Nickel Beer Night

Inebriation Isn’t Just an Adventure, Its a Career

Some of them do it once in a blue moon, some every now and then.  Some of them do it regularly, and some do it all the time.

Wednesday’s at Close Encounters. Yes he did, the Persian owner, Ezra, named it after a popular Spielberg flick.  I say owner, but in truth, his mom owned it.  He runs it so he can meet chicks.  Problem is, it’s in the middle of suburbia.  If you’re a stag female, sucking down brews in a mid-suburbia dive on Nickel Beer Night it means you’re married, overweight and angry.

Tina, the singer, designed and sewed costumes for everyone in the band.  Nobody asked her to do it, nobody ever hinted at it, but they arrived on Nickel Beer Night with high expectation.

The costumes consisted of long-sleeve beige turtleneck shirts and beige pants.  Each horrible shirt was hideously amplified by “artsy” themed-designs made of misshapen, sloppily sheared rayon sewed in random patches. A unique fluorescent color scheme for each band member.  The seams were bulging and some of the thread matched.

We started the set as usual, with a medium energy pointless pop number but there was magic in the air.  Although that might have been someone smoking pot.  It was the 80’s in California.  You could still smoke indoors in those days and the foul stench of sour smoke encrypted on your clothes when you went home at night was an added bonus.  Sticky floors, stained chairs and someone always passed out on the bar.  Ahhh, just like home.

There was a lovely “one big happy” family sitting in front of the stage, just off the dance floor. Frequent toasts and gulps, joyous laughter, crackling guffaws.

Beer is 5¢ a glass, and a dollar a pitcher from 8PM – 915PM.  If you’re a bartender, you know what this means.  People with only a dollar to their name come in and drink 20 beers in an hour and fifteen minutes.  Probably the worst drink promotion ever conceived.

By 10PM the initial friendly buzz of carbonated domestic swill has worn off and the violent uglies begin to emerge.  At the friendly, loud, squinting smile “one big happy” family table in front, all of a sudden the mom, late 50’s, and daughter-in-law, early 40’s, furiously jump to their feet.

Fire bellowing from all four eyes, in a blink clenched fists pummel wrinkled skin cheeks, smearing foundation and blush.  Arms swinging and flailing, profane screams of fierce acrimony released.  Strikingly more terrifying and vicious than ultimate cage fighting.  A couple of the men at the table get up seconds too late to pull them apart, but manage to rush them outside.

The band plays on, doesn’t stop, doesn’t miss a beat.

Mock Manager Mark is the self proclaimed manager of the band. A friend of Mark, the drummer, Mock Manager Mark professes to be the bands manager in an attempt to get free drinks whenever he attends one of our gigs. Never one to miss an opportunity, Mock Manager Mark goes outside to inspect and possibly wager.

Seconds later Mock Manager Mark and one of the female pugilists’ escorts fly through the door, tumbling across the dance floor.  Toppling tables over, flinging half empty glasses through the air, flipping the torn vinyl chairs upside down and more fists recklessly swing with abandon or poor drunken aim, you pick.

The band plays on, doesn’t stop, doesn’t miss a beat.

The two bleeding drunk strangers are pried apart, but two more fights break out across the room, people fighting about the fighting.  Enraged suds soaked patrons turn on each other in riotous dysfunctional union. Enraged fractious anarchy right here, in the middle of a bedroom community in sleepy South Orange County.

By the time police arrived, shattered glass was swept up, stained bent chairs and wobbling tables were put back in place and all members of the “one big happy” family had escaped.

Tina was pissed and a little hurt. Not one word about the new threads.

Another freaky night in the life of the working musician.

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