Monday, February 02, 2009

A Bad Trip Across a Bridge

I was coming back from a gig in Lodi, crossing the bay bridge around midnight when a very unusual situation happened before I could comprehend just what was going on. I had been feeling out of sorts all night. I started to suspect the Denny's burger as the reason. The damn thing sat in my belly like a hot coal. It bothered me off and on the rest of the night. I didn't think too much about it. The less I thought about it the more it would just get better. Right?
Ever drive across the bridge and puke outside the window while attempting to stay in your lane and maintain a shred of dignity? I can now say that I have endured this unique challenge.
Food poisoning. Thats what it was. I had the burger around 7PM and hit the stage around 9:30PM. The show was weird but I didn't really feel anything in my stomach during the show. This is evidence to me that I not only love doing stand-up but that I am also good at it. When I am working I don't feel pain. Do you know what I mean? I have performed with head and chest colds. I have performed with head aches, sprains, broken bones and emotional issues. When I am performing I don't feel any of it. Even after shows where I went up hurt in some way there is a grace period like a high that lasts for at least an hour after the show. Then what ever aliment that is bothering me makes itself known again.
The sudden realization that I was going to be sick and there was no place to pull over hit me at once. I managed to get the window down but with the wind effect and trying to keep an eye focused on the road it was a mess. It happened twice before I made it to the first exit that lets you off near the greyhound station. I figured I could just stop around there. A guy throwing up probably wouldn't look too out of place. Without getting graphic here by the time I got to the end of the off ramp the entire left side of my upper body was covered. The back seat, driver side door and even the inside of the rear window all got it bad too. My cell phone was resting in the door handle. Thats doesn't work anymore. How I didn't hit another car on the bridge weaving between lanes and struggling to keep my eyes open as I was vomiting I will never know. The added adrenaline just set me more on edge when I could pull over. Cars blew past me. I couldn't see anyone but I imagine they could see me. It must of been hard not to notice.
I felt absolutely horrible. I wanted to pull over climb into the back seat and hope I would wake up to find it was all just a dream. A bad dream. Ugh. What a night.
The show was also something of a mess. The place was nice but instead of a stage there was a small area against a wall where a microphone waited. Tables were directly in front of me at waist level. I felt more like a waiter than a comic. There was a large group in back that were loud and drunk through out the show. But they were not the table I got into it with. The table I got into it with was some modern Adams Family family. Two couples, one older and one in their early 20's sat at the table. The kid had a military haircut and five black spiders tattooed on his arm. Of course I ask why? The kid, who is buffed like nuts just smiles and looks at the older guy. OK. Thats a little strange. When I talk to him he tells me he use to be an investigator. In classic cliché fashion he says if he told me what type of inspector he was he would have to kill me.
Game on Jack-ass!
Its all pretty good natured for a while till I talk to his wife. Here is the story I am given. They have been together five years. They met in Sweden. She is from some former soviet state. He is the kind of investigator that use to carry a gun.
When I ask where she is from she is surprised.
"Ow kan U hell I am naught frum ear?"
"Ah. That accent."
She then tells us she can speak five languages. I say what a waste in America where we can barely speak one.
The crowd gives that an applause break.
Ain't that America? I can't help point this out to the crowd that we are a nation oddly proud of our ignorance. That gets more laughter.
Strange crowd out here in Lodi.
I get into trouble when I call his wife his swedish princess. When I call her this he rises a little out of his chair and points a withered finger at me.
Hey what? Its a compliment to call a woman a princess. Right? I ask the crowd their thoughts. We are all in agreement on this. Calling a woman a princess is a compliment.
He then does something unintentionally hilarious to me that I can't help but point out to the crowd. He puts a hand behind his right ear and says, "What?"
An investigator with bad hearing? How many people are in prison because this guy didn't hear something right? I can see by his face that thats enough. I wrap up and get the hell out of there with my crisp hundred dollar bills sitting in my fat wallet. Another show another success.
Comedy gets treated badly on the road. It is also the one type of entertainment where people feel strange asking other people to quiet down. With no bouncers or even a stage to give a comic a little more credibility you don't feel completely respected. Its the idea that you can just hand us a Microphone and you have a show that bothers me. But I took the gig assuming it was going to be something like this set up. As these gigs go it was actually pretty good.
When I got into my car to leave my head was throbbing like a stereo speaker. I had two hours to talk myself out of being sick and two minuets of complete panic when that didn't work out. Lesson learned. Next time I will stop. Shit. I gotta start taking better care of myself.

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