Go crazy with me

Pretend we’ve just had six beers apiece. Pretend we’re sitting in a bar where you can actually hear me talk and the only one interrupting us is the bartender, and he only wants to know if we want more. And we don’t have to really answer. We just tap the side of our bottles and nod. It’s a given we want another, because we’re not going anywhere tonight. We will sit here until the bartender wipes down the bar and tells us it’s time to go. We’ll probably call a cab, because that’s what you do when you live in a place like this. But, as long as we’re pretending, maybe we can just walk out, say seeya later, and walk a couple blocks to our houses. It doesn’t matter, because that’s still a few hours away.

So, you signed up for Facebook? You really didn’t want to, did you? Makes you feel like you’ve sold out, bought in, become part of the machine. In the end, you felt like you had to, didn’t you? Don’t feel bad. I did it months ago. Felt like I had to, no matter how much I was selling out, buying in, or becoming part of the machine. I live in a world in which Google can actually control my mood on any given day. If that isn’t a signal I’m not real or well, I don’t know what is. At least now people I haven’t seen in 20 years know I am a complete sell-out. But a successful one! Right? Am I right?

It’s not all bad, though, huh? Digital jukebox over there is just about the best thing to happen to barrooms since pretzels and redneck divorcees. It’s like being able to force an entire bar to listen to your iPod. Sure, the guy drinking whiskey neat at the end of the bar may not want to hear Rodrigo y Gabriella, the Avett Brothers, and Reckless Kelly on repeat for six hours, but he’s not putting his money in, so he can pound sand. Here’s the thing, though, and you can tell me if you disagree. I won’t fight you too hard. But, I don’t think jukeboxes should have any music that isn’t off a live album. If we wanted to listen to studio music, we could just go sit in our cars. If we’re going to be, you know, out of the house and all, there is no reason we should be subjected to the whims of some recording engineer who thought Tom Petty seemed a little nasally that day in the studio. Oh, sure, I know, live songs don’t chart well. The kids don’t get it. Here’s the thing. You know that live Elton John song “Bennie and the Jets?” Thought it was live, didn’t ya? Nope. Sound engineer got bored or something and started adding in crowd noise. “The Load Out” by Jackson Browne? Yeah, that was actually live. See what I mean?

Oh, let’s not get started on the top five singer-songwriters of all time. Let’s just not. We do that every time and you always end up making fun of me. It always devolved into a conversation about whether it should be gauged on commercial success or subjective talent. I don’t want to talk about it. At least we can agree on Willie Nelson, right? Wait, don’t even answer. Let’s just talk about something else.

My job? You actually want to talk about that? How about this? Why don’t you stand up, grab that barstool and knock my teeth out? Let’s do that instead, okay? No, I haven’t had too much to drink. Have you? Then let’s talk about something else–Willie Nelson, that blonde chick that just walked in the door, or what style of underwear the bartender wears.

It’s a trick question, man. You’ve been drinking here long enough to know Guy doesn’t wear underwear unless its personalized underwear (personalisierte unterhose auf deutsch!).

I will agree with you on this, if you really want to talk about Willie. He is the musical equivalent to drinking beer on a summer night.

You know, I thought some of the other guys might join us tonight. I always feel better about a night of drinking if it’s three or more guys. I don’t know why, so don’t ask. No, it’s not a homophobia thing. I said not to ask, because I don’t know and it’s not worth exploring. Regardless, it’s just us. Christ, we’re old. Really, there are things that I used to do every day that I haven’t done in five years. Five years? What the hell happened to that time.

Okay, you’re right. I’m sounding a little drunk. Let’s just pretend I didn’t go down that road. Let’s talk about something else. No, we already talked about Guy’s underwear. Remember? None. Right. The blonde? No, she is with the guy who is pissed off I keep playing Uncle Tupelo on the digital jukebox.

What do you mean shave? A couple of people have told me to try razors from Bossman but I think I want to keep my facial hair. It makes me look old and wise. Yeah, I never can decide to do with my face. Ever since I fell on my face five years ago, I’ve worn some sort of facial hair. I think I do it to remind myself that I still have some modicum of control over my life. Tattoos? Nah, none of those. You should know that by now. No piercings either, if you care.

Is this really all we have to talk about? Whether I shaved this morning and why I don’t have a tattoo on my ass. Guy does. Just ask him. He’ll show you. It’s a pretty good replica of the Sistine Chapel. No, not the whole thing. Just God and Adam’s hands.

Yeah, you’re right. Let’s just sit and not talk for a while. I’ll go put some Neil Diamond on the jukebox. Maybe that will inspire us to greatness.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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10 Responses

  1. joaquinochoa says:

    This write up was just o.k. I guess. Sure you will have thousands of people coming here saying this was gold and such…but it was just o.k. Otis. Serious. heeheee!

    No, this piece was bitchin’ Otis…do people say, Bitchin’ anymore? We use to have stickers that said that as kids. BITCHIN’

    This was the best line in the write-up…save this one for the book:

    But, I don’t think jukeboxes should have any music that isn’t off a live album. If we wanted to listen to studio music, we could just go sit in our cars. If we’re going to be, you know, out of the house and all there is no reason we should be subjected to the whims of some recording engineer who thought Tom Petty seemed a little nasally that day in the studio.

  2. BG says:

    Top Five Singer-Songwriters

    1) Dylan
    2) Dylan
    3) Dylan
    4) Dylan
    5) Dylan

    Top Five Favorite Singer-Songwriter Albums (Difficulty: Different Artists)

    1) Blonde on Blonde
    2) John Prine
    3) Astral Weeks
    4) Live at Old Quarter
    5) G.P./Grievous Angel (it counts, dammit)

  3. Betty says:

    I’ll say it. GOLD. It struck a nerve and a cord. I signed up for Facebook but am so embarrassed I did, that I have not even reached out to get any “friends”.

    So now, I am a sellout AND a friendless Facebooker.

    I think you inspired me to write about something that has really been bugging me. I needed inspiration. But I will probably take a load of shit for what I want to say.

    Like that ever stopped me.

    Thanks for shaking me loose Otis!

  4. Dr. Chako says:

    Don’t even mention Harry Chapin or we’ll be crying in our beers together.

    And I’ll be paraphrasing you when the wife asks me again (for the thousandth time) why I have a goatee… Facial hair is about control, babe.


  5. StB says:

    Why does BG think the guy from Beverly Hills 90210 is so great?

  6. Strawberry Shortcake says:

    I say bitchin’ – let’s all help bring it back!

    and yes, The Avett Brothers would be all over my jukebox selection…

    mad love.

    I’d also probably be spinning around with my beer doing the happy-clapper dance!!!


    excuse me, more chardonnay….

  7. The Wife says:

    Otis . . . if you want to have control of your facial hair . . . I say go for it. But I gotta sleep with the Dr. . . . don’t you think I have some claim to what crap he grows on his face?

    Nice piece, man. I’m on Facebook too.

  8. Buckeyetimmy says:

    (From the 7th Grade Questionnaire)

    Please circle those things describing life events that you wish to happen when you grow up.

    1) Become a successful professional, parent, and spouse

    2) Abandon your family

    3) Enjoy an addiction

    4) Get fired

    5) Lie to everyone

    6) Lose the trust of friends, family, peers and colleagues

    7) Be admitted to a loony bin

    8) Realize that integrity isn’t really for you

    9) Wake up with questions about who I am

    10) Battle depression and a sense of worthlessness

    Ya know, Mr. Whiskey actually owns the digital jukebox. He’s letting you believe that you’re in charge.

    Maybe it’s time to invest in your own and fill it with everything you love.

    Regardless of the amount of money placed in the machine, it doesn’t matter if people jump you in line. You’re always listening to what you want to hear.

    Maybe that’s what’s important.

  9. Drizztdj says:

    I take a mini-vacation from suburban dad life by going to a bar, ordering exactly one drink, then ponder on how I got to sit on that stool.

    Sort of like hitting a life “mute” button.

    After the drink is done, I hit “play” and enjoy everything twice as much.

  10. Da Goddess says:

    I admit to joining Facebook. I only did so because ONE friend uses that as his sole means of communication with any of us from his “former” life. Sucks ass, too. Forget that we were best friends who did everything together for years. No, he decided his new life in a new country with a new woman is more important than all the years we put in and more important than my kid who sees him as a hero. Sad to say, but I’m the sort of friend who’ll cave in and do the Facebook thing rather than losing touch completely because I think some friends are worth it. If that’s selling my soul, count me in.

    And as long as I don’t have to listen to drunk women singing Reba or Mariah endlessly, I can handle just about anything from that jukebox, digital or not.

    Can I have another Jack & Coke? Make it a double. Quick. What a fuckin’ day.