“Hey big guy, check this out.”
Allen grabs another Schlitz “Tall Boy” from the cooler by his chair and opens the bottom with a church key. Of course I know all about “shooting beers” but Allen seems intent upon showing me something cool that he “invented” so… Who am I to harsh his buzz? (wait a minute, that’s 90s slang and this is January of 1979… heh) My new friend holds the triangular opening to his mouth. He makes a show of taking a breath and pops the top.
Shades of Mark taking his “epic bong hits” come to mind.
“Ahh… ” Allen wipes the excess beer and foam from his mouth. “Sixteen ounces of goodness. Downed in a second. Beer is food!”
“Beer is food” chime in the small cadre from Allen’s little gang of minions. Attentively attending to their fearless leader. The “street punks” I’d befriended several weeks ago with my SOS dinners at my dingy little dungeon of a room. The gang had introduced me to Allen shortly after our little moment of authenticity in the basement of one of their own, and since returning from Kansas I’d been slowly getting to know him better.
“Crazy Allen” some called him. Sometimes Allen said it about himself but no one would ever risk referring to him in that way to his face. It was always a risk initiating anything in Allen’s presence. Best to let him do it. That way, if things got crazy (as they often did) Allen himself, could then pass it off as a “Crazy Allen” thing. If the thing that went crazy was someone else’s thing… it would not go well for that person even if the craziness part clearly came from Allen (as it often did).
Yea… crazy man.
I would never call him that now though. My adult self is far too grateful. Despite how he lived and some of the really crazy things I did see him do, I can’t deny that Allen was a true friend to me. And no matter how front and center it may be to any of these stories, Allen doesn’t deserve to be defined in these pages by the craziness of his toxic lifestyle.
That said… shooting beers in the middle of a weekday afternoon was just one of those things to Allen. Par for the course. Beer was indeed food and by the time I got to Allen’s place that afternoon, a lot had already been consumed. Apparently, Allen had also very recently consumed a surprising number of restaurant pickles as well. Swallowed them whole, he did for some reason. I will now spare you my dear readers, the details of why I know this.
Yea… crazy man.