Monday, March 7, 2011

Boom Boom Urban Myths

Before there were urban myths, there were grass-fed cheeseburgers, collard greens and root beer. This was not your mother's fast food meal.

I left Jackson Ward and headed down the hill and my friend left Church Hill and cruised down his hill and we met up at Boom Boom for burgers. The minimalist decor worked for both of us, but the metal chair was some kind of cold and my cute (but open weave) tights didn't help. Scarf spread, much better.

We ordered at the counter where the bottled drink choices are lined up for ease of decision-making. We both got Dominion root beer (Made with Pure Honey! according to the bottle), forcing us to acknowledge that we both have the soda tastes of old men.

For my grass-fed beef selection, I went with the Happy Pig Mrs. Boom (Colby, homemade ketchup, pickles with bacon) and collards on the side.

My friend tried the Happy Pig Boom Classic (Colby, grilled onion, Boom sauce, pickles with bacon) with mac and cheese. I don't know why the pigs would be happy to be cured and sliced on a burger, but maybe that's why I'm not in marketing.

The difference in the taste of grass-fed beef was obvious and the ketchup had a nice tang to it so satisfaction was achieved. My friend and I agreed that the collards had just the right amount of vinegar in them. Fries, who needs 'em?

The girl who took our order told us that a guy had come in and asked if they used white rolls (they do, but nothing like your typical hamburger roll) and, when told, replied disgustedly, "I don't eat white bread!" and stormed out. I guess he showed them.

When we left Boom Boom with our bellies full, it was to go up the hill to Balliceaux for an evening of storytelling for the bimonthly Secretly Y'All, Tell Me a Story evening.

This month's theme was "Urban Myths" and there was already quite a crowd when we arrived. We scored a couple of the most comfortable '60s-modern chairs, obtained some adult beverages and settled in for tall tales.

This was my third time for this event and I'd say the loosest of all interpretations of the theme, not that that's necessarily a bad thing.

Stories were told of Santa Claus, of a father's supposed childhood adventures in West Virginia (an old lady who turned into an owl, for instance), and the Virgin Mary (on a grilled cheese near you).

A guy originally from Honduras told of a childhood escapade with friends where they encountered the faceless ghost of a woman in high heels, only to learn later that she was a fixture in the neighborhood. Click, click, click.

Amazingly, there was a second West Virginia childhood story, this one about the mythical "Roadie" who was invoked by adults to keep kids from misbehaving. "If you keep beating on your cousin, Roadie's gonna whoop your butt." Quality parenting West Virginia-style, I guess.

The first half of the program closed with Jay from Deep Groove sharing some of his concert memories and using old albums as props. Originally from Alabama, he went through a period where he was taking Muscle Shoals Sound Studio t-shirts to shows to give to the musicians.

In doing so, he got shirts to all kinds of people like Patti Smith and Michael Stipe but gave it up when he realized it was distracting from his enjoyment of the band.

Later we talked and I couldn't help asking what such a music fanatic's first show had been. He was succinct. "Black Oak Arkansas, Led Zeppelin and the Eagles. In that order," he said grinning.

After an intermission of much mingling and drink refreshing was the wide-open portion of the evening. The audience is invited to throw their name in a hat of they have an appropriate story to share.

Appropriate may be in the ear of the listener, urban myths being such a broad category anyway, but we heard three more. There was the tale of the alien princess having a wine-fueled dinner with rock god psychologists in a low-cut shirt.

Then there was a very locally-oriented story of Dirtwoman in the days when the Village was across the street and "honest and decent drug dealers" were being shot on Floyd Avenue ("Back when there were vacant houses on Floyd Avenue," the teller said). Ah, the good old days.

The final storyteller told a tale of a haunted pub crawl that didn't affect him until the very last stop. That bar supposedly had a ghost in their bathroom, which this guy desperately needed to use.

He did his business as speedily as possible, washed his hands without looking in the mirror and then about shot through the ceiling in terror when the ghost began wildly pushing out paper towels toward him.

It was the guy's first experience with an automatic paper-towel dispenser.

Urban myth? Probably not. Hysterical in its retelling? You'd better believe it.

Talk about an old-fashioned evening; it doesn't get much more old school than storytelling and grass-fed cows. I could say I go to help perpetuate the tradition of oral history, but the fact is I just get a kick out of strangers telling me stories.

Call me an audio voyeur.

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