by Bob Ferguson
The young man next to me was whizzing like a race horse while I was peeing in Morse Code—symptomatic of an aging prostate.
“It must be hell to get old, eh ol’ geezer” snorted the young stallion in the stall next to me. His tone insinuated that senior citizens should stay home at night.
“Well, you’ll never find out if you don’t show a little more respect,” I said.
“Oh you must be one of them Vietnam vet, tough guys huh,” he said emerging while zipping his fly.
“Could be,” I said while pulling at the paper towel dispenser that was usually empty, but miraculously had three sheets left—I took them all, “But I didn’t get old by getting drunk and being stupid,” I continued.
There is a restroom etiquette that is observed by all men—don’t let your eyes wander and keep your mouth shut. He had transgressed good behavior in the head of one of my favorite haunts for live music, The Blue Monk. My wife, Ardi and I are regulars and he was an interloper. Blues man, Curtis Salgado was the headliner and we had arrived early for dinner and good seats. I like to drink more toddies than are good for me; Ardi likes Diet Pepsi and is the designated driver. We are harmless—most of the time. But once in a while when I get to feeling like I’m twenty five, then I can be dangerous. The music, bourbon, and testosterone coursed through my veins that night and made me feel youthfully bullet-proof.
“You callin’ me stupid old timer?” He said in a voice reminiscent of a young gun-fighter trying to spur John Wayne into a showdown.
Re-checking my fly, I left without saying another word. The intruder was in his mid thirties, wore a Boston Red Sox hat backwards on a sloped forehead giving him a definite Cro-Magnon look. His black T-shirt was emblazoned with a University of Oregon big yellow “O.” However, his remaining ensemble of old jeans and worn sneakers clearly labeled him as a pseudo-alum or wannabe fan. He did not fit into the tony crowd of the Belmont Street neighborhood. He was a thug with hairy knuckles.
No other venue in the Rose City offers such good blues, great food and minimal cover charge than the “Monk.” The time slot of 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM was perfect for a Thursday night out and that’s what made us regulars. The trespasser kept giving me the evil eye the rest of that night making it slightly uncomfortable for us.
We climbed out of the Greenwich Village style basement of the Monk and Mr. Cro-Magnon followed us. Out on the street I pulled up my collar as Thor sounded his thunderous alarm for an approaching summer gully-washer.
“Hey ol’ geezer, did you know you looked like a frog in a blender when you were dancing?”
Technically…he was correct. When I get to shuckin’ and jivin’ I kind of lose myself in the music. But my dancing wasn’t the point. This was an impudent challenge and the hackles on my back rose up. Was I old, yes. Could I ignore such an insult, never!
To Ardi’s horror, I turned and faced our antagonist. “Did you know that wearing that hat backwards at your age makes you look like an immature, stupid twit?”
“Well why don’t you do something about it you ol’ geezer,” he said with a zeal fueled by alcohol. Then he gave me a rather vigorous shove like a bully on the playground.
It would soon be fisticuffs and I was no match for him. But, when the forecast called for thunder showers and Ardi had just had her hair done, that put a collapsible umbrella with a solid wooden handle in my hand. As lightning flashed, brilliance struck. I swung it like Thor’s hammer Biblically smiting the bully with the heavy handle squarely upon his schnozzle. While he writhed in pain we ran and laughed the quarter of a block to our car and stormed out of there as fast as any Prius could possibly storm.
I learned three things that night. First, an umbrella has more than one use. Second, my dancing style hasn’t changed in fifty years. Third, when all is said and done, there really is a Thor.
© 2011 Bob Ferguson