By Andrew Ramirez
The way I remember my pop’s office, he had this ancient four-foot upright standing dispenser of Boston Beans, like the kind you’d find in a general store circa 1940 or on Main Street in Disney Land. I think it was gift (maybe not) and although I’ve never been to Boston, I’ve since associated an entire city with a glass container full of stale red candy. Other stuff in that office: a statue/desk lamp of a tired Native American on a horse, a sculpture of a face smoking a cigar, a couch, an end table, one miniature-sized Mercedes Benz, and high up on a shelf, out of my reach, a rickety tobacco rack that trembled when the fan hit it.
But here’s what I’m trying to say: Father’s Office in Santa Monica, for better or worse, doesn’t have any of that shit. I’m warning you ahead of time, to curb your disappointment. Instead, upon entering this adopted Father’s Office, you’ll be presented with something my real pop’s office never had much of—draught beer and track lighting. And the burger I’d heard so much about? Well, the kitchen was closed by the time I got there. So I settled into the beer menu. It was Friday, just before midnight, and a couple of people and I had been filming a short for a friend. He’s a cinema major at USC and is required, by law it seems, to never have dialog in his projects. So what do you expect? My performance very quickly turned into an acting 101 flutter of expression. My eyebrows arched and stretched like dark ribbons caught in a gust. In the final climactic scene I crunched them together (I was confused) and let them fly (I was surprised) like a carnival bell-hammer contest, so high they collided with my hairline and for a moment I’d thought I’d lost the poor boys forever. By the time they’d floated back down, however, we had finished filming and I was sinking my stare into a golden blonde ale at this Father’s Office spot in Santa Monica.
Strangely, for a Friday night, the area surrounding the bar was near-silent save for five or six pigeons making noises on a telephone line while Montana Street unraveled like a dark carpet westward into darkness. The Father’s Office sign buzzed bright white neon, and beneath it, in red: BEER. The bar and it’s deeply tinted windows appeared closed until a man materialized and asked for our IDs. Altogether, the experience—undercut with the general feeling of malaise that accompanies student projects—proved hypnotic. The menu stated in bold-faced letters: Beer makes you strong. But I’m having a hard time recalling the name of the beer I had. It was a blonde ale and the bartender described it as “fruity with a spicy after-bite,” but beyond that I’m drawing one big blank. The age range zoomed anywhere from early twenties to red-faced retirees, some sitting at the tables, others leaning on the bar sipping wine or beer or something from a highball. Somewhat true to its name, the bar and grill (sorry, sorry, gastropub) truly is office-sized—if your father was an executive for Chevron. The bathroom stalls, however, are more fitting digs for entry level employment. I ran the faucet and cupped water up to my face. Well, well, another student project done. How many more student projects do you have in you? What are you going to do, dear English major, after graduation? Teach or start waiting tables seems, sometimes, like the only two options. Is there a reason why writer and waiter come only two letters separated?
My eyebrows were low on my eyes, tired. I had been doing too much acting and I wanted to lay down on the couch in my pop’s office. I went outside and paid the bill. A good bar teaches you something: I could sleep in an office, always, but probably not work in one.
Father’s Office (1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA): A-