It starts to flurry as we’re driving through town. The wind is kicking up, and the temperature is dropping. Finn rubs his hands together, St Pauli girl clasped between his knees. “Can we get more heat?” he asks. I reach over and slide the heater to ‘Max.’ We’re listening to one of my many mix tapes, “Shot Down In Flames” AC/DC, ‘Women In Love’ by Van Halen. Not everything was hard rock though. April Wine’s ‘I Like To Rock’ was a favorite, and it wasn’t unusual to throw some heavier southern rock like Blackfoot’s ‘Train, Train’onto those cassettes…..Later on in the 80′s we got rid of everything that wasn’t technically heavy metal or hard rock, but in 1980 we were still teething.
We arrived at The Pines and pulled up the steep driveway in front of the bar, parking right at the door. The minute I turn the car off, I could feel a chill. I quickly brush my hair, zip my purse and say ‘Let’s book!’….Finn and I scramble to the door. It is so effing cold. The snow is falling pretty good, and I wonder if it’s a good idea to stay out, and risk horrible driving conditions later. At the same time- I know I’m not going to pull the plug on drinks or my first night hanging out with Finn. We walk inside, and bask in the warm air. The bar is converted from an actual house, so there are various rooms, and we quickly stake out a high-top in the front one. I wave at a few acquaintances, hugging my coat tightly around my chest. ‘Brrrr!’ I say, and Finn says- ‘Wait right here, watch my cigarettes, ok?” and he leaves in the direction of the bar, placing a yellow Bic lighter and a box of Marlboros on the table. I continue to shiver,my face tingling from the cold, and wait for the warmth to seep in.
A few minutes later Finn comes back with a pitcher of beer, a baggie full of ice floating on top and, in his other hand, two plastic cups. He puts them down and quickly turns and walks away again, returning this time with two clear shots. Kamikazes. Nice! I open my purse, and begin to pull out my wallet so I can throw Finn a few bucks, but he waves me off. ‘No, no…Let’s drink to our new friendship’ he says. Bottoms up. The Eagles sing about The Long Run over the speakers, and Charlies Angels is on the tv suspended in the corner, the sound muted.After the shot, I take off my coat and drape it over the back of my chair. The warmth has seeped.
Forty-five minutes later, the table is full. My brother Rob and his girlfriend Jeannie are there, and Suzy and Heather are there as well. For a snowy Wednesday night, the place is pretty happening. Suzy comes to the girl’s room with me to pick my brain about Finn. “Lis- who is he? Where’s he from?” adding “Oh Lis- he’s so cute!” I tell her what I know- which isn’t a lot. He’s from New Jersey, he moved here to stay with his older sister, he’s trying to find a band and a job. He’s been here for a couple of months. Suzy lowers her voice, as she’s patting on some powder blush in the mirror “Ummm….Lis…..I gotta tell you something about Adrian” My heart flips a little, what now? She tells me that she saw him with ‘that’ girl last night at the Raven, but also that she’s seen them together a few other times over the past few weeks. The f***?! I lean against the wall, and roll my eyes, sighing. “Great!-Did everyone know except me?” Suzy shrugs.She says she didn’t tell me because they weren’t touching or anything, and she didn’t want to cause trouble, especially if there wasn’t any. ”Don’t worry Lis, you’ll find somebody better” What else is she going to say? Suzy has a good heart, and wants the best for everyone. It always seems mean when friends don’t tell you things you might not want to hear- but when you’re on the other side of it it makes total sense.
Back at the table, Finn is putting on a show-telling stories, hands waving all around. My brother is laughing, and orders another pitcher, Finn matches that. Suddenly, a loud shout out: ‘Rob! Rob!’. We all turn towards the sound, only to see Louie Mack coming around the corner. Louie is about six feet tall, and weighs in the vicinity of three bills. He looks like John Candy, and is always a party. He’s wearing what looks like a gigantic Christmas sweater, green, red and black with happy reindeers, bordered by antlers.I wonder who knitted it, and how long it took. I wonder if loom was involved? Louie plows through the room, arriving at the table, high fives all around. ‘How ya been?’ “Heeeey!” -everyone smiling.He winks at all of the girls. His boisterous attitude is contagious, as always. He scans the room quickly, while asking Rob: ‘So where ya working these days? Still at the car dealership?” then puts his hand up to his mouth and starts to whisper. We all lean in. “Hey guys. I can get you some purple barrels. Great price” Purple barrels are similar to today’s ecstasy (I’m pretty sure, at least. People take them and are always be laughing, and having the best time. I’ve never done either, so I don’t know what the barrels are technically.) A few people express interest, but it’s Wednesday night, and most of us have to work tomorrow. I’m not a big drug doer, but I’m no angel. Even if I had agreed, it would have to be on a weekend.
Louie’s laughing it up, and doing the hard sell. It takes a while, but he finally gives up. Though not before telling us that ‘he just did one’. After he heads off to another room we talk about how much we like him, how funny he is, and try and figure out what he was selling. But we all agree that it wasn’t a Wednesday night kind of thing. Though Kamikazes and beer certainly are.
Suddenly, Kenny Bolan comes flying in the door, yelling that ‘Someone’s Blue Cadillac is crashed at the bottom of the hill!!’ What the? I grab my coat, pulling it on as I go run towards the door. Finn and my brother follow, and we fall out into what seems to have turned into a blizzard. Everything is covered in a blanket of white, and sure enough there is a gaping parking spot, the pavement still visible where my car had been. My heart sinks. We start down the hill, snow falling in droves. Curtains of flakes! I can vaguely see my car,or maybe that’s the the shadow of it, ‘parked’ at a weird angle at the bottom of the hill, halfway onto the street. It looks ‘off’- like a badly broken bone. I’m panicking,wondering if I can find my insurance card, or get a tow-truck, or how much this is all gonna cost. I’m trying to get to the car as quickly as possible when I feel my feet going out from under me. I try to balance myself by whirling my arms in big, wide circles, but it’s no good. I hear Finn yell out behind me: “Watch her!” to my brother – and then Rob yells ‘Watch it!” to me – which is helpful. Oh- I’m watchin’ all right! The next thing I know, I’m sliding down the driveway on my ass, like a penguin in a cartoon. Really picking up speed. Behind me I hear another ‘whoah!’ and an ‘Oh shit!’….First Rob, then Finn -we are like the Three Stooges, sliding as if on sleds towards the street (which thankfully, is more like an entrance to the Pines, and has no traffic).To make matters worse, when I get to the bottom of the steep driveway, gravity stops me abruptly, as if I hit grass or dirt, buried beneath the snow. Seconds later, my brother plows into me, followed by Finn into him- ‘Owww!’and we all sit there for a second in shock, looking like we are riding an invisible tobaggan. We are dumbfounded. ‘What. The. F***?” I say. The snow is relentless,the wind furious- blowing snow into my face and eyes, confusing the issue(s). Each of us clumsily try to figure out how to stand back up. A few false starts, a few more slips, it’s ridiculous! ’Oh my God! What is – happening?” I yell, holding my arms up towards the sky, hands aflutter. We’re wiping the snow off our coats,walking towards my car. It is precariously jutting out between two other cars,who are parrallell parked. The Caddy missed hitting them both by inches. My car must have simply slid backwards on the ice and down the steep hill, crossing the street in the process. Thank God no one was driving through at that moment! With no lights on,and no driver- it could have been a disaster. I make a quick sign of the cross. I reach into my coat pocket for my keys, unlock the door, and sit on the front seat behind the steering wheel, one leg still outside the open door. The car starts right up, interior lights ablaze, and music blaring. I immediately cut the power to the stereo. This is no time for ‘Dance The Night Away’. Rob and Finn guide me out, as I slowly drive to a safer spot- on level ground,out of the way of everybody. The windshield wipers bat at the snow, which now looks like confetti being blown around by industrial fans in the yellow headlights. Like it or not, we should all think about getting home before the roads become impassable. We walk back up the steep driveway -overly careful with each step, as though testing for land mines. We’ll get our stuff (purse, cigarettes) and say our good-bye’s. We reach the porch, finally out of the snow and we look at each other under the porch light. shaking our heads, wide eyed.. A second we later burst out laughing as if on cue. Did that just happen?? Finn says:”Geez! I didn’t know it was gonna be all this when you called!” It’s crazy.
We get back inside, and there’s no one in the front room-though all of our stuff, as well as everyone else’s is there. The sound of a skirmish is coming from the main room where the bar is. We walk to the next room and find quite a scene awaiting us. There is Louie- all 300 pounds of him, dancing on the bar- shuffling back and forth as the bartenders scramble around trying to get him back to ground-level. ‘La-di-da-di-da!’ he’s singing, flipping an invisible top-hat up and down on his head, a beer in his other. It is truly bizarre, as the whole night has been- and we can’t stop laughing, along with the rest of the crowd. Whatever those purple pills were- I make a mental note to never try them. I’m perfectly capable of making a fool of myself without any added ‘help’.