Most families have a black sheep. A member of the family who ruins reunions, spoils holidays, or simply puts a sour afterthought in the memories of their kin. I have a number of black sheep in my family, both matriarchal and patriarchal. The McDowell’s and the Nawman’s. Two bloodlines with their own unique familial infamy. It is my generation, however, that is perhaps the most infamous. I have cousins who have been in prison for an array of crimes, ranging from grand theft to stealing identities, as well as other unsavory acts of human ineptitude; many of whom have corroborated with each other in a number of heinous undertakings. But one stands out amongst this group of misfits, deserving of their stories passed to the ears and eyes of willing listeners and readers. That person is my cousin Walter. Affectionately known as Wally, but less affectionately known as Wally J.
Wally J has been walking the earth for going on forty years. The large majority of these years he has spent getting in and out of trouble both serious and subtle, imbibing anything and everything that will get him “buzzing,” and living a life of hilarious insanity. I have been both an inside and outside observer of many of these follies that Wally has encountered, and I am going to share with you some of the stories that coalesce fully The Adventures of Wally J.
Dear reader, have you ever seen anyone throw live firecrackers in a bar? That is the type of thing that if someone were to throw just one firecracker, they would immediately be kicked out of the bar…let alone numerous. I have not seen it, but I have heard about it happening. From my mother in fact, because this happened on her birthday at the bar with her friends. Who would be such a fiendish, misbehaved individual that would go to such extent to ruin (whether beknownst to them or not) a woman’s birthday? My cousin Wally J of course! Got a story! Like to hear it? Here it go!
My mother was celebrating one of her mid-40 birthdays. At this point in her life she was single, my sister was at college, and I was mature enough to be left alone in the house for an evening or two. During this same time my cousin Wally J was living with us. Why was Wally living with his aunt? Well, he was a convicted felon and by law he could not stay with his father who owned firearms, or his mother because her home did not have enough square foot space for a felon to live in, or at least this is what I was told when I asked. I like to think Wally’s folk had enough of his shit, and my mom was just too nice to say fuck the fuck off.
Wally catches wind that my mom and her friends were going to drink at the bar for her birthday. Wally has a propensity for older women, and getting wasted…this sounded like a helluva evening to him. He decided he would tag along, but he did not let my mom know this. She would of course refused if he mentioned.
My home town, Urbana, Ohio, has 3-4 bars at any given time depending on if one is out of business. One of those bars is notoriously terrible. The Little Nashville AKA Little Trashville AKA The Hip-Hop Truck Stop AKA Lil’ Trash-hell AKA Shit…the last one is my personal favorite. This is of course Wally’s favorite haunt. People tend to go to the other bars in Urbana, and when they yell “last call” they move to The Nashville because they extend their last call by an hour some nights. This alone is insane, and could deserve its own story of debauchery and fuckery…but I digress.
After spending time at the “good” bars in Urbana my mother and her friends wind up at Nashville, and guess who is there? Wally J of course! And what does he do when they enter the bar? “HEY FUCKERS! LET’S GET THIS PARTY CRACKIN’!” Wally J then begins to throw lit firecrackers around the bar. *POP POP POP* “IT’S MY AUNT’S BIRTHDAY…GET ME A DRINK!” *POP POP POP* The bartender first tells Wally to stop. Stop? Stop!? It is like this is normal behavior for Wally J at the bar! Like this is his version of being the sad drunk who sings too loud with the jukebox! He is not thrown out immediately! They give him another chance…could be his second, could be his tenth! He could have blown up some innocent person’s face! But they continue to let him drink.
My mom is of course embarrassed, so she tries to leave after a drink. *POP POP POP*
Wally follows her and her friends outside hoping for a ride. You see, Wally has not had a license in years…DUI…numerous DUI’s…so he rides a bike everywhere. As he is trying to talk them into a ride he keeps letting off firecrackers. *POP POP POP*
As my mom leaves, the bartender and Wally J start arguing. As she leaves the bartender apparently knocks Wally J out. One punch. This guy was probably some huge, cornfed ball of sad “why am I still here” anger. Wally J is not huge and cornfed. Wally J fell into the gutter, and that is where the guy left him. He closed shop and came back outside to find it raining, and where was Wally? Still passed out in the gutter. With a river of sediment filled rain water flowing through his ear into the gutter. Just for good measure the bartender saw Wally’s bike and bent the rims. Fuck Wally J…right?
The next day I wake up to find Wally passed out on the basement floor with a giant, red, fat, swollen ear. I have had ear infections, but this thing looked like cauliflower ear. He wakes up talking about how he can’t hear, how his head hurts, how he feels like he’ll tip over as soon as he stands. After about two days of his giant red ear, and almost falling every few steps, he decides to go the hospital.
Along with a lot of “moisture” in his ears, the doctor finds rocks. Like little rocks. The kind that would be on a gravel road. In his ear. That had been there for days. Wally got a thorough tweezing and cleansing of his ear. He saved the rocks they got out in like a little container. He’d show them off like someone saving the gullstones they had passed.
Do not throw firecrackers in bars.