We are fingering two bright orange LiquiCaps, smooth and translucent in our palm like magic jellybeans. We have had this low-level cold for few weeks now. We're not that sick, but we're not getting better, either.
We have come to approach each trip to Walgreens with increasing anxiety, sure that we have been put on a list of suspicious persons and will no longer be allowed to purchase Walgreens brand Multi Symptom Non-Drowsy Cold and Flu Relief. It was recently pointed out to us by a concerned party that you are not supposed to take these things for more than seven days, per the instructions on the back of the box. Sure enough, it does say that, right after this sentence: "Failure to follow these warnings could result in serious consequences." Never one to shy away from consequences, we wash them down with a swig of PBR.
We are sitting on a stool at the Firebird, noting the holes that have opened up in our stockings in some rather conspicuous places. We have been receiving text messages for the last hour or so, everyone begging off. It's the day after Valentine's Day, a Monday night, and everyone is "exhausted" and "just not up for it." Even our driver's-side windshield wiper opted out tonight, laying down at one point and refusing to get back up, so we drove here through a cloudy film of salt and snowflakes.
Behind the bar at the Firebird is a sign that reads:
Smokes $6 Earplugs $1 Chips $1 Shirts $15 Hi-fives $0
There is also both a painting of a PBR can and a Pabst neon sign, and our resistance is down right now, so that's what we ordered, although we didn't take them up on the hi-five. Pabst Blue Ribbon is what our boyfriend calls "utility beer" and utility is what we are concerned with right now. The second half of February has no use for bells and whistles, no care for style, just a big, bulky coat zipped all the way up, hat down over its ears, gritted teeth and head down to the wind, trudging toward March.
It's 11:30 by the time the band we have come to see, Pretty Little Empire, takes the stage. During sound check, with its inevitable screeching mics and seemingly endless check-check-checks, we start to think we should have stayed home too. About three songs in, one of their amps dies a sudden but conclusive death. The sparse crowd waits patiently as they switch it out. The band finally gets going and builds a head of steam. We have a second beer.
Mid-set, they do "Islands." Lilting and slow, with sweetly bending guitar notes, the song floats off the stage and settles down on us. The band harmonizes while the singer implores in a gravelly voice:
Let's move to North Carolina Where no one can find us Start us a family Plant us a seed Maybe an island Clear water and white sand Prettiest island That you've ever seen For a minute or two, the saltwater we are thinking about is in the balmy ocean breeze we can practically smell, not the gray film that has coated our car.
The Firebird 2706 Olive Street 314-535-0353
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