A few nights ago my gentleman friend and I were watching Top Gear (UK – none of this remake nonsense), which, if you’ve never heard of it, is
the most awesome television program ever conceived by man an entertaining and informative television program (mostly) about cars. If you’ve not seen it, there is a hole in your life you didn’t know existed yet you should check it out sometime. I highly recommend it. During the course of the show, Schmoop asked me a question about something they were demonstrating, “because you know about cars.” I was intensely flattered, but disappointed with myself because I didn’t know the answer (I’ve since asked my Dad the same question and he didn’t know the answer, which leads me to conclude the question is actually pointless and therefore should never be spoken of again).
Anyway, when he asked the question my first impulse was to formulate a brief, bullshitty answer – vague, yet peppered with arbitrary jargon so as to appear to have given a response. I didn’t, though, because I care enough about him to not care enough to falsely impress him.
It did, however, get me thinking about The Rush Incident.
* * *
The bar was a dark, dingy sort of establishment that would more accurately be described as a “pub” if I could get by with accurately describing establishments using those kinds of words. You’ve probably been to such a place, but if you haven’t, I’m not entirely sure what the two of us have in common; you’re probably better off reading a blog about French cooking or Peter Frampton or SmartCars instead.
In these places, a sort of crumb-y, sticky film covers most surfaces, everything is made of wood worn shiny with the glaze of countless spilt beers, and the air is essentially a stagnant cloud of a million smoked cigarettes. The jukebox stands in one greasy corner, casting a limp pool of light on a floor so tacky it seems to have been recently mopped with a bucket of pancake syrup.
Time has a funny way of speeding up in here. Outside, in the bright, fresh, sunshine-y air it is 3:30 in the afternoon. Traffic buzzes by, birds chirp in the trees and children shriek as they are released from school buses stopped at each corner. Inside, the air darkens and thickens and stills and yup: it is already 7:00 and the number of empty pints and bottles at your group’s table far exceeds the number of persons gathered ’round it. And that thick, still air – I swear it’s the air – plays funny tricks on your mind.
Like when your group is joined by some latecomers – friends of friends of friends you may or may not have met previously. I think that one’s called Dan? Or Ron? I couldn’t quite make it out. And the other guy – he’s got a lady name. Blair, or something. Man, that’s unfortunate.
Dan-Ron is knocking back Old Styles with the pace and efficiency of some PBR-sponsored robot. And when he empties his pockets in search of a lighter, you notice among the tangle of filthy metal on his key-ring the glint of a keychain and the letters U S H. Emboldened by a river of pale, tepid, lager, you poke at it to reveal that it is a keychain proclaiming Dan-Ron’s love of – of all the bands in all the world – Rush.
“Rush!” you cry, not out of any mutual affection for the band but because you’ve reached a point in your alcohol consumption where reading words correctly has become a triumph over mental sludge.
Dan-Ron, however, hears your victory cry as some sort of (not-so) Secret Password and his eyes widen. “Geddy Lee is the shit!” he almost-squeals, and before you know it, you’ve clipped yourself to his elation and are zip-lining straight down through Bullshit Canyon.
The air – it’s the air, damnit – is weaving unpredictable patterns through your brain. Bits and pieces of incongruent information poke their way through the surface and sort of fall out of your mouth. Neil Peart. Canada. Tom Sawyer – Wait, Mark Twain? No. Tom Sawyer – it all sort of jumbles together into a conversation that could not have possibly been remotely coherent. And Dan-Ron, fueled by some sort of kindred-spirit excitement, quickly catches up to your state of inebriation and almost before you know what’s happening, the two of you are standing – unsteadily – before the jukebox.
Which, of course, includes the entire 8343-album Rush catalog.
You are instructed to “pick your all-time favorite song” which proves to be difficult, because a) you’re incredibly blasted and b) you’re not so sure you’ve ever even heard a Rush song. How the hell did you even know that Neil Peart was the drummer, anyway? So, metaphorical balls to the wall, you take a deep breath, close your eyes, and dive even deeper into your drunken malarkey.
You sputter at first – Oh, how can I pick just one? and They all fucking rock! and Do you mean like my favorite-favorite? Or just one I like?. But you luck out. Dan-Ron is explosively eager to show you his favorite song, so you follow his lead and end up Oh my God I love this one!-ing when you catch his eyes damn-near catch fire at the sight of album 938, song 12.
You leave Dan-Ron to manically force-feed quarters to the jukebox and you return to your friends, some of whom are responsible, upstanding citizens who will be driving the rest of the drunk asses home. The sober ones raise their eyebrows in question of your newfound musical tastes while the rest order a round of shots. You ignore the judgmental brows and down an ounce of the world’s worst tasting tequila and a tiny glimmer of as-yet-dry gray matters hopes to holy hell you never have to see Dan-Ron again.
Not sober, at least.