As per usual, I was early, so early that to show up now would be to send all the wrong signals, the very same impulses that found me looking for a distraction to kill some time, like a Guiness over the literary mag I had just purchased.
There was only one seat at the bar, a nice joint, an uppa crust seafood joint DW and I had eaten at before, back when the world was our oyster. Truth be told, I needed the can more than a beer, so piling three things on top of one another would eat up three quarters of an hour or more, easy.
Then DW called. I walked outside to take the call. (In the past I’ve decided to quit banging a broad because she yakked on the horn over dinner at a nice restaurant, and I’m nothing if not principled.) The call was all about the bee thing. I handled it by securing a forty-foot ladder for the next morning, called her back to stroke her forehead from sixty miles away, went back to my beer. Checked the time: loads.
Yeah, I have a magazine, and since I’ve parked my ass behind the wide selection of drafts, the Keeps don’t even notice the Jefferson I’ve left straddling the drain of said apparatus. (No, I don’t play the ponies. Don’t ask.) Still, the guy to my right is chatty enough with the two behind the bar that I figure should I so desire…but I don’t, because I’m reading Robert Bly for chrissakes, and all I want right now is to drink my beer, slow the fuck down and read fuckin’ howl-at-the-moon, man-is-made-of-steel, beat-that-drum-like-you’re-killing-off-six-generations-of-shitheads-that-came-before-you Robert-Bly.
This place is hopping and the waitresses are calling out orders for shit I’ve never heard of, all Rachel Maddow’s fault, for sure, XY ChromoCosmos and dirty bacon martinis, because don’t you know every fuckin’ glass has to be shaped like a ‘V’ these days. And still this guy’s chattin’ up the help like his single aspiration in life is to sling gin and pontificate on the tender-yet-firm prawns in the offing, not coincidently, for which he just dropped a double saw for a smattering, and exclaims, “No such thing as a poor man’s beer these days.”
Like the guys serving could give a shit, but give him the same kinda grin to tally 20% and I can’t help myself.
“There’s always PBR.”
Nothing. He doesn’t even glance my way. I don’t exist.
He has my full attention: white hair and beard, and no more than a couple years my senior; rheumy blue eyes, not from drink but from middle management in a Fortune 5,000; the matching beard an afterthought, or because he is in the Pacific Northwest; and I have to slow myself down again before I start speculating on how much bleach it would take for the grout to match his hair color after they connected and he was hauled away.
And then it all becomes crystal clear as he drains his glass, wipes his mouth, stands up, and fishes in his pocket for a single.