It was a long time ago. It was a time when big breweries competed for the beer concession at the University of Colorado's Friday Afternoon Club. It was a much less litigious time, when on one particular occasion, Budweiser chose to sell beer in little tin buckets. Not to be outdone, the next week, Rolling Rock showed up with similar buckets, only they weren't so crass as to pour their cream ale directly into the pails. They dropped four of their little bottles in and handed it over to the crowds of hungry drunk college students who were able to get their four dollars across the counter. "Drinking responsibly" meant not getting tetanus.
It was on one of those sud-soaked occasions that I saw the Fab Four. I said it was a long time ago, but not fifty years ago. It was thirty years ago. That meant I wasn't watching George, Paul, John and Ringo. I was watching a facsimile of the Beatles: Apple. I had been a fan of the lads from Liverpool all my life, and even though these guys weren't the actual true-life Beatles, they sure sounded like them. And they looked, through my beer goggled eyes, just like them. I stuck around for their whole show, and eventually made my way all the way up to the bandstand, or the corner of the Alfred Packer Grill that amounted to a stage. When the band had finished their second set, I watched and listened as the Faux Four never broke character as they shook hands and scribbled a few autographs. I pressed my way through the crowd and eventually came face to face with Paul McCartney. Not really. I could tell, even with my diminished senses that this was a guy who was just a little older than myself, who wore a wig and pretended to be Paul McCartney. But he was doing such a tremendous job, I couldn't stop grinning and heaping praise on him. That's when he turned to John Lennon, who wasn't really John Lennon, and asked him for one of their cards. He told me that they would be playing in Fort Collins the following night, and if I was willing to make the hour's drive, I could show the card and get into the show for free. "Bring some of your mates," he enthused.
At this point, I wandered back to my apartment, where I got a couple hours of sleep. Just enough to get my head right for a late-night shift at Arby's. It was there, as the hour approached midnight, that I got my second glimpse of Apple. At first, I didn't recognize them. No matching outfits or mop-tops. I came around the slicer table to introduce my fellow employees to the Beatles. Only as I made may way to the counter did I sense something was awry. These guys didn't have British accents. They sounded like college students who wandered into my roast beef restaurant for a late-night snack. Even through my incipient hangover, I could tell that this wasn't the band I was looking for. Maybe it was the brown polyester or the harsh neon light that kept Paul from recognizing me, but this was my brush with celebrity, and I wasn't going to let it go that easily. "Hey guys, remember me?"
Blank stares. Then Ringo spoke up: "I'll have the Hamchy and some potato cakes." Whatever shred of illusion lingered up until that moment was gone in a rush. I let one of my associates finish taking the band's order, and I hustled back behind the slicer to make their sandwiches. I wanted them to experience our best service and enjoy their meal and then head out as quickly as they came. That one bad Apple experience spoiled the whole bunch. I didn't go up to Fort Collins the next night.
The next week the FAC band played Foghat and Jethro Tull. And that was fine with me.