It’s always when you have the most mundane plans that the craziest shit goes down. Ben Number One is in town and so worn out with his own family, has chosen to move in with mine for a few days. Thus, after work I picked up the boys and headed over the mountain to my favorite place on earth, The Pelican Inn. We got there around 6, joined at 7:30 by my folks who bought us drinks, played some darts and then announced we were heading to the dining room for dinner. Fabulous. Dinner was spectacular and like all great dinners, went on for hours. As we left, my mother inquired, “You guys aren’t going out, are you?”
After much hemming and hawing, I joined the boys at The Sweetwater, which we were alarmed to find packed with the middle aged and poorly dressed dancing awkwardly to the blues band. As we sat, sipping beer and laughing at the dancers, I suddenly looked over at Ben. “Hey, Benji. This band, it’s…”
“I know. I can’t believe how much this band rocks.”
I mean it, folks. Johnny Smith and Friends (performing tonight and all next week at the Beach Chalet) are seriously incredible. They’ve got kind of a Commitments vibe, but are slightly Blues-ier. As I sat at the bar wishing everyone I know could hear Johnny Smith and his ponytail rock the mike, I was approached by an elderly man in a Raiders jacket and baseball hat with what appeared to be a catheter attached to a satchel slung around his shoulder.
“I make guitars out of toilet seats.”
“I make guitars out of toilet seats. I’m famous. I was on German television. But my lady, she don’t want me to get crazy no more.”
Alex and Ben eyed me protectively from a few seats over as I chatted with my new friend, Charlie. Upon further questioning, Charlie motioned to the memorabilia wall behind the stage, where, lo and behold, there was a guitar made from a toilet seat. Turns out, Charlie is something of a local rock legend, and if you’re sure to ask questions directly into his good ear (with toilet paper stuffed in it), he’s got some amazing stories. I invited him to sit with me, and as we listened to music together, I was delighted to find that every few minutes, another regular would approach us and warmly greet Charlie.
So moved by the music, Ben and I got up to dance and found ourselves mere inches for a guitar riff which can only be described as intoxicating. I literally stood a foot in front of the guitar player with my arms stretched up in the air screaming, “Yeah!”
Their set ended and the lights came up. We bid Charlie adieu and were informed (I believe by members of the band) that “everyone’s going to the Deuce.” For those of you that aren’t townies, The Deuce is the local slang for the 2am Club, which in addition to being a dive bar filled with black sheep and date rapers, is also featured on the cover of the Huey Lewis and the News album, Sports. The Deuce is for people who are the only members of their family not to go to college.
After being carded by the charming bouncer, we enter the Deuce and order drinks, mine, I’m pretty sure, coming out of a box or a ZipLoc. After sharing a longer than necessary conversation with the poor-man’s Tara Reid, we settled into a table and looked around.
“This place is fucking ghetto, boys.”
“I’m digging the jukebox, though.”
“Oh, god. I went to kindergarten with that guy’s sister.”
“Do you want to say hi?”
“What do you think? This place gives me the creeps.”
“Alright. It’s 1am. Let’s go home.”
“Thank fucking god, dude.”
Exhausted and over it, we gather our belongings and head for the door. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but Ben, Alex and I were stopped dead in our tracks.
Guess who waltzed into the Deuce at 1am?
That’s right. Charlie…