The Life and Times of the Drunken Rogue: Part Five

This is the sixth installment (I know the title says part five, but there was this whole decimal incident...it's a long story) in the continuing saga of The Original Drunken Rogue. For those just joining us you can find parts one through four by clicking here. From Bastrop, to Blue Jacket and back again, we have followed his adventures (I have no idea why). As we near the entry of the most important secondary character in his story, we conclude the Blue Jacket Years, as our hero and his friends prepare for a second summer in Ohio.

Blue Jacket II: Drink Harder

After that first summer at Blue Jacket, I returned to Ruston, did a little college theater, met my hetero-lifemate Richard, and lived with my little sis, Jena, in the apartments on Virginia Street. This place was about the size of my car, and rented for $550 a month. To those of you in big cities, this may seem like a paltry sum, but for Ruston, it's a Penthouse price (or at least was at the time). While I had been gallivanting about southern Ohio, Jena had been enjoying her first summer of college life, and decided that we should be roommates. I'm pretty lazy so instead of look for a place myself, I just said sure. She wasn't a bad roommate by any means, the place was just far too small for two people to live. It did have a pool though (too bad I only lived there during the cold months).

After months of trying to get Richard a job at Blue Jacket (to no avail), he had secured himself a position working for a company from Indiana that performs (among other things) a play called "Young Abe Lincoln." Oh, it gets worse, it's a musical. Songs include, "I Hate Those Southern Racists," and the feel-good number, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."

**Lawyers note** Any southern racists or Lincoln biographers that were offended by the previous statements should be informed that while reprehensible, and untrue, the above statements are completely legal. Should you still like to seek remedy for your injury contact our offices, Hookem, Catchem, and Skinem 5000 Crooked Road Way, Sharksville, LA. **End Lawyers Note**

I headed back to the Garden Spot of the Universe, Xenia, OH with Andrei, the Romanian, and Brother Nick. For the entire school year, Nick had heard story after story about how much fun, Blue Jacket had been. By the time they started hiring, he would have gladly worked as a horse poop shoveler, just to get to go. As it turned out their was no need for him to shovel poop (horse or otherwise) he got a spot as a general Indian. At this point you may be asking yourself, "Self, how could Brother Nick, one of the darkest Nubians I know, get a job playing a native American?" That's a good question, but I have a better one, "What's a Nubian?." When the Shawnee were the dominant tribe in the Miami River Valley, they often would "adopt" outcasts from American society, runaway slaves, white children that were orphaned in raids or battle, etc. So Nick would play a Shawnee, but still get to keep his beautiful black skin (which is good, 'cause losing it would be painful). Nick and arrived at the theatre to pick up keys to our apartment (we were the first of our roommates to show up), and immediately I knew that Nick was going to have the time of his life. While I was saying my hello's and getting caught up with some of the cast members that were there, Nick was standing center stage, staring up at the amphitheatre and into the sky. It's was just the way I felt the first time I stood there. It's an amazing place.

Many of you have asked, and many more I'm sure have wondered at the origin of "Brother" Nick's nickname. It's quite simple. That year we had three Nick's in the cast and crew, so all were quickly given nicknames so as to distinguish them in conversation. "Sce"-Nick a young actor from Kentucky, he was not only a cast member, but also a Scenic technician (helped take care of the set). "Beat"-Nick an even younger (high school age) kid from Xenia, who was interested in sound design. He was supposed to be our sound technician, but very quickly realized he had bitten off far more than he could chew (I also think the actors scared him, but that's just me) and quit the show. Finally, your friend and mine, "Brother" Nick-because he's so friendly and makes everyone feel like family...who am I kidding...we named him "Brother" Nick 'cause he's a black man! (the previous statement was in my best Chris Rock voice). Nick and I had a great summer planned, we'd spend our time in Yellow Springs, watching Family Guy on DVD and generally partying our butts off. There was one thing that put the slightest damper on my summer, I didn't like one of our roommates. (For those playing the home game let's look at the makeup of that apartment: Nick - a great buddy of Joel's obviously not the culprit; Joel - we know he loves himself; Stephen - an awesome guy from Alabama (Roll Tide Roll) Joel didn't even know him, not the culprit; Andrei - DING DING DING, we have a winner.

Why didn't I like Andrei? Well, he didn't like me. Why should I like him? Truthfully, I just thought he was fake. If you've ever met him, he is truly like no one else on the planet. He is in a constant state of excitement about absolutely everything. "We're going to the movies? Yay!", "We're going to stay at home? Yay!", "You guys are going to beat the crap out of me, and then make me vacuum? Yay!! I love to vacuum!!" Alright so that last one is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. Dre also loves everybody. He seems to see the absolute best in people even after he has been given evidence to support their evil intentions. He is completely trusting, and yet isn't that naive. It's weird. I said he loves everybody. That's not entirely true, he didn't love me when we first met. When he started working with the La Tech Theatre, he thought I was arrogant, a little vulgar, and generally rude. I sorta was, though, so I shouldn't hold it against him. Once we got to Ohio, though, we quickly found out we had tons in common (as odd as that seems), and really got along splendidly. Lot's of McDonald's (We're loving it), lot's of movies, and lot's of memories.

Top five Joel, Dre, and Nick Memories:

1. When the Levee Breaks - I am a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan. I also really like days off from work, even work that I love. So I always looked forward to rainouts. Not so much because I didn't want to do the show, but because that would be an extra three hours to party, or watch a movie, or whatever. I had a little superstition that I would always do when it looked like rain was possible. We load up the car (me, Dre, and Nick) and head out to the theatre. As the rain clouds gathered and (occasionally) the lightning struck, I'd blair Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" singing along at the top of my lungs. It never really worked, but it always made me feel better, and it sort of got Nick hooked on Zeppelin, so good deal.

2. 24 hours of Kiefer Sutherland - "24" the Fox Networks hugely popular drama, had just finished it's second season when we got to Ohio that summer. The first season was out on DVD and every time we went to Blockbuster, Dre would say, "Hey guys. We should totally rent '24' and like watch the whole thing in a weekend!" (Andrei, by the way, always speaks with exclamation points) I would disgustedly retort, "Dre, we are 20-some odd year old men, in our prime. We have friends that throw parties almost every night, and jobs where we don't have to go work until 6 0'clock at night, and you want to spend our time watching some retarded TV show? No way I'm watching that." Cut to two weeks later, the show is over for the evening we are all back at the apartment, and I am about to walk out the door. Dre says, "Hey, Joel. I rented '24' and I'm gonna watch it tonight, do you want me to wait on you?" "Dre, I told you I don't want to watch that crap! I'm going to a party. You should get out too. No, don't wait on me." I left had a great time, playing cards and goofing off with some of the other actors and returned to the apartment about 3:30am or so. Andrei is sitting on the couch when I walk in the door. "Joel, I just started '24' I'm about 10 minutes into the first episode, do you want me to start it over, so you can watch it too?" I didn't want to, but I wasn't sleepy yet. "Alright, but one episode Dre, and then I'm going to bed." 45 minutes later, the episode ends and I immediately shout, "What are you waiting for let's watch the next one!" Four years later, I am still addicted to that show. I now watch about 20 hours of tv programming a week, thanks for that Dre.

3. Nick, Joe-Fu, and the Zodiac Lounge - I like fast food...a lot. I'm not sure if that's become clear during this little auto-biography, but it is true. At this time in my life I ate fast food at least twice a day. Since Nick didn't have a car, he pretty much ate whatever I did. So we alternated, one trip McDonald's one trip Burger King. Whenever we went to Burger King we would make jokes about a sign on the building next to it. The building had a tobacco discount store, a pay-day loans, and a big sign that pointed to the back of the building and read "Zodiac Lounge." The very first time we saw it, Nick said, "That, my friends, is a strip-club." Now the rules that govern where and when and how, strippers can ply their wares in the state of Ohio, are very complex. I still don't really understand them. It was my understanding though, that clubs of the stripping variety couldn't be located among regular commercial buildings, I believed that there were zoning restrictions. But Nick was sure, and so everytime we saw the sign, we would crack jokes about Ms. Virgo or Lilly Libra the imaginary strippers working inside this high class place. One night, Dre and I rode home from the show together and Nick stayed behind with another cast member we called, Joe-Fu. After two or three hours and no Nick, we were actually a little worried about where the heck he went. Then about 2:30am Nick blows through the front door. Laughing and smelling like vinegar. "Where the hell did you go?" I asked. "The Zodiac Lounge." He proudly beamed. "And it is definitely a strip club, although the nastiest, lowest class one I've ever seen." He described the scene as he and Joe found it when they arrived at the Zodiac. There was a bar along the front and back of the room, with various shady characters taking up spots along them. In the middle of the room was the main attraction, a small stage and a pole. But the thing that made the "Zodiac Lounge" so special was the strippers themselves. While anyone who has ever been to a strip club not in Dallas, Vegas, or New York, knows, most strippers are not women you'd actually like to watch take off their clothes. They are, well, hardened women. And those ladies of the Zodiac were particularly hardened. Some bullet wounds, at least one girl about four months pregnant (and showing), and none of them (thankfully) actually got naked. That's right it was a limited strip club. The girls did in fact bump and grind (at least as much as their war wounds, and unborn children would allow), they dropped it like it was hot (or at least luke-warm) and they even used the pole (mostly to hold them up, but they did so in at least swimsuits or bra and panties. Again, Nick stressed that based on the girls, this was probably a good thing. The highlight of Nick's night was when he and Joe-fu started tipping the lovely (and I use the term loosely) ladies. They didn't slip them twenties in their g-strings. They didn't put singles in their mouths for the dancers to pick up with a kiss. No Joe-fu and Brother Nick flicked quarters at the ladies of the "Zodiac." Best stripper story I've ever heard.

4. Dre, Chillicothe, and the Lobsterita - I like to drink. Alcohol. I'm fairly certain that has been made clear through my previous writings but let's reiterate it here. I like to drink. Every year the cast and crew of Blue Jacket (and a few other outdoor dramas) travel to Chillicothe, OH, to watch "Tecumseh" a great show about probably the greatest Native American that ever lived. It's a cool show (not as cool as Blue Jacket) but the real reason we go is for "Bowl-a-rama." Early (about 10am, yes that's early for an actor) on the day we'll see "Tecumseh" we all meet at a bowling alley in Chillicothe and challenge the other outdoor drama's in bowling, God's sport. We also drink all day long. Now, Nick and I were obviously going to get plastered during this whole affair, so while I drove to Chillicothe, we had already agreed that Dre was going to drive us around from the bowling alley, to the play, to the bar, to the after party etc. (I'm a safety boy). We bowled, and won, I think. We then left to go get lunch. Everybody else was headed to Red Lobster, but a carload of real partiers (myself and Bro. Nick included) decided to just up McDonald's and save our money for the real necessities, drinks. We ate quickly and then made our way into Red Lobster. Everybody was already seated and eating, the place was pretty full, so we just took a spot at the bar. After two or three drinks we made our way over to where Dre was sitting to discuss the afternoon's plans. As soon as he saw us, he shouted, "Joel!! Brother Nick!!" in his best Chris Rock impersonation. "Andrei, have you been drinking?" I asked. "I just downed a Lobsterita. Why?" For those that don't know, a "Lobsterita" is just your average margarita, except about four times the size. Dre was lambasted. "Andrei, why did you get drunk? You were supposed to drive us." "But they sang the anchorman song, Joel. I had to drink it!" I couldn't argue with him there. Anchorman is a sacred drinking game (for details, see Joel).

5. Dre, Katie, and the Naked Shower - It's funny how much fun you can have when you have a guy that is as genuinely good a guy as Dre is. Katie, one of the female members of the cast, was a spunky Kentucky girl, that liked to drink with the guys (and generally could) one of the yearly activities for Blue Jacket is a canoe trip on one of our Mondays off. This is much less about canoeing and much more about how many beers you can drink without falling out of your canoe, or even after falling out of your canoe, or while falling out of your canoe. We all wound up back at the apartments playing cards and trying to maintain the buzz from the canoe trip. Dre who is of course prone to odor because of Romanian heritage decided to take a shower, even though we weren't at his apartment (it didn't seem that weird at the time, but now sort of does). He's in there for probably five or ten minutes, when he hears a knock on the door. In walks Katie, saying "Andrei, are you in here." Dre, loosing his cool a little says, yeah, yeah I'm in here. Katie replies, "O.K." but to Dre's dismay, doesn't leave instead (as far as he can tell through the shower curtain) she starts taking off her clothes. "What are you doing?" Dre manages to stutter out. "I'm going to take a shower with you. There's no need to waste water." As sane as that statement might be, Dre was having none of it, "Um. I don't think that's a good idea, Katie. Why don't you wait, until I'm done, and dressed and stuff, and then you can get take a shower, by yourself." "No, I'll just take one with you." Katie persists. By this point, Katie is naked, Dre is paniced and they are fighting over the shower curtain. Katie trying to get behind it, and Dre struggling to keep her out. Dre's virtue was preserved that night, but only after a serious struggle. Funny, I've never had a strange girl try to take a shower with me.

That summer, I met another great guy to add to the list of fantastic friends in the Rogue's gallery. Cliffy. For those of you that have seen "Clerks 2" (and if you haven't, what are you waiting on?) the relationship that has formed between Cliff and Dre is eerily similar to the friendship between Randal and Elias in that movie. Cliff is one of the most abrasive, outlandish, vulgar, abusive guys you'll ever meet. He is also one of the sweetest (he just hides it well). He'd do anything for a friend, and almost anything for a stranger, he'd just belittle you verbally while he did it. Here's a prime example of the sort of stuff Cliff likes to pull on Dre:

Cliff, and Stephen (both Alabama boys) took a trip down to Ruston to visit us for a Christmas party. Cliff calls Dre the night before and tells him, he's not sure if Stephen's gonna be able to come or even if Cliff will make it. He tells Dre that Stephen got locked up for disturbing the peace and hasn't made bail. Dre has his doubts at first but, he wants to believe people and Cliff is a pretty good liar. When they do arrive (both of them) at the party the next night, Cliff takes Dre aside and says, "Look, Stephen is really upset about the whole jail thing. He made it out alright, but we're still not sure how much it's all going to cost, and he's really embarrassed. So don't mention it to him, alright?" Dre agreed, and for the rest of the evening, was extra nice to Stephen, (since he thought he might be going to the big house any day), but he didn't say anything about Stephen going to jail. Stephen on the other hand, (who knew about the joke) kept trying to get him to ask. Acting bummed out about something, saying he meant to call Andrei the night before but he was "tied up," etc. Cliffy didn't tell Andrei the truth for about a month. That's Cliff.

While I was meeting new people, and living it up in southern Ohio, Richard was playing a Russian in "Fiddler on the Roof" and a slave trader in "Young Abe Lincoln." And drinking himself into oblivion. He was struggling with what to do next in his life, and was all alone in Indiana. He met a lot of cool people there, but unlike me (with Dre and Nick) didn't have a buffer of old friends to help make new ones.

Summers are fun, but just like that final episode of "24" they end eventually. Nick, Dre and I all packed our cars, said goodbye to our Blue Jacket buddies and drove back to Ruston. I had no idea, but my life was only two months from taking a completely different direction. But that's another blog...

Coming Soon to a Blog near you:
The Life and Times of the Drunken Rogue: Part Six -- From Bossier City with Love