Here's a silly little article I wrote a couple of years ago:
As the Sales Director for Gadow Guitars, I spend a lot of time on the
road. About two weeks of every month I find myself taking in the sites
of America's highways and Wal-Mart's (interesting fact: no matter where
you are in America, you're within ten miles of a Wal-Mart). People are
always telling me how lucky I am, traveling all over the country, seeing
the sites, meeting interesting people. Well, as far as the sites go,
Wal-Mart looks like Wal-Mart no matter where you are. But as for the
people, I've definitely run across my share of characters. Late one
Sunday evening, en-route to Midnight Music in Pittsburgh, I had the good
fortune of meeting one such character...
I exited the highway in a small town in western New York - the town
shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. Suffice it to say it was
within ten miles of a Wal-Mart - and stopped at the first bar I found.
The Pats were about to put a hurtin' on the Bills and I couldn't resist
watching this amongst New Yorkers. The crowd at the bar turned out to be
a great bunch of guys and gals who took the New England thrashing with
surprising humility. By the end of the game we had all consumed enough
alcohol to put down a small pachyderm and were getting along quite
nicely... all of us that is, except Billy.
At the other end of the bar sat a man of sixty plus years. He had been
quietly keeping pace with the rest of us all night, ordering the
occasional Budweiser between shots of whiskey. No one really talked to
him, nor did he seem to feel the need to talk to any of us. He just sat
and drank. About the time one o'clock rolled around, Billy started to
stir; Fidget if you will. At first he just rocked back and forth on his
barstool and irritably kicked his feet against the bar. After a minute
or two of this he added the occasional grumble to his fidgeting. Before
long it was hard not to look in Billy’s direction due to the spastic
nature of his movements and the volume of his grumbling.
"Uh oh, here it comes." said one patron of the bar. "Here what comes?" I
asked. "Billy's Sunday Night Sermon." another local stated in a tone
that suggested I should have known. "Billy's what?" "Just watch, he does
this every Sunday night."
First Billy escalated his rocking and fidgeting and grumbling to the
point where it didn't seem possible that he could stay on his stool.
Then his shoes came off. Then his hat. Before long Billy was wobbling on
his barstool like one of those silly inflatable punching bags you had as
a kid, struggling to remove his thermal underwear. Eventually he was
stark naked, except for the Bills cap which he had replaced on top of
his head. He then proceeded to climb his barstool turned soapbox and
berate each and every member of the bar.
“&*^$ you and your $%@&!n bar! You’re all a bunch of #@%!n *%@$s! If I
had my way I'd...” and on and on for about ten minutes.
Now, you'd think the sight of a little old man standing on a barstool in
his birthday suit shouting obscenities would elicit some kind of
response from the bar. I'm pretty sure it would be grounds for removal
in most establishments. But here, in a small town in New York, it was
largely ignored. Ignored that is, by everyone but me. I was fascinated.
How was this possible? When did this tradition start? How could this
happen every Sunday night and generate no reaction whatsoever? Did the
bar patrons ignore this from the get go, or did they gradually come to
accept this behavior over the years? What was Billy so upset about? How
far away was the closest Wal-Mart? I needed answers!
By now Billy was on auto pilot, not seeming to be yelling about anyone
or thing in particular, just yelling. Picture this. A screaming, naked
old man in a Bills cap on one side of the bar, and a group of casually
drunk barflies talking about the game on the other, neither seeming to
care what the other was up to. View this situation through an alcohol
induced haze and you have yourself the very definition of surreal.
I had to know what this was all about. When I asked the bartender, all I
got was "That's what Billy does." So I decided to ask the man himself.
"What’s the problem Billy?" I implored.
The response I received was some sort of sign language involving two
outstretched arms and two even more outstretched fingers. It was at this
point I realized I would never get the answers I was looking for.
Billy's Sunday Night Sermon was to remain a mystery, and I was better
off returning to my beer. Shortly after this Billy finished saying he
had to say, put his clothes back on, took his seat and ordered another
I'd like to say there's a moral to this story, but there isn't. So
rather than waste time trying to make one up, I'm going down the street
to the new Super Wal-Mart they built while I was writing this. I hear
it’s nice this time of year.