I was down in Harry’s bar Friday night like always. After the eagle flies, a bunch of us guys from work usually end up there before we go home to whatever’s waiting for us: wives, or wives plus kids, girlfriends or just roomies – Me, what I have is my dog.
It’s true he can’t cook or do the laundry, but he’s so big I can wrap my arms around him and get that feeling of holding something worthwhile, a good solid hunk of flesh. He’s a purebred St. Bernard, Edward Maximillion Bonaparte Questor is his official papered name, but I call him Max, and he’s okay with that. We both put up with the drool and hair.
One Friday night about a year ago, I was with the guys at Harry’s, and we had two of the big square tables shoved together. Maybe ten guys in all sitting on those fake captains chairs Harry got over in West LA when some fancy restaurant folded. I told Harry those chairs don’t work with the rest of the décor, but he said, “They’re chairs, Roy, not fucking décor.”
He obviously didn’t get the joke, but then anybody who would buy (much less hang) so many three foot by five foot velvet paintings of dogs playing poker and pool wouldn’t know décor if it bit him on the ass.
Any way we were drinking Cuervo shots and beers and I noticed that some of the guys were going at it pretty heavy for the shank of the night and I said so. Then this fat guy from shipping pipes up “Some of us ain’t got all night, Bub. Some of us got to get home to the wife and kiddies.” He said it real sarcastic and I couldn’t tell if he was ragging on me or just dreaded having to go home.
This guy was so fat he had to wiggle his haunches around to even fit into the chair, those curvy arms bit right into his gut, and I could have felt sorry for him. I had a row of shots lined up in front of me and had just tossed back the fourth or fifth one – had my eyes closed and was trying to visualize the poor woman who’d married this bozo when I felt something slam into my chair.
Now I had a nice buzz going from the Cuervo and was concentrating on the sounds Santana was ripping out on the jukebox, so I didn’t notice at first that the fat guy was trying to pick a fight with me. I don’t know why, I’m sure I hadn’t said anything about his wife out loud. But when I opened my eyes and saw him standing next to my chair I cracked up. I mean he was standing there with that captain’s chair stuck on his fat butt like a bolt head stuck in a rusty socket.
I guess I made some smart-aleck remark then about what he had waiting for him at home and he took it to be demeaning about his wife. Because the next thing I knew he was slamming his ass-caught chair into my back, screaming, and poking at me with his chubby fingers. “Listen Bub, my wife is better than any fucking dog you could have!” Well, that just pissed me off, though I may have misunderstood him. I hate it when people don’t remember my name, and I take serious offense when someone maligns my dog, also I’d had those tequila shots.
So I said, “First, my name is Roy you moron, and second my dog is better than any fucking wife you could have!” I never should have mentioned my dog.
Well, you can see how the whole night went down the tubes after that. After some more insults on both sides, a fight broke out. Guys with wives and/or kiddies sided with fatso, and most of the single guys sided with me. A bunch of those captains chairs got busted up and at least four of the dog paintings got smashed over some heads. Can’t say I’m sorry about the paintings, but it was terrible to see all those full liquor bottles get smashed on the floor.
The worst thing was that some people who were there that night became convinced that I have some kind of perverted relationship with Max, since I may have mentioned his hug-ability at some point, what a mistake. I had to stay out of Harry’s for a while and poor Max was embarrassed to be seen with me on the other end of his leash. I think he’s over it now.
Well, like I said, I was in Harry’s again last Friday, although things have changed some. What with the layoffs and guys moving on to other cities, most of the old crew is gone. Fatso got fired a while back – called the foreman Bub once too often I guess. Can’t say I’m sorry about either one. Harry got a deal on a bunch of metal stackable chairs and some fake paintings of landscapes from a Motel 6 re-model. They’re better than the dogs.
I usually sit in a booth now, though the duct tape on the cracked vinyl seats has a tendency to stick to my jeans. I don’t drink shots of any kind, just nurse a few beers. I still enjoy the jukebox, and will engage in conversations of all sorts, but if somebody starts talking about their wife I clam up. And I absolutely never, ever, mention my dog.