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Monday, April 11, 2005

BAR: Otis

If I'd pinched L'il Otis, the little scream couldn't have come at a better time. I was on Tryon Street in Charlotte, in a Methodist church. The preacher was getting the ceremony underway and using the word Christian twice in each sentence.

"We are gathered here in this Christian place to join these two Christians in Christian marriage. Um...I missed one. Um...Christian. There."

The beautiful bride walked in and joined her smiling redheaded husband at the altar. A bunch of overweight people sat in the pews.

I had L'il Otis on my lap. We sat at the end of the pew for a quick exit of necessary. The preacher got through a few Christians, then moved on to the preliminary "I-do" phase. I don't know what it is, but I always throught the "I-do" phase came at the end. Seems like every time I go to a wedding these days, the preacher is getting the couple to say "I do" about the time the grandmothers are getting ushered in. I think I actually heard about one preacher going back into the dressing room when the bride was half-naked, poking his head in and saying, "I do, right? Good. Oh, by the way...Christian."

So, the bride and the groom were "I doing" it really well when L'il Otis said, "Baaaaaaaaa."

I whispered, "No, son, you mean, 'I do.'"


I glanced at the wife who gave me the nod. Seconds later, I was out on Tryon Street with the kid. I thanked him for saving me from an in-law hitchin'. He kicked off his shoe and answered, "Ba."

A bum walked by and said something through a slur of cheap wine and funk. I had to ask him to repeat himself.

"Ba," he said.


"That boy," he said, "sure looks like his daddy."

I wanted to ask how in the world the drunk knew what the kid's daddy looked like, but that joke only gets a rise out of my wife. So, I said thanks and continued feeding the kid his bottle.

Eventually, L'il Otis didn't feel like bench sitting anymore, so we went for a drive. By and by, we passed a place with a sign that simply read "BAR" in big letters. I recognized the sign. A few years ago, there were (and maybe still are) a number of bars in a chain that went under the very original name "BAR." I spent some time in BAR: St. Louis during one very long bachelor party. I guess I was looking at BAR: Charlotte.

I don't spend much time in bars anymore. A lot of it has to do with the fact that L'il Otis isn't much of a drinker and I spend almost every night with him when Mrs. Otis is at work. Sure, he and I will sit around and have a few father and son brewskies, but he's a really cranky drunk, so I usually limit him to three or fourteen. Wait...that's not right.

Anyway, while I love my kid dearly and wouldn't trade him for unlimited bar revelry, I still misss those long nights of bellying up to a bar, fallling asleep on dirty tables, and waiting to see which of my friends will go outside to puke first.

By Sunday, we'd all made it home from the hitchin' and I'd taken to doing my first yard work of the year. Suburban lawn mowing is very therapeutic. Lot of time to think.

I'd forgotten to charge my iPod, so I was relegated to listening to the pounding unoiled motor of my lawnmower.

And I got to thinking.

A few years ago, my mom sent me a news clip about a guy who missed the bar scene. So, he opened up his little home bar. Everyyone was invited. Anytime he turned on his Corona sign, all neighbors and friends were welcome to come by for a drink.

And I got to thinking again.

I don't know if I can make it happen, but I'm thinking about doing the same thing on Mt. Willis. The plan is in its early stages, but I'm thinking about building a poker table, buying a few cases of beer, putting them on ice, and opening BAR: Otis every Friday night after L'il Otis goes to bed. Wanna play cards? Play cards. Wanna drink yourself silly? Be my guest. Wanna play guitars under the stars? Give me a second, and I'll grab my six-string.

It has to be better for my married friends than spending $100 a night and looking at girls they aren't allowed to touch.

Or maybe I'll just crawl back in my hole until L'il Otis is old enough to go buy beer for me.


Anonymous Brother Beaker said...

So, you were in Charlotte this weekend with my nephew and your wife. Hmmm. I guess I was just too drunk to remember you stopping by to say hello. I must have stepped out for some supplies when you guys stopped by for only the 2nd time ever since I moved here. Maybe it was when I was under the house fixing the plumbing and you just didn't want to disturb me. Yeah, that must have been it.

6:30 PM  

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