This weekend I drank two 12 ounce bottles of grape flavored Johnny Bootlegger. Johnny Bootlegger is an adult beverage sold in gas stations across the Southeast. It has the consistency of cough syrup, contains 12% alcohol, and tastes like someone soaked a urinal cake in purple Kool-Aid. You might be asking yourself, “Why would you drink that twice?” Fair question. Allow me to explain.
At 3pm on Thursday, somewhere in Mississippi, we had stopped at a gas station to re-fuel and use the facilities. Justin was the last person to get back to the bus. He was holding a brown paper bag in his right hand, the contents of which were unknown to the rest of us. I asked him what he had bought. His response:
“I have invented a new game. It’s called King of The Mule Challenge. From time to time, I will be purchasing an item from a gas station. Sometimes this item will be great, sometimes it will be terrible. None of you will know what this item is. Before I reveal the item, all of you will have to declare whether you’re in or out for that round. If only one of you is in, that person will immediately receive the contents of the bag. If more than one person wants to play, each contestant will have 30 seconds to tell me why they should get what’s inside the bag. Once the item is revealed to the winner, that person has 24 hours to use or consume whatever is in the bag. If you don’t use or consume the contents within 24 hours, you are automatically disqualified from the game. Over the next month or so, I will decide who the grand prize winner is. The grand prize winner will receive a free dinner at Foothills Milling Company. Keep in mind, you don’t have to play. But if you don’t play, you can’t win.”
I have absolutely no self control when it comes to stuff like this. I had to play. I pleaded my case to Justin like a seasoned politician. I needed what was in that bag, I deserved what was in that bag, I had to have it. The possibilities were endless. Anything could be in there. A lottery ticket? A $20 bill? A bag of delicious sour cream and onion chips?
A 12 ounce Johnny Bootlegger goes down like a hot stream of radioactive plasma. It instantly numbs the throat and senses, travels to your stomach and settles there like a pool of sludge. Just when you think it’s over, the aftertaste hits. Your hands start shaking, the hairs on your neck stand up, and the next hour of your life is filled with uncomfortable anxiety. Why a person would ever knowingly consume this is beyond me. But you have to play to win, right?
Four hours later, we found ourselves outside a gas station in Alabama. The scenario was the same. Justin entered the bus with another bag and interviewed potential contestants. Again, I pleaded my case. There was no way Justin was going to purchase two terrible items in a row. I can read Justin like a book. I knew he needed to purchase a good item this round so everyone would stay excited and engaged in the game. Two terrible items in a row makes no sense. It was like taking candy from a baby. I was guaranteed to get something awesome.
A second 12 ounce Johnny Bootlegger gets immediately rejected by the body. The moment your brain recognizes the horrible liquid, it sends your body into emergency mode. This time, the hairs on my neck were already up by the time the sludge hit my lips. My ears started sweating and my chest broke out in red blotches. My gag reflex was barely suppressed. I finally got it down and was rewarded with another hour of shaking and numbness. This stuff is truly horrible.
The game changed a little bit the next round. I don’t remember where we were at this point. Probably somewhere in Alabama. This time Justin came to the bus with two bags and a new set of rules. People could choose option #1, option #2, or both options. I chose to remove myself from the competition this time. The thought of what might await me in either bag was more than I could bear. Aaron chose option #1. James chose option #2. Aaron was rewarded with a lottery ticket. James was rewarded with a tin of gas station sardines. Hilarity ensued.
We played a few other rounds, but the final round for the weekend was played on the way home Sunday afternoon. We were somewhere outside of Asheville, NC when Justin offered the last two bags. Aaron, emboldened by his previous streak of luck, decided to play again and chose option #1. He got an Airhead candy. Lucky little turd. Cozmo, who chose option #2, was not so lucky.
Gas station cat food has a strange glisten to it. A shiny thin film covers a perfectly molded lump of brown substance. I believe this particular can of cat food was “liver and beef flavored.” Only Cozmo can tell you if it actually tasted like liver and beef. I can tell you that it didn’t look like either. It looked like shiny, slightly off-colored bean dip.
Here’s a comprehensive list of contestants and their winnings this weekend. Stay tuned for more announcements and videos concerning the King of the Mule Challenge. This will, undoubtedly, provide entertainment for everyone involved for the foreseeable future. I wonder if other bands do stuff like this.
Contestant #1: Aaron Hoskins
Rounds Played: 2
Winnings: 1 lottery ticket, 1 Airhead candy
Contestant #2: James Trimble
Rounds Played: 1
Winnings: 1 tin of gas station sardines
Contestant #3: Chris Doody
Rounds Played: 3
Winnings: 2 Johnny Bootlegger 12oz. ass drinks, 1 bag of Doritos
Contestant #4: Cozmo Holloway
Rounds Played: 1
Winnings: 1 can of gas station cat food (liver and beef flavored)
Contestant #5: Scott Murphy from Badland Pictures
Rounds Played: 1
Winnings: Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds this week to find out. I promise you will not be disappointed with this one.
Contestant #6: Michael Jenkins
Rounds Played: 0
Winnings: Nothing, because he is allergic to fun.