Nobody Said It’d Be Pretty
After a tiresome day at the joke I call a job, there’s nothing more desired than a blow job and a beer.
Since I can barely support myself with the coins I’m paid, it goes without saying the blow job is off the table. All I have to look forward to at the end of a shift – a shift I’ve usually contemplated self-harming – is a cold bottle of goodness.
I can hear the joint on the North Side calling my name as I present the CTA pass to deduct its $2.25.
Sitting on the old train car, with the drunk and the lost, I feel pretty comfortable, for I, too, was once lost. Found direction in the bottle, I like to claim. But anybody who knows anything about this, that or the other thing will tell you of their expertise in the demoralizing effects of alcohol on the human psyche. I, for one, would much rather drink seven pints of PBR and piss on an electric fence while standing in a pond than believe them.
Not your typical hole in the wall
Most places on the North Side cater to “Money” or those with money from trust funds. These places fill with preppy douche bags with popped collars and three-quarters bottle of whatever hair grooming gel is cool that week. Wearing polos with their favorite car emblem embroidered on the left lapel, drinking vodka-Red Bull and chasing them with top shelf Tequila, all while trying to hit on the woman wearing the shortest skirt. But the place I’m headed is much different.
There are a plethora of small, round tables which seat anywhere from two to twenty. The tables for two get used, but nowhere as often as the giant table for 20 in the back does. It’s an old gal, and she’s seen far too much to try and describe here. Most everybody who has been entangled in talks, discussions, arguments or the plan of attack against all the cowardly authors/poets/musicians of the World have scribbled their names onto her. And she’s covered with them – and then some.
Let the good times roll
Its top, edges, the bottom…covered with names of all who’ve sat at her. The original owner of the place tried to wash away the names back in the ‘50’s, but in vain. The names of many would vanish for a few days, but each time there was an opening, somebody put back on the names they could recall.
Stepping up from the sidewalk to the front door, you feel as if your life is going to change. And for most of us, the first time did change us. Those of us who’ve changed ourselves, our minds and our lives just by walking into this place have all realized, life, isn’t at all what they told us it would be. Life doesn’t have to be the way they tell us it should be. The way we want life to be, is the same way many others want it to be as well:
- A framed photo of the old, bearded smoker who spit words out of a whiskey stained yapper named Ray rests just next to the window on the East wall.
- The women with nose rings and sleeves of tattoos move to the beat of their/our own drum as they swing lazily to the song on the dance floor.
- The memory of a 70-year old man’s birthday party watches over all of us – hosted by 20-somethings who speak from their asses about wars, literature and the government – sing Happy Birthday William to the old cat on a chair at the big table. He’s smiling at them all. Not because he thinks what they are doing is nice, but because he knows their ideas on the topics they choose to speak about – wars, literature and the government – are all fucking wrong.
- A picture of Bob Flanigan with no shirt on and clothes pins pinching his nipples, ears and arms hangs on the wall behind the bar collecting the lingering smoke from the butts we’re not supposed to burn inside public places thanks to a fine Illinois law.
- A photo of Bucky Sinister’s bottom lip with the word POEM tattooed on the inside hangs above the urinal in the upstairs shitter.
- An unframed photo of a half naked brunette getting her left nipple sucked by a bearded guy in a flower print button up graces the South wall next to the juke box with the words, “We Miss You Charles” written on the wall under it.
Take it or leave it
A photo covered with cracked glass of an angry looking man, with a stars and stripes plastic hat atop his head, hangs next to the cooler filled with beer and above a bowl of dog treats. A pint glass on the ledge rests next to it with the name Allen etched into it.
You’ll see our reason for visiting this place when you leave. Next to the door hangs the picture that pulls it all together for each of us low-life, beer guzzling, truth telling, cock suckers who visit. Black and white. A man leaning against a brick wall. Greedily dragging his cigarette. Watching out over his city. Taking it all in. Looking for his next poem. Trying to write his next story in his head. This picture reminds me, it reminds us, that nobody said it would be pretty; this thing called life…