I’ve since been 86’d after a year stint at the Down and Out Bar and I must say it was a good run. It was a run to proud of. My 86 was handled with utmost professionalism by the staff. I had crawled up the sorry excuse for a hill from The King Eddy to the Down and Out Bar and attempted what was to be my last breach. The security officer pulled me gently to the side before I walked in and in a low voice said my first name. This especially took me off guard as I had not expected him to know it and I felt awkward for not knowing his.
He continued on, “there have been too many instances.” I wondered for a moment if not knowing his name was one of the instances as I was only familiar with two minor infractions. I wanted to ask about the instances, but perhaps it was best not to know the details. Perhaps it was bad enough that I had not known the name of the man who let me pass into this bar on hundreds of nights. Perhaps this 86 was more than just. It was necessary. He then tapped me on the shoulder for what we both knew would be the last time. I nodded in agreement, stuck my hand and the only words that I could find were something along the lines of, “I understand. Thank you.” I continued home.
A ruling had been made in some weekly staff meeting. Video tapes replayed. Reminders issued. And finally tonight they had enforced it. As with most things; relationships, an 8-ball of coke, or a good book – they come to an end. Except for running out of coke you usually feel a little lighter about it. A little like a sailor once again standing on the dock gazing the sea. Pondering far away lands that seem to be rushing at him in the wind. And the seagulls seem to know it too dangling along shores squawking at the horizon every day. How could we forget about these moments that make your skin feel crisp?
But I had no shore or dock to stand on with my crisp skin. I was on 5th and Broadway and I was surrounded by drug salesman firing off lengthy lists of pharmaceutical offerings under their breath. It reminded me of this tunnel you can walk through in the Museum of Tolerance where racial slurs are whispered at you from tiny speakers. Though these weren’t racial slurs, they still had the power to cut men down. Downtown Los Angeles is full of men and woman that have been cut down; weeping on steps, sleeping on sidewalks with rats running over them. The stench at times is difficult to take. Man seems to have a knack for smelling worse than animals. Especially here. I ponder how close I am to joining them. Just a few more bad paychecks at the dealership and I’m finished.
Reflecting on my run as a regular I recall mostly the primary activity is gossip (and occasionally some fucking). Once you are settled in endless curiosities are made regarding your personal life. Only to find out later they were clearly and shamelessly shared with other regulars at later times. I suppose this would be the case at most bars, amongst their regulars too. As if our lives hold some special importance inside taverns or bars across america. That there surely must be some uniqueness to our lives because we’re not sweeping the garage floor at night.
I suppose if there was something unique, honorable or remarkable in any way about being a regular in a bar we would know about previous batches of regulars: Batch 14 from 1945-1946. Batch 32 from 1976-1979 and so on. But, I have yet to see any mention of these previous batches and no walls of honor. Yet, surely they thought admirably of themselves. Surely they too thought they had some special attachment to life. That their lives were a less common. Perhaps the truth is that regulars are actually just that. Regular people. Searching for something. Something not unlike the sailor pondering far away lands, except they don’t know they are sailors and they don’t know about the sea that stretches out and the reason for this just might be because they’re inside a dark box called, a bar. And they won’t leave.
Until there are too many instances.