Newbies don't always get it, though. In fact, during a concert at the perennially dim Granada two weeks ago, I walked up to interview two people whom I assumed were a couple. Luckily, before I embarrassed myself by, say, asking if they were married, the long-haired one busted out with the hallmarks of manhood: a firm handshake and a mellow baritone. It wasn't as if they were acting even remotely as a gay couple might act. I'd just made an instinctive assumption.
But it didn't arouse any emotion in me, positive or negative, aside from a little embarrassment.
Last Christmas Eve, though, the dude wasn't so lucky. Around midnight, while visions of methamphetamine sugarplums were dancing through the heads of the metro's other teenage thugs, two underage, bigoted fuck-faces were beating the hell out of Adam Jeffers.
Jeffers and his friend Rebekah Dye had settled into a booth at the Denny's at 10480 Metcalf in Overland Park. The two had just finished up some seriously last-minute Christmas shopping. As Jeffers tells it on his online diary, a few booths away were two young men, "one with too much silver jewelry and hair gel and the other, sort of a shaved-head gorilla type, obviously out of high school for at least a few months but still wearing his letter jacket."
After goading Jeffers and his female friend through the course of their meal with imbecilic, aggressive drunk talk centering on the phrase "fuckin' faggot," the boys confronted Jeffers while Dye was in the bathroom. "You better watch your back, faggot," they told him. Jeffers didn't take their threat seriously, but even if he had, there wasn't much he could have done to prevent them from assaulting him as he walked out the front door.
You can read all about the stomach-turning acts that ensued -- and about the neglectful Denny's manager whom Jeffers says he had to ask three times to call the police. Jeffers has written the account in an arrestingly unsentimental and bravely humorous style on Superargo's Web site, www.superargo.com. Suffice it to say that when the hateful cowards were through with him, his face, as a maxillofacial surgeon would later tell him, was not broken but crushed. Jeffers didn't even know it at first. Back home in Fredonia the next day, his parents took one look at his swollen mug and insisted that he get X-rays, which, among other ghastly revelations, showed that the reason his jaw hurt when he ate was that bits of shattered bone were grinding against his jaw muscles. Ouch.
After surgery on New Year's Eve, Jeffers has an assortment of metal pins, plates and mesh splints holding his skull together. Today, his face looks good as new, fortunately. And the long dark-brown hair, the skinny build and the preference for black attire are all proudly intact, too. Even his gentle attitude has survived, evidenced in his stunningly philosophical outlook on the bloody event.
Nonetheless, he's been trying to help the police track down his assailants. He's even scrutinized seven or eight area high school yearbooks -- schools that boast the black and orange of the gorilla-boy's letter jacket -- that friends and acquaintances have dug up since the crime. But when I spoke with Jeffers over the phone (he was at home, relaxing in front of an episode of The Greatest American Hero) and asked what he felt toward his attackers, his response was surprisingly generous. "I hope they grow up and understand that what they did was completely fucked up," he said.
As we talked about the boys who had inflicted damage to him that no rational person would wish on anyone else, it became clear that Jeffers was trying to find out who they were more because he was worried that they might beat up (or even kill) another innocent kid than because he sought retribution. That's not to say he doesn't harbor some anger toward the "misguided backwoods mentality" that drove them to their act of malicious stupidity, but, well, Jeffers is just a compassionate guy. Even though he recently had to have a surgeon cut out some swollen tissue from his bottom eyelid so that it would quit folding under his eyeball when he squinted, Jeffers is still able to see the big picture.
"I'm not bloodthirsty, but I really hope that someday they [those kids] figure it out. And, as my friend Burton says, even if they don't in life, Satan has a 20-foot-tall butt-fucking machine for people like that."
Though he says he feels overwhelmed by the support he's received from fellow Lawrence dwellers, Jeffers doesn't really like being the center of attention, which is why he's slightly embarrassed that Jacki Becker of Uptoeleven Productions has planned a benefit for her hospital-bill-saddled friend.
"I've seen it listed on calendars as the Adam Jeffers Benefit Show, and that's just weird," Jeffers says.
Jeffers, who turns 25 at the end of April, was luckily still under his parents' insurance, but he still owes various doctors around $3,000, an amount that could have been much worse but still isn't readily available to this unsigned musician. But even if Jeffers owed only three dollars, his fellow rockers are so eager to express both loyalty to him and outrage at the violence against him that a kick-ass Lawrence rock show was pretty much inevitable. Minus Story, Kelpie, Ricky Fitts, Sad Fingers, Davan and Evan Saathoff are all signed up to play at The Granada on Friday, April 15.