Before Coffee: Stuck in the Middle with You

June 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

I woke up to Stealers Wheel this morning, so it must be my brother Steve’s birthday.

Those of you who’ve seen Reservoir Dogs have a different association with the song:


My association is with a dimly lit blue-collar bar, wall to wall with people 15 years younger than me on average, cigarette smoke hanging over us like a massive gray sponge. You could’ve cut that cancerous haze if you had a knife sharp enough—something forged by Wayland the Smith.

We were there because my niece, Maryann, was going to sing karaoke, and I’d never heard her. She performed Patsy Cline’s Crazy, and it was worth the cancer risk and inebriated kids. (Yes, kids, because anyone ten or more years my junior is and will always be a kid to me.)

Somewhere around the I-don’t-know-how-manyth beer, Steve disappeared for a few minutes, and came back with a grin on his face.

I knew that grin. I still know that grin. That grin means trouble.

He told me he’d signed us up to sing, and we were going to do it, and fuck you, that’s why. So when they called our names, we got up and performed “Stuck in the Middle with You.” Steve in the lead, both of us on the chorus. Steve even did the fucking dance, because he’s a fearless madman.

It was the first and only time I’ve ever sung karaoke.

Later that night, some punks started hassling Maryann, and Steve looked at me. No grin this time, which meant worse trouble. We ended up between Maryann and the assholes, arms crossed, me doing my best to look like a badass. Steve told the punks to fuck very far off, and after a moment’s drunken consideration, they did.

We all left not long after that. It was the first and only time I’ve even come close to getting in a bar fight.

Steve’s a man of adventure. Very rarely, I get to go along for the ride.

Happy birthday, brother!




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