Friday, August 1, 2014

Ten minutes in the Tempus Fugit.

A cocktail napkin from the bar. (Artist's rendering.)
The longer I live, the more I think 4:15 in the morning is the best time of day. Sure the streets are littered and the garbage men haven't yet arrived. Sure the other people who are out are likely to be drunk, or larcenous, or both. And sure you might have to have more than a trace of Nijinsky in you to avoid the clumps of vomit from the aforementioned drunks.

That said, the city is nearly perfect at that hour. In the Tempus Fugit, it's just me, Whiskey and the bartender, unraveling the riddles of life. Some people were in earlier, I can tell from the misplaced chairs at the tables in the back, but no one is in now. I like it that way.

The bartender pulls me my second Pike's Ale (the ALE that won for YALE!). I look into the amber and see my past and my future. It's all ok. There's not a lot I don't like. Not a lot I would change if I could. No more than the usual million regrets.

"August," says the bartender. "Tempus Fugit," he says.

"Yes, it does," I answer. "It flies."

"This August marks our 91st year in business. We opened during the saddest days of Prohibition. And haven't been closed for a minute since."

I look at him, sizing up his face. It is like the surface of a river. It tells no time, it shows no age, it betrays no years.

"Nintey-one years," he says.

He polishes the teak in front of him with a worn old terry. It's threadbare and wrinkled and shows the years more than he.

He starts to fill me again but I demur. It's time to go, I tell him. He agrees.

I slip onto Whiskey her collar. He comes out from behind the bar and, for the first time ever, he hugs me as I leave. We do not hug easily. Hugs aren't our natural element. But nonetheless, we hug.

"Tempus fugit," he says.

And I know what he means.

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