It's the weekend! Time to celebrate and spend time with the ones you love (like Jack Daniels). Write a description of your favorite bar or hangout from an unusual perspective. Maybe you're a fly on the wall or the bathroom attendant.
It's funny that so far, two of the assignments seem tailor made for two significantly longer pieces that I'd written previously. There's a short story I wrote once, set in an airport lounge and based on the Radiohead song "Let Down" that could have been written with the previous assignment in mind had it not been written ten years ago. And this one reminds me of a story I wrote around that same time that starts in "Lovejoy's" and references the Electric Lounge. I'll save you the time by telling you that in retrospect, one is much better than I remember and still not terribly good, and the other is probably nowhere near as good as I seem to think it is.
As for the assignment before me today, I'm bending the rules and going only slightly off topic. It's a bar story. But not a bar I have fond memories of. Hell, it's not really even a bar I remember very well. But, the fact that the story isn't even really about me does make me a fly on the wall, so I guess that does satisfy at least part of the requirements. It's not pretty, and a little gross. Here goes.
Back around '97, my roommate and I were on Sixth Street in the middle of the work week. He was a waiter, and when you live with waiters you come to realize that the concept of a weekend is nonexistent. When you work til 1 o'clock on Saturdays, a Tuesday becomes as good a night as any to go out. The only difference is slightly better parking and an entirely different experience in people watching. The overwhelming crowds are gone. In their place, a different breed of barfly appears. A heartier strain. No tourist, these warriors, they operate on another plane of existence. Male and Female alike, their morality bears little resemblance to the social mores that the everyday man has chosen to live by. They are far more serious in their pursuit of the frivolous. I never felt a part of them. I was only along to observe, mindful that any drastic behavior or sudden movements could leave me mauled, eaten and partially digested like Timothy Treadwell.
And so again, I found myself out on Sixth Street in the middle of the week. Pick a bar. Any bar. Any random nameless, faceless, characterless bar that usually exists for the sole purpose of providing legit coverage for nefarious profit. Not mob money, per sae, but meth money wouldn't be out of the question. These places come and go and comeback under new ownership, with new names, but the interior never manages to change. The history of Sixth Street is writ large upon the bricks of these establishments. And after the apocalypse, the roaches will gather beneath their sturdy roofs and raise a toast, glasses high, to the long gone daddy man cub that was Homo Sapien. And they'll cue the DJ. To the beat of Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock's "It takes Two", the roaches will dance till dawn. Just keepin' it weird.
but I digress.
Tuesday night barhopping was a weekly occurrence. As was Wednesday night bar hopping. Since this shit gets hard on the wallet, we stopped being as discerning as we once were and started stumbling into any place that screamed "Drink Special" These places were easily found via a simple mathematical theorem known as the "Crew Neck Principle" which dictates that the cost of a drink in a bar is inversely proportional to the size of the doorman's t-shirt. The tighter the shirt, the cheaper the drinks. In the past five years, this theorem has been adjusted for fashion and is now known as the "V-Neck Principle". But remember, this only holds for the majority of the bars found in the Sixth Street area only. Any detour onto Red River, and a more complex mathematical equation involving the application of the "Wifebeater Law" and a Lone Star tattoo adjustment must be invoked. The math is too hard. Don't do it.
Where was I? Oh yeah...
Wednesday. Or Tuesday? It doesn't really matter. We were in a random bar along with about ten other thick skinned jaded thrill seekers. There's music. Maybe. And my roommate and I are at a corner table by the window. One of those really tall tables with bar stools instead of chairs, so your legs just dangle over the edge like a five year old. A drunken belligerent five year old. Alongside the wall between our table and the bar was a potted plant of some sort. A fake plastic rubber tree plant, perhaps. I highly hope it was. And next to that plant was another table from the Billy's Big Boy line. The details of the rest of the bar are, for the purposes of this recollection, unimportant.
Now, I don't remember if they were there already when we arrived, or if we were there first, but at the next table, were two couples. Young. Happy. Shitfaced. The usual. And, I want to state right off the bat and for the record, that we weren't staring, leering or stalking. There was just nowhere else to look. Or rather, nowhere nearly as interesting. Beers in hand, my roommate and I watched the show unfold.
There was flirting. A bit of drinking. Some polite conversation with a healthy dose of innuendo. Some more drinking. Deals were being negotiated at the next table. Boundaries were established and permissibly ignored. Matters of transportation and immediate housing were brought forth and decided upon. They may have started the night as individuals, but these strangers had managed to pair up and were on the verge of going home to respective houses and closing the deal. But first, there was the time out. Sex was in escrow as it were.
The girls got up from the table, or rather jumped down from the stools and walked away to the bathroom, leaving the two guys behind to talk about whatever guys talk about when they'd rather be on their way somewhere else, to get laid, than make small talk. They sit there for a few minutes, when all of a sudden, the guy closest to us starts up, off of his seat, and puts the back of his hand to his mouth. A look of utter horror appears on the face of the other guy. A quickly in one swift movement, the guy on his feet pivots right, faces the potted plant holder and unleashes a righteous Technicolor Yawn. He yakked harder and longer than a victim of a Sarin gas attack. It was like "Stand By Me". And the truly fucked up thing was that no one else noticed. With the exception of him, his friend, my roommate and myself, the rest of the bar was blissfully unaware that anything was happening. And the two guys had had even less idea that my roommate and I had watched the whole thing. They were just as ignorant of us as the rest of the bar was of them.
And then the girls came back. Single file, they marched back from the bathroom, ready to go. By this point, the guy standing next to the table again and had only just managed to wipe his mouth with the back of his hand. (You do realize where this is going, right?) Using his clean hand, he reached over and grabbed the girl he was going home with by the belt. He pulled her toward him and gave her what Kevin Costner described as a long, slow, deep, soft, wet kiss that lasts for three days. And his friend said nothing. He just watched with the same mixture of revulsion, horror and absolute fascination that we did.
As for us, we were powerless to stop it. Pass judgement if you like, you won't be the first, but any Star Trek nerd worth his phaser knows that it's a violation of the Prime Directive to interfere in anyway that shapes or otherwise alters the course of a subjects life. I didn't make these rules up. I just choose to occasionally live by them when it's convenient. I am Uatu. I am the watcher.
Like Rakim Says:
I've seen enough shit to leave your frame of mind broken
I'm still alive and scopin
Be another hundred years 'til my skies close in
And I'ma die with my eyes open. The Watcher
Anyway, that's my story.
Dr. Dre - The Watcher
Jay-Z - The Watcher 2