As of late I have been drinking a lot again. Not at home of course, that just shows a lack of imagination, which no one has ever accused me of lacking. No, I have been drinking at a particular place, where I know the bartender, as well as 90 percent of the boozers around the bar.
I do this in the day for the most part, when I get tired of sitting around my place and writing. It gets isolating. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. The woman I live with comes home around 4:30 or so. I usually leave here around 3. She thinks I leave and go drinking because I don’t want to hang out with her. I have not decided whether or not this is true.
The bar I frequent most often is not far from where I live, it’s just up the hill in fact. I can walk there in about 5 minutes. I’ve known the bartender for quite some time. He used to bartend at another place I’d frequent. Over the years we have established a gentle cadence in our drinker-pourer relationship. He gives me top shelf booze at well prices, he pours 2 or 3 shots into each drink, he doesn’t get too worked up if I leave without paying every great once in a while. He knows I will be back.
In return I tip him around 50 percent and keep him company on the days when the rest of the crowd is driving him crazy — which a lot of them do.
There is one woman there, an artist, rather wealthy, in her 40s that gets so drunk she never remembers me. I introduce myself to her once a week, I shake her hand, I say, “Nice to meet you.” It must be benzos that causes the blackout, there is no other real explanation for it.
There’s another guy. He’s sort of a punk of the old school type that does magic tricks, quite well actually. He uses a fake finger to make things vanish. I am not supposed to tell anyone. There’s a painting contractor in his 60s who drinks red wine with ice in it. There’s the guy that owns the building where the bar is housed. He is there every day. He is handsome, but his eyes show pain. He has banged just about every waitress that works there.
The whole thing is glorious, really. Of course, I sometimes wind up there well into the night, and I argue with the woman I live with when I get home. It all seems so pointless. But it really isn’t. Not at all. Not any more than anything else is, anyway.
I have asked Frank Kelly Rich, the man behind Modern Drunkard, to do an interview with me a few times. He always says he will, but then he blows me off. He says it has something to do with having a new baby, but he is probably just hammered all the time. At least I hope so. In lieu of an interview, check out some Wino Wisdom below.
“People tell me, ‘Oh, you just drink to escape your problems.’ Well, no shit. I’d eat rat heads if it let me ditch my problems.”
— Fred R. spells it all out in front of Walgreen’s.
“I’m all for getting drunk and fucking the waitress, but can we not call it ‘being a gentleman?’”
— Jay F., 26, at Cross-Eyed Seagull, in response to a fellow bragging about what a gentleman he was.
“The problem with most cops is they have a hard time telling the difference between a felony and just fucking around.”
— Adam V., 38, at 3 Kings Tavern explaining why he was arrested for “not a goddamned thing.”
“Whiskey is my comb.”
— A rather disheveled-looking gentleman explaining his carefree and bold hairstyle at the Lancer Lounge.
“I drink because I prefer the company of drunks, and they don’t like sober people hanging around, making faces.”
— Tim M. making sure no one feels uncomfortable at the Lion’s Lair.
Brian Whitney wrote Raping the Gods.