Thursday, August 29, 2013

No. 280 – Hoochie Coochie Man

Performer: The Allman Brothers Band
Songwriter: Willie Dixon
Original Release: Idlewild South
Year: 1970
Definitive Version: Live at Great Woods, 1992.

I saw The Allman Brothers Band about a week ago, and it’s an interesting dynamic now—much different from when I saw them in 1996. Warren Haynes is now clearly the ringleader on stage instead of Gregg Allman. It would seem that that affected the setlist tremendously. 1996 was essentially a greatest-hits show; last week had a bunch of obscurities, covers and even a brand-new as-yet unrecorded song.

You also now can mark me among the disciples of Derek Trucks on slide guitar. I saw him five years ago as the warmup for Santana, and I couldn’t see or hear what all the fuss was about. Last week, I got it. Trucks has some serious tricks up his sleeve. Unfortunately, they didn’t do this song.

Anyway, after I broke up with Debbie, I decided to throw caution to the wind and embrace a darker side than I had before. You should know that that didn’t come without limits, of course. I mean this is me we’re talking about here. I wasn’t about to let go completely.

I already talked a bit about Dockside Dolls. That wasn’t the only dance establishment that I visited during that time—a time when the Great Woods version of Hoochie Coochie Man, featuring Haynes’ dirty slide guitar, was on heavy play. I checked out Solid Gold and Jessica’s and even Centerfolds, which was a shack out by the airport. None of the other places afforded the comfort—nor anything like the quality of women—that Dockside Dolls had.

And none of those places presented the opportunity to really embrace the wild side that being on High Street in Downtown Columbus one night in the summer of 2002 provided. That night I left my car at the parking garage under the late great City Center rather than move it around to The Dispatch building.

As I hiked over to drive home after 11, I encountered a woman walking toward me. As she drew closer I could see that she was dressed, well, not like a hooker exactly but nicer than I would have expected for that hour and that location. She had on a pair of tight jeans and cowboy boots and a windbreaker jacket. Beneath the jacket she had a bustier that showed off an ample amount of cleavage. Under the street lights, I could see that she was about three years past being hot.

She stopped me and asked whether there was a drugstore around. I said there wasn’t, and she said she needed to get something for a headache she was having. Throwing caution to the wind—and as a sufferer of brutal headaches myself, so empathetic—I said a gas station was close by and I could take her there if she wanted. She accepted and introduced herself as Sheila. I responded, “Doug.” (Yes, as in Bob and …)

Now had I felt as though I had something to lose, I never would have put myself in this position, but there I was, getting into my car with a complete stranger, who at any moment could’ve pulled a gun or a knife or who knows what. I didn’t care. I decided I was just going to take Sheila at face value and trust her.

As we drove to the nearby gas station, Sheila explained that she was in town for the weekend with her boyfriend. They were staying at the refurbished and now renamed Adam’s Mark hotel just up the street when she went looking for Advil. No problem; glad to help. Unfortunately, that gas station was closed for the night, which frankly was no surprise. Others were around.

We continued to chat, and I volunteered that I worked at the newspaper and collected baseball cards (don’t remember how THAT came up), which she said she did, too, or at she did when she was younger. We talked about that for a bit until we got to the next gas station—also closed. This one was right by a highway entrance ramp, and I was surprised this time. OK, I know one for sure that would be open, but it’s a bit of a drive down in German Village. She didn’t care.

So then Sheila asked me what I liked to do when I went out, and I said drink, shoot pool, you know, the usual stuff. She said she loved playing pool and would like to do that now if she wasn’t in so much pain.

I remembered the “boyfriend” at the hotel and wondered whether he existed. I decided that he did. Sheila definitely could have been a hooker—she had the look, the bod and the complete lack of fear of a strange man taking her off in his car—but if her game had been to hook me up, she definitely would have made her play long before now. Again, I decided she was telling the truth.

We made it to the German Village BP station, and it was open. Sheila went inside to get some aspirin—I think she bought Tylenol—and a beverage to wash it down. Mission accomplished, I drove her back to the Adam’s Mark. It was along this drive that Sheila told me what she did for a living—she ran a massage parlor in Los Angeles.

OK, so Sheila WAS a hooker … excuse me, a legitimate businesswoman (wink wink). So what was the deal? Her “boyfriend” came to Columbus on business and she accompanied him as part of her line of work?

I was dumbfounded, accent on the dumb, because I did nothing. I didn’t register as though I was shocked or excited or curious or anything. I just treated the news as though she told me she was a waitress, except I didn’t ask anything about her place of work. I also didn’t ask for a phone number.

Yes, this night—this moment—was probably out of the question. But I was heading to L.A. in a month or so for the annual Vegas run. I definitely could have looked up Sheila were I so inclined. Well, what was I going to do? Tell Jin I had to go out and meet this hooker—sorry, massage parlor owner—I met in Columbus? (Later when I told her this story, Jin in fact said I SHOULD have done just that.)

Instead, all Mr. Throwing Caution to the Wind did was pull up in front of the Adam’s Mark and watch Sheila walk away after she got out of my car, never to be seen again. As I drove home, the knowledge that I somehow let an opportunity slip between my fingers was all the evidence I needed to know that that really did just happen.

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