# nickelndime

## The Worst St. Paddy's Gig I've Played...Ever!

“We've got three gigs in one day?” I asked surprised. I couldn't believe what Keelan was telling me. This was great news. Typically bars and pubs paid really well to play on St. Patrick's Day, and when Keelan had told me he booked three, I couldn't but help but think about how much money we were going to make.

“I really should see a doctor when my eyes start doing this.”

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“How did you manage this?” I asked.

“Easy,” Keelan answered then continued, “Two are at O'Callohan's. We play at 1:00, then come back at 7:00.”

I realized he hadn't mentioned the third bar so I prompted him. “And the third...”

“It pays really well.” Keelan responded. He was dodging the question. I gave him one of my no nonsense looks before he finally uttered, “It's at the Bench.”

“Not the Bench...” The words fell involuntary out of my mouth. “What time is that one?” I asked begrudgingly.

“That one starts at 11:00 at night. It might be a little rowdy.”

“Ya think?” I asked sarcastically. The Bench was one of, if not the worst, bars in the area. It was the type of place that all the annoying drunks who were banned from all other bars were still welcomed with open arms.

“I don't know, Keelan...” I started to trail off.

“Come on... it's only for a couple hours and they're going to give us 600 bucks.”

“600 bucks, for a couple hours?” I started doing the math in my head of all the money we'd make if we played all three gigs...

600 + 400 + 400 + tip money / splitting with Keelan = NickelNDime thinking of how he can cut Keelan out of the equation.

I sighed and looked at Keelan and answered, “I'm in.”

St. Paddy's arrived and we had planned out the day so we could play the first gig, go home, play the second, go home, and then finally play at The Bench. The first two gigs we played without a hitch. The 1:00 was very chill. Most people were having Baileys in their coffee as they ate an Irish style brunch. When we came back later in the evening it was really rowdy but nothing I didn't expect. I had been out many times for St. Paddy's day, and the crowd by then was rip roaring for us to play. They sang along with every song we played, and put a ton of money in our tip jar. When we got done they wanted us to play longer. We politely declined, packed up our gear, and left.

The Bench.

The place was exactly as I had remembered it.

First of all, a bar screams classy when it's in the middle of a strip mall. It was wedged between a fast food joint, and a nail salon. As Keelan and I carried our gear in through the door, we saw what kind of dumpster fire awaited us. This was beyond any St. Paddy's day celebration. It was a packed low brow bar, with low brow people. There were no St. Paddy's day decorations, nobody was wearing green. It was just a low end bar, packed with low end people.

The manager pushed her way through the crowd to greet us. She introduced herself and pointed to where we would be playing. We quickly carried our gear to where she pointed, set up, and then I turned to Keelan and said, “I gotta use the bathroom, I'll be right back.”

“Hurry back, I just want to get started.”

“I will.” I responded, and made my way towards the bathroom.

I use the term bathroom lightly because it was a room with just two toilets with no stalls. There was no sink, only a spot on the wall where it appeared a sink had once been. There was another guy in the bathroom with me and he clearly could see the look of confusion on my face.

“They took the stalls out.” he said matter of factly.

“But, why?”

”'Cause people kept ripping them off. Guys would get drunk, come in here and just rip the doors off. So, management just took the stalls out.”

“What if you have to go number two?” I honestly was curious.

“Ya hold it, or ya better not be too shy about doing your business!” He started laughing. Not like a simple chuckle, but rather like an eight year old would when someone passed gas in the classroom.

” Poop is funny.” Gentleman in the bathroom.

I tried to feign amusement....

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I nodded my head toward where there should have been a sink and asked, “What happened there?”

“Oh that...A fight broke out in the bathroom and one of the guys picked up the other guy and slammed him into the sink. The sink broke off and water was spraying everywhere.”

“Wow,” I said genuinely surprised and added, “When was that, like a week or two ago?”

“Couple years.”

I did my business and left the bathroom as fast as humanly possible.

As I made my way through the crowd I looked towards where Keelan and our gear was. He had set everything up while I was in the bathroom. He was holding his guitar and tuning it. Wow, he must really want to get started, I thought to myself. As I pushed my way towards the stage, someone called my name.

“NICK!”

I whipped my head around to see a very drunken, very haggard looking face. The man looked familiar but I couldn't recall from where. He looked like a man in his late forties, so there was no way he could have gone to school with me. I underestimated how much chain smoking and hardcore drinking can age a man. The man could see my look of trying to place his face.

“It's Vinnie! Vinnie Ashinto!”

Oh my god, I thought. This guy wasn't my age, he was actually younger than me by a couple of years. He looked like the years had not been kind to him. His face was cracking was due to years of chain smoking, and he looking like he had gained a good 100 lbs since high school. My guess it was from his strict diet of bar food and beer he had been on.

“Vinnie,” I feigned excitement and continued, “How have you been?” I asked that last sentence as more as a common courtesy, I did not expect the response he gave.

“Awful, just awful man. I just got popped with another DUI.”

“Oh... Is this your second one?”

“Nahh this is my third one. Which I'm fighting in court.”

“How can you fight a DUI?? Didn't you blow into a breathalyzer?”

“Yeah, but here's the thing. I wasn't driving a car.”

“What?” Now I was intrigued.

“You see, I bought a golf cart awhile back and had been driving it on the sidewalks. I was never on any of the roads, just the sidewalks, so I don't think they were going to make this DUI stick.”

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“Wow!” I replied in more of, this guy was not playing with a full deck of cards. I recently had heard of someone getting arrested driving a golf cart home from a bar. I had thought it was an urban legend or a rumor. Nope, it was Vinnie. In fairness Vinnie was never all there. In high school he had smoked marijuana behind the police station because he thought that would be the last place the cops would look.

Keelan was now looking at me from the stage and giving me an impatient look. I turned back to Vinnie and said my goodbyes.

“Vinnie, it was great catching up with you, but....” I pointed towards Keelan and continued, “I gotta get on stage.”

“No way man, you're playing?

“Yeah, and I gotta get started.”

“Awesome, I'll be listening and cheering on!”

“Cool, thanks man!”

When I finally made my way to the stage I grabbed my guitar and we started playing. The night went remarkably smooth until the last set. It was approaching 1:00am and the place was beginning to resemble some kind of Jerrry Springer episode. I could see men shoving other men, and their ladies getting in each other's faces.

“I did not order the jalapeno poppers!” – A classy patron.

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As we finished playing Keelan leaned over to me and whispered, “Dude, let's just finish up and get outta here.” I couldn't have agreed more. We started to play the last couple tunes which tend to be more fast tempo. People were clapping their hands, banging their mugs on the table, and having a grand ol' time. As we were playing, I noticed a man push his way through the crowd. It was Vinnie, and by the looks of him, he looked extremely intoxicated. Oh no, I thought, what's he planning on doing?

I didn't have to wonder for very long because he got maybe an arms length away from us... and attempted to dance an Irish jig. Something like this.

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But it looked more like...

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I think it's important to point out that Keelan and I weren't playing an Irish folk tune that would inspire this kind of dancing. In fact, we were playing, “Take it Easy” by the Eagles. As we continued to play, Vinnie slowed down his spastic dancing. Until the point where he was just standing there kind of swaying back and forth. And then...it happened:

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Yep. All over himself. The wild apart about this was no one in the bar seemed to care. Everyone else just kept on clapping and singing along, but Vinnie wasn't done. As he tried to walk off the dance floor, he slipped on the puddle of his own sick, and stumbled into our PA speaker.

This is a lot more graceful than his fall.

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Luckily our speaker was fine, and we called it a night after that. We got paid extra because I made a fuss about our gear getting knocked over. That was the first and last time we ever played at the Bench.

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