As I age, drinking is one thing NOT like riding a bike, and your body does forget. Discovered that last night. Walking in the precious, cute downtown district of the ‘burb where I spend most of my time, I realized I had not yet fulfilled a momentous New Year’s resolution. So, I started looking for a bar.
Each New Year, I seek out an appropriate location wherein I toast dead relatives. Inasmuch as my relatives partook of the bubbly, the vino, the hard-stuff, the soft-stuff and grandma’s whiskey cherries, I basically cover them all in one yearly swoop. There’s my Grandfather, the camel wrangler, not to be confused with a camel jockey who rides camels in races. My Uncle, who shotgun-pruned his trees. Then my dad, who rode his horse to his favorite bar through the streets of Albuquerque . . . in 1985. And my aunt, who brandished her cane chasing two well-dressed Mormon missionary boys down the walk because she heard “mercenaries” instead of “missionaries” when they came to her door. I could go on, but you get the picture.
With its darkly-glazed windows and clientele reserving smoking for out front, I figured this bar was the place. Inside, it was precious cute like everything else in downtown. A wooden bar, three TVs masquerading as wall art, a couple booths, a back room with a billiard table, and more old men occupying bar stools than you’d see at free coffee night at the local AARP. It was my age group.
I was very aware walking in that I probably looked like exactly who I am. Which is disturbing because until I look in a mirror, I still think I’m 45 years old. I felt like I was channeling my mother; a little gray-haired lady clutching her purse, asking the bartender how much a rum and coke costs. In the bar world, this is a case of if you have to ask you probably didn’t bring enough money. Lucky for me, I had.
My first dainty sip sent a trickle of fire down my throat. Color and fizz said Coca-Cola was in it, but I had to use my imagination to taste it. This signaled trouble; I figured it’d take me a good oh . . . three hours to finish. I nursed that drink so long I attracted an elderly gentleman who sidled up to my stool. He seemed to be some sort of bar potentate.
We chatted, he introduced me to the “crowd,” and then he explained the “bar scene” in town. If I wanted to “go country” The Smokey Pig was down the street. Up the street, was the more “dignified” Hoppin‘ Robin, a martini bar where people are said to dance cheek-to-cheek while they drink. Personally, I think that takes a skill I no longer have. Near the railroad tracks was, he whispered, the “pick-up bar.” Yeah.
This was the old TV show “Cheers” bar. And when I said, “I shall certainly make this my bar of choice in the future,” in my best, most refined Southern drawl, I knew I’d had enough with a quarter of my drink still in the glass. Laid my money down, got up, toddled to the door saying, “Now y’all be good boys and I shall return.” Now, I’ll have to go back on account of I forgot to toast the dead people. Next time, I’ll get a beer.
For more of Cohea’s humor, visit www.BarbaraCohea.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.