You know what nobody talks about
in public anymore...cunt farts.
There I was traveling up the Dual Highway towards the center square on a rainy Friday night, wondering how the hell I was going to find the Maryland Theater when I'd never been to it before, with random directions given quickly over the phone while the rest of the world was gearing up for the annual Guinness toast. I was half sad that I'd miss the toast, I'd never participated in it before but Guinness is my drink of choice and Friday is pub night with my friends. Still it was well worth skipping a night at the pub mingling with drunks and friends to navigate the dark streets of Hagerstown tonight.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you
there will be no pyrotechnics tonight.
I found what looked like a terrific spot on Franklin street..but as I pulled into the snow surrounded spot I realized that while it was just the right size it was in fact the entrance into a fire station. The cop behind me pulled by me really slow then drove on by. I was thankful there weren't too many other cars on the road, they were all at the bars by 9pm afterall, so I could pull on out and into the spot on the other side of the snow pile. It was a lucky spot. Now, if I could just find that damned theater.
I'm curious George.
So wearing my work clothes and bundled tightly against the rain I hurried down Potomac Street. I figured that heading towards the Library was a good idea, as I could see hordes of people coming from that direction. The early show would have let out by then, so I wasn't too late. I could picture my brother waiting anxiously in a crowd, or worse outside on an empty street. I knew that if the latter were the case he'd give me a pissed off look but wouldn't say anything. I should have left earlier, damn my internet addiction! But I spotted the crowd and knew I was safe. Hustling at night on the opposite side of the street from most of humanity is not my ideal situation. Downtown Hagerstown isn't the safest place on Earth. Just this week some guys working the snow plows heard screaming while clearing the streets on Mulberry. When they moved the huge mound away from the storm drain, and wasn't that smart thinking, they found a young 19 year-old in his underwear hurt and confused below. He'd been attacked most likely, robbed of his clothes and left for dead in the sewer. And here I was alone at night, crossing the street as fast as my legs would take me.
I am not fine.
Three blocks later I see some traffic cops with bright reflective yellow stripes and white gloves in the roads, and a glorious horde of humanity. I don't think I've ever seen so many people in one place in Hagerstown before. Some were going, some were coming...most were just standing around in a line that wrapped around the corner. I crossed the square and approached this crowd with hesitation, where should I look? Would he be at the back of the line or the front? Would he be in line at all? He'd called me about fifteen minutes earlier asking where I was, he was probably in that crowd somewhere worried I would be late. Slowly I moved up it's length, searching each face eagerly, hoping his would be the next.
It's like watching flies fuck.
Halfway up the crowd I realized these people thought I was a line jumper. I could see it in their irritated faces, they just wanted to scream "the line ends back there you dumb bitch!" Still I moved on, my eyes roaming over each face just long enough to judge their height and build but not long enough to make eye contact. Eye contact in this kind of situation is intimidating and can lead to trouble. People are cold and wet and worse, they want to get indoors to see the great comedian they've paid good money to laugh at. It's not every day someone like him rolls through our little world, I wasn't really that surprised that all of the county had turned out for it. And the cream of the crop it seemed, or at least most of it. The mullet sporting yokels were there too, but they were few among the yuppies.
Worried that I won't find him in this multitude I slowed down and let my gaze drift around a bit. The line wasn't moving so my need to hurry was lessoned a bit. Everyone knows that when you stop looking for something you finally find it. This principle is true for car keys as well as lovers. Apparently it's also true when trying to find your brother. Across the street from the theater, the crowd and the black WQCM van, under a yellow street light slowly taking a drag on a cigarette was Jake. Next to him was the tiny red head I recognized as his friend Jenny. Relief swept through me and I ambled towards them, carefully stepping into the slippery street and jaunting past a female traffic cop with a whistle in her mouth. There were relieved smiles waiting for me instead of anger and we waited further for the other half of the group, debating whether or not to get in line or if we should just wait them out since we had tickets already. We ended up finding a shorter line and easing into the building, heading up the stairs to the balcony. Jake's 6'4" length was squeezed into the tiny old fashioned theater seats but he didn't complain. He sat with his knees practically to his chest, his coat thrown over his lap and smiled excitedly. I leaned forward and looked at the empty stage that held only a microphone and a guitar.
Soft names lead to soft people.
We chit-chatted for a bit about my pending trip to my first gathering. Was I excited? Yes. He was glad I'd befriended Spackle, he was a good guy. Who else would I meet? He didn't know them all, couldn't remember the names of everyone he'd already met. He was excited about his own pending move and we smiled and talked until the lights went down and our show began. On the stage emerged the opening act, David Blair, a funny comedian who was helped out by a local who kept screaming "Free marijuana!" at opportune times. He was a good sport and used the bloke to keep the comedy going. Unfortunately he gave the redneck a bloated ego and when the real reason everyone was there came on stage he promptly yelled this again. But George is a seasoned comic, he's been at it for years. He just rolled on through his first joke without missing a beat, sucking the life out of the would-be-comic. He jumped from one topic to the next, which he touted as being his style, entertaining with one vulgarity after another. And we laughed. He pounced on the yuppy parents that have those contraptions they carry their kids on their backs with so they can browse through stores with their hands free. We laughed, all except the people to my left.
Goodnight, I hope you enjoyed the show.
I noticed that when he set in on the jokes about the yuppies and the mildly upper classed individuals, they didn't move. Didn't crack a smile. Didn't clap their hands as loudly as Jake and I did. But George does not discriminate, and he moved on to lower classes, likening America's downfall to the stupid people that vote. The Jerry Springer watchers. The laughter was loud from every direction. He talked about genitals, he talked about body functions, he talked about presidents current and past; he talked and he talked for two straight hours. And we laughed. When I could see that Jake was tired from having to fix twenty-odd computers in the last two days, and his eyes were drooping, George Carlin wrapped up his show.
Centered quotes by George Carlin.