Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Adventures In Modern Drinking

Quotation of the day ~ George Jones: Maybe some folks are alcoholics and others are just voluntary drunks. Maybe some folks drink due to body chemistry and others due to their lazy characters. Maybe some have drinking problems, while others have problems enough to drink.
As anyone who knows me will tell you, and as i've probably mentioned here ad nauseam, i am very fond of my beer. I'm also very fond of pubs, they're (quite possibly) my natural habitat, but i don't go to pubs to drink. No, really. If i just wanted to drink, i could do it at home and save a lot of money. I like the atmosphere and, as i spent a part of my childhood in England, living above a pub, they're in my blood somehow. (Same as, when i lived in Toronto, i lived upstairs from a pizza parlour. Starting at around 10 a.m., the aroma of pepperoni & cheese would waft up and imbue my studio, and, to this day, i have a Pavlovian reaction at the very thought of pizza.)

My favourite pub where i live now, is Kelsey's. Easy walking distance from both home and my work. There are one or two other places i drop into occasionally, but i've been going to Kelsey's on average maybe twice or thrice a week ever since it opened and it's my home away from home. Really. I feel that comfortable there.

I know you're curious as to why, and i'll tell you one reason. It's because i have friends who work there, i like everyone who works there, and some of the waitresses, i am far more fond of than i should be, at my age. (I'm honestly not a dirty old man but if i were 35 years younger....) Kelsey's -- as a good pub should be -- is a large part of my social life.

I like to think that i drink in a mature, responsible and "sober" (if that word applies) manner, though (except on Christmas Eve!). In public, anyway.  My usual routine is, have two pints (never fewer, rarely more), look at email, Facebook & Twitter on my phone, and then spend the rest of the hour or so reading my book (and occasionally flirting outrageously with the waitresses). And, let me tell you: every single server at Kelsey's is an attractive female, some of them i would even class as beautiful. Well, i DID say i don't go there to drink!

OK, that was rather a lengthy preamble, covering territory i've most likely covered before on these pages. On to the adventure.

On Friday, i dropped in, Jill had my pint before me in a record-setting ten seconds (she'd seen me coming) and i relaxed, did the Facebook / Twitter thing, and started to read my book (Ian Rankin's "Fleshmarket Close" if you're interested).

The only other people at the bar were a couple, a fairly loud woman and her very mousy male companion, but i paid them no heed and concentrated on my book. But then Jilly sent me a Facebook message saying "oh, dear." I thought (and hoped) at first that she was about to profess undying love, you know, like saying "oh, dear" after some world-obliterating sex, (i think it's okay for me to say that, she knows how fond of her i am) but then realised that she was dismayed about the stentorian female.

There was an argument over something (probably trivial). She started to yell at her "date," and he left, but heck, i wasn't paying too much attention, huge fan of Ian Rankin that i am, but apparently she was in a state of high dudgeon. A woman scorned and all that schtuff. Still and all, though, she was sitting relatively quietly. I'm not sure of the exact chronology, but i think that it was about this time that she ordered a couple of meals to take out. And slipped a salt cellar into her purse.... (And i told Jill so, via Facebook.)

But then she turned her attention on me, the only other person at the bar, alas.... "What are YOU looking at?" she called at me across the bar. I said (in my best Robert deNiro manner) "You talkin' to me?" I was looking at my book, in fact i even showed it to her. "It's called a book, see?" i said. "You can't be reading, you're not really reading, you're a liar." "Thank you very much," i replied, refusing to rise to the challenge. "Why are you pretending to read?" -- and she was literally yelling at this point.  "Well, you're right, i'm not reading now, you're interrupting me."

"You can't be reading," she repeated, with a certain lack of imagination, "not with the Muzak and the tv on. You look stupid!"

Again, i thanked her for her insight. She repeated her opinion on my appearance, more loudly this time,  and again, i thanked her for her view and admitted that she was 100% correct, i was only pretending to read. And, agreed that yes, i do look stupid -- but at my age i try to avoid mirrors and so i was grateful for that assessment. Maybe she was right!

Now, Kelsey's people stepped in. Michelle (manager) insisted that she leave. The customer screamed (literally) "FUCK OFF" (or words to that effect), "today would have been my son's 25th birthday, but he committed suicide!!!! AND NONE OF YOU LOT CARES!!!" Meanwhile, Jen was calling the police.

(Now, all right, if her son's suicide was a fact, it's a tragedy. No parent should have to bury their child. But none of us knew this woman, which, in light of her behaviour, made sympathy difficult. We've all -- every one of us -- lost someone we love. We don't all go doolally at the pub....)

After another brief bout of swearing and shouting, she left, damning us all to hell. Calm descended -- and her take-out dinners appeared from the kitchen, LOL. And then two police officers arrived, one to get the details of the incident, the other to return the salt cellar -- and the pepper shaker and the two plates she had also stuffed into her purse. I didn't notice her doing that -- i must have been too busy "pretending" to read Ian Rankin.

And then i left -- my daily quota of two pints having been taken and my excitement quota for the day (for the month, in fact!) having been more than reached. And Michelle & Jilly paid for one of my beers and gave me the two dinners that this harridan had ordered but left without -- and without paying for -- which i thought was very nice of them, quite unnecessary but much appreciated. That kind of gesture reinforces my loyalty to the place. (The food was good, too -- steak and wings -- Kelsey's food is excellent, although re-heating it four hours later doesn't show it off at its best.)

Now, in all fairness, i don't know for sure that this person was "under the influence." They told me that she hadn't been there all that long (although who knows what she'd been into before her arrival). She may have been a borderline sociopath, maybe mildly schozophrenic, who knows? But she was certainly out of control, and that was what was so disturbing.

All right, all right, as adventures go, this isn't quite up there with The Odyssey, but emotions were running high for me and my friends, and that doesn't happen -- to me, anyway -- all that often. So there.


Anonymous said...

In the spirit of full disclosure, you should have probably mentioned another important reason you frequent Kelsey's. You get the employee discount. Or has Cara done away with that as well?

Freg said...

Alas, the discount doesn't apply to alcohol beverages. It would be nice if it did!