Wednesday, April 11, 2007

For No Particular Reason

Something curious happened last Friday night…

“Do you want to meet us for happy hour?”

“Meet who?” I ask.

“Just me and a bunch of people from work. Nothing crazy. We’re gonna go to a bar near my office.”

“Okay. Tell me where I gotta go.”

“We’re meeting up at a place called the Black Finn on Fifty-Third and Third, right by the entrance to the subway,” she said. “You’re taking the train, right?”

“Yeah, that’s the E. I’ll be there around seven.”

Now, at seven o’clock, the Black Finn was very nice. I grew up in cookie-cutter New York spots like this, and their atmosphere is always familiar and comforting to me. The interior was brighter and breezier than your typical midtown Irish bar. The bartenders were fast and efficient, and there was a decent selection of beer on tap. I noticed that one of the “hot chick” bartenders had absolutely no idea how to pour a pint of Guinness, but since I don’t drink the shit – too stereotypical for me – I didn’t pay this much mind and certainly didn’t hold it against the place.

So I drank. And drank. And drank some more. I spoke at length to people I’d just met about all sorts of shit. I watched the end of the Yankee game. I went outside for some air and shot the shit with the bouncer, who turned out to be a halfway decent guy. I came back in and drank some more. It was fun. Time passed.

And then I went upstairs to take a leak and saw the bathroom attendant, his wares spread out across a table. Uh oh.

Now, Irish bars don’t have bathroom attendants – at least not the ones I customarily patronize. They’ll have a couple of urinals, a couple of stalls, and a sink to wash your hands. The better ones are kept clean. The majority reek of urine and disinfectant. All they ask in return, provided you’re a hand-washer, is that you fetch your own paper towels or press your own button on the air dryer. That’s all. Even at my worst, I’m capable of taking care of business in the bathroom by myself. I prefer it that way, in fact.

This woke me up some. Trouble was afoot. The presence of a bathroom attendant in a bar is never a good sign, and all five senses were up and firing as a result. As I moved back downstairs to return to our group, I noticed that the music had changed, as well – from a tasteful jukebox mix of things I liked, to…

Club music. The dance cancer.

“Jesus,” I said. “When the fuck did they start playing this shit?”

“Look around.”

Sure enough, the place was packed to the fucking rafters with Guidos. Saturated with them. I’d been so preoccupied with my immediate perimeter that I hadn’t seen the occupation, but the Gweeds were everywhere. In about a two hour period since I’d last taken stock of the bar’s demographic, everything had changed. Each way I turned, I saw scads of them – dozens of vertically-challenged spiky-headed cocksuckers clad in blue Italia fleece, frantically scanning the room in search of someone to irritate. Guidos aren’t happy unless they’re hassling someone. I’d been down this road before, and it wasn’t my road of choice. I snatched my coat from the back of a barstool and put it on.

“Be right back,” I said, my hand on her elbow.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“I gotta go outside and make a call.”

Of course, in any establishment frequented by Guidos, the words “excuse me” are completely devoid of meaning, so there were about a half-dozen near-fights by the time I made it to the door. I vaguely remember grabbing one young gentleman by the elbows and moving him brusquely to the side when he insisted on standing his ground. You have to do that sort of thing to Guidos when they dig in.

Outside, I called Johnny the Cop.

“Dude, you wouldn’t believe this fuckin’ place I’m at.”

“Where are you?” he asked.

“In the city. Place called the Black Finn on Fifty-Third.”

“What about it?”

“I been here all night,” I said, “and it’s fuckin’ filled with fuckin’ Guidos!”

“In midtown?”


“Geez,” he said. “That’s pretty random.”