My Friday kicked off at a scholarship ceremony. Not that anyone would ever give me a scholarship, it’s just that I knew there would be food and my favorite kind of beer — free. It’s not that I’m cheap. It’s that I’m poor. The problem is that free beer inevitably leads to a field trip to the bars and then a wallet filled only with credit card receipts. So, while all the smart-asses were accepting their awards, I was promising myself that this night I would break off my pricey affair with alcohol, at least until I can afford to resume it.
I did not make this resolution after waking from a long night of drinking to find that my bed was spinning like a merry-go-round. No, this was a sober decision brought on by another choice to finally end my equally expensive relationship with my shitty Korean car. Sure it was cheap in the beginning and reasonable with gas, but the time and money I’ve wasted on repairs inevitably drove me to end the relationship. I should have walked away from it the first time it gave up on me at a rest stop in the New Mexico desert, but I thought I could work it out. I thought that if I showed the car enough attention, it would give me the same kind of respect. I was wrong. What I’ve learned is that a shitty car will always be a shitty car.
In its place, I bought a ‘94 Ford Ranger to cart my ass across the bay every day. You may be wondering why I’d buy a truck if I was hurting for money. I thought the same thing until I realized the possibilities of the truck’s camper.
Why commute back and forth across the bay when I can spend some nights on a futon mattress in my truck bed? The Ford also gives me a mobile place to crash when I get wasted in Tampa thinking that the Hyde Park girl I’d been buying drinks for all night would invite me over. And let’s not forget that if a lovely girl would rather go to my place than back to the apartment she shares with her boyfriend, we need only walk a block or two to the sketchy park I’ve parked my truck across from. I know that it may not be the easiest trick convincing ladies to accompany me into the bed of an aquamarine-shit-green pleasure palace, but I just need to concentrate on the type of girls who’d be in to that sort of thing: the desperate, the crazy, and the drunk.
The problem was that in acquiring this mobile love machine, I knew I’d have to give up a few amenities to pay it off. My choices were either food or alcohol. To solidify my decision, after the awards ceremony I polished off a 32oz bottle of Mickey’s and rode my six speed iron-stallion Huffy to the State Theater for the latest installment of CL in Concert.
The State Theater was loaded from the front sidewalk to the back alley with scruffy band members and severely underage rockers sharing Red Bulls and cigarettes with multiple friends.
As I walked in, Joran bought me a beer to aid my appreciation of win win Winter. The band was blasting through what sounded like Death Cab for Cutie songs on uppers: more energy and less pretense.
Tides of Man were next with songs that flipped between slow and fast rhythms before the crowd had a chance to catch their breath. The intricate changes and wailing vocals brought to mind The Mars Volta and Tool, though the band was noticeably missing a significantly deranged singer to set the crowd on edge.
Fresh off the Warped Tour, Automatic Loveletter hit the stage with two members from win win Winter. They had all the ingredients to be the next big thing, most important of which was an attractive, heroin-thin she-singer backed by an impressive sound. In a Harley Davidson shirt ripped down the sides, a bikini top, grungy accessories dangling from every limb, tight pants, and motorcycle boots, the singer jumped off the amps and emoted to the crowd with the sound and look that Ashley Simpson was trying for when she first came out.
I emptied my wallet ordering the cheapest beers in St. Pete, which was still too pricey for me. I saw my happy, golden reflections looking up at me from the suds swishing gently in the plastic cup. Drinking that last beer was like leaving a girlfriend for an extended period. Sure, beer has let me down plenty of times, but ultimately we have had more good times than bad. I told my beer it was not her it was me. I told her not to take it personally. I told her I just needed to take a break. I couldn’t afford to treat her like I wanted to, taking her to fancy places and sharing long nights alone in my apartment.
When the beer was empty, I got on my Huffy and rode the long way home. Along the road around Mirror Lake, I saw two homeless men sitting on a bench with nothing but 32oz bottles gift-wrapped in brown paper bags. Maybe I didn’t need to give up alcohol after all. When the going got rough, these men did not give up on alcohol. I just needed to trade my apartment for a bench overlooking a midnight view of the water where I could share endless romantic evenings with my true love. But alas, until that day, alcohol, I must say goodbye.
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