Table-Dancing to “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and “In-Tra-Veen-Ee-Us Drugs!”
There was a dusting of snow at the outset, and the Professor picked Zucho and I up at home. For the previous five years, we had hosted the ever-growing Grim Productions Halloween party known as The Night of 1,000 Evils – the last of which consisted of a nearly three-week buildout on Soundstage #1 at the Denver Studio Complex to culminate in a throwdown featuring five bands, three DJs, a foam room, aerialists, fire-spewing robots, burlesque girls, video greenscreen projections, a movie “theatre”, a VIP lounge, a trucked in “honey wagon” [mobile restrooms], a cleaning crew onsite, six bartenders, two custom-built bars and shelving, the most outrageous costumes ever seen, two separate busloads of merrymakers, 1500 paid attendees, 200 crew/talent/FX/”guests” and a sticker price of $12,200 – all strung under the most incredibly ambitious temporary stage design seen outside of Burning Man. We made the money back, and a little more – but we were spent. There was no way to top that Halloween Party without quitting all other endeavors and making that one event our full-time job for six months.
So here we were, all a little soggy and deflated – we’d moaned and daydreamed about a “Halloween without obligation” and now that it was here, we were on the border of uninspired. At the last moment, [as we were all Young and Beautiful then] – we hatched on the idea of going out as “old men”; dressed in similar plaid jackets and polyester pants, white patent shoes and pillows under our shirts. Not exactly groundbreaking costumery – but we were galvanized enough to venture out to (why? WHY?!) Streets of London, which was serving up a standing-room-only crowd for reasons unknown.
We took a seat beside Suzi Blotto and Tony, the Professor deep into his cups and Zucho and I getting a good running start at toppling the Monster of Sobriety. Perhaps an hour later, well-tightened-up and freewheeling in Halloween High Spirits, I heard the haunted and familiar whirr and click of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” begin to slither and shoosh its way through the crowded tavern. I felt the ookie-spookie inside me clamoring to be Expressed, my eyes alternately wild with hunger and closed with tranquility; I effortlessly snaked my way atop our table and began dancing in the most shameful, Goth-night-inspired fashion; lyrics leaking from my lips and my tablemates completely and utterly unfazed – in fact, I’m unsure they noticed at all until the crosswise bouncer stepped to their shoulders with surprising deftness. His scowl and extended hand broke my trance.
“Uh-uh, pal,” he shook his head slightly. “Get off the table.”
“Okay,” I said. For despite this deplorable, uncouth behavior that bordered on – if not dwelt within – humiliation, I was amenable to Decorum and no matter how masterfully-imbibed, I was still a Gentleman. I took his steadying hand and stepped down with unexpected grace. As I moved to retake my seat and my neglected cocktail, I felt my arm lifted; pinned up behind me.
“Let’s go.” The bouncer appeared exhausted, annoyed. He didn’t even look at me.
My eyes darted to my companions in disbelief, then back to the bar-man – “Wait – wait! You said ‘get off the table’ and I said ‘okay’,” I stammered. “I didn’t argue. I didn’t fight. I stepped down, immediately.”
“Sorry.” And he was moving, shuffling me in front of him.
Just then I turned to see Zucho, in the boldest and most wondrous display of fraternity, give a nearly-defeated shrug and sigh; wearing an expression that read ‘I can’t believe you’ve forced me to do this.’ As his arms came down from the shrug, he extended one arm, arrow-straight, a mighty Polish axe-handle, and did the most cinematic table-wipe imaginable – glasses and cups clattering and shattering to the concrete floor; a spill of people pulling away.
And lightning-fast, there was another bouncer, clapping him on the shoulder and hoisting him upwards, the two of us wrenched through the crowd and slid unceremoniously to the sidewalk, which was now awash with snow – six, eight inches or more.
I couldn’t stop laughing and I still didn’t *totally* understand.
“That was awesome,” I confessed. “I don’t want to diminish its impact – but I must know. Why, exactly, did you do a table wipe?”
“You got thrown out.”
“I did. I know. Bullshit!”
He shrugged. “I knew if you were out, I was coming with you,” he smiled. “And I’ll be damned if *you* get thrown out and I don’t get thrown out, too.”
We’d refused the Professor’s kind offer to drive us home, and had set out on foot, drunken and mischievous; into the time past the Witching Hour, slipping and cursing under the dumping snow, frozen and wet on Colfax.
“The Lair!” Zucho smiled. It did seem a respite, and even though it was late, the pedigree of the Lions Lair [sic] steeled us. “They’re always good for a Last Cocktail.”
We opened the door, the lights were on and a single aging Vet whittled at a whiskey. Still we pressed on, demanding sanctuary and a Warmer-Upper before we finished our trek; and as promised, the Lair was good for it.
A sawed-off American Indian, hoodie up and pulled tight around a $1.29 Walgreens Phantom of the Opera mask, slid between us in an awkward move, weaving and swaying slightly. Zucho nodded at him, I raised my drink to him.
“I’ve been to the bathroom three times in an hour,” he grinned, “and I haven’t peed.”
The Look passed between us, Zucho erupting the obligatory ‘enormous-fake-smile-of-comprehension’ one reserves for Crazy Fuckers. He had to ask.
“What’ve you been doing?” he queried warmly.
A bold pause, the Phantom’s face glowed; it was as if he’d been waiting all night for this. He straightened up best he could, and elucidated, syllable-by-syllable, with a pride that was unrestrained:
“In-Tra-Veen-Ee-Us Drugs!” he beamed.
We nodded in unison, clinked glasses, and downed our last cocktail of The Halloween Without Obligation before setting out into the inky blizzard.
- Sid Pink