Endless Loop: Midnight Cowboy

midnightcowboyHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Midnight Cowboy” by John Barry

This week’s tune for my soon to be concluding column is “Midnight Cowboy,” John Barry’s theme song from John Schlesinger’s 1969 film.  The following story has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Weddings and funerals.  We only see each other at weddings and funerals.  And we tell each other the same old stories we’ve relived a thousand times together, warm and familiar blankets to wrap ourselves up in, memories and comforting thoughts.  We’ve done this all before.  It’s something that keeps us close.  And sometimes we don’t even realize a whole new story to tell is unfolding right before us in real time, so close it could practically break a glass over your head.

A little over a week ago, a good friend of mine got married, an event I served as an usher for.  Whilst assisting old ladies and old friends down the aisles and through the pews to their seats, the growing high school reunion vibe was unshakable.  And it was real.  The groomsmen, the ushers, the attendees, and so on, a whole collection of folks I’ve known for over two decades descended upon a Catholic church in Houston, Texas, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years.  It was nice.  We talked.  We laughed.  We embraced.  We reminisced.  We narrowly avoided getting into a bar fight with a drunk kid the night before.

Following the rehearsal dinner, Friday night moved as these reunion nights usually do, drinks and the aforementioned old stories finding their way to and from our mouths, laughter, blurred vision, and fuzzy thoughts filling up the dive bar like the cigarette smoke that used to hang in the air before the city ordinance went into effect.  We sat at a table in this small bar, did a round of shots (ugh!), and enjoyed drinks and each other’s company.  Meanwhile, trouble brewed.

This whole thing is so stupid.

Unbeknownst to my wife and me, some drunk, Covington prep-school looking kid apparently stood behind us and made like he was going to hit my wife in the head with his wineglass.  We didn’t see this, but one of my friends did, and he got up to have a word.

“Do you need help man?  Do you need us to call someone for you?  Those are my friends.  Don’t do that again or we’re going to have a problem.  Let me know if we can help you.”

He sat back down, and the rest of us only vaguely knew what was going on, but that drunk kid, I guess feeling a little emasculated, glared at us for the next few minutes.  His friends tried to get him to leave.  He wouldn’t budge.  He kept on leering.  And we kept him in our periphery.

Then he broke his glass.  I turned and saw him standing to the back of us, broken glass on the ground and a jagged stem in his hand.  Very stabby.  Embarrassed by the antics, his buddies left him and went outside.  He then pulled up a chair and sat between my friend and me, all glassy eyes and stupid, sneering smirk, makeshift shiv in hand.

“Why are you guys scared?”

Eyes roll.

Again, “Why are you guys scared?”

“Not scared man.  More concerned.  You look pretty fucked up.  Do you need help?  Are you sure we can’t call someone for you?  You should probably go home.”

He slurred something and then set the broken piece of glass on our table.  I snatched it and passed it along to another friend on the other side of the table to keep it out of reach.  At this point, one of the girls from his group finally got him to stand and move away from us.  She apologized, and seemed to be getting him to the door, when he pulled free from her and came barreling back towards us shouting indecipherably.  We stood.

To my wife’s chagrin, I shouted, “Get out of here!  Go home you stupid asshole!  Listen to your friends!  Get the fuck out of here!”

He stood there.  We stood there.  The groom-to-be laughed about something entirely off subject.  And the kid charged.

At this point, the large man sitting at the table next to ours decided he had had enough.  He stood, grabbed the kid, and pushed him out the front door.  A bartender went outside to make sure he left and then came over to apologize.  We thanked the large gentleman for stepping in, as none of us needed to get into a fight the night before a wedding, nor did we want to incur the bride’s wrath due to visible wounds, cuts, or bruises.  We sat back down and had another drink, and then our large benefactor told us he would have done something sooner, but that he thought drunk, prep-school guy was one of our kids.


Anyway, we’ve got a new story to tell the next time we’re all together.  And while I have no recollection of any song playing in the bar to accompany this stupid tale, let’s just say it was “Midnight Cowboy.”  Does that work for everyone?

Here are three versions.  John Barry’s original…

Martin Denny’s Moog-infused version…

And Faith No More’s cover from the Angel Dust LP, admittedly the first version of the song I ever heard.

May our next meeting include fewer drunk, prep-school kids.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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