I wandered out of that rock club,
ears ringing with tintinnabulation,
gnarled and deadened ears unable to hear
as I stumbled around the empty courthouse square
searching for my parked car.
That indie band was loud,
loud as hell, loud to the point
where I was deprived of one my vital senses,
at least temporarily,
but I never had a better time.
The fourth, the fifth, the sixth hour, the seventh hour
the fireworks erupted on,
and on and on and on,
like an artillery barrage that was being walked in
on an elusive target it would never strike,
one began to wonder if one would ever be free
of the lingering smog of smoke and the sonic assault on the senses.
When I was young, I was a bookish soul
who hung out in the chafed leather chairs
at the Barnes and Noble
wearing an itchy, chafing sweater,
listening to Weezer,
waiting for something good to finally happen
in my rotten teenage life.
It never did.
The "Sweater Song" would always come on Q101
as my family visited Michigan City,
stopped by the beach, the outlet mall, the zoo,
hitting up pretty much almost all the attractions before 4:30 p.m.
Weezer roared on the stereo and
later at the Tinley Park Amphitheater,
where it was easy to park but impossible to escape.
The band tore into the much-requested cover of Toto’s "Africa,"
knowing everyone just wanted the hits and to get home
and cocoon themselves unthinkingly in Netflix,
that everyone swaddled themselves in a sweater
in some cozy and familiar domicile.
When you're young,
lust burns like a wildfire,
wild and indiscriminate,
wayward and incandescent,
raging and all-consuming.
When you're older and settled down,
when you've accreted some experience,
a few creases, and maybe some midsection flab,
lust draws you to your yoked partner,
connects you with the reliable stability
of a gift shop magnet plastered to the fridge.
A hoppy India Pale Ale
A hazy New England India Pale Ale
A West Coast India Pale Ale
An English India Pale Ale
A British Extra Bitter Ale
A Belgian Framboise
A German Hefeweizen
A Chocolate Coffee Porter
A lot of sorrow
Too much sorrow to drown
In the fortuitous marriage of
Hops, grain, and yeast
My father returned late, a little unsteady,
gin pulsing from his breath,
gin sweating faintly from his pores.
After closing the door softly, he went thermonuclear
when he saw the shoes in the foyer in scattered disarray,
ripping me out of bed in a rage in the middle of the night,
ordering me in a bellowing voice to straighten the shoes right then.
“It didn’t really traumatize me that much,” I professed at the bar
while nearly halfway into my fourth gin that night.
The woman had scarfed down many chalupas
in the Taco Bell drive-thru at the ash end of 3 a.m.
She wolfed down the $3 dollar tacos with “chalupa” shells,
seasoned beef, a three-cheese blend, tomatoes,
lettuce and “reduced fat” sour cream,
with a robotic intensity and general incuriosity about its origins.
So she was shocked when she sat down with her kid
at the immigrant-run El Amigo restaurant
that served fresh salsa with freshly baked tortilla chips.
She had never actually tried an authentic chalupa,
a flat tostada-like deep-fried mold of masa dough
filled with meat, onion, chipotle and salsa.
The manager told her it was in fact
the kind of chalupa you’d find in Oaxaca or Puebla.
He told her he’d replace it, remove it from the table or take it off the bill.
She begged off but ultimately stormed out of the building
without paying the $12 bill, ultimately landing a felony charge
she appealed all the way to the state court of appeals.
The higher courts probably should not be adjudicating
Mexican cuisine, Tex-Mex and pale fast-food imitations,
but it was what is was; however it was served up, it was what is was.