My roommate Todd and I were hanging out at our friend Keith's apartment one night around '95 or so. We were all supposed to head down to the Hardback for some show that, from what I can remember, none of us were really that psyched about, but there was always the possibility of adventure, and we were getting in free so what the hell? Plus, after working at my friend's store earlier that day I had an extra 20 bucks that was ready to be converted into fun.
We drug our heels leaving Keith's apartment, reluctant to leave whatever kung fu or weird video he was playing for us at the time, but it was close to midnight, so we started our walk.
We usually walked down 2nd avenue. At least I think it was 2nd avenue. Whatever street the Covered Dish was on. We had all walked down 2nd to the Hardback a million times, in groups, alone, whatever. Yeah, it probably wasn't the safest thing to do, but nobody ever had a problem, so we didn't think anything of it. Even those of us with cars rarely thought of driving down there. In fact, I loved walking home from the Hardback on a nice night, my drunken footsteps clomping down the street like Frankenstein while I sang to the sleepy city (I distinctly remember "Kids Don't Follow" by the Replacements) on the way home to eat half a pizza, play some records too loud and pass out. Many was the time I would sneak out early to walk home like this, enjoying being young and drunk, my ears still ringing from Spoke or Radon or Don's Ex Girlfriend or whoever I saw that night, happy and content from the night's fun.
This night we were walking one street over. It was dark.
Periodically, one of us would mention that we should probably get on 2nd, which had traffic and streetlights and stuff. The other two would agree, but for whatever reason, we kept walking.
I was telling this amusing story about this panhandler trying to get on my good side by asking about Barney Fife when two guys jumped out of a side street. The guy in front pointed a gun at us.
"Get on the ground, motherfuckers."
I suppose this is one of those moments where your life passes before your eyes, but I felt strangely detached, like I was watching the whole thing on a movie screen or something. I was obviously terrified, but still felt strangely calm about the whole armed robbery thing.
"Throw your wallets on the sidewalk."
We emptied our pockets and threw them on the sidewalk in front of us. Somehow in the confusion I was able to keep my wallet, but did throw my 20 dollar bill on the sidewalk. This would end up being a major chunk of our muggers' bank, since Todd and Keith had like 2 or 3 bucks apiece and some maxed out credit cards between them.
"Count to 10. You get up before 10 and you're dead."
I'm not sure if we counted all the way up to 10 or not. I do remember Todd and I were so broke, even pre-robbery, that we scrambled for the change we left on the sidewalk.
When we got to the Hardback, everyone was buying us beer and pretty girls were telling us how glad they were we weren't dead and hugging us.
I could tell Todd and I were both thinking of a way to keep these good feelings going. How suspicious would it be if we said we got robbed next weekend?
The next morning, as I put on my shoes for the Walk of Shame back home, my hands started shaking.
"Holy shit. I could have been shot last night. Or I could have seen one of my friends shot." I wouldn't really say it was a panic attack or anything, but I remember being almost paralyzed with...fright? Delayed reaction? Who knows. These feelings would fade later that afternoon and be replaced by all the Jackie Chan moves I should have inflicted on our muggers.
"You wanna mug us,? You're not so tough now that I kicked that gun out of your hand, huh? Now hand over your wallets."
We had filled out a police report and everything, so we went down to the police station later that week and got to look through folders of mug shots. It was obvious we wouldn't recognize the guys, and we ended up laughing at the mug shots after like the third folder. Our favorites were the people that were smiling proudly like it was a school photo or something.
So remember, stay on well-lit streets, and if you really don't want to go somewhere, sometimes its better not to go.