Oregon Tavern Age: Silence

It was me and the bartender, a bartender whose face and short black hair style reminded me of a flapper. Port Orford was deserted on a weekday in the winter of 2013 or was it 1923? Time often becomes timeless in OTA country.

I ordered a beer and the bartender met me with a glacial (not the global warming kind) expression and didn’t say a single word. The utter indifference was utterly charming. A stone-face flapper.

A storm was raging outside of Pitch’s East and sending a creek of rain down the streets and sidewalks. It also knocked out the internet and dish and cable and telegraph. That meant: No jukebox. No television. No video lottery. No noise of any kind, except rain battering the windows.

I sat near the window, sipped the porter, and wrote in my spiral notebook. Perforations leaked onto the chipboard floor.

The bartender looked highly suspicious of me. Seeing someone writing in longhand in public, let alone a bar, does unnerve some people, perforations falling to the floor, too.

At one point, she came over to me and pushed in a stool. It was clearly a pretext to spy. Maybe she thought I was from Yelp. Right, in long hand.

I was actually writing a letter to my father and thinking of how my father would only eat and drink in restaurants and taverns with one-syllable first names: Mac’s, Art’s, Flo’s, Sam’s, Vern’s. His sole exception was Buddy’s, but that was simply an acceptable derivation of Bud. He took me to all those joints. He used to play the gray games in OTA country before the state put the mob out of business and went into the gaming business for itself. I never got to see OTA country without video lottery games and gewgaws and tax collecting for the state and that anguishes me.

The bartender was trying to activate the dish and dial up a game show or action movie. Then the video lottery would boot up and start playing classic rock riffs, such as “Walk Like an Egyptian.” Then someone would enter and crank up the jukebox with some hair metal. Jesus. Jesus drank.

I began to pray to the one true god in OTA country—the Hamm’s bear.

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