Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Just Another Monday

I went to dinner at a newish Tex-Mex place last night that gets great reviews.  It was a big place full of tables, but we, of course, wanted to sit at the bar.  There were two seats on the corner which is where I like to sit so that I am not sitting side by side with my friend.  If we have to do that, I like my friend to be on my right side because my neck doesn't like turning left as much.  But at the corner, I barely have to turn my head at all. 

These were the only empty seats there, so I slid in next to a man my own age who had pushed the bar seat away from him and had pushed his own down so he could have imperial room.  I understand that.  I've done it, too.  So when I sat down practically touching his arm, I looked over and said in a joking tone, "I'll share your salsa, too."  The man's wife looked at me with a sour face and said, "Go ahead.  It isn't very good."  

The man scooted his stool over a bit back into his own space and turned his head sort of toward me.  It was obvious that his neck was arthritic, too, worse than mine.  He was doing the old man torso twirl and pulling  his eyes as far to the side as they would go, the tendons of his neck popping, the corner of his mouth stretching as every muscle in his neck and face strained to help.  

I've done that, too.  

Tennessee said something to them to which they barely responded.  O.K. Leave 'em alone, I thought.  

When the barman came up with menus, he asked what we would like to drink.  

"Can you make a skinny, spicy margarita with tajin?" Tennessee asked.

He sure could, he said, so we ordered two.  The barman did a good job.  

We perused the menu and Tennessee, a real talker, asked about a million questions.  I assumed his gummy was starting to kick in.  

"Can you make it with. . . yea, and some of that sauce from the shrimp taco. . . just see if they can put some on the side. . . and what would you recommend. . . . "

By the time he was done, I was pretty sure we knew all the ingredients in ten or so different dishes.  

"I'll have the chicken tacos," I said.  

"Do you want another margarita?"

"Yes," said Tennessee.

"Make it two.  What the hell.  It's our anniversary."

T grinned.  Later he would tell me the couple next to us looked our way with something akin to hatred.  

We were talking shit now and laughing.  In a bit, I turned to the fellow next to me and said, "You look familiar to me.  Do yo go to the Y?"  

"We used to," the lady said.  

"Yea, you look very familiar."

"Do you still go?"

"Yes, we both do."

Then the fellow turned toward me in his seat and said, "I thought you were Eddie Graham."

"The wrestler?" I asked for clarification.  Eddie Graham was one of the most famous and highest paid wrestlers in America when I was a kid.  You'd have to be of a certain age to reference him.  He was the good guy to The Great Malenko, a "Russian" bad guy.  The Great Malenko was my favorite.  I liked it when he would fight dirty and beat up on Graham.  But Graham was a real crowd favorite.  

"Yea, the wrestler," said the man.  

"No," I said pointing to T, "he's the wrestler."  

The couple was getting up from the bar slowly.  I've done that, too.  

As they walked past us, they kind of stalled for a minute to hear what T was saying.  Then the lady said, "I thought you were serious about your anniversary," she fairly snarled.  

"Yea, but you're not the kind of people to judge, right?" I laughed.  

They didn't.  

When they were gone, the barman came over to see how the food was.  


We were laughing.  "That couple wasn't so much fun," I said.  

"No.  They complained about everything.  I made her a spicy margarita and after I sat it on the bar, I wiped my eye, and my finger had some of the jalapeño juice on it.  Holy mackerel did that burn.  I was blinking and thought I was going to need to go to the hospital, and she was complaining.  I had to leave the bar and try to wash my eye out.  Is it red?"

He opened his eye wide.  

"No, it looks fine." 

"Man, that really burned."

A group of women walked in and three heads turned.  The barman smiled and nodded.  

"He likes them thick," T said nodding at me, "and young."

Here we go, I thought, looking at the bartender and shaking my head.  

"Yea. . . my uncle, too.  He's getting married again to a woman from Columbia.  It is his second wife from Columbia.  She has the same name as the last wife."

"They have a factory there," I said.  

"I like hispanic women because when I tell them, 'Lo siento, soy viejo' they say, 'no, no, es muy bien' and laugh.  It's a cultural thing, I guess."

As it turned out, he was hispanic on his mother's side and said that he was very familiar.  "I'm part of the club," he said.  I wasn't sure what club, though.  He was only twenty-one.  

"Is this on one check or two," the barman asked?

"It doesn't matter," I said.  "It all comes from the same account anyway."

T and the barman laughed.  

When we got the checks, T asked me what the bartender's name was.  

"Was it Gary?"

"It says Barbie on the bill."


It said Bar B.  

When the barman came back to collect our cards, T asked, "What's your name?" and I laughed, "Barbie."

The barman looked confused.  

"That's what it says on the bill.  Bar B.  Is it like a stage name?"

The kid looked and laughed.  "I don't know why they can't just have us log in with our own names."

"Oh. . . you don't want people to know your real name.  You'd want to use a pseudonym.  Barbie's fine."

We all laughed.  

"Maybe they could call it Bar 2."

T had driven.  My mother's ac had gone out again that afternoon, so I called T to tell him I needed to cancel on dinner because I might have to bring my mother over for the night, but he didn't answer, so I sent him a text.  He called back right away.  

"What's wrong with her a.c.?"

I told him it came on and then shut off again.  I thought it was probably the thermostat.  

"Does the fan come on?" he asked. 

"No, it won't come on at all."

"Check the float switch," he said.  I was just pulling up to my mother's house then, and the HVAC repair truck was there.  

"I'll call you back," I said.

When I walked into the house, my mother was sitting in a chair next to where the repairman was working.  

"Hey," I said.  "Was it the thermostat or the float?"

"It was the float," he said.  He was a young guy, a full sleeve tattooed on one arm and "If you want peace, prepare for war" on the other.  Both ears had one inch gauge earlobe plugs.  

"That's what my hillbilly builder friend said he thought it would be.  The thing is, if I could find it, I still wouldn't be able to fix it."

He laughed.  "I vacuumed the lines and ran some solvent through them.  I checked everything, the coolant and the compressor, and it's all good."

I went outside to call T. and tell him he was right.  

"Fucking A, homie."

But what he was happy about is that I would be able to go to dinner.  

"Let me talk to my mom a bit, then I'll meet you at the restaurant."

"I'll come over and pick you up at your house," he said.  I knew what that meant.  He wasn't going to let me have an early night.  

But that's a boring tale for a different day.  

I woke last night and remembered something I never remember well.  It's silly how the mind works, repressing and recalling things. . . whenever.  I think I have a disease, as they say, that hasn't any cure.  

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