HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Monday, September 15, 2008

When Things Are Going Your Way -- or -- When You're Hot You're Hot

There was a time I gave up drinking alcoholic beverages -- it was some time ago now, and it only lasted for three weeks (much to my own shame) -- but I am getting ahead of the actual story.

Leinenkugel's invited me to entertain at "Camp Leinenkugel" - an occasion where they brought in distributors from all over the country and treated them to the best the Chippewa Valley had to offer (and me).

This particular "camp's" conclusion was a golf tourney at the Chippewa Falls golf course. My younger brother was visiting me for the weekend and I invited him to come along for the festivities.

I know it was late August because we arrived early at the tent that had been set up on the edge of the course, and after setting up my sound gear and lights, and with the invitation of Jake Leinenkugel, who had just left for the second nine holes, we helped ourselves to the free Leinenkugel's beer and listened to a Green Bay Packer pre-season game.

The golfers took an inordinately long time getting around the course and by the time the last of them straggled in, it was already nearly dark and my brother and I had done quite a bit of damage to the tap beer and our brain cells.

The "campers" then dug into provided food -- but my brother and I continued to quaff the taps -- why spoil a buzz being the theory.

It finally came to be show time and it is as show that i don't remember a lot about but I couldn't have done too badly because they asked me back again the following summer.

At the conclusion of the show, Jake bade his guests farewell for the evening with the announcement of what time and where breakfast would be held Sunday morning. The crowd melted away into the dark, leaving the Heagle boys to the tak of tearing down equipment.

It was now very dark, with not so much as a street light, so we packed all gear away except the spot lights, which we saved for last.

While I was dismantling the light standards, unbeknownst to me, my brother parked a full plastic cup of beer on the dash of my van, just above the steering wheel.

With all the lights finally stored away, I asked younger brother if we shouldn't pick up a Sammy's pizza on our way back through Eau Claire. He agreed that food would be good. I reached for the mobile phone -- (remember when they looked like walkie-talkies and weighed about 10 pounds?) and I called in our order.

I started the van, put it into gear, stepped on the gas, and dumped an entire cup of beer across my person.

But we wanted that pizza -- so undaunted and reeking like we had fallen into a vat of beer, we rolled towards Eau Claire. We made it safely to Sammy's pizza, picked up the pie and I returned to my driver's position. We rolled over to Farwell Street and hadn't gone but a block when the red and blue lights came on behind us.

I could not comprehend why we were being pulled over -- God knows, I knew that I would have to drive carefully, maintaining the speed limit and not swerving whatsoever. Was I speeding??? I looked down at the instrument panel. I couldn't see the instrument panel! I had forgotten one important thing! The headlights!

I knew I had but one chance. I signaled a pull over, turned on my headlights, rolled down my window and watched my rear view mirror.

When the officer stood up just outside his vehicle door, I leaned out and yelled: "Thanks, officer! I forgot to turn on my head lights!"

"Okay!" he yelled, waving in return.

He got back in his car, I dropped the van into gear, and signaled to pull back out into traffic. We turned left at Johnny's convenience store and the officer did not follow us.

My brother and I said nothing until we reached the house -- at which time we bubbled over with excited babble about how lucky we were.

I swore I would never drink again!

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