Category Archives: True Story

Conversations In Bars: The I.R.A.


Today’s Music: Neil Young – Keep On Rockin In The Free World

*Note on today’s post: As with everything that happens to me in a bar, this is as true as I remember it. However, unlike most of my bar stories, I was sober for this one.

Ah yes, here we are again...

Ah yes, here we are again…


It was a Tuesday afternoon when I showed up to hit on the bartender.
I’d seen her a few nights before, working the Sunday night shift. This particular bar, in a working class neighborhood, was an Irish hangout. Saturday night, the place was awash in uilleann pipe music, cameraderie and pints of Guinness.
A friend of mine brought me there. I had a blast. That night ended early the next morning at someone’s apartment, with a rum-soaked dash into the neighbor’s pool for a quick dip before the neighbor came out in his boxers to yell at us.
But that’s another story.
This is how it always starts.

This is how it always starts.


So after a bit of discreet investigation, I found out the bartender also worked the Tuesday day shift. I got there around 1 pm. The place was just about empty. I ordered a pint (mmm…afternoon drinking…) and waited for her to come back over so I could strike up a conversation.
While I was waiting, the guy who was sitting a bit down the bar wandered over and started talking. He’d started his afternoon drinking while it was still morning.

What followed was quite possibly the strangest real-life conversation I’ve ever had.

The Other Guy: Hello. Who are you?
El Guapo: Hey. I’m [name redacted].
TOG: Did they send you?
EG (looking a bit confused): Sorry?
TOG: Did they tell you where to find me?
EG: (Even more confused): Sorry, who?
TOG: Would it be easier for you if I turned around?
EG (Bewildered): Would what be easier?
TOG: To shoot me.
EG: (Lonnnng pause) Sorry man, I’m just here for a beer.
The guy makes one of those “oh, so that’s how it is” expressions. I, still bewildered go back to my beer, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
But The Other Guy wasn’t done.

TOG: I’ve been here over ten years, but I knew they wouldn’t forget. Now with all these peace talks, I knew they’d send someone over to clean up.
EG: Listen man, I’m just here to hit on the bartender
TOG: Sure you are. I guess it wouldn’t help if I tell you about my life here since I’ve been gone…

So for the next while, we chatted. He told me stories of the old country, of his kids. He told me about the construction business he’d built up.
The drink flowed freely.
I must have opened my mouth and spoke at some point, because eventually, he realized I was too much of an idiot to be anyone’s hit man.

The evening (yeah, we were there for a while) ended when he said he had to head off. I told him I needed food. He offered to give me his construction business.
I heartily agreed.

And that was the last I ever saw of him.

I could have built my very own Assassin HQ!

I could have built my very own Assassin HQ!


And the bartender? Apparently The Other Guy scared here and she didn’t want to mess around with any of his friends.
Meh.

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Worst. Theme Park. Ever.


Today’s Music:
Tom Petty – Runnin Down A Dream

Windowless. So the fun can't escape.

Windowless. So the fun can’t escape.


The fun starts in the parking lot! Grab a ticket. Drive up towards the guy who presumably works there. (The “Attendant” jacket is a clue.) Then find out that he either doesn’t, or doesn’t care. Find four spots. See that the other idiots have parked in two spots at three of them.
Wedge your way into the fourth spot.
Success!
Now the real fun begins.
The attendant at the DMV actually does pay attention. Unlike the old days, there is a kiosk. Tell the nice man what you want, and he’ll tap the correct key and a ticket will spit out, with a number.
If you’re really lucky, he’ll even have the form you need!

So I get my ticket and fill out my form. Then I wait. And wait. And wait.
Finally they call my number! I go to the window and tell them why I’m there. They say great! Make sure when we call you back, you stress what you’re here for, even if it’s me. Because I certainly won’t remember. Oh, and your wife can’t wait with you.
(Fortunately, I thought there might be waiting and asked her to bring her book.)
(Which she’d have done anyway.)
(God, I love that woman!)

So I sit.
And wait……..

Eventually, they call me again.
I sit down to take my test.
Twenty questions.
Over half of them are about driving and alcohol. I’ve been driving for over twenty years. I answer those questions easily.
Two of them are on road signs. I guess. Seriously, does anyone actually read the signs, or do we all just check the shape and color? Three of them are motorcycle-specific. I did study, so I answer those carefully and correctly.

Hand in the test, and…wait!
Sigh.
To recap: Enter, get a number ticket, sign in, take the test and hand it in.
Time to do this: 18 minutes.
Time spent at DMV so far (including waiting): 107 minutes.

Annnnnny Daaaaay Nowwwww................

Annnnnny Daaaaay Nowwwww…………….


I’m now waiting for them to grade my test and call me up to sign the form and tell me if I passed.
There is a woman doing this with a trainee. The two of them are having a grand old time, laughing and telling each other stories. In twenty minutes, four applicants are processed.
The trainee gets up to get another chair. He leaves the woman at the counter by herself for 9 minutes. Six more applicants are processed.
My turn!!!
“Did I pass?”
She looks back at the form.
“You did. 100%. First one on the motorcycle exam today. Now, sign here, and wait for your name to be called at the register.”
YIPPE– crap.

And I (sing it with me!) wait…

Finally they call me to pay.
“Can I use cash”
“Mumble mumble”
“Ok…how much do I owe you”
“mumble mumble”
“Sorry, how much?”
“TWENTY TWO FIFTY.”
I drop my money on the counter.
She makes change and hands me my permit.

Three hours after I arrived, I leave the DMV.

Next is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation two day course.
At least that ride has seats.

Hey, if Marcia could learn to not break the egg... (Please tell me you get that reference,)

Hey, if Marcia could learn to not break the egg…
(Please tell me you get that reference,)

Linda’s Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop


Today’s Music: Prisencolinensinainciusol (picked by todday’s author.)
Days Til Spring: 38

It’s no secret that I enjoy both drinking and traveling, and traveling to go drinking.
Today, Linda Vernon has taken time from her busy schedule of cheering up Edgar Allen Poe (He was very unhappy about the Pottery Barn’s intriguing story about him), and bringing us the cutting edge of thoughts that scientists are thinking about, to tell us why it’s so important to keep our traveling in mind when drinking.
(Even if she wants me to switch to Pepsi.)
So read! Enjoy! And stop by Linda’s site and follow!
(It’s the easiest way to get into her will…)

My Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop
by Linda Vernon
Drinking soda in the fifties was a lot different from today. First of all, soda came in a bottle. In Washington state, where I grew up, there was no such thing as drinking a can of soda. No siree!
We drank a bottle of pop or we drank nothing at all.

Back then, when you bought a bottle of pop, the pop was yours to drink — but you had to give back the bottle because you were merely renting it. After all, you had to pay a 2-cent deposit on it, for crying out loud, and not taking it back for a refund could seriously affect the budget.

So everyone always returned their pop bottles to get their two-cents back because two-cents in the fifties would buy enough gas to get you to Canada from anywhere in the United States.

The only people who drank out of a can were beer drinkers. But beer cans were worthless so beer drinkers didn’t worry about getting their deposit back. They would simply chuck the empties out of the window of whatever speeding vehicle they happened to be drunkenly swerving down the highway in.

Today, we would consider this drunk driving but in those days we simply considered it littering. And in the 1950’s, littering was America’s favorite pastime — as much a way of life as Polio, onesie gym clothes, and radio-active cleansing cream.

But whether you were drinking out of a bottle or drinking out of a can, you would have died of thirst in the 1950’s if you didn’t have one of these.

It was a combination bottle/can opener, and it was a wonderful little gadget. One end would pry off the caps of Debby and Bobby’s pop bottles while the other end would puncture a hole in Mom and Dad’s beer cans. (The only thing this can opener wouldn’t do is open a bottle of wine, but this wasn’t a problem because in the 50’s only Europeans drank wine.)

I think it’s fair to say that the bottle opener was as much a part of the foundation upon which the togetherness of the fifties family was built as smearing butch wax on crew cuts, stenciling on eyebrows or hiding under desks together to survive atomic blasts.

I remember my grandparents only drank Pepsi which they always referred to as Peps. Pepsi was for those who think young. Not only did my grandparents think young, they were young. When I was five, my grandmother was only 44. (Back then people started families way younger so they could get it out of the way quicker and have more time to drink Peps.)

Now let’s say you only drank half the Peps in that rented bottle of yours. What would you do? Well, instead of pouring it down the drain, you would save the remainder of the Peps by utilizing another ingenious type of gadget that people just referred to as that bottle thingy.

That bottle “thingy” I’m referring to was a rubber gasket that went into the top of the bottle to seal in the carbonation as well as that delicious Peps refreshing flavor. After all, you spent a whole dime for that bottle of Pepsi, and you wouldn’t want it to go to waste.

Not if you were ever going to afford that trip to Canada!

How to Make A Guap: Fire


Today’s Music: Red Fang – Number Thirteen

An irregular series on some of the misadventures – the highs and lows along the way that made me who I am, in case you’d like to make your own.
As always, these stories are true, or at least as true as I remember them.

This story takes place somewhere around 1980. I was between nine and eleven, I guess.
It was summer – the very beginning.
School had just let out.

Such a beautiful day. What could possibly go wrong?

Such a beautiful day. What could possibly go wrong?


I remember it being an exceptionally beautiful day. It was warm, the sun was out. Birds were singing, and I had the whole summer to play.
But first, I had to tend to the end-of-school chores. All the notebooks, the handouts, the loose papers and tests all had to be put away, or my parents would get very upset, and I’d have to spend the summer cleaning my room.

So I gathered them all together and put them in a garbage bag.
A paper garbage bag.
And then decided (like the young miscreant I was) that instead of throwing everything out, I could just burn them.

Next thing I know, my bed was on fire.

So a few minutes later, my sister sees me running by with a full teapot in my hand, turning and rushing up the stairs.
“What are you doing?”
“FIRE!” I shouted, heading to the blaze.

It had grown beyond the capabilities of a teapot.

I just had to ask...

I just had to ask…


So my sister grabbed me (thank god one of us had brains) and got both of us out of the house. At this point, you could se the tower of smoke coming out of the back window of my room.
My sister left me on the front lawn and ran up to the corner where she pulled the handle of the fire callbox.
Our next door neighbor was on the sidewalk just before the trucks came, and heard the sirens and saw the smoke. He thought my sister had been smoking, and that’s what caused the fire.
I have no idea how she answered.
20 minutes later, I was lying on our neighbors couch where he’d given us shelter. The firemen were in the house doing what they do.
My neighbors daughters, about my age, were giving a running inventory of stuff being hurled out the window of my flaming room.
“There goes a bed.”
“Oh, and some blankets!”
“Are those books?”
“There’s a lot of stuff…”

I may have asked them to shut up.

Eventually, the fire went out, my parents came home, and we headed back.
Somehow, my parents were kind enough to let me live that I could tell this tale all these years later.

One final note – for all the kids reading this: If you do something like this (please don’t) and live through it (you won’t, at the time, feel good about that), if your mother tries to ease herself and your dad by saying “well, we needed to change the carpets anyway”, DO NOT(!!!!!) say, “Oh, so this was kind of a good thing!”.

Trust me on that.

Yeah, there are easier ways to get one.

Yeah, there are easier ways to get one.