Yeah, I had a beer and I don’t regret it. Not one iota. Today I would have been two weeks sober. And I gave it all up to drink a beer with my friend, James, the homeless man from Detroit.
It wasn’t all my fault, even though I was the one who made the decision to have one. It’s cool though, cuz God loes loves Ugly. It was meant to happen that way.
So there were some things that contributed to my “relapse.” (One beer, okay, but in the eyes of my fellow cult members, AA, that is a relapse.) First, my phone was happily set in my coffee with an open lid left behind in the center console of the car. Let’s take note that that never happened with a beer. Second, I lost my friend, Jon. He and I got separated after he went to the car to take his jacket out there. (I told him before we went in to leave it behind, but he didn’t want to. C’est la vie!)
By the time I went out to the car after fighting my way upstream against all the other fishes in the show, I had lost my patience. It was at this point that my phone was completely incapacitated. That’s when I decided to break it down and have a beer. HopCat was right there; it was calling my name. I left Jon a note and told him to wait for me after the show. He had my keys, so I really needed to be able to find him so I could get home.
I started walking and a homeless guy asked me for some spare change for a slice of pizza. I obliged and pulled out a dollar to give him. About 20 steps later, another man approached me from across the street and asked me for a dollar. I didn’t have another single and I told him no, I didn’t have one. Yet, inspiration struck me and I invited him to join me for a beer. He told me couldn’t go in there. I asked him how come, was he not welcome there? He said it was because he didn’t have any money. I told him that I was inviting him because I wanted to buy him one.
James and I talked for a while and drank our Deschutes Pale Ales. Might I add that it was not very pale at all. We talked about my daughters and danced in our chairs to “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.” We talked about how the area I live in is full of yuppies that don’t get me. The D is more my speed; I feel understood out there, much more than the place I call “home.” We also talked about having one night stands; I had been hit on by some guy online recently whose approach was to ask me that as an opening line. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit.
The beer was drunk slowly, but after about 30 minutes James was ready to get out of there. It was making him uncomfortable, he said. I knew it was time to go back and lose myself in the show. He had asked me for $10 to get a room around the corner. At first, I said no, but I changed my mind by the end of our visit. If I could help a brother out and help him stay warm for one night, I wanted to do it.
We walked back and James asked me if he would see me again. I told him, “No, this is going to be a one night stand only.” We parted ways at the door and he just kept walking.
When I got inside, I made my way through the crowd but stayed toward the back. That’s when I realized I walked in right when Atmosphere was starting. I walked in just as the first song was beginning. Talk about synchronicity.
I was having a blast just digging the music, but I couldn’t see all that well. Being near the back was right where the pathway for the movers in the crowd to make their way through, so I kept getting jostled. I noticed one person’s hands in the audience ahead of me who kept making signals to Slug, a peace sign, an “I love you” and all sorts of things. It was then that I realized it was Jonathon. I fucking found him in that huge crowd! Good thing he was wearing his favorite shirt, because I recognized it immediately.
I started making my way through the crowd, telling people I was trying to get to my friend. We reunited and I gave him a big hug. His eyes were bright; he looked manic. He was having a great time.
When “Yesterday” came up, I told him that is the song I think of as for my little brother. I didn’t cry though – I just grasped my necklace and held on tightly. I was sad, but I was happy too. Bittersweet feelings rang through my soul during that song.
The set was incredible. So pure, so much love for everyone in the crowd. It was beautiful.
I was deaf by the end of the night; the bass was bumping so loud I had a hangover from it. Before it all ended, Slug, Brother Ali and Dem Atlas all busted out some freestyle. Slug threw in a fuck Hillary and fuck him (Trump) too! He was wearing a Jill Stein shirt. I was wearing a Bernie button.
They finished up with “Trying to Find a Balance” and Jon made his way to the front of the crowd. Gone again, but I wasn’t going to lose him this time. At least I got my keys back from him before he disappeared this time. Ah, the impetuousness of youth.
I saw someone throw a jacket in the crowd during the last song and I thought it was maybe Slug’s hoodie. I was wrong, however. The person who caught the jacket was wandering around with it after the show ended. He looked at me and handed me the jacket without saying a word. I shrugged my shoulders and put it on. When life gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold.
I know that drinking that beer was not a good choice, but I also know that everything goes the way it is supposed to. I can try to control things by simply taking one day at a time like the drunks do (Hank Hill), but I also know that I am not going to kill myself worrying about feeling bad for doing it.
I paid my penance by spending time with James and helping him get a room for the night. Slug would be proud of me. I’m a friend to strangers and a stranger to friends.
Peace. Love life.