DONT WALK/WALK

The neon sign’s significance struck me immediately. It was a standard traffic sign designed and illuminated with pedestrians in mind. Only this one displayed both brief instructions simultaneously (sans proper punctuation, but I didn’t mind): DONT WALK hovering above its other instructional half of WALK.

I didn’t need to gaze up at the sign for more than a handful of fleeting seconds to realize what the sign tried to tell me: In life, we’re often issued two — sometimes more — options at the same time. It’s up to us to make what we hope is the best decision in the long run. The conflicting messages we receive are there as a test. When experience, as some say, meets opportunity.

Perhaps I should step back, though. (Pardon the pedestrian pun.) I wasn’t on a public walkway but inside a bar in the 42,000-resident community of Grand Island, Nebraska. My boyfriend’s band played back-to-back shows there this past weekend and, as is my usual custom, I tagged along for an adventure and ass-shaking rock music. (An aside: I help Matt’s band with PR, but I’m not the type of publicity hack/hound who would post a link to the band’s MySpace page on my blog, or even link to his new comedic side project, mind you. What kind of person do you think I am?)

The bar is a renovated and oversized garage with the expected theme of cars, trucks, anything vehicle related, for that matter. And the name gives it away: the Roadhouse Garage. Hell, it’s even situated a broken-beer-bottle’s toss from the city’s main drag.

I will admit that when I noticed the sign I was sipping on my second (or maybe third) bottle of Budweiser. (Only Bud Heavy will do.) It is during these moments that I most readily relate to the late Hunter S Thompson who often wrote while experiencing a sharp buzz of booze. Alcohol tends to dilute my fear and doubt when an idea starts unpacking its suitcase inside my head. The idea may not stay for long, but bits and pieces find themselves strewn about like dirty laundry, used toiler paper rolls and empty shampoo bottles.

I am never without a pen and paper in public. Even while inebriated I’ve drafted and outlined essays and ideas that, I hoped at the time, would make sense in the morning or the next time I bellied up to my Macintosh with the frothy brew a distant memory.

If I were more socially obtuse I would carry my laptop with me everywhere and draft line after line of, what I hoped at the time, would be a brilliant marriage of wit and prose and language and punctuation. (Because in so many cases, good writing relies on properly placed punctuation.) The urge to write and generate copy, I’m sad to say, strikes hardest and quickest when I am tipsy on the right combination of too much alcohol and too little food. In more cases that I recall, this usually occurs during one of Matt’s gigs. The ideas swim through my head as lyrics such as “I want you down on your knees, Big Lady!”or “She’s 18 and she’s got me by the balls” serve as a bizarre yet pleasing soundtrack that makes writing copy (in my head, at least) pretty painless. I have zero explanation as to why lyrics about one’s private parts helps me write and move along the copy, but they do.

And I’m sure the small-town folk who see me writing away think I must be crazy. Or, at the very least, so drunk I’ve confused their pub for a library.

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