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skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com

Monday, 14 January
Dramatis Personae

Well, HI THERE! I was . . . uh . . . well, I guess I was just fucking off for a while.

I wish I had a better cover story, but I don't. I took a week off, then two as I fell under a really bewitching head cold, and then . . . the fucking off happened. Late at night I would steal a glance over at the laptop, and I'd think, "Hey, I should write something!" And then I wouldn't, because frankly, my life is just not very exciting. And there's only so many vicious lies one can make up about one's immediate family. For example, as I write this, the wife is carefully shaving my balls.

I guess there's always one more.

As you might imagine, the wife and I rang in the new year at The Bar That Shall Not Be Named, among good friends. And by "good friends" I of course mean "regulars."

Regulars are a curious social phenomenon. Following some cosmic law I am not privy to, they seem to usually consist of people who, if not for the fact that you find yourself in the same bar together on a regular basis, you would never even think to talk to. This does not mean that regulars are bad people. This just means that they aren't so reprehensible that you mind sitting six feet away from them while emptily discussing such things as "things that are fucking ass."

Take W., for example. W. is a garrulous fellow, an imbiber of Manhattans who is not averse to the occasional blackout ("Wait, I stopped by here last night?") and who is completely and totally unapologetic about his job, which surely must rank as one of the most horrifying jobs to be contemplated: W. is a supervisor at a collection agency. W. spends entire days monitoring the phone calls of his awful minions, making sure that they are doing their hellish jobs correctly and more or less following the scripted responses instead of screaming about the hallucinatory bats in their hair or hoarsely whispering to their unlucky interlocutors, "I'm about to take a ghastly dump in your ear! Why did you pick up the phone? RUN! RUN, YOU FOOL! They're coming with scythes!"

I like W. despite his obvious vocational defects. For one thing, W. is, while working, also pursuing his Ph.D in American history, and I find that admirable. He also freely admits to finding Jim Rome hilarious, which I find so perverse and nut-rattlingly demented that I also find it admirable.

W. is also a running freak, so I don't understand that either. It makes him fascinating somehow, like a bearded lady, or a Wisconsin resident. It's these little things that bring us regulars together; our differences. I'm sure he finds me as curious as I do him. I mean, don't get me wrong: I run. From muggers, for example, and from jazz. And, usually, Wisconsonites.

H. is another regular, a soft-spoken girl with a sweet smile and a penchant for giving strangers (e.g. me) things like 8-foot lengths of coaxial cable. (Backstory: I needed an 8-foot length of coaxial cable.) H. is so soft-spoken, in fact, that I would estimate that approximately 65% of the things she says are completely inaudible to me. It might not even be that she's soft-spoken; I am starting to suspect that the frequency of her vocal tones are the tonal inverse to the bar's ambient noise, and so there's some sort of noise-cancellation thing going on. This has the unfortunate effect of leading me to kind of scream at her in some sort of misguided attempt at compensation.

S: How you doing tonight?

H: I was [garbled].

S: What?

H: [Her mouth is moving.]


H: [Garbled] . . . jambalaya . . . [garbled]


H: [Peculiar look, more garble]

After about ten minutes, I finally look down at the pen in her hand poised over a newspaper and realize that she is attempting to solve that day's Jumble.

"I'm FUCKING AWESOME at the Jumble!" I scream, right as the bar has quieted down, earning me some woe-tinged looks from the room.

"What?" says H.

(Note: I really am fucking awesome at the Jumble.)

This is quality bar talk, and I wouldn't have it any other way. On New Year's Eve, my friend J. was there (he's a regular too, and like me, he enjoys ordering obnoxious Old School drinks such as Moscow Mules and Widow's Kisses), and when (once again) K. the bartender realized he didn't have a clock in the fucking place with a second timer, he called out, "Does anyone have a watch with a second hand?" I looked over at J. meaningfully, knowing that he was the happy new recipient of an iPhone for Christmas.

One year before, the same thing had happened--the no-clock, thing--, and we had done the New Year countdown off my my completely arbitrarily-set analog watch. J. called up the time display on his iPhone and said, "I think this is a tradition worth preserving." So I synced up my dumb little wristwatch with his digital display and called out "thirty seconds!" "ten seconds!" And the countdown took care of itself after that, just me and the wife and a couple good friends and a roomful of people that I'd normally never give the time of day to in any other context, and we all raised our champagne and grinned at each other happily and raised our glasses, just like old friends. Just like regular.

Summary | Skot | 14 Jan, 2008 |

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


You're lucky to have such a place. I had one like that for three years in England, but then I had to come back to the land of Bud Light and big-screen TVs everywhere. Crap, yo. Just crap.

Comment number: 016625   Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' on January 15, 2008 05:00 AM from IP:

I'm glad someone else is afflicted with Lazy Blogger Syndrome. It makes me feel less alone.
I really need to find a bar to become a regular at - we used to have one, very briefly, just long enough to know the bartender but not long enough to befriend the real regulars, and even that was good. When I'm old and my son is moved out, I plan to spend 90% of my evenings at a dive bar someplace I can walk to. I'm planning my retirement home's location based on bar proximity, actually. Retirement will be awesome.

Comment number: 016626   Posted by: superblondgirl on January 15, 2008 05:35 AM from IP:

I'm planning retirement in amsterdam. You can fill in the rest.
Skot! praise Jebus you are back.

Comment number: 016627   Posted by: Alyxmyself on January 15, 2008 05:59 AM from IP:

I am a regular reader. A jazz fan. And a Wisconsinite. If I chase you, you will not get away. Instead, you will be secured and made to listen to Thelonious Monk until you come around.

Comment number: 016628   Posted by: ryan on January 15, 2008 06:11 AM from IP:

Damn, I miss my local. Just like my own personal rumpus room, but with more booze and strangers.
And I'm glad you have one to call home.

Comment number: 016629   Posted by: SaltyMissJill on January 15, 2008 08:59 AM from IP:

I've never been able to figure out why watching TV in a bar and paying bar prices for drinks while you ignore your fellow bar patrons is somehow better than watching TV at home by yourself.

Comment number: 016665   Posted by: flamingbanjo on January 17, 2008 04:29 PM from IP:

Man, I wish I went to The Bar That Shall Not Be Named; I chose to go the Emigrant instead. Never again. There were mitigating circumstances, but as I painfully learned, no set of circumstances justifies that abomination of a pub.

Comment number: 016707   Posted by: L on January 20, 2008 08:28 PM from IP:

Ha ha, Wisconsin sucks. Oh, shit. So does Minnesota. Fuck.

Comment number: 016732   Posted by: norm on January 23, 2008 09:21 AM from IP:

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