Rick Emerson, sans mackerel

“What’s the most random thing anyone has ever asked you?” I asked Rick Emerson, local disk jockey. We were both standing on the sidewalk in front of the Mt. Tabor Legacy Theater in southeast Portland, late on Sunday night. From inside the theater, past the burly bouncers, an invitation-only party was raging, the theater filled with a rock & roll crowd: lots of black – black leather, black jeans, dyed black hair; lots of tattoos and piercings; hair of all lengths, from bald to past their ass (men AND women).

“Tonight? Or ever?” Emerson shot back at me.

I stepped closer, smiling. I should have known he’d be quick on his feet. “Uh… ever.”

He considered a moment, then said, “Well, there was this one time a guy asked me if I had a mackerel.”

“That’s pretty random,” I agreed. I had expected him to say that my question was the most random thing. But this reply was better.

“Not really,” he said, “because if you think about it, if I had had a mackerel, it would have been pretty obvious.”

“Sure,” I said, “the smell alone…”

We were both here, attending the 2007 Barfly Awards Gala; Emerson as a nominee for “Person most likely to be famous”, and myself as a fan of Stormy. Stormy had asked me to be here to help her in her quest to become Portland’s Sexiest Stripper. She was stacking the ballot.

“Right. And so he was pretty safe in asking me that question.” He looked at the door, where a skinny kid with long black hair barely contained by a stocking cap and carrying a skateboard was toe-to-toe with the bouncer, in spite of the bouncer having a full head of height and at least another 100 lb. of advantage over him. “I think we’re about to see a beat-down” Rick said.

The night before I had been at Devil’s Point, making the most of the extra hour provided by the end of Daylight Savings Time. Because the Oregon Liquor Control Commission forbids the selling of alcohol between 2:30 AM and 7:00 AM, the end of DST means that bars – and drinkers – get another hour to drink. For someone like myself, it’s almost like Christmas.

Stormy had been putting myself and others off for a private dance, though, and when she had offered me the chance to go to this event as a consolation, I had accepted.

“But if you’d had a mackerel, that would have been random” I said to the disk jockey, pursuing my original line of thought.

“Sure, OK,” Emerson said. Still watching the bouncer argue with the skateboard kid, Emerson started chanting “Tas-er, tas-er, tas-er…” softly but increasing in volume.

A pretty brunette approached Rick, and started chanting along with him. I’d seen her with him inside and assumed she was Mrs. Emerson. The combined effort of the bouncer’s intimidation and the chanting crowd finally penetrated the skateboard kid’s booze or drug fogged mind and he left, literally shaking his fist at the bouncer.

I had showed up tonight with the hope that I could hang out with Stormy, even for a bit. Maybe sit with her entourage, meet some of her friends. But when I had seen her earlier, she had hugged me, thanked me for showing up, then walked off through the crowd with her trademark click-click-click walk, dragging a tiny little emo boy behind her.

After the disappointment of Stormy’s brush-off had worn off, minutes later, I had realized that the party was fun for multiple reasons. Like exchanging jokes with Rick Emerson. Like seeing the petite Bud Light girls in their next-to-nothing short-shorts and halter tops, and turning them down for the free beers because I was already drinking vodka-crans.

Oh, and did I mention that the booze was free? Nothing soothes a broken heart like an open bar. I only drank three of them. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have tried to make sure that they lost money on me. That’s how my I roll.

Emerson shouted at the bouncer, “I would totally have backed you up, man. I would have said that he’d pulled a knife on you.”

The bouncer replied, almost bored, “Dude. I don’t even carry a taser.”

“He didn’t know that!” Emerson bounced back.

I realized that my question about random questions made a pretty good conversational opener. Maybe I’ll go back inside and try it out on people who aren’t famous and used to being asked random questions…

Emerson and the brunette walked off. As she dragged him away, he turned back to me, and pointed. “I did not have a mackerel!” He emphasized every word.

I laughed, and shouted back, “Thanks! That’s my new slogan for the night!” I went back inside, squeezing past the people trying to get in, flashing my wrist band at the bouncer.

Postscript: I did not actually use my new opener on anyone else. I did not stay long enough to see the awards given out. And I did not see Stormy again for the rest of the night. Emerson and the lady accompanying him did return, however.

And did I mention the open bar?

Update: Fixed the link to Stormy’s MySpace page. – 3:56 PM 6 November 2007