Yay! On Monday, March 8th we opened up the big window in the “new room” (more on room monikers in the future) for the first time in 2010. I don’t think I’m alone in hating my toilet seat freezing my buns, and I know I have plenty of company celebrating the cessation of hostilities the weather instigated keeping us penned up indoors all winter. Anyway, earlier that afternoon my friend Kimmie, while surveying a pristine slice of Georgia wilderness which I call my back yard, commented on how fortunate I was to have won the bird-poop lottery. She explained that birds consume a variety of vegetation and that frequently seeds of various plants will pass undigested through their bodies and eventually plummet to earth wrapped in neat little white packets of fertilizer. Evidently the seeds I randomly drew this year were largely those of aesthetically pleasing flowers, Crocuses of a half dozen vivid colors among others. Turns out that what appears to be a load of shit when splattered on your lawn furniture or car often contains something beautiful and interesting if it can just end up in a place that will nourish it.
I realize this is a crappy analogy, but I see a strikingly similar phenomenon on a daily basis at the Yacht Club, where someone finds a place at the bar and invariably some turd burglar will plop down next to them and initiate a conversation. But often I have enjoy watching faces gradually change from grimaces of disgust to enthusiastic smiles of interest and even affection. Of course, as an ever-vigilant and attentive bartender I must, in a manner of speaking, referee these encounters, staying attuned at all times to tone and body language while filtering out the actual content of the conversations. (It’s not just that nosy people annoy me because I was brought up to believe eavesdropping is extremely rude and a sure sign of retarded social development, but it also turns out that the human brain can only store a finite amount of information, and the brain can be very cavalier about what it purges to make room for new stuff. Frankly, the last thing I need is for my brain to become full to capacity with inane bar chitchat while my arsenal of philosophy, theology and astrophysics gets deleted.)
Last year on St. Patrick’s day (ST. PATRICK’S DAY IS WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17th) an attractive young woman, who was at first put off by the scruffy, malnourished-looking man who squeezed in next to her at the bar, was soon pouring her heart out into what turned out to be a quite sympathetic ear. Because there was not yet a large crowd, and the woman punctuated her narrative with frequent requests for my opinion, I was able to grasp the general gist of her tale which was this:
On a previous St. Patrick’s day trip to Ireland she had hooked up with a small group of tourists who were being shown around Dublin by a man who they had to force to take a break and who was mortified when they bought him lunch (he had no money) and who, she mused, probably would have shown them around until he dropped dead had it not been for her uncommon perceptiveness, and she worried about all the not necessarily mean-spirited or selfish people, but the people who might not be uncommonly perceptive (she was finishing her third drink and was entering that phase of intoxication characterized by repetition, inappropriate enthusiasm, and slightly slurred speech but was nowhere near the phase in which one rambles on and on without ever coming up for breath, which in literature is known as fused run-on sentences, but which, as far as I know, has no analogous designation in conversation) like she was, and who might not realize that the poor chap really was incapable of saying no to any request, and lived in mortal fear of disappointing, and who probably had very few friends because he could not afford to be close to anyone who was not uncommonly perceptive and who would look out for his well being, even seemingly against his desires. She wanted to know if I, and the scruffy, malnourished-looking guy thought this was a sort-of an Irish thing.
I begged out of the discussion, pretending I was gettting a beer for someone, which they, not being regulars, fell for, and went to check on another sort of bird-poop scenario which had sprouted down the bar, this one involving a young man with his finger stuck in a James Joyce book to mark his page who was explaining to a vacant and violently unattractive woman that what he would do to get through these difficult passages was read the sentence without reading the parenthetical part in order to get the gist of the sentence, then go back and read the part in parenthesis. Otherwise, he said, he would get a headache.
The next crocuses, or “duo of disproportionate comeliness” were debating whether or not, in order to do something “good” you had to do anything at all. Their point of contention centered around the woman’s evidently extensive empirical research into the effects of laying around in bed all day. Such supine study, she claimed, had led her to work out the startling calculation that 99% of the calls she recieved since she got a cell phone were from people asking her if she would do them a favor. Needless to say she had long since stopped answering her phone, not, she wanted to make clear, because she was above doing favors for her aquaintences, but because she was moving from her bed into a new area of study in which she was categorizing the content of messages left with her answering service. She would not in any way acknowledge the call of anyone who didn’t leave a message. Additionally, what had once been just a vague, undefined irritation with people whose message consisted merely of “call me” was now crystalizing into a realization that these “call me” people were playing some sort of guilt/power game which betrayed their lack of trust in you as they jockeyed for a psychological advantage as if it were higher ground in a mortar exchange.
At this point we actually really started to get busy, and while I was “out in the field”, as we call waiting on tables, all the crocuses and bird droppings danced and swirled around as if they were playing musical stools. By the time I got back behind the bar and made sure all the body language and tones were in perfectly calibrated harmony I realized that it was time to announce The First Annual Yacht Club Fiction Writing Contest. The only rules are . . .
RULE # 1 – The title must be The Day The Yacht Club Was Gone.
RULE # 2 - It must be more than eleven words long. (Word count will be strictly enforced)
RULE # 3 - It must be presented in a tangible form. No technology must be required for me to read it.
RULE # 4 - You can’t write about Star WR-104 going super nova and zapping the Yacht Club with a Gamma Ray Burst, because that’s what I’m writing about.
Send submissions to 1768 Pennington Place Atlanta, GA 30316 OR hand deliver to 1136 Euclid Avenue on Monday or Thursday between 3pm and 5pm.
The prize for first place is so stupendously valuable that I dare not announce it for fear we will be innundated with submissions from fortune seekers.