Oregon Tavern Age: Manuscript

I was reading a manuscript of what promises to be a classic of the literature of the Vietnam War, the story of a US Navy bombardier during the air war over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. An OTA joint in Portland had just reopened after a nearly year-long hiatus and there I was at a back table. It was apparently under new ownership and management. I hadn’t been in the joint for almost 30 years and they’d definitely spruced up the place for the worse: gone was the shag carpeting, red velvet wall paper, and bumper pool table (or was it snooker?). Oh well, at least the bar was open and not another victim of the Pandemic.

It was roughly two in the afternoon. I sipped an ale called Catch 23. You just know the brewers had never read the novel.

In walked an old lady. She wanted a peach schnapps. No dice. She settled for a whiskey sour.

Neil Young was playing. The internet jukebox was on the fritz so the bartender had his playlist going through the speakers.

Rock and roll will never die

Wrong Neil. It’s deader than every Republican member of Congress’ heart.

In walked a youngish rotund man. He wanted a shot of Jameson and a Rainier chaser. Apparently his car broke down right outside. Why not? Why get aggravated?

The “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” came on. They don’t write em’ like that anymore. Everybody in the bar was singing the lyrics or commenting on the song. They don’t make em’ like that anymore.

Willie Nelson came on, a real nugget from the 70s. God I hope he outlasts Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney and Pat Robertson!

In walked an elderly lesbian couple. They ordered Tecate talls and hit hit the video slots.

Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” came on. I almost named my rain book Tangled Up In Rain. I think I should have.

A tall woman wearing a trucker hat sat down at a table some 10 feet away. She held a vodka drink and a book. She ordered a hamburger. She started reading the book, The Hidden Life of Trees.

Interesting. Maybe there are still some OTA stories yet.

A few minutes later, the hamburger materialized. She struck up a conversation with the bartender who had delivered the meal. They knew each other from way back when from another OTA gig. She was a bartender across town but lived across the street from this joint. She was hungover. She’d closed the joint down last night, reopening night, and picked up a “boy” and “fucked him senseless.”

Of course I was eavesdropping! That’s what I live for in these joints!

She said she didn’t normally do that sort of thing, but covid, you know?

Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” came on. My old rock and roll band, Gravy, covered the tune. That was a lifetime ago. I never really liked the song, but it was easy to play and everyone knew it.

The tall woman gobbled down the hamburger and read about trees as she ate.

I returned to the manuscript and thought that perhaps this could be a good joint to start my next writing project, whatever that might be.