Monday night at the bar.
A guy in his late twenties sits left of the taps, right where the sinks are. He orders a PBR and thanks me profusely, then goes back to casting his serial-killer eyes around the room. He comes to the bar pretty regularly but usually takes a table in the back. Where he sits tonight there’s no way I can ignore him.
He tries to make small talk but it comes off as veiled insults. He’s going for jocular humor maybe, but the results are the non sequitur ravings of a lunatic. I can’t tell how aware he is of what he sounds like. I look back down at the pint glasses I’m rinsing, then wander down the bar, acting as if I have something to do, aside from getting away from him.
He orders a Schlitz tallboy, then summons me back a few minutes later and sticks out his thumb for me to look at. He claims there was a piece of glass on the lip of the can, but I see nothing on his skin. I pass my fingers over the remaining cans in the cooler just to make sure, then offer him one on the house for his trouble.
A couple beers later he’s well into muttering to himself and attempting conversations with neighboring drinkers, who do their best to pretend not to hear him. He asks politely for one last beer, and, after hesitating a moment, I comply. Fifteen minutes later he asks for another. I tell him I think he had the right idea last time. He wants to know why. I explain that in my professional opinion he’s had enough, that he’s talking to himself, and harassing other patrons.
“So it’s because I’m being aggressive, not crazy, right?”
I let it hang there, then start to walk away. He mumbles something about remembering how he was treated here and stalks out.
Can’t wait till next time. There’s always a next time with ones like him.
I get home on Wednesday, take off my clothes, and get ready to turn on the TV, when Elliott texts, “What time is Peter’s band on tonight?” I didn’t know what he’s talking about, but a quick internet search yields the Minibeast gig at the Hideout. Minibeast is Peter Prescott’s solo act of the last few years. I got both their records but figured they’d never tour. It’s harder and harder to do so these days unless you have a big audience. I love the soundscape-y thing Minibeast does but doubt it’s for the arenas.
I’ve loved every one of Prescott’s bands. From the Volcano Suns in the 80s, to Kustomized and the Peer Group in the 90s, and the reformed Mission of Burma and this new thing in the last couple decades. So I put my clothes back on and pedal across town to the Hideout.
I see Peter a few minutes after walking in, sweaty and panting. “I had a feeling you’d be here,” he says. The room is practically empty, except for an oblivious couple on a very loud date and four or five people there for the music. Watching Prescott on stage takes me back. Over thirty years of going to see this guy and it’s made me happy every time. “I’m sixty years old…way past my sell-by date!” he tells me.
Hardly. I would’ve been mad to have missed him. I see Elliott at the bar thank him over and over for the head’s up.