At the risk of being accused, dear reader, of “jumping the shark” too soon (Season Two-Episode One), your friendly bartender leaps nonetheless into that area some might rightly call the lurid, or the low-brow, or the “go to stuff” as the comic might say, or the sophomoric which you might say… but when the shark in this case is alive and well and still a menace in the currents that flow through Bar-land, his story must be told and I’m here to tell it. (But with reluctance!)
So if you’re above the age of twelve or have attained a level of sophistication that soars beyond the antics of a Benny Hill, or a Peter Griffin from Family Guy, then I suggest you “mouse” away from these words and check out some of those lovely folks on my blog roll. For that’s where you’ll find the grown-ups this week and as for the rest of you… pick up your sixth grade readers and follow me.
Now the first inkling I had that something clearly was wrong was by the expression on the woman’s face who’d ordered the Corona. And when she extracted the lime from the neck of the bottle and placed it under her nose and began inhaling, and looked at me with eyes that bespoke pure horror, I knew that ensemble could only mean one of three things…
a) “Was that you?” (meaning me!)
b) “Do you know who it is?” (meaning anybody.)
c) “I don’t care who it is, what are you going to do about it???”
Well of course you’ve assumed by now, dear reader, the “it” assailing this damsel in distress was a colossal trouser-al breach of the first order… or as Shakespeare might say, a fart in the castle most foul… and it wasn’t just troubling this woman but all within scent-shot. For I refer here not to some harmless “stinker” which garners at worst the snicker and pinch-nosed titter, but rather a gaseous release of such epic proportions that one wants to search the Bible for signs of the End Times. It was that catastrophic.
And what initially came to my mind, oddly, as I watched all this gasping for breath and heading for cover, was the notion that had this occurred in the Long Branch Saloon in long ago Dodge City, gunplay would’ve erupted forthwith and Marshall Dillon rightly would’ve looked the other away. But this wasn’t the Long Branch saloon so what should I do?
Well, the first thing you do when you get such a look… the one sent your way by Corona… is immediately return that look in kind and shrug your shoulders as if to say, “Who indeed?” Then, your innocence securely in place, you give her a nod that says with aplomb, “Don’t worry, Darlin’, your friendly bartender will handle this .” And you move down the bar like Holmes who has entered a crime scene.
But fortunately this case… “The Case of the Mysterious Stench”… was solved in a matter of seconds as the culprit it turns out was sitting just two stools down. It was a sommelier from a restaurant on the upper westside, a friend whom I’d known for years, and a guy whom I’d always referred to as Jack the Wine guy. So what told me Jack the wine guy was now Jack the Ripper? Elementary, my dear reader, elementary!
See, one’s cheeks don’t balloon that fully I surmised, one’s eyes don’t bulge that greatly, and one’s skin doesn’t redden that brightly unless the owner of all of these traits is suppressing a laugh. And a deep dark secret! And Jack the “Ripper” was awash in all of these symptoms. Where’s my Meerschaum?
“Holy fuck, was that you, Jack?” I asked, but not so Corona could hear, I wanted to give young Jack the benefit of the doubt.
“W-w-w-w-a-s what me,” Jack stuttered, and Jack doesn’t stutter.
“That cloud that killed the flowers over in the entryway. What do you think I mean?”
“Oh that,” he said, rather blithely. Then he fanned his nose and feigned a look of disgust. “Hell no that wasn’t me, Christ that’s awful!” But the smile that was breaking through belied all his acting. For it is written in the Book of Acts (Heinous Acts: chapter 9, verse 4), “… a farter can’t resist laughing at his damage.” Ever!)
“Well, either you or your goddam friend here (a waiter from the same restaurant) have stunk up this place royally so I hope that’s a one time shot because believe it or not I’m trying to make a living here.” Then I quick walked away before I too started laughing. What can I tell you?
Then, a mere two minutes later, after the universe had realigned itself and all seemed right with the world as God had intended, a cloud more deadly than before re-entered the proceedings. And Corona and two of her girlfriends ran for the ladies room.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” I shouted in disgust, from a good six feet away, not enjoying the smell of napalm in the evening. “You mean to tell me you bastards did it a-gain?” And when the cloud finally lifted, I walked back into the zone for one more go at these guys.
“Answer me this,” I said. “Why would two grown men, men who are well into their thirties, by the way and who actually work in this business, just sit here and proceed to do this to a fucking bar? Wipe it out like this! Do you realize that if someone had lit a match just now this whole fucking place would’ve been gone?” Then I started to laugh which clearly weakened my position. “I mean, you’re a wine guy for Christ’s sake, Jack, you of all people should be able to put a cork in it?” Then at this the three of us collapsed into gales of hysteria. And just as Corona and her girlfriends walked back in. Talk about timing!
But now to make matters worse, dear reader, as if things weren’t bad enough, one of those bastards let go another hellfire. Un-be-l-i-e-e-e-e-e-v-able! So the girls immediately grabbed their drinks, gave us three dirty looks, and asked the waiter to find them a faraway table. And who could blame them? Which left the sorry sight of us three… Larry, Curly and Moe… Athos, Porthos and Porthole… three grown men alone in a haze of pathetic. Yeah, “Don’t worry, Darlin’, your friendly bartender will handle this.”
But I’m here to tell you I tried, dear reader, I really, really tried, but this was a case of the fart just having the last laugh. As it always does! Which makes me wonder… what is it after all these years (arrested development aside) that makes such a ridiculous event remain so hilarious? It’s a sound, it’s an odor… both experienced thousands of times as either victim or vile perpetrator… yet it never fails to reduce one’s IQ by thirty. I mean look at the British for crying out loud with all their pomp and circumstance, there’s nothing on the planet funnier to them than “the fart”. I’m just sayin’.
Oh well, the Lady I fear doth protest too much so he better just let this go, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But then tell that to Corona and her friends for even though these women weren’t regulars, I haven’t seen hide nor hair since the explosion.
Over and out from Sophomore Central, next week water balloons!