Annnnnd… Goodbye

Impressions of Pacific Beach:

Walking home from Tiki (funny how easy it is to think of this place as home, although I will probably never be here again), I turned at the blue-lit record store on the corner. A kid came out, coffee mug balanced on pizza box. He locked the glass doors, mounted his long skateboard, and began his commute home.

Trendily dressed kids too stupid to know better are lined up around the block to get into one particular bar.

Going down Fanuel between Garnet and Grand I meet a pack of Wednesday partiers. The girls stink of tobacco and factory watermelon.

At Tiki tonight I said goodbye to Tiki Dave, Bad Bobby, Bevins, and Connecticut Bill. “You’re not just going to Yo-Yo again are you?” asked Tiki Dave. He had me there. It is quite possible I will have to pass back through this town one more time before I am free of my former life. That is completely my fault; in the time I’ve been here I could have done all that shit. I just wanted to write instead.

Connecticut Bill probably won’t be here two years from now. I don’t expect Bevins will be here either. Bad Bobby, I’m not so sure. But I said goodbye to each, not knowing whether two weeks or death separated our next meeting. There are only a couple more goodbyes to go. Tom and Melinda I might see again, but we have already handled goodbye gracefully with the assistance of obscene amounts of alcohol and a little bit of karaoke. Any last meeting between us will be the last finger wiggle of a complex farewell handshake.

When I wrote earlier of Vegas, I said, “The ties from my past, reasserting themselves while I am in San Diego, will be burned away.” When I read that to Amy, she said, “You’re going to forget me!” She didn’t even wait until I finished the paragraph. I think she knew better than I did what I meant by those words. I am leaving people behind. I know I will never see some of these people again. But as correct as she was about the meaning, what she said was completely wrong. There will be no forgetting Amy.

I am still grappling for the right term for our relationship. During the booze-soaked karaoke fest I started to read the paragraph about how there was some deep spiritual force that had disabled the windows of her car. I was pretty proud of that paragraph. I had hardly gotten started when my audience drowned me out with “Ooo! Jerry loves Amy!” There was enough alcohol in the air that there was no point protesting; I simply put the computer away without finishing. And just what bothered me about that accusation? Do I love Amy? Absolutely. Do I love my big toe? You bet. The greeks came up with a bunch of words for love: agape, eros, and all that shit. If there is a word that combines my paternal, fraternal, self-destructive, and tingly feelings toward Amy, it’s probably in some obscure criminal code that has never been applied outside the ozarks.

I suppose I could make up a word, but it would take me the rest of my life to define it.

So: Goodbye, Amy. I move to a simpler life. A life where the words I used and feared as a child still apply. I hope I haven’t embarrassed you with all this, though I’m sure I have. But know that I am proud to be your friend, proud to know your secrets, and proud of you. That, more than anything else, defines my love for you. Damn I hope I don’t have to say goodbye again.


Barely worth it’s own episode, but yesterday while doing laundry I dropped by Thrusters (map), the bar next door. Occasionally I still get carded, but very rarely. When I do get carded they’ve usually changed their minds by the time I have my wallet out. It goes something like:

Bartender: Can I see your ID?
Jerry (reaching for wallet): Really?
Bartender: Uh, Never mind.

That’s what happened at Thrusters except for two things: I didn’t have my wallet and she didn’t say never mind.

Once I had my clothes unloaded and splashing around in the suds, I moseyed in to the bar with an empty backpack and a book. They have an atmosphere there I appreciate—small, somewhat dark, and somewhat divey. Quiet in the late afternoon. One other guy was perched on his stool and he had barfly written all over him. I was tempted by the Guinness, but in the end ordered Siarra Nevada, one of the better macro-microbrews.

The beerista asked for my ID. I had none. One other time I got caught with my identifical pants around my ankles, the bartender just looked at me more closely and then brought my beer. Not this young lady. “I don’t know…” she said, eying me carefully. “You look pretty young.” No beer for Jer, but you know what? I’m OK with that. I hope she’s working again today so I can go in and show her my ID. It’s a cheesy move, I know, but it could be the most accelerated regularization on record—making an impression before having a single beer.

Open Bar

Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. I’d stayed with Bill and Joanne, leaving my car tied up to the hitching post at Callahan’s. I got up earlier than I had been, tried to come up with a good subject for an episode for this blog, failed, and just drifted around on the Internet for a while. Sometimes after an episode which which I’m particularly pleased I have a tough time coming up with something good enough to justify pushing the good one out of the top spot. But this is the Internet, and has a voracious appetite for new. I drank some tea, but was soon yearning to be reunited with my toothbrush. Ride to car, drive to Pacific Beach, clean the choppers; I’m ready to go.

Sluka’s was next, of course, then the library. It’s funny how quickly I’ve fallen into that routine considering how unstructured the rest of my life is. I got back and Amy arrived soon after, trying to juggle her life so she could take a quick trip back to Florida to see her family, who are right in the center of the devastation from hurricane Charley. Apparently they’re getting bottled water now, but they have no electricity and no beer. Amy can’t take them 120V AC, but a transcontinental beer run is in the offing. Tally Ho!

In the afternoon Amy went to get some work done on her car to resolve a fix-it ticket (imagine that!) and I actually got a couple of things done. The big one was getting her old laptop set up so she can freeload off the neighbor’s wireless network. Amy is now Internet-enabled. Tremble in fear, citizens of the Web! Of course my reasons for setting her up were purely selfish; I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter on that paper stuff.

Later Paul came over and the Packers game was on and Amy cooked up a fantastic meal and there was beer and all was good. It was decided: after the game we’d go to the Open Bar. We were all feeling jolly. The Pack lost and off we went.

I have only been to the open bar a couple of times before, and never as part of a group. The first thing I learned is that the pool tables suck. Two of them are so bad no one was using them; the owner of the place should just get rid of them to make more room for drinkers. The third table was usable and in use. The bar was way too hot and muggy despite having one side open onto the smoking patio. To the great outdoors I eventually repaired. Paul made a couple of attempts to set me up with women at the bar, a skill at which he far surpasses me. I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of stuff, though. I did get a laugh from one for my “Scotsman at a Baseball Game” joke.

I also ran into one of my favorite waitresses of all time, from back in the day. I didn’t recognize her right away out of the Callahan’s context; I just kept looking at her and wondering why she looked so familiar. Finally she recognized me. Tawny was there with some girlfriends and they were whooping it up. It was great to see her again. I had a thought as we talked that other people would be wondering what the two most attractive people in the bar were doing talking to me. I owe it all to regularization.

I don’t know how Amy and Paul wound up being so much drunker than I was. They must have been drinking faster back at the house. They were really starting to get on each other’s nerves, though, and it was harshing my mellow, to borrow a phrase from Halfsies, wherever he is. Amy had an unpleasant encounter with some other guy in the bar and we left in a hurry without telling Paul, who was off somewhere else. We walked back to Amy’s; it was a peaceful San Diego night and as we walked along the bay the fireworks were popping over Sea World. I breathed a sigh of relief to be out of the bar and into the quiet. Paul was waiting for us when we got back to Amy’s place. I was treated to an endless series of Paul needling Amy and Amy roaring back. Finally I went into the kitchen and turned up the music so I wouldn’t have to hear them bicker anymore.

Why can’t we all just get along?

Paul left soon after that, plenty pissed off. Things quieted down, and one uneaten grilled cheese sandwich cut into bite-sized morsels later, Amy was asleep and I had my peace, curled up with a cat on the short sofa.

Morning arrived gently, and after a shower it’s off to Sluka’s for me. I may be here a few more days if Amy needs me to housesit while she’s in Florida. I’d rather be on the road, though.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Location: Pacific Beach Library (map )

I chauffeured Amy to the Sandbar last night so she could party with her coworkers unencumbered by vehicular responsibility. By the time the cab deposited her at the door midnight was just a distant memory, but our tradition of staying up and chit-chatting was too entrenched to allow her to go to sleep when she got home. It was a later night than usual. I interrupted a story about Cute Boy to tell her I would be leaving on Monday. She wasn’t happy about that at all. She proposed a date a few weeks from now. She asked me to wait at least until she had a day off so we could hang out, but she’ll want to be spending her rare days with Cute Boy, I’m sure. Now she wants to find Cute Girl for me so I’ll stay. She better hurry. Still, it’s nice to feel welcome.

We did make a pact to get married if we’re both still single when she turns 35. Lord help both of us if that happens. Fortunately we still have a few years. I guess I better figure out when her birthday is.

This morning I loaded up the laptop for my daily pilgrimage from Amy’s (map) along the shore of Mission Bay, pausing to watch the Hobie Cats dart about, soaking up the sun, listening to construction workers curse at each other, and generally enjoying myself. On my way up Cass street I heard Rich practicing piano through his open front door. I was tempted to drop by and say hello to my former coworker, but I didn’t want to break his concentration. I’ll flag him down later if he walks his dog past Sluka’s (aka Javanican) (map) while I’m there. Usually I go to Sluka’s and then come to the library, but I wasn’t very hungry and I was interested in seeing what had happened in my media empire overnight. (One of Amy’s neighbors has an unsecured wireless network, but to get a reliable connection I have to stand on the arm of the sofa in one corner, my head almost touching the ceiling, and holding the laptop up at eye level. Makes it hard to get much done.)

Now I’m hungry, though, so I think I’ll just throw this to the wind and go grab some chow. I’ll make this episode more worthwhile later by adding a picture from my commute.

Hare Krishnas Drive Miatas

I’m sitting outside at a little coffee shop, not far from the local Hare Krishna Temple. (In the summer they go up and down the boardwalk by the beach playing their instruments and singing – I call them the Hare Krishna Marching Band.)

I just watched as a Miata with a spoiler stopped in front and issued forth a man and a woman, both wearing their Krishna outfits. The orange robes clashed mightily with the red car, but the real dissonance was at some deeper, spiritual level.

Jerry, Meet Jerry

I should write first about what a great day I had today. It was the perfect backside for yesterday. I’ll get to that, I promise. I’ll try, at least. But for now we will fast forward to the end of the day. To Tiki. To my out-of-body experience.

You may have come to assume, reading my tales, that I’m a Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night, Party Every Day kind of guy. Sorry to have led you astray, but that’s generally not the case. At Tiki, for instance, I am usually gone before the band starts to play. Find me a bar where good bands play in the late afternoon and I promise I’ll be there every day. I assure you this has nothing to do with my age.

So tonight I found myself still there as the music started. I was sitting next to Connecticut Bill, who would not SHUT THE HELL UP! He was the one who convinced me I should stay to hear this guy play, but once the guy started playing, all I could hear was Billy. In the presence of good music I do one of two things: I dance or I write. Usually when I write while listening to music it’s all in my head, but tonight I grabbed a pile of bar napkins and a pen, both because I knew my memory was fragile and to keep Bill at bay. It took some hard-core ignorin’ to buy myself some space.

Meanwhile, the singer was starting to attract a few new partons to the bar. Some of them were even female. I worked away, studiously ignoring Billy as much as I could. There was one woman in particular, over my right shoulder (Connecticut Bill was to my left), in a floral dress short enough I could appreciate the toned legs crossed and aimed directly at the singer. I scratched away at my napkin. One corner of my mind, of course, drew a scenario that had her crossing over to me to see what I, obviously an artist of great virtue, was breathing to life there in her very presence.

It was as I contemplated that fantasy that I saw myself. There are no mirrors at Tiki, and none was necessary. There I was, shaggy, saggy, and baggy, scratching on a napkin arcane symbols that I myself will not be able to decipher later, tearing the parchment when I get too excited. My hair is a wreck because I run my hand through it repeatedly as I wrestle with the tougher parts. I’ve got a pretty good dairy queen thing going by now.

And here’s the kicker: if that woman had come over to see what I was writing, on the off chance that somehow she had felt the force of my intellect across the room, I would have been paralyzed. “What are you doing?” she would ask. “Uh, just doing some writing,” I would answer. “Oooh, I love writers! Can I read it?” Gaah! Shit! Shit! Shit! “Uh, no. It’s not ready yet.” It would have been something like that, except less graceful on my part. Luckily the entire scenario is impossible.

Tiki Reunion

That’s not the official name of the night. It’s something like $2 pint night. But I’ve always called it Cheap Bastard Night. Others have tried to rename it Two-for Tuesday or Tightwad Tuesday. Nah. It’s Cheap Bastard Night, because I’m a cheap bastard. I named it after myself.

It was like a reunion at Tiki tonight. Old faces I hadn’t seen in a long time. Some I never expected to see again. The biggest surprise was Connecticut Bill, an incredibly sharp guy whose life is vanishing up his nose. Was vanishing, perhaps, if his time in jail gave him a chance to straighten out. Observers are not optimistic on that score.

I didn’t notice Connecticut Bill right off the bat, so I don’t think he was there when I came in. He’s hard to miss with his energy and his opinions on everything under the sun. He’s also the one who will play Velvet Underground on the jukebox. When I walked in the front door I saw Bevins sitting there and I climbed aboard the stool next to his. After a brief moment of non-recognition (he hadn’t seen me clean-shaven yet) I recieved a warm welcome and unbidden Tiki Dave was pouring me an Anchor Steam. The game was coming on soon and I was in my happy place.

Suddenly on my left appears another old buddy from my days hanging out at Joe’s Place. Tom had selected alcohol as the drug for destroying his life, but for the last few months he has managed to get it back together. Naturally, that means a lot less time in bars for Tom. They’re just not as fun when you’re drinking non-alcoholic brew. Tom is one of the only people in the world to have read The Test, an incomplete work that I set aside when it started to spiral out of control. The story has gotten so big that it will probably end up being a series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in an author-driven genre, but I feel strongly that even in a series each book should stand on its own. Which means The Test needs an ending, even if it is just volume one. Tom’s commentary on the story was, well, embarrassingly gushing. And protracted. He had read the incomplete work in 16 uninterrupted hours. I promised him I would put an ending on it and get it published. He gave me a dollar to help offset my expenses in the meantime.

Somewhere during that time, Connecticut Bill showed up and there we all were, lined up with our elbows on the bar, watching the home team blow a lead, Billy feeding the jukebox and telling about his time in jail. We talked about this and that, nothing important, favorite comic strips, rehashing some of the old stories that had been dormant too long.

Finally it was time to leave that place. I moved on without ceremony, as if it was just another day at the bar. Things to do, etc. I left, knowing that we might or might never all be there again.


Location: Pacific Beach, California
Miles: 7994.1

I was sitting at Good Time Charlie’s, having lunch and catching up on three months worth of mail, when the call came. It was Amy, just off work and calling to see what I was up to. When I told her where I was, she said (more or less) “Great! There’s a laundromat near there. I’ll put my stuff in and then join you. I’ll be right over.”

After finishing my lunch and separating the wheat from the chaff as far as the mail was concerned, I moved from table to bar and from iced tea to beer as I waited for Amy to show up. My phone rang again. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” she promised. Forty-five minutes later she showed up. While the washers washed and the dryers dried she and I called some of the rest of the ol’ gang and agreed to meet at Tiki. While we were still at GTC’c Bevins called from Tiki asking where the heck we were. “We’ll be there in ten minutes,” Amy promised. There was no way in hell we were going to be there in ten minutes. Welcome to Amy Time.

While Amy got the last of her laundry I parked my car by her house and was done driving for the day. Rather than wait for her to show up, I just walked over the bar, stopping to recruit Bad Bobby who was sitting in his customary position watching passers-by from the patio at The Tavern. It was a nice day for a walk; it was a sunny day but the sea breeze was nice and cool.

Tiki is a pleasant bar, dark and cozy. The first time I went in there I looked around and said to myself, “If I had a bar, it would be a lot like this.” It is small and narrow, and when there is a band in there it can be pretty crowded. (Tiki Dave does a good job booking music. Some fairly famous bands played there back before they got big. Or so I’m told.)

An hour later Amy arrived. She had some catching up to do, but she got down to business and was right with us in no time. A couple of girls came in and to avoid unwanted attention they told Bevins they were lesbians. That led to Bevins telling them at length about the time he had almost been beat up by some lesbians right there at Tiki. I don’t think the girls were terribly impressed.

Later I found myself with Amy up the street at the Tavern doing shots with the fake lesbians. After my first shot I just watched the girls drink. Amy was getting pretty toasted by then and it looked like I would have to be the designated walker. They were all attractive and getting even better-looking as the last drink assaulted my quivering nervous system. Soon enough, though, it was time to go. I bid a sorrowful goodbye to the girls and Amy and I stumbled back to her place (with a brief detour by the bar where she had recently been fired). After only one wrong turn and preventing Amy from taking any shortcuts through people’s yards we got home safe if not sound.

We managed to stay awake just long enough to make a big mess and a grilled cheese sandwich. No one was injured in the creation of the sandwich, although I was having trouble slicing the cheese until I realized it was presliced. What will they think of next?