Alarmed out of the autumn wood, whipped by whins, flecked with blood, running wild among wolf-packs, shying away with the red stag. Son of God, have mercy on us!
The town where I went to school hosts a sort of underground annual event called “The Boogie”. I never even heard about it until I was away for awhile. I think it was a festival for the Metal/Blues Rock/Southern Rock crowd, and was situated in the woods, so occurrences of spontaneous psychic breaks from bad acid, horrific beatings, and grizzled cohorts of biker chicks vomiting sloe gin profusely into a ditchbank could take place in an unmediated bucolic setting. I was startled that such a thing existed, mostly because it sounded so much like every other day in that town, only with bigger amplifiers. I also have to confess to a being slightly downcast at never getting a heads-up. I was in a band, after all. It’s possible my band was viewed as an excrementitious Europop travesty, and that’s fair enough. True, even. But it still seems if they were going to throw a shitkicker party with rednecks, bikers, and locals waving Confederate flags while they picked at their impetigo, they would have looked into to getting some anorexic art-fags to beat up, as well as some paper plates, disposable cups and napkins. We didn’t even rate that.
Once I finished school I escaped to a party atmosphere that was slightly less rigorous in its demands. Some of the folks were professionals, and inhaling canisters of nitrous oxide in between Jello shooters was just not the way, at least on school nights. There were occasions, though, when certain friends of mine tried to hop in the Cro-Magnon machine, and one of them frequently achieved stunning success. I’m still a little peeved that I didn’t receive some special recognition at his funeral for doing everything humanly possible to keep him from accidentally setting himself alight when I could keep an eye on him. My wife did her part as well. I remember her dragging a substantial parcel of class c fireworks away from him as he struggled to light one cigarette with another. The way I see it, we deserve a little compensation for extending his useful life as an attorney.
He was one of those friends, however, you must lose if you are going remain married to a sensible woman and live to middle age, and I hope my sighs of genuine grief at his loss, and the shuddering sobs of relief would have been indistinguishable to the casual listener.
Some of the memories I harbor of this person place him in an exceptionally favorable light, but they’re quickly displaced by memories of him flying upside down six or seven feet above the ground clutching a sled to his chest because what he interpreted as black ice was in fact, black pavement. Or after having secretively drained a near cooler full of purple Jesus, racing toward the cliffbank of a quarry with a speed absolutely uncharacteristic of his sober self, or some pentatheletes, even. I remember that one with a special vividness because I was one of the folks who elected to try and stop him, and yea, I, too, was full of the purple spirit. Fortunately the other guy trying to catch him had run cross-country in High School, and unlike me, was not a pack-a day smoker. We got him at the crumbling edge of the damn quarry and he nearly dragged us over with him. It was one of your more close run things.
Again, when he began punching us in the face, my resolve to keep him from breaking his neck diminished slightly, and as we dragged him by his feet back to the drinking site I tried not to be too discouraged by the soft noises his head made as it rubbed against the ground.
In later years, when my wife and I first moved to the country, we threw an annual party for our acquaintances from work, and all our personal friends who hadn’t moved away. We mostly provided the space and a fraction of the food and booze, but sometimes the gatherings got pretty large. There was never any question about who’d be providing the entertainment. At the hour when most parties start to unravel into small groups of folks interested in slightly different things, ours became focused around a specific area, wherein styrofoam coolers were exploding like water balloons beneath the weight of a misplaced arse, or a discussion had taken a redundant and comically oblique turn, or people had followed their natural inclination to look at a prone figure lying across a former lawn chair, illuminated by the nearby bonfire, sometimes threatening to become a part of it.
I suppose the high point of all our parties put together was a dance that erupted spontaneously around a clearing, the center of which was occupied by a ladderback chair. Someone decided it would be fun for people to take turns leaping over it. I opted out. Most people got over the thing, or approached it in such a way they could clear a portion of it. It began to look utterly harmless.
That’s when I noticed my friend beginning to execute what looked like a Scottish sword dance at the periphery of the group. He then ran for the chair, flung his arms out and made his leap.
When I saw his crotch make contact with the first rung of the chair, I thought it would pretty much instantly decelerate him. But upon the completion of his stunt, onlookers discovered he’d scissored through both rungs, testicles first, and lay sandwiched in the wreckage, semiconscious.
When he came to, he was awarded a fifth of Orange Driver. To his credit, he waited until the next year and shared it with us to commemorate the event.