It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part CXI

It was Sunday, December 11, 1988. 

I was working at the Mermaid.  It was my 26th birthday.  And my life was pretty much going nowhere.  And I was feeling very, very sorry for myself.

I watched the small, desultory crowd in the bar – a few pool players, a few alcoholics, a few couples out on the town on a cold Sunday – and felt the warm wash of…fatigue?  Disappointment?  Frustration?  Whatever it was, I marinaded in it.

“This is my f****ng life”, I thought, spinning one inane record after another, standing in the dusty, smoky booth in my ratty tweed jacket and khaki pants.  Of the four jobs I’d interviewed for in New York not two months ago, two had tanked completely, one was giving me the impression that they’d be “waiting for funding” until long after all the principals were dead, and the final one, doing voice-overs at WOR for $225 a week, which didn’t even count as “starvation” money in New York, just wasn’t going to be worth moving for, all on its own. 

So I was back to square one.  Again.  And I was seriously doubting I had what it took to get to square two, or that it’d matter if I did.

The evening was uneventful.  I shut things down at the end of the night, and grabbed an after-work drink.  And another.  And another.  I let it slip that it was my birthday, so the bar staff kept ’em coming.  I was pretty lit up by the time the bartender decided to wrap things up, around 2AM. 

I got in the car and drove across the parking lot to the Perkins; I needed coffee and lots of greasy food to be in drive-home worthy condition.  I grabbed a booth and ordered the Potato Pancakes. 

They came, I noticed – as I always did when I went to Perkins, since the potato pancakes were the most addictive thing on the menu – with syrup.  Which made no sense, since potato pancakes were basically more-cohesive hash browns, and everyone knows that ketchup is the only condiment that mixes with hash browns, dammit.

I sat in the booth and slowly ate the pancakes and read the Twin Cities Reader until 4AM or so, and then drove home.  I took the long way – down Highway 96 all the way over to Rice Street, and then all the way down Rice to Maryland, and then east across the freeway to the East Side. 

I stopped at the top of one of the many choppy hills on the East Side, probably close to 5AM; it was dark, and very cold, and the lights of the city shown like a million crystal-clear little gems off into the distance.  It was a vista that would have filled my soul with delight not so long before. 

“Whoop di f****ng doo”, I thought. 

I drove home to the rat-trap house full of drug dealers and my roommates girlfriends-du-jour, to hibernate for another cold winter day and get up to do it all again.

19 thoughts on “It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part CXI

  1. Happy birthday!

    I remember this date for another reason, though. I was headed out the door of my apartment in SoCal, having quit my first “real” job the Friday before. I’d had enough of working for a company in a death spiral even if the work was good and was heading back for yet another graduate degree.

  2. Psssst, Mitch. I think you’re mom might be checking in. You may want to change some of your stories to something about you volunteering to read stories to old blind people and preschool disadvantaged children of color at risk.

  3. The clown: such a staggering intellect that he’s unclear as to what birth means.

    Or he’s the product of public school sex education.

    Or he’s been shooting seltzer into his nose too hard again.

    Of course, we could always start having lifeday celebrations. I know my kids would love an excuse to have multiple parties each year.

  4. So is this your real birthday, or do you add 9 months cause life starts at conception?

    Silly clown.

    Birthday is the anniversary of your birth.

    Conceptionday is the anniverary of your conception.

    Floppyfootday is the anniversary of when you get your floppy shoes, which in Clown society is when a “fetus” is considered “viable” – usually around age 25.

  5. I would think that AC is demonstrating that in his case, viability is still a few years out, no?

    Happy Birthday, Mitch.

  6. Mitch – about that time I was in radio and working weekends as a disco DJ at North End Depot – right over in your neighborhood. I was getting my first taste of a lot of things I shouldn’t have. I was a disgusting, retched, single-minded, lost soul. I don’t look at those days fondly. It was my requisite walk across hot coals for rejecting all the things my parents said could kill me.

    Youthful indescretions? I majored in them. In my world, the term ‘there, but for the Grace of God go I,’ was known as ‘The Seventies.’

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