feel about me. I want to be appreciated, loved, desired… not hollow words, but physical demonstrations by people I feel the same about. And my life is all but void of just that.

Words are easy – to truly open up to a person and give that person everything you have is difficult. It is all too familiar a concept to me. Knowing you’re putting yourself out there, putting your heart on the line. And when it’s not returned in kind it can leave an emotional vacancy that might possibly never be satisfied.

Been there… look, my T-shirt says so.

Perhaps I do ask for too much. Maybe I’m just not emotionally aware enough to realize what is there is good – better than good, and better than I can expect.

Maybe I’m too hard to please and I’ll never be satisfied with anything anyone can offer me in terms of love, desire and passion.

Maybe I haven’t found the right person yet.

And maybe I never will.

Maybe the right person is before my eyes and I just don’t see it.

And maybe I already have met her and let her slip away in my clueless, bumbling way.

“I have so much more to think about… deadlines and commitments.

What to leave in… and what to leave out.”

So I guess my question becomes am I on the right path to find what makes me happy? Do we ever really know?

Whatever path I’m on, I’m going to make the best of it until it ends.

My travels and my life are always filled with surprises, so I guess I can always look forward to the next day, the next surprise – you never know what life has in store for you.




I had this dream, where I relished the fray.. and the screaming filled my head all day...

03:16 Mar 12 2007
Times Read: 956

Thursday March 8, 2007 - Some parts of the evening’s events have been excluded to protect the identity and integrity of some participants.


It all started with a hot dog on her head.

That’s right. A hot dog. Well, not a real hot dog. A hot dog Photoshopped on her head. Otherwise the picture was just wonderful. She is a stunning model, an amazingly creative artist and possibly an even better photographer. I know the type well – she puts so much of herself into creating works of art, she cannot be satisfied if she senses any imperfections. It becomes a struggle between the demands she places on herself and accepting what she views as an imperfection.

But what really grabs my attention is her personality. She gets me. Of all the people I come in contact with, very few truly get me.

I don’t think I’m that complex. Not at all. Perhaps even a little too simple. Maybe that is where others go wrong, and why they don’t get me. She does, and her sense of humor plays to that simplicity.

And that is why it all started with... a hot dog.

She asked me to judge one of her latest works; a self-portrait magnificently posed and photographed. Beautiful, creative, wonderful… but to her it was imperfect. She felt it was missing something.

“A hot dog,” I replied.

“A hot dog?” she questioned back?

“Yes, a hot dog. On a bun, with mustard and ketchup. And balancing on her head.”

I can’t even begin to describe the hysterical laughing fit seeing the end result left me in.

She gets me.

Another person that gets me is my colleague I am working with this trip, Etch. Etch is the kind of guy guys want to hang out with. Brash and confident – very open, open minded and always has a story to tell.

He doesn’t look for trouble… but trouble is always lurking nearby.

It’s been months since we’ve worked together so I already knew what the evening will involve. The main ingredients will be alcohol, women and a complete disregard for social and professional expectations. But I needed just that – to cut loose as much as possible. He needed this too. We have tough jobs, tough weeks and everywhere we turn someone has a request… a demand… we bounce in a rush from city to city to meet these demands.

Not this night. One night in a small town on the coast of Florida – no demands to meet the next day, no where important to be.

All the stars we aligned for this night to get a little crazy.

I left my hotel room, bidding a good night to my friend, anticipating what was ahead.

I met Etch in the parking lot while he finished a smoke.

“Where to?” I asked.

“I dunno man. Not much around here.”

“Dinner first? We can meet up with the vendor team for drinks and watch the launch afterwards.”

“Yeah, that sounds fine.”

I shrugged. I knew he didn’t care. Neither did I. Dinner wasn’t the goal. We could have stopped at 7-11 for microwave burritos and bought a case of beer. He didn’t care.

We stopped at a steakhouse near the hotel. Of course, the area was filing up fast with Daytona Bike Week just up the road. This small town’s hotels were booked and with all the visitors in town the restaurants near the hotel were just as busy.

We put our name on the list for a table and headed to the bar with the little flashing, vibrating pager they give you. I tossed it on the bar and we pulled up seats.

A young girl behind the bar stepped up to ask us what we want.

“What’s on tap?” Etch asked. The girl might as well have answered with “beer.” Budweiser is all he ever orders and it’s on tap everywhere. As she placed two amber pints in front of us, the woman sitting next to Etch began talking to him. Rather attractive woman; tall, thin, and a very energetic personality. The ambient noise of the restaurant made it difficult for me to hear their conversation – until their conversation revealed they both grew up in the same town in Ohio. The woman’s voice began to shrill with excitement as she started running down a list of familiar places that she believed would be just as familiar to him.

Although the woman seemed pleasant, I could see it in Etch’s eyes that this woman and their conversation was not at all fun for him. I’m not sure why though. Sure she talked a hundred miles per hour in a flighty, aimless fashion. But she was attractive, very friendly and I would guess, well on her way to being quite drunk. I thought she might have made a fun companion for the evening – someone more familiar with the where to go and what to do in this small town. Someone with the same mindset as us – cut loose and have fun. But when the pager started dancing on the bar letting us know our table was ready, Etch ended their conversation and we left her behind at the bar.

The smells of the restaurant were mouthwatering. The flames of the open grill danced as the sweaty chef tended to all sorts of meats sizzling on the hot, black iron grill.

“Man, look at those ribs. I know what I’m getting,” Etch said as we walked past tables full of vociferous patrons. Most wearing motorcycle garb and clothing emblazoned with Harley Davidson insignias.

We sat at our table and the hostess handed us menus. We looked over the selections and began catching up on our lives since the last time we were able to sit for a meal together. Etch is recently divorced. Just turned 40, but you would never guess it. His personality is that of someone who just got into college away from home and is experiencing life for the first time. He went on about the women he has been dating, showing me the sultry text messages they send him.

“This one is a school teacher,” he says. “Dances on the side – makes a guaranteed $300 a day. Guaranteed! Probably brings home close to $700 a day.”

More… no, a LOT more than we make for busting our asses performing highly skilled technical work I think to myself.

“Yeah, so I’ve been seeing her for a while. She’s got great tits man, all natural…”

His thoughts are interrupted by the waiter.

“S’up ya’ll? Welcome to Durangos. Can I get you guys a refill on your beers or something else to drink before you order?”

“Sure… yeah.. umm, two more Budweisers.” Etch chimes back.

“You got it my man, be right back.”

“So where was I?” Etch continues. “Oh, dude… she’s fantastic. 33 years old, but looks like she’s about 25.” He continues into telling me how they met, their first date, which of course ended up in his bed.

“Here’s your drinks gentleman, and a couple of complimentary napkins. These are your napkins – FREE – with your drinks tonight.” The waiter jokes as he returns with two more pints.

“Oh? So we can take these home with us?” Etch jokes back.

“You can do whatever you like with them. They’re yours to keep! You guys about ready to order?”

“Yeah, I’m going to have the baby back ribs, Caesar salad and the broccoli.” Etch responds.

“Ok, you got it my man. And how about you sir?”

“Grilled salmon, Caesar and the broccoli as well please.”

“Alright, I’ll be back in about 120 seconds with some bread.”

Etch breaks out his digital camera to share pictures with me.

“Bet you can’t guess where this was taken.” He hands over the camera, the LCD displaying a picture of him with his kids on what looks to be a curved ramp. The oddly shaped walkway looks like it drops off behind them.

“The arch in St. Louis?” I reply

“Yeah! Man, what a trip that was.” I hand the camera back to him. “And look, this is the contraption you have to get into to get up there. You sit in it and SHOOOM, it takes you right up to the top of the arch.”

“Here is your bread gentlemen.” The waiter says while placing a cutting board with a steaming loaf of multi-grain bread and butter on the table.

“That was 121 seconds,” I say to the waiter, “so is this free too?”

“Ha! Yeah, you get that for free too! I’ll try to be on time next time!” he jokes back. “Your meals will be out shortly.”

Etch continues showing me pictures – his Air Force duty, flying on a refueling plane, loading bombs on a plane for exercises. Pictures of a night out with the guys and one of his compatriots vomiting all over the side of their van.

“That was just the beginning of his night!” he quips.

The waiter returned with our meals and we dove in. It was a long day of work and we usually don’t eat much while working. It was already 8PM when we sat down at the table so the conversation took a back seat to the bountiful meals on the table.

Just about quarter to nine, Kristin called. She is one of the vendor reps we’re working with on the job. She was just getting out of work and wanted us to join her for dinner. I told her where we were, which was just a block from our hotel, and we would wait for her. In the meantime, we asked for our checks and headed back to the bar for another beer.

Kristin wanted to join up with two of her colleagues at the restaurant they went to for coffee. That was on the shore, and they were having a rocket launch off the cape tonight so we figured we’d have a pretty good view from there to see it. The launch was set for 9:47PM. Kristin joined us at the bar a little impatient and wanted to get going, so we started following her out. We were almost out the door when it occurred to us, we never paid our check.

So of course we went back and after some detective work, we found our waiter, paid our check and were off. Since the restaurant was so close to the hotel we had Kristin drop off her car and we took my rental. I tend to drive with a heavy foot, so we made the 4 mile drive out to Route 1 in no time.

We settled into the more familiar restaurant – we had eaten here the night before. Kristin’s colleagues, Julia and Wendy were already there enjoying a cappuccino. Etch said to order him a Budweiser then wandered off to make a phone call or two. I ordered a Corona and before I got 3 sips into it, my phone rang so I stepped outside to do the same. I walked down Route 1 while on my call, watching the motorcycles roar north and south along the strip – either heading to Daytona or on their way back from it. It was getting close to 9:30PM and a good sized crowd had gathered along the shoreline on the other side of the highway to watch the launch. I started to make my way across the busy road and noticed the rest of the team coming out of the restaurant to do the same.

We stood on the sandy, grassy field until about 9:45PM when one of the police officers told the crowd the launch had been post-poned until 10:10PM. The gathering made a collective groan and we set back towards the restaurant to finish our drinks and pay our bills.

The restaurant closed at 10:00PM, they let us finish up and we walked towards the shore across the highway again. An even larger crowd had gathered. Etch used to work at the Cape, he’s seen launches, but no one else on our team had. Shortly after 10:10PM, the launch got underway. A brilliant light illuminated the island in the distance, and the rocket, about the size of the point of a thumbtack from our vantage began its journey upward. We watched it arch over the earth, break through the stratosphere and vanish into the night sky.

Definitely one of those events where the anticipation is more exciting than the event.

Kristin backed out of any other festivities for the night. Her team took her back to the hotel. Etch broke out the GPS and started scrolling through possible locations to get the night started.

“Ok, how about this place – New York, New York? Sounds like a cabaret.” Etch said pointing to the screen.

“I don’t think so. If you want something like that… look, Jessica’s Blue Room Lounge. Now that sounds like a cabaret.”

“How do you know?”

“Gut. Trust me. Set it and let’s go.”

The GPS started barking out directions and I drove. Heading back south on 1 to highway 50… going back towards the hotel. I figured that was good, shorter drive home later.

Time was on our side. It was just about 10:30 so we had time to explore. The GPS lead us to where the Blue Room Lounge should be, but… the entire plaza was under construction and it looks as though the lounge is no more. To our right stood a larger building decked out in neon bar lights.

“Heeey… are those beer signs I see over there?” Etch said as if he had found the lost ark among a rack of Rubbermaid totes at Wal-Mart.

“Sure look to be. The Gold Lion, eh? That didn’t even come up on the list, did it?”

“Hey, it’s a bar. Lets go. If it’s lame, we have one drink.. maybe a shot.. and leave.”

I pointed the nose of the car toward the other side of the parking lot and we hit the Gold Lion. Walking into the smoke filled bar, there wasn’t much activity. A table of friends sitting and conversing. A couple people playing pool. An older, dark haired lady cleaning up the bar area, and the bartender. The bartender was a very young blonde girl, quite attractive. We sat at the end of the bar, away from the people already there, and once I got a look at the bartender’s ass, I knew Etch wouldn’t be leaving that seat.

“Hi!” She greeted us. “What can I get for ya tonight?”

I could read Etch’s mind as to what he wanted to answer that question with. I wanted to give her the same answer.

“Ah.. you have Budweiser on tap?” he asked. Doesn’t every bar in America have Budweiser on tap?

“Sure do, “ she replied, “and what for you?” she asked me.

“Same is fine.” I answered.

Without a moment of haste, she had a pint in front of each of us.

Etch turned to me and said, “Ok, we have to do some shots.”

“Have to? I do have to go back to work in the morning, I don’t get to fly home like you.”

“Awww, common’. At least one.”

Who was I to argue? The first round of Jagermeister shots were ordered.

“We have to toast to something.” Etch demanded.

“Uhh... to drinking?”

“No, something more significant.”

“Uhh… to honor?”

Etch chuckled. “Yeah, but we already did that one.”

“Ok, how about a toast to not going crazy, not getting killed doing what we do, and hopes to meeting a new girl at every port?”

“Yeah. Cheers dude.”


Shots don’t bother me when I drink them. You’ll never see me make the twisted face of pain that Etch made on that shot of Jaeger. I guess I have that one up on him.

Spurred on by my toast selection, we start discussing my complete lack of success in the meeting women department. I don’t have the answers; I just know what I’ve experienced. He goes on to tell me the story of a Delta stewardess he met in Colorado, she bought him a drink, they hit it off, one thing led to another. I don’t know if he expected this story to cheer me up or give me inspiration, but it did neither.

All I know is those things simply never happen to me. A girl across the bar looks in my direction and buys me a drink? In what dimension of space and time? Certainly not the one I’m living in.

The conversation led into how miserable airline attendants must be having to work that job. I disagreed, but Etch insisted, based on this experience and knowing this woman, that they simply must be very dissatisfied with their vocation.

I finished my beer and headed to the restroom. When I returned, a fresh beer was waiting for me, and a Jager shot.

“I bought you another beer. Figured you’d need the chaser after this shot.”


We raised the shots, and downed them.

“Ok, next one is your choice,” Etch said.


Etch grimaced. “Oh no…” he said, “no Jack, no Crown… that stuff can ruin my life.”

“Well, then you choose. And no more Jager.”

The bartender came near our side of the bar and Etch struck up a conversation with her.

“What’s your name?”

“Loraine,” she replied.

“What’s going on tonight, Loraine?”

She didn’t take that question as Etch meant it; she took it a little more literally.

“Three Olives is in doing a promotion for their new cherry vodka. It’s good. We have some free shots, would you like one?”

“Sure! Free is good!” Etch was happy to hear that. Loraine returned with small plastic cups of a lime green liquid.

“What’s in it?” Etch asked.

“Does it matter?” I asked him. “She’s not going to serve us poison, just jump in and down it.”

The shot was sweet and tasted like melon.

“Man.. what was that?” Etch demanded.

“It’s called a honeydew something… it’s vodka, melon liqueur and pineapple juice.” The bartender said smiling. When she smiled, this solitary dimple appeared on her right cheek just below her eye.

“Loraine, did you go to school for bartending?”

“No, I just started working here and the owner, she’s an amazing bartender and she taught me.”

“So do you just know the basic drinks or do you know off the wall stuff? Like, I was in this bar in Atlanta and the bartender mixed me this drink, he called it the Blue Motherfucker. Do you know that one?”

“Hmmm…” she pondered it, “never heard of it. What’s in it?”

“I don’t know. It was a little of this and a little of that and topped off with a blue liquor for coloring. Looked like the guy was making a Long Island… then he gave it to me and it was blue. I asked him what it was, he said, ‘That’s a Blue Motherfucker. Just drink it.”

Loraine turned around and grabbed a book of drink mixes off the back of the bar. She grabbed two jell-o shots off of a tray behind her and put them in front of us. She looked up the “Blue Motherfucker” to no avail, it wasn’t in the book. She seemed disappointed.

“I’m sure it was something he just concocted, or maybe he calls it one thing but the book calls it something else.” I reassured her.

“Yeah, that happens a lot.” She said as we finished the jell-o shots.

Customers demanded her attention. The bar was starting to fill in as the time approached midnight. She walked away leading to a discussion of her name… the only Loraine I ever knew was a very old woman I worked with. Etch had only heard the name from “Back to the Future.” We also discussed her dimple, both agreeing it was one of the sexiest, unique features we’d ever seen, but over-shadowed by her ass.

Etch went off to the restroom and I observed some of the crowd around us. One of the other employees watching over the bar grabbed a remote, pointed it at the juke-box and raised the volume to the point where it almost drowned out the noise of the bar-goers.

Etch returned to his seat. He turned to me and joked, “You know when you’re standing next to a guy at the urinal, it’s usually complete silence?”


“Well, I like to say shit like, ‘Damn, water’s deep.” He chuckled, “One time the guy I was standing next to, without missing a beat said, ‘Cold too.”

I laughed quietly and replied, “You know what’s even better? Next time say, ‘I don’t mind the water being so cold, by why do they put so many bends in the pipes?”

Etch laughed out loud. “That’s a great one! Can I use it?”

“Sure, it’s free license.” I replied laughing with him.

Loraine returned to us, probably sensing we weren’t done throwing money at her. She brought us two more melon shots and without asking refilled our beer glasses.

“So, Loraine, that’s a very unique name,” Etch commented, “seems kind of old fashioned for such a young girl. How old are you anyway?”

She didn’t answer the question directly, but offered, “Yeah, a lot of people tell me that. I’ve only known a couple other Loraine’s, excluding Back to the Future.”

We both laughed and downed our melon shots.

“Ok, Loraine,” Etch announced. My immediate thoughts were he was going to proposition her to meet him at the hotel later, but then he continuted, “two shots of Crown.”

“Straight or chilled?”

Etch looked at me. “Oh, I don’t care. Whichever.” I responded.

“I’d prefer chilled.” Etch chimed in his preference.

“Ok, chilled.” I concurred.

Loraine grabbed the nearly empty bottle of Crown Royal off the bar and poured the remains over ice in her drink mixer. She shook it vigorously and then poured the golden brown liquid into two double shot glasses.

Etch picked up his glass, “We really need to toast something on this one.”

I looked at Loraine, raised my glass and said, “To Loraine’s ass!”

“YES!” Etch exclaimed. “To Loraine’s ass!”

“Would you like me to walk away so you can watch my ass while you toast?” she asked.

“You bet.” I replied.

So she walked from us down the entire length of the bar, slightly bent to stick her ass towards us. Her skin tight jeans showed off every curve. She knew she was hot, but seemed like one of those girls who wouldn’t admit she knew how hot she was until someone expressed how hot they found her to be first. Her exaggerated wiggle as she walked from us was an Oscar worthy performance. We couldn’t even drink our shots, mesmerized by the sight.

“What? You guys were supposed to drink those shots while I walked away!” she said as she turned back to look at us.

“We couldn’t.” I responded back to her. “Come back here and do it again!”

She willingly complied.

This time not so dramatically, but sexy and seductive just the same. We clinked our shot glasses together and downed them quickly so we could return our eyes to the sexy woman showing off for us. I know she enjoyed the attention.

We finished our beers a little slower, but finished them. Time was slipping away. I looked at my cell phone, it was going on 1AM. Through the conversations and flirting with Loraine I hadn’t noticed the bar changing around us. It was crowded now – filling in with men dressed in motorcycle gear, leather jackets. Men and women covered in tattoos… smoking, drinking and enjoying the night. The older lady who had been sitting to my right at the bar was no longer there. I didn’t notice, but now the spot was occupied by two guys with long hair, dressed in leather.

I leaned over to Etch and said, “Hey. This guy sitting here to my right. I’m thinking, Ozzy Ozborne circa 1975.”

Etch put down his beer and said, “Holy shit, I was trying to place him. You are so right!”

Etch leaned across the bar and called to the man, “Dude! Dude! Hey man!”

It took a second or two for the guy to realize Etch was talking to him, but when Etch finally had his attention he asked, “You know, I’ve been sitting here looking at you trying to figure out where I know you from, but I couldn’t place you. Then I just thought, man, do you realize you look exactly like a young Ozzy Ozborne?”

The man chuckled a bit. “Yeah, I get that a lot. Like Blizzard of Oz from 1981. I actually won an Ozzy Look-Alike contest.”

Etch laughed and continued a conversation with him. I headed back to the restroom. Swaying through the now crowded bar, sometimes you don’t realize just how much the drink if effecting you until you get on your feet.

What is the old joke? I’m not drunk as long as I can hang onto the floor without falling off? So I wasn’t that drunk… yet.

I returned to my seat to find a fresh beer and Loraine was pouring out 4 shots in front of us. Apparently Etch decided to buy a round for his new friends. We all raised our glasses to each other.

“Gimme a dollar dude, I only have a twenty.” Etch said as he nudged me.

“Why do you need a dollar?”

“I’m going to the juke-box and putting on some Ozzy for our new friend. HA!”

I reached into my pocket and took out my money, peeling off three dollar bills and handing them to him. With a thanks and a whack on my shoulder he scooted off to the juke-box.

Loraine returned to my side of the bar. “Everything ok? You need anything else?”

“Sure. You have any of those melon shots? I don’t think our new friends here have tried those yet.”

She spun around and grabbed a metal pitcher and four double shots, poured one for each of us and set them in front of us. Ozzy and his friend raised their glasses towards me. I nodded and left mine sit, waiting for Etch to return. I turned towards the juke-box; Etch was talking to a woman there. Attractive girl, dark hair, glasses. From the distance it appeared they were going over the selections in front of them on the juke-box.

Shortly thereafter Etch returned to his seat.

“Man, they didn’t have any Ozzy.”

“Impossible, they have to have some.”

“No, nothing. It’s all alphabetical, there wasn’t any there.”

“Bullshit. How could a bar like this not put ANY Ozzy in the juke-box? Bottoms up, I’ll go find some.” We raised our shots and drank them. I pulled a dollar out of my pocket and went to the juke-box to look for myself. Through the O’s, nope... no Ozzy at all. But did the drunk bastard look for Sabbath? Of course not, and there it is. Soul Our Souls For Rock ‘N Roll – only 2 plays for a dollar? Damn, these things are getting stingy. I put on Paranoid and War Pigs and returned to my seat.

“Got it man. You didn’t look for Sabbath, did you?”

“No, they had it?”

“Yeah, you’ll get your songs after it gets through everything you programmed in.”

“Alright man! That calls for a round.” He signaled Loraine and asked for a round of Crown. These were not chilled but at this point, they could have been butane and would have gone down easily.

While I was at the juke-box Etch had made new friends. He introduced me, but I have no idea what their names were now.

“Dude, check this guy out. Nick Nolte? Yeah?”

The guy he was introducing me to did have a striking resemblance to Nick Nolte. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Nick Nolte was standing with an Asian looking man, who was also introduced to me. Then two guys playing darts, covered in tattoos – apparently the one was also from Etch’s home town, the other was from Boston.

Is anyone even born in Florida anymore or does everyone who lives there move there from other places?

I stepped outside for a bit. The smoke was getting to me. Nick Nolte and his Asian friend followed me and we talked. The details of the conversation I can’t recall but soon after, the brunette Etch had been talking to at the juke-box came outside with Loraine. They were arm-in-arm and joking around with a guy dressed in nothing but New York Yankees apparel.

Nick Nolte nudged me and said, “Yeah, they’re an item.”


“Loraine and Amber.”


“Yeah. Watch,” he called to her, “Loraine! Kiss her!”

Loraine turned to Nick Nolte, then turned back towards Amber and put her arms around her. The two girls embraced and then kissed. This of course created a bit of an uproar amongst the guys standing outside the bar. Cell phones were drawn and everyone started taking pictures of the two girls kissing.

After the commotion settled, they returned to the inside of the bar and so did I. It was going on 3AM, time to wrap it up. But I knew I’d have to drag Etch away.

I found Etch who was laughing and talking it up with his new group of friends.

“Hey man – where you been? Did you know Loraine and Amber are girlfiends?”

“Yeah, I just found that out outside.”

“Dude, you missed it. They were going at it right here at the bar.”

“Nah, I saw the second showing outside.”

Without much coaxing Amber leaned over the bar to kiss Loraine again. With a little more warning this time, I got a picture of it too. Hey, why not? I had no idea how much of this night I would actually remember.

“You know,” Etch began to explain, “Amber is married to that guy over there,” he motioned toward the man wearing the Yankees apparel, “but she and Loraine are doing each other. You just know he’s getting it from both sides.”

Looking at the guy, I wouldn’t for the life of me know what the attraction would be or how he could possibly be so lucky to be in that position. I guess it’s not for me to know.

Etch then pulled out his trusty digital camera he takes with him everywhere. Photo after photo of bar patrons and girls making out. When did he have time to take all these?

“It’s past three. We need to get going. I have to be at the hospital by nine and you have a flight to catch.”

“Yeah, I know. Ok, just one more shot. Jagerbomb?”


Etch motioned to Loraine again who quickly mixed us Jagerbombs. We clinked our shot glasses.

“To a great night and new friends.” Etch toasted.

“You got it.”

We drank the shots. Etch called to Loraine to settle the tab. I wasn’t going to let him pay for all this alone, so I walked around to the other side of the bar, asked Loraine to split the bill and gave her my credit card. She handed me receipts to sign. Surprising small amount for how much we drank. I gave her a ten for a tip, thanked her and returned to the other end of the bar as she handed the receipts to Etch.

“That’s it?” Etch asked.

“I split it with you. Just pay it and shut up.”

“Oh, thanks man. Cool.” Etch filled out his receipt. “How much should I tip her?”

“I gave her ten.”

“Give her ten? No, how about twenty?”

“No, I said I gave her ten.”

He handed the receipts back to Loraine along with a twenty.

I shook my head. I know he still didn’t understand me. We finished the last of our beers and staggered back to the car. It was a short distance to the hotel. Cranking Fun Loving Criminals, the drive was a quick blur.

Once we returned, we unwound out side and had a couple of smokes.

“Man, what a night.” Etch said.

“Yeah, good times.”

“Alright man, be up on time to take care of what you need to so you can get the hell out early tomorrow.”

“Nah, I’ll probably hang out anyway. If I change flights I’ll lose my first class seats at this point. Besides.. eighty here, thirty at home.”

“Yeah, I hear ya. Alright, well, I’ll call you in the morning when I get to the airport.”

“Alright man, safe travels.”

“You too. Man, Atlanta in two weeks? Lets do this again.”

“HA! You know it!”




The Imaginary Birra?

18:25 Mar 05 2007
Times Read: 970

I LOVE my friends. Honestly I do. The people I have met through VR are some of the funniest, intelligent most imaginative people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know.

But, birds of a feather, right?

What you are about to read is an imaginary conversation one of my friends here at VR had with.. me... completely from her own mind. And she sent it to me... I guess this should give me some insight as to how she views me.. and it just might if I can stop laughing long enough to analyze it!

For perspecitve sake, "ME" is the author.. "IB" is the Imaginary Birra... enjoy!


Me: So, how are your holidays?

IB:They're good...I guess....Usually when they happen I just seal myself in protective cocoon and lay somewhere warm.

Me: That's great, that sounds nice and peaceful.

IB: Yes it is, so long as some asshole doesn't pick me up and rattle me then stick me in a jar and wait for me to come out.

Me: Yeah...That sucks.

IB: Oh well, that's life you know?

Me: Oh sure, it is life....But isn't it pretty good anyway?

IB: Yeah, yeah it is.

Me: You need a backrub...Badly.

IB: How do you know I haven't had one recently?

Me: Well, if you did get one it was a bad one.

IB: I suppose a backrub would be nice.

Me: Are you ticklish?

IB: I'm not going to tell you.

Me: Why not?

IB: Because if I'm ever around you again you'll bother me about it either way.

Me: No I won't, you're just paranoid.

IB:You know, sometimes I just wish the world would stop moving and I could stop for a minute, but then I remember that if I don't keep moving constantly my heart will stop.

Me: So if you had a backrub you would have to be moving around while it happened?

IB: No, if someone, preferably a very sexy woman is touching me, I stay alive.

Me: It's a miracle.

IB: So I've been told.

Me: So when are you going to come out of your shell? Sometimes you're more self conscious than I was at age 16

B: I don't know, I guess I just let things

get to me or something deep like that.

Me: Well I wish you would, you're one of the greatest people I've ever met.

IB: Hmmmmm.................................................

Me: What?

IB: I'm sorry, I was lost in strange feelings and a fluffy world divided by cotton candy borders.

Me: What does that mean?

IB: None of your business.

Me: Okay, well.........What should we talk about now?

IB: Hmm, I don't know what do you feel like talking about?

Me: I'm not really sure, it's 1:44 in the morning, maybe I should go to bed because Will is sick and I know I'm going to get it and that sucks.

IB: That's cool I guess, well not that you'll probably get sick, more that I've kept you awake until 1:44 in the morning and I'm not even the real thing.

Me: I know, it's a shame. Well I guess I'll go to bed, and hopefully have a dream as equally interesting as the one where you were satan and death at the same time.

IB: Doesn't get much more interesting than that.

Me: No, no I don't really think it does. Well I hope you sleep well and all of that, on a side note Will just said "Nipples" in his sleep, I don't know why.

IB: That's facinating, absolutely breathtaking.

Me: I'll try to record it for you some time, it really is a wonder of nature.

IB: that would be great.

Me: Okay, well maybe we'll end up talking again sometime, it was interesting, and if you ever have questions you can ask me. Although I'd perfer it if the real thing asked me because it would be weird this way.

IB: Sort of like truth or dare, only without the dare.

Me: Yeah otherwise we'd end up pouring applesauce down our shirts, (Don't ask about that...)

IB: I won't...or maybe not right now. I might sometime, I mean I can't guarantee that I won't ask...

Me: Okay, well, that's fine. I hope you sleep as well as an Imaginary Birra can and I'll...Go to sleep too.

IB: Okay, Goodnight.

Me: G'night!



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