This had to be 1999. I was living in Deltona, FL, with my parents, splitting my time between community college and the Subway sandwich shop where I worked. The night in question (Dec. 23rd?) found me manning that empty Subway, watching holiday shoppers go by and wondering if my paycheck that week would break a hundred dollars.
Suddenly, a burly gentleman in his thirties stepped into the shop. He sort of looked like Danny McBride, only less camera friendly. He began ordering a BMT on wheat or some such crap when I noticed his black Social Distortion jacket. It was a heavy material with the band’s logo stenciled above the left pocket on the front. The back featured Social D’s famed dancing skeleton emblem. I complimented the customer on his outer wear. He thanked me and claimed he got it back in the early nineties when he was a roadie for the band. We started talking punk, and the guy suddenly reveals that his next door neighbor is the drummer from the Clash.
“Where the hell do you live?” I asked in a shocked tone, expecting to hear the guy say Birmingham or Brixton or some other English city.
“Oh, out in Osteen,” he replied.
Osteen is an unincorporated community in Florida boasting little more than a couple gas stations and one seriously frightening graveyard. Population has to be twelve, thirteen tops (cows included). I couldn’t imagine anyone who’d heard of the Clash living in Osteen, let alone one of their members. So already the bullshit detector was kind of slamming into the red.
Somehow our conversation turned to employment. Fake Shemp Danny McBride mentioned that he did HTML code for Barnes and Noble’s website. He claimed he made totally insane mad bank at this work-from-home job and offered to hook me up with a similar position. All I had to do was meet him at his house…later that night.
Being young, dumb, and full of naive idiocy, I agreed to this proposition. Nothing bad ever happened late at night at a stranger’s house, right?
I remember calling my girlfriend at the time before I drove out there to tell her what I was doing in case I didn’t return before sunrise. I got in my car and followed this guy’s handwritten directions, going so far off paved roads I thought I was traveling back in time. Finally I got there, and hoo boy, in retrospect I think I’m real lucky I didn’t get raped or discover another dude in the process of getting raped.
This guy’s house was full of arcade games and pinball machines, and his pool was in some kind of crazy shape (naked woman? cartoon character? can’t remember). It was total BTK bait. I made sure to never turn my back on the man I quickly dubbed “Social D Gacy” and refused all food and beverage he offered. I may have looked at some paperwork regarding this “job” he enticed me with, but that was it. This guy was clearly ready to get down with my skinny white ass.
A couple days later, I called somebody at Barnes and Noble’s corporate office and somehow got through to their website department. Of course this guy who had come into my Subway had been fired like a month earlier, or they had no record of his employment, or something like that. Suspicions confirmed, I hung up the phone and sighed. Wow, life sure can be funny, frightening, and disappointing sometimes, I thought. Back to slinging meatball subs for five cents an hour.
I never saw Social D Gacy again, but I think of him whenever I see expertly stenciled punk rock jackets in suburban settings.
P.S. – If Topper Headon or Terry Chimes ever actually did live in Osteen, I shall repeat the mantra of the online disbeliever: pics or it didn’t happen.