On the 4th of July weekend, Radical hosted a live show with The North, an LA based rock band. What a talented and nice bunch of guys. Many beers were consumed. Then whisky.
Around 3am, while sitting with a last straggler on Radical’s boardwalk patio, a forlorn figure approached from the shadows asking if he could charge up his phone. The Venice boardwalk at night is a seedy place. I aggressively ignore the riff-raff with their constant requests, but I sensed genuineness about this young man. He was lost he said, admitted that he was drunk, and explained that he’d gotten separated from his buddy. Now his phone was dead, and everybody he met was either scared of him or simply unwilling to help. His head was shaved and he was fit, but I sensed desperation more than danger.
I invited him into the studio and found a charger for his phone. While waiting I gave him a beer, not the wisest offering given the circumstances, but my judgment was also impaired. He was happy drinking it while we chatted. It turned out that he was a Jarhead about to be deployed. He and his buddy were on a last binge stateside when they got separated. I plied him with some of my adventure stories, and he convinced himself that I was retired special forces, calling me sir and listening rivetedly to my drunken advice. I ribbed him for not having his shit together better than to get lost in Venice, challenged him to a one-armed push-up contest, and generally enjoyed his company. He was entertained, entertaining, respectful, and appreciative. His friend did not answer his calls, but I discerned the location of their vehicle through clues I extracted from his foggy memory.
At about 4am I walked him north on the boardwalk towards his vehicle until he recognized the area and assured me that he could find his way from there. He offered me money, which I naturally refused. I gave him my usual line, ‘you owe me a beer’. I was okay with the fact that I’d be forgotten by morning. He was a good kid who was about to go off to serve our country in the most real way. I don’t need a political lecture on the rights and wrongs of America’s wars; I will always respect those who fight them.
Next day I was at my computer as usual (slightly hung-over) when a coworker came into my office and informed me that someone was asking if a one-armed guy worked here. When I got to the patio there was the Marine, buddy in tow, looking fresh and fit-for-fight. We shook hands and I invited them in, but they politely declined citing their need to get moving. Then he handed me two six-packs of ice-cold beer.
A man of honor.
Semper-fucking-Fi Mac. Try not to get yourself killed.