Archive for 7th January 2007

Pass The Plate

There I was, minding my own business…

Okay, so I was married to my ex-wife, forthwith referred to as the PBFH (Psycho Bitch From Hell). Let’s start by saying that there was a significant difference in our age, my being younger, and she being insanely jealous.

That being said, one day she wanted me to go with her to meet some friends of hers from work. They lived out in the country, and had a trampoline and stuff the step-kids could keep themselves busy with.

There were two couples there, with kids of their own. All the kids went farting around the house with the trampoline, then motorbikes, and other stuff. The other couples were nice, very happy people, having already drunk a great deal of wine before we got there. We had a nice dinner, and a few too many glasses of wine ourselves. The kids, meanwhile, had gone with the other couples’ kids down to another kids’ house, and wouldn’t be back for several hours.

After dinner, one of the women there suggested a game of ‘Pass The Plate.” I’m the first to admit to ignorance, but neither the PBFH nor I had any idea of what “Pass The Plate” was.

One of the women brought out a dinner plate. Not the kind of thing that would survive being dropped. Of course, how could you possibly drop it?

Each woman was placed behind a man other than their significant others. You picturing this yet? Each woman was behind a man other than their spouses.

The idea behind “Pass The Plate” was for each woman to stick their hands down the pockets of the man in front of them, and to pass the plate sideways to the other couple. Once at the end, the plate would come the other way, and the men would go behind the women and do the same. This would be done until someone dropped the plate. It was a game of attrition. The last couple having not dropped the plate would be the winner.

Bottom line was for each couple to fondle each other through their pockets as they passed the plate. Not mentioning that particular point, it wasn’t too hard to draw the conclusion myself.

Well, here’s where I started to panic. PBFH didn’t worry me, she had her own man to contend with. Can’t point fingers when you’ve been doing the same thing. The problem was that I was wearing old jeans, with the pockets worn clean through, and I went “camo.” This means no underwear for you boys and girls.

I’m not going to go into the obvious details here, but I will say that seemed like one of the longest party games I’ve ever played. That plate seemed to be in front of me for a long, long time.

Of course, I hated every minute of it. ::: cough ::: So did the woman behind me, because she jiggled that plate as long as she could. I’m sure she was just hesitant to drop the plate. And it’s damned hard to grip a plate when someone has wood behind it pushing it out away from your hands.

It was a long, long game. Did I mention that? You can draw your own conclusions about how the rest of the game, er, played out.

So next time you and your adult couples friends decide to hang out and try to think of a party game, I’d suggest this one. Presuming you weren’t going to face death from your significant other afterwards.

That’s my story and I’m sort of sticking to it.

You can’t go home again.

I was feeling homesick a while back.

After some time went by, I started thinking about what that really meant. I think homesick is a yearning for things you’ve done, wish you hadn’t have done, or wish you could have done differently. It’s not so much of a place, but of a feeling, of a time.

If I’m realistic, all my old hangouts have become something else, like parking lots now. There weren’t many friends, as I was always somewhat a solitary person. I liked being around people, but not really with people. Sometimes not even around people. I was invisible in school, and just worked a lot. Some of those people were close to me, but those ties just wore away with time.

Then there were others who I unexpectedly outlived. Tom, Marvin, Vince, Melody, Kathy and more. Kind of wish I could go back and make my peace with some of them.

The times I have tried to reach back through time, I’ve just mostly pissed off the people I was trying to reconnect to. Time glosses over your memories, and you forget how much you’ve hurt someone or how much they’ve hurt you.

I remember coming out of a store once, and seeing a harvest moon. Fat, orange, and huge, hanging in space above me. I’ve never seen one like it again.

Wanting to go home is a little like that. It becomes huge in your memory, but you don’t get to go home again.

Fort Wayne

On smoking a pipe…

I’m no expert on pipes, but this has been my experience, and maybe you can benefit from it.

I switched from cigarettes to a pipe about a year and a half ago. Smoking a pipe is much different than smoking cigarettes.

First, you don’t inhale, unless you enjoy being wracked with coughing fits. Second, between cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, pipes are the least harmful of the three. Third, it’s relaxing watching the smoke curl up slowly and thickly. Kind of Zen. Fourth, smoking a pipe is like joining a cult, or so my wife says, and she’s right.

Not many people smoke pipes anymore, so you tend to stand out from others. It requires more doodads than a cigarette or a cigar. There’s the tamper, wind cap, special lighters, cork knockers (don’t go there), tobacco pouches, pipe cleaners, pipe sweetener, stands, jars for your tobacco, reamers and more stuff than I can remember at the moment. To make up for this investment, tobacco is much cheaper than either cigarettes or cigars.

Tobaccos vary as much as wines do. Instead of red or white, there’s aromatic or non-aromatic. I’m smoking a very nice aromatic Cavendish at the moment. It tastes nice, and it smells nice too. I know I had the smell right, when people started coming up to me, telling me how nice it smells, and brought back fond memories of their grandfather or father smoking a pipe. There’s some serious nasty shit out there. I tried on type of tobacco and not only did it taste like smoking wood shavings, it smelled like it too. Blegh.

By the way, that remains my favorite pipe smoking experience. When someone comes up to you and tells you how much it reminds them of a grandfather or a father. Pipes tend to be used predominantly by men, although a few women smoke them as well. Very few.

‘Scuse me while I tamper my pipe. You use a tamper to push down on the tobacco so it remains burning and keeps the smoke cool. When I started using a pipe, I puffed like a steam train, I’d burn my tongue, and my bowls would get so hot they’d actually crack. I went through three or four pipes before I figured it out. You can’t burn a Meerschaum pipe easily, but they’re heavy. I did find a couple of briar pipes lined with Meerschaum, which look nice in the traditional wood pipe manner, but have the benefits of the Meerschaum. Meerschaum pipes seem to be a cult of their own. Being a smoker and less of a collector, I’m not really into Meerschaum. Oh, that big pipe of Sherlock Holmes is a gourd lined with Meerschaum. It’s a special type of pipe, but I don’t remember the name at the moment.

Speaking of collecting pipes, it’s hard to use just one. You tend to collect them and rotate them. I’m currently rotating four pipes. I have more, but one turned out to be really cheaper than it initially looked, another a Meerschaum which, like I said, was too heavy. There’s a Doctor-somebody or another, that’s smaller but is designed for a filter, and why buy filters? Finally, I have a very small Meerschaum, but it looks like it’d be used for crack or pot, so it’s kind of embarrassing. Bought it on a whim.

I’ll end this with lighters. You could use a standard lighter, but you have to hold them upside down, which isn’t too safe. I have a pipe inset for my Zippo, which you hold sideways. I also have a Sportsman’s Plug, which is a sort of tube, that you pull apart, which lights the wick. Then you hold it directly over the bowl. Finally, I also use matches. There’s a lot of pipe purists that have issues with one kind of lighter or another, and it’s initial effect of the taste, but hey, you have butane, sulphur, or whatever goes into a Zippo. I seem to be forgetting a lot of stuff tonight. Anyway, they all have a taste that affects the initial puffs.

So if you’re thinking about starting smoking a pipe, choose a $20-30 pipe. Odds are you’ll ruin it, but you won’t be ought of $50-whatever price you’d pay for a finer pipe that you’d still probably ruin. Get good tobacco. I get mine from outwesttobacco.com, and smoke BCA at the moment. That cheap crap in the drugstores taste just like that: crap. You don’t have to buy a tamper right away. You can use a nail turned upside down. Pack the tobacco so the pipe draws like you were sucking a semi-melted shake up a straw. Pack about three pinches or parts of a bowl. Pack the first loose, the second a little harder, and squish down on the third. Smoke slow. Don’t overclean you pipe with a reamer. Let it build up a “cake” about the thickness of a dime before reaming it a little. The “cake” makes the smoke more mellow. Once you get it mastered, you’ll end up buying a few pipes. A friend of mine bought a $300 pipe. That’s just nuts. It smokes the same as a $20 pipe, if you can find a good one. Oh, and consider a dead man’s pipe down the line. You can get great, fancy pipes for much cheaper than new pipes. Check out deadmanspipes.com to see what I’m talking about.

Well, that’s my pipes blather. I hope you enjoyed it.

The Scorpion Shooting

There I was, minding my own business…

The Scorpion was a rough bar that I hung out in as a minor. Before it was The Scorpion, it had been a biker bar. Remember, “Get your beer and dancers at The Scorpion and hard liquor next door from The Rock.” Yes, The Scorpion is now that parking lot next to The Rock. Probably buried underground is that huge safe that would’ve required a crane to lift, and life being as cheap as it is, it probably made more sense just to pave over the darned thing.

I was 15 at the time. I bicycled over from my grandfather’s house, and dumped the bike in some bushes so no one would see them. I walked into the bar and ordered a beer. There was no way I was going to pass for 21, but they liked the fact that I had stones enough to walk in there in the first place, and I was sorta adopted as a sidekick. Later, the owner of the bar was arrested, and mysteriously, the bar was bought by one of the cops who had been in on the bust. It became a strip club, and since I was already a fixture, no one ever questioned how old I was.

There were three rooms in The Scorpion. There was the beaver barroom at one end, where the dancers danced on a microscopic stage. There were two entrances to the bar, one at the back and through the front door. The middle room was the mudpit, where mud wrestling took place. The back room had a couple of pool tables in it, and a couple of pinball machines. There was another entrance through the bar back there.

I was sitting in the beaver bar to one side of the back entrance to the room, when two men and a woman came into the bar and took a seat. Diane, the waitress, carded the trio. They, of course, had all mysteriously left their ID’s at home. After a small ruckus, the trio stormed out.

After about an hour, I heard the backroom door slam open. At about the same time, I saw the barrel of a shotgun come through the back door where I was sitting. I believe, “Oh shit,” were my exact words, when the guy holding the shotgun at waist level, began shooting. The first shot shattered the mirror behind the dancer, who hit the ground screaming. I ducked, and flipped my table so the top would shield me.

I cannot begin to describe the sound of a shotgun going off at close range to you, when it’s wielded by someone intent on shooting up the place. A couple of more people also figured out that flipping their tables would be a good survival strategy. I like being a trend-setter. I smelled someone literally peeing their pants, and a corner of my table got blown off. It really stopped being a whole lot of fun at that moment.

Shooting was also happening in the back room. Shotgun blasts.

At a moment between all the blasts, I heard a quiet click, and Danny, the owner, popped up from behind the bar and shot the guy with the shotgun in our room. The guy hit the back wall, and bounced forward. Danny kept shooting slowly and steadily, while the guy kept hitting the wall and bouncing off of it. Now it smelled like gunpowder and blood.

The shooting finally stopped, and the guy bounced off of the wall one last time, and fell face down on the floor by my table, splattering blood everywhere. The shotgun itself fell within a few feet of me.

Someone started yelling in the backroom that he surrendered, and in between the ringing in my ears, I could have sworn I heard him throw down his shotgun.

It was at this point, a few thoughts went through my head. One guy was probably dead. Danny’s gun was probably out of bullets. I was a minor in a bar filled with gun smoke. Hmm, being here was probably not a good thing. I went over what was left of my table, and bolted for the back door in our room. I jumped into my car, my legs all rubbery and my hands shaking, digging desperately for my keys, which I then dropped on the floor. I groped around for a moment, came up with the keys, started the car, and hauled ass out of there.

I’ve told this story probably a hundred times to people. I was met with skepticism by many, amazement by others. The story eventually went to the wayside, and I didn’t mention it much.

Something like 15 years went by, and I was at a BBS party, hanging out with some fellow geeks. The subject of shootings came up, and I told my story. After I told my story, a woman said, “Holy shit, you were there?!”

I’ll be damned if she wasn’t a dancer, in the mudpit room at the time. She told her side of the story, being in the room between the two shooters. It was a kind of vindication for all the naysayer’s over the years, but there it is. I was in The Scorpion the night it was shot up, crouched behind a table, watching plaster and mirrors shatter all around me.

Here’s a toast to Boom Boom, who opened Boom Boom’s Saloon. To Thumper, who had the rabbit tattooed on her hip and could make that bunny thump it’s foot like nothing you’ve ever seen. To Brown Eyes, Teresa, and all the others. Even that scary dancer with the tongue that was probably longer than Gene Simmons’. We won’t go down that merry little path here.

There are many lessons to draw from this little tale. The pillar of morality would say, stay the heck out of bars when you’re underaged. I’m not going to waste my breath. First, if you wrestle someone in a mud pit, take out the big one first, the middleweight second and spend an hour working on the little one. Wait, I don’t think we covered that story. First, save your ass, then save your beer. In that order. Second, don’t shoot up bars. People tend to take that sort of thing personal. And third…well, heck, you get the idea. Make for the hills when the shooting stops.

That’s my story, and I’m sort of sticking to it.

Here’s some songs from that night…

You Dropped A Bomb On Me – The Gap Band

Brick House – The Commodores

Superfreak – Rick James

By the way, if anyone has any pics of The Scorpion in Fort Wayne, Indiana, please let me know!