I was so wrapped up in my little soccer drama last week that I didn't give proper homage to my meeting with the Ultra Toast Mosha God—who from here on out will be referred to as Toast for reasons that should be obvious—and his buddy Patch last week. It's a little sobering to live just outside of Boston and have to be shown around the city by two tourists from Bristol, UK. And ironically it turned out to be de-sobering as well.
My newest friends got a first-hand glimpse at a previous-me, the me that could be, the me that wanders off the reservation, away from responsibility and sensibility and into the world of no consequence. It was quite liberating. Thank goodness the guys couldn't stay out longer. After three beers I was in the mood to rock and roll, and when that happens I could wake up anywhere from somebody's couch to a back alley dumpster.
I was worried driving into the city that I wouldn't recognize Toast from the few pictures I had seen of him. Our plan was fairly loose, to meet at Quincy Market. As I approached the Government Square exit and examined the Big Dig tunnel roof for loose tiles, I imagined half the night being pissed away, fruitlessly searching for someone I had only seen in blog photos.
I was a half hour early so I took the time to find a parking place, avoiding the garages—a great investment for the owner to be sure—to save myself thirty dollars. A short casual, people-watching stroll later, a block away from and in full view of its pavilions, I asked a young couple if they could direct me to Quincy Market. They smiled and pointed.
All my worries were for naught. The two of them were the only two on the steps, reclining casually like two sleepy cats, exuding a comfort and world-ease that unconsciously invited the same to passersby. A quick glimpse of his profile and I knew it was him.
I think I said, "Are you the Ultratoast?" I meant to say the whole thing, but does anyone really know it? Does he? Try saying it out loud. Ultra Toast Mosha God. It takes practice. Come to think of it, I totally forgot to ask him what it means.
And how would my greeting have been perceived if I had mistaken someone else for him? An overactive imagination could have supplied a few interesting explanations for sure. I had uttered a code phrase, for instance, that demanded a scripted answer, like "Only with magna-butter and deoxyribonucleic-marmalade," or "Nine out of ten dentists surveyed prefer Jeannie over Samantha any day."
At any rate, he was not what I expected. I had in mind someone around five foot eleven. As he rose to shake my hand, we stood nose-to-nose. At six foot four I have gotten used to being upwards to a head taller than most everyone else. I had the same experience with Mr. Schprock, a notable absence from this get-together, who already had plans for the evening of a fun and family nature. Bummer. He would have really enjoyed this.
Toast introduced me to his buddy Patch, who reminded me of Adam from the second season of Heroes—blonde hair, square jaw and a friendly, welcoming air. We all shook hands and exchange pleasantries, the like of which nobody can ever remember. It didn't take them long to figure out that I knew nothing about the city. The Celtics were playing and they knew of a nice quiet bar where we could get a beer and take in the game. They seem a bit shocked and amused that I didn't care one way or the other about basketball. Perhaps their idea of the typical American was influenced by crowd shots at Fenway and the movie Independence Day—which might not be far from the mark.
As we walked along on the city sidewalks, Toast brought up that business with my soccer team, which he had taken the time to read about on my blog. I felt a certain ease with Toast and Patch that I can't really explain, other than to say that I have been a long time reader of Toast's, and many are the stories of parties and excessive alcoholic consumption—which reminds me of the good times I once had with my buddies. His blog is clean, but there are hints of political incorrectness here and there. So on this night, for old time's sake, and because I damn well felt like it, I stepped up to the plate and let her rip. Such was my disposition when Toast pushed my hot topic button, the big red shiny button, i.e. Coachzilla, so I let he and Patch know what I thought about her in the most base, guttural and Anglo-Saxon way possible, distilling my words and syllables to their lowest common form. "She's a…"
As Twain wrote in Tom Sawyer, let's draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.
This had the happy side-effect of setting the tone for the evening. As Toast would later write, "He is so open that it would seem rude to not join in." It took a little while, perhaps like those first few face-twisting bites of an orange with freshly brushed teeth, but they got the hang of it.
Their quiet tavern had filled up in their absence. Standing room only. We picked the only spot open to us, which is classically the most annoying to waitresses, obstructing their path to the drink ordering station at the end of the bar, denoted by the pair of hooped brass bars that resemble in-ground swimming pool hand rails. Toast offered to buy the first round, and who was I to argue.
The roar of the bar crowd proved to be the undoing of any meaningful conversation—my ears already have a constant hum from cranking my Sony Walkman as a teen. But before we departed for greener pastures Patch introduced me (fact check: was it Patch that suggested it?) to Smiddicks, my new favorite beer. As Jules would say, "Mmmm-hmmm, this is a tasty beverage."
We found an Irish Pub with far less people, but roughly twice the noise due to a solo guitar player/singer, but we managed to squeeze in conversation between songs. I noticed that Toast had long fingernails on his right hand which he purposely allows for picking at the guitar. As we approached the bar, Toast sang a line of the song the guitarist was performing. His voice was perfect. I regretted that he didn't have his guitar with him. As it turns out, he plays sometimes at establishments he passes through. Too bad this wasn't one of them.
I bought the first round as lips loosened even further. Mainly the conversation centered on the fairer sex, though I decline to delve into the meatier details contained therein. But I made a connection with Toast on the subject of mindless sex vs. meaningful relationships, although he might not have realized it. As a teenager my beer-toting, braless and saggy-breasted step mother used to tell me that I was way too serious when it came to girls. She might have had a point, but I was always searching for "The One." And I don't mean Keanu Reeves, even if he could act. So it was pleasantly and mildly surprising when Toast told me that he is not into one-night-stands; that he is searching for his soul-mate. Growing up in the era of Porky's and Spring Break had programmed my mind to prioritize the former, even though my heart was never into the hunt.
But life has a way of testing our convictions. No sooner than we had taken our next sip and set our glasses down did a beautiful blonde traipse by our table, arresting our conversation into awed silence. Toast looked up and gave me a wry smile. "You know that stuff I was just saying? Forget about all that."
I could go on and on. I started this post on Monday, and here we are almost a week later. Time to publish this bad boy. So Toast and Patch, cheers to both of you. Thanks for making me one of your stops. It was truly a pleasure.