Kip. His real name. Kip had some kind of racket going on. He just wasn't on the level – there were those who maintained that he sold drugs or got his income in some other sort of illicit manner. Just what that might have been, I have no idea. Kip was firmly planted in the 1990's, but when I met him he looked like he had just rolled out of Lake Tahoe in 1960. “Badda-bing.” Only the second person I ever met who really used that phrase, as I have mentioned before. “Badda-bing,” Kip would reply whenever he needed a moment to think or whenever he wanted to respond in the affirmative. “Badda-bing,” and he would drain the last few drops of his cocktail, glance around whatever room he was in, and smile.
Badda-bing. That sly rascal Kip was always smiling at me from behind those horned-rim and silver frames, those bold print short-sleeve shirts on a hundred different summer evenings, downing gin and tonic after gin and tonic. Brylcreem when Brylcreem was definitely not hip; Brylcreem almost 20 years before I started using it myself. Brylcreem taken intravenously, perhaps, to give that swagger, that groove, that badda-bing to the man who sported such a stylish stingy fedora when the weather turned cool.
Yeah, the Kipster was a man out of time. He rolled into our lives on a wash of Sinatra and rolled out in a filthy, drunken haze of Smashing Pumpkins and Mudhoney. The last time I saw the aging hipster he was hunched over on a barstool – it may have become part of the anatomy of his nether region by that time, in fact – and he was once again draining the last few drops of his cocktail. An ashtray filled to overflowing with butts of Camel Lights showed that he had been in the same position for more than just a short while.
I got no badda-bing out of Kip, just a stare through deadened eyes. His stubbly chin was supported by a hand that had grown a permanent cigarette between the index and middle fingers – a yellowed pair of fingers that seemed to show just a hint of a tremor. Kip had forgotten who I was, I am sure, the “Hey, guy,” greeting giving that away.
I can't remember if I bought Kip a drink that evening. I think I probably did not. I think I probably saw in him what I could have become, and what a lot of my friends could have become. The 1990's were not kind to Kip, but then, Kip was not kind to himself in the 1990's. For Kip, though, it would forever be 1993 or sometime, I suppose, and the next evening would always bring the chance for a new beginning – a new beginning that never actually arrived; a new beginning that would whisper of prosperity of the sort his parents had wanted for him a long time ago, the sort of prosperity that his oldest brother had found, but the sort of prosperity that got tossed out the window to the pavement below while Kip and his classmates and barmates and bandmates drained the last few drops of a gin and tonic and a west-coast microbrew while laughing to the penetrating feedback of angry guitars from Seattle and L.A. and wherever else they needed anesthesia in that wasted, wasted time.
Here we are now, entertain us.