Chapter 11: Young Americans, Part 3

We bolted into the 1029 like a couple of mobsters ready to take over joint, a decently populated dive for a Wednesday night. The bar tender watched as my imposing figure marched to confront him, my new Surly Brewing Co. crew cut sweatshirt of the Boundary Babe’s preference serving as the primary draw of attention, and with a snap and point of the finger, I set my demands. “Surly Furious and an Old Fashioned. Here’s my ID, here’s my credit card. Leave the tab open… it’s my birthday.” Prudent in his drink preparation, the bar tender handed me the ammunition set to aid us on our next mission and sent me to the DJ booth with my next set of demands.

The DJ and I had a blunt, yet cordial conversation, of which we discussed my requests and concerns, and she assured me that she would continue to perform her DJ duties with fairness and balance throughout our tenure. I had full confidence in her, as the importance of this night was clearly conveyed. Minutes later, a beautifully plucked guitar rift filled the room, sparking the attention of the Boundary Babes. They were well rehearsed in the sequence of notes, as it was their official theme song. I stared directly at them, pointed, and then motioned with my head to make their way towards me, a bold move no doubt, but I was in a bold mood and willing to take risks. “We’re up!” Despite a slight hesitation in the response, they willfully joined me on stage seconds later, for there is no challenge too daunting for a Boundary Babe and no duty worth forgoing, as long as it spreads the pure and elegant spirit of the Boundary. So far, the DJ had not let me down.

 

 

Jewel – You Were Meant For Me

 

I hear the clock; it’s 6 AM…

Our voices faded into the opening verse, their soft tones harmonized to create a soothing picture of a calm lake, its surface so still that you would actually consider the possibility to walk across it. On either side is a thick and impenetrable wall of trees only navigable by a specialized individual whose proficiency lays within the familiarity of the landscape, leading to another untouched body of water, a chain linkage of land and lake that spans for 100’s of miles. Through the morning mist rising below, a narrow boat structure slices through the water, sending a subtle ripple across the lake, a gentle greeting from the visitors. They are welcomed to become one with the environment, to be free of the impurities plaguing the modern world, a small plot of Earth where the stresses of work, politics, and drama of life are simply non-existent. If there were ever the existence of heaven on Earth, it would be found within the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.

I never put wet towels, on the floor anymore cause!

Dreams last, so long… Even after you’re gone!

Together, we rejoiced over its existence, a trio of passionate voices in jubilation from having been immersed in such a pristine atmosphere; having the privilege of setting foot in such a sacred part of the world. A congregation of widened eyes looked upon the display, struck with bewilderment at the picture being painted before them. “How could this be possible? The babes—that makes sense, but how is it that such a burly old hunk in a Surly crew cut sweatshirt be capable of this—the voice of an angel?” The confusion was clearly understood, for the demonstration was indeed beyond comprehension, and not even the most perfect rendition sung by Jewel herself could even come close to mirroring the beauty laying deep in the northern woods of Minnesota. The answers were plotted out in front of them however; all that was required of them was the will to explore.

You were meant for me… and I was meant for you…

Thunderous applause lit up the room, the crowd graciously responding to the battle cries of their courageous leaders standing above them. We looked at each other with satisfaction, knowing that we had created inspiration in the young souls sitting before us. An ignition had been set to venture forth and discover the majesty beyond the Boundary; a performance so well executed that even the likes of Mike Gibson could not resist its call for exploration. It would be a long time before any of us could reunite with Boundary, but guided by the voice of Jewel, we knew deep in our hearts that we were always destined to return.

It is said that the prettiest girls live in Des Moines Iowa. Jack Kerouac obviously hadn’t spent enough time in Minnesota.

 


Bob Seger – Night Moves

“Bill,” the DJ announced through the loud speaker. Bill strutted his way up towards the stage, shooting me a smirk along the way. He must have had a good one up his—wait a minute? There’s no way he—I made my song requests—how the hell did he sneak—the DJ broke her—what’s the big idea!? 

“Zack!” he hollered over to me with wave of his hand, inviting me to join him as a duet. It was a flattering gesture I’ll admit, partially settling my previous offense, but I stayed back, my pride forcing me into defiance.

“This one’s for you Jay!” screamed Bill at the top of his lungs, his eyes rolling up towards the ceiling and his finger pointing in the same direction. A familiar set of guitar chords entered and Bill lowered his head in preparation for his performance.

I was a little too tall, could’ve used a few pounds,

Tight pants, points hardly reknown…

The classic tune never fails to bring back memories, those of a great man, a walking party, a guaranteed good time, and above all, a friend. This was Jay’s song, his story embedded inside the raspy blues of Seger’s voice, a reminder of the wild nights at Cinco, his down to Earth personality, and how personable the man was after a long and heavy night of partying. He’d want us to show these people what it was like to share a sandwich and talk philosophy with him on a Saturday afternoon. He’d want us to tell a crazy story that involving alcohol of which disaster and jail time were barely avoided. And most of all, he’d beg us to fill them with his spirit, the full embodiment of Moscow, Idaho. He was Jay, a man, a legend… a brother (See the Jay Blog).

The lyrics consumed me like a drug; once I start, there’s no turning back, and now, I had a duty, a yearning desire I could not overcome, no matter how offensive Bill’s actions were. I wanted to resist, for Moscow had been brought to other cities before and the results were devastating, a dangerous mixture of chaos and destruction (Bill can tell you about a little place called Calgary). The experience is almost always overwhelming, and most aren’t capable of handling the behavior. But tonight, something was different. A hand was guiding me, telling me that indeed, this was our calling, to bring to Minneapolis the Moscow experience. Bill held his own for the time being, but ultimately, he wouldn’t be able to complete the task alone; it was much too difficult to be performed by oneself. He would eventually need help, and the only barrier standing between me and the other microphone was my ego.

“Workin’ on our night moves,” another voice came through the speakers. Bill looked over and smiled at a friendly face. The friendly face smiled back and followed on with the tune.

Tryin’ to make some, front page drive-in news,

workin’ on our night moves…

It was the spark of confidence Bill needed to once again bring about the voice of an angel—my Angel Boy. I backed him up as he continued through the song, movin’ and dancin’ and singing his heart out, making it his purpose to for the next three and a half minutes to turn Minneapolis into Moscow. It was his show now.

The music came to a slow, and we both lowered our heads, our voices humble as we sang the bridge, willing to shed a tear for our late, great friend.

I woke last night to the sound of thunder…

how far off, I sat and wondered…

Started hummin’ a song from 1962…

Ain’t it funny how the night moves…

We looked up to the ceiling once again, an unnatural force guiding our eyes upwards and speaking to us. Its power seeped into our eyes, slowly consuming our minds as preparation for the fury that was about to strike down upon the 1029; a fury we were absolutely unaware of.

“…With autumn closin’ in…”

The reprisal of the opening guitar rift built into a climax, where Bill and I stood tall amongst the patrons at the 1029, a crowd who seemed to be frightfully engaged with our progressively intensified number as if a live exorcism was being performed right in front of their very eyes. Our feet subconsciously moved us back and forth across the stage, our arms swinging and heads swaying with the deepened rasp of our voices, building and building as a preparation for the grand finale. The pleasantly rough tone of our voice turned from blues to black, a seamless transition of what would become a harsh sequence of screams and howls growing harder with each passing second, unable to abate the progress that the existential spirit moving inside of us had set in motion—moving, growing, creating a monster so strong it could no longer be held by the physical bounds of his cage!

“LORD I REMEMBER! LOOOOORD I REMEMBER! AHHHHHUH AHHHHHH!” It was a loss of fear, of physical consciousness. The lyrics belted out from the top of our lungs, two young tribal warriors in wild celebration after a great sacrifice, our primitive dance an uncivilized display of carnage and lunacy. The words leaving our lips were those of a long lost language of grunts and screeches, only translatable to those with the same power of spoken tongue. It was official. We had completely lost control of our minds.

“OHHHH YEAAAAAA! NIGHT MOVES… UUUUUHHHUUUUUUUHHHHH! TALKIN’ BOUT THEM—OHHHHHHHOOOOO I REMEMBER I REMEMBER I REMEMBAHUH…

We awoke from the dream, or nightmare depending on your point of view at the song’s closing, taking the time for a long peruse around the bar, the banner of obscurity lifted by a heavenly spirit in possession of our bodies, allowing for the retainment of our senses. A shockwave had rung its way through the bar, Pompeii’s volcanic eruption leaving the unsuspecting souls in attendance frozen in time. A full recovery would not be obtainable. Gibson would be proud. Jay would be proud… damn proud. Mission accomplished.

 


David Bowie – Young Americans

 

The first two tracks were merely warm-ups for what was to come next. For months I had been preparing for this very moment, ever since the song came on a classic rock mix during a Saturday at work. The once dreadful feeling of coming in on the weekend became a blessing in disguise as the song was repeated over and over again through my headphones, precluding the progress of any work of substantive value ever to be accomplished for the rest of the Saturday. The obsession with the melodious mixture of pop, soul and jazz prompted me to purchase the CD soon as I returned home that day, leading to months of moving and grooving to the song’s beat, foolishly singing and dancing in full view of my neighbors as the freak of 12th Avenue. It propelled me faster and faster through the streets of Seattle on each of my daily runs, a catalyst to liberate my inner Hulk and give me the edge to pump up the 173 ever so daunting steps of Howe Street over and over again, blazing past the rest of the struggling exercisers who watched the freak show with total astonishment. It would not stop, a months long perpetual dream that longed for the moment where I could finally come to an acceptable discharge of the bulging pressure vessel—and the moment was finally here. My months of preparation, a tight mimic of Bowie’s approach with a calm opening and a driving set of lyrics, showcasing his fierce passion (with a masterfully inserted quip from a most famous Beatles song I might add), were to be released in a public forum. And just like Bowie, I would hold nothing back.

“They pulled in just behind the bridge he lays her down… he frowns, ‘Gee my life’s a funny thing?’ Am I still to young—“ What the?

Suddenly, there was another voice, one that was neither David’s nor mine. I took a glance over to confirm my hypothesis that the voice matched an unfamiliar face. I retained my cool and calm demeanor, as I knew better during situations like these, even as my insides sweltered with rage. No. Ah Hell no! Who does this hunk think he is, coming up here, trying to steal my thunder; the one I’ve worked months on, in front of the Boundary Babes, ON MY BIRTHDAY NO LESS? You never do that to another man! And he thinks he can just come up and act a fool during my moment? Not on this day. This will not do. This dingus needs to go…

I began to devise my plan to rid the intruder from the stage and take back what was rightfully mine. I examined his stature—a bit shorter than me, and not as built, though he does look a little rough around the edges; therefore he would be willing to put up a fight, which wouldn’t look good on my part, especially on my birthday, and double especially in front of the Boundary Babes. He does look rather nice however for a Wednesday night at a karaoke bar, a little overdressed if you ask me, and what’s with his cheering section? All these girls in their sequenced dresses, it seems rather odd—holy crap, this cat just got married! But who gets married on a Wednesday night?

A wave of sympathy blew across me for this young fellow, triggering an involuntary flow of second thoughts to creep into my mind. Ok, so I’ve had 30 of these birthdays so far, and chances are, I got a few more coming up in the future. How many times will this kid get married? 3? 4? Maybe 5 tops? I can’t let this happen, not on this day…

I swung my arm around the stranger’s shoulder and embraced his presence, an embrace that urged him to step up the game, raise the stakes—take our karaoke session into a new, rather unorthodox direction.

Articles of clothing began to appear on the ground around me—a coat, a vest; one by one they fell to the floor, adding to the accumulation as the song dragged on.

Alllllllll Night

He wants a young American

Young American, young American, he wants a young American…

The groom lifted each suspender one by one with an outstretched motion of his arm, letting the elastic band snap back under his arm upon its release. Motivated by the attention he received from the bridesmaids, each of the groomsmen made their way up to the stage and followed his lead, each with a special strip move of their own. Whether it was a desperate attempt to make a provocative impression on the ladies, I cannot say, but one thing was for certain; I had successfully turned to 1029 karaoke bar into a Chippendales strip show.

(I heard the news today oh boy)

I got a suite and you got defeat

Ain’t there a man you can say no more, and

Ain’t there a woman I can sock on the jaw, and…

The situation was beyond my control at this point, with limbs and articles of clothing flailing about. “How did it come to this,” I asked myself, contemplating whether to put a stop to the whole thing, or if that was even possible. My boisterous song and dance only seemed to encourage the unnecessary removal of clothing, a terrible decision deemed favorable probably with the assistance of excessive liquor. None of this was in any way a part of my original intention, thrusting me into a position of dire straits. I could walk away, wipe my hands clean of any wrong doing. I was young, I was an American, and damnit, I still had my freedom… the freedom to choose…

Ain’t there one damn song that can make me…

Break down and cryyyyyy—hhyyyyyy…

“Ah, screw it.” A drum solo kicked in the last chorus, and I seized the moment.

Alllllll night

He wants the young American

Young American, YOUNG AMERICAN, HE WANTS THE YOUNG AMERICAN…

“Why throw away all I’ve worked hard for just over what might be a minor offense in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota?” Every ounce of passion left in me gathered for another grand finale, full of unruly dancing, stripping, and singing, everything a mother would despise, but had to be done regardless. The bridesmaids threw up their arms and screamed like a bunch of wild animals responding to a string of mating calls. The whole incident seemed to make quite the impression, and who knows? Maybe by the nights end it would lead to one of these lads getting lucky? Maybe it would lead to love…

As the song faded out and my singing came to a soft end, I was surrounded by a congregate of undressed men; all of who proceeded to honor my part in the performance with an inundation of hugs. Though somewhat of an uncomfortable exchange, I gladly accepted the adoration, for respect is a hard thing to come by these days, especially for an out-of-towner, then headed to the bar for another drink. I think I deserved one.

“Can I get a fine “PILS-ner,” I asked the bartender, a request that was immediately upheld. I leaned over the counter and twisted my head to the left, realizing the presence of another man. It was none other than my new friend the groom, of whom I had become very close with over the last 5 minutes.

“Hey, man thanks for coming up and singing with me back there… I can’t believe you all started stripping like that! You all are crazy… I tell you what, when I get married, I hope I’m able to come to the 1029 and party just like you guys do… You’re an inspiration man… never change…”

If you haven’t guessed, I’m a very happy drunk. In fact, get me sloshed with a serial killer, and I could probably find a way to agree with 90% of what comes out of his or her mouth. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for the groom, as I later became a witness to a physical assault on one of his own groomsmen. He thrust the boy’s head into his arms, something he said apparently striking a nerve, forcing him into the headlock situation with a continual series of threats. Luckily for all of us, his newlywed wife quickly swooped in to diffuse the situation, reminding the groom that he would later be involved in some unrepeatable greasy acts with some “sexy ass bitch” (her exact words, not mine). I happily walked away from the diffused situation, content that nobody was going to get beat up and that we were to remain acquaintances for the rest of the evening, and nothing more. Although we didn’t say much to each other afterwards, I wished him the best of luck. It looked like he was set for a match made in heaven.

My voice started to give way by the time Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” began, a song that Cambray somehow just happened to convince me to sing along with (who knows how that happened). It further took a noise dive when Bill and I followed up our Jay tribute with Boston’s “More than a Feeling,” the abundance of falsetto really taking it’s toll on my ability to carry a good tune. Cracked voice or not though, I soldiered on with the classics such as Ludacris’s “Get Back,” and even going as far as to dance like a fool to a bridesmaids butchering of “Baby Got Back,” an exhaustive effort that required a copious amounts of beer consumption at the song’s conclusion. I made my way back to the table, grabbing the first seat I could find, conveniently placed right next to a Boundary Babe, who had a full pint of PILS-ner waiting for me.

“You know, you had some interesting dance moves out there,” she said.

“Thanks! I’ve been practicing a little bit,” I replied, sobriety a long ways away from forming any sort of regret towards my decision. “And thank you so much for coming out tonight. It really means a lot to me.”

“You know, I told myself I was only going out for one drink, and now look at me! I might even have to cab it home tonight.” There was a slight pause, a contemplation on whether or not I should apologize for the fact that she had drank more than she had planned to, something I was more than culpable of contributing to. I bought some time by taking a large sip of beer, and she did the same. “But I have to say, even though I might regret it when I get up for work tomorrow, this has probably been the best night of summer so far.”

“Well, let’s cheers to that,” I said full of flattery as I lifted of my glass, gladly accepting the honor I hardly knew I was deserving of.

“Cheers,” she repeated before we touched glasses and took a gulp of beer. Behind Lauren was Cambray, sitting there starring at us with a sheepish grin, like she had an ace up her sleeve or some other sly trick she was ready to deal. I don’t know if it was the liquor or what, but it was evident that she had been eavesdropping and had something of importance to add, something that would probably never be mentioned in the absence of alcohol. So we waited as she mustered up the courage to speak whatever prudent matter was on her mind.

“Ok, I’m just going to come out and say it. I could really see you two getting married, and having the perfect family someday. I’m just saying…”

Holy Moly—WOWZERS! Way to drop the bomb Cambray! Marriage? To a Boundary Babe? It was great—what a dream! But marr—I couldn’t even process the idea at a time like this, given such a short notice, at least not coherently!” Gosh, my heart was beating faster than a jackrabbit on the run, for the next words out of my mouth could very well determine the rest of my life! I glanced over to John and Bill at the other side of the table, each flashing me their own fully comprehendible look of advice, a solemn bond only understood between the boys.

Play it cool brotha. Play it cool.

“…Yea, I think I could see that,” I said in a calm matter after a sip of beer and a cool, subtle nod of the head, as if I had rehearsed the line thousands of times before. Bill and John responded to my response quite favorably with nods of their own.

Well done lad… Well done.

“I’ll tell you what,” she started. “Let’s meet again in fifteen years… if I’m still single, and you’re still single, we’ll tie the knot. How about that?” It was a good deal… It was a great deal, and I had it in the bag! I was going to marry a Boundary Babe! Talk about a confidence booster!

…But she was high balling me, big time. I knew it, she knew it… fifteen years? I could do better than that. Much better.

I looked her straight in the eye, my face void of any emotion, masking the overwhelming urge to grin. “10 years.” Her loveliness was her weakness, her kind spirit her Achilles heel, and sad to say, I was going to take advantage of it. There’s no other choice in this dog-eat-dog world, and as a firm believer in fierce competition, I set the rules. I controlled the negotiations; I was the one who—

“15.” Oh my God, what the hell just happened? There was no hesitation, even less emotion than my emotionless reply seconds before! Oh God, I had overplayed my hand, big time! I knew it, she knew it… and she saw right through me!

Bill lowered his shaking head into the palm of his hand, disgusted by my blatant display of arrogance. Cambray let out a deep gasp, for her hopes and dreams, everything she had prepped and worked for in her adult life was within seconds of obliteration. My mind spun out of control. My heart pounding out of my chest! This should be over. I should be a dead man, thrown into the fatal pits of despair. Toast! Destroyed! No hope of recovery, ever! But by some miracle, some inexplicable act of God, I was still standing, still in possession of a slight fragment of working mental capacity, still in control of the heavy beat of my heart that remained invisible through my Surly crew cut sweat shirt. I was still alive, I was still fighting—there was still a chance.

I stared right back at her, my mouth flat and closed, my eyes narrowed with steady, sustained breaths entering and exiting in and out of my nose, neither one of us budging; there was no room for weakness. Out of the corner of my eye there was a glimpse of John, and man did he look pissed! His eyes beamed with rage, a telepathic translation of a pep talk…

“Zack, you fool… you FOOL! How could you forget the cardinal rule? This is a Boundary Babe we’re talking about, not some bridesmaid pushover who can’t sing Sir Mix-a-lot worth garbage! Man that was awful, a complete abomination, a disgrace to the human race! My intelligence has been permanently diminished because I bared witness to that anathema of a karaoke performance. But you think you can just come in and run the show, talk to a Boundary Babe as a replaceable being? Take it from a guy who married one, not only is the Boundary Babe irreplaceable, but also the best damn negotiator you’ll ever come across, a used car salesmen on steroids, but twice as shrewd, and even worse, 10 times as honest. It takes time, patience, hard work, and dedication—and LOTS of it for even the slightest consideration of a courting, and don’t even get me started on gaining her trust! Now we did this for you… WE DID THIS FOR YOU, AND YOU’RE ACTING LIKE AN ANIMAL! We gave you a golden ticket, and I’ll be damn—I’ll be DAMNED if I see it go to waste. Not on my watch. Not on this day! Now you get out there and get this done. NOW!”

“Deal.” I stuck out my hand, letting her know full well I meant business. She stuck out hers and we shook, both of us sincere in our efforts. John gave me the nod of approval while Cambray and Bill exhaled a huge sigh of relief as if they had just watched the disarming of an atomic bomb. I indulged in a relief of my own with a massive intake of beer, followed by a final “cheers” for our accomplishment. “C’mon Bill, let’s take a birthday shot.” Frankly, we all needed one after that.

The Boundary Babe left that night, back home to a normal life, where the obligations of pets and work awaited her return. Jewel’s famous words lingered through our heads, never to forget the deal we made; a promise that began to feel like a dream as the night went on, waiting for the day it would become a reality; a day I was certain would eventually come.

It was near last call, yet I still had one more song left in me, one quite fitting for the occasion, causing the re-emergence of late 90’s memories as the song’s orchestrated intro came into play.

 


Aerosmith – Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

 

I could stay awake, just to hear you breathin’

Watch you smile while you are sleepin’

While you’re far away I’m dreamin’!

I was in jeopardy of losing the very voice that had produced flawless renditions of Jewel, Bob Seger and David Bowie earlier, but it didn’t matter. Ravaged voice or not, there was more at stake at this very moment, something I was willing to give up the voice of an angel for.

Every moment spent with you, is a moment I pleasure. YEA!

I don’t wanna close my eyes!

I don’t wanna FALL asleep, cause I miss ya baby

And I DON’T WANNA MISS A THIIIINNNNGGG! 

As my vocal chords blew at the cry of graceful lyrics crafted by Steven Tyler, my mind faded, as the consumption of alcohol had finally done me in, the song’s chorus being my last memory of the night; one last coherent thought coupled with a deal permanently engrained in my head… a promise… a fate I was eternally bound to…

15 years… half a lifetime… Well worth the wait.

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