One Friday afternoon this summer when I was running around, a friend called and said that he found out a “Meetup” Dive Bar group was going to Keenan O’Reilly’s. Knowing where this particular group is going saves everyone else (men and women) a lot of time from bouncing from bar to bar. Hold on, before you get started, this doesn’t make us perverts or stalkers. This is no different than going to a particular bar because you already know it’s going to be chock-full of bikers, butches, milfs or sugar daddies.
Think about it, every dive bar already has its own in-house drunks and whores (men and women). But what makes it special when a tour group shows up, is that everyone in the group has an out-of-town attitude.
When I got the call, I was over at that kayak place on Irving and Narragansett. Me and my buddy Angel were starving, so we decided that before we started drinking, we’d better grab a meal. Benny suggested getting a steak down the street at Sabatino’s. Which, according to him, is a perfect place for that third date (or that first craigslist date).
So, fifteen minutes later, we’re walking up to the door and I spot an old girlfriend, Nicole, sitting at one of the patio tables. Now, every guy has that someone special that they let get away, and I don’t mean the type that frees herself from your basement and the police find running down your street naked, like my cousin Tommy had, but that someone that you think about when you listen to Three Times a Lady. Mine was Nicole.
Nicole is beautiful, intelligent and full of life, but I was too wrapped up in work a few years ago to truly appreciate her and there’s not a week that goes by without giving some serious thought to calling her. Unfortunately, I heard she was dating a Serb who was making a fortune in vending machines and we all know what that means. But, that didn’t stop me from going over just to say hi and check up on how she’s doing. To say she looked nervous to see me when I walked up would be an understatement, which surprised me because she’s always been known as very outgoing. Then I saw why when her boyfriend walked up. He looked like Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, but without the Nazi uniform.
She introduced us, and as we shook hands, his mouth said “It’s always nice to meet an old friend of Nicole’s”, but his eyes said “They came to our village and killed ten, so we went to their village and killed a fifty”. I never wanted to walk away from anyone more in my life, even my ex-sister-in-law. This motherfucker even scared Angel and that’s saying a lot considering that between him and the other men in his family they have 100+ years invested in the penal systems in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. So, we acted like we were going inside to get a table, but instead we walked right through the kitchen and out the back door, before we ended up in the trunk of a ’89 Caprice.
Needless to say, we lost our hunger and only wanted to drink the yellow streaks off our backs, so we headed straight to the liquor store, picked up a pint of Wild Turkey, then drove over to the bar, sat in the car and had a few pops. After about an hour or so we started feeling normal and Morry had just called to say some people from the Meetup group had arrived, so we locked up and ventured inside.
Normally our strategy in a case like this is to sit tight for one drink and scan the crowd for the weak or wounded. Then we split up and listen in on conversations, as it sometimes allows us to shore up any doubt or confusion. But the tourists were sort of quiet and the only things I could hear was some old ponytail insisting to his old lady that Stranglehold had to be played at the wedding reception and an old bra-less regular starting a rumor that David Hasselhoff’s body had washed up on a beach somewhere.
I ended up joining in on a conversation between Benny and an old high school teacher of his and talked for about an hour and a half, before we realized that the place had just about filled up. That’s when I saw George talking to some broad that had to lean on the bar to keep from falling over. I wasn’t sure if she was a regular or part of the group, so I waltzed over to stick my nose in their business, and it turns out that she was part of the group and had interesting personality. Her right eye had a nervous twitch and she was trying to impress George with some magic tricks while standing at a forty-five degree angle. She must have impressed him, because he was doing his best to look like a high roller, as he propped her up on a bar stool and ordered her another drink and a bag of chips. I walked away sure that she was going to need someone to hold back her hair tonight.
By this time I was ready for another drink, and as I was standing at the bar near the door, I see Randy Seitz walk in. Randy is a living legend in the bar scene amongst men, a true Lorenzo Von Matterhorn. He’s worked his way up from selling extended warranties at Sears during high school to owning five small used cars lots and a couple of Laundromats. Laugh if you will, but if he clears $3K a month from each one, nice. Anyway, the guy can sell anything, anywhere, anytime. He could pick up your mom at your dads funeral. That said, he is the ultimate competitor, which means he doesn’t like to see anybody else win, and that my friends meant that our little excursion to Keenan O’Rielly’s was for naught.
Angel, Marty and I stood towards the rear corner of the bar with one of the regulars and “people watched”, as sissified as it sounds, for the next two hours. George joined us after he flamed out with the leaner. Evidently, the eye twitch thing was permanent and it freaked him out too much. In hindsight, he should have kept her leaning, because she fell off the stool just as we were leaving.