Pure and simple as a hammer to the forebrain

     
 

Paranoid Strippers & Psychotic Crack Dealers (Tales of Christmas Eve)
1999-12-25 20:14:17


Sappy Christmas Shit
 
Is that my blood?
-- P a u l

 

Christmas day, for the last 17 or so years has bored me. I find that the real fun and excitement always takes place on Christmas Eve. Every other year, it's the excitement of the metaphorical hunt instead of the kill. Otherwise, it's just plain bad craziness.

I won't bore you with the details of the usual attempts to warm your heart stories of getting together with friends and family tales. There are enough wannabe O Henry hacks out there that can do that. Instead, I will share with you two of my more interesting "Night Before Christmas" yarns:

Missoula Montana
My wife & sister-in-law had left to find work in Seattle. I stayed behind to tie up loose ends, and get our household ready to be moved. To save some money, I moved in with my brother. On this particular Christmas Eve, he had gone down to Reno to visit my mother, leaving behind his wife. I had returned to the house, to find her settled in for the night, watching a TV with horrible reception. The show she was watching was mostly comprised of snow. She invited me to sit down and watch. I weighed the possibilities and decided that I would go out into the frozen night to find some other activity.

Most of my friends & associates were with their families or out of town. Jay's Upstairs was closed for the holidays. As a matter of fact, everything seemed closed for the evening. The only place that wasn't closed was a bar called Charlie's. I entered, and was greeted with many familiar faces. Most of which were there because there was nothing else for them to do. Over a pitcher of beer and several shots of jagermeister, I wrote a particularly vicious story that dealt with the holiday season (which currently is lost in a collection of other stories I have to deal with someday). I looked up at the clock. I was nearing 12:00. I decided to call it a night, and go back to the house. On my way, I passed a house. From it, came the sounds of laughter and Christmas carols. I walked on, passing a church where midnight mass was taking place. More sounds of singing. I couldn't take it anymore. I turned around and walked back downtown into the deserted frozen night. I had to find something to do.

I almost was back to Charlie's, when I passed by Mulligans, a strip club located in the back of the Oxford Cafe. To be honest, strip clubs and strippers bore me. But after thinking about it, I decided I really wasn't in the mood to go back to Charlie's and watch yet another broadcast of 'It's a Wonderful Life' so I went in, figuring it would be a good way to kill an hour or two.

Mulligans was once a saloon that had been re-modeled with a stage. Most of the clientele were gathered around the stage. The strippers would approach the spectator, who would leave a five-dollar bill folded in a v shape, pointing upwards. The stripper would take it, place it in the mouth of the Customer, reach behind and through her legs, grasping the cash, while doing a crotch grind just inches away from the mouth of the patron. I bought an overpriced beer, got change, and took a seat in front of the stage. I folded a five spot, and placed it on the stage. The stripper came over. She reached down, and started taking the five. I said to her, "Excuse me, do you take requests?" She replied "Well that depends on what the request is, darling" "Well, I was hoping you could dance to a song" "If we have it, I think that could be arranged. What did you want to hear?" "Santa Claus is coming to Town" She stopped dancing. "What song did you say?" she asked. "Santa Claus is coming to Town." The smile eroded from her face, giving way to a look somewhere between shock and disgust. She turned around, and quickly walked off the stage, much to the disappointment of a couple of spectators. Approximately two minutes later, I'm tapped on the shoulder. It's the bouncer. "Excuse me, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave." I was shocked. "Uh, how come, what did I do?" "One of the dancers complained that you were harassing them." I realized that the stripper who I made the request to, for some reason that will remain unknown, freaked out and asked that I be 86'd. I laughed. "Alright. Can I at least finish my beer?" "If you can drain it by the time you get to the door, sure."

And that my friends, is how I got kicked out of a strip club on Christmas Eve in Missoula, Montana.

San Francisco
Most of my wife's immediate family was in town visiting us. Because her family is Jehovah's Witnesses, they do not celebrate Christmas, so the day was spent playing tourists. There were four additional people in our household, making a total of six. And no mater how you try, a Honda Civic will only hold five. I elected to take BART and bus to the various destinations. Our last stop was the Cliff House, where I was informed by my sister-in-law that she was getting restless, and wanted to go out and do something other than stay at home & watch movies with the family. I offered to go to Zeitgeist with her.

So the evening was spent getting drunk on bad-tasting Christmas beer & Spocktails with my sister-in-law with the other happy patrons at Zeitgeist. We discussed how much the city had changed for the worse, noting that Zeitgeist was just about the only place left that had resisted the slaughter of San Francisco's unique culture. A few hours later, we pub-crawled up to Lucky 13. What made this drinking establishment different than Zeitgeist was that they had better music, and the patrons were actually miserable like they should be in a bar on Christmas Eve. After an hour or two of playing pinball, she had decided to call it a night. She called a friend who was a taxi driver. She asked if it would be all right if I was dropped off at the train station. I told her it was no problem, thinking that I would call it an evening.

I was dropped off at the station, went down the stairs and was about to put my ticket through, when I realized I was out of cigarettes, and had no cash. So back up I went. Walking along Market, I discovered that every ATM was shut off. I finally found one opened at Market and Powell. I got some money, found an open store, and got a pack.

Again, I was about to put my ticket into the turnstile, when I decided that I wanted to walk around for a bit. Here I was, on the edge of the Tenderloin, the neighborhood where I had lived for more than ten years. And in all that time, I had no idea what it was like on Christmas Eve. So I asked the station agent when the last train to where I lived was. He told me I had an hour and a half. So I turned around and walked into the Tenderloin.

I was quite amazed how quiet and near abandoned the streets were. Very few people were about. There were no hookers, no winos, no homeless, crazies, no one that I would expect to see. The only people I saw were either coming from somewhere or going to somewhere. I peaked into a couple of bars, where I was greeted with the sight of lonely people with no one or no where to go. This did not surprise me, because I was there myself not too long ago.

My surprise came while walking up Turk Street.

At Turk & Jones, there is a park that during the daytime is mostly inhabited by junkies looking to either score or to sell their prescriptions. Not suprising, it's closed after dark. As I walked by, there were few people. But out of the dark, a voice came. "Hey yo!" A good rule to follow in The Tenderloin is that if someone doesn't call you directly by name or you aren't looking to buy something, just ignore all calls. But in this case, the call continued as I continued to walk. "Yo motherfucker, I's talking to you! Don't you walk away, bitch!" I knew then, he was talking to me. I got to the light, and had to stop. Whoever was calling me caught up. He was a wirey white kid about ten years younger than me, dressed out in Nike gear. I took a stance, getting ready to fight. He looked at me and said "Da fuck you doin' bitch, I was talkin to you!" I said to him, "I don't fucking know you!" "Yeah you do bitch. It's me, Mace! And you is looking to score rock!" "I've never met you in my motherfucking life, and I sure ain't lookin to score." "We met at Dog's place. And I know you need some rock, bitch" "I ain't lookin to score, and I still don't know who the fuck you are." He turned around. "Fine then, your punk-ass will be back, and I ain't selling nothin' to you motherfucker."

As I crossed the street, I looked up. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him turn, expecting me to follow. He seemed intrigued that I wasn't running back to him, begging him to sell me something. I chuckled.

So why would a dealer treat someone they were trying to sell to like shit? Simple, it was Christmas Eve. Only the most desperate would be out on this particular night trying to score. And the only people that would be dealing, would be psychos, who in most circumstances no one would buy from, unless they had no other choice.

So this was Christmas Eve in the Tenderloin. I guess I didn't miss anything during the ten years I lived there after all.

My editor has told me that I should follow these two tales with some closing remarks. And for once, I have no idea what I should say, other than I hope your Christmas Eve's are just as interesting as mine.

Happy Holidays.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

gable@pigdog.org


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