Last night was more than a little fucked up.
I was up in Lincoln Park yesterday afternoon pounding the pavement to promote an upcoming work event--it was a gorgeous day--and the sunshine coupled with all those beer signs caused me to think drinking alone might be a great idea.
After dropping some cards off at a used bookstore, I saw an Old Style sign on a non-descript bar nearby that was begging, BEGGING me to come in. I'm an urban explorer and always in need of new material, so I walked in.
The paneled bar was dark and had two TVs on either side of the room with the games of the moment on--the Cardinals, and some college football thing. There were a half dozen flannel-clad old coots sitting on their stools who all turned--as if on cue--when I walked in.
"HI GUYS!" I said, finding a stool in between two of the older coots. The bartender, a very friendly guy, came over immediately to get me a $3 Old Style.
"You at the bookstore, huh?" He said.
"Yep. I've decided to drink alone today, and I have this book here just in case no one talks to me."
"Joe will talk to you," he said nodding at the coot on my right. Joe was hunched over the paper and was wearing a dirty brown cardigan. He looked like a some sort of teacher or professor.
"You look like some sort of teacher or professor," I said to Joe, introducing myself.
"I'm in IT." Joe then went on to fill me on on this big merger thing at work that will more than likely cause him to lose his job. He and his coworkers don't do anything anymore except play video games. I urged Joe to hang on until his severance package comes in.
Joe and I continued on with our polite banter, when I heard one of the younger guys at the end of the bar go on about how women he dates need to understand sports. His name was Pete. I could tell his rant was for my benefit.
"PETE, MOST OF US PRETEND TO LIKE SPORTS JUST SO WE CAN GET LAID." I yelled at him down the bar. Pete thought that was pretty funny. Pete then offered me a shot. "WELL OK, PETE BUT JUST ONE!"
Pete and I gulped down a Ruppleman's shot. It's like rubbing alcohol blended with melted candy canes. Blech! But I was a guest, and thought it rude to turn down the offer of free alcohol.
I had only been there for about 30 minutes when I realized maybe I'm not the best candidate for drinking alone. I checked in with a friend who was nearby and he said he'd be right over, being more than happy to babysit.
The bartender--Mike--then came down my way to hang out. He told me the neighborhood bookie would like to buy me a drink and honestly, I couldn't have been more honored. After 10 years of living in Chicago, I never met a bookie, let alone drank with one. I asked Mike if bookmaking was a fulltime job, and he said that it was all this guy ever did since was a kid. "He learned the job, works with the wiseguys and well you know."
Dan "The Bread Man" came over to say hello on his way out of the bar. He was very personable. Mike said they feel bad when they beat him. I could see that.
When my friend arrived about an hour later he found me on the floor playing with three dogs who were also regulars. He doesn't drink, and as I got drunker I was HANGING on him. But that's a different blog post.
I called in one more reinforcement--Janel--and the three of us hung out in the backroom near the pool table. We were "playing" pool when I noticed Mike duck into the backroom.
He came out and handed me a perfectly rolled joint. "Don't smoke it here," he said sternly.
Well doesn't this guy like to party, I thought. I put the joint in my purse and though I have no plans whatsoever to smoke it, I won't throw it away.
Because, hey, free pot you know?