Greetings, salutations and gratuitous apologies dear readers! I make some lovey dovey statement of pride and love and whatnot on the anniversary and proceed to disappear for nigh 10 days! Last time I pulled a number like this, my best friend’s Mom had half of California dredging the canals for my apparently rotting body and/or looking for a good place to dump it once she got her hands on me. So for the faux pas, I must heartily apologize. As a fellow reader of blogs, nothing annoys me more than not getting my content on a regular basis and I thank you all for sticking through the frustrating quiet.
But on to the good news! And believe me, the reasons for my rare silence are pretty dang awesome! And in their awesomeness have put me a bit behind the 8-ball in a few places. Like lagging on getting the rest of my okra transplanted into large enough containers, getting my new batch of Peter Pepper seeds germinating for a fall crop of hilarity and a host of other chores of fun. And if I’m behind on the fun stuff, you don’t even want to know what the cat’s litter box looks like right now. Hey, that’s not good news! That’s more excuses…lame ones too.
So I guess the tippy top of my happy list would have to be making it to another year of living. As would logically be expected, I’m slightly more surprised at the cusping of each year. I believe this year warrants a mildly raised eyebrow. Still got all my fingers and toes, only made 1 or 2 more lifelong enemies by being a drunken ass. All in all, not so bad. Even got to be around to see a couple of my best friends have their first babies. Both of ‘em within shooting distance of my own birthday. Two Leo girls within a year of each other? Oh this is going to be a hoot! But enough of their future, on to my present.
The celebration started quite early this year. Normally with a midweek birthday you hit it the weekend before or after. Not ole Pook. We’re kickin off this birthday a day early and live on television with a cast of characters a billion times better than the Showbiz Pizza Party Time Band! Mr. Chuck Leonard, Mr. Brian Medina, the scandalous Scurvy and the Central Valley Buzz crew! For this past week’s cooking show, I had decided to do a “liquid lunch”. I threw down on the super secret spicy Bloody Mary recipe that I stole via osmosis from my old watering hole in Redondo Beach as well as a recently discovered gin and tonic delight gleaned from chaperoning a simulated winter formal.
I discovered the magical Bloody Mary on my first foray out of my cute little circa 1900 (said so over the door) beach cottage. How I miss that place! Except for the catfish and ass odor the crept from our roommate’s spunk-lair and rapidly took over the living room. Nasty little hobbitses! But, on to the bar story. So I’m looking for “my bar”, the walking distance spot where a long haired country boy can use words with multiple syllables while tying one on. So I wander in and have one of the worst long islands I have ever had in my life. Like, almost giving the alcohol back, bad. But then I see a guy order a Bloody Mary and she asks if he wants it “hot”. And then I see her reach into a hidden cabinet and pull out a stout jar of something white and a bit chunky. I ask what it is and she tells me that it’s pure, melt your nose, horseradish. And I reply with a grin that I’m down like Charlie Brown. So she throws down on what has become the set bar by which all other tomato-vodka products shall be judged. It’s spicy enough to elicit a bit of flop sweat on your lip, like you’re talking to cops with something naughty clutched betwixt yon buttcheeks. And that horseradish dashes through your sinuses like a flaming greyhound, if, on greyhound tracks, they used lady greyhounds that were wearing dog lingerie and holding a full steak dinner under their heaving canine mammaries, for the pups to chase. But you still get a strong taste of all the other players, the hot sauce, the pepper, the celery. All are welcome to the flavor party. And many a hangover was combated on a bleary morning with this healing tonic.
Speaking of tonics! Obviously, I’m leading into the gin and tonic. Not normally high on most people’s list of favorites. But those people have never tried Hendrick’s gin. A dear friend and nipple tippler of the highest order introduced me to this in a most unique fashion. Rather than the common lime or lemon added to the quinine soda and booze, they had instead placed slices of cucumber in their drinks. I’m shocked! Most gins have a flavor reminiscent of cleaning products, but I can clearly taste the cucumber’s essence refreshingly floating through the flavors. Even the gin has a much mellower part to play, bringing in herbal notes that meld with other flavors rather than dominate them. This is pretty much only trailing behind a fine scotch as my preferred cocktail of leisure.
But ultimately, I was on TV with two bottles of giggles and a license to mix. And conveniently forgetting that I hadn’t really eaten breakfast that morning… So, we got a little silly? The techs are chillin, the weather girl Esperanza, is either complimenting me vociferously in Spanish, or she’s explaining that I’m standing on her foot and need to move my drunken hoof and somewhere through the haze I remember quite a few shit eating grins and much guffawing at jokes and allegories that I really can’t quite recall. Needless to say, I’m positive it was my best show, despite not remembering a lick of it.
From there, the evening degenerated into a very blurry writers meeting. But I’m going to save that part for another day. Probably right around when I finally get all of the pieces back from the persons involved and properly figure out who I’m supposed to thank and who to apologize to. Overall though, I’m told I had quite a nice time.
Fast forward to 4pm the next day. Why am I beeping? What in God’s great unfair creation would make a perfectly good human beep? Cell phone. What is cell phone? Cell phone is beeping. Cell phone is Chuck. “Hello?” “Pook! Happy Birthday! You on your way to the show?” Crap! 4 o’clock! Promised to be on anniversary show which coincides with the day Mom decided not to drown me in the toilet! To the Pookmobile! Oh god…the pain. Maybe we’ll amble to the Pookmobile instead of the heroic dash.
Two days in a row on TV? And to shake my birthday fanny on the air? I must have given Mother Theresa a nice ham sandwich in a previous life. It’s even an awesomely mellow show with the Eva Scow trio kicking out some mellow jams on the mandolin, AC Miles grooving on his slide guitar and Marcos Dorado from City Arts Gallery along with Dixie Boswell with some headache soothing art. And Chuck, that old softy, he went and got me a cake! Though I was fairly surprised to avoid being faceplanted into it by the wicked Chuckster. He has a history you know. Big love to my CVT family for a bitchin’ birthday party. Cuz after that, I grabbed a Wellness tea from Teazers and dragged these aging bones home for a quiet birthday evening with Mrs. EOF.
But oh there’s more! (See? I’m trying to make up for my absence by writing y’all a novel!) And here is the icing on a three day birthday cake. I’m roused from a much more restful sleep by the same infernal beeping. Chuck? TV!?!? Wait…no, already been through that one. This morning he asks if I can tend a simple bar. Well sure, on an entry level I suppose. I’ve certainly observed the professionals for a decade or two. Where’s the gig? Joey O’s gallery opening?? Paint me there!
What to wear, what to wear? I’ve been less nervous getting dressed before performances! I’m encouraged to bring my own style. But in most cases my “style” is Modern Scumbag with a dash of Hippy. Though some will be pleased to hear that due to popular dissonance, I have forgone my personal enjoyment of patchouli for your olfactory sanctitude. So without “comfort” as a fashion forward theme, what else do we have in the closet? Oh yeah, LOUD! I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy with a fashion purchase when I grabbed that terribly orange classic 50’s rayon Hawaiian shirt. That and my khaki cargos and I should be good. I even dug out some brown loafers to complete my non-scumbaggery. Topped off with my mildly shredded straw hat and I just walked out of a 90’s Red Lobster ad. Since that’s the closest I’ve ever worked with bartenders, it’s sadly what I consider a semi-pro type of barbackin’ uniform. I look like Grizzly Adams and Jimmy Buffet had a love child…
What happened next can only be called one of the most successful gallery openings in Fresno history. And for me the absolutely most interesting and fun time I’ve had at an art gallery. And shockingly, I have been to a couple. First and foremost was the art exhibit of course. It’d be nice if I could say some deeply profound and uncannily insightful things about the art and the feelings that they elicited in me. But sadly, I was a nervous nelly over my new upcoming adventure and only gave myself time to do a very brief walkthrough. But my eyes were very much dazzled by what I did get to at least glance at. Astounding drawings and highly textured paintings, a couple quite shiny with layers of lacquer, fanciful steel sculptures and of course the photography of Joe Osejo. It was a nice little infusion of external creativity to stoke my fires and get me into the spirit of the evening.
Though there was one other spirit I felt the touch of, the Great Spirit of the Benevolent Barkeep. Oddly he’s a sober spirit, which worked out well for me. One isn’t really a bartender if he scuttles onto the roof with most of the bottles and hisses balefully at anyone seeking libation. Instead I settled into smiling and getting to introduce and reacquaint myself with the Rogues Gallery of the Tower District. Lots of grinning, well known faces, agog at seeing me clear eyed and sober handing THEM a drink for once, as well as many more delightful new ones to annoy and horrify with my overly syllabic version of potty humor. Needless to say, I again had a fabulous night. A concentration of that many artists and lovers of art, create a wicket brew of interesting conversations of widely varying depths. And from the puddles to the Marianas Trenches, every one was fascinating. There was a little of everything, discussion of welding techniques, views on aspects of the human form and probably one of the smoothest pickup lines I’ve ever heard.
It was a whirlwind night and a rousing success in my estimation. Both the opening and my sprawling, unbeknownst to others, birthdaystravaganza. It just goes to show that even a completely unplanned birthday can be tons of fun and filled with new and interesting experiences. Much love to friends far and wide! I wish that more of you could have shared in the festivities, but I’d have to rent out the Grizzly’s stadium to cram so much love into one space. I’m one fat and well loved Leo. So let me bounce that loving vibe back out to all of you. May what remains of the summer be a wild and fabulous hoot for you all as well. And thank you all again for putting up with my self indulgent absence. One love!