MyChildren MyBride bassist Joe Lengson recently assumed another role besides musician: published author. Sleeping In Parking Lots details his experiences touring with his band and how his time on the road tested his faith and helped teach him what's really important. In this exclusive excerpt titled “Good Friends with Bad Habits,” Lengson encounters an interesting character at a show. You can find out more about the book at his website.
We were on that tour where I suffered insomnia, I mentioned earlier. It was May 2009. It was in Denver Colorado, at the theatre we always play at downtown. After our set, I was out front with the crowd standing near the venues bar with old Dan and a friend in that band I mentioned earlier, Haste The Day, Dave. Dave lives in Denver and he came out to visit with us while we were in his town. We were just standing there watching another band play; it was at that moment, when a woman approached me.
She was very kind, calm, and cool. She had brownish blonde hair and a confidence that was pouring out of her modest smile. Clearly, she was older than me.
“You’re in the last band.” She leaned forward towards the side of my head and shouted in my ear in attempt to overpower the band that was currently playing on stage. I nodded. “You did so good up there.”
She started by commenting me on the show. I thought nothing of it because she mentioned her son was there and was a fan of our band; which is why I assumed she was there in the first place. I was talking and being nice to her for about 10 minutes, just about pretty general topics; music, Denver, that theatre, etc. Then she asked if she could buy me a beer. She brought it up as if beer had been on her mind since the moment she laid her eyes on me. I thought to myself that she clearly thinks I’m much older than I really am, then I concluded the bartender would obviously never let that happen.
“No, I am sorry, I couldn’t let you do that.” I told her with a smile.
“I will not take no for an answer.” Smiling and insisted on buying me a beer. She turned to attempt to grab the attention of the bartender.
This was the first time I actually felt old.
I thought to myself, this must be a typical night to be a grown up, meeting women at a bar and drinking beer.
I was scared; for someone to see me drinking a beer wouldn’t be good for our reputation nor our ministry. I didn’t know what to do. I thought the best tactic would be just to play it cool and act mature, while trying not to drink the beer. I like to consider myself to have pretty good social skills, I learned from going to parties in high school, I’m not going to be a “square” and not accept her kind gesture.
I thought to myself, bartenders generally possess that unique capability that they can discern a person’s age just by examining them; I assumed this particular bartender would just look at me and say, “No” to me anyway or ask for my I.D. Which would half embarrass me in front of this older woman, however it would get me out of having to hang out there at the bar, drinking beer with her with risking the chance of someone seeing me.
The bartender walked back towards our end of the bar and very quickly pushed two beers towards the woman, and then the woman pushed one beer towards me. The bartender stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me, she didn’t say anything, but she stopped and examined me. I didn’t want to get in trouble, but I didn’t know what to do. So I stared back at her. I gave her this cold stare, as if she just insulted the heck out of me. She nodded then walked away. It was kind of awkward but I couldn’t do anything about it. I turned back to face the woman, my eyes followed her hands pushing money owed for the beer toward the edge of the bar, then I saw her give her a four dollar tip.
I stood there staring at the excessively foamy dark beer.
“Um, thank you so much, this is so… nice of you.” I said in an unsure manner, but with a big smile and my eyebrows pushed way up.
“My pleasure. So Joe, tell me, what are you boys doing tonight?”
I wasn’t sure exactly where she was going with this question, so I gave her a truthful answer.
“I’m not sure, I know we’re going to Salt Lake City tomorrow, I don’t know how far that is or where we are staying tonight.”
“Well,” She said confidently, then sipped her beer.
“I would like to invite you and your band over to stay with me tonight. We live just outside downtown, probably ten maybe fifteen minutes away from here. I will cook for your band; I also have a lot of beer back at the house in which you are all welcome to drink. There is a lot of sleeping space for everyone; I have spare beds and couches.”
I mostly thought it was funny when she mentioned she had beer, because I felt as though she was just trying to get my band and I all boozed up, which I realize is a very nice gesture, so I was being nice and receptive towards her offer. As I was searching for words to say something about her offer, out of nowhere she looks me dead in the eye with the most sincere look upon her face and said slowly,
“I have a really big comfortable bed that you and I can sleep in.”
I choked on the strong dark beer going down the wrong pipe in my throat and almost coughed up on her face. I became silent and my eyes opened wide. I was in shock. It was almost traumatic. I didn’t know whether I should run away right there or take the time to tell her no. I knew I had to make up an excuse.
“Oh no, you know what, I just remembered it’s a very far drive and our driver wanted to just drive all night to get to Salt Lake early and we can’t stay, yeah I’m sorry.”
Without saying a word, she proceeded to pull a pen and an old receipt out of her purse and scribbled something down. She slammed it down on the bar then pushed it over towards my hand.
“Call me, if you change your mind.”