Sometimes you just get lucky.
I ran out of gas in Paiper Machet, Louisiana, on my way to a convention for freelance bumper sticker writers. My "Watch Out For The Idiot Behind Me" had become an industry classic and I was to be keynote speaker.
This was in days before there was an all-night convenience store with self-service gas pumps on every corner. There was one gas station in Paiper Machet and it would not open until 7:30 following morning. That would get me to convention thirty minutes into late registration, provided my luck held out and my tires held air.
After I shut off my headlights, only other illumination in this little corner of bayou was a thin ribbon of green and red, riding a greasy fog that I traced back to a juke joint just over tracks.
As I drew closer, smell of bar-b-q sang like a Siren in my brain and hastened my apprehensive footsteps.
The creaking door betrayed my attempt at a quick, clandestine peek at place. All eyes rolled in my direction. It was readily apparent that these good people were not accustomed to seeing an apologetic grin wearing a Hawaiian shirt and moccasins.
Relying on raw survival instinct, I sought out bartender. That gave me an excuse to turn my back on somnambulant stares of stoned citizenry, but there they were again in huge, spotless mirror. They had me surrounded.
I knew how to feign fortitude and present myself as a cool customer. After all, I was a keynote speaker, for cryin out loud. My body was inexplicably overtaken by spirit of what sounded like Zippy Pinhead on helium as I eked out, "Ya’ll got ‘nee beer?" I cast quick, accusatory glances around room, trying to pin down offending Voodoo Queen.
The barkeep silently drew a tall glass of Jax beer and sat it in front of me. I put a five on bar. He put it in cigar box that served as a cash drawer and flipped lid shut. The ghost of Barney Fife politely inquired about my change.
"Oh, is there to be entertainment?" (Kermit The Frog)
Was there to be entertainment? Were there to be alligator dreams tangled in Spanish moss long about four a.m.? Entertainment? Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. Tonight, at this inauspicious watering hole, just north of who-flung-the-chunk, and due west of Bum Fox, Egypt, there was to be entertainment. Blues legend, Blind Lemon Furniture Polish was to give his farewell performance.
I may have looked and acted like a total dork, but I knew my Blues. I knew what this event meant and I silently thanked God for allowing me to be present on this, this night of nights.
My eyes adjusted to dark and revealed a most welcome site: Danny Aykroid sitting in a corner booth, gnawing on a possum sandwich (or was it beaver?). I caught his eye and waved, probably a little too enthusiastically. He quickly looked away, his eyes darting down and right, pretending not to know me—which, of course, he doesn’t.