Dennis, candlepin, and 4 Non Blondes

Yes I know. Yes I know. Chino, I know.

The marks were made by me so long ago. So long.

“He looked like big foot running through the woods.”

Dennis started to laugh. He actually stopped in his tracks and laughed out loud. Laughed out loud. Laughed with his hands on his knees, bent over. He had a license for cherry pickers, and he promised to show me, but he never did.

Dennis was from the Bayou, thick accent and all. After graduation, he made Jambalaya, and it was the best damned Jambalaya you ever fuckin’ ate. Get outta my grille, bitch, you know I ain’t lyin’.

Dennis and I stayed up too late and drank too much. What’s goin’ on? I’ll tell you, I know, yes I know, and it wasn’t ’cause I took a deep breath and got too high. Dennis and I were on a mission. It was sorta like the Blues Brothers: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full tank of
gas, a half a pack of smokes, it’s dark, and we’re
wearing sunglasses. Hit it.”

Except we were two dorks on a mission for Candlepin bowling.

For the uninitiated, the NorthEast has this thing called Candlepin bowling. No, it’s not duckpin! Fuck your ass for thinking that. No. It’s Candlepin, and I choose a Capital C. Lick it. Love it.

Irene’s her name and it is night. Don’t go any further with it.

So we drove.

And drove.

And drove.

And it was late. We were up drinking, you see, and we decided it was a good idea to go find Candlepin. Now, ya see, I know it’s a stupid idea, so I wasn’t driving. Dennis drove.

Dennis was a Louisiana boy with probably one too many Mardi Gras’ under his belt. He liked his liquor, and I introduced him to Big Black, and he liked that song.

A buck knife, a saw blade, a lead pipe, a twelve gauge
She was never around, except when we were drunk

Ya see he’s not like we are
He drinks his Jack straight and he
Sleeps with his wife and he
Pays his whores

See he’s not like we are
See he drinks his Jack straight and he
Sleeps in his cab and he
Pays his whores

Well I’m god’s gift to women
They always want my dick
Except for that girl thinks I’m trash
Well I’m god’s gift to women
Except for that college girl –
I’ll kill her!

A buck knife, a saw blade, a lead pipe, a twelve gauge
And I woulda deep sixed her, one bad eye!

Dennis and I didn’t get along until the Bigfoot observation, then things opened wide up.

Dennis had a wife, and his wife was a stick in the mud. Didn’t want anything to do with anything. He later left her. Can’t say it was me, but maybe Big Black opened his eyes to what has to be.

So we went for a drive, Me and Dennis (did you catch the capital M?). We went, and Dennis showed me this wisdom of how to drink and drive and get away with it. Not a shining moment in my youth, but I share to share and I live to live and I dream to dream.

The secret was Matchbox cars. And he was dead serious.

Dennis was a serious guy, older than the rest of us. We were in ELT school, a special school for the cream of the crop after the rest of the Nuclear Power School was over. Though I had my doubts about Dennis, he turned out okay. Seems he got into trouble more than once and decided that the military could fix ’em.

It didn’t.

The military is a homing beacon for alcoholics and various miscreants that are too fucked in the head to think straight. And so we have Dennis.

Dennis later divorced his wife, but that’s neither here nor there, so stop asking, already. I think he went to the Batfish, same as my friend, Michael Gillentine (tine as in fork, not “teen,” ’cause he was pretty particular about it).

Stop asking, I said.

So, anyway, the way to get away with drinking and driving, according to Dennis, is a Matchbox car. On the dash. If it rolls off the dash, you’re screwed. That’s the trick. That’s it. Pretty stupid, but at 4am, it made sense, man, it just made fucking sense.

So Dennis and me, we went a’drivin’. We went from upstate New York all the way down to the border of Massachusetts. It was late/early, we were tired, but nothing a little extra booze didn’t cure. We hit morning traffic around Pittsfield, and stopped at a 7-Eleven to use their phone book.

True to form, some hobo had torn out a bunch of pages from the phone book, probably to wipe his ass or to barf into, but “bo – br” was still intact. Success!!

We found a bowling alley, and we made haste.

Alas, it was 8am and the bowling alley wasn’t open until 10am. We took a picture of each of us at the bowling alley next to the sign for Candlepin bowling – not Duckpin! Shut it! – and we loaded back up, too sober to talk too much.

At the time, 4 Non Blondes had their one hit wonder, What’s Goin’ On, on the air. We must have heard that fucking song like 100 times on that dazed trip, and by the time the morning came around, a friend of the Devil is a friend of mine, and we both dropped inhibitions as we made our way through Southern Vermont and busted out singing out loud in his little Mazda 323, chatting about this and that on the long ride back to Saratoga.

Did you know you can dig a hole in Louisiana and it fills with water right away?

Dennis and I were good friends after that, though his wife never warmed up to me. No matter, she’s irrelevant. And Dennis could make some Jambalaya that could make me PMP it was so good. Damn, that dude could cook some good shit.