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  • Bill Chastain

Garbage Juice Segues

Funny what memories a smell can trigger.

Take the thread that began yesterday after one whiff of–for lack of a better term–garbage juice.

If you’ve ever walked, ran, or ridden your bicycle through a neighborhood shortly after your local sanitation department has made a pickup, your olfactory senses have been treated to the essence of the lingering garbage juice on the streets.

Garbage_cans_Marion_AR_2013-03-03_006And from there, my mind segued to…

Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village in the 1990s to a bar with a Wheel of Fortune-type game going on. The bartender would spin the wheel and you could win free drinks, cash and other prizes. However, if the wheel stopped at the wrong slot, you could be forced to drink bar swill the bartenders mopped off the the bar and saved in a pickle jar. The rancid liquid smelled like, uh, garbage juice.

Since midnight had long passed, I figured why not take a shot at spinning the wheel. So at my direction, the spunky female bartender spun the thing. Surely I’d hit the jackpot, maybe I’d buy drinks for the house, make some late-night friends. Guess who landed in Bar Swill Land?

A moment that wasn’t my proudest followed: I welched. My refusal to drink the bar swill instantly transformed the bartender into Mommie Dearest and I understood, despite my condition, the time had come for my departure.

And from there, my mind segued to…

The Manhattan hotel where I was staying, which also served as the team hotel for a certain baseball team. One of the team’s players happened to be on the elevator with me and this particular player, who was a pitcher, happened to be in a similar state of creativity to yours truly. We enjoyed a few laughs about the game that would start at noon–or roughly eight hours away–then went our separate ways.

And from there, my mind segued to…

Yankee Stadium the following day. Sometime around the fifth or sixth inning the pitcher from the elevator gets called from the bullpen to pitch with two outs, runners on base and Yankee Stadium roaring.

After tortoise-like entry and warm up–you could have squeezed a quart of gin from his nose–he delivered his first pitch. The hitter swung and ripped a line drive directly to the second baseman.

Inning over.

Said pitcher strolled off the mound like, “no problem.” Meanwhile, I’m had a moment of satori, I mean, I’d just seen an old theory validated. God really does take care of babies and drunks.

And to think, all of that deep thinking originated from a single whiff of garbage juice.

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