My favorite haunt - the quirky and smoky, small and dirty bar with the cinder block walls and creaky hardwood floors, the place that thumps with a jazz club beat, that demands a cigarette-panted hipster snapping her fingers to a rag-tag rhythm - Web House is in decline.
It all started before the bar opened - nearly three years ago now, or was it seven years ago when the Mad Man and the Russian first made their acquaintance? Only time or the fates will tell. Another regular and I were talking about the patterns of this our favorite hole-in-the-wall.
the Mad Man bloviates on the tragedy of his life - the abusive lover who alienates affection and has a substance abuse issue, the never-ending flow of funds from his account with little or no return, he drinks and we all suffer. Eventually, the stress and (in)fighting get to be too much and Manny retreats. He focuses on work, stays away - at their country home - removed, relying on phone calls, emails, and wild suppositions to comfort himself.
Meanwhile, the Crazy Russian indulges; the top shelf liquor is free-flowing, the cash drawer a refillable piggy bank of 'mad money.' You don't tell the owner no, least of all one with sniper training and easy access to an assault rifle.
When the week-long binge is done, the Russian sleeps for days and the Mad Man returns to pick up the pieces. It's a pattern that, although it has only played out over the past two and a half years, feels somehow age-old and time-honored.
Quite recently, in the middle of last week, when the Russian curled up on a bar-room couch, smelling vaguely of day-old crack and fresh cigarettes, I showed up to a bar with no electricity and very few supplies. They were out of gin, out of beer, out of ice, and Coca-Cola. The dedicated drunks, among them two professors, a high level executive, three bartenders, and a BMW mechanic sat in candlelight, our tabs recorded on a cocktail napkin. Cell phones and a lone flashlight lit the way into the kitchen to fetch the last cubes of ice or a clean high-ball glass. It was bohemian, broken - our musical accompaniment the hold music on the electric company hot-line the Mad Man put on speaker.
As it grew darker, the night coming on quickly, and the CPS people still within their window of 4PM to midnight to come back and restore power, the Straight Boyfriend and I sat in the front room, doing shots by candlelight and relying on the street lights out front to find our cigarette packs and lighters.
He worked there for a month - maybe more - became a damned good bartender, and even took on the dubious task of managing the bar, picking up liquor orders, coming in on his days off to help with this task or that, and he even marshaled the biggest and most appealing event Web House has to offer - the once monthly First Sunday art happening. All that said and done, he cannot collect a paycheck.
I said to him just last night that I think I am the only bartender who ever worked there and was paid. The various friends, acquaintances, and former lovers who manned the bar relied on tips and free (gourmet) meals for their compensation. My greatest check while working there was somewhere around one hundred dollars, and the $42 check I received one week bounced (although it was made good within minutes of a phone call to the Mad Man). The darling boy's tips were larger than mine ever were, but that's another matter. When the Mad Man refused to pay him - Monday - the Straight Boyfriend took his work (his art) and his dignity and walked away.
There is much to be said for having the balls to stand one's ground, and I will say that for the kid, he's got style.
And on the subject(s) of style and substance, my dear Ova the Top - he with the lazy eye, who can suck his own dick - is getting married. Tom's lover of the past year or so, Daddy, proposed two days ago. It was supposed to be a surprise, and would probably have happened while Tom was in Vegas, in July, for his birthday ... but life happens.
We joked about this months ago. Ova the Top's mother was / is planning a surprise party, and Daddy had his own surprise (party) planned - a porno shoot. The two of them were going to make a porn (for wide release, by a small fetish studio) - a fitting 30th birthday gift for a leather daddy and his boy. Daddy is moving here, to be with Ova, probably in just a few weeks ... as is one of Daddy's oldest friends, who will rent a room in Ova's house.
This prompted me to observe that Tom's household will soon include: a Daddy, another Caddy, a Yote, and an Odie ... and a drag queen in the second bedroom.
Yote is his hyper-active Coyote and Odie the drag queen's chihuahua.
It is another lazy Friday, and I am looking out on this (potentially) quiet weekend. Things have gone far South with the guy I'm seeing, and my romantic prospects have slipped quietly back into an uncomfortable slumber. Much as I loathe hearing, and would otherwise avoid even thinking it, I find some solace at this moment, in the uneasy knowledge that my time will come. I have absolutely nothing - no romantic history or successful flirtation(s) - to cite as evidence, and the not-so-secret truth is that it may never come, but for now ... it is just a lazy Friday.