We are all going down

2 07 2012

True story: C. and I find a bar, are unimpressed. Re-find bar, are impressed, say, Hey, we should make this our bar!

Bartender says: This bar probably won’t last. . . Barclay’s Center. . . gentrification. . . .

C. and I nod, drink, nod, agree to come back as many times as we can before it goes away.

Friday. C: Let’s meet at O’Connor’s! Me: Yeah, let’s meet at O’Connor’s!

Off the train, down the street, hang a right. . . wait, hm. To the left? Really? To the left, down a few blocks. No, no, back up.

Then I notice: plywood with a white door where the dark door had been, white railings with plexiglass where the eave had been, sandy stone where the wood painted name had been.

I text C.: I think our bar is gone.

C. arrives. We look at the plywood and the roof patio and agree, yes, our bar is gone. We gesture toward the hulking arena, mutter curses, look for new bar.

Me: Let’s try this one (Gestures to kitty-cornerish to the old one).

C: And there’s a divey-looking bar around the corner.

Me: If this one’s no good [trans: if it’s too upscale], we’ll try that one.

We check the menu, the sandwich board; there’s a sign about a special for a can of beer and a shot.

Me: They sell cans here; that’s a good sign.

We peer in. Narrow, dart board in back, basic Irish pub regalia, sparsely hung about.

Friendly bartender. Hard cider on tap for C., beer for me. Yankees low on one t.v., Mets low on another.

C., the bartender and I banter-bitch about Barclays, tourists, gentrification.

Bartender: This neighborhood has already been gentrified.

C. sips, nods. Nothing stays the same in New York.

More sips, nods. Discourse on the movement from the Village to Brooklyn, to Williamsburg. Bartender mentions photos of Williamsburg from not so long ago, from when it was scary, not hip. Discourse on neighborhoods which are block-by-block: okay here, not okay there.

Me: It’s never a good sign when you’re all alone on a city street.

Later, after more drinks and discourse and nods, C. whispers that the glasses aren’t as big as we’re used to. We shrug and nod and drink some more.

Later still, out on the sidewalk, C. and the bartender smoking, a construction worker with a beautiful face and beautiful arms and beautiful shoulders flirts with C. and me., calling us beautiful. I’m not beautiful (C. is), but I don’t argue, because it’s nice to be called beautiful.

C. and I watch the construction worker saunter back to work on the arena; we comment on the view.

As we leave, C. shares one last smoke with the bartender. A former Chicago schoolteacher with arm tattoos that intrigue C. joins us in our discourse about drinking and work and whatever else one says during the final scene of the evening.

We laugh and say goodnight and promise we’ll be back.

Our bar is lost; long live our bar.




4 responses

3 07 2012

when i moved to cali and could see bands in clubs minus smoking it was a real gift but still odd to think of smoke-free bars in ny

3 07 2012
4 07 2012

Gathered in the heavy heat of Indiana,
we’ve come from all over this great
country, one big happy family, back from
wherever we’ve spread ourselves too thin.
A cornucopia of cousins and uncles, grand-
parents and aunts, nieces and nephews, expanding.
All day we laze on the oily beach;
we eat all the smoke-filled evening:
shrimp dip and crackers,
Velveeta cheese and beer,
handfuls of junk food, vanishing.
We sit at card tables, examining
our pudgy hands, piling in
hot fudge and double-chocolate
brownies, strawberry shortcake and cream,
as the lard-ball children
sluice from room to room.
O the loveliness of so much loved flesh,
the litany of split seams and puffed sleeves,
sack dresses and Sansabelt slacks,
dimpled knees and knuckles, the jiggle
of triple chins. O the gladness
that only a family understands,
our fat smiles dancing
as we play our cards right.
Our jovial conversation blooms and booms
in love’s large company, as our sweet
words ripen and split their skins:
mulberry, fabulous, flotation,
phlegmatic, plumbaginous.
Let our large hearts attack us,
our blood run us off the scale.
We’re huge and whole on this simmering night,
battened against the small skinny
futures that must befall all of us,
the gray thin days and the noncaloric dark.

“The Fat of the Land” by Ronald Wallace

7 07 2012

Ha. It was very odd a couple of years ago to go back to Wisconsin and have to deal with smoky bars—a situation I didn’t have to deal with in big, bad New York.

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