Sunday Night Drunks

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The old man grabbed Mike’s shoulder abruptly, then physically turned Mike to face him. “Saaaaaaaaaay! A little longer with me-saaaaaaaay!” He sang nonsense words in an off-key drawl, trying hard to harmonize with the inane music blaring from the overhead speakers. The words didn’t match at all.

“You know a guy like me and that’s over there,” he nodded his head toward the bar as he slapped Mike’s shoulder a few times, then he stumbled toward his bar stool, sat down, and took a swig of beer. He wore a long sleeve pullover and a ball cap over a pair of beige shorts, and he was likely in his late 60s. He immediately conjured images of Bobby Moynihan’s character Drunk Uncle from Saturday Night Live a few years ago.

Working hard to contain my laughter, I leaned in and whispered in my boyfriend Mike’s ear. “So that just happened.”

He turned to me, mock horror on his face. “What was that?”

And I just grinned. “Clearly, he is very interested in you. He tried serenading you! And then a guy like him and that over there!”

Mike fought off laughter. “What does that even mean?”

A feigned look of seriousness crossed my face. “Look, you have a free pass tonight. If you want to go home with that very handsome man, you are certainly allowed for tonight only.”

“No thank you!” Mike pursed his lips and narrowed his eyebrows, staring me down, then we both burst out laughing.

The bartender, a thick barrel of a man with a full beard, whispered an apology to us. “Guys like that, drunk this early on a Sunday night, well, let’s just say I’ve seen him do worse than that.”

We both ordered a gin and tonic, then sat down at an empty table to sip our drinks and chat. The bar was mostly empty. After a long weekend of hanging out with the kids, running errands, and working in the house, we thought we might head down to the local gay bar, the Sun Trapp, for an evening drink. I wanted to go early, Mike wanted to go late. It was a holiday weekend, I reasoned, so maybe it would be busy early, giving that Labor Day was the next day. So we compromised and arrived at the bar at 9:30. He was right, it was dead.

Random conversation between us varied from topic to topic. We discussed guys we used to date, our high school graduations, and what we had looked like as teenagers. We laughed at old family stories and held hands across the table. I watched through the window to where a solo man, clearly very drunk, gyrated on a dance floor all by himself to a techno-version of some song that should never have had a techno-version of it made. All in all, it was a lovely evening. I commented on how this didn’t feel like Salt Lake City, this felt like some small town gay bar in an unfamiliar place on a week night. And we laughed about that as we finished our drinks.

A half hour passed as we chit-chatted, and we decided we could do one more drink before heading home for the night. (I had to work in the morning, but he’d get to sleep in). We went back up to the bar to wait our turn, then heard a man walk up behind us.

He made a clicking sound with his tongue, appraising us uncomfortably, then he walked up to the side and looked us over. “Well, Charlie,” he said to his friend at the bar, “look at these gents. They don’t have an ounce of fat on them! Not that I’m complaining!” Mike gave an awkward laugh and avoided eye contact as the man continued. He clearly hadn’t looked closely, as there is at least one ounce of fat on me. “I mean, I don’t mean to be friendly, but as much as I enjoyed the view from the back, look at the view from over here! I better not be too friendly, Charlie, or the next words to come out of my mouth will be ‘drop your pants!'”

Mike gave me a look that indicated he wanted to roll his eyes. Just then the bartender indicated to the drunk old man that had been singing that his cab had arrived.

“I ain’t gettin’ in no cab!” he slurred. “I know I ordered it, but I ain’t going! And I ain’t cut off, even if you say I am or was!” He struggled to stand up from his stool, clearly outraged in his drunken stupor.

The new man continued speaking, and I finally looked over at him. He looked like a hippie, with a bandana around his head, and a long beard that extended past his rib cage. His face was old and weathered. He wore a baggy t-shirt to hide his ample stomach, and a pair of jean shorts.

“Not that anyone is asking me, but a few years back, I up and quit everything and now I’m driving a truck! I can have anybody I want back there. A while back, my brother-in-law told me he needed to find me a girlfriend, but I just told him, I don’t need no girlfriend, I just need me a sex slave! He called me crass, but I’m not afraid to say it! I’m 63 years old, what do I have to lose! Nobody wants any of this anyway! Now I just gotta find somebody who does!”

My attention went back to the previously singing man. “I’m not going, I say! I want one more!”

By the time I could turn back, the truck driver was hitting on a girl who had lined up behind me at the bar. “Well now, a pretty girl like you needs a drink! What do you want, honey?”

We left shortly after that and headed home. I contemplated all of the little bars in all of the little towns around the world, all with drunks just like these guys, early on a Sunday night, flirting blatantly with whoever walked in front of them. It was entertaining, but heartbreaking also in its way.

Sober and content, I drove toward home, jabbing Mike with my elbow.

“You were very popular this evening!”

He wasn’t flattered. Not at all.

Sisterhood: the Girls of the Valley: Mission District

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“We are, like, legitimately being abused. I mean, like, our grandmothers told our mothers to be nice and, like, trust strangers, or whatever, but that doesn’t apply when there is, like, significant trust being abused.”

Her voice sounded like the voice Nasim Pedrad used to use on Saturday Night Live to parody Kim Kardashian. Pedrad’s face would barely move as she spoke and her voice took on a nasal squeak to it, barely fluctuating in tone, making her sound like the snobbiest, snootiest girl I’d ever heard.

Except this girl wasn’t Kim Kardashian. She was heavy set and wearing sweat pants and a hoodie. Her blonde hair was pulled back tight into a ponytail, and she had no make up on. She was wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses and eating pupusas with her girlfriends at 4 pm on a Sunday. I couldn’t see her friends’ faces from my vantage point one table over, where I sat with my boyfriend, but they were also in sweat pants and hoodies, a bit overweight, with ponytails. I assumed that was their Sunday trend.

“Like, okay, I realize that we weren’t actually dating, right? We were fucking, not dating. But, like, still, he knows who my friends are, and he, like, knew that I hang out with Terry sometimes, and I heard him, like, say that he, like, wanted to get with her. He, like, thought she was sexy and would, like, say that to me. I mean, that it itself is, like, abuse, right? But then, he, like, fucked her! And, like, just casually mentioned it to me like it was no big deal! I know, right?”

I leaned in across the table while shoving a delicious bite of garlic-and-mushroom pupusa into my mouth and made eye contact with the boyfriend. I indicated a fork silently at the girls behind him. “Oh my god, this is delicious,” I whispered. He looked up, thinking I was indicating the pupusa, then realized I was eavesdropping.

“But it was a big fucking deal! He, like, legitimately hurt me! I mean, like, he wants to casually fuck me and also casually fuck some girl that I know and, like, sometimes hang out with, and then he, like, wants to casually mention it to me before he, like, casually fucks me again? I was hurt! I let him stay the night that time, but, like, I was genuinely angry and, like, hurt, and I legit didn’t know what to say.”

I took another bite without looking, my eyes wide on the exchange. This was the most delicious soap opera I had witnessed in some time. The girl’s voice kept rising at the dramatic parts, and she was using her fork to indicate points for emphasis. I looked back at my boyfriend, my eyes wide with enthusiasm, and he simply nodded and smiled patiently. He knows the side of me that likes to eavesdrop on occasion, and he knew I was already planning a blog as a result from all of this. I leaned in and whispered again. “I mean, I’ve heard of valley girls, but these are Valley. Girls.” He just smiled and nodded, taking a bite of beans with sour cream and guacamole. All of the like and legit and genuinely and legitimately and abuse words being tossed around were filling me with joy somehow.

“So, I’m pretty sure I’m swearing off men. I mean, like, that is the only solution for a while. I mean, except for the guys I’m casually seeing, they don’t count. But I’m not going to, like, actually go on a date for, like, a while. I mean, why would I do that when guys clearly can’t be trusted? I mean, this is just the latest example. Clearly, I have a lesson to learn here. Otherwise I’ll just, like, keep getting hurt.”

My eyes widened and I looked back at the boyfriend. I leaned in and whispered. “Hey! Do you remember that one clip from the Inside Amy Schumer show where the white girls are gathered around the table and one of them keeps talking about how the universe is trying to teach her things? Her car breaks down in front of a juicery or something and she is telling her friends about how the universe was trying to tell her she needed to drink more juice? And the point of the skit is that white girls are the worst? This is that! These are those white girls!” He smiled and nodded, taking another silent bite, and I was already looking back at the other table.

“We can be, like, a sisterhood. Cause you girls are there for me. I mean, like, what would I do without you?”

As the girls gave each other a little half hug with arms around the table, I noticed the three baskets of tortilla chips and three cups of salsa they had been munching on, and suddenly they were a little bit adorable. This was a screenplay. Three girls in their 20s eating what they considered to be ethnic food, wearing sweats and hoodies on a Sunday afternoon, and discussing their latest heartbreaks, calling it abuse because they had learned that one of the guys they were ‘casually fucking’ was ‘casually fucking’ someone they knew.

The boyfriend and I finished our pupusas and stepped back outside on the streets, where a large gathering of homeless people occupied one street corner of the Mission District. We walked past them, commenting on the bizarre concoction of concrete, Mexican food, body odor, urine, and cigarettes in the air.

“I think I might love San Francisco,” I said as I grabbed his hand and no one noticed. “I’m not sure I could live here, but I think I love it.”