While we were in high school, during the summer months, a bunch of us bought some beer and went to a friend’s grandparents’ house to drink ’em. This was during the middle of the afternoon. The grandparents were out of town, so we thoughtfully turned their house into party central for a day. Rocky was there, and he got shitfaced and took off on his five-speed bike. Everybody else followed suit, in the shitfaced department, and one of my other friends upchucked in my living room floor a couple of hours later. He was thoroughly smashed, so somebody got the idea of driving him around town in the back of a pickup truck to try to sober him up. Ha! These were the kinds of sound decisions that were being made that day.
So, a bunch of us were in the back of this pickup, all of us drunk to some degree. I believe the driver was sober. He hadn’t been at the grandparents’ house, anyway. We drove all around Dunbar, trying to un-drunk some people before they had to go home and interact with their parents, etc. And as we approached Dunbar Elementary, we saw Rocky attempting to ride his bike down the street, but something was askew. When we got nearer we could see that he was all beat up. I mean… it was horrific. His face was a bloody mess and his clothes were a wreck. The chain was off his bike and he was trying to ride it anyway… He seemed to be out of it and was all messed up. It was a genuinely disturbing sight.
We got him home, but we didn’t know what had happened. He couldn’t even talk, not really. His mother took him to the emergency room, and he was admitted. He was there for days. We didn’t know if he’d had a bicycle wreck, or if somebody beat his ass, or what. Everybody thought we knew more than we did, and the cops were involved. We also had a bizarre meeting with Rocky’s mother who had us write down what we knew on pieces of paper and then dramatically burned them in an aluminum pie pan. It was wild! But we didn’t know anything. Nobody believed us, but it was true.
Anyway, the whole thing was upsetting and weird and went on for days. On the second or third day, a bunch of us decided to go see Rocky in the hospital. And somebody suggested we take him a gift of some kind. But what do you buy a guy like Rocky? A copy of Penthouse, of course! So, we went to a convenience store and it was decided that Steve would be the one to go in and buy the magazine. Needless to say, he was steamrolled into it. And if you knew Steve you’d know how uncomfortable this was for him. This was DEFINITELY outside his comfort zone.
There was a guy working in there known as Bimbo. He was older than us, probably 24 at the time. He was well-known around town and was a combination of nice and intimidating if you know what I mean. He never caused us any kind of problem, but it always felt like the potential was there. So, when Steve saw who was behind the counter he attempted to extract himself from the situation. I told him I’d go with him, but he had to do the talking. He reluctantly agreed. Oh, this was going to be great! All the porn was behind the counter, so he’d have to ask Bimbo for the Penthouse.
Steve was sweating high-caliber bullets as we walked up to the counter. Neither of us could look Bimbo in the eye, and he finally said, “So, what do you assholes want?” And Steve said, “Uh… could I get a copy of Playboy?” He attempted to soften it, by going with Playboy instead of Penthouse. But that was still acceptable. No problem. Bimbo didn’t react for half a second, and it felt like a long, long time. Then he said, real loud, “What are you going to do, Wilkerson? Go home and jack off?” I mean, he bellowed it, and it felt like every head in the store turned our way. The look on Steve’s face was one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen.
When we got outside — with the magazine — I was buckled over in laughter for a solid minute. It was just so goddamn perfect. Steve wasn’t as amused but was also laughing a little. I think it was the first time any of us had so much as smiled in several days.
We never really found out what happened to Rocky. He still says he doesn’t remember but believes he was talking shit to some guys behind the elementary school, on the basketball courts. And they beat him up. Be he claims to not know for sure. He was an absolute mess, and my parents (and other parents) still believe we all knew more than we did. If you asked my Mom about it, right now, she’d say we covered something up. Also, Rocky didn’t even appreciate the Playboy very much. He demanded to know where he was supposed to hide it in a hospital room with his mother and sister and various nurses coming and going. Wow. After all that effort…
I don’t know if I’ve ever told that entire story before. I probably have, but can’t recall it.
Anyway, if you have any good convenience store tales to tell, please do so. Use the comments. Please share anything remarkable or crazy.
Another fast one before I call it a day here… I walked into a C-store in Greensboro, NC a million years ago and the girl behind the counter said, “Hey, are you a Jew?” What? I was instantly confused. But she was clearly talking to me, and I asked her what she was getting at. She said, “You just look like a Jew. You know, black curly hair and a big nose?” WTF?? She didn’t appear to know how offensive this line of questioning was, she just seemed to be real, real dumb. I told her I wasn’t a Jew, but would that be a problem if I was? And she shrugged, and said, “No, I was just wondering.” What in the everlasting hell?? And when I got home I stood in front of the mirror for five minutes looking at my nose. She’d given me yet another thing to feel self-conscious about. A big nose? That idea had never even occurred to me. I still think about it from time to time. Sheesh.
Have a great day, my friends!
I’ll be back on Thursday.