The Maiden Bartender

You meet one Iron Maiden fan, you meet them all, right? Iron Maiden fans wear those mummy metal patches on their faded, torn jean jackets even into their late thirties, to inject a dark, mysterious, complex, weighty edge that such diehard fanatic fans are incapable of generating on their own.  

            Granted, Bruce Dickenson (the more exalted replacement lead singer star of Iron Maiden, otherwise known as the human air raid siren) boasts a supernatural voice which pierces through the clouds of heavy metal heaven. Still, it’s impossible to not grow tired of his rapid fire, Spinal Tap-conjuring caricature of what an English heavy metal howler should like in Samuel Johnson’s speed metal phonics dictionary under ‘Game Of Thrones horse-charging music’.

            At least, that’s what Cruise Comedian Michael Rocker thought, as he entered the colonial-constructed seaside shipbuilding town of Mystic, CT where Julia Roberts shot the movie Mystic Pizza and entertained the grips on the set by fisting her mouth in-between takes to ensure they made her look the most flattering in the face of such frigid, east coast winter light.  

            Now Michael Rocker, a tall, athletic-looking, preppy casual comic, orders a drink and says, “Hey, what local IPAs do you recommend?”

             The bartender, a tall, striking, borderline-statuesque dirty blonde sporting an Iron Maiden tattoo on her defined, yet not overtly chiseled, deltoid replies, “I don’t know. That all depends on how much hardcore bitter bite you can take. I mean, are you interested in merely quenching your thirst with a session-filler beer? Or would you prefer to get your hardcore freak on for Karaoke night with something boozier and more funktastic, like a Fat Orange Cat’s Trippel IPA, stud?”

            The Cruise Comic says, “I’ll take the Trippel IPA, Hot Stuff,” as he tries hard not to lick his lips, wanting to inhale her on the spot.

            Sitting next to the Cruise Comic at the bar is a hunched, tired, lanky, dirty blonde, long-haired guy in his late thirties, sporting bad acne spots from a poor diet full of too much beef jerky and cheap vodka tonics. He reeks of stale Newport cigarettes, stripping the minty cool flavor of any high schooler hoody’s appeal after the first drag.  

            The Cruise Comic gets the impression that the Newport cigarette guy who’s sporting a black Iron Maiden shirt under his faded, torn jean jacket is here solo, as usual, so he decides to try some new jokes on him in preparation for his upcoming cruise tour (heading to Jamaica for spring break the following morning).

            Cruise Comic makes eye contact with the Iron Maiden fan and says, “Nice Maiden shirt. You must know the wrestler and Fozzy front man Chris Jericho, then?”

             Maiden dude replies, “Duh, who doesn’t?”   Immediately, the Cruise Comic becomes engulfed with extreme annoyance, regretting his attempt to bond with this local in his attempt to play it cool with the hot, badass bartender, and snaps back with, “Be honest. Don’t you think Iron Maiden is a poor man’s Judas Priest, with far less sing-along, radio-friendly hits, and is forced to rely on catchy, merchandising gimmickry to radiate a cooler, far less Dungeons and Dragons nerdy veneer, instead?

            “And who is the Eddie mascot on Iron Maiden shirts supposed to be, anyway? He looks like a cyborg mummy and a virile Crypt Keeper in his prime had a baby.  ‘Run For The Hills’ was a good running song for Daniel Day Lewis to crank up when he trained for his role in The Last of the Mohicans.”

            The bartender can’t help but chuckle, doing her best to not let Cruise Comedian know it. Still, she decides to interject, knowing that fighting words were just thrown down in this normally peaceful waterfront town, and says, “Hey, Eddie, don’t listen to him. He’s not sophisticated enough to understand the intricacies and sweeping historical, majestic sweep that went into Power Slave and the other forty records of English speed metal mastery at it’s finest. Next vodka and tonic is on me, babe; don’t sweat it.”

            Cruise Comedian is turned on by the bartender’s friendly-infused fiery cheer, especially knowing that this was her way of pleasing a local and flirting with him big time, and says, “She’s right, Eddie. (That’s your name—Eddie—just like the Iron Maiden mascot; wow.)

            “I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m just putting Iron Maiden down to feel better about myself. That’s what hack cruise comics do.  I think Poison, Motely Crew, and Cinderella rock out just as hard and boast infinitely catchier, kickass metal pop anthems which ooze forceful, heartfelt personality versus sounding like systematic howling knights on horseback; but what do I know, Eddie?

            “Didn’t mean to offend your hardcore fanatical Maiden sensibilities, bud.”

            Eddy’s face becomes ensnarled in acne-scar shades of red as he clenches his callous, hardened, burn-laden hands and says, “Dude, I’m a dishwasher on a cruise ship. I don’t need to take this shit.”

            The Cruise Comedian says, “I’m a lowly Cruise Comedian hack comedian, so it’s a wash, mate.

            “Looking forward to docking in Jamaica, though. This is my impression of Ziggy Marley being interviewed by High Times Magazine for their annual 4/20 issue: ‘Ziggy, your dad had eleven kids, but I thought ganja drained your life blaster dry.’ Ziggy replies, ‘Fake news, man.’”

            Cruise Comic finally scores a tension-diffusing laugh. Eddie says, “That was a good one. Perhaps I take my obsession with Iron Maiden a tad too seriously, at times. Thing is, you get pretty cagy as a cruise ship dishwasher, all alone with Iron Maiden tunes of wanton destruction stuck in your head.”

            Cruise Comic says, “No problem, dude. I was being a big dick, before. Sometimes my riffing veers into full-fledged asshole land faster than I’d prefer it to. Do you smoke your mind with the crystal-specked bud?”

             Eddie the dishwasher says, “Yeah—I mean, what loner burnout Maiden Head in high school didn’t? You never outgrow the soothing lift. The green gives a loner burnout at heart.”

              Cruise comic says, “Did you know 4/20 was Hitler’s birthday? I haven’t felt this betrayed since Sly Stallone snuck Mel Gibson into Expendables 3.”

            Eddie the Dishwasher says, “Oh, so you’re Jewish. That’s why you’re so annoying and pushy with your material. Well, nobody’s perfect (except Beth the bartender).”

            Beth the bartender commands the stage and clenches the mike to belt out ‘Run for the Hills’ on the Karaoke stage with enough of an incredible, hardcore edge feeling to make a jaded, English’ metal-resisting cruise comic willing to give British speed metal another shot. All that was missing was a hardcore female touch and some added funktastic feeling, with some sexy metal sass to match.

Michael Kornbluth

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