Category Archives: Dead

Jerry Garcia ≠ Bruce Vilanch

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This guy has been sitting on my desk at work for many years:

One day, a while back, a coworker and I were talking in my office and I made a reference to Jerry Garcia.

Suddenly, it was as if a lightbulb went off in her head and she pointed at him and said, That’s who that is! All these years I have been trying to figure out why anyone would want a doll of that jackass from Hollywood Squares!”

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The Worst Date, Ever

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On the radio this morning, they were asking people to call in with their bad date stories. I didn’t want the prize, so I didn’t call, but it got me thinking about what would be my worst date. Most of the callers had stories about cars breaking down and leaving wallets at home, and I have a couple of those, too, but in general, I don’t have many bad date stories. Mainly because I haven’t had a lot of dates. That doesn’t mean I have gone out with a bunch of great guys, just that I didn’t actually “date” much. I grew up in a small town, so you generally ended up, “going steady” right away and that was that. There wasn’t a whole lot of actual dating. And in college, well. . .you know.

Anyway, my worst date ever was with a guy named Steve. I had just moved to the city, after two years at Amish Party College and one semester at home commuting to a local PSU branch campus. I knew no one, and was anxious to find some friends. My brand new roommate and I ended up becoming very close, but at the time she had a serious boyfriend and was with him constantly, so I was on my own. I found a local bar that had a Dead Night and figured that was the best way to meet people like me. Since I have never had a problem going out by myself, I headed there that night.

I had a good time, drinking and dancing and mingling. I met a lot of people and was really glad I decided to go (it ended up being a weekly thing for many years to come). A couple of times during the night, I noticed a guy (Steve) looking at me. He was kind of cute, so I figured what the hell and walked over to say hello. He seemed pretty cool and we ended up hanging out the rest of the night. He asked me to go out to see a Dead cover band that weekend and I said yes.

On Saturday, when he picked me up he said we had to go pick up his brother and a friend first. OK – no problem. It might be a little odd to have extras on a first date, but this was a hippie first date, so not that out there. And in fact, I wasn’t really sure if I should look at it as a date. Plus – it kept the more casual, no pressure kind of feeling to the date – no problem.

We get to his brother’s house and go in and sit down in the living room to have a few beers before we head to the show because it’s early. And suddenly, his brother comes out of the other room with a huge garbage bag and dumps the contents on the coffee table. The contents? Mushrooms. No, not portabellas, but psychedelic mushrooms. I about had a heart attack. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t the mushrooms that freaked me out – I was used to that stuff. It was the huge quantity of them, sitting right out in the open. And his front door is wide open. And looks out onto a main street, with lots of traffic and pedestrians and I saw at least one cop go by right before. I was a little paranoid, since a friend of mine had recently been arrested and served jail time for a similar incident of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I was a bit nervous that we would be arrested imminently.

Fortunately we got out of there before that happened and headed to the bar. I was having a good time listening to the band (Sandoz – they became a favorite after that night) and dancing. But after a while, I started feeling a little sick – dizzy and nauseous. I told Steve I was going to head outside for some air. And he left me out there all night . Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t expect him to hold my hand, and I wasn’t sick enough to want to make everyone leave and take me home. I was perfc5ly fin sitting outside for a while. But it might have been nice if he had checked on e at least once – especially when even the other random strangers there were checking on me.

Anyway – I finally felt better and went back in, but it was near time to go. We left and dropped off the brother and friend back at Mushroom Central. In the way back to my place, we drove through downtown, a very scary gang banger looking guy crossed the street in front of us. For some reason, this pissed Steve off. So he started screaming at the guy, and flipping him off. The guy stopped directly in front of our car and just looked at us with a cold, evil look. So Steve apparently decides that this would be the perfect time to throw out a racial slur. The guy started reaching into a pocket and I don’t know – maybe he was going to offer us a mint, but I was thinking “gungungungun”. I had to beg him to please shut up and drive away. Luckily, he did, before we both got shot.

I was a nervous wreck at this point and couldn’t wait to get away form this idiot. And then, when we get to my apartment, he double parks outside the place – not even taking the car out of drive – to drop me off. This was fine by me, since I wanted to get as far from him as fast as I can. So I said goodbye and as I was getting out of the car yelling – screaming – at me because I didn’t invite him up to sleep with him! No seriously – he actually said that he expected to come in and have sex. WTF??? I mean, even if I did want to sleep with him, by not even parking the damned car, he pretty much ruled that out. He was a truly charming guy.

I Miss My Friend

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I had a dream about an old friend last night, and I can’t get it out of my mind. I’m not generally much on dreams and their interpretation, but I can’t figure out why this one is so vivid in my mind and why I jus can’t seem to shake the feeling that it means something. I know that reading about other people dreams is boooooorrrrring, so I’ll keep it short (the dream part anyway).

I dreamt that I was at a Dead show (I remember when I only had to say “a show” and everyone around knew what I was talking about – I’m old). Anyway, I was there alone and I wanted to find my friend, Dave (I started to use a pseudonym, but why bother). I knew he’d be there because – duh – it was “a show”. I decided that the best way to find him would just be to walk around in the parking lot’s carnival-like atmosphere calling his name. And lo and behold, it worked (this is not that far-fetched – it’s actually worked in the past). He was sitting at a picnic table with a group pf people that seemed awfully surprised that some strange person was yelling their friend’s name and he jumped up and hugged me. We ended up hanging out together and doing various bizarre things (like when you’re in a dream and one minute you’re at a concert and the next, you’re on a roller coaster and then suddenly, you’re climbing a porch). And then – just like that – he was gone.

I woke up then and felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I don’t know if it was just “seeing” him again or what. But I felt like I needed to drop everything and find him. I have searched for him many times in the past unsuccessfully. Once, I found an email for someone with his name and I sent them a couple emails over a period of time, but never received a reply. I tell myself that the email was outdated because I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t reply to me, but there’s always that chance. I guess I could probably find some phone listings to try I tried really hard, but I am not sure what I want out of it. Finding an email address is one thing. I could write and if it’s him, he could write back and we could start up a nice, no pressure friendship again. But finding a phone number is a little daunting. The idea of calling him up and talking after all these years. What if it’s not him? What if it is? What do I say? What if he’s married and his wife answers? What if he doesn’t want to hear from me?

It might sound weird, but the phone thing is threatening to me for some reason. Maybe its because I called him once at his apartment and his roommate gave me some very vague deal about him not being there anymore. So I called his parents and they brushed me off as well. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but the basic just of it was that he was in some trouble and that he needed to cut off ties with his past. I cried for days after that, wondering if he hated me, wondering if he was OK. A few years later, I ran into a mutual acquaintance who told me he heard that Dave had some serious drug problems and ended up in rehab. This could very well be true – he had a history and it would fit with his roommate’s and parents’ odd reactions.

A little background on Dave. I met him my freshman year of college. He was a philosophy major. I met him during a class – at my 1st college, we had a month long semester where you took one intensive, all day, non-traditional class. I took physics classes both times (I know – huge geek), but they were cool classes – in one, I learned to fly a plane! That’s cool physics. Anyway, Dave was in my class and he was always trying to talk to me about “deep” shit. And I didn’t care about deep shit. He used to give me all these deep philosophy/science/math theory books to read and then want to discuss them. It drove me crazy for a while, but eventually, he started to grow on me.

He was rumpled and messy and crazy and fun. He introduced me to a lot of thing (some good, some bad) that I wouldn’t have found on my own. He was a great guy. We spent all our time together and he ended up being one of the best friends I have ever had. We were always out hiking and talking and reading and learning (just not the stuff we were supposed to be learning). It sounds corny, but at a time when I was really searching for something, he helped me find out who I was. I truly loved him.

But I could see it in his eyes. He liked me. He was a good friend and I wanted to keep it that way, so I ignored it and he ignored it and we went on for a long time like that. My roomie and I even moved into his suite (in the boy’s dorm) for a while, because he was the only one in a 4-person and there was no shared bathroom and lots of fun. He knew my deepest secrets, my favorite songs and what I liked on my pizza.

One night, when he was walking me back to my dorm, he brought it up. He stated his case very logically about how it made sense for us to be a couple (it did) and how we had the perfect relationship (we did) and how we had everything except the intimacy (true). But he just couldn’t understand that for me, the physical attraction wasn’t there. I explained it the best I could, and to his credit he accepted it. We agreed to remain friends and we really did. But he asked for just one kiss and I agreed. I guess I thought it wouldn’t hurt and hell, you never know which sparks might fly. Well, none did. It was a chaste kiss and then it was over. We stayed friends and had a lot of fun together in the years to come. (Although I found out later from a guy that went to the very small school with us that someone saw us kiss and everyone thought we were and item and that there were several non-asshole guys who would have asked me out if not for that. Fuck. Fuckity fuck. It didn’t stop the fucking assholes from wining and dining and treating me like shit, though.)

Anyway, Dave and I stayed friend for a few years, calling and writing after we both left college and visiting each when we could (we lived about 4 hours apart – me in Pittsburgh and him in Gaithersburg). We sent each other care packages – he would send bootleg tapes and other “goodies” my way. I sent him care packages for his Grateful Dead touring trips, filled with munchies and visine and trippy toys, and one year on his birthday I sent him scarlet begonias and signed the card with only “you knew right away I was not like other girls.” Of course, he knew who they were from immediately. This long-distance, yet still rewarding friendship went on for a few years – right up until the time I finally couldn’t reach him anymore. I’m not sure what I want out of finding him now, but since last night, every few minutes I think about him. I think about the loss of a friend. And suddenly after 18 years, I am feeling that loss as if it were yesterday and it takes my breath away.

He was a part of the most bittersweet time of my life. A time when I found myself and then lost myself. When I laughed more than I ever had and cried harder than ever before. A time when I really lived out loud. Maybe it’s my impending 40th birthday and the feelings of mortality setting in. Maybe I want to feel a little of that freedom and joy again. All I know is in that dream when he hugged me, I felt so good and safe and like I had found my way home. At that – though imaginary – moment, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be.

I don’t know if I will ever see or speak to him again, but wherever he is, I hope he is happy.