By November of 2011 I was running wild. On average, I wrote for five hours a day. In addition to writing this memoir, I was a regular contributor for three magazines. I was also increasingly busy with work; I’d amassed 12 clients and was tweeting for each of them as I ran from law offices, to bus depot, to Harbour Air for my full time job.
I was exhausted, though I didn’t know it. I had an incredible amount of energy and I could drink massive amounts of booze without any significant impairment my intellect, or fine motor skills; in fact, the booze kept me level as it balanced the inordinate quantity of caffeine and nicotine I ingested throughout the day.
My energy can be attributed to a number of factors. First of all, I was energized by my job. I firmly believe that we are meant to be outside; we are meant to walk a lot, foraging for food or, in recent years, money. I was also ingesting massive quantities of music, both as I walked and as I wrote. A number of incredible albums were released in the Fall of 2011, most notably Blackout Beach’s “Fuck Death”, which soon became the soundtrack to some intensely confrontational thoughts.
While I knew that for the most part, the album was written from an antiheroic perspective, I allowed my psyche to enter into the darkness fully. And while I would never absolve myself of my own role in the confrontations which were to follow, it certainly inspired me to be brave and carry out the tasks at hand.
The first of these confrontations came immediately after an amazing show courtesy of doppelgänger Dan. Dan Mangan played for over two hours that night, and then stood alone in a receiving line for another hour in order to meet, hug, and shake hands with every one of his fans who wanted to say hi.
I’d interviewed Mangan for the local rag a few weeks prior, and took him up on his invitation to introduce myself after the show. As he signed my ticket stub for a friend of mine who adored him, I confided that since his star had started to rise, I had been the beneficiary of many-a-hug meant for him. He laughed and asked if I got Seth Rogan a lot too; I had.
The show was an all ages affair, so I left with a thirsty tongue. Some friends and I had agreed to meet up after the show at a little English Pub called Smith’s, which was just down the block. By the time I got there, my friends had already procured a nice little spot in a darkened corner.
By about three beers in, I spotted Ken (for those of you who have not read previous entries, he was dating our friend Jessica); he was clad in his trademark Bomber jacket, his collar was up, and he was with another woman.
I took the opportunity to observe the animal in his natural environment. I watched him corner his potential prey, many years younger than he, and work his ‘magic’; he adjusted his collar more than once, drawing attention to his prized black jacket.
As I watched and as I drank, my blood began to boil. I smoked even more than usual that night, running the risk of being spotted, though I never was.
As he became increasingly fixated upon his juvenile prey, I gathered strength. I went to the bar, about six feet from him, and I ordered a double rye. I spoke to the waitress about the predicament into which Ken had cast me.
I tried my very best to gain some perspective on the whole affair. I talked to the sober-as-a-pope-server who had been serving my friends and I for the evening.
“So. I was wondering if you’d be able to give me some advice.”
“Sure! What’s up?”
“Well, a good friend of mine has been seeing this fucking loser for quite some time now. I’ve always known that he’s a piece of shit, but know full well that I would be compromising our friendship if I told her how I really feel.”
“Oh, for sure. Don’t ever step between a friend and the person they’re dating; sure way to end a friendship.”
“Exactly! But! He’s here tonight; she isn’t. And he is completely hitting on some young thing just over there.”
“No way. Who is he?”
I pointed him out in a most obvious way. Miraculously, he still didn’t see me.
“Oh my God. She’s not dating Ken, is she? That dude’s notoriously dirty. Ughh.”
“I knew it!”
“So what should I do? Should I just stand here and watch him do his worst? Should I tell Jessica? Fuck; what a fucking asshole!”
“That he is. I think you should call him out on his shit, Nick. He needs to know what a fucker he is.”
“I think you’re right.”
“If you do it, this one’s on me.”
I used the waitress’ evaluation of the sack of shit as leverage for the next few moments, which have, in retrospect, become an adrenaline soaked blur. I walked up beside him, tapped him on the shoulder aggressively, without offering my hand.
He countered quite quickly, I must say.
“Oh, hi Nick. How are you doing? This is my frien…”
“Shut up now. I’ve been watching you for the past hour or so and you’ve confirmed every suspicion I’ve had about you since I first met you. You are a fucking piece of shit, Ken.” I turned to to young lady he was with. “Don’t waste your time with these old balls. He probably has crabs.”
I walked away with an energy that rivaled my departure from the amazing show I’d witnessed earlier that evening. I rejoined my friends; they all immediately noticed that the burden I’d been dealt for the entirety of the evening had magically been lifted (none of them had seen the events that had transpired at the bar).
About five minutes later, Ken came over to our table. I remember being surprised by how calm I was.
“Oh hi Nick!”
He stammered with false bombast.
“Oh, hi Ken!”
“I just wanted to say that I think you are a loose canon; you are dangerous.”
I laughed uproriously.
“Oh yeah? How many times have you watched Top Gun?”
“I don’t think we should share the same social space anymore, Nick.”
“I couldn’t agree more; you should take this opportunity to fuck off. Leave, now.”
He extended his hand to seal our spoken pact.
“No. I’m not going to shake your hand, Ken. Fuck off. Now.”
He chuckled to himself and walked over to the mahogany bar to defiantly finish his drink. He left after shooting several poisonous looks toward our table, or so I was told by those I sat with, whose mouths were agape over what had just transpired.
It took a while for someone to break the ice his stare inflicted upon the rest of my table.
“So, what the fuck was that all about Nick?”
“Hahahahaha… I think that all went pretty well. We conducted ourselves like gentlemen. No punches were thrown, we told each other exactly what we think of the other, and now we can move on with our lives. People should do that more often!”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I am completely serious. I feel as though a massive weight has been lifted off of my chest!”
“Well, what about Jessica?”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t you think that Jessica’s going to be a little bit upset by the fact that you publicly berated the guy she’s with?”
“Well, that would be pretty weird, wouldn’t it? I mean, I stood up to that sack of shit on her behalf. I was protecting her.”
“That is not how she is gonna see this, and you know it.”
“Ummm… how else could she see it?”
I found out less than 12 hours later.