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Tuesday, 24 August
When The Weirdness Died

Another weekend, another triumphant set of shows!

Friday night: Bumpy, but okay. People were tired and out of rhythm with the piece. But overall, not bad. Notable also for two small girls, maybe ten years old or so, who left off playing in the park to come perch on the fringe of our "stage," occasionally coaching us. (One of the characters in the show has a crippling stutter, for example. Said character was in mid-stutter: "O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o . . . " One of the girls piped up: "Say something!" Thanks, kids!)

Saturday: Rain.

Sunday: Rain.

Another weekend, another triumphant set of . . . actors going out for afternoon drinks!

So Saturday we packed in our crap and headed off for drinkier pastures. Our first choice of venue--a newish place called Maguire's on 15th, which features ludicrously cheap whiskey drinks during happy hour--was closed, causing us to scream ghoulishly and claw ineffectually at the windows. So we ended up heading north to . . . the Canterbury Inn.

The Canterbury Inn has been around forever, and squats like a furry toadstool on 15th; its less-than-enthusiastic stabs at living up to its name include a shabby suit of armor that greets you as you enter, its authenticity distinctly Bill & Ted-ish in flavor. Apart from that, you've got nothing really Chauceresque going on with the place, except for possibly the incredibly calcified barflies, who certainly seem old enough to have fucked the Wife of Bath, and are conceivably still getting palimony.

I really try to avoid the Canterbury as a rule; I have a checkered past with it. My friend N. and I used to call it "The Place Where Disturbing Things Happen," which, while an acknowledged mouthful, did convey the truth. All previous visits to the Canterbury had resulted in . . . well, disturbing things.

MY BIRTHDAY, some years ago

N. and I, for reasons unknown to humans, decided to celebrate my birthday at the dingy place. We showed up and found a table (one nice thing about the Canterbury is that you can always find a table; this is also one of the disquieting things about the Canterbury). We sat down with a couple friends, and were approached by a flinty-eyed waitress (nothing new here; as an afficianado of dives, I am accustomed to unhappy waitresses). She appraised us quickly, and then said, "Hello, pissants." We stared at her uncomfortably; we hadn't even had a drink yet! We had not yet earned pissant status! She then broke into a humorless grin, eagerly showing us her molars. "I'm just kidding. What do you pissants want?" Another grin, this one frankly predatory. Totally unnerved, we stammered at her. "Ah . . . ah . . . can we have a-a-a . . . how about a pitcher, of, ah, beer?" She beamed horrifically, a corrupt Madonna on the Rocks. "One pitcher of ah, ah, ah, beer coming up!" She left to fulfill our order while we sat gloomily, all the potential fun of the evening having been horribly murdered in front of our eyes by the malefic waitress.

To pass the time, N. and I swiveled our heads to the TV set mounted on the wall, seeking any kind of assuagement from the bizarre, Artaudian treatment we had just experienced. At that very moment, the TV was showing some hideous oceanographic footage of a thrashing shark being hauled aboard a ship with cruel hooks. N. and I stared as the crew lashed at the beast savagely; it was like watching Children of the Corn as directed by Jacques Cousteau. It was then that N. said to me, "This is a very disturbing place."

I vowed never to go there again.

ONE YEAR LATER

My friend T.'s birthday this time. "We're going to the Canterbury!" he howled over the phone into my voice mail. I immediately thought of that horrible shark footage, and wondered what fresh horror could possibly be waiting.

This was a much smaller group of guys for this celebration; just a few of us playing some pool. We really stunk, but gamely kept playing, and occasionally not fucking up. Presently, a mulleted fellow arrived with a female companion, and put down some quarters on the felt; they would of course play the winners of the game we were working on. My friend T. and I won, and therefore got the dubious honor of taking on Mullet and his gal, Slightly Faded Peroxide Gal.

We started playing, and the writing on the wall was early and clear. Mullet was beating us stupid (he had his own cue). What was weirder, however, was that Slightly Faded Peroxide Gal seemed to be hitting on me, relentlessly. Obviously. In no uncertain terms. Now, let's get this straight: I'm kind of funny-looking. (And not that SFPG was a supermodel, but she WAS right there with her ostensible boyfriend.) So I am not used to such behavior. I wondered if I was suffering from some organic malady. What the fuck is going on? I wondered. She was being very vocally lascivious, in the most embarrassing way, replete with lines like, "You really handle that stick well." I responded by launching the cue ball into the overhead halogens. "THANKS!" I screamed. I was waiting for the boyfriend to casually beat my skull in with his custom cue, but he continued to shoot nonchalantly.

"Nice shot; right into the hole," she cooed later, "You must be good at that." I thought I must be losing my mind, and at one point retreated to my friend T., standing on the sidelines. He, thank God, confirmed that I wasn't going insane. "What the fuck is going on?" he rasped. "She's totally hitting on you!" I assured T. that I hadn't the vaguest goddamn idea what was going on, and I assumed that I was about to be shivved at any moment. But the Mullet calmly continued destroying us on the table, which wasn't very hard, of course, continuing to display no awareness at all of his girlfriend's freakish behavior.

After the rout was complete--Mullet reamed us thoroughly, which as I say wasn't very difficult, since (1.) he was really just much better than us, and (2.) we (I) was, at this point, convinced that I was going to be beaten into Dinty Moore ingredients . . . they left. Quite amiably. Mullet shook our hands and thanked us for the game, while SFPG magically turned off her horny-rays and said, "See you boys later!"

T. and I stood there for some time. Finally, T. said, "What the fuck was that?" I had no answer. I looked up at the TV, wondering if I'd see some horrible shark abuse to round out the evening. Instead, I saw only soccer, which was somehow worse.

POSTSCRIPT

I wish I had something cool and awful to relate about my latest visit to the Canterbury, but I do not. I was waiting for . . . something. But it never came.

I did go right to the bar to order a beer, and there of course was some white-haired virus of a man to my right; he might have grown there, like coral. He said something to me; I have no idea what it was. His mouth had seemingly evolved into some vague pink hole genetically enhanced to accomodate beer bottles. "Taffy horse race!" he shouted at me. I smiled wanly and gave him my stock "whatever" response: "Yeah, I hear that."

"Wad of chickens!" he might have screamed. Something like that. I really couldn't be bothered, and was anxiously patrolling for things like numbing shark footage on the TV, or perhaps Mullet and SFPG scouring for fresh victims. In the end, though, nothing of the sort materialized.

And oddly, I felt a little sad.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

See, Skot, what you missed with Mullet and SFPG was that Mullet was actually female...

Comment number: 005012   Posted by: John on August 24, 2004 02:45 AM from IP: 68.188.32.35

that post was great, i love the feverish anticipation u keep me in for days on end.

Comment number: 005013   Posted by: teena on August 24, 2004 05:24 AM from IP: 63.76.75.38

"like coral"

I love you.

Comment number: 005014   Posted by: dayment on August 24, 2004 09:56 AM from IP: 64.105.86.146

I live right around the corner from the Canterbury, and go there not infrequently for "Grill Cheese Plus" sandwiches. Perhaps my favorite thing on the menu is the breakfast scramble, which boasts "eggs, grilled vegetables, two kinds of cheese, AND MORE!"

It's the "and more" that gets me. And more what?

Comment number: 005015   Posted by: Ariel on August 24, 2004 10:25 AM from IP: 192.251.219.11

I would normally assume that Mullet fancied himself a pool shark, ready to gut you like the one on TV, and that SPF Gal was trying to throw you off your game by distracting you. She succeeded, but--for quarters?

Comment number: 005016   Posted by: Bill the Splut on August 24, 2004 07:32 PM from IP: 69.177.131.31

oddly, I too have had an odd pool-based freakish flirtation in the Canterbury, many moons before my wife came into the picture. Mine was a girl from Spain who'd descended upon the place after a spat with what I fervently hoped was to be her ex-boyfriend. Intriguingly, her flirtations suddenly transformed me into a most-uncharacteristically good - er - stickman.

The next day, of course, I was stood up.

Comment number: 005017   Posted by: mike on August 24, 2004 11:11 PM from IP: 64.58.162.209

White-haired virus of a man who might have grown there like coral-- I'm going to have to use that one.. it's sheer genius!

Comment number: 005018   Posted by: S on August 25, 2004 12:42 PM from IP: 67.42.109.220

Some people like abuse from waitstaff.
There was a bar people loved in college for its impolite and surly character. But in grad school we went to...the Canterbury. The bartender was OK but the drinkers were way scary. It can't be the same one.

Comment number: 005019   Posted by: Miel on August 25, 2004 11:50 PM from IP: 141.154.80.111

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