You’re probably thinking, “Okay, man. How did you get to ‘Hillbilly Devilspeak’ at a Dead show?”
To that, I say, “Patience.”
Minnesota ended up winning the game 1-0 in the tenth inning. Jack Morris had pitched a complete game, 10-inning shutout. Right around the same time as the game ended, the Dead’s first set concluded, as well. The lights came up in the arena for intermission and as my eyes adjusted to the light, I looked down about 10 rows and there was Artie and Chris.
Some of you will know the feeling of relief you feel when you’ve been separated from your ride and not sure how easy it would be to find them. Again, this was pre-cell phones and, with a head full of data, plans can easily go astray. But there they were and the relief and joy I felt was huge. I walked down and joined them and there was much rejoicing.
The second set was killer and if I’m being honest, I could fully relax and have a great time. When Carlos Santana came out and did “Mona” (Bo Diddley) with them, it was magic. The last song of the night ended up being “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and there was a lot of tears and joy and love in the air. I got to see the Dead four or five times in Northern California and this was the best show I saw.
I’m remembering now that we did not have the truck with us in the parking lot. We were staying with the son of Chris’ boss at Pizza Hut (another story) in his apartment in San Francisco and we had to hop on a BART train to get back to the city. I’m guessing our plan, now that I think of it, was to meet at the BART station if we got separated. Anyway, we made our way to the station with the throngs of other folks and tried to find a train.
If you’ve ridden the BART from Oakland to San Francisco at a busy time, you know what an experience this can be. The station was crawling with tie-dye, and I was at the stage in my data-driven revelry where looking people in the eyes or at their faces at all was a mixed bag of wonder, delight, horror, and revulsion. We found a train car that looked like it had some room on it and climbed aboard.
I’ve sense come to the conclusion that this train car was a special gift to us from the data gods because it seemed like there was a guy at the door who was grabbing everyone who was tripping balls and loaded them on to it. It was like a fucking freak show on there and Artie, who was the least experienced data specialist among us was not fairing well. I don’t really blame him. It was a horror show. How much of it was real and how much of it was in my brain, I’ll never know, but I was glad when we got to the 19th street station to transfer to an SF train.
After how packed the Coliseum station was, 19th Street was a ghost town. There was literally only one other group of people there with us and they had been to the show, too. We kept our distance, as people do, and waited in the empty underground station for the train. It took a bit, but we were laughing and having fun and I was regaling the guys with my adventures after we parted ways earlier in the day.
Once the train arrived, we had the entire car to ourselves for a moment before our fellow showgoers joined us. In those days (and probably still) the trains had seats that faced each other near one end of the car, so we grabbed those, and the other trio did the same. We smiled and nodded to our co-travelers and the train moved forward smoothly toward SF.
Our new companions were two guys and gal. The gentlemen, I’m pretty sure, were a couple and they were as high as we were. Laughing and having fun, we started the decent down under the bay and Artie began to get nervous. He was bouncing his knee up and down rapidly and it was obvious to everyone in the car that he was getting ready to lose it.
Our new friends noticed, too, and one of the guys reached over and put his hand on Artie’s knee.
“Relax, sweetie, we’ll be out of here in a minute,” he said.
If you’ve ever seen a cat get completely startled and jump straight up in the air while making every hair on their body stand straight up, you can get a picture of what Artie did.
“DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME YOU GODDAMN FAGGOT!!!!!” he screamed.
At that moment we realized that it wasn’t being in a moving train going under the bay that was freaking Artie out. He was massively homophobic.
Things were starting to make sense. Earlier in the day when we had met up with the friend we were staying with, we noticed it was a one-bedroom apartment shared by two very pretty dudes who were clearly not “out” yet. No biggie. There was a couch and a bean bag. I was fine sharing a bed with either of the guys. It was a king, for chrissakes, but it had made Artie uncomfortable, and he talked about it a lot on the way to the show.
The guys even tried to play it off and say that rent was so high they had to share a bed. Besides, they both went to UC – Santa Cruz and were only there a few days a week. They left that day for a party in Santa Cruz, and we had their apartment for the night. They talked about how many “Chicks were going to be at the party and how they got laid all the time.” Again, whatever. The pink triangle sticker on their fridge was ironic, too. I’m sure they are out and proud now and good on them.
Anyway, the guy who touched Artie just laughed it off and said something snarky. I think it was, “Well, fuck you, too” but I was laughing so hard I honestly didn’t hear it clearly. Chris got Artie calmed down and apologies were shared. We ended up laughing with them a lot during the remaining 10 minutes or so of the ride.
When we got to the Market Street station, we got out and headed towards the apartment on one of the weirdest walks of my life.
To be continued…
See you tomorrow.