OK, I don't actually know Sam Elliott. Never met the man.
I had this drinking buddy back in my hippie days named J.W. Butler who was a dead ringer for Sam Elliott.
Maybe a bit more grizzled and less well-groomed. His hair may have been a bit longer and shaggier. But he definitely rocked Elliott with the stache and the tude.
He was a few years older than me. Old enough to have served a tour of duty in the Army. Although he served during the Vietnam era, he wasn't a Vietnam vet, per se. He served his time in the Panama Canal Zone. "Guarding the jungle" as he called it. His biggest enemies were boredom, mosquitoes and snakes.
He was over 21 and could buy beer. I was younger than that and had access to weed. Now that's the basis for for a meaningful friendship, right there!
He was a real outdoorsy kinda guy. You never saw this guy in public without a 12" Bowie knife hanging off his belt. He hunted deer with a bow and would hike out into the woods and stay for days or weeks. Whatever it took. Just living off the land until he got his deer. A bit of a Rambo.
He's the only person I know who actually went to Woodstock.
He didn't make it to Woodstock, but he got closer than anyone I know. He got stuck in the traffic jam about 10 miles away. They couldn't get any closer and they couldn't turn around. They were stuck in traffic for 3 days.
Somebody should make a movie about those folks. I'm looking at you, Judd Apatow!
J.W. bought an old church just outside of Excelsior Springs and converted it into a house. Does your house have a steeple and an altar? No. Probably not.
He was just a cool guy.
So that's the background, here's the story.
J.W. and me had been out partying. Can't remember where we went or what we did. All I remember is that we wound up at the Sambo's in Liberty at about 2am. We were stoned out of our minds and we wanted something to eat.
Yeah. There was actually a restaurant chain called Sambo's.
After the modern political correctness (and actual cultural correctness) , most of them either became Denny's or went out of business.
But I digress.
J.w. & me are sitting at the counter at Sambo's. It's probably 1974, 1975. We're drunk, we're stoned, we both have long hair and we need us some munchies.
Let me set the stage...
The place is packed with it's normal 2am clientele of drunken truck drivers and Highway Patrolmen. For Sambo's, bar closing time is just like lunch time. The waitresses are busy and stressed.
We are the only long haired hippies in the place.
A harried waitress runs buy us holding up an index finger saying "I'll be with you in just a minute!"
A big, burly, redneck, liquored-up, truck driver who apparently disapproved of our long hair and was sitting between us and some Highway Patrolmen at the counter calls out to the waitress and says "Yeah, see what these LADIES want to have!"
My friend, J.W., turns and looks at the truck driver.
He smiles his biggest, most charming, Sam Elliott, moustachey grin, stares the douchey truck driver right in the eye and says...
"How would you like to suck a lady's dick?"
This is the tensenst moment of my life. I can envision the Liberty Sambo's exploding into a scene of Hippie vs. Trucker violence being intervened by hungry, pissed off highway patrolmen.
Tensions at Samboe's rise to thermonuclear levels, until the waitress boomerangs back, get's in J.W.'s face and say's "How'd you like to sit someplace else with a mouth like that?!"
He apologized to the waitress, everyone calmed down and nobody got killed dead ala Easy Rider.
The waitress, like all good waitresses, managed to defuse a volatile situation, keep the peace, and come away with a tip!
What a great night!