Just because I haven’t written about a bar since who knows when (has it really been three weeks already?) isn’t to say I’ve given up on them, and please, whatever you do, don’t’ think I’ve grown up. Because last I saw, the most recent busted-up road sign had me a good string of miles from that pleasant cottage town outside the city, the one all steaming with Chai tea lattes in the immense soft blue flicker of ten thousand Netflix documentaries that she picked. And when I get there—don’t get me wrong—I’ll walk right in, up and over all the date night hills of Yogurt Land three topping strawberry tart, and straight through that door to the living room where the significant other will be all cuddled up on the couch inside the warm wrap of the TV light, lifting a blanket, of course, saying my name, of course, you missed me didn’t you? Of course I did! Of course, of course!
But for now there’s still time and that town is a place I haven’t gotten to yet, holy shit, Jesus Christ—thank God. And I’ll keep you posted, too. The next time my headlights splash all over another green road sign, I’ll let you know whether I’ve gotten any closer or any farther.
Ever notice how people with too much caffeine in their system say everything twice? Or how when a grumpy old man demands something he usually demands it a couple of times, like Hey, hand me those papers, those papers right over there! Well, in my case it’s turning out to be one of those situations involving doubles. Like: Look, when I get there I’ll get there, okay? So tell me: does that make me the world’s youngest pissed-off old man, or have I just had too much coffee?
Lately though, the reason I haven’t moved into my cottage is because I’ve been hanging around this lake at the 2-9 Café. It’s just a tiny one—only about sixteen ounces deep—but let me tell you, it’s ice cold. Did I mention that it’s magic, too? Every time it goes empty, somehow it fills back up for just two bucks and sixty-nine cents every day of the week till closing—in downtown Los Angeles of all places, urban residence of the eight dollar beer.
Last week I worked an arts and music festival on La Brea. I dollied cases of beer and water from station to station. Escorted a few people backstage. Even exchanged about seventeen words with George Costanza, errr, Jason Alexander, and watched Jack Black and Marisa Tomei and Jenna Malone browse the artwork. But by the end of the night what it all came down to was me just basically downing as much of the free coconut water as I could get my hands in the green room. I didn’t want to drink too much of the free booze because I was supposed to be working and there was still a lot of time left on the shift. For some reason though, the people in charge had given me a walkie-talkie to stay in touch with the other workers, and by the time it started barking noise, I had forgotten all about it there on my belt.
“Andrew,” the black slits crackled. “What’s your twenty? We need a mop over here by the stage. ”
“Twenty?” I said. What the hell was this about? “Twenty what?” Maybe they’d seen that one beer I’d been drinking earlier. “Well, yes, don’t worry, I’m twenty-one years old.” Or maybe the voice had said where instead of what, in which case: “My twenty? Well my twenty is in my wallet. Why? What does it matter? I mean, where do you keep yours?”
“My God,” the voice said, clicking off then coming back on. “Your twenty. That means your location. You didn’t know that? Jesus, forget it, we already got a mop.”
I know it now, but I didn’t know it then. My God, aren’t words already bad enough the way they are? Why further complicate this issue by coding them. Or at the very least let me in on the key, right? I mean, what I’m trying to do right now, amidst all this stuff, is let you in on the fact that there’s good beer for less than three dollars a sixteen ounce cup at the 2-9 Café. That the wait staff is mostly (if not all) female in black V-necks. That a Blue Moon comes with a wedge of orange hanging off the lip of the cup and you can get a free sample of anything you want if you ask nice enough. Which is to say: I want you to know all about this stuff. I mean, if I started making noise from a walkie talkie on your belt and you heard me say Meet me at the 2-9, would you know what I was saying? What’s the 2-9 code for? Nothing. It’s just the place I’m calling from.