Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ban this ...

i am, infrequently, forced to buy cigarettes at the pioneer for all sort of reasons that combine laziness, addiction and having not forged any sort of emotional connection to the extra two dollars it will cost me to buy them in a bar rather than a gas station.

i did it a few days ago. the bar was empty, save for biggie and ed grimley, who cheered my arrival with a level of frivolity that would suggest they actually recognize me when they are sober. they don't. and the former is my downstairs neighbor; the latter a sort of address unknown character who frequently hunkers down in the downstairs dining room on a feather bed and comforter i can only assume were stolen from a laundramat.

six hours and a throat-numbing amount of gin earlier, these clowns may have passed me on the steps and reintroduced themselves: hi. i'm biggie, this is my friend ed grimley. i live downstairs! we like to party! sometimes we pass out on your top step, if we make it home. haha! and you are ... ?

from the corner of the bar i heard a gentle mew: christa?

it was my landlord. his tear ducts dripping with bud light; his mood suggesting that somewhere, hours earlier, he had fallen face-first into an oozing mess of free chicken wings during halftime of the vikings' game. here he was now, playing golden tee and coicidentally wearing a golf shirt still bearing gap-caliber creases.

i chatted with him for a few minutes.
he told me how he'd gotten the shirt on sale.
i packed my cigarettes.

today i was back at the pioneer for another quick fix. i made my purchase and walked out into the street.

"hey, sister," a man said to me from the shadows.
"huh? wha?" i said.
"i like your hat," he said.
i squinted at him.
"thanks. do i know you?" i asked.
"nah. i'm just being friendly," he said. "having a cigarette ... where are you going? did you just stop in to hit a cash machine?"
i held up my pack.
"i really like your hat," he said. again. "i'm an old dead-head, so i can appreciate a hat like that."

[i got this hat at urban outfitters. i didn't, like, find it crammed into jerry garcia's armpit.]

"are you coming from luce? or are you just out, like, walking around?" he asked.
"just walking," i said, walking away. pretty sure that this man has just inferred that, based upon my hat, i'm either a stoner or a hippie -- not to mention, his sibling.

but really, i wasn't thinking that hard about any of this conversation. instead i was having a flashback to my last trip to the pioneer. the previous day. my landlord, the golf shirt, packing the cigarettes while we chatted.

this is when i realize that i'm pretty sure i smoked half of my cigarette in the bar while talking to him. i remember not knowing what to do with the foil, as there wasn't a garbage can nearby. i didn't want to set it on the counter because it seemed rude. i'd jammed it in my pocket and then i'm pretty sure i lit my cigarette, chatted, and left.

no one said a word.
this is how i know that in some places, i'm still above the law.


L Sass said...

What a cast of characters at your local bar! The closest bar to me (on the UES of Manhattan) is a manly man martini bar where the average patron is 65 and the average patron's income is, like, one kajillion dollars.

Needless to say, I don't hang out there.

Beverly said...

The point that stands out to me is a stranger on the street asking, "Hey, did you just hit the cash machine?"