Thursday, June 03, 2004


Let There Be Lips

Part 9: Some insects, called the human race

The high point of the last half of 1991 was, for me, the Halloween show. We had the biggest audience we’d had in months, with a surprisingly low proportion of Video Virgins. That made for a great game of Fake An Orgasm. We started the preshow with a lip-sync to “The Time Warp.” I even jury-rigged a PA system with a Radio Shack microphone, a secondhand mixing board, and a portable stereo, allowing me to shout down the hecklers. On that night, the first anniversary of Rocky’s arrival at Lincoln Plaza, that mic was well and truly rocked.

The awesome flyer Chris designed for the Halloween show.  Note the cool 'Halloween lips'
As 1991 gave way to 1992 (with a party where I set a personal best for beer consumption), the crowd was evolving again. But this time, somehow, I, along with Chris, was at the center of it all.

Me and Chris had discovered a mutual love of Star Wars (which was still on the cusp of its mid-90s revival), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (a bold choice; most John Hughes fans will stick to safe picks like Pretty In Pink or Sixteen Candles), comics (I forgave him for being a Marvel zombie) and other, deeper, geek obsessions, leading to a friendship that thrives to this day.

It’s not that we were cool, necessarily. But within that crowd, the unapologetic misfits, we wore our obsessions proudly, and I think that’s what attracted people. We were the coolest of the uncool.

For me, the first sign of this new status came from a local BBS. One of the younger guys in the cast had just had his first sexual experience, followed immediately by his first pregnancy scare. When everything turned out all right, he posted to the board with, “thank Rich I’m not a father!” I emailed him, rather confused, and said, “um, thanks, but what did I have to do with it?” He responded that, since he didn’t believe in God, I was the next best thing.

Talk about feeling inadequate.

Along with me and Chris, there was Mike, Jessica, Gannon, and, as ever, Leah. We were the inner clique of the cast. We were the ones who ran the show, who selected new cast members, and—most crucially—decided where to go after the show.

This could get to be a problem. Oh, it had once been simple; pick a place (usually the University Place Denny’s), let the word spread, and anyone, cast or audience, who wants to come, comes. But the first problem with this principle was that we could end up with up to thirty people, waiting for up to an hour while an entire section had to be cleared.

The second problem was that we would all still be on a Rocky high, many of us still in costume, and unwilling or unable to quickly return to the norms of socially acceptable behavior. Quite aside from my list of inside jokes, I could do an entire section just on the hooliganery we used to get up to at Denny’s.

Third, there would always be at least one shitbag—usually one kid named Jason--who would skip out before the bill came. And if there’s one rule of thumb for situations like this, it’s that, if you show up with a bunch of people in silly costumes, make lots of noise, and piss off the other customers, then you damn well better pay your bill, and leave a bigass tip to boot.

Then there was the problem of getting people home. I didn’t mind driving Mike and Leah out to the wilds of Spanaway. But some drunk teenager I’d never seen before would always seem to slip into my car while I wasn’t looking, and I’d spend the wee hours of the night driving out to Fort Lewis, or Puyallup, or one time as far as Auburn, praying I’d be able to pull over in time if they started chundering.

So eventually we got tired of playing Moses to a tribe of kids who acted like a bunch of lemurs on meth. One night, then, we formulated a plan. “We’re going to Denny’s on Bridgeport!” we announced—and then we went to Shari’s on Hosmer. Yeah, it was devious, and a little mean-spirited, but it meant that the core cast members got to eat in peace, without a bunch of hangers-on hanging on, and I could continue in my (ultimately futile) efforts to be the meat in a Leah-Jessica sandwich.

Fortuitously, my parents went on a long road trip around that time—down south to visit my brother in Alabama, my sister in Arkansas, a reunion of my Dad’s Air Force buddies, and all the Air Force museums they passed along the way—giving us a handy gathering place. It was perfect. My parents kept a well-stocked larder, so we saved money on food, and Mike brought over an endless supply of vampire and slasher flicks for us to mock.

The precedent for this had been set the previous summer, when they went out of town just in time for my twenty-first birthday party. That was a truly epic event, in which, after a dozen or so tequila poppers, I experienced a blackout during which I may have kissed Danetta. Chris, meanwhile, was playing around on the computer in my parents’ room, and was surprised to turn around and find Dena and her boyfriend having sex on the bed. They didn’t seem to mind him being there—Dena kept grabbing his ass, possibly so that she could count it on her purity test score as a threesome.

Despite how it may sound, we were not exclusionary. We hung out with almost everyone from the cast and audience, and enjoyed their company greatly. Jason was the only one we actively wanted gone, and he fucked off after Mike, during the preshow one night, took the mic and announced, “Jason, would you please fuck off?”

So that worked out all right.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

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