Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Lemmy Goes To The Pub
It's ten p.m on an unseasonably warm Monday at the end of December. It's that weird time of year between Christmas and New Years. No one really knows what to do with themselves so they just end up partying for about a week.
I found myself in a bar near the bridge with a rag-tag group of friends from various social circles. We all gathered to celebrate the end of a crappy year and the promise of a better one to come. I looked around at our table and no one made a move to order any drinks. Feeling generous, I stood up and grabbed my purse, “I got this round – just one of you come over to help me carry everything!” No one even noticed or nodded at me. I shrugged. “Fuck all of you I'm only buying myself a drink then, lousy ingrates.”
I walked over to the bar, feeling the buzz of a good night out and the side effects of a joint we smoked earlier, and found an empty stool. Next to me was a tall slender gentleman dressed all in black, including shoulder length jet black hair, black cowboy hat and boots with some strange insignia on them. Sensing me next to him, he turned and tilted his hat in greeting, his weather-beaten face breaking into a huge smile. Were those mutton-chops? Sheesh I didn't think anyone had those anymore – and what were those things on the side of his face? Still there was something intelligent in those sparkling green eyes – intelligent and warm, that I couldn't help but smile back.
“Evening, pet,” He said, his voice a gravelly British drawl. I noticed he was holding onto a rapidly shrinking Marlboro. “What are you drinking?”
I leaned over the bar, trying to read the tiny script on what looked like fancy vodka bottles. Following my gaze, the guy “tut-tutted” and put his hand on my back, “You don't want any of those, flower, that's right shit. I'll sort you,”
I watched him pull out a matte black cigarette case that had the same dog? Skull logo as his boots, and light a fresh smoke off the butt of his old one. There was a way he carried himself, a whole “I don't give a fuck” attitude that drew me to him. No one around even looked twice, even though it was illegal to smoke in bars in New York. Even the bartenders and the normally inscrutable bouncers seemed blind to this. It was as if normal rules didn't apply to him – and that just made him more compelling. His wizened, wrinkled face broke into a smile again, showing perfect white teeth that must have cost a small fortune and seemed so out of place with the rest of his weather-beaten face. I could only imagine his real choppers had gotten knocked out in drunken fights with bikers over drugs or girls.
He took a sip of his dark beverage and looked me over, still smiling, “Are you enjoying your holiday?”
We made small talk, I found out his birthday was December 23, he was a Capricorn like me and delighted in telling me how Capricorns were determined and good leaders. “That's why my I'm so good at leading my band,” he confided, “I'm pretty much useless at everything else, and I've been told so for most of my life.”
He signaled to the bartender, held up two fingers, and two dark drinks were placed in front of us. He handed me one and held up his glass, “To Capricorns!” he grinned. We clinked glasses and I took a small sip of the jack and coke. More like double jack and an eye dropper of coke.
I looked over at the table where my friends were sitting – they were laughing it up, not even noticing I was gone. I turned back to my new Capricorn friend, I felt he had more to say.
He took a good swallow of his drink and continued, “Did you know, we Capricorns have a single-minded focus on our work, sense of responsibility and sincerity? I myself am fiercely loyal to those close to me, sometimes to a fault.” He sighed, “Ah, but you don't want to hear the ramblings of an old road warrior do you love?”
I settled into my stool and smiled up at him wordlessly. He continued. His tone seemed a bit more maudlin, “As a Capricorn, I'm hard-headed right? If I believe in something, think something is right, I carry on and do it. I don't do regrets. Regrets are pointless. It's too late for regrets. You've already done it, haven't you? You've lived your life. No point wishing you could change it."
He was still smiling, but the tone had changed. Here was a man who was facing his own mortality – staring death in the face, and arming himself.
“I won't keep you, petal, your mates are waiting,” he nodded towards my friend's table – they still seemed oblivious.
I thanked him for the drink, and kissed him on the cheek. I hopped off the stool and almost fell over. He grabbed on to me, “watch out, these are sneaky bastards, it doesn't take much to get a thin thing like you tipsy does it?”
“I guess I'm a lightweight.”
“That's how I feel when I drink water! Totally fucks with my equilibrium it does,” he righted me, then cocked his hat, “Enjoy the rest of your night my dear,”
Still buzzing from the conversation, I joined my friends, “I met this real cool old – timer at the bar, he had great stories about going on tour with different bands in the 60's and 70's, doing acid with Jimi Hendrix, then starting his own band and...why are you all looking at me like that...”
My best friend blinked, "Because you've been off at the bar by yourself for the last half hour."
I looked back, the tall, dark slender gentleman was gone.
“He must have gone outside with his smoke,” I said, sliding into the booth.
“Who?” One of my friends asked, “You can't handle your weed, I'm cutting you off,”
They went back to talking among themselves and I nervously dug my hand in my jacket pocket. I pulled out a heavy gauge bass guitar pick, black, with a silver ace of spades emblazoned on it.
I clutched the pick in my hand. I could hear his gravelly nicotine and bourbon soaked voice in my ear, and closed my eyes. "Death is an inevitability, isn't it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don't worry about it. I'm ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn't complain. It's been good."
Thank you for all the music, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister.
(24 December 1945 – 28 December 2015),
Born to Lose, Live to Win