Irish pt. XLIV
By Pete Moss
The Casbah looks like an abandoned building from the outside. It doesn't look much better on the inside.
The bouncer is a rotund, bald-headed dude in a black t-shirt. He has enormous hands. My ID is lost in his fat fingers. He gives me a look like I'm the filthiest vermin he's ever seen when he hands back the ID.
YoYo, Ramona, Pete and I head into the club. The ceiling is low. The lights are up. The stage is tiny. There's a broken pinball machine, a couple of high teetery tables and a scarred bar.
Ramona and YoYo claim a table. Pete and I go to the bar to get drinks.
The bartender is arguing with someone at the other end of the bar. She takes her time getting down to us. She has scabby tats and piercings.
"Whatchou want?" she says to us. She looks 50 but is probably 25. She has a surly attitude fine tuned by many a night slinging drinks in shabby clubs and dive bars.
I order a Moscow Mule and a beer. Pete orders a beer and a glass of wine. We head back over to the table. I give YoYo her beer. Pete hands Ramona the wine.
"So this joint is pretty punk rock," says Pete.
"It's been here since forever," says Ramona.
"What a firetrap," I say.
"Can I ask you a question?" says YoYo to Ramona.
"Go ahead," says Ramona.
"How long you been doing this Scrabble thing?"
"Gosh," says Ramona. "Almost ten years now."
"For Larry the whole time?"
"I teamed up with him about five years ago."
"You don't feel like he's a little...uh..."
"Controlling?" says Ramona.
"Yeah, controlling," says YoYo. "I have a feeling he's not gonna take it lightly on you skipping out tonight."
"He is. A bit. But it pays the bills. He'll get over it. Honestly I've been thinking about quitting Scrabble, professionally. I love playing Scrabble, you know. But I want to go back to playing it for fun."
The club is filling up. It's a mixed crowd. I'd never heard of Pere Ubu but apparently plenty of other people have.
"Who is Pere Ubu?" I say.
"They came out of Akron, Ohio in the late 70's. There was a music scene around Kent State University. Devo were the ones who hit it big." says Pete Moss. "Well...fairly big. Not like the Eagles or Elton John. But not bad for some kids from Akron."
"Devo I've heard of," I say.
The lights dim. A warm up band takes the stage. A guitarist and a sparse drum kit. Two guys. The drummer does a weird two step beat and the guitar player plays a lot of crinkly pizzicato and sings about dark alleys littered with discarded pizza.
The club is really getting crowded now. One of the stage lights blows out. There's a ruckus on the back patio. The bouncer hustles a guy through the crowd and tosses him in the street.
Pere Ubu takes the stage. There's six of them. Barely room on the tiny stage. The front man is an old guy. There's a guy who plays a theremin.
Their music is pretty unique. I can't describe or think of anything to compare it to. But it's danceable.
YoYo and I are enjoying ourselves, grinding together to the clopping beat of the bass & the wailing of the theremin.
And Pete and Ramona seem to be having a good time as well.
"I think Ms. Ramona got herself a boyfriend," says YoYo in my ear.
"He's one lucky guy," I say.
The band takes a break. Ramona, Pete, YoYo and I stand in tight circle. "These guys aren't bad. How come I never heard of them?" says YoYo. "Who's idea was it to come to this show?"
Ramona looks at Pete. Pete smiles.
Just then an intruder breaks into our circle.
"Oh my God!!! Is that you? Ramona Darby?! Oh My God!! I read your book 75 times!!"
"Why thank you," says Ramona.
"We met at a book signing at a Barnes & Noble in Denver. Do you remember me?"
"Were you wearing a blue sweater and had a Hello Kitty backpack?"
"Oh. My. GOD! You do remember me!!!" Gushes the fan girl.
I look at YoYo. YoYo looks at me. We weren't expecting this. We look at Pete. We form a sort of phalanx around Ramona.
Because now there's a clique of fangirls homing in on Ramona. Not a huge cohort, but enough to cause a commotion.
The bouncer is shoving his way through the crowd.
"What the fuck!" says Mr. Bouncer. Now I notice there's two bouncers. "What's going on here?"
"It's Ramona Darbeeeee!!!" squeal the fangirls.
Clearly neither bouncer has ever heard of Ramona Darby.
The band is coming back on stage.
But the fangirls won't pipe down. "When are you going to write another book? How come you stopped doing music reviews? Is this guy your boyfriend?"
"That's it! I'm going to have to ask you guys to leave," says the bouncer. The band is standing around on stage, watching the kerfuffle.
"I guess we gotta go guys," I say.
We push our way through the crowd and step out into the cool night.
"Oh God! I'm so mortified! I'm so sorry everybody. It's been years since anything like that happened. You write one book, 20 years ago and it turns into a hit and then you never live it down..." babbles Ramona.
"Well I'm kind of proud of you," says Pete Moss, matter-of-factly.
"You are?" says Ramona.
"You handled that really well."
"You did. That trick with the blue sweater and the Hello Kitty backpack. How did you pull that off?"
"Oh that? That's easy. In the book the heroines favorite color was blue and she always carried her notebook in a Hello Kitty backpack. When I did that book signing tour there would be 40 girls wearing blue and carrying Hello Kitty backpacks."
It takes a second. Pete Moss starts laughing first. Then YoYo joins in. Then me. Finally, Ramona starts laughing.