Thursday, June 26, 2014

Resolute in the Tempus Fugit.

The weather last night sat on New York like a sweaty sock after three-hours of schoolyard basketball. It clung to everything with a moist stink that gave no quarter. Though I had the AC blasting in my apartment and the conditions inside were cool and dry, Whiskey nudged me awake at halfway between two and three and we headed uptown to the Tempus Fugit.

Pike's, thank god, never varies and never withers.
I hadn't been at the Tempus Fugit for some time, for a couple of months, actually. I wasn't turning abstemious. Nor was my lifelong battle with insomnia finally resolved, it's just that I've been excessively busy of late, and getting up to the place seemed an impossibility.

"Welcome," said the bartender as I descended the two steps into the place. "You have been conspicuous in your absence." He hustled around the bar and brought Whiskey a bowl of cold water. Back behind the bar he pulled me a Pike's Ale ("the ALE that won for YALE") and we began our evening.

There are still some kegs of Pike's scattered about.
I sipped slowly at the sweet amber, draining my glass and getting a refill before I responded.

"I have been busy," I answered. "And scared. Scared that the freelancing thing wouldn't work out."

"Ah, your confidence issues. Untrammeled by drink, drugs or years of therapy."

I laughed and finished my second Pike's.

"Well, it's tough hanging out a shingle after 30 years of working for others," I said. "Who knows if my phone will ring? Especially since I refuse to budge and lower my rates or my standards."

"The other day," he began "some kids found there way here, three of them, two girls and a guy, to the Tempus Fugit. I don't get many patrons who aren't regulars." He slid over a giant glass jar filled three-quarters of the way up with pickled hard-boiled eggs.

"Egg?" he said.

"You don't get many patrons period," I volleyed.

He continued, "They were, judging by the shortness of their shorts and their accents, German tourists. They asked for Pike's. They each sipped gingerly at their brew, putting their glasses down on the bar top after the slightest of sips.

"'Gluten frei?,' they asked.

"'Nein,' I replied.

"With that, they put an assortment of bills on the bar, shot me an 'auf wiedersehen' and that was the end of that."

"Your point eludes me," I said as he filled me again.

He slid over a small bowl of salted Spanish peanuts which, as usual, I pushed back at him. He then went around the bar, topped off Whiskey's water bowl and returned to his station.

"Ah, my point," he said, wiping the mahogany with a clean damp terry. "My point is simple. Be like Pike."

"Be like Pike. That should be my motto."

"Wear it as a frontlet," he continued. "Don't change with the times. Don't bend in the wind and certainly not in a breeze. Don't go gluten free because it's the thing to do."

"Well, it's easy for Pike's to stay the same. They don't make it anymore."

"They don't make anymore of you, either."

"They didn't just throw away my mold," I answered, "they nuked it."

I pushed two twenties across the bar in his direction. He shoved them back to me. This also never varies.

"On me, " he said.

And Whiskey and I walked home.

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