(written July 13, 2008)

It was nearing 2pm on a Friday afternoon at The State Theatre when I asked my barback (Austin) to make sure we had enough soda-gun CO2 on hand for 98ROCK's special Skid Row and mullet-fest extravaganza that was seemingly never going to end. By this time, an army of a staff, hype crew, VIP guests along with two fire marshals and a police officer were all mingling inside the lobby. The stage was set, so to speak. CO2 comes in a container very similar to a scuba tank, but heavier and larger with a plastic handle that swivels around the spout to protect the nozzle from busting off and firing it through a wall like a torpedo. Austin was unsure if the spare was actually full since the orange cap had been removed. I explained to him that if he simply twists open the handle and it intensely shoots out, then it should be full. As I demonstrated this, it caught the other bartender's shirt and lifted it to her chest. Now, that was just a teeny, tiny shot of CO2 – just a taste of what was about to go down. I thought that was pretty cool, so I took the tank and began lugging it out around the bar in search of a new victim: Mike, one of our security who just happens to be one of the biggest, baddest motherfucker-looking (and funniest/nicest) men you will ever meet. However, the two fire marshals and the police officer were still there talking to one another in the center of the room, fairly close to Mike. I immediately aborted the mission and made an abrupt turn back towards the bar. That's when one of our other security guys (Josh) came into the room, totally oblivious of the earlier test, and put me back on the task. I figured I'd give him a quick shot of "cryo" just to scare him a bit…

and shit, did I ever scare that poor son-of-a-bitch:

I held onto the swivel handle and opened the valve – the mild force immediately caused the tank to pivot around its handle. Since I was holding it up instead of setting it on the ground, I simulaneously started to lose control as I went to turn it back off. Since the tank was now constantly spinning around itself, whenever I grabbed onto the valve, it caused it to open even further. That's when it got extremely loud and began to buck violently in my hand as if it were posessed while I feverishly attempted to turn it off to no avail. Seems every person in the room turned and focused their attention on the shock and horror in Josh's face as he leapt to safety in a spasm (completely unaware of exactly what life-threatening hazard he was subconsciously evading). Meanwhile I was starting to panic that I might not be able to get control of this pressurized, wannabe-projectile as it jerked me around by my arm. It was fighting me and I wasn't certain that I was going to win – every time I twisted it a little bit shut, it spun itself wide open against my hand, spewing its cold, cone-shaped, ultra-mega blast of gas that was toppling nearby objects and virtually blowing the clothes off of those within ten feet of me. Seconds felt like minutes as I was pondering a few key thoughts during this skirmish: I wonder if I scared Josh "real good;" I wonder if I am going to be able to shut this missile off before I let go of it and it randomly maims roadies; I wonder which of these three city officials are going to kick my ass first?

By some miracle I was able to get the valve closed. I began nervously breathing again and raised my head – partially relieved, partially embarrassed, and partially diabolically happy. I looked up to see one of the fire marshals all but giving me the thumbs up. Must have been a pretty good show. It was only a matter of seconds before The State was back to business as usual, but it took a good fifteen minutes for my heart to slow back down and to stop myself from cackling maniacally from the adrenaline that was pumping though me due to another one of my self-initiated, seemingly typical, brushes with death. Witnesses recounted Josh's hilarious reaction - baffled that I hadn't seen it even after I had explained to them that I was too terrified for my own life to take note at the time. I'm not sure people realized that I was only initially playing around – in the end, no one had any real clue that the CO2 tank was genuinely trying to kill me and everyone else in the room. Good times.

CrankyGypsy (established 2001)