It’s a good time to leave. St. Patty’s Day in Boston is dangerous for a non-denominational drunk like me…”
by laine perry
True Beauty is a bartender over at J.T. Cavanaugh’s place. I go over there every Tuesday for tacos. If a bar doesn’t have tacos on Tuesday’s I can’t get behind it, even if it’s an Irish bar. The first time I bought a drink at J.T.’s they were serving green beer which was all right by me. I don’t care what color my beer is. Beer is beer. It so happened that night was a Tuesday, and the only thing to eat in the place was a bag of Cheetos that’d been handled, considered, and decided against by I’m guessing, at least a third of the regulars. That might have been my last drink at Cavanaugh’s despite the proximity to the dry cleaner I slave for. I had set my money on the bar along with a suggestion I had scratched on a bar nap, “Taco Tuesdays!” I was holding the brass door handle in full view of the parking lot when I hear a shout like a war cry, “Gaucho!” He’s paunchy but tall. His hair is thinning. He has eyes like my dad’s. They twinkle as if the money ran out long before the mirth would. “Not a bad idea,” he shouts. It’s a good time to leave. St. Patty’s Day in Boston is dangerous for a non-denominational drunk like me.
I come back in the next week and True Beauty introduces himself to me and untying his apron asks me to mind the bar and the nodding heads on my side of it. I’m off work maybe ten minutes and working again, this time for free. The guy next to me has a 1.1 inch line of spittle hanging suspended from his left jowl. If it would result in the change I want I’d suggest the guy switches that drool to the right. It’s hard for me to choke food down without that type of thing screwing with my appetite. I need at least three or four drinks before I can get a sandwich past my mouth. I wonder what I am supposed to do, serve myself a draught? Before I can commit any serious crime True Beauty’s standing in front of me with a lump of raw hamburger under his wing and a head of lettuce in his enormous, outstretched palm. “Here you go Gaucho, you know how to put this together?”
True Beauty didn’t have devastatingly good looks. The more I looked at him, the more stories he told, the more handsome he became. He was a sincere listener. I could tell him things I didn’t think I’d remember myself once the alcohol wore away. Some times True Beauty would correct me. Facts about my own family, about my history, he would have memorized these. For instance he would know whether it was an empty bottle of Wild Turkey that my father had had his throat slashed with, or some other brand. That’s the quality women always say they wish they could find in a man. Women were looking for a man who cared enough to remember the details of each individual he came across, or at least her details, her history.
True Beauty has a girlfriend but he doesn’t like her. She’s wiry with faint acne scars and a long, black bristled mane that trips her a little if she’s had too many grasshoppers. She wears red wranglers that might have fit her back in the seventh grade, before she gave up her short academic career. She’s supposed to be some type of poet or so goes the local lore, or at least a few opaque comments in the men’s room. She was to give a reading tonight. She gave us two badly garbled lines and booked it to the ladies and then out to her blue bug in the parking lot. That’s the problem with her; she doesn’t make much of an effort. She sobered up and came in for another try but True Beauty wouldn’t have it. He put her to work chopping onions for the tacos. Whatever is going on back at True Beauty’s place must make it a prickly place for a man to lie down. One of these nights I’m going to ask him to explain it to me. I don’t want to put him off me though. I want this night, this continuity, and these tacos.
(illustration: kurt eisenlohr)
I drink too much. I’m cranky, and I laugh all of the time. I only have one pair of shoes: black converse. When I grow up I’m going to comb my hair and smoke a hooka. More of my stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.