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"How I Lost 2 Pairs of Glasses in 48 Hours"

by Matt Talbott

As best I remember, it was 1993 or so. We were limping along through one of our "yeah - we'll play for beer" tours. Ward had a friend we could stay with near Virginia Beach, and so we did. A day of frolicking at the beach got off to a bad start when horse play combined with low drummer IQ led to the washing of my glasses out to sea. So plans were made to FedEx an older pair from home. We played that night in Norfolk, I think for a case of beer, or maybe it was unlimited draft. I had to wear my guitar BB King style so I could see the fret board. The next day had us in Wilmington, But I think it was Sunday so we had to wait another day for the glasses to come. So we played our show Sunday night for a case of warm Budweiser, and then picked up my glasses the next day at the club around noon. I recall that we then went to Taco Bell, because I remember being able to see the menu. We had a day off, so we went to the beach. Bad move.

I put my glasses in Jeff's duffel bag and the 5 of us, Hum and Ward, our t-shirt/tour manager/beer tech., went for a swim. The sea was rough, but if you didn't venture out too far, safe enough. Coming from the prairie, we enjoued the buffeting we received from the crashing waves. The waves were striking the beach at a pretty severe angle, and a strong current gradually pulled us all down the shore line. At this point we were all kind of spread out, myself being the farthest down shore. Here it becomes confusing. I mean, I'm a pretty decent swimmer, and what kind of dumbass drowns at the beach. Just don't go out so far, right?

Well, apparently, the contour of the ocean floor took a sudden drip, and an undertow pulled me out to water well over my head. I remember seeing walls of water coming down on me and trying to sneak quick breaths before they crash. I remember the water slamming into me and feeling like I was going to be ripped apart. I took in some salt water. Now I'm coughing and losing track of up, down, left, and right. And I think wow, I'm really in trouble here. I didn't drown, of course, and somehow managed to make my way to shore where I employed a classic exit on all fours, coughing up sea water, dragging some kelp. The guys were running toward me. "Matt, are you alright?" So I figured they had seen the whole thing. As it turned out, they'd actually experienced what I had. Each guy had simultaneously and separately fought for his own life. Man versus nature times five. So we shared a life affirming moment there, under the North Carolina sun. Tim described how he had swallowed his own hair early in the struggle and how Bryan had helped pull him to shore.

We decided that was enough ocean, and maybe we'd scrape together our cash reserves and get a cheap motel room and live the high life. We headed back upshore toward our stuff. But of course it wasn't there. Everything had been stolen. Someone had cased us, watched us nearly die, and taken our stuff. Jeff stood there, dripping wet, pathetic, and said, "I have nothing.", which wasn't entirely true. He had a nice pair of salty wet cutoffs, and his vision. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see again. We calculated our losses: 3 pairs of shoes, my glasses, everything that Jeff owned except his shorts.

First we canceled Jeff's credit card, but not before some joker had charged $35 worth of cigars at a local smoke shop. Then shoes. We found a mall, but there was five of us and only 2 pairs of shoes, and you know the rules. So we took turns wearing shoes into the mall to buy shoes. I was a little too flat for new shoes, so I found a second hand store. Miraculously, they were having half-price shoe week. I got a nice pair of loafers for $0.83. But the next day, I would be back at the mall, my parents credit card number crumpled in my hand, squinting, looking for the vision center.

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