My Longest Night, That Ended So Swiftly
Tonight began well. As well as most nights tend to do. But tonight was something different. It felt different. I felt something deep in my gut that maybe I've felt before, but for some reason tonight, it felt differently. A variation on a theme, if you will.
I have plenty of friends, sure, but I have a handful of friends that I would do anything for. A handful that I would die for. And tonight, that chance came to fruition.
We grabbed a few drinks at the bar near my house. It used to be that old man bar; the bar where you could roll in at 1am and the only people in there were 4 or 5 guys in their late seventies, drinking bourbon and wearing their billed-hats with the wars they fought in embroidered on the front. The kind of place where if anything produced later than Queen's Sheer Heart Attack was blasphemy if it were played on the jukebox. One time, I played "Headlong" and a guy pulled the sword concealed in his walking cane out and told me to "turn off this faggot shit and put on 'My Fairy King' or he'd give [me] something to headlong about with this dagger in [my] ass".
It wasn't a good bar.
But tonight, this bar is a college bar, where the only queen they've heard of ends in Latifah, and they don't even really know she did music and just hosts a talk show on broadcast TV during the day.
It's not a good show.
I hate doing shots. I'm a beer guy. Give me a craft beer any day -- a double IPA, an oyster stout, or hell, even a Belgian-style red ale. But there's one shot I'll do: Fireball whisky. It's the LSU of alcohol: accessible, easy to get into, and it makes you hate Alabama for no real reason. "Geoff! Take a shot, bruh!" one of my compatriots insists. I decline, but the shot glass is forcibly placed into my paw and is literally lifted in my own hand and poured down my unwilling orifice.
This happens 13 more times.
I begin to cry out that "if Taylor Swift doesn't want to fuck me, then god damn it, this whisky is gonna fuck me!"
A moment comes over me and I assume I've reached death. It would be welcomed at this point. The cold breath of Death sweeping over me, like the feeling of anyone in a York Peppermint Patty commercial would exhale. The antithesis of Fireball whisky. The Jesus to my Judas. Death was welcomed into my heart, the very same way I welcomed Taylor Swift's 2014 release 1989, her first full-fledged entry into the pop music scene, into my loins.
"Geoff, man, you all right, bruh?" asked a close friend of mine, who had only heard Swift's "Shake It Off" in the background over the loudspeaker at a Walgreens.
I struggled to form a sentence. "Yeah, man, I'm good. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate," I replied with a confidence only previously seen from a 17-year-old girl making her country music debut.
"Another shot? Or are you too much of a pussy?!" they all said, strangely in unison.
I was too much of a pussy. I didn't want to do it. But at that moment -- a moment I've surely lived before -- the words from a wonderful songstress entered my brain. "But now we've stepped into a cruel world, where everybody stands and keeps score". Oh, sure, it didn't rhyme. But did Plato rhyme? Did John Lennon rhyme? I realized now -- more than ever -- I needed to do this. I needed them to realize that I am my own person and just because you may be keeping score, I didn't need to.
So I drank.
I slammed the shot glass on the bar. A hush fell over the bar patrons, much like the hush that fell over the crowd at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance for Best Female Video. I couldn't help but feel like my friend was Kanye in this moment, taking me away from a moment I felt so strongly about, and ruining it with his own agenda.
I gracefully walked away from my barstool, not dissimilar to the way Taylor Swift walked away from her male counterpart in 2008's colonial-themed video "Love Story". A confidence that was hard to muster, but in the end, paid off. I headed for the restroom, whereupon I knelt before the porcelain commode, the way I've always imagined asking Female Artist of the Year 2013 Taylor Swift's hand in everlasting marriage.
I heaved, facing the toilet. A wretched sound was uttered from the deepest regions of my body, a sound that one can only imagine was uttered at the precise moment in January 2013 when Adele won Best Original Song over the outrageously talented Taylor Swift. I heaved again, spewing out the mistakes of my past self, much like the way singer/songwriter Taylor Swift expels the mistakes of her past through a series well-written lyrics that explain not only the mistakes of her former lovers, but also herself, and with a feeling of accomplishment over the decidedly poor decisions of her younger self. There are clearly much better men in the world, men that own their own homes and can design very nice websites, and are very close with their mothers, but can still get down and have a good time with some music and drinks, and even an R-rated film.
I looked over in horror. My vomit had hit nearly every corner of the bathroom stall, as if it were the 2009 hit "You Belong With Me", reaching every corner of the globe with its infectious lyrics and tune that transcended traditional country music and touched the hearts of even the most staunch anti-country music fans.
By now my friend had come to check on me. "You ok, bro?" he asked. I looked at him with a vomit-covered scowl. "I knew you were trouble when I walked in," I began, "so shame on me now. Now, I'm lying on the cold, hard ground."
"Geoff, man -- "
"Oh! Oh, trouble, trouble, trouble!", I exclaimed. Where is that cold breath of Death I licked ever so recently? Please, allow me to die now! Take me away forever, Death! Take me away as you did Taylor Swift's entire catalog from Spotify because of how unfairly they pay such beautiful and talented musicians! Take me away!
I grabbed the single square of toilet tissue dangling from the cardboard roll to wipe my chin, a chin that is far more pointy and not nearly as soft and curved as 2010's Artist of the Year Taylor Swift's chin appears on the cover of her revolutionary 2014 release 1989.
"Jacob!" I exclaimed, though with much less volume than I planned, like a young teenage girl quietly practicing her self-written country music songs under her blanket with a flashlight. "I -- I can't do this anymore. I've reached my limits. I'm so ashamed of myself."
Jacob looked at me, concerned, like a concerned father would when a record label feels unsure about taking a chance on an immensely talented 14-year-old girl, but optimistic the way that same record label felt when they realized that one day that young girl would become one of the most talented and beautiful women to ever grace the pop music radio waves.
"Ja--", I began. But Jacob interrupted.
"Geoff, just shake it off. Shake it off"
And that, I did.
And that I did.