When I arrived in Cleveland in 2006, I was running around like a bat out of hell looking for work. I had a kid on the way. And I was jobless.
I needed money. I needed a job.
I answered a help-wanted ad in the newspaper that was looking for bartenders for private parties.
I answered the ad and, within one day, I was dressed in my penguin outfit serving drinks to guitar playing burnouts and music nerds visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Don't get me wrong. It was a fun gig (heh, heh). One of the perks was I got to drink on the job. No, nobody knew I was doing this per se. But it made the hours fly by.
Two weeks into my Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bartending tour of duty, I was fortunate enough to work an event honoring the late, great singer Roy Orbison. I served drinks to his family and witnessed a pretty cool concert tribute to the Pretty Woman warbler.
All of a sudden this monster of a man approached the bar.
"Hey there buddy," said the 6 feet 2 inches tall, 350 pound man complete with handle-bar mustache, Metallica t-shirt, dirty jeans and black motorcyle boots. "Can you toss a little of that whiskey into this here coffee cup"
This guy was a shit kicker and, by the looks of him, you could tell he had stories to tell.
As I poured him copious amounts of free alcohol (myself included). We talked about drugs, sex and rock n' roll. (In that order).As it turned out he used to be a roadie for all the big name concerts. KISS. Monsters of Rock. Pantera. The Who. Grateful Dead. He had seen every band.
Every fucking one of 'em.
"Yep. Lots of memories," he bellowed slugging a shot of Jack Daniels and touching his finger to the cup for a refill. "I've seen if fucking all. Threesomes. Foursomes. Orgies. The best fucking cocaine you ever sniffed. And the best fucking rock and roll you would ever hear."
"You should write a book," I said nonchalantly.
"Sheeeeeeeeeiiiiiiit," he said cranking back another shot. "Nobody would believe half of it. They would think it was all some made up shit."
My mind started whirring. I had so many questions to ask this guy. But the concert was winding down and he was gearing up for tear down. He started to turn and get ready to do his thing. When I reached out and tapped his shoulder. He looked around.
"Excuse me," I said. "I'm very curious..."
I had his complete, absolute attention.
"...what was the best concert you've ever seen?"
The big man let down his guard. Then it seemed like he was reliving his entire concert-going existence in the blink of an eye.
Then he stared at me. Eye-to-eye. Man-to-man. This big thug of a man. This solid piece of shit-kicking machinery. With arms bigger than my legs. He crossed his arms and said something that I never expected to come out of his mouth..
"Alicia Keys," he said. Then he turned towards the stage and walked away.