It's not unusual for me to be unable to sleep, and last night, well, it was no exception. Like a lot of medium-to-large apartment houses in the City, mine is filled with people who wear sweaters in the heat of summer. So, at the first hint of cold weather about three or four weeks ago, the "Managing Director," what we used to call a Super, turned off our Central Air and turned on our forced heat.
That action almost always serves as a meteorological sentinel. It tells the weather gods that it's time for a hot spell--a week or more of New York as an Autumnal sauna, with nothing, not the slightest of breezes to spell the sump.
So it was that last night I tossed fitfully until I decided to give up the fitted-sheet ghost and head about a mile uptown to the Tempus Fugit.
It's been a while since I've visited the place, and sleep disturbances or not, I've been itching to go. There are some who say that if you walk too long on concrete, you turn Lycanthropically (lookit up) into a wolf. I feel somewhat the same way about the Tempus Fugit. Too long without a Pike's Ale "the ALE that won for YALE," or too long without a conversation with the bartender, leaves me feeling unmoored, a little like a boat that's been wrestled away from a dock during a storm.
Whiskey and I arrived at just before 4, and before my keister parked on the worn leather of my favorite barstool, the ancient bartender was around the mahogany. In one fluid motion, he placed a bowl of clear water down for Whiskey and was back around the curve of the wood-work pulling me a Pike's, which he served, as always in a six-ounce juice glass. I really can't say it often enough. Beer should be served in such a flagon. Small enough so it always stays cool and frothy.
"How go the unemployment wars," he began. A good bartender, not that I am a denizen of many bars, this is more an assumption on my part, a good bartender will pick up where you left off even if you left off many months ago.
"The income is coming in," I reassured him. "I suppose if I were cut from a different cloth, I would say I'm happy as a pig in slime. I have happened into two situations that keep my synapses from mossing over and give me a place to go when I need one."
He pulled me my second Pike's and began terryclothing in small circles in front of me.
"A place to go being a good thing. Ergo the Tempus Fugit."
"As you've said many times before, a place of libation and fornication."
"And communication," he added.
"I shant overlook communication. To be honest it's why I'm here."
"And why I'm here," he said, continuing with the terry. "We live in an atomized world--the unwashed seven billion. Surrounded as we are by people. But no humans. Pushed onto the subway, vomited out. 'We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.'"
"You're dour tonight," I said, draining number two. He pulled me my last.
"That was Orson Welles, so take it for what it's worth."
"Welles in my book is worth a lot."
"He's the same man who said, 'Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch.'"
I laughed at that and pushed my stool away from the bar. I put on my jacket, affixed Whiskey's leash to her and pushed two 20s across the bar-top his way.
"On me," he said pushing the bills back. "And don't be a stranger."
Whiskey and I arrived home just before six.