Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Cheetah

The Cowslingers played a show in Athens OH, home of Ohio University. As I recall this was even before Krusty was playing bass in the band and The Chief was holding down the low end. Krusty must have still been living in his OU dorm with the mysterious Japanese exchange student, because we were looking for a place to crash out for the night. We had played the show with a really fine garage band called The In-Sect. (Look for their rare 7 inch on Drink N Drive Records kids!) Those guys were in that weird space you sometimes find people that live in isolated college towns, having graduated but having no real plans to leave the protective bubble of College Town life. I get it. When you have the system down in a town, know all the bartenders, and can still lure unsuspecting 20 year old women to your filthy futon lair, why leave?

So these guys were the Cool Kids in Athens. They had the best thrift store clothes, had the best record collections, threw the best parties, and had the best haircuts. The In-Sect agreed to let us crash out there, which was definitely premium space in Athens. After the show was the expected “After Hours Party” at their house. As Athens OH’s alternative rock scene in 1994 was about 26 people, all 26 people that had gone to the show went over to the after hours party and drank the incredibly cheap beer we had dredged up at the club. We all stood around the kitchen with warm cans of beer listening to a distorted Sonics record blasting out of the stereo in the other room.

I must have had 200 nights exactly like this while in The Cowslingers. In the Early Days of Bitter Struggle, which begrudgingly yielded to the Later Days of Bitter Struggle, we had to hang out at the party until people began to drift off and then secure sleeping space. It led to lots of scheming early trying to locate the best spots in the house. You would spot a couch that looked like a pullout in an upstairs room, wait until no one was looking, and then slink upstairs while the other guys in the band listened to some drunk expound upon the merits of the latest Jon Spencer record. We quickly came up with code words for this behavior. The man that discovered and then seized the best sleeping space was The Cheetah. The herd downstairs that let the fates dictate their future? They were Gazelles. In a world of Cheetahs and Gazelles, it is always better to be The Cheetah. The Cheetah enjoys the coldest beer from the bottom of the cooler while The Gazelle drinks from the six pack left on the table. The Cheetah sleeps soundly on the spare bed while the Gazelle attempts to get comfortable on the floor. The Cheetah springs into action while the Gazelle mindlessly waits for his destiny to unfold.

This particular night I remember that we had also played with a band of really young kids. They played first on the three band bill. They must have been in high school and lived nearby. I can only imagine how stoked they must have been to play on a gig with the local heroes and the out of town band that actually had honest-to-God records out. They really showed a little future Cheetah as well. They had pulled the old trick of telling each other’s parents that they were all sleeping at the other’s house, thereby making it possible to hang out at three in the morning at the In-Sect house and drink actual beer with actual college girls. What a score for a 17 year old! It was getting late and I remember Leo and I talked about crashing out. We had both eyeballed a pullout couch in an adjacent room, and decided to make our move. We walked in, saw a couple backpacks on the couch, tossed them off, and got to work making the transformation from couch to bed. We had the entire thing set up, and spread some blankets we found in a closet on it when two of the 17 year old kids walked in. “Hey! We “saved” that!”

The boys had made what appeared to be a logical move for any high school kid. By placing their belongings near the couch, they concluded that they had secured ownership rights to the space for the evening. Based on their limited life experience, I would have concluded the same thing. The problem for those young fellas was they were dealing with road hardened men that were full blown Cheetahs. Leo and I both ignored them and kept readying our space as they looked on. That was when Leo turned to them and pulled off his pants. “Boys? Have you ever seen a grown man naked?” They were in over their heads, and they knew it. They retreated shell-shocked from the room leaving the space to the scary naked red head and his hairy cowboy singer friend.

Leo and I slept the fitful sleep of The Cheetah that night.


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