Next Stop: Assisted Living

I recently turned thirty-five, which means I now officially qualify as an oldster. It's all downhill from here: hangovers last more than one day; I refer to "kids these days;" I rarely get carded any more; I use the phrase "when I was your age" etc. etc.

So all I've got now is stories. As an oldster, it's my duty to repeat the same stories over and over until everyone's sick of 'em. Then I'll tell the stories some more. Here's a few I'm brushing up on...

When I was in college, there was a bar in East Grand Forks called the Mr. Spud Lounge (the area is known for potato farming, get it?) On Friday afternoons from noon until six, the Mr. Spud offered kind-of-cold pitchers of Miller High Life for a dollar. And they were big out-state glass pitchers of beer; not the diminutive, plastic "Twin Cities" pitchers we all know and rue so well. This weekly event was fondly known as "Buck Pitchers," or "Bucks" for short. You goin' to Bucks ... See ya at Bucks ... Man did I get plowed at Bucks this afternoon! You'd say that last one after you'd wolfed down supper, had a nap, and then were struggling to down that first Schmidty at Whitey's that night. There are tons of stories associated with Buck Pitchers, but just mentioning dollar pitchers of Miller High Life usually gets a raised eyebrow out of the tykes.

Years ago I went to a big-ass family reunion, with relatives from across the country attending. On Saturday night, I stayed up til four-thirty a.m. with a handful cousins and a bunch of Grain Belt Premiums. Due to the damaged state I was in, I ended up sleeping in the hatchback of my car. The next day at the picnic, relatives I barely knew from all corners of the nation would approach me and say: "Hey you're the guy who slept in his car!!"

One time when under the influence of 1) Leinenkugel's, 2) post-Soul-Asylum-at-First-Avenue-show euphoria, and 3) my friend Hammer; I actually said the following to two girls outside of the Uptown Bar: "What are a couple of obviously intelligent and attractive women like yourselves doing at a place like this?"

One Friday morning in the fall of 1989, I walked to Dayton's from my office to buy some Stevie Ray Vaughan / Jeff Beck tickets. I took the skyways over to Dayton's, then rode the escalators up to the fifth floor. To my surprise, I ended up fifth in line for tickets. Right before 10:00 a.m., they then let in some people who it turns out had been camped outside all night. They were pissed to see all of us business people standing there all warm and toasty and ahead of them in line. I felt kind of bad, but one of the campers was an obnoxious little Stevie-Ray-shirt-wearing twit who for some reason was carrying a Fender guitar case. He kept badmouthing us over and over. I laughed when the guy in front of me finally responded to this dude's chirping with "Settle down, Stevie!" (I then piled on with my own "Haven't you ever heard of skyways?") And when I scored third-row tickets, I felt no guilt whatsoever.

One time a boss asked me: "Aren't you a team player?" and I responded with "I'm too good to play on the junior varsity!"

At my company's Christmas party a decade back, a married co-worker came on to me. "You're a very sexy man," she said. I replied with "Tell me something I don't know!" Then I walked quickly towards the light, fearing for my soul. (I've told this one in my zine before - I'm already getting good at repeating myself!)

One time in college, my roommates and I threw a party at the house we rented. A couple was getting friendly on one of the couches, and the guy kept turning down the music. Our Canadian neighbors - who drank a lot and threw the best parties in town (at one party, one of the 'em donned hockey-goalie equipment and people threw beer bottles at him) - had shown up and complained to me that the Romeo dude kept turning the music down. This was personal, as the music was from a mix tape that me and my roomie Mike had thrown together that afternoon. Springsteen's "Crush on You" was playing, and the Canadians were digging it. I entered the living room and turned the music up loud. I left to talk to the Canadians. Romeo turned the music down. I returned to the stereo and turned the volume up. Romeo yelled: "Hey we can't hear each other talk!" I shot back: "Hey - it's SPRINGSTEEN!!" The couple left the party in a huff, but the Canadians instantly adored me. Whenever they'd spot me across the room later that night, they'd yell "Hey - it's SPRINGSTEEN!!" then repeat the incident with ever-increasing enthusiasm to whoever was nearby.

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