Monday, July 28, 2003

They say ev'ry man must fall

Ah, Rhodo. It's always fun. Driving out of the smoggy urban sprawl
into the the smoky mountains. Lately I have been unsure as to
whether the air up there has been getting worse or all that
haze was there a few years ago. I can't be sure. I do know
that the air quality sky rocketed about halfway up the road
into Boone, NC. Or was that psychological? Who knows but
Wendell noticed it also.

The first thing we did in Boone was stop by the Wal-Mart to
purchase plastic army guys to burn later in the campfire.
No dice, they don't have any. Well, they do have a package
for sale that included some stupid looking plastic cone-shaped
mountain and less than fifty men for five bucks. Fuck that,
I ain't some tourist. Next we stopped by a dollar store and
all they had were plastic firemen. I didn't buy the firemen
that just didn't seem right. Soldiers are born to fight and
die and burn in a campfire but I couldn't immolate firemen.
That's why I will forever live in obscurity, I can't make the
tough decisions.

Next we stopped for provisions at a grocery a couple of miles
outside the camground. We bought hot dogs and buns
and Wendell added to his already impressive collection
of Miller Lite. I bought water which became dear to me
later in the evening.

After getting to the campground and saying hello to
all the usual nice folks, we set up our tents and
mingled. I skipped rocks down in the creek that
borders the campground. We threw a frisbee
and a nerf-style football around. We ate, had
some beers and moved on to the apple barn
around 9 p.m. and listened to the band.

About halfway through the show I went for
a little stroll so I could look up at the stars.
I found a bridge and a gravel road and walked
about halfway up a steep hill to get away from
the streetlights around the barn's parking lot.
After about 15 minutes some truck pulled up
the road. The road was narrow so I had to
leap up on a bank. As the truck rounded the
corner its lights hit me full on and I must have
looked like an idiot on that bank in the full
glare of that pickup's headlights.

I didn't realize it but I was standing in
someone's driveway and I was supposed
to stay near the apple barn. Reveler's were
not allowed to wander on, what turned out to
be, private property. So the pickup stops so
the driver's window is facing me. A rather
petulant voice comes out of the window,
"You're supposed to stay down by the apple

"Sorry!" I say, "I was just looking at the stars."

He tears off without saying another word.
Initially I felt stupid getting caught. Then bad
because I was someplace I wasn't. Then I
got a little indignant because of his rudeness.
I wasn't throwing fucking rocks at his windows
I was looking at the fucking stars, for christ's
sake. I was muttering as I walked back to
the barn and who do I see coming back up
to me? Three security guards. The sumbitch
had called security on me. Of course the head
security guard repeats what the whiner in
the truck said, albeit much more politely.
I tell him also that I was sorry and that
I was just looking at the sky. He doesn't
care and he just follows me down until
I am close enough to the barn that he is
satisfied that I won't return to the hill.

The whole experience soured me for almost
half and hour. But going back in to hear my
friends play music and the arrival of their
younger brother helped revive my spirits.

After the band ended Wendell, young
Bobby and I hitched a ride back to the

It's funny, being drunk at night. In a
dark campground everything is gray
with sharp patches of fire, alcohol makes
the fires brighter and the gray even
more indistinct. Alcohol by itself makes
the world less stable and at night that
instability can be like walking in a small
boat. That explains why I fell down the
bank of the creek. I went behind this
small tent to piss and just flat ran out
of real estate. I was walking then I
was falling. I landed face first in
dirt, gravel and weeds. First I was
shocked, embarrassed and then
I did an internal diagnostic and realized
that I wasn't hurt. Heck, my cigarette
was unbroken and still burning. The
next morning we inspected the area
and I tore them weeds up. It looked
like an elephant had come up the stream
bank during the night.

The musician Wendell and I know the best,
Lenny, doesn't like to mingle in crowds all
that much. The folks we were with were
getting especially likkered up and l out.
Lenny's brother Mark was there and
the four of us wandered out behind a tent where
we could use the diffused glow of the fire to
see well enough to stand and chat. We did that
for over and hour and it's those quiet intiment
conversations with people you love and can make
you laugh that make exursions like this weekend
worthwhile. You know what I mean?

Line of the evening: We are standing around, just
Lenny, Mark, Wendell and me. Wendell is out of
cigarettes and asks me for one of mine. As I'm giving
him one I say, "Man, you're becoming a liability." Hey,
Mark and Lenny laughed.

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