Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In which Birdmonster accidentally descends into filth yet escapes, unscathed

When you spend twelve hours a day in a van, you feel a certain solidarity with the truckers of America: you eat at the same Subways, drink the same cocaine-strength, coffee, and get hit on by the same crusty, wizened wait staff. Also: muscle atrophy. It's a glorious life.

Recently, however, I've learned a few things about truck drivers that live underneath the cliches of fatal corpulence, "accidental" thefts, and the gargling of meth-amphetamines. Both have roots in a fundamental politeness that is most often overlooked when pondering the American trucker. First, there's a secret language of headlights, hazards, and brake lights on the road. Second, they love blowing each other.

While both are intrinsically linked in a rugged system of do unto others etiquitte, it's important to stress that both are not done simultaneously. The first is, as I noted, a special vernacular on the highway: when a trucker passes another and has gotten far enough ahead to make going back into the slow lane safe, the passed trucker will flash his brights two or three times. Duly informed that he's safely ahead, the trucker in front will enter the same lane and put his hazards on for a few seconds in gesture of thanks. It's like Miss Manners, if Miss Manners was an hyper-obese teamster. I've taken to doing it myself and, when a trucker flashes the hazards back as thanksgiving, it's almost like falling in love all over again.

Then there's the other thing. There's a liquor store up the street from me where I purchase my Tecate, Rice Krispies, and Peter Pan peanut butter. Near the cash register, there's a rack with surprisingly filthy porno on it. Words like "cockmeat" are bandied about. I mention this because trucker graffiti makes that porno stand seem like a commercial for plug-in potpourri. The thing is, the graffiti is explicit: meet me in this stall at this time on this day and I'll...do things to you that would make John Waters blush. Trucker graffiti is the exact opposite of the Victorian novel. Unless I missed that Bronte novel called "Wuthering Testicles on Your Chin."

I figured that the wall-scrawlings I saw in Wyoming would be the filth-nastiest thing I saw on tour. Or, failing that, at least a couple days. And then we went to brunch in Denver.

See, there's this diner in Denver called the "Bump and Grind." During the working week, it's your typical diner. Think a hipper version of Denny's. On the weekends, however, they do something they call the "Petticoat Brunch." Nothing changes, really, except the waiters. And they change in a very specific way: they cross dress. Badly. Really badly. Really, really badly.

I'd describe our "waitress," but like the man says, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Yeah. Exactly. If trucker graffiti can make John Waters blush, the Petticoat Brunch would make Caligula faint. It's not the sort of place you take your children, that is, unless you want your child to get pegged with a bean-bag shaped like a boob. Or, say, have a gentleman put cream in your coffee in a manner that could be heavily undersold as "suggestive."

But the thing is, I was almost crying by the end. It was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable eating experiences I've ever had. Our shim waiter-ess was hilarious, my egg roulade scrumptious. My cheeks hurt from constant laughter. If you live in Denver, you need to spend one weekend at the Bump and Grind. You will not regret it.


Of course, the tour has not been a carnival of disturbing male sexuality. No, no. We've put down 2,400 miles in a few days and played both Denver and Omaha. In Denver, we played at a Sunday barbeque that was decidedly Country flavored. I broke my bass (a near tradition) and we got to stomp our boots sneakers and twang it out for a night. A few old friends made the night special and, for a kick-off show, I couldn't expect anything better than friendly faces.

On the way to Omaha, we listened to both Springsteen's "Nebraska" and that Counting Crows song "Omaha"---it's like being in Lodi. Sometimes you just have to. It was our first time in Omaha and I didn't break my other bass. That's good. Also good: the show. Not much to talk about there except our first Omaha-seasoned evening made us want to return over and over again. Not to go to Boys Town, but to, you know, play music. Had to make sure that you didn't think I was going to go on Sally Jessie and end up being spittled upon by a cue-bald failed Marine.

And now? Well, now I'm detoxing from a dinner of ham on Wonderbread, smothered in fries and that cheese sauce you put on nachos at the ballpark. My blood is turning to oil. It's great. I think I'm going to go hibernate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ROFL... I'm taking the next plane to Denver!