Thursday, August 21, 2008

Barroom philosophy

The fucking Beatles embark upon their mission to subvert the youth of America.

The other day Sonia Sunshine just had to ask: "What is the most ridiculous conversation you've ever had with a drunk person?" Sonia, I love you dearly, but some stories are just too good to throw away at the bottom of somebody else's comments thread.

One of the things I miss about my old stomping grounds are the neighborhood bars. My hometown was mostly settled by Germans (those few of you who know my surname see where I fit in), and those old Germans loved their beer. Just about anywhere you are up there in my hometown or in the neighboring communities, you are within walking distance of one of those cozy corner bars. A place where the neighborhood folks sit at the bar with their longnecks and bitch about the President or the Cardinals. A couple of guys playing checkers in the corner, or maybe a game of euchre if the joint's really hoppin'. Old men walk in with their tin buckets for the bartender to fill up with Budweiser, or more often Stag, for years our hometown brew. Unfortunately, we have nothing like that in redneck suburbia, because respectable people here don't go to bars. Therefore, a couple of fern bars in strip malls excepted, what we have in the boonies north of Nashville are exactly the sorts of dives respectable people would never enter.

The winter after I graduated from college, I was back home with Mom and Dad, just another overeducated long-haired kid with a bad attitude and a job at 7-11. The drizzle that had fallen all day had changed to snow, and the temperature had dropped low enough for the roads to freeze. It was Friday night, I was wanting to get out, but for once had enough sense not to try the roads, especially after having a few beers. So I put on my coat and boots and walked the six blocks to the Derby Inn. I didn't drink there much, it was considered an old geezer's hangout, but it was too dangerous to drive across town to the cool bars. I figured I'd go to the Derby and drink some beers, watch the hockey game on TV, and maybe that crazy old Greek guy would walk in and order shots of ouzo for everyone.

When I walked into the Derby Inn, the place was deserted - maybe four people in there max, besides the bartender. It was so dead they didn't even bother putting out the frog legs, the Derby's customary appetizer. After a couple of beers I figured I'd be just as well off getting a six-pack from the store across the street and watching the rest of the game at home. But before heading out the door, I had to make a trip to the bathroom.

Just as I was to commence with doing my business, this old fellow, well into his 70's, came through the bathroom door, crying out, "Some little sonovabitch out on the Belt Line tried to run me off the road! These damn kids don't know shit about driving in the snow!" From his speech, and the manner in which he stumbled to the urinal, he was several drinks over his limit. He unzipped his pants and as he was pissing, gave an oration on the lax work habits and corrupt morals of America's youth, oblivious to the fact that the guy in the next stall was all of 22, and equally unaware that more of his effluent was landing on the floor than going in the urinal.

The old drunk finished up, turned, and looked me square in the eye. "And do you know what caused all this shit?", he asked.

"No, what?" I asked.

"The fucking Beatles."

"The Beatles, huh?"

"That's right, the fucking Beatles! Those goddam bastards came over here with their long hair and their dope and their free love and they ruined this country! Back in my day, you didn't talk back to anybody, and you straightened up and you got a job! But now, these kids, they grow their hair down to their ass and lay around the house all day smoking pot and listening to that goddam acid rock and screwing right and left! All because of the fucking Beatles!"

Who knew?

He staggered out the bathroom door muttering fucking something-or-other under his breath. As I was walking out of the Derby Inn a moment later, I saw him at the bar with his bottle of Stag giving his sermon on American youth to the bartender. I went across the street to get my six-pack, then walked home and watched the rest of the hockey game.