Hola, amigos. It's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I been workin' for a living, taking what they're giving, all that. Actually, to be honest, I ain't been working all that hard lately. As you well know, I left my bullshit coat-check job for greener pastures: sitting around on my ass and enjoying the finer things.
I wasn't even thinking about getting a job for, like, a month or so, figuring I'd just coast on my nest egg. But what I didn't account for was a $150 ticket for an improper left turn. Improper left turn, my ass! The lines on the road were so faded, I couldn't even tell there was supposed to be a turn lane! Next thing I know, I see the rollers, and this pig slaps me with the $150 fine. I'm going to court to contest it, but, barring a miracle, I gotta assume that money's spent and gone.
Actually, it is spent and gone, 'cause me and Wes blew that much seeing REO Speedwagon at the Dane County Coliseum.
I don't ever miss a Speedwagon show. Last year, I saw them put on the best show ever at the Winnebago County Fair. They busted out "Riding The Storm Out." They let go with "Don't Let Her Go." They ran with "Take It On the Run." They brought the rock so good, the audience was drunk on the music. I was pretty drunk on beer, too, but I could tell there was something moving me besides the Miller. So you can bet old Jim wasn't missing out on Kevin Cronin and the boys this year.
For me, going to see the Wagon is like going to church. I mean, I got my own rituals for the occasion. I always listen to Hi Infidelity in the car on the way. I get there a half-hour early so I can burn one and chug a beer. But most important, I always wear my special pair of REO Speedwagon jeans. Once, in 10th-grade study hall, I wrote REO on the left ass pocket in red pen, and ever since, I've never seen Kevin and the boys without them. If I lost my cassette of Hi Infidelity, that would suck my rod, but it wouldn't be the worst thing—I could always make do with the greatest-hits tape. But, man, a Gary Richrath solo is nothing without the comfort of those jeans.
For whatever reason, REO was opening for Foreigner. Now, I got nothing against Foreigner, but it just didn't seem right that they got top billing over Champaign's finest. Anyhow, Wes was picking me up in 15 minutes, and I started getting ready, which meant rocking out to "Time For Me To Fly." I started putting on my REO jeans and, for some reason, they didn't fit. A little tight is okay—gives the ladies something to think about—but when I got them all the way up, I couldn't even button them. I thought they must've shrunk or something, but I hadn't washed them since last year's show. There was only one other explanation: I must have put on some pounds since then.
Well, you know Jim Anchower wasn't going down that easy. No pants were going to tell me what to do, even if they were my lucky Speedwagon jeans. I left the top unbuttoned and pulled the zipper up as high as it would go. Then I dug out an old belt and punched a new hole at the end. It wasn't the most comfortable thing, but I figured it was worth the sacrifice.
Wes showed up, and we got to the Coliseum with about five minutes to spare. REO knows how to keep a crowd waiting, so I figured I had time to grab some beers before they hit the stage. I made my way to concessions, and the line was really long. By the time I got to the front, I heard some opening guitar licks and the crowd went nuts. I reached into my pockets to get my money in a big hurry, and my belt broke. It was a relief at first, because the thing was pinching me like some old lady's girdle.
I picked up the four beers and headed back to our seats, but halfway there, I felt the zipper starting to slip. I had my hands full of brew, so I couldn't stop and zip up. About 50 feet from my seat, my jeans started to drop. Three steps later, they gave way and came down just below my ass. I was wearing a clean pair of drawers and didn't want to miss any of the show, so I kept on.
By the time I got to my row, the jeans had fallen past my knees, and I was taking baby steps. It looked like I was gonna make it, but just as I'm getting to my seat, this assmunch steps on the jeans, and I take a spill. My cups go flying, and I land in a puddle of beer. So now I'm soaked from head to toe, my pants are around my ankles, and everyone's looking at me like I'm either a perv or a retard. I felt like a tool, but no way was I missing out on the show. I yanked my pants up as good as I could and sat next to Wes. He was about to ask if I could get more beer, but he took one look at me and thought better of it.
The whole time REO was playing, it felt like I was wearing a pair of denim diapers filled with beer and coliseum dirt. REO still rocked out, but I was too uncomfortable to get into it like I usually do. As soon as they finished, Wes and I took off, even though he wanted to stay for Foreigner.
When I got home and took a long hot shower, I took a good look at my beer belly. It had gotten pretty out of control. Now, I ain't one of those pretty boys who's all into looks, but I got some self-respect. I figure all that time sitting on my ass at the museum coatroom made me soft. That and playing my new Game Cube all the time. And drinking a lot of beer. And eating pizzas.
So, like Kevin sings, you gotta keep rollin' with the changes. If I'm going to fit back into my jeans, I need a man's job where I'm doing something with my hands. Lifting and toting, that kind of shit—the kind of good, hard work where I can burn off my gut. If you hear of anything where I can get some good scratch and not sit on my can all day, let me know. Only I ain't washing cars. Not with winter coming up. That shit's for the birds.
Jim Anchower joined The Onion's editorial writing staff in 1993 after several distinguished years on The Come Back Inn dishwashing staff. He comments on community-affairs, automotive, and employment issues. He attended LaFollette High School in Madison, WI.