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Thursday, Jun. 13, 2002
You know you're spending too much time in bars when the politics of the place make you assume a fighting stance.

Stu and I rolled into the Watering Hole yesterday for our afternoon quaffing. Now, to give you background, understand that he and I are considered as patriarchs and noblemen by the staff of the place. We tip better, laugh louder, bring in more customers than anyone else, stage pool tournaments and run a highly popular (albeit decidedly illegal) gambling pool for any number of sporting events. We are known by all, events planned for the Hole generally are qualified by the question: "Well, we can do this if Stu and Outfoxed show up and bring their regular crew…"

One of the bartenders happens to be the owner's niece. She generally runs the day shift and works until 5 pm. This is a girl who would probably be better served by posing for Playboy, she is unquestionably the most stunning looking thing in the neighborhood with enough curvaceous endowments for two women.

Not that I'm looking or anything, mind you, just saying.

She is the unfortunate stereotype of great looks with only random signs of intelligent life. What is the word I'm looking for…bubbleheaded? Yes, that's it. The use of math puzzles her, as she rings up your tab and generally miscounts or undercharges. It took no end of patient tutoring by the owner to bring her to the stage where she had memorized her $1.90 multiplication tables. $1.90 being, of course, the price of a bottled frothy libation.

And of course we endure the normal course of events surrounding a woman with looks that beg for publication - the hair brushing, the ceaseless cell phone calls from enamored suitors, the public donning of make-up and all the other little interruptions which disturb the pleasant quiet drone of our little world. It is, after all, part of the stereotype.

But yesterday, Maria committed the unpardonable.

Lined up on one side of the bar were a collection of her boy hangers-on, a crew of twenty somethings who occasionally drop in for a beer and leer session with Maria. Her first mistake was to prime the jukebox with a fiver and invite the young'uns over to play whatever they liked.

And you can probably imagine that what twenty year olds like isn't necessarily what the ancient regulars do. I know that I have become my Father because I now repeat verbatim exactly what he used to say about my taste in music. "You call that music? That's just noise." And loud noise, at that.

I looked over at Stu and some of the other ancients and saw the beginnings of strain show on their dour faces. That particular pain that comes from listening to music that is…what's the word I'm looking for…crap? Yes, that's it.

With that going on, Chef Ike strolled in, my Filipino Mafia associate and another afternoon regular. Ike probably spends more time and money in this place than any other customer. It is quite literally his home away from home. On any normal day he will have his Budweiser waiting for him on the bar before he reaches his assigned seat. But on this day of unpardonables, Maria inexplicably missed him. She was busy yelling over the din with the boy crowd.

Poor Ike sat there for a good 3 minutes and just waited. He waved, he stood up, he hollered a little. No dice, and more importantly, no beer. He did the one thing that I never have seen him do in a bar before. He left, in a bit of a huff. Announced that he was going down the street to Fat Guy's.

We the regulars, in an unspoken bond of solidarity, looked at each other and stood as one. Slapped money on the bar in unison. I, as delegated spokesman (no doubt because I was one of the sober ones) took advantage of a break in the musical cacophony to state our position.

"Oh Maria? You're tipping customers are leaving. There's a fair chance we won't be returning."

She was confused, which was not unusual, so I 'splained. Loud ugly music. No beer for Ike. We're out. If there are seven deadly sins she just committed the two that the Watering Hole doesn't do. She wasn't terribly apologetic, either. Which was strike three.

Just like that, we're in the market for a new bar.

The six of us caravaned down the street to Fat Guy's, a small but popular place run by a guy who's…what's the word I'm looking for…Fat? Yes, that's it.

After a bit of introduction Fat Guy seemed to warm to the idea of having a few new regulars. As a matter of fact he sensed opportunity. Since by entering his bar we had just quadrupled his regular afternoon crowd, he came up with the delightful notion of buying us all a round. Which, of course, we thought was just dandy.

In short order, some of the other regulars from the Watering Hole poked their heads in. The scene from Maria's treachery was rewound and played several times. Phone calls were made, more new faces strolled in, and by the time it came for us to call it a day we had twenty fresh faces for the Fat Guy to entertain. He was positively beaming.

I'll bet even money that the Watering Hole will suffer. Don't mess with us, we are the Outfoxed crew, and we have gone on strike. An average bar pays its bills on the strength of a regular crowd, and we know the power that the regulars can wield.

Besides, Fat Guy played nothing on the jukebox more threatening than Patsy Cline all afternoon. What's the word I'm looking for...soothing?

Yes, that's it.

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