Last night I had the romantic urge to go to the patio of a nearby café, buy a glass of
After finishing the absinthe I decided to move inside. Though the absinthe was unusually strong, I could still read my book allowing me to conduct my favorite sociological experiment: How do people react to a bearded man reading a book alone in a bar? Usually the answer is: they don't, at least not vocally. However, it has occasionally sparked a conversation. Oddly this tends to happen when I'm reading Rabelais. It has nothing to do with the other bar patron having an interest in Rabelais, however, it just seems it's a coincidence. Inevitably, the conversation goes, "what are you reading?" "Rabelais." "What's that?" "He's a 17th century French author. It's goofy as hell," and then a completely unrelated conversation will ensue. Tonight, however, I had Robbe-Grillet, which doesn't seem to produce any effect at all.
When a bartender whom I had borrowed a couple cigarettes from the other night was preparing to leave, I put down my book and offered to repay her with a drink. She responded that I didn't need to do that unless I had been bumming cigarettes from her the entire night. It seemed to me that that was obvious and that my intention was clearly not actually to repay her for two cigarettes, but to have a drink with her. Either she was incredibly dense or she was shooting me down. I assumed the latter and decided not to press the point and respond with "Well you can buy yourself a drink then, I don't care, but how about you do it when located in this seat next to me?" Instead, I finished my beer and headed out. This place was dead anyway.
I dropped Robbe-Grillet off at home and headed over to Paddy's Irish Pub. I like Paddy's but they don't really have a very good beer selection, so I don't go there that often. What they lack in beer, though, they make up for in atmosphere. You enter Paddy's through its outdoor seating area: a tight alley cluttered with a Stein's Gardens and Gifts worth of bric-a-brac and plants. The inside is similarly knick-knacked, though even more confined. All in all its kind of like having a drink at Grandma's house, as long as your Grandmother is an Irish eccentric pack rat with a penchant for Christmas lights. Therefore, depending on the size of the crowd, it can be like having a quite drink while your grandmother watches Wheel of Fortune or it can be like having a grandmother themed house party. Last night it was somewhere in between.
I sat at the end of the bar and ordered a Strongbow and asked for a complimentary basket of snacks. The snacks are nothing exciting, just Chex Mix, peanuts, and peanut M&Ms, but its nice to munch on something. While doing so I tried to make out the luminaries of Irish literature that were featured on a poster on the wall. I was far enough away, and intoxicated enough, that unless I squinted I couldn't actually read the names but I could see the pictures. I got Flann O'Brien, Beckett, Yeats, Wilde, and someone else (Joyce must have been in the area of the poster blocked by a contraption of some sort). I did not get George Bernard Shaw, because I don't care about him but I did find out that he had an enormous fuck off beard.
After awhile an attractive smoky-voiced girl sat next to me and began a conversation with a couple of dudes in sleeveless t-shirts. It was difficult to tell the provenance of this group. I wasn't sure if she knew the dudes, or had met them on the way to the bar. They seemed friendly enough, chatting about how she got scared watching a horror movie and went for a walk, and mocking one of the dudes who confessed to having a recurrent nightmare, but some people like talking to strangers. I was also trying to figure out how the dark haired fellow who wandered in and out of the group fit in. I took particular interest in him because his shirt had what looked like an SS style Totenkopf on it between two flags. I never got a good look at what the shirt was actually trying to say, but having anything that could be construed as a Nazi emblem on your t-shirt, seems like a questionable fashion choice. I wondered if he was aware of the implications of his Death's Head. I decided not to ask, just in case he did.
Because I was paying attention to him I immediately noticed when he told one of the bartenders to fuck off for no apparent reason. Since it seemed rather unprovoked, for about a millisecond I thought that this was some sort of jocular salutation. That is until the bartender responded by telling him to leave. Señor Totenkopf did not particularly agree with the bartender's suggestion and told him so by swinging his fist in the bartender's general direction. As usually happens in any fight other than ones in movies, the punch landed rather unglamorously and stupidly. In this case it connected on the right side of the bartender's neck. I can't imagine that that part of the body was what the guy was aiming for, but it did seem to have the intended effect: pissing off the bartender.
Grappling that takes place on either side of a bar looks absolutely ridiculous: obviously nobody is going to get pushed in any direction considering there's a large counter between them with no intention of moving anytime soon. Probably because of this obstacle, the grappling didn't last very long and both parties broke off in opposite directions. Now Totenkopf decided that his best chance of getting the upper hand in this dispute would be to elicit the help of some sort of nearby projectile. He decided on a bar stool. Perhaps because of the awkwardness of bar stool tossing, his intended target had plenty of time to get the fuck out of the way. Since the path of the chair was not disrupted by a human being anymore, though, it continued on its merry way directly toward quite a lot of bottles and, eventually, a mirror. One might think that some breakage might occur at this point, but instead the bar stool merely knocked one bottle on its side and bounced onto the floor, making the whole scene that much sillier.
It was at about this time that several people decided that perhaps the bartender's original suggestion was, in fact, appropriate, and escorted the upset patron out the door, never to be seen again. The bartender left the scene to cool down, and I realized that somewhere in the scuffle my snack basket was overturned and I had lost some Chex Mix. As I glanced around the bar I realized the entire party had exited leaving me with a clear view of a couple way at the other end of the bar who both had a look that clearly said, "the hell?"
I've never seen a bar fight before. It seemed odd to me that my only reaction was basically, "well that was weird." It just sort of happened and then didn't. For whatever reason, I had thought I would have reacted differently. Since I was, basically, right next to the thing I thought briefly that it would have been nice if I had tried to subdue Heinrich Himmler. But I don't think I could have done much. "Hi, I'm Nathan. You don't know me, but could you possibly calm down?" Because of this personal acquittal, I didn't really have much to say. The bartender involved in the fight eventually returned to his post, nursing his neck, and acting as hard as he could to cover up the fact that he really fucking hates people sometimes.
For my part, I had a couple more Strongbows, went home, put a pizza in and woke up about six hours later to find cat shit in the corner of my bedroom, cat vomit in the corner of my living room and, most disturbingly, a pizza shaped carbonized lump in the oven. The first two make me think that my cat is stupid; the last one makes me think that I'm stupider. Thankfully leaving the oven on all night only resulted in me ruining a pizza (rather completely I might add), rather than the entire apartment complex. For your viewing pleasure here's the result of my dumbassery: