Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me


It’s just like one of those old Tom Vu commercials!

Setting the scene

The second day of CodeCon was followed by a dinner at Don Ramon’s, a Mexican restaurant two blocks from the DNA Lounge.

After dinner, those of us who hung out on the IRC channel decided to have our own little gathering.

Lisa did the legwork and found a place: Butter, which is across the street from the DNA Lounge. Butter is a cute little space with a “trailer park” theme with decor you’d expect, and the bar snacks are tater tots, TV dinners and marshmallows that you can roast yourself over canned heat.

That night, they projected the H.R. Pufnstuf movie, a couple of Land of the Lost episodes and National Lampoon’s Vacation onto the walls.

We went to Butter straight after dinner, so by the time 10:30 had rolled around, we’d already been there for three hours. Our party was winding down and people were making various plans to go elsewhere.

I didn’t know my evening had only just begun.

Note: The names of people who weren’t at CodeCon — namely the names of the stagette girls and the fratboys — have been changed.

“Can you play that thing?”

Even for me, this was kind of unusual. 

“Can you play that thing?” she asked.

“Sure,” I replied. Oh mighty accordion, I thank you for sending me yet another victim. And so cute, too!

“Is it your birthday?” It was a reasonable guess. ” Can I play Happy Birthday for you?”

“No,” she replied. “It’s my stagette!”

Duuuuuh. I should’ve guessed that, judging from the outfit.

I played the first verse of Billy Idol’s White Wedding in response. She sang along, waving the dildo as if it were a conductor’s baton.

“You have to meet my friends!” she exclaimed, pulling me towards the other side of the room, where eight attractive and tipsy women were greedily downing blue Jello shots from a tray. They took turns posing with me for pictures and a couple even tried the accordion on.

Brandon walked up to me and said “My God, Joey, you weren’t lying about the accordion.”

“It has powers that science cannot yet explain,” I replied.


The bride-to-be took me by the arm and said “Hey, Accordion Guy, we’ve got a limo coming to pick us up and take us to a few more bars. There’s lots of free booze and I have cute friends as you can see. Wanna come along?”

Lisa overheard this and whispered in my ear: “I think you should go.”


The stagette’s timing was perfect. Our party was winding down, with many people deciding to go home. Most of us were already standing outside Butter’s front door when the limo pulled up. I waved a triumphant goodbye to my friends and climbed into the limo.

All aboard!

Eight or nine girls, along with three other guys they’d picked up at Butter climbed aboard. Both girls and guys were cast from the same mold — the girls were skinny blondes and brunettes in party dresses and the guys were fratboys with brush cuts wearing Gap clothes. They could’ve easily been extras from the American Pie movies.

One of the girls had the last name Stiffler, which she was never referred to as until that movie had come out. I couldn’t resist the obvious joke: “This one time? At band camp? I took my accordion…”

The limo had a bar stocked with some terribly sour sparkling wine that the girls didn’t seem to mind. After a glass of that rotgut, I switched to the only other option: ice-cold cans of Bud, which was what the Frat Boys — my mental name for them — had also chosen.

“Dude,” asked Fratboy One, the tallest of them, “where’d you learn to play accordion like that?”

“I learned by playing for beer money and fun on the street.”

“Dude. That’s so sweet. I can tell it’s a real chick magnet. Dude, I gotta get me an accordion! That would so rule! The ladies love musicians. Look at fuckin’ Durst from Limp Bizkit; he’s like dating porno actresses an’ strippers an’ shit!”

“I’m soooo there, bro,” I answered, as I did a little conversational impedance-matching.

As the limo zigzagged through SoMa, we took turns sticking our heads out the sunroof in pairs and yelling incoherently. Some of the girls were drinking the low-grade champagne out of the fittest guy’s navel.

I should hit the gym more often, I thought.

Oh. My. God.

After my turn at the sunroof, I found a seat and seconds later, Lisa, the bride to be, sat in my lap, put an arm around me and asked what I was doing at Butter and where I got into accordion playing.

“I’m down here from Toronto to speak at a hacker conference,” I replied. I chose the phrase “hacker conference” deliberately; it has that certain bad-boy cachet that “programming conference” lacks.

“Whoo!” she exclaimed as she both arms around me and looked me straight in the eye. “You’re not dangerous or anything, are you?”

Suddenly the popular myth that all hackers are criminals didn’t seem like such a bad thing.

The bride-to-be bows out

The limo pulled up to the south side of the Metreon building and came to a halt. We left the limo and entered a bar with a packed dance floor playing Top 40 dance hits. We didn’t stay longer than half an hour, after which we piled into the limo and went to Asia SF, where we toasted Lisa with Jagermeister shots.

Forty-five minutes after that, we boarded the limo for the last time and ended up a a place whose name I believe was Cloud Eight. Lisa was looking a little rough.

“Water,” she croaked, while a friend supported her. She and two of her friends went towards the washrooms at the back of the club.

With the bride-to-be about to throw up and the limo’s contract over, it looked as though the party was going to break up even though it was only one o’clock.

“Dude,” Fratboy One said. “Lisa’s ’bout to call it a night, but some of these girls are still ready to go. I think Sara really likes you, dude. I’d be entering the dragon if I were you, bro.”

Thanks for the props for my mackin’ Asian style, dude.

After going to the back to check up on Lisa and hearing violent retching coming from behind the women’s washroom door, we decided to gather those who still wanted to party and go elsewhere. It was down to me, the three fratboys and three of the women — Stiffler, Cheryl and Max. The girls and one of the fratboys got into one cab, while I got into another with Fratboy One and Fratboy Three.

“Dude!” said Fratboy Three. “This rocks! A limo full of chicks!”

“Fuck yeah!” said Fratboy One, “And we got the Accordion Guy rockin’ the box! You made the evening, dude!”

“Sweeeeeeeeet.” I replied.

Fratboy One’s cell phone rang. It was the fratboy in the other car.

“Dude! Dude? No, dude. Aw dude, that’s like out of town. Aw, dude. Talk to them.”

He turned to the cabbie. “One-oh-one, dude! One-oh-one!”

“Where you want me to go?” asked the cabbie.

“Just one-oh-one! We’ll tell you. Just get us to one-oh-one!” Fratboy One turned his attention back to the phone. “Dude. Put her on. Dude. Just put her on. Hello? Who is this? Cheryl? Hey, forget there. Let’s just go back to my place. It’s in Nob Hill, we got a lot of booze, we can turn the music real loud. It’ll be great.”

Fratboy One tuned to the cabbie. “Dude! Change of plans. Washington and Leavenworth!”

Those round-eyes, they’re crazy

As we approached Nob Hill, Fratboy One told the cab driver to pull over at an all-night grocery.

He and Fratboy Three ran out of the cab to buy some beer.

The cabbie turned around to talk to me.

“Those boys crazy. You seem like nice Asian boy, not like them. You are Filipino?”


“I have many Filipino friends,” said the cabbie, who was Chinese. “They all musicians, like you. But that not your real job?”

“No, I’m a computer programmer.”

“That nice job, even in hard time like now,” he said, nodding. “You friend with these crazy gwei lo?”

“No, I met them tonight.”

Duuuuuuude!” Fratboy One yelled, coming from the store holding a 24-pack of Sam Adams over his head. “Let’s roll!”

“And gwei lo say we can’t hold liquor,” muttered the cabbie.

Nerds 1, Jocks 0

Fratboy One’s apartment was exactly the way I had envisioned it. Nice Nob Hill building with hardwood floors, hand-me-down furniture from the parental units, framed posters of beer and that cliched black-and-white poster of Grand Central Station, the one with light streaming through the cathedral windows. The entertainment altar was in the centre of the room and was probably the most expensive piece of furniture. The only reading material that could be seen anywhere was ESPN magazine and Maxim.

Fratboy Two made a beeline for the stereo and started flipping through the collection.

“Put on the Oakenfold, dude!” said Fratboy One, who motioned for the rest of us to join him in the kitchen. He started pouring tequila into wine glasses. “I’m all out of shot glasses, dude.”

Max and fratboy three danced to Oakenfold for a while and then disappeared into his room. The rest of us moved over to Fratboy Two’s room, which had a computer stuffed with MP3’s and a nice sound system.

The only other furniture was a snowboard and a bed.

Stiffler and Fratboy Two snuggled up on his computer chair, with her on his lap facing him, her leather-pantsed legs wrapped around him. That left Cheryl, me and Fratboy One, which meant that the math wasn’t going to work out for one of us.

“My feet are killing me,” said Cheryl, as she leaned back on the bed.

“That’s too bad,” said Fratboy One.

Fratboy One was a good-looking guy with your standard all-American features; he probably wasn’t used to having to put in some effort towards getting the ladies’ attention. My own geekdom was about to pay off.

“Hey,” I said, unzipping Cheryl’s boots. I can fix that. “One foot massage, coming up.”

“Sorry if my feet stink. I’ve been dancing all night.”

“Awww, feet. Keep them away from me,” Fratboy One said. Strike two.

“That feels nice,” she said, as I kneaded her feet. They didn’t stink at all.

“So tell me, how’d you get into playing the accordion?”

I told her, during which time Fratboy One grumbled and wandered off into his room.

Nerds 1, Jocks 0.

“Thank you, Accordion Boy”

Stiffler and Fratboy Two were teasing each other in the chair while Cheryl and I lay back and I told her about how the accordion had saved me from a mugging in Prague and she told me about how she and her friends were ripped off by scam artists in Rome. We snuggled for a while until she started to fade.

Stiffler and Fratboy two looked like they were about to use the bed, so I carried her out to the couch, tucked her in and kissed her good night.

“Thank you…Accordion Boy,” she said.

“You’re welcome, Drunk Girl.”


The door to Fratboy Two’s room was still open and the couple were still (mostly) decent. I gave Fratboy Two a high-five goodbye and leaned down to whisper in Stiffler’s ear.

“Give him one for me,” I said.

“I will,” she answered, smiling.

I walked out into the streets of Nob Hill and began looking for a cab.