Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Where you been, Mac?"

At Gallagher's
Originally uploaded by Mac(3).

I only have a blurry belchy blackout-filled idea where October went. It disappeared into the bottom of a cheap domestic beer can.

Working two jobs and somehow, accidentally, blowing off a lot of my friends, I found myself at Gallagher's (#264) on most every Friday night during October and November until early Saturday grim mornings (fuck! It's December already!?!)

I'd awake late Saturday afternoons to find that strange happenings had occurred within my apartment while I slept: a bookcase pulled away from the wall, a half-eaten sandwich on my bedstand, all my clothes on the living room floor, a plate upside-down on the kitchen floor, a candle coaster on a random window sill, or empty beer cans strewn all over the kitchen floor to name but a few.

I'd try to piece together the last minutes of my evening before I fell asleep, but memory would fade abruptly at that point of opening Gallagher's front door to leave. Did I take a cab? Did I walk up Clark or Wollcott? Did it matter?

All through 5 years of college and a little over ten years living in Chicago, I'd only blacked-out once...for twenty minutes on my 21st birthday. It was funny, and sort of amusing. I thought I only said, hello" to the woman sitting on the bar counter next to my stool; but, according to D.K. and A.R., I'd actually held a half an hour conversation with this short blonde woman.

"Did she seem pissed or anything?" I asked A.R. the next day.
"No," he assured me, "she actually was laughing and seemed to be having a food time talking to you."

But when you go out into the night alone, there is no one to watch your back or assure you that you were perfectly fine. And the blackouts? Like anything else that happens to humans, we learn to adapt. I wake up, stumble around the apartment, make sure nothing is broken, check the placement of keys, and feel relieved that "no babies died."

In any event, I am drawn back to this place over and over again. It's close, there are Latina bar girls there who will sit with you for a drink, and it's open past 3, giving me time to drink my fill. Drown the Blue-haired Demons and wash the Banking World Dust Boredom out of my throat. I drink alone for the most part, watching the Mexican men drink at the bar and the bar girls rush around the room, laughing as the men buy them over-priced, watered-down drinks. I lean over the bar slightly to get a better view of them dancing to ranchero music or to get a better view of the other bar girls who come into Gallagher's from another Mexican bar down the street somewhere after two o'clock (on a warmer night, I'll look for this one). Sometimes another guy will attempt to hold a conversation with me; I in my broken Spanish, and he in his broken English. Other than that, no one really bothers with the Solo Gringo at the bar. Only screwed with a couple of times: one guy threw napkins at me because I wouldn't ask one of the bar girls to "let me smell your pussy" in Spanish. Another time some one stole my camera from my coat pocket while I was in the bathroom. And another time, some dork kept asking me to shout "Mamasita!" (over and over and over). Pick on the Chico Blanco.

But usually I am just left alone to go deeper into my cups and make broken Spanglish small-talk with Tanya and Bianney, the bartenders. Or they'll buy me a beer for no reason, or give me their phone numbers to call them next time I come to the bar. No, I don't get it.

I used to invite friends to come along on my trek to Gallagher's, but now... now I think I'd rather go alone. It's my secret place now. My only sense of adventure in this boring life I'm seem to be stuck in. Of course, if a pal wants to come along, I won't say no; but, I know the night will be different. Not good or bad, just different.

I'm not even sure what I mean there.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman named Tina started working there. She speaks English, so now I get the added fun of getting some of the inside gossip of the bar. Rumors: Nacho, the owner, (Nacho?!?) wants to turn the place into a "white" bar, for the money. Someone is stealing $200 a night from the till. She thinks she knows who stole my camera. The manager asked her to sleep with him. One of the workers shouldn't be working there. One bar girl gets bigger tips because she lets patrons grab her tits and ass.

Mostly we talk about her kids, the bar, her crazy sisters, her pole-dancing days, and what's going down in the bar that night. When she's not freak-dancing her ass on my thigh (because it cracks her up how nervous and embarrassed I get), we'll talk and (depending on what side of me she's standing on) I'll see either the words "Hope" or "Destiny" floating in front of my eye, the tats on her arms. I find the sight both comforting and ironic depending on how blotto I am at the moment.

Some Friday in the future we're supposed to go to Star Gaze so she can cruise women.

I'll just be going along to see what happens...alone at the bar.


Fresh Talent said...

Your writing hasn't suffered in your absence.

Anonymous said...

star gaze...? wait a minute...


Mac said...

Thanks, Fresh, that means a lot to me.

And Sully, yep, you can find ladies who like ladies about anywhere..ha ha.
I don't think I've been to Star Gaze since my 32 Birthday with you two.