The first night, I guess we were feeling spunky, because we actually ate dinner in a restaurant instead of in the hotel room. We had dinner at The Wicked Weed, a gastropub located a couple blocks from the hotel. We had no idea what a gastropub was, but the online reviews recommended the fish and chips, which was really the only selling point Josh needed. It was also one of Asheville's many breweries. We saw a sign welcoming us to Beer City on our way in, and we made fun of it, saying, c'mon, Asheville, you can't just declare yourself the Beer City and expect us to believe it. But we counted three breweries just walking around downtown, and I heard about two others, so okay, fine, Beer City it is.
Alas, they were out of fish and chips. Josh had a burger with a short rib on it, and I had a fried chicken and kimchi sandwich. Thus we found out what a gastropub was. It's the kind of place you can get a fried chicken and kimchi sandwich, which by the way, was delicious. I mean, you can get a regular fried chicken and coleslaw sandwich in a regular pub, but the kimchi indicates that someone in the kitchen is thinking about food.
After dinner, we went downstairs to their tasting room to try some more of their beers. We were sitting at a picnic table on our own when a true Ashevillian came up and started saying a lot of things that were not necessarily related. He apologized in advance for being a bit
Q: What did one Grateful Dead fan say to the other when he ran out of weed?
A: Man, this music sucks.
Q: Why did the hippies come to Asheville?
A: They heard there was no work.
Then he sat down across from us and showed us his "GDF" (Grateful Dead Fan) tattoo.
At least, I think that's what happened then. See, I'm doing this from memory, and usually I can remember the order of things by connecting the various dots in the conversational flow. However, this guy didn't so much flow as bounce, which is pretty unhelpful in terms of composing a blog entry two weeks later. I'm sure he gets that complaint a lot. In addition, his understanding of time was different from mine. He talked about things he was doing now, and it became clear that he may have once done those things, but was probably not currently doing them. I don't think it was malicious, just that his brain was processing time in a non-traditional manner, either due to various lifestyle choices or his nature or an insufficiently slowed roll. It occurred to me later that he probably had not cut his dreadlocks that day, which I find disappointing because that detail made our meeting seem significant. In any case, I remember a lot of the things he said, but I don't remember how they connected. I think now that they didn't.
He name-dropped a lot of local bands that we had never heard of. I'm not sure if he was trying to impress us or just find a foothold in the conversation. In any case, he struck out until he mentioned that he toured with Bread and Puppet Theater. A ha! I told him that I had seen them just a couple of weeks ago. He blinked a little at me, then asked when it was again. I said two weeks, in Carrboro. He said they did so many shows it was hard to keep track. Then he said something about how the Bush administration had given them a lot of material. So he probably wasn't doing puppet shows recently, but he may have done them at one time. He also mentioned that he was a "Vermonster," and Bread and Puppet is out of Vermont. Also, the difficulties he probably has functioning in daily life may very well be assets in a touring puppet company. Okay, fine, I admit, I want to believe that he did a stint as a puppeteer. If I hadn't been so traumatized by his free-range conversation style, I might have asked him about it like a starstruck schoolgirl.
He told us that he had a certificate from the Omega Institute. I used to just let people keep going when they said things that I didn't understand, but I'm too old for that now. So I asked what the Omega Institute was. He gave me about three words before getting to "holistic," and then I understood. Then he said he was going to read our auras. He apologized in advance for blowing our minds. He guessed we had been together for about fourteen months. We didn't say anything for a second, pausing to figure out how to let him down easy, but for the Vermonster, pauses are meant to be filled.
So he kept going, repeatedly referring to Josh as my "vertical purple." He explained that my red was overwhelming my blue, but it was okay, because I had my vertical purple. At this point, I was starting to feel a little impressed, because though I didn't know what red signified, it sounded like something that might overwhelm my blue. Finally, when we communicated to him that we were total squares that don't know the colors of the aura, he explained that my red was my free spirit, and my blue was my feminist side. So I was letting my desire for life experiences prevent me from asserting myself, but he totally understood, because "it's tough out there for a sister bear." Luckily, I had my vertical purple, who provided me with stability. He guessed we'd been together for about eight months. I'm not sure if he was revising his initial guess or if he had just forgotten that he made it.
That's just wrong on all the levels. I feel like he could have done better using, you know, regular people skills.
At some point, he asked us for a ride. He was willing to trade us some Blueberry Yum Yum for it, which apparently is marijuana. He even offered to show us his Colorado dispensary card, as if being able to buy pot legally in another state would provide some kind of verification of the product. I allowed my vertical purple to figure out how to say no, because I was afraid that my red would've taken over and gone for it. Josh said we were too drunk to drive, which was obviously not the case, but it worked. His next offer was to trade us pot for a beer, because I guess he was out of one kind of green but had plenty of the other. Josh just bought him a beer.
He guessed again that we had been together for six months. Josh told him that we had gotten married the day before. He looked positively shocked, like he was going to call up the Omega Institute and demand a refund. We may have blown his mind, and we didn't even do him the courtesy of apologizing in advance.
He said he was going to go get his banjo, to play us a song in thanks for the beer. He listed some Grateful Dead songs he could play, and we had to tell him we weren't really familiar with their catalog. He named some more Grateful Dead songs before wandering off. We finished our beers in record time in case he wandered back. We went giggling down the street back to the hotel, just a sister bear and her vertical purple.