You Can’t Go Home Again

On Nov 30, 2001 I finished my first NaNoWriMo effort sitting at Callahan’s, a brew pub in my neighborhood, with minutes to spare. Callahan’s occupied a spot in a little mall that had previously housed Reno’s Cafe d’Italia, a little family restaurant I worked at for two weeks. Callahan’s was better. I was already fairly regular there (they were close to my workplace) when, soon after they opened, brewing equipment started showing up. At the time, there were no other brew pubs in San Diego.

They got the brewery up and running, and after a shaky start while they refined the recipes and got the quality under control, things started to go well. Bernardo Bitter was my favorite, but in the early days it was awful as often as it was awesome. Apparently that brew used a special yeast that was, in brewing terminology, “a little bitch”. But finally they got the yeast under control, and people found the place buried deep in the mall, and all was well.

By 2001, Callahan’s had annexed the next business over and expanded their dining area. The move frightened me, because many restaurants fail when they try to grow and end up ruining what they have.

By the time I was laying the keel of The Monster Within during a later NaNoWriMo, Callahan’s had moved across the street to a larger, more accessible space that had come into this world as a Tony Roma’s rib joint. There was a large mirror on one wall, emblazoned with the logo of Bass ale. I was looking for a name, and in Monster you will find Master Bass.

But people don’t go to bars for alcohol. Alcohol is much cheaper at the liquor store. (Bad Bobby, a friend from another bar and a teacher at Bartending Academy pointed out this obvious truth to me.) People go to bars to take alcohol with friends. Lacking friends, patrons turn to the staff. I had a lot of friends on the Callahan’s staff.

I won’t try to list them all, but there are two I have to mention.

Travis. A really smart guy, well-read, articulate. We weren’t tight, not at all, but in a lot of ways I wanted to be Travis. He felt things strongly, and could explain why.

Rose. My favorite bartender. I have laughingly told many other bartenders that they are my second-favorite, but there is only one at the top. “Rose, you rock,” I would say each night as I left. If she was busy I would point to her and raise my fist. “Am I in your story?” she would ask. Spiritually, she was in many of my stories, but it wasn’t until Worst Enemy, a later NaNoWriMo effort, that I put her quite directly into a story. I’ve never done that for anyone else.

I also never told her about that one. By then I was a nomad.

Occasionally I would pass back through San Diego, and I would visit my friends at Callahan’s. Fewer and fewer of the staff would recognize me, but the faces I missed the most were still there.

Although it has been a long time, and I knew that it was not realistic, I thought that if I walked into Callahan’s today there would still be connections for me.

But Callahan’s, apparently, is gone. No longer can I entertain the thought that I will meet any of my friends, both the staff and the regulars I used to sit next to, ever again.

Bill, Linda, Darlene, Joe, Debbie, Malcom, and all of you, it was a good time. Travis, I know you’re all right.

Rose, you rock.


I Probably didn’t Hear that Right…

I’m at a bar, and a regular was leaving, and I could swear the bartender said, “Be careful; it’s starting.”


A Good Day at the Potraviny

I go to the market often now. Rather than occasionally going in and stocking up with all I can carry, I try to make a habit of grabbing a few things every time I pass by. This has led to a steadier supply of food in the domicile, but less variety. The cycle goes: buy rice, stay home until the rice is gone, go out and buy rice. Today I had to go down to the bankomat to withdraw rent, so I found myself outside the market when I already had a supply of rice at home. What do you buy for someone who has rice? Bread. If you have bread, you have to have cheese. Cheese requires talking to the woman at the meat and cheese counter.

There are three women with whom I interact while buying sliced products. One of them is almost shy with me, one indifferent, and the third is strict. Now that my face is showing up across the counter from her more often, she expects me to order correctly. Last time I was in there, I asked for one hundred grams of bacon. “Deset deka” she said. Ten decagrams. This time I was was all over it, and she gave an approving nod as I said “Taky patnact deka” for my second variety of cheese. While she measured out my cheese I heard “Dobrý den“, and turned to face a very pretty czech girl smiling at me.

Of course, if a girl smiles at me, she is by definition a member of the food service industry. This fine example of the best the republic has to offer (blonde, curvy, cheekbones, taller than me) works at the bowling alley. On days when I need to get out of the house but I don’t know where to go, she is a definite factor in my decision.

It was a good moment. I had won the gruff approval of the sliced things lady and I had a pretty girl smiling at me, who had just heard my successful use of her language. I took my cheese and got in line. It was a little awkward when she ended up in line right behind me, having received her sliced goods much more quickly. On my way out I said goodbye to the people in the store, as one does here, and I enjoyed my walk home.


Fringe Benefits

The waiter here at U Kormidla just took the afternoon round of Slivovice (plum vodka) up to the people working in the kitchen. Hopefully that means they’ll be in an extra-good mood as they fix my lunch.


New Years Eve at Lucy’s

Oh, what a night. What a night indeed.

I rolled into San Diego early, before drivers were too drunk. Amy was bartending at a private party, so I was left to my own devices on New Year’s eve. I wanted to keep my activities close to where I slept. Amy said that Rose (rhymes with rocks) was having a New Year’s eve party in the neighborhood, but I felt funny about crashing it (I never hung around with Rose much except when she was behind the bar), so I went to Lucy’s, a friendly enough place outside the party zone in Ocean Beach. I found a barstool and appraised the beer selection and the beer slinger. The two graying barflies to my left and were flattering her with sincere hyperbole. She was good to look at, no doubt about it.

Her shift was soon going to be over, however, and the beers cost more than I wanted to pay. I began to consider a move to Tiny’s, just up the street, where Erica might be working. Then Christina showed up, and I decided to keep my butt right where it was. The new bartender was dressed to kill, and she had plenty of ammunition. We got to chit-chatting, and I learned that she was getting married in eight days. A pity, true, but her girlfriends were coming in later. I entertained the idea that perhaps the friendly barkeep could act as an ice breaker, overcoming my natural reticence (with all people except bartenders).

The final obstacle for the evening was cash flow. Lucy’s doesn’t believe in credit. No problem; there is a cash machine in the corner.

Um… big problem. I opened my wallet to find no card there. I was down to two dollars, and no way to get more before the banks opened on Tuesday. Tuesday felt a long, long, way away. I looked all over for the card, no luck. I called Callahan’s, where I had had lunch, and they reported no card there, either. Just bloody grand. Time to call the bank and stop the card. I walked back through the rain to Amy’s house. As I called the bank, my phone informed me that I was almost out of credit. “OK,” I said to myself, first call the phone company, then the bank. I dialed T-mobile, only to realize that without the credit card number I would not be able to add minutes.

Right then. The bank, and make it quick. I dialed the number (toll free but that didn’t help me one bit), only to wait and listen to silence. Getting more nervous, I called again and made my way through the menu system. (Note to any banks who issue credit cards – “put a stop on a lost or stolen card” should be right at the top of the first menu.) Next I needed to type in my account number. Quickly I punched in the digits. “Invalid Account number,” the soulless voice said. I started punching numbers again, only to hear the line go dead.

“Crap!” I shouted in Amy’s empty apartment. I checked my remaining time. Seven minutes. I dialed the bank again, and more quickly made my way through the menus to the “enter your account number” prompt. I punched in the digits again, and watched as my phone doubled up a number (my phone keypad has a very bad tendency to double-punch keys). Failure again, and once more cut off. I clenched my fists and looked up at the ceiling, jaw clamped shut, for the moment unable even to speak profanity. Four minutes left on the phone. I searched once more for the missing card, the one I knew would turn up as soon as I canceled it. No luck.

Out there somewhere, someone was buying the whole bar a round on my card. I called the bank one more time, and failed one more time.

That is when I did the pissed-off dance. No one has ever seen the dance before, and I have never mentioned it to anyone before. It is an unplanned and unchoreographed expression of primal rage, an anger that most of you who know me as a mild-mannered and steady kind of guy would not suspect. I don’t know what profanity I was shouting repeatedly as I jumped up and down, spinning in circles, in something like the Incredible Hulk’s posture.

The good thing about the pissed-off dance is that even as I do it, there is some part of me that knows how silly it looks. It is that realization that brings me back to earth.

I went to a nearby pay phone and canceled the card. The next day, New Years Day, was Amy’s birthday (six years to go…). We hung out, did fun things, and she had to pay for everything. I sure know how to show a girl a good time. Today I came back into Callahan’s, and the first thing Diane said was, “You left your card here the other day!” Arrgh.


She Who Smiles Rarely is in fine form today.

I haven’t seen her for a while; I was starting to wonder if she still worked here at Crazy Daisy. No worries, on a quiet Sunday afternoon we are here together, and just as far apart as ever.

At one point as she was approaching my table I looked up, and I read her thoughts with startling clarity. She was preparing herself in case I smiled at her as she passed by, mustering the resolve to perhaps smile back a little if she had to. I looked back down at my work but smiled anyway, letting her off the hook but perhaps still sharing a little cheer.

I did get one smile, as she was taking my menu. It wasn’t even particularly forced.


This guy will be in a story someday

I’m sitting at a table near the door, which I regret now because it is c-c-c-cold outside, and whenever someone comes in the door doesn’t close all the way. There is a waitress and a bartender; she is stretched pretty thin, so when he has a chance he comes around the bar with fistfuls of beers and spreads the joy.

He is not a tall man, but he is a big man. He has neatly trimmed grey hair and wire glasses. His black trousers are held up by suspenders. He wears a leather apron that only just avoids being comical strapped onto the front of his bulk. I was sitting, staring into space, thinking about what to write next when he asked me if I wanted another beer. He had a great voice, smooth and low without being deep, soft but resonant. I accepted his offer and he set a beer in front of me.

This is one of those places where there is a piece of paper on your table and as you add to the tab they put hashmarks on the paper. A gloriously simple system, but one that prevents all sorts of misunderstandings, as well as fraud (there are places here notorious for adding items to your bill). The bartender produced a pen from his pocket, clicked it twice rapidly without looking, made a mark on my tab, then, checking the pen to make sure it was still deployed, put it back in his pocket.


Steelers, Eagles, and Rose

Public transportation here is expensive and inefficient; it took two hours and three busses to get from Ocean Beach to Mira Mesa. I had plenty to read, however, so the trip was pleasant enough. I spent part of the time trying to remember czech words. Ty vole! That didn’t go well.

No matter. After an hour at the library checking up on the media empire I headed over to my former home away from home. Larry, the manager, had the nerve to have his laptop opened up at my table (the one near a plug), so I bellied up to the bar for a while. Rose was working, so it was an easy choice anyway.

It wasn’t long before we were back in the same old easy rhythm. We all chatted about sports, Pittsburgh sports in particular, and by great fortune the Steelers were playing last night. Fortunate because it meant Rose stayed after her shift to watch the game. Jocelyn told me it was time for a haircut. Travis came on duty and the bar continued to ebb and flow the way it always had.

One thing that was odd, though – Rose didn’t break a single glass.


I’m starting to get it.

It’s wasn’t War and Peace or even My Dinner With Andre, but I just had a real honest-to-god conversation in Czech. I cheated, but that doesn’t matter.

Here is the full text, translated to English for your convenience:

W: Here’s your beer
J: Thanks
W: No Prob. So, you writing a novel over here or something?
J: Yes
W: Really? You’re writing a novel?
J: Yes
W: A novel?
J: Yes
W: You’re a writer?
J: Yes
W: No shit?
J: Yes

Skeptics among you may note that I only used two different words in this conversation. But he used several, and each repetition was different, and I picked up enough of the words to know what he was asking me, and say “Ano” with confidence. Some of the repetition on his part is easily explained as a natural assumption that I didn’t know what he was saying. Finally, “No shit?” was actually “Fact?”, but I took the liberty of some cultural adjustment.


Just Checking In

(Edited out an opening sentence that made no sense after I changed the abstract.) The other day I wrote a long rambling episode about why I’d be a horrible boyfriend right now, as it all relates to why there hasn’t been as much popping up here. No need to go into detail but it boiled down to the fact I spend almost every waking moment working and I have no income. Just what every girl dreams of.

Case in point: Yesterday I woke up at 4:30 and my mind was fizzing with new ideas for margin notes in Jer’s Novel Writer. I’ve got a big release coming up and it’s great to see the software moving along every day. I worked, stopping briefly for tea and snacks, until I called it a night about 11:30 pm. That’s all I did yesterday. Nineteen hours with breaks, writing software. Good thing it’s only a hobby. I got up early this morning because I thought of the best way to handle loading old files that don’t have all the necessary data.

Today I got the software to the point I can write without worrying about losing my work, so that’s what I’ve been doing this afternoon. It’s been tougher than usual to switch from the programmer head to the writer head. Programmer head is in the the wide-open leaps-and-bounds part of development, while writer head is mired in the nitty-gritty of finishing novels. At least the product of the programmer head is making things easier for the writer head.

Of that there can be no doubt. One of the things driving programmer head is that the new margin note system will make things easier for writer head. I started using it for the first time this afternoon and while the old margin notes were sweet as honey, the new ones just plain ‘ol rock. Today’s “writing” has been going through the story and flagging areas with different types of margin notes, so when my writer head is feeling a little more creative it can follow along and smooth things out.

I’m at Crazy Daisy now; I’ll head over to fuego’s in a bit and blast this into the blogosphere. The Anti-Amy is here but not working, so I can’t try to overcome the final smile barrier, but I came damn close to flirting with the blonde I mentioned in passing in a previous episode. (The episode where the New Yorkers came in. I hope a few more New Yorkers read that.) I got a big hello from her when I came in, but later I noticed that everyone gets a larger-than-czech-median greeting from her. Still I think mine was better. It was once again my attempts to pronounce “chicken” that really got us started. She was willing to let me slide with my first attempt but I kept at it – I knew the first shot was not good at all. Laughter and joy was shared by all.

In the She-Who-Smiles-Rerely episode I also mentioned the tipping custom. Here you add on to you bill more to make things round off than to reward service. A few nights ago this was really brought home to me. I was in the cheap beer place with fuego, and we had enjoyed a cheap beer or two. The bartender/waitress, a very pretty blonde woman, came by to close up our tab. it came to 148. The way you tip is to give a higher number when they give you change. I struggled, and she helped me. “Fifty,” she said, meaning 150. That’s what a czech would have done – tipped two lousy crowns. Really not tipping at all. And she expected nothing more, to the point she assumed that’s what I was trying to say. I then managed to say 160 correctly and come out looking like a big tipper. Which I was. I would have been embarrassed to leave a tip like that in the US, but here I’m a crazy-ass tipping maniac.

Now it’s back to the novels. A lot of people start things, many people have good midgames, but the finishers are few. I’m striving to be a finisher.


She Who Smiles Rarely smiled often

It started a couple of weeks ago with New York Guy. Man, what an asshole. We rolled our eyes together and I got a smile. When I came in tonight she was behind the bar and she gave a ghost of a smile as we exchanged the briefest of pleasantries before I headed for a table in the back.

It was She Who Smiles Rarely who took my order. “Steak zhuh kurzhitschkafrig,” I said.

“Steak z ku?ecího?”

“Ano, Steak z kurzhetsho”

That went back and forth a couple of times. She knew exactly what I wanted, and she was helping me learn to say it. Steak from chicken thing, A local delicacy. Finally I punted on the pronunciation and just said “Dvah nahtct awesome”. They write down the order by number anyway. With a smile she drilled me on the correct pronunciation of 28. We worked out that I also wanted rice and she was gone.

It was her next visit I really scored. My beer was perilously close to empty and she came by and asked “One more beer?” In English. I mentioned in a previous episode that if they spoke english here I didn’t want to know about it. I waved my hands in the negative while I said, “Je


Roma. Roma, Roma

As I sat Marek looked over at me and reached for a beer glass. I shook my head slowly. “Černý čaj.” Black tea. “Ooooh,” he said, nodding knowingly.

Marianna had recommended a nice tea place down on Winceslas square. I started that direction but I decided I wasn’t up for trying a new place today. Today is a day for the quiet and familiar. And tea.

Yesterday was the Day of Pretty Bartenders. DoPB started in the afternoon in a bar with cheap beer and electric darts. I enjoyed a brief moment in the Zone as we played, but that didn’t last. The bartender had Brigitte Bardot’s lips, which is good because the actress hasn’t been using them lately that I’ve seen.

Last night fuego and I decided to go find a bar with the NFL playoffs. It was a bit of a hike, with us stopping at a couple of places on the way to check if those bars could get the games. The first bar we tried had three cute bartenders lined up in a cute little row when we walked in, and some of the cheapest beer I’ve seen in town. Alas, they didn’t have the channel that showed the games. No fear–I will be going back there when I’m able to contemplate beer again. We stopped long enough to have a beer at El Paso, but once we figured out that they didn’t have the right channel either we bid yet another pretty waitress goodbye and moved on.

Finally fuego and I were down at a bar filled to the gills with Americans watching the Big Game. We wedged into a corner and enjoyed the action. When that game was over we decided to stay and catch the next game. When that game was over we walked most of the way home before stopping off at El Paso for a couple of beers. We came up with a really tight opening sequence for a techno-thriller. Sheer brilliance. I hear Will Smith is interested, but I’m not sure he’s right for the role.

Marek wanted to converse when he brought my tea over, but I’m just not up for that right now. “I like your Web site,” he said. “Amy… nice.” (He didn’t use exactly that word. It was more the raised-eyebrows nod.) He’s a photographer. “Is she girlfriend?” I’m not up for complicated answers right now. “No, just a friend.” Marek asked about fuego but soon realized today was not the Day of Sparkling Conversation. I think it may be, however, the Day of Pizza with Ridiculous Amounts of Garlic. It’ll cure what ails you, no doubt about that.



I went out with Jesse to Joe and Jo’s last night. We sat in the cool, misty night air under the awning on the front patio and enjoyed the smoke-free atmosphere. We talked about a lot of stuff, like being happy and liking beer, about the perfect buzz, about the past and about the future. There was no table service out there, but Kelly brought us one round after I reminded her that we were her favorite customers. How that fact had up until then escaped her I’m not sure. It was a fine evening, and most congenial.

After a while a large group of kids (they seemed like kids to me anyway) gathered on the patio, all in costume. It was a birthday party. I remembered why I like Halloween so much. I’m not into getting all dressed up myself (the time I went as a ho to a Pimp ‘n’ Ho party notwithstanding), but I do enjoy seeing other people all dressed up. Especially people younger and more attractive than I am.

“That girl in the black angel costume is really cute,” Jesse said. “You should hit on her.” I just laughed. Jesse perhaps had been misled by my easy banter with Kelly the waitress and thought I could use that ability to cut a particular woman out of her party and strike up a conversation. I bet you could train a sheepdog to help with something like that. It would make a good beer comercial anyway – you could start with footage from a real sheepdog competition where the dog is separating the indicated sheep from the rest of the herd and cut to some jolly happy outdoor party scene and have a guy indicate which girl he’s interested in. The dog would run off and be cute and adorable and all that, and slowly pull her out of the party so the guy could strike up a happy jolly conversation with her. It has nothing to do with beer, but not many beer commercials do.

But I digress. Something about the beers last night is making it hard for me to stay on one subject this morning. I had no specially trained border collie, and really no urge to even try. Anyway, there is a crucial difference between chatting with a waitress and striking up a conversation with a stranger. The hired help has to laugh at my jokes and at least stay close long enough to see if I need anything. They’re a captive audience. That gives me the time I need to wear them down to the point where someday they actually are happy to see me. I estimate that takes about three and a half weeks of regular exposure.

In fact, this is a measure of just how successful I was with Kelly. I had the camera with me last night, so I decided to take her picture. She was bussing tables on the patio and I held up the camera and said, “Hold still.” She held still and smiled dutifully, but it was gloomy outside and my first attempt didn’t come out well. “Can I move yet?” she asked. “Hold on one more sec,” I said. “Because it’s raining out here,” she finished. I made some big points then. (In my own defense she did come in under the awning and give me another chance to take her picture.)

It will be interesting to see how much the process is further slowed when I’m unable to flash my rapier wit in Czech. (When I put it that way, maybe it’ll help if they can’t understand what I’m saying.) I should be working harder to learn the tongue of my soon-to-be-adopted home. They conjugate nouns there, those wacky czechs.

I wonder if American Culture Poisoning has grown in the Czech Republic to the extent that people dress up for halloween. I hope so. That’s something I’ll miss.

See? I got back to the original topic eventually.

I’ve noticed a lot of people here in the coffee shop with buck teeth this morning.


Odds and Ends

Shreveport to Chattanooga was mostly freeway. I saw the white stripe flash past in a hypnotic rhythm mile after mile, and wrote stuff in my head. I’m still working on getting the chapter of The Fish written as I felt it within my skull, but it could turn out to be really cool. The rest of the stuff I thought up I can’t start writing until November 1, but my 30-day novel is starting to take shape in my head, and I’m pretty stoked about it. More and more I feel confident that when people ask me what I do I can say, “I’m a writer.” That’s true enough, anyway, even if it does imply that I get paid to write.

Meanwhile, I crossed the 15,000-mile mark outside of Birmingham, Alabama. Safety Dance was playing on the radio. During the day I had been searching for a decent radio station as I moved along from state to state. I heard Turn the Page twice—once as a cover and twice the original version. Here I am, on the road again…

Speaking of radio stations, the best one I know of on this continent is 91 1/2 in Chattanooga. It’s a college station. “We guarantee sixty minutes every hour!” They played some good, good stuff, and quite a variety. I was sorry to pass out of range as I passed through the Appalachians this morning.

Lots of other things happened, the kind of mindless details I do my best not to burden you with. Raccoons should learn to look both ways. I didn’t hit any, but I think I was the exception.

It’s getting harder and harder to keep my hair from blowing in my eyes as I drive. Perhaps a mullet is in order.

On the way over to Asheville today the storage thingie on my fancy camera filled up. I guess that means I really do have to do something about processing all those pictures you guys have been moaning about not seeing. I’ll see what I can do in the morning. I think I got some pretty nice ones today. Highway 64 in Western North Carolina has to go on the list as one of the best drives ever. Honestly, though, I’d recommend driving it on a weekday. Once the camera was maxed out, I wanted nothing more than to enjoy the sinuous asphalt as it wound through the late October headless horseman forest, sending leaves flying in my wake.

Alas, much of the time I crept along behind people doing well under the conservative speed limit. These drivers had no clue whatsoever that they should pull to the side, even when they saw other drivers doing the same thing. I relaxed and enjoyed the drive anyway, but the rare taste of real driving left me yearning for more.

Reading over the last episode I posted, I see a serious omission. The sleeipes caught up with me before I finished, I supposed. I was in the lounge at the hotel, which almost had wireless Internet. No matter, really, I could post when I got back to the room. The bartender was Shelly, who was back after a month and the regulars were all very happy to see her. Slender with long straight dark hair, she had a ready smile and a sense of humor. I sat at the bar where I was advised the signal was strongest with my laptop open and lamented the intermittent, weak signal. There were a couple of other friendly regulars and overall the quiet bar was most congenial. Eventually I was the only customer, and after I talked to Shelly for a while I headed back the room with one last beer. I was enjoying the chat, but I’m in love with enough bartenders already. I decided to get out while the getting was good.

Now I’m at Jesse’s house, and it’s nice. I’m in the nursery, so I better be ready to get the hell out of here if the baby arrives.


My good fellow, I tell you what

After Lil’ J’s Sports Bar, I headed back over to the Lone Wolf Pub, known forevermore as Shae’s bar. Shae was behind the bar rather than waiting tables, but she recognized me and welcomed me back. It didn’t strike me right away, but tonight she wasn’t as touchy-feely as she had been. First thought: she’d read my blog. She wasn’t as physical with anyone else either. Second thought: she was sweet on someone in the bar (besides me). Probably none of the above. Maybe she was just too tired, or too busy, or she just approaches bartending differently than she approaches waitressing. I didn’t ask. After writing a little bit at a table I packed up and moved over to the bar. Most of the stools were taken, but there was an empty stool between a tall, slender elderly woman and a snow-bearded man.

Shae was pretty busy, so I was not basking in her radiance the way Bill and I had the night before. No matter, there was Marjorie. She sat with ramrod posture, and when she spoke it was with a patrician English accent. Patrician because along with her excellent diction and hard-to-pinpoint accent there was a world-weary tone, as if she had seen damn near all there was to see. She asked me how I was, and whether I had been in the bar before. I answered, but after that I was struck by some random thought or other and I missed the point when I should have asked the polite counter-question. Silence ensued. By the time I realized my faux pas it was too late. Silence stretched.

Eventually, of course, an opportunity came to hit the reset button and strike up a conversation. She has been in Texas for forty years, and I had to laugh when she said, “I tell you what.” She likes the old songs. Something came up that started her singing one, and I helped her finish the verse. She slapped me on the back with surprising vigor—the point of impact tingled for several minutes. “I love those old songs,” she said again, and I knew she was drunk.

Snowbeard came back from the bathroom and wanted a part of the conversation. He had a way to measure age that he needed to share with me. “I remember when I could pee ten feet,” he said. “Now I just hope I don’t hit my shoes.” We discussed the technical details for a while. I liked the measure; I can still pee for distance.

Marjorie had been waiting for a friend, who finally showed up. Where Marjorie was regal, her friend was overpainted. Where Marjorie was poised, her friend was sloppy. She had just come from another bar. Marjorie introduced me. “You can call me Foxy Roxie,” the friend said. “Hello, Roxie,” I said. She turned out to be all right, but I knew the gentlemen would all be going for Marjorie.

It was soon time to go home, a point where staying will just lead to trouble, and cab rides, and who knows what else. I don’t cross that line without a safety net, and there was none that night. Shae was gone (I caught a shitty picture of her; I’ll try to fix it up and put it here), so there was no longer any reason to stay. Out the door I went.

Bars are full of people like that. For all the ones I’ve met, I’ve missed ten. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.