(In honor of Oregon Governor Kate Brown proclaiming April as Oregon Tavern Age Month, the blog will feature a full week of OTA stories. A new book of these tales is slated for a fall publication in some atypical publishing format.)
“I’ll have a shot of well whiskey with a shot of well whiskey back,” said the OTA man wearing a brown hoodie. He occupied a stool at the bar of the South Jetty. He sported nicks and cuts on his face. His OTA girlfriend stood next to him. She wore Grateful Dead attire and placed the same drink order.
Tennis played silently on television. Terrible modern pop music played quietly on the radio.
The bartender produced the drinks in record time because we three were the only customers.
I was writing a preposterous erotic novella about tennis that had a Gothic-looking woman wearing a black macrame tennis dress seduce her bronzed instructor in the ball shed. There was a lot of dialogue about “strokes.”
The couple slammed the shots and then hugged and laughed. He ordered another shot but she declined.
It was 11:30 on a Saturday morning during Spring Break.
“I’m only slightly hungover,” he told the bartender.
The couple had until 1:00 pm to pack up their camp site at nearby Fort Stevens State Park. The man recounted the couple’s camping exploits to the bartender: fishing, clamming, drinking, fighting, drinking, pissing off their neighbors.
He also said, “I did write two chapters for my book.”
An OTA man camping and drinking in a tent in OTA country managed to write two chapters of his book? And his woman was there with him? And they fought and clammed? And they might have even had drunken sleeping bag sex?
What book? It had to be fiction! What genre?
I had to read the chapters. Now! It was my prerogative as chief (and only) chronicler of OTA life. Was this sauced son-of-a-bitch writing the Great Oregon Tavern Age Novel? Was I going to have kick his ass to forestall his OTA book coming out before mine? I bet he didn’t even use words like “forestall!” He’d probably never heard of Ken Kesey!
Enough was enough. I stood up to buy him and his old lady more shots. And more shots. I’d drain the well for them.
They’d miss their checkout deadline. He’d drink too much and perhaps become so addled he’d never write again. He might even die. His old lady wouldn’t know what to do with the manuscript and she’d start a fire in the wood stove with a secret masterpiece.
The couple thanked the bartender and got up to leave. They kissed, hugged, clasped hands and skipped right past me.
I watched them leave and went back to writing about tennis, sort of.
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