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Friday, August 22, 2008

Hitchhiking

In recent posts I've talked about one of my brothers and life at the beach.

This one involves both.

And a bachelor party...

In the spring of '87, I was a freshman at Salisbury State, a small college on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was March and my brother was set to get married to his college sweetheart (on his birthday no less) in Pennsylvania.

I was living off-campus with my roommate Crazy Marty, playing rugby and barely going to class. These were the days before cell phones and emails so I didn't find out about my brother's bachelor party until the last minute.

I had missed my opportunity to catch a ride back home with some of the kids I knew who often made the 3-and-a-half hour trip. They call campuses like these suitcase colleges because a majority of the students went home on the weekends.

So I was sitting around with my rugby friends lamenting the fact that I was going to have to miss my brother's bachelor party when one of them chimed in, "why don't you hitchhike?"

He went on to explain that it pretty much was a straight shot down US 50 with not much in between. They convinced me without a doubt that it would be easy to score a ride. All I had to do was get a ride from Crazy Marty to the liquor store on the outskirts of town and find a eastbound traveler.

I managed to land one pretty quickly and the guy happened to be from my home town... but he was only going as far as Cambridge. Depending how you look at it, this could have been a crucial mistake because now I was farther away from school and in a town few stop at on the way out. I set up camp in front of a store with my duffel bag and waited.

And waited.

Bored of waiting, I figured I would just start walking and eventually I would find a ride. So I crossed the bridge and started walking. My logic was that with each step I would only get closer to my goal; sitting on the side of the road seemed like a waste of time. That was until I walked for about two hours with my thumb out and didn't have much luck.

It was then, looking out at the vast nowhere in front of - and behind me - that I started to curse my friends for what now appeared to the most ridiculous of all ideas. Out there on the open road, I had a lot of ideas to ponder.

And that's when a car pulled off the side of the road in front of me. I saw the reverse lights come on and I knew I had a ride.

He told me he was headed to Pennsylvania and that he figured he needed some company for the long ride. He had recently been divorced and had come down to visit his brother in Ocean City. His brother, so he claimed, was a major drug dealer at the beach and he'd done partied enough and decided it was time to head back home.

There was some general talk of drugs and cops and other hazards of his brother's occupation. As we spoke he reached into some sort of olive green army bag and scooped out a handful of bullets, waved them in front of my face and said, "Nobody is going to fuck with me."

"Fuck me," I thought.

Always one to face the most darkest times with the most driest humor, I bellowed out, "Now why would you need those?"

It was then that he reached under the driver's seat and pulled out a mayo jar full of a white powdery substance.

"Because I've got all this blow I need to unload," he said.

Great, here I am in a primer grey Ford Pinto station wagon with some guy tweaked out on blow who appears to be packing heat. He's got loose lips and a few hours to kill on a drive and I became his guinea pig passenger. I blew through my arsenal of stories about rugby hi jinx fairly quickly and had to labor through him endlessly bitching about his ex-wife and all the hot coke sluts he banged back at the beach.

"I'm not lookin' for a relationship right now, just lookin' for some fun youknowwhatImean?" he said while elbowing my rib cage.

Caught up in conversation - and wanting to avoid any possible confrontation - I didn't have the heart to speak up when we came to the DC/Baltimore split. About twenty miles later when he noticed a sign for Baltimore he recalled that I had originally stated DC as my destination. He offered to turn around but I insisted Baltimore was okay. My sister lived there after all so I was going to have to just roll with the plan.

When we got to Baltimore, he thanked me for the conversation and I thanked him for the ride.

There I was standing on the edge of the Inner Harbor looking for a pay phone with my head up my ass.

I rang up my sister and explained the situation.

Living in the city, she didn't have a car but her boyfriend did and she'd have him come get me. Once again I decided to split the distance and started to walk towards my sister's place on Calvert Street. But at some point I got disoriented and switched streets. It didn't help that I had only met my sister's boyfriend once and wasn't sure who to look for. Suffice it to say I ended up walking most of the way before I got the smarts to call from a pay phone and give the cross streets on the corner I was at to him.

He was an English teacher and Dead Head and the cool guy whose class everybody probably wanted to take. Intrigued by my adventure, he was eager to hear my tale. He was a Dead Head after all and had traveled all over the country following that band. There was a deli below my sister's place and he bought me a sub and a pitcher of beer. I flipped through the pages of the City Paper while I told him my ordeal and that's when I noticed an ad for the Descendents playing that night at the now legendary punk rock dump the Marble Bar.

"You know what would make this day even crazier?" I said to him.
"If I went to this show."

No doubt he could relate. So he promised me he would drop me off there. My sister was planning on going to Mexico for her law school spring break the next day so she asked I not come home real late. Her boyfriend also volunteered to drive me back home the next day to get to my brother's bachelor party.

So he dropped me off and there I was sitting at a punk club about to watch one of my favorite bands when all of the sudden these skater kids I knew from Salisbury show up. They had driven up from school to see the show and we going to drive back afterwards. People did shit like this for punk rock back then.

When the show was over I asked the skater kids if they could give me ride up the road to my sister's and they said sure but on the way we past Loyola and feeling like I wanted to continue down this Kerouacian road to nowhere that I was on, I had them stop and let me out there. One of my best friends from high school went to Loyola and I knew he'd hook me up with a place to stay so I ran up the hill to campus and made a bee line for his dorm.

But the dorm door wouldn't open.

And the place was like a ghost town.

I asked a security guard what was going on and he said, "spring break."

Fuck me.

At this point, it was too late to call my sister so I did what I had done all day: I walked.

I walked for hours and miles before finding my way to my sister's place. The kicker was that it was just after 4am and she wasn't going to get up until 6am. So I attempted to sleep on a bus stop bench, then made my way into the alley behind her building and propped myself up against the wall. I didn't really sleep much so I decided I'd go back to the bench - at least from there I could see a clock on a building - a clock I would watch until I saw the light come on from my sister's room.

I waited about a half hour before I buzzed her to let me in, then immediately passed out on her couch.

After my mid-morning nap, because that's really what it was, I got my ride home and by night's end was at some house with a bunch of dudes watching blue movies and drinking beer. At some point we made our way into DC to go to a strip bar.

I have no idea how I got back to school.

I think my oldest brother Jimmy gave me a ride back...

3 comments:

Val said...

it's crazy the stuff we did in college days. . . yours sounds like an adventure i would have loved to go on.

cool blog.

Darren said...

That's the kind of thing I would have done too.

Punk Rock Dad said...

I have a secret crush on youtube for all of the videos like this one. Great story, have some very similar ones. Sleeping in odd places seeing bands. Good Shit.