“The Westside Connection”
Our subconscious is a bizarre thing. What we absorb and retain then unwittingly regurgitate not realizing the influence of those thoughts and actions until sometimes years later, fascinates me. One of my few gifts is the ability to immediately recognize the reference or source of where I probably heard that beforehand, but sometimes I amaze even myself. Hans Solo. See what I mean? The other night I was watching The Shawshank Redemption for the 91,989th time when I suddenly realized after a particular scene where the true source of inspiration came from during a real one in my life, almost two decades ago. Laughing hysterically at myself for not recognizing the obvious correlation after all these years but equally impressed that at least my unconscious mind had ripped off someone as great as Stephen King.
This story takes place on a Wednesday in Kalamazoo sometime in the late summer of 2004. The Wayside West offered a warehouse of opportunities to make an ass of oneself as well as .50 cent drafts that fateful day of the week. The crown jewel of the various locales within a city where you could get absolutely blasted for 5$, this double-decker haven of debauchery also featured a waitstaff who all possessed physical attributes prized by the superficial male. The upstairs main bar was by far the most popular of the seven it housed, strictly due to who was pouring the drinks.
She had the movie star good looks of Rita Hayworth, the je ne sais quoi of Marilyn and Bon Jovi’s Bad Medicine seemed to always accompany her as a personal soundtrack. Intimidated would be an understatement of our general disposition, untouchable is probably another accurate adjective. It went on that way for some time. Every week following golf that summer, until an evening in late August when I had an epiphany that rivaled Squints Palledorous’s move on the lifeguard. But without the French kissing under false pretense. I played well that day, maintaining a three-beer zone of confidence throughout the round that had clearly carried over to the 19th hole on stadium drive. We were early and beat the crowd that day giving us front row seats to call-sign “Bad Medicine”.
As the bar became busy with more and more idiots filing in for the cheap booze and expensive views, she suddenly stopped doing all ten things at once, two feet dead center in front of me. Then perfectly executed a slight adjustment probably made unnoticed a thousand times before. The hair-flip to pony-tail maneuver. Keep in mind the only two words I had ever muttered beforehand to her were “check, please.” Instantaneously I felt an overpowering need to stand up and applaud, the whole bar following suit behind me in a rousing half-drunk ovation. The blush of her cheeks matched the sunburn of mine, as did the smile that always would reappear for me anytime I walked in thereafter. I have moments….