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2006-08-18 - 4:04 p.m.

When I return back to my little hotel room, I make quick work of a trip to the bathroom, noting how true the adage of “breaking the seal” actually is, and lamenting that truth. I plug a little bit of music into my ears, and dance my way up and back through the room, staring at the field of white my computer bears. From the bowels of my new wallet, comes an unprinted receipt I got at the bar.

They didn’t have any other paper for me when I asked.

I hate typing up what’s already been scribbled, but it is a sad state that must remain, just as I must deal with the sad fact that my hotel had nothing but non-smoking rooms, leaving me only a glass with water in it as an ashtray.

With no place to put it down, I hold the smoke between my teeth just long enough for a sentence, before it tickles my nose and I make the fifteenth of a likely fifty taps on the glass.

I’ll flush the smoke before the staff find room to revoke my deposit.

*************

A midnight showing of Snakes on a Plane was enough to draw me in, but thanks to the time difference, the theaters allowed a ten o’clock show. They didn’t even toss up a midnight showing in deference to tradition.

I never even considered wearing my snakes on a plane t-shirt to the movie. I’m not that guy. But I was apparently alone in that thought. When the first of many adorned in movie related materials walked it, he stopped mid aisle and flashed the crowd screaming the more colorful variation of the movie’s title. No more than three people show up together, but everyone seems to know each other, waving at each other, and celebrating the evening’s events. When my hands are thrust into the air for the Tenecious D trailer, the boys behind me jump right in with my salute.

There still stands little in this world that compares to the joy of a midnight showing of a purposeful B-movie. People jumping when they should be scared, laughing when they’re supposed to and even more often when they’re not. Cat calls echo through the theater, as if the rules for subsequent midnight cult showings were being laid from the first reel.

It has me grinning from beginning to end, and I know even before the rest of the night swells to greet me that my cheeks will be sore from enjoying it far too much.

*************

I’m not sure the pull, but I need a beer after a movie. Granted, given my well noted affectation for the suds I’m likely to desire a beer after a good sneeze. Most of my friends agree I’ll die prematurely thanks to the sauce, and on occation the teenager inside me has enough hubris to enjoy that fact. Sometimes I need to take that teenager to the shed.

Still, the post-op beer seems necessary, as if to bubble down all the information, boiling it down to its very core, and make sense of all of it, be it Mullholand or Ferris. No matter how simple the flick, there’s always one good scene to break down. I looked hard at the bar I’ve been to a few times. The bartenders already know I’ll tip two dollars even on a half price happy hour beer, and they’ve begun to call me “New York” when they pick up the bills. I’d rather a little something different though. The baseline of a well played bit of rock coming from a bar down the block proves more efficous in luring my sloshy mind.

I walk in and upon seeing Pabst flowing freely, know I’ve found a good place to settle my well framed ass. (My ex-girlfriend dubbed these my “nice-ass pants.” Unfortunately, she told me they were “hipster pants” in the same breath, and took the shine off my tush.)

The boys laying fingers to strings offer hints of bluegrass and blues over the ramen soaked vocal chords just past graduation. The young guns have enough to them to play homage to songs that have a little more wear on them, and it takes me five songs to recognize a recent riff.

“Hey Gilley, you want to sing on this one?”

The room responds with glee as an old timer in long beard, and a hat that I previously thought had been outlawed in every state but Florida made his way to the microphone. He doesn’t even think of taking his hands from his pockets while he leans into the mic just enough to deliver a voice to the track so gravelly it makes your feet hurt a little to listen to it.

Just below them, the fan club churns. No doubt composed of girlfriends and their cadre; a crew of young attractives do their best to groove along with the rythms, squirming the room into motion with their hips, all whilst flashing their wares in attire just a little bit too structured for a Thursday night. They trip into unnecessary spins to let their skirts flare just a little, and enjoy the hems settling back in on their calves. They do their work for the band, flirting with anyone who nears them, be they of chiseled chest of burgenoning second chins. Their smiles ask the crowd to stay for one more drink.

A woman at the end of the bar sings along with a song I don’t recognize, playing back-up singer with her hands, posing more than dancing, with her eyes set on her boy, who knows too little to do anything but grin. On occation she laughs at his stingy lack of movement.

I try to take in the scene: the couples curled into booths taking refuge in the din. Released from conversation, they retreat with glee to the simple nuzzling of our animal ancestors for communication. A toe taps while a nose curls into shoulder, and then vice versa. The bartendress walks by making nothing of the night. The old timers rolling cigarettes in the corner, looking up only to greet the young ladies that join them for a drink out of respect.

I try to take in the scene, but instead, I try not to look at the statuesque bruenette in the crowd of well-wishers. The bar is narrow and crowded, like a rush hour subway train. You spend so much of your time trying to find a comfortable place to rest your gaze. She catches my eye from time to time, standing taller than her friends, and smiling widely, but she spins my glances aside in a sugar push with a like-minded lady. She knows I’m looking, as does the rest of her crew, and it’s nothing new.

When my lungs tug, I head out to the front a little nervous, wondering if Denver, just a month into the smoking ban will know what to make of a napkin drapped over a Pabst can. I also have to worry over what I will do when I finish this last cigarette in my pack. (The bar sold smokes, but I was low on cash, and the bartender insisted on packing any carton he sold. He seemed a nice enough chap, making sure I got my change, but depriving me of one of my favorite parts of the smoking ritual isn’t something I take lightly.)

When I return, I find the napkin code lacking. My chair is gone, and after a glance around the bar, I find the only open area to be just behind the ladies staked ground. The exact spot I wanted nothing to do with. Luckily there’s a spot behind them, so I might not interrupt the stare of steel between them and the beautiful boys that urge bits of melody into the night.

The girls take ease with their bit of dance. It becomes so route that the dance gets forgotten amongst tripping tongues and bits of sarcasm. They laugh and babble at each other without losing a step, maybe not utterly unaware that the male gender lacks this ability completely. (Walking and chewing gum provides an early model for the ladies. We guys never mastered this. A man dancing, or walking, is spending so much time trying to look cool, he generally has little mental capacity left over for anything else.) As the girls made trifling bits of conversation, a drunk women in her thirties joins them on the floor. She turns right to them, and half-dances the motion to encourage them to leave their bits of conversation behind and focus on the bridge the lead guitarist is belting. Her hands circle in, as if urging children over.

As she meanders off, the girls find a means to turn the “Cut-her-off” motion into a dance maneuver. They circle each other, making cutting motions at their throats, while chuckling over the wonder of themselves. And I can’t help but laugh along.

I leave before the band gets a chance to play its first encore. On the way back to my room, I wonder how many of the four people who ask me for a cigarette believe me when I tell them I’m smoking my last.

The streets are quiet enough that when I come to a corner, I don’t have to look up to know I can cross.

*************

When I get back to my room, the morning paper is there waiting for me. And it’s not even two o’clock yet.

In Denver, they know when the day ends.


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