Monday, October 26, 2009

Pancho ... and Lefty

I found myself in central Virginia over the weekend. The foliage, while not fully turned, was colorful enough to merit a good deal of oohing and aahing. The game (Virginia vs. 11th-ranked Georgia Tech) was significantly less enjoyable. Unless you happened to have attended Georgia Tech.

It's bad enough to see the old Alma Mater get it's ass kicked on a nice day. Me? I spent most of the game huddled with my friends; each of whom (except one who inexplicably wore a jacket) spent most of the game huddled in his or her rain poncho watching the rain come sideways at us as ferociously as the Georgia Tech option offense came at the Cavaliers.

How, one has to wonder, if you are wearing a weather-resistant jacket with a hood covered, in turn, with a waterproof plastic poncho, also with a hood, does your shirt get completely soaked? Answer: it was a hurricane. It was a football game wrapped in a hurricane. The culinary metaphor would be, of course, a pig in a blanket.

This from Townes van Zandt:
Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath's as hard as kerosene
You weren't your mama's only boy
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boys
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words
That's the way it goes

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness I suppose

Lefty he can't sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty's mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain't nobody knows

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness I suppose

The poets tell how Pancho fell
Lefty's livin' in a cheap hotel
The desert's quiet and Cleveland's cold
So the story ends we're told
Pancho needs your prayers it's true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do
Now he's growing old

A few gray federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness I suppose
Now that, my friend, is a song! When I sing it (and I do sing it), I sing "Lefty, he don't sing the blues/all night long like he used to do." I like the notion of choice ("don't") rather than diminished ability ("can't"). But that's just a quibble. It's also easy to play on guitar, which is never a bad thing.

Were I a clearer thinker, or more motivated at this exact moment, I'd somehow weave into the narrative the fact that the Virginia quarterback, one Jameel Sewell (what a name!), is left-handed. But honestly, hoos got the energy?

I will say this:

The general plan, as it went once the weather set in, was to tailgate (if that's even the right word for standing in a kitchen eating deviled eggs and drinking beer) at my friend's daughter's apartment. Which we did.
Parenthetical aside: I'm not naming names for confidentiality purposes--one can only imagine the perverts and weirdos that read this blog and I'm a firm believer in better safe than sorry. Although I do believe that confidentiality can be taken too far--look what it has done to the practice of medicine today.
Then, as it went, we were to leave the apartment and go to the game. Which we did. Then, as it went, the young people with whom we were tailgating (if that's even the right word) were supposed to join us. Which they didn't.

About half way through the first quarter we received a text message informing us that they would remain at the apartment and watch the game from there. Dry, in one sense of the word, but wet, I can assure you, in another.

It felt like a blow to the head. A massive betrayal. What's wrong with kids today?

Anyway, once we recovered, we turned our attention back to the game. Which was a disaster. We left with a good bit of time to go in the 4th quarter and went back to what we assumed would be the scene of the tailgate, much as we had left it, but which turned out to be more like a scene from a Fellini movie.

Because let me tell you, dear reader--the young people were hammered. Which is fine, since they weren't driving and they weren't skipping class. But wow.

Me? I thought it was charming. Of course I have a high tolerance for stuff like that. But c'mon--although I have never been that drunk, I can assure you that my friend Earl has. So one has to be careful where one throws one's stones. I thought it was charming. I'm smiling even now as I think about it.

I spent much of the time eating deviled eggs and listening to the story of how one young person's horse used to like to eat wood. And I'm not talking Ronnie Wood. I'm talking the barn and such. They finally had to get rid of it. Which I think was for the best.

Then it was time to go, but I didn't want to leave. Because as Ronnie and the rest of the Stones like to say: Childhood living--it's easy to do.

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