Donnybrook Does SXSW: Fuck Herb Easley
Donnybrook attended SXSW, the best upcoming music festival in the country. Ivyy and Angora have put all their half-crazed memories and warped thoughts about the madness on paper, and woven them together. Click here for part one; for part two click here, and try not to become dizzy while reading the last installment, written by Angora Holly Polo.
The trip back home is a gigantic suckfest. All the utter stokedness that carried you on your travels there is bludgeoned, not unlike your sorry liver. When we embarked on our fifteen-hour road trip back from Austin TX to Denver CO, we were a sorry sight. The only thing around for breakfast was McDonald’s, and they had switched over for lunch.
Hung over, we choked down dollar cheeseburgers, which proved to be a bad idea once we were moving. In fact, I think I was still drunk; luckily, I was not driving.
It became apparent soon into the drive that the day could possibly get worse when Tim O got the phone call.
Out of respect I won’t go through the details, but suffice it to say that someone close to him had experienced a pretty horrendous tragedy. This person, besides a scattering of friends, was pretty much alone, with family all the way in Oklahoma. Tim O called the airlines to see if there was any way we could drop him off in Dallas, so he could be there post-haste. But the first flight left at 8 p.m. It was pointless.
“We’ll get you there as soon as we can,” we reassured him. Then Timmy got a call: Denver was expecting around 10 inches of snow around the time we’d be getting in.
Rain or shine, we’d get Tim O home as soon as we could. And we drove on.
At hour five, we overcame our desolate spirits. Part of the reason for this was we got to watch Timmy’s mileage click over from 99,999 to 100,000. 100,000 miles. We erupted into cheers! Then we stopped around Wichita Falls, TX, to get some Cracker Barrel and switch drivers.
Cracker Barrel, man! The boys love it, but by that time I felt like I was packed to the jowls with lard and crap. I wanted a fucking salad. And Cracker Barrel is all about biscuits and gravy and home cookin’. It was fabulous, but I couldn’t help but note that everyone dining there was preposterously obese.
Then Tim O got behind the wheel, and we were on our way. As he merged onto the highway, I noticed that he wasn’t speeding up. I rolled my eyes. What an amateur move, slowing down to merge with oncoming traffic. Then we suddenly realized that he was trying to shift gears, but nothing was clicking. We were free-flying, coasting. We managed to coast in the right lane to the next exit, and floated into the first gas station we saw. Thank god.
And the clutch done broke. It appeared we weren’t getting Tim O home. And like clockwork apparently, Jettas crap out after 100,000 miles.
Standing around waiting for AAA (thank god for Tim O’s parents), trying to find a mechanic with the phone book, pacing, smoking cigarettes, leaning over the car in disbelief, we called everyone we knew. The Millennials, the modern age: something goes wrong, and we’re all on our cell phones immediately. Timmy is a mechanical man, and tried in vain to open her up and see what was cookin’. We were a bit worried, being stranded in Texas: we were lucky because we could have broken down in that great rural abyss of nothingness, but we were also stranded in fucking Texas. We didn’t know how friendly the locals would be.
But a nice man pulled over and asked us if we needed help. Then another came by and though he was terribly toothless and sketchy, he offered for his “friend” to fix it about twenty miles away, and we appreciated the offer. Finally the tow truck rambled into the gas stop and a man jumped out: smiling, his lids half-shut, short and squat and dirty. He was Texas.
There was a place called Herb Easley Motors that he was taking us to. The four of us rode in the front with him, Tim O perched precariously next to him with the gear shift in between his legs. Every time the tow man shifted, he had to reach right in the vicinity and jerk the knob around. Tim O giggled uncomfortably. Tow Man smiled at Tim: “Don’t worry, I’m married.” He was really one of the most benevolent men, so sweet. He dropped us off at the mechanic, which happened to be right next to a liquor store and three hotels. Holy glorious luck. We invited him over later for beers, but he politely declined since his wife was “about to pop” so they tended to stay in.
Out of sheer instinct, we chose the middle hotel, the Quality Inn, because it advertised an indoor pool.
“Is the pool still open?” I asked.
“Nope, it’s under construction,” said the front desk man.
“How about a hot tub?”
“Nope, that too,” he said. “I’ll tell you what. Since we advertised a pool, and since we haven’t gotten around to cleaning the singles, I’ll go ahead and upgrade y’alls to two jacuzzi suites at no extra cost.”
Oh, sweet joy! All that hangover, the big to-do of moving and traveling was suddenly melting, as we were stuck in Texas and simply couldn’t do anything. The utter helplessness felt good. The car’s dead. The mechanic’s closed till tomorrow. You’re just not making it to work. So might as well sit the fuck down in the jacuzzi tub. We rushed into our fabulous suites, with mini fridges, microwaves, extensive cable channels, big beds with four, NOT TWO, four pillows, and that jacuzzi nestled in the corner, we were breathless with joy. We’d get this little glitch fixed in the morning and be on our way by noon. We ordered Chinese food, eating it in our gigantic beds while watching HBO, and it was orgasmic.
The next day I awoke to a phone ringing, Timmy’s not doing so well, the mechanic said $2,000 and the whole system was fucked, it might take several, several days. We couldn’t afford this, Timmy couldn’t afford this, Tim had to get home, I had to work. Our dog was back in Denver, and though my sister agreed to take care of him longer, we missed him. And Jetta parts, they don’t come easily in the middle of Texas – they ordered the parts, and they wouldn’t even be in till the next day. We all freaked the fuck out, and then figured shit out. Money-wiring, boss-calling. “Hi, I can’t make it into work tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day, I’m uh…in Texas. Don’t fire me?”
For the situation, we really handled everything well. Timmy checked around for prices, and made sure they weren’t taking him for a ride. My boss was cool, and Timmy had sorted the money out, and really it was only a ten-hour job that the mechanic anticipated, after the part came in. And Tim O…well, Tim O was being cool about it but he wanted to get the fuck home. We found a bus for him that left around 6, and he was gonna walk to the station, which was far away.
Timmy was the most upset about getting us stranded, but to be honest, I was thrilled. First of all, he couldn’t have predicted this would happen, and it wasn’t his fault. Secondly, I actually had time to write about SXSW, and I caught up on old Reverb assignments too. I sat down in the downstairs breakfast nook, sipping the coffee that gurgled out of spouts from rectangular machines. The boys decided that after all the unhealth of SXSW, they’d stretch their legs and take a walk, experience Wichita Falls. Timmy and Father Guido would accompany Tim O to the bus station.
Two or so hours later, Timmy and Father Guido smashed into the hotel room, obliterated drunk, having only made the walk down the street to a sports bar. It was wonderful. To give them credit, it wasn’t their fault; there was nothing else around. First they checked on the mechanic, who said they would take the car apart tonight to be ready for the parts tomorrow; and then they just went in to shoot some pool before Tim O had to leave.
But the tattooed bartender slammed 32 oz beers on the table, and then another generous gentleman bought a round of the same for the entire bar (presumably like, an old decrepit guy and the jukebox, but still). They had to drink fast, because Tim O had to take off. He ultimately ended up running, running to the station, having downed 64 ounces of beer, about to miss the bus; and he barely made it on, just jumped on the first one he saw pulling away and luckily it was right. He rode through the night and got to Boulder in the morning.
Drunk and in love with being stranded, the boys and I decided to go out on a fancy date, a night on the town in Wichita Falls. And you know what that means: Red Lobster!
I got all purtied up and we even called a cab, which was driven by a darling decrepit old fellow with thick glasses and a bald head. Every cab has the cabbie’s photo and license up on the dash for the passenger’s to see. This license was for an entirely different old man, big bushy beard and silly mustache.
“What kinds of attractions do you suggest for tourists?” we asked.
“Oh, y’all might check out the mall we have here. Yes, there’s the mall.”
“What about mom and pop kinds of restaurants? Something uniquely Texas.”
“There’s this one place right down the road, what it’s called?” He turned a knob and tuned into the cabbie radio. “Hey man, what’s that restaurant over by the mall?” he asked his boss. A voice piped in: “Golden Corral.”
“Yeah! Golden Corral.”
Looks like Red Lobster was the best it was gonna get. So we enjoyed a fabulous meal and drank wine and gigantic long islands. Then we went back with the same cabbie to the hotel, and uber-drunkenly got into the jacuzzi tub. I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t so unhappy being stuck. At the same time, I had the pity vote from my boss and coworkers: oh, poor thing, stuck in the middle of Texas! What on earth will you do with yourself? “I could stay here all week!” I said.
The next day, it rained and rained and rained. I, as usual, had a wealth of work to catch up on – so I was set for something to do. The boys were getting a little antsy, watching Discovery shows in the hotel bed. All day long. We took a cab. To Wal-Mart. That’s what we did that day. Guido won a bouncy ball in the machine. I bought a packaged salad. Then another old cabbie, a different one who had just picked us up from our hotel, almost accidentally dropped us off at the Shepard Air Force Base, mistaking us (US!) for soldiers! Hilarious! Chain-smoking, driving all slow, he didn’t seem to know which end was up, god bless ‘im.
If Steve, the manager at Herb Easley Motors was correct, our car would probably be ready to go sometime mid-morning. So we decided to hit up the hotel lounge next door that night. Just for a bit. It was our last night in Texas.
The lounge was called “Mirth.” It was a hole, old wooden walls and ARC-bought decor, big hanging beer ad mirrors and a pool table. A girl bartender served a young guy with long hair and a black beanie, chain smoking the both of them.
We played a few rounds of Cutthroat (I won two of them, P.S.) and just had a couple beers. The first mistake we made was to befriend the bartendress, who was born in Colorado. Lovely people, the two of them. Gin and Jerry were their names, and they were a couple. Gin was super nice, and when Timmy ordered a shot she poured one for herself and came around the bar to drink with us. “To Colorado!” “To Texas!”
Pretty soon this friendly, polite exchange turned into a debauched scene. Gin took a liking to us and kept offering free shots, and it simply wouldn’t have been polite to say no. Jager bombs for all of us. Gin and Jerry were playing Pink Floydy music and singing on the guitar, some pink-haired friends had shown up who kept making out like crazy, we were trying out Jerry’s creation called Jerry Limeade (it has lots of vodka in it), Gin was pulling out free Jello shots and we were all yelling about how much cops fucking sucked. Fahck thefucking copz!
It had gotten out of hand, and it was time to go home. “You must have another,” Jerry said. “Let me tell you something. Those mechanics? Do you think they’ll be working on your car first thing in the morning? They’re out doing this. They’ll get to it around noon. Have another drink on me.”
We finally stumbled home wayyy later, amazed that we’d be embarking on yet another road trip hung over. And we crashed.
First thing in the morning Timmy called Steve. “Maybe it’ll be done sometime after noon, but closer to five,” he said. We were starting to believe what Jerry was saying. Steve wasn’t really prioritizing us, despite having explained to him that we were broke and needing to get home. He kept telling us “you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.” I started to wonder if I’d get fired. Steve offered to shuttle us to the mall for the afternoon. We didn’t want to go to the fucking mall. We wanted to go home, and we weren’t fine.
Timmy decided to make a personal appearance, so he visited Steve in person and came back with a photo on his cameraphone: his car hanging in the air, the pieces splayed out on the ground below it horrifyingly. It wasn’t going to be a quick job.
We watched some more Discovery, and my heart audibly slowed as I ate another Whataburger, drenched in grease, for lunch. Then we all packed up our shit and brought it to the mechanic, trying to look as droopy as possible. That might motivate them to work.
Even after Timmy had paid them a visit earlier that morning, telling them I might get fired from my job, no one was working on our car. And absolutely no progress has been made. A mechanic was idly chatting with Steve in his office. When Steve saw us, he got a frightened look and the mechanic shot back into the garage. We stormed into his office.
“I’m sorry, we’re just confused. We really need to get home, and I might get fired, and no one is working on our car,” I said.
“Oh, we were waiting on a part,” said Steve. What part? What the fuck? They had said earlier that all the parts were in.
Apparently Steve offered Timmy to replace something that didn’t urgently need replacing in the beginning, but they happened to have one in stock so it would be quick and painless. Then they realized they didn’t have that part, so instead of calling Timmy (he would have said fuck the part), they ordered it and waited for it to come in before working more on our car, watching the clock tick slowly. It was getting to be ridiculous.
“Fuck the part and just fix my car,” said Timmy.
“What time will it be done?” I asked.
“Maybe 4:30,” said Steve. I had to be at work the next morning. Drive through the night, get out of the car and into a damn power suit to look at a computer.
After that I’ll admit, there was some fit-throwing, angry cigarette-smoking, cursing into the air and staring in at the mechanics. Lots of pacing.
And that’s what we did for the rest of the day, really. We stayed around the office where customers were coming in, looking like sad, dirty children in the sun.
I was hoping that they’d do whatever it took to get rid of us, seeing as how we were probably bad for business. Hours went by. We were playing Name That Tune, singing, doing stretches, I was pounding rhythms into the picnic table with a straw, then stabbing things repetitively with it. Time slowed.
Finally around four, the car was goddamn fucking done, and it was only because we had pulled up a chair right in front of the mechanic to watch him and make sure it got done. The three of us are typically peaceful people, really. But sometimes you need to be a complete ass.
It actually felt good to be in the car again, on the way finally, on the way to our dog and our beds that we would…not get to sleep in for very long. Timmy flew through Texas, making excellent time while Father Guido read music articles aloud to us. We played the Name Game, we talked about everything on our trip. We were actually pretty touched with how sweet the people of Wichita Falls were. The tow man, the front desk guy, the front desk girl who gave me the notepad to write my adventures on, and asked about it later. There were Gin and Jerry, and the old decripit cabbies. Even the people at Herb Easley, well, we didn’t like them too much – but even when we were cursing at them, they just stood there benevolently, never even tensing a muscle. A gentle people, really.
And around 2 a.m., we actually made it home. We made good time and gained an hour on the way in. I even got about four hours of sleep, and when I dragged my sorry ass into work, I was still happy to be home.