Friday evening, Bill and I planned a night of hanging at our friend's house playing games.
Around 9, Bill got a call from a local promoter saying the bass player for the Denver rockabilly band scheduled to play the Quincy Bar had gotten stuck. He needed Bill to fill in. So we scrambled for a sitter, packed Bill's gear and headed to our favorite watering hole. (It turned out that Bill didn't play, but he ran their sound, so it wasn't all for naught.)
The Quincy Bar in Grand Junction has a reputation. It's known as the gay bar in town. And while there are gay people who hang out there, I like to think of the Q as a bar where everyone can feel comfortable.
We've always loved the Q and named our dog after the beloved bar 9 years ago. It's where Bill and I fell in love. We love playing music there, we love hanging with our friends there; it's the bar that we always pick to go to because it's fun and there's always an interesting crowd.
Friday was no exception. The band scheduled to play was a rockabilly band, so the crowd consisted of lots of pompadours and tattoos. There were lots of people there I'd never seen before, but that's not unusual at the Q anymore.
Bill was getting the band's sound dialed in and I was flitting about waiting for friends to show up. As I was making a pass around the bar, I was stopped by a dude I'd never seen before. He was there with a group of friends who were all laughing and enjoying themselves.
He tried a lame line on me and I called him on it.
"Really," I said acting surprised, "that's the line you're using to pick up girls?" I laughed, he laughed and the conversation continued. He asked my name and my story. I shared that I was married, he said he wife was too.
He paid some compliments. I said, "Oh, go on." He did.
But then (cue ominous music now) in the course of the conversation, he said these words, "Well, you know, I'm just your straight-forward skinhead."
Screech! There was a buzzing in my ears. Um, 'the hell did that guy just say to me?
I paused and said, "What does that mean?"
Honestly, I was not — in any way — prepared for what came out of this person's mouth.
He said, (and I'm going to censor the comments because I find them so ungodly horrible) "Yeah, I hate ******* and all sub-human races."
While I stood there blinking in disbelief, he started pointing out his tattoos.
Just like that, like he was telling me that he was a mechanic or that he had a dog named Fido.
I went from amused to instantaneously horrified ... and very scared.
I was standing alone in the middle of a group of unabashed skinheads.
I'm always leery of pissing people off at the bar. I know that alcohol can turn even the meekest person violent, so I always tread lightly.
At this moment, I couldn't tread lightly enough. I wanted to get away fast but without provoking them.
I can only imagine the look on my face, but I mustered a fake smile. I reached over and shook the guy's hand and said, "Well. It was really nice to meet you."
He grabbed my hand tighter and said with a smile on his face, "You may hate me now. But you won't when we end up on top."
Those words. Exactly. They are burned into my memory.
I was reeling.
Did that just happen? Was John Quinones going to come out of the men's room with a camera crew for a segment of "What would you do?"
How can people say things like that, let alone believe them? How? Why?
My head was spinning. I walked over to my friends.
As I began to tell what had just happened, I made a horrible, horrible realization. That guy stopped me and shared his "beliefs" with me because of the way I look.
I'm blonde, blue-eyed and fair skinned. An Arayan's wet dream.
When I replay those events in my mind, I'm disgusted.
I'm disgusted that there are people who could choose to espouse a belief system based on hatred. Disgusted that I would be considered someone who might share those beliefs. Disgusted that that happened in my town, in my bar.
I'm also disgusted with myself. I chose to turn tail and run, instead speaking up. I'm disgusted that I didn't see the hatred in his eyes immediately. Disgusted that I even stopped to talk with them in the first place.
I'm also left wondering why this happened now? Is this a sign of the times? Has the economic crisis we are now facing disenfranchised people to the point of needing a scapegoat?
Now, even days later, I'm still shocked and horrified.