Friday, October 13, 2006

Who's The Bastard?

My good friend, Brandon Ramsey, is quite a guy. He's got a great sense of humor, a decent head on his shoulders, great taste in music, and above-average hygiene. He can often times be a bit of a bastard. But through knowing Ramsey I've learned that there's a little bastard in all of us.

I first met Ramsey about seven years ago. Primus was in town and was playing a gig at the Uptown Theater. Luckily, Flatscreen was able to get us tickets. This was back in the day when the lad was somehow able to score us free drinks at the pub, talk his way out of a speeding ticket and, yes, find tickets to a sold-out show. Honestly, the boy could do anything short of turn water into wine. But he always seemed to amaze me with what he could accomplish. In this particular scenario, Flatscreen had snagged three tickets to Primus, not only before the tickets went on sale, not only before the show was announced, but before Primus even realized they were coming to town. In short, he was the guy who could make things happen.

Flatscreen picked me up outside my apartment. I went to the passenger side door and there was a fellow sitting there who smiled and nodded hello as he leaned forward to pull the seat forward to let me climb into the tiny backseat of the Honda Accord. I stopped for a moment to size him up and automatically came to the conclusion that I had at least six inches on this fellow and that if anybody should be wedging himself into the backseat of this vehicle, it shouldn't be me. Never one to make a big deal out of a small annoyance, I crawled in behind him. As I did this, I thought to myself, " What a bastard."

Flatscreen introduced us as he put the car into gear and began to drive across the parking lot.

He turned around and offered his hand. I shook it, but couldn't get the notion that he didn't offer me shotgun out of my mind. My thoughts raced. Could it be that he didn't see my tall stature? Is he, in fact, taller than I am and I'm the one who's miscalculating? Is there a chance that he's paralyzed from the waste down and his wheelchair is folded up and tucked away in the trunk? These thoughts plagued me on the short drive to the Uptown Theater.

We arrived to our destination and Flatscreen turned off the ignition. I held my breath as I waited for the moment where he would walk to the back of the car, pop the trunk, and get out a folded-up wheelchair. But, unfortunately, that moment never came. Not only was Ramsey perfectly capable of walking upright, but he would have been much more comfortable in the backseat than me.

We went into the theater and made our way to the open area in front of the stage. Ramsey said he was going to get a drink and would be right back. Flatscreen and I began to talk.

"What's his problem?" I said.

The Flatscreen looked at me strangely. "What are you talking about?"

I began to explain how it's proper etiquette that the person who is picked up first is supposed to automatically climb into the backseat when arriving to pick the second person up.

"He's not even supposed to ask," I explained, "he should have gotten out of the car, said 'hello' or whatever, and then climbed into the back."

Flatscreen told me to lighten up. It was at about this time that Ramsey returned with three beers.

"Nice," I thought to myself, "one for Flatscreen and two for him. Or is he going to keep all three for himself? Bastard."

It was at this time that Ramsey handed us each a beer. I was caught off guard.

"Drink up, fellas," he said as he hoisted the glass.

The two began to drink as I eyeballed the beer, looking for the slightest hint of spit or even a loogie or a hair. Needless to say, I stood holding the beer throughout the duration of the show and finally set it on the bar behind us as the crowd began to dispurse at the end. Neither Flatscreen nor Ramsey realized I hadn't so much as tasted my beer.

We walked back to Flatscreen's car, the two of them a few feet ahead of me. I kept quiet, as I had most of the evening.

"Anybody want to get pancakes?" Flatscreen suggested.

"Yeah," Ramsey answered, "a cup of coffee and eggs sounds really good right now. What do you think, Mark?"

We approached the car and Flatscreen got his keys out to unlock the door. I shrugged. "I don't know. I'm kind of tired."

Ramsey opened the door and pulled the passenger seat forward. He then turned to me.

"Yeah, I don't blame you," he said, "it's been a long day."

He then climbed into the backseat. I was surprised to see this. My mind raced. I began to re-evaluate the entire evening. Suddenly everything was more clear. I realized that I'd been overreacting. Flatscreen started up the engine. I turned around and looked toward the sky feeling the cold November air on my face. I saw my breath. I realized how great life was and how it was because of good friends who would offer you shotgun when you needed it most. I suddenly had faith in the human race again. Everything was going to be okay.

"Yeah," I said as I turned back around toward the car, "I'll take those pancakes now." I climbed into the front seat--the front seat that my new friend offered me--and we drove off to the Pancake House to have the greatest pancake meal I had ever had.

Ramsey has become a good friend over the years. I'm glad I was able to give him a second chance on that night. But it was he who ended up being the bigger person and offered me shotgun when I needed it the most. And for that I thank him.

Oh, yeah. Speaking of Ramsey, his birthday was on October 5th. I completely forgot because I was too caught up in my own life to stop for a moment to remember a friend on his special day. It dawned on me this afternoon as I left with some people from work to go get lunch. Somebody offered me shotgun. And I realized what I had done. And I fell to my knees.

Ramsey, it is I who is the bastard.

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