“Do you make fancy drinks?”
“What do you mean by fancy?”
“Like a pina colada?”
“No, not a pina colada.”
It was early December in Oregon Tavern Age country, Pitch’s East in Port Orford to be precise. A tourist couple had ordered a pina colada and been rebuffed. The man who made the request was wearing an Untucked brand shirt and that explained everything. Every man in hell is wearing Untucked shirts.
Behind the couple, an OTA man wearing a red ball cap sat in a motorized wheelchair and was alternately drinking a beer and nodding off. Behind the wheelchair man, resting on table, was a fleece blanket he had presumably brought along to fight off the winter chill.
There was almost no ambient noise inside the joint. No TV, music, video poker. Only the bug zapper occasionally disintegrating a fly.
Time passed. The couple settled on martinis in a whispered request and added that they were in no hurry. It was his birthday and they had all day to celebrate.
They were doubtless unprepared for what that martini order meant: quite possibly the best worst birthday martini ever mixed and served with utter indifference at 59 feet above sea level.
The couple went outside to vape in the sun.
I sat in the back of Pitch’s drinking a local porter while observing the couple. I relished the coming moment of seeing their contorted faces after taking the first sip. God did I! It would bring me such tremendous joy and enlarge my heart like the Grinch’s after he caught the Whoville Christmas spirit around the ripped-off Christmas tree. The more terrible the martini the better person I would become.
But I would have to wait for the relishing. The bartender first had to whip up some mashed potatoes and gravy for the wheelchair man, who was now fast asleep.
My porter was thick, thick like a good gravy, and I felt groggy. I thought about borrowing the wheelchair man’s blanket and cuddling up for a nap near the bar’s library, which consisted of 16 books, three of them mine.
A man in a greasy brown hoodie with the hood on stood up near the bar. I hadn’t seen him before! He hadn’t said a word and looked like a beam. He ordered a Hamm’s tall from the bartender in the kitchen and waited.
The bug zapper zapped and the wheelchair man woke up. The bartender emerged with the mashed potatoes and gravy and the Hamm’s for the man. No martinis yet. And in fact, the couple would never receive their martinis but they didn’t know it yet. Their drinks were stillborn. They weren’t even fertilized eggs in the womb. And by God did I relish the non-existent martinis even more than the contortions! I took another sip of my porter and waited for the show and the good heart attack.
(If you found this post enjoyable, thought provoking or enlightening, please consider supporting a writer at work by making a financial contribution to this blog or by purchasing an NSP book.)