Pissed Off 2 a.m.
Sometimes I come home,
I don’t expect too much.
The lights are off now.
It’s only two.
Ever have one of those nights where you just lose track of time? Where you’re at a small party, one that should have a definite ending time? One of those nights where someone at the party invites you to grab a beer with some people after the party? One of those nights when you call home to tell your spouse that you’re getting a beer and should be home by 10:30 or so? One of this nights where you get a text at 2 in the morning from the aforementioned spouse that just says “Where the hell are you?”
I just had one of those evenings. It wasn’t the worst night out that I’ve ever been guilty of, that goes to the night Lucas M. went off to UCLA for grad school and several other professors and I took him out for a night on the town. I got a text that night at three thirty in the morning while we were drinking in an after hours speakeasy that I know. That text from home asked a simple question, “Do I still have a husband?”
But driving home in the rain this most recent evening, I was thinking about the song Pissed Off 2 a.m. by Alejandro Escovedo. I’m guessing most of you haven’t heard it, but it is an amazing song. A quick look at the lyrics shows why it is a poignant song when you’ve been out and your significant other has been waiting for you at home.
The first time I ever hear Alejandro Escovedo play was when he was opening for Son Volt at a bar called Trees in Dallas. He was fronting his punk band Buick MacKane at the time. It was a memorable show for three reasons.
1. It was the loudest show that I have ever been to as an adult. I was right by the stage and my shirt was vibrating from the sound waves hitting it. I actually resorted to finding a drink napkin on the floor and jamming it in my ears. I was pretty damn close to the speaker arrays when Jean Michelle Jarre held his Rendezvous Houston concert that was seen by over a million and a half people. My friend Jason H. had gum in his mouth that he claimed vibrated apart during the course of the show. That was loud. After that was over, we crashed the international press after party. We were high school kids that did not fit in at the event and this woman from the London Times came up to us and said “You are crashing this party, yes?” She then asked us some questions about the show and we got the hell out of there. My only other memory of the night was following thousands of people through the downtown city streets looking for a bathroom. We got lost in some underground parking garage and Dan S. and Jason H. finally couldn’t handle it anymore and went to a wall in what appeared to be a vacant garage and started relieving themselves. No sooner had they begun something that they were powerless to stop, this row of headlights appeared from the lower level of the garage. There they were peeing on the wall as car after car after car went by.
2. There was a hot blond girl right next to me who was wanted only two things – cigarettes and someone who wasn’t me. Guys kept coming up to her and asking her if they could buy her a drink and she kept asking for cigarettes. The guys kept coming back with Camel Lights for her. She’d take them and then tell the guy she only smoked Marlboro Light 100’s. They’d tell her that the bar only sold Camels and she’d give them this “Well,ifyoutrulywantedmeyou’dgodownthestreetandgetmewhatIwant,butobviouslythe mindblowingsexualexperiencewecouldhavehadisn’tworththeextraeffortitwouldtakeyoutowalk acoupleofblocks.Goodbyeforever” look. You know the one I’m talking about. That must have happened like ten times. So this girl was sitting on a carton of Camels before Buick MacKane came on, when Dwight the guitar tech for Son Volt came up to her and asked if she had a smoke. She did. Gave him a Camel. He broke off the filter lit up and said he want to her the opening band. She asked if they were any good. He said he’d heard they were. She asked if Son Volt was any good. So, she was hot and had no idea who she was about to see. I think she liked Son Volt because I saw her making out with the bass player in the parking lot after the show.
3. It was the smokiest show I have ever been to in my life. At one point I looked up and saw the cigarette smoke wafting off of the stage from the band and above it there was a second discernible cloud of cigarette smoke drifting in the opposite direction. If we’d been outside the same air flow pattern would have produced hail. I woke up with cotton mouth the next morning and I wasn’t smoking.
I’ve seen Alejandro Escovedo several times over the years since that first night in Dallas. None of the shows have been as loud as the first show. Maybe that’s because I suffered some hearing loss that first night. I saw him and his regular band perform at the Continental Club here in Houston. I had just broken up for the ninth or tenth time with this girl whose name I can’t recall. My friend called her “The Projectionist” because of her habit of taking anything wrong in her life and projecting it on to me. Anyway, half the crowd was into it, the other half, not so much. People by the stage were actually yelling at the people at the bar to “shut the f’ up”. It was sucking.
When gigs are going poorly Mr. Escovedo doesn’t get louder, he gets quieter. He takes his band off the stage and unplugs everything. He gets down in the crowd and forms a circle and plays an acoustic set with the people who actually give a crap about the show. I wish I had a recording of that moment. Hearing him play Pissed Off standing so close I could hear his fingers slide across the strings. Incredible night.
Someone else went to that show with me and I can’t for the life of me remember their name. I really have got to pay more attention to my own life. I always say I don’t have any friends, but maybe I do and I just can’t remember who they are.
So, the other night, I had a wonderful time. I was just a sad old guy hanging out with a group of people much younger than myself. One of them bought me beer. Another gave me a bottle of Jack Daniels. It was a rare night out for me. Fun. Relatively worry free.
Then the phone rang.