Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Killing The Sunset

            This weather is fucking strange.
            I’m with friends, drinking out, ready for Spring. It’s everywhere. By day, the warmth demands liquid comfort. Nothing is better than drinking in the late afternoon with friends on a patio, beer in hand, letting the last light-orange glow pet the skin as we lounge with our feet up.
            We need the sun in New York. We need it like money. It’s Vitamin D we lack, hence the foul neurotic sometime bouts of mania us New Yorkers experience on any given day. And after a grey, dark Winter, these small, early respites of sun and blue skies are golden. My friends put back their pints:
            “Man, what is up with this change of weather?” I say to the group.
            My Well-Published Friend, Reuben, already embittered and a prince of Doubt, stares coldly behind his brown sunglasses: “Who gives a shit? The afternoon is beautiful.”
            Roland smirks: “I second that, Reuben. Hence the spring jacket I’m wearing. Look at Wyatt, he’s even broke out that 40-year-old Dickie’s blue button up. Oh, the tides are a turning.”
            Wyatt, puffing on a hand rolled cigarette, blowing smoke from his beard, leans back, explaining: “Well, you see Roland, I was going for the working class look. I’m a hard working man. Thank you for noticing.”
            We cheers to that.
            “Still, the weather is changing. Global Warming will kill us all. Another round?” Roland says, standing.
            Everyone nods.
            “If these are the end of days, it feels pretty fucking good. I’ll make the Apocalypse my bitch. Don’t forget the shots, Roland,” Reuben decrees.
            There is nothing better than right now. I look around, the bar is clean, a little place off Berry, everyone’s laughing and getting along.
Then it hits me, we could take it up one notch.
            “Fellahs. Let’s call 15 people and meet for the sunset at Berry Park,” I say.
            “Where’s that?” Wyatt asks.
            “North 15th, by McCarren Park. Best roof top ever.”
            Reuben slams his shot glass down. “Let’s fucking do it.”
            Wyatt looks over: “Is there women and booze?”
            I grin: “Does Mama Kennedy have a black dress?”
            And this is where the story goes to shit. What do you think happened to the young gentlemen and our little plan?  What could go wrong? We had everything going for us. The sun is out, the weather is warm, the boys are properly sauced, our buzz like a buoy in the water, staying afloat. We had 7 others agree to meet us there. The plan was perfect. 
            Now Berry Park has the most amazing rooftop, this is true, a perfect view of Manhattan, plenty of fine folks to leer at under the fading sun.
            That is until you want to get drinks.
            Our party has arrived, now we own the table, all 12 of us, chatting, lighting each other cigarettes, sneaking a bowl hit of weed every twenty minutes, and the sun is slowly disappearing behind the great monoliths of midtown. They even have a bar on the roof.
            Which is closed. On the first hot day of the year. Right? Stupid. Okay.
            “I’ll grab some beers downstairs,” I say. Wyatt joins me to help.
            “I gotta be useful for something,” he tells me.
            “You’re doing God’s work, sir.”
            We walk down the awkward long staircase that is made to kill drunk people and head over to the practically empty bar. There’s two waitresses arbitrarily standing beside the bar, a bored look in their eyes. Behind the bar, three, yes, three bartenders. The first guy looks like some weird Ukrainian pimp, bald head, bad retro sweater, 6’5”, khaki pants (always bad). The other is an emaciated girl with eyes sunk deep into their sockets. There’s another guy, a skinny, lecherous looking type, sort of the guy you’d think pays for Internet sex chat rooms, pacing back and forth.
            Everyone looks like they are high on drugs. And not in a rad Keith Richards way. More like Nick Nolte arrest photo high on drugs way. Me and Wyatt saddle up to the bar.
            There are bartender crimes galore over here. There’s only 5 other customers, other than Wyatt and I. First thing first, there are dirty empty glasses strewn across the bar. I actually have to grab a couple napkins to wipe off some dreck to rest my elbows on the bar while I wait.
Crime number two: everyone has their backs towards us. This is just a bartender rule of thumb. Never keep your back to the populace. It’s a real fuck you vibe to the drinker. I’m peeved already.
So Ukrainian Pimp Guy comes over, doesn’t smile a lick. Wyatt even tries to be charming. The guys face is a solid pink cube.
“What do you want?” he says, in some thick Communist accent.
“Gimmie the Pilsner,” I say, returning the kindness.
“No more Pilsner,” he huffs, then he’s off again, helping one of the drugged out waitresses with a question. Wyatt and I look at each other. Internet Sex Chat Room Guy now comes over. But he’s one of these bartenders who avoids the eyes of people. As if he’s he won’t be seen by the customer if he doesn’t acknowledge them, visually speaking.
“Excuse me,” I say. No response. He’s two feet away from me. He’s pretending not to listen.
I look down the bar. Every other customer looks pissed. Two girls angrily stroke their hair. A pack of guys stand stone faced, as if they just witnessed a car wreck.  There’s no music playing. Just some murmurs from the waiting customers.
3 bartenders. It’s been 6 minutes. We finally get their attention.  The Deep Eye Sockets Chick comes over. I sneak the big order quick, getting a couple of extra beers so I don’t have to come back down to this madness.
The thing is this people. You roll into my bar; you get a greeting, a smile, and beer faster than you can say Miller Genuine Draft. And that’s on my bad days.  I’ll cut the place some slack if it’s packed. I’m not that much of an asshole, but these bartenders are terrible.
We ascend the drunk killing stairs and make it back to our party. The Whiskey Twins (fine, fantastic literary characters who walked straight out of a Fitzgerald novel) smile and greet us.  There’s Victoria, the wild, chatty blonde, and her sister Anne, a brown, doe eyed people watcher.
“What the hell, you boys get lost down there?” Victoria asks, kissing me on the cheek.
“Don’t ask. Bartender Hell down there,” I say.
“It didn’t look that busy,” she says.
“And the bar up here is closed? That’s weird. On such a nice day like this?” Victoria says.
“Yes. I know.”
“Well, let’s get one of the waitress to help us,” Victoria says, pointing to the two waitresses from down stairs. “I’ll try babe, but I’m pretty sure they are on drugs or just don’t give a shit.”
Victoria nods, taking a drag from her cigarette: “Williamsburg Customer Service,” she says, grinning.  
This waitress is definitely a heroin addict.
I approach. “Hi. My friends and I were wondering if we could start giving you our drink order. It’s a little weird downstairs.”
She looks at me with strange, vacant eyes, as if she didn’t really work here, and she was just some chick I was bothering.
“What? Oh, yeah. My boss just told us to stop serving customers up here. They have to go down stairs,” she whispers, then exits with a “Sorry, dude.”
I return to Victoria.
“Verdict?” She asks.
“The boss doesn’t want them to serve up here,” I repeat in the waitress’s monotone voice.
Nodding, Victoria says: “Right? Why make anything easier for the customer.”
I brave it again downstairs; get two more beers from The Deep Eye Sockets Chick (7 minutes for each). Then they lose my credit card. Ukrainian Pimp Guy finds it, but when he brings it to me it is the wrong card. He charged some other poor sap 40 bucks. Now Internet Sex Chat Room Guy is on the case. He’s asking the waitresses for information. I stand, stunned.
Finally I’m back upstairs. And that’s it. The sunset was already gone. I still had my friends, but Berry Park killed my sunset.
Thanks Berry Park. Your beer selection is shit. You’re overpriced. You fired one of my favourite bartenders in Williamsburg for arbitrary reasons (The Bartender’s Bartender folks, she’s the shit), and you killed the first beautiful day of the season.
Losers. All of you, you being the managers and owners. And just like the Democrats this election, it’s time to get you’re fucking shit together.



1 comment:

  1. I really like that the sign above the bar looks boosted word art strait from Word Perfect back circa 1996.