I’m not comfortable in bars. And I don’t suffer drunks gladly. Maybe I’ve missed out on a lot of the fun – and sex – that most people have had, but there it is. And with my meds now I have only a fraction of a normal man’s alcohol tolerance.
But here I am in a bar in – when? 1948? 1952? Waiting for a character of mine. I had thought to meet him in a greasy spoon a la “Nighthawks”, but when I proffered the meeting, he immediately mentioned this bar. One thing that is different is no electric noise – no tunes pumping (although a Wurlitzer hunches in a corner, powered but with its colorful facade lights out, like the rough beast about to slouch toward Bethlehem), no televisions hanging from the wall behind the bar. Just a mirror there, the occasional panel missing revealing dark gummy wood. The only little lights not from phones in the curled hand of texters, but from clicking lighters and searing matches. The people, men and the occasional laughing woman, almost all in dark or earth toned suits, fedoras, the women in dresses with stiff exaggerated busts.
Of course, I’ve tried to pick out clothes from what I have that would be as inconspicuous as possible – and only after I got here realized my “retro” glasses are retro-ing a design that is avant-garde at the least, my thinnest gray and green tie is still too wide, and my suit’s texture isn’t as natural as any I’ve seen and the lapel is too wide. I only hope people think I’m trying to dress after a futurist Italian director.
I nurse a rum on the rocks as I sit sideways at the bar, taking it all in, my grandfather’s people and milieu I suppose – actually taking just the occasional taste to my lips. Surprised I got it for a quarter and could let the bartender keep the change.
I’m waiting for Ron Mayhew, private investigator, hoping he can shed some light on the play I’m writing about him.