Monday, August 16, 2004

Uptown Saturday night

The smokers blocked the passageway to the Alehouse from the parking lot; bitterly adjusting to the new laws that ban indoor smoking. We entered through the crowded door.

The wait for a table, away from the loud music, was ten minutes. The three of us stood there, tired and sweaty after a long night's work in the breezeless heat, until they showed us to our table.

Ted and Fred looked worn out. I'm sure I did, too. It was well past midnight and we'd been out there since 5 PM. It's a little Saturday night gig I have every weekend to bring in some extra pocket money. But it's hard work and it takes its toll. Don't know how much longer this old body can do it.

We got a booth next to the restrooms. At least it was quiet.

After we ordered a pitcher of beer and some food, we took turns going to the head to wash up a little.

We observed the tables around us. Unusual people, as it turned out.

Across from our table, a couple sat facing each other. They were large people, in their late forties, I would guess. He sported a bald head and a sparkling earring; wearing a tight black muscle shirt to show off his chest and biceps - obviously a gym rat; an odd profile, to say the least, the kind of face I've always imagined on Igor, Dr. Frankenstein's assistant; he was pale as snow and he had a morose look about him. After they ordered, he slid over to her side.

She was a sight to behold. Blonde, with extensions down to her waist; the bulk of Schwarzenegger and the face of Stallone, with black spandex wrapped around her like cellophane; more makeup than Tammy Faye Bakker. Not the kind of girl you want to meet in a dark alley...

The whole time we were there, I barely saw them speak and I never saw them smile. Strange people, by my reckoning.

Our pitcher arrived and the waiter filled our three frosty mugs. We mumbled an unenthusiastic toast to the end of the day and took a drink. Then Fred spotted red lipstick on his mug; bright and clear.

We called the waiter back and displayed the mug. "Sorry, I pulled it out of the clean rack...I don't know how it could've happened...I'll get you another one," he stammered, and ran off to fetch a clean one.

The other table across from ours had another interesting combination of characters. A lovely young lady - slim, shapely, pretty and with long hair - sat with two gentlemen. She couldn't have been too far past twenty, if that. We noticed her extensively when she went to visit the ladies room, and strutted past our lustful eyes.

Upon her return, when she sat down, we noticed the company she kept. They were two men in their forties. Both looked very frail and geekish, but they had an odd confidence about them. One had a curly moptop for a head, and he looked slightly retarded; he seemed to emit a low volume Beavis & Butthead laughter every so often. The other one, who had summarily corralled the girl in the sitting space reserved for one person, was a skinny little guy; he wore glasses and held a laurel crown of hair on his head. He had a devious, almost perverse manner about him. He put his face up close to her ear each time he spoke. One could only wonder what they were up to.

Our waiter returned with a clean, empty mug, and proceeded to pour some beer into it out of our pitcher. I said: "Great, thanks. But you owe us another beer." The guy looked at me dumbstruck, like he'd never heard anything so absurd in his life. He looked at the dirty mug, which was still on the table for our viewing pleasure, and said: "Well, this is a half beer. I'll show it to my manager and see if he wants to comp you guys a beer, but I tell you right now, he's going to say this is a half beer." Apparently the sip we took from the dirty mug was bought and paid for, and it accounted for a whole half beer even though the beer level was barely an inch or so from the top of the mug. For a second there, I thought he was going to pour out the dirty mug into the pitcher, so we could have our damn beer back.

Well, he took off in search of the manager while we stared at each other in disbelief. Already we were picturing the guy spitting into our food. I wasn't upset about the cost of the beer, but it seemed ridiculous to me that we didn't get refunded for, what amounted to, damaged beer. This guy was either new at this or he was an idiot.

Of course, the manager just had him bring us a fresh beer. The food was delicious, and hopefully unspat upon. We tipped the guy well, as is our custom. Then we walked out, said our good-byes and went our merry ways.

On my drive home I thought about the people I'd seen, and how odd they'd seemed. I marveled at their strangeness. Then it dawned on me. Perhaps I'm the strange one; I'm the one who doesn't quite fit in. Maybe the things I see as unusual aren't quite as irregular as those I see as normal. Hell, it's not like I get out much anyway. What do I know what's going on in the world? I don't even watch TV that much. I wonder if those people there were looking at us and amusing themselves at our expense; fabricating stories about our occupations, sexual orientations or things of the like.

One thing I am sure of: the world out there is not the same one I knew growing up. Things have changed; people have changed.

As unconcerned about what people may think as I've always been, I can't help but wonder what they think of me now.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant charactor sketches. I could almost see these freaks. As for what they think of you, who cares? They exist in your world only for your amusement that night.

I really have to lay off the caffeine in the late afternoon after a long oral argument in front of a hostile Court. I must still be spoiling for a fight, I ought to go back and erase that, but, you know what, I actually do think that. Except maybe I mean entertainment instead of amusement.

Either way, great post, Mick.


MICK said...

Thanks Random!

Anonymous said...

My pleasure. You are a pleasure to read, Mick!


Amber said...

I pay what is probably far too much attention to the sometimes odd people surrounding us at restaurants etc., when we're out in public too.

I wonder about the couples who never smile or talk. I wonder at horrendous clothing choices. I wonder what strange people like that do for a living that allows them to go out to eat in the first place.

Would I hire them? Probably not...but somebody obviously did.

On the other hand, I found nothing but pleasure in watching the two elderly women sitting at the table next to us yesterday at the outdoor cafe we had lunch at yesterday. They were laughing and enjoying themselves, complimenting the food and basically having a great time.

I was a little worried about the motorcyclist eating alone at the next table down, because he looked like he could be mean if he wanted to be, but when he got up to sit on his bike which was parked right in front of our table, he very politely turned to us and said he would be making some noise in a minute with his bike, but would soon be gone and to please forgive him for the annoyance.

I was so thrilled. Such a polite moment in a world that sometimes seems filled with rudeness.

Peoplewatching is FUN! :)

SN said...

what is that quote by who??
the only thing that stays the same is change.

and i know - don't care about what they think...but wonder...

at least i try not to care.

Sarah McBroden said...

I see people sitting together that don't talk and don't smile and I also wonder about them. Don't they realise that life is too short to spend it in the company of people that can't make you smile?

You described the people so well, I could almost see them sitting there.