In the Bar
If you’ve ever read my column, you know I worked in the beverage-serving industry for way longer than is healthy or sane. The cool thing about slinging drinks is that you get to meet some famous people. And sometimes, they’re actually cool.
I worked the door at a pretty rough place. I fought almost constantly, so our waitresses thought we were super tough. Sometimes, they overestimated us. At this bar, you weren’t allowed to eat the peanuts from another bar down the street. The shells made incredible messes, and we considered ourselves a classy joint. So when one of the waitresses saw "some little Mexican guy" eating peanuts, she grabbed me and told him, "This bouncer is going to kick your ass unless you quit being a fucking douchebag!"
He looked at me and laughed. The waitress screamed at him some more. All I could do was apologize as humbly and meekly and terrified as possible to Renzo Gracie, one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu masters and Mixed Martial Arts fighters in history. Later on that night, after the stupid waitress calmed down, I apologized again and shook his hand. He put me in some kind of neck-crank that nearly made me pee my pants. He laughed about it.
Most bouncers worship Ultimate Fighters, so when I heard Dan Henderson entered our bar, I made a point to talk to him real quick. What people don’t seem to know, is that while these MMA guys are monsters in the cage, they’re actually usually ridiculously cool. I asked Henderson what it was like to knock out Michael Bisping. "The best feeling in the world. Better than my kids being born."
After getting laid off, I really slummed it at a theater. I listened to every terrible jam band and then some, but one night the Broken Lizard Crew (of Beerfest and Super Troopers fame) came to our bar to put on an improv comedy show. They were every bit as hilarious on stage as they are on camera. However, at the end, they shook every fan’s hand, took every picture, and hung out with everybody who came around. They were ridiculously cool and amazing and awesome and nice. In all my years, I’ve never seen a celebrity, let alone a group of celebrities, do that.
I’m also a big metal head, and I met drummer from the thrash band Darkest Hour a couple of times. Unfortunately, I was super-drunk and said something stupid like, "You play drums so awesome. You’re totally better than that fuckup from Tool." He laughed and said, "I don’t think he’s a fuckup." I think he was less-than-impressed with my intoxication level, but he was still cool.
The Biggest Celeb of All
In 1992, George Bush Sr. decided children’s physical fitness needed a kick in the pants, so he found somebody to visit all 50 of the United States to promote exercise and a proper diet. I was absent the day they announced who would be coming to visit my elementary school in North Dakota, and nobody talked about it. Then one day, instead of school, we readied for a field trip to see some speaker. Who gives a shit? Then I found out who it was: The Terminator. The Commando. The Running Man. Conan the Barbarian. Conan the Destroyer. The Predator (or at least the guy who killed the Predator).
Effing Arnold Effing Schwarzenegger.
Who better to entice kids to exercise than the baddest ass dude ever? The greatest actor ever? The greatest dude ever?
We showed up at another elementary school’s playground. Some lady did some jumping jacks and squats with us. Then he came out. He looked gigantic! Holy shit! There was the fucking T-800 standing right in front of me! I couldn’t wait to get terminated! (This was also right after I saw T2 for the first of many hundreds of times.)
Arnold took the stage. He looked around and smiled. Even from afar, I could see that charming white smile. Arnold took a breath and for the first time in history, hundreds of elementary students hushed at the same time. "Bismarck, North Dakota. You are so physically fit. You make Arnold soooo proud. If you stay off the chunk food and exercise…I’ll be back!"
Even though my testicles hadn’t dropped yet, I’m pretty sure I jizzed my pants.
I was kind of a fat kid in elementary school. This little speech by a big man made me decide to get my ass into shape. I started going to the playground and tried my damndest to do a pull up. Eventually I didn’t get just one, but 14 in a row. Not too bad for the fat kid in school.