I have been a stranger in a strange land (Exodus 2:22)
If Moses thought the land of Midian was strange, he should have been with me last night at the bar in the land of Mitten. It wasn't strange in that "isn't that odd?" kind of way. It wasn't strange in that "Hmmph. Weird. Oh Well" kind of way. It was strange in that "Who on earth are these people, and how did I get here?" kind of way.
In the olden days (We're talking Reagan era -- alive Reagan, that is) bar night in the old college town was Friday night. Classes were over for the week, and it was neither surprising nor unreasonable to find students stumbling to and from their favorite watering hole to celebrate the end of another week of academia. This continued on Saturday night as an approved weekend activity. Sunday was generally reserved for sleeping it off, and then doing some half-hearted cramming before Monday classes began again.
Somewhere along the line -- after my college days were over -- Friday bar night creeped like Kudzu backwards in time, until Friday bar night was now Thursday bar night. Someone, somewhere deemed Friday and Saturday to be an insufficient amount of time to achieve the appropriate level of drunken stupor required to erase the stress of the week, so an additional 24 hours were added. Evidently this was not a difficult transition, as the university class schedule had already all but given up on Friday classes anyway.
If truth be told, nowadays, for the most part, my bar activity has pretty much dried up. But I went out last night -- WEDNESDAY NIGHT -- to sit outside, drink a beer, listen to some live music and celebrate with the lawyer-to-be upon the completion of his bar exam. Remember, not only is it a Wednesday night, it's also summertime, when most students are enjoying firewater in their home town, not mine.
So. Wednesday night. Summertime. I drove into the Kingdom of TunaVille at approximately 6:30pm and discovered a billion people, all lined up in front of the drinking establishment. I parked the car, walked across the street and up the steps to the restaurant, bypassing the entire line of prospective stumblers. I told Black Pantsed Bouncer The First (BPB-1) that I was there to meet someone who was already here....on the patio. BPB-1 frowned and said, "that's going to be a problem." I asked why, but he gave me that FBI "If I told you, I'd have to kill you" look and said I'd have to talk to Black Pantsed Bouncer The Second (BPB-2).
I waited while BPB-2 finished his current interrogation. He turned to me and I explained again that I was meeting someone who was already here and had a table on the porch. BPB-2 looked at me and said, "I.D. Please". I broke into a HUGE grin that said, "I'm 42, and I thank you" as I fished out my ID. He took his 79-cent black Bic pen and branded me with a microscopic line -- The kind I make TinyTuna wash off her hands nearly every day after school. I was about to ask about "the problem" and he just waved me inside.
Seeya Standing In Line Losers!
I found my gang and settled in for some beer and conversation. The weather was gorgeous, The music was good (I didn't wince once!) and it was nice to see five years of law school and three months of studying evaporate into the night air.
But oh my goodness. The people.
The bar people.
(Worse Than Pool People, In Case You're Keeping Score)
The bar people were everywhere. Measure for measure, I'd put my plague of bar people up against your plague of Cicadas any day of the week. Cicadas swarm? Bar people swarm. Cicadas are gross and inconsiderate? Bar people are gross and inconsiderate. Cicadas are stupid and can't fly? Bar people are stupid and can't walk. Cicadas make loud obnoxious noises? Bar people make loud obnoxious noises. And I'll raise you one: Cicadas don't have cell phones. Cicadas emerge from the ground to have sex? Bar people... Well, you see where this is going.
And it was WEDNESDAY. Cicadas not only have timing, they also take a 17-year nap. Not bar people. And (in case you've forgotten) this was WEDNESDAY.
So needless to say, there were some prime people-watching moments. The men (with the exception of the Black Pantsed Bouncers and my illustrious party of grown ups) looked like they had either just gotten out of bed, or had just finished playing three hours of basketball. But compared to the women, I would have taken the Rumpled Stiltskin look any day.
The women. What can I say here? The women promoted literacy by wearing skirts so tight I could read the size and brand of their thong. There were skirts so high and shirts so not-low-enough that I thought I was on the Poseidon adventure, where everything is upside down. The shoes, they were chunky and funky and would have served well in case of a flash flood. There were toe rings and belly rings and nose rings and I'm not even going to look to check out tongue bolts or anything else.
To say something positive: Their purses, tucked neatly directly under their armpit, almost always matched...something. Good show!
Throughout the evening the bar people stumbled and the wait-staff fumbled and at one point, we watched our tray of drinks take a detour down a girl's front. It was funny until we realized it would now take another twenty minutes for Subway boy (our waiter was Jerrad) to milk the magic beer cow and bring us another round.
Finally, the dreaded time came
(scary music Duh-Duh-DUHHHHH)
and I had to go inside and find....the restroom
(scary music but louder DUH-DUH-DUH-DUH-DUHHHHHHH)
As I left the comfy confines of ye olde porch and opened the door to go inside, I was magically transported into my worst nightmare. It was wall-to-wall people (IT WAS WEDNESDAY, FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD), and it would have been easier to cross the La Brea Tar Pits on Pogo Stick than to make my way some 25 feet to the promised land. Sure, there were the stumblers and fumblers, but inside there were also pool-stickers, gropers, groupies and General Revelistas -- Oh My! -- each armed with a beer the size of a bassoon, blocking my path.
I made my way past several cocktail-napkin clad girls and found the bathroom. Little did I know that I was supposed to bring Steinway the Schooner of beer WITH ME into the bathroom. There were so many beers lined up on the sink, I started looking for the portable wet bar. Never in my life have I seen people take their fermented beverage of choice into a bathroom. As I stood in line, half-bemused and half-horrified, some considerate purple-thonged (Victoria's Secret) woman in a too-short white skirt told me I had better grab some toilet paper from a different stall, because these were all out. She pointed me to a stall, but told me I shouldn't look inside.
I took her at her word.
After crossing back over the River Styx and returning to the surface known as the outside patio, I returned to my chair and my beer (I'm sorry I didn't take you for a walk...I DIDN'T KNOW!). People watching was still at a premium, and I soon discovered another new and unusual sight: Butts, as far as my eye could see. If you were looking from the other direction, you would have seen a row of heads with a cell phone glued to one ear and a finger crammed in the other. Unfortunately, I got the bad end of the deal. No phones. Just butts.
Finally, it was time to go. I hoped to auction our table off to the biggest chump still in line, but I'm sure Black-Pantsed-Bouncers Numbers 1-2 wouldn't allow it. As I left and walked past the line that had not gotten any smaller in three hours, I thought back to my own college days, and decided that right here and now, I was better off being like Moses: a stranger in a strange land. So I thought to myself, "Self? What would Moses Do?"
I took two tablets and called it a night.