(In case you missed it, here’s the link to part 1 of the denouement.)
What happened to Crabs
In the comments to one of the Worst Date Ever stories, Rick McGinnis guessed correctly that I remained friends with Crabs.
One Saturday night in the fall of 1999, Crabs and I met up at Buddies in Bad Times — the site of the first date with The Waitress — to dance there for old times’ sake.
Crabs came with his new boyfriend, who I recognized from TV.
“Dude,” I said, “I loved it when your head exploded on Earth: Final Conflict!”
“People actually watch that?” he asked, seeming genuinely surprised.
“Hey man, I was young and I needed the money.”
In this story, I shall refer to him as Exploding Boy.
As the evening progressed, more of our friends joined us, and by the time the club was in full swing, we had a pretty good group. The music was excellent, the crowd had a very pleasant vibe going, and for the first time in a long time, I was actually enjoying myself at Buddies in Bad Times. It seemed that the curse had been lifted from the place.
At the end of the evening, after the last song had been played, Crabs went downstairs to fetch his jacket from coat check. I sat on the stage, sipping from a bottle of water, talking with Ryan, whom I knew from my days at Crazy Go Nuts University.
The DJ had shut down the sound system, and the place was lit by the harsh glow of fluorescent tubes.
“Ugh,” said Ryan. “They’ve turned on the ‘ugly lights’.”
We started making our way towards the door when a voice came over the sound system.
“Everybody, get up!” said the voice. “We’re going to dance again!”
“What the…?” asked Ryan. “That sounds like [Exploding Boy]!”
I looked up at the DJ booth. Exploding Boy was in it, with the DJ’s microphone in his hand. He appeared to be searching the booth frantically and throwing switches at random.
“I want everybody to get up,” he said, “because the night’s not over! We’re going to have music!”
“The managers aren’t going to like this,” said Ryan.
Two bouncers raced from the main entrance towards the stairs to the DJ booth.
“Oh shit,” I said. “I’d better go get [Crabs].”
My experience working as a DJ at student pubs has taught me that if you want to get an overly rowdy or belligerent drunk to calm down, one of the best courses of action is to involve his/her significant other. Usually a girlfriend or boyfriend can calm down an out-of-control patron more effectively than any bouncer.
I found Crabs and took him upstairs to the balcony level where the DJ booth was. We arrived to find four bouncers, each one holding onto either a leg or arm belonging to Exploding Boy, who’d adopted the passive resistance strategy of going completely limp so that one is very difficult to move. This was especially effective in Exploding Boy’s case, as he was a pretty husky guy.
“I’m not leaving until we have music!” screamed Exploding Boy. “We…need…music!”
“We’re closed, buddy,” said one of the bouncers. “Go home!”
“You close too early! There’s still time for music!”
“Think we can lift him?” asked one of the bouncers to the others.
“Not when he’s all limp like that,” said another bouncer. “Guy weighs a fucking ton.”
“[Crabs],” I said, “why don’t you talk to him?”
Crabs burst out in tears. “[Exploding Boy], why are you doing this to me?! This is embarassing!”
Crabs lunged at Exploding Boy and pummelled him with a volley of completely wussy, Dame Edna punches.
“Accordion Guy,” said a bouncer through gritted teeth. “This…isn’t…helping…”
I grabbed Crabs by his arm.
“C’mon, let’s just leave. [Exploding Boy] will follow,” I said, annoyed at once again having to deal with what was likely more ketamine-fueled outbursts. “Goddamn horse tranquilizers…”
I walked Crabs out the front entrance. He sobbed all the way. As we passed Christine the doorperson, she looked at me and said “Accordion Guy, did you hit him over a girl again?”
Outside, it was cool, which felt wonderful after being inside a sweaty dance club for hours. I was hoping that the air would help clear Crabs’ head.
“Why is he doing this to me, Joey?” he sobbed.
“He’s not doing this to you, or anyone. He just wanted the evening to go on. Look, it’s still early enough for us to get into one of the boozecans…”
The emergency exit that led to the side of the dance floor opened. A voice came from the doorway: “On three! One…two…three!”
Out flew Exploding Boy. The bouncers had managed to carry him down the stairs, across the dance floor and to the emergency exit, where they swung him by his arms and legs and threw him out on his ample ass.
Exploding Boy landed with a thud and rolled over onto his stomach. He shook a defiant fist at the open doorway, calling the bouncers Nazis.
“We called the cops, fatass!” one of them yelled.
“Like I give a shit!” he yelled back. He stood up, raised both fists in the air and started yelling gibberish about peace, love, music, and “the fundamental right of all human beings to dance until sun-up” at no one in particular.
Crabs ran at him and attempted to tackle him. Exploding Boy swatted Crabs aside as if he were a rag doll.
“I want there to be love!”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP, WE’RE TRYING TO SLEEP HERE!” yelled someone from one of the nearby apartment buildings.
“NO!” replied Exploding Boy, all revved up now that he’d found a new audience. “I’m not going to shut up until we have peace and love and dancing!”
“Be quiet!” yelled another voice from another apartment building. “I’m calling the cops!”
Crabs charged again at Exploding Boy and unleashed another volley of punches, each one no stronger than a sneeze.
“StopitstopitstopitstoptistopitSTOPIT!” he yelled.
“You know what?” yelled Crabs. “I’m going to call your mother and tell her what you’re doing right now. Let’s see what she thinks of your behaviour. Joey, give me your phone!”
“No!” I said, and grabbed Crabs by both shoulders. “For Chrissake, pull yourself together! We…are…grown-ups! We don’t solve problems by telling on each other anymore!”
Besides, it was three in the morning. I’m sure she would’ve loooooved getting a whiny phone call in the middle of the night.
In the meantime, Exploding Boy had gone off on a rant, occasionally interrupted by a number of people who’d taken to yelling out their bedroom windows demanding that he shut the hell up.
“Let’s get out of here and get a coffee,” I said. I pulled Crabs in the direction of Church Street, where there was a 24-hour coffee shop.
“We’ll let him get tired.”
I bought Crabs a coffee. As we drank, I suggested that perhaps cutting down on the recreational chemicals — “I’m not trying to be a killjoy, I like to party too, but…” — might be a good idea.
After we finished our coffees, we returned to Buddies in Bad Times. I knocked on the front door, and Christine answered.
“Hey, ‘ccordion Guy.”
“What happened to our friend? The big guy who wouldn’t leave?”
“He yelled a little more, pissed off all the neighbours and then the cops came and took him to detox. Wellesley Hospital.”
“By the way, don’t come back for the next couple of weeks. You three are on the list.”
By “list”, she meant the “banned list”.
“What?! Why [Crabs] and me? We didn’t raid the booth.”
“I know, but the manager said so. Sorry.”
She closed the door and locked it with a very final sounding ker-chunk.
“I hate this place,” I said to Crabs. “Something bad always happens here.”
It was months before I returned.
We made our way to the detox center at Wellesley hospital. Crabs and Exploding Boy were reunited, had a small argument and followed it up with a joint crying session. Once it looked as though sanity were restored, I got in a cab, leaving the two drug-addled idiots to their own devices.
Since then, Crabs and Exploding Boy have quit drinking and drugging. They’re considerably saner, pleasant to hang out with, and have not turned any outings of mine into hellish nightmares since.