Hey, welcome back, man, it’s been a while. Are you still a Famous Grouse, splash of water? Good. What’s that? How do I always remember what you drink? Easy. Almost no one drinks that scotch anymore so a bartender remembers that stuff… you have good taste.
Here ya’ go.
Meanwhile, speaking of taste or the lack of it, you should’ve seen this place the other night. Or, better put, you should’ve smelled this place the other night, I thought I’d have to literally hose down a customer. And not for the kind of smell you might expect. Woops! Let me take care of those guys down the end, then I’ll come back and tell you exactly what happened… enjoy your Grouse.
Okay, I’m back, check this out. So this guy says, because the bar is packed and he wants to keep his spot, “Hey, bartender, I’m going outside for a minute could you please watch my drink?”
“Sure,” I say, then I place a bev nap over his glass and go about my business. Then about five minutes later, when the guy comes back and reclaims his drink and his bar space, I notice he’s in a far better mood than before. His face is red, his grin is wide and he looks like he just struck gold or hit the Lottery. Hmmm, I think, must’ve been on his cell phone, did him some late night screen scratchin’ and got lucky. Or the alcohol’s taken a turn for the good to his funny bone. And that’s a good thing. I’ll take grinnin’ any old day, especially when it comes to drink, but what I don’t want to take is what happened shortly thereafter.
That whole corner of the bar, the corner of the bar where this guy was parked, suddenly became imbued with the smell of a skunk. Now I’m not trying to use a metaphor here, I’m actually talkin’ full-out, full-blown skunk. Pepe Le Pew fucking skunk in all of its reekage! And you know the smell I’m talkin’ about, right? It’s that smell that seeps through the floor of your car when you accidentally drive over one of those critters. That smell!
“Good God all-mighty,” I barked, “did someone bring a skunk into this bar?” And proof that I wasn’t imagining this mess, everyone else at the bar was reacting in horror. And gagging. And grimacing like they’d sucked on a day old lemon. Everyone, that is, except for the grinner. Hmmm, that’s curious!
Now I’m not what you’d call a CSI tech nor is my apartment located at 221B Baker Street, nor was I there the day Bill Clinton had failed to inhale, but I have in my travels heard of this thing which Jack Webb would call in rat-a-tat fashion on Dragnet, “…reefer-hemp-ganja-dope-weed-pot, or whatever the kids are smokin’ these days”, so I pulled out my meerschaum pipe and deduced the culprit.
I quietly leaned in to the man in question, the grinner with the bright red face, and said, “Hey, man, believe me I’m not trying to bust you, and I really don’t care if it’s true, but I gotta’ ask… when you were outside just now did you smoke a doobie?” (Doobie is post Jack Webb or Jack would’ve used it!)
“Huh?” he said, grinning a little bit less but just as red.
“I said, and again it’s no big deal… when you were outside just now did you smoke a doobie?”
“Well, yeah!” he said, in a sing-song tone that indicated, “What do YOU think?” As if to say, “Duh, doesn’t everyone do that outside?” Curious again.
“Well guess what, my man,” I said, “and I don’t mean to mess up your high, but now you smell exactly like a goddam skunk. I’m serious, dude, look around… you’ve actually managed to gross out this corner of the bar. I don’t know what it was you smoked but it definitely had a tail!”
He then looked around the room, slipped a bit from his mini Nirvana and soon got the message… “Jesus Christ, I stink!” And believe me, he did! This distant strain of marijuana was downright heinous.
And to me what I thought was totally ironic and totally self-defeating, was the totally unwanted outcome of this whole scenario. For when you set out to pull off a stunt like this (or at least this is what I read, of course, in High Times), you engage in the weed called “wacky” to lift your spirits… to feel and act tres cool, to groove on a different level than where you were. But all of that can come crashing down (again, according to High Times) when something negative tip-toes into the equation. And if ya’ wanna’ talk negative, think about this…
Here you are, in the groove, as high as Ben Franklin’s kite, surrounded by people scanning the floor almost expecting a skunk, fanning their noses as they do so, and all the while you are the dreaded skunk. Could ya’ call that a negative? Do ya’ think that just might mess with your sacred high? Because unlike odors that rise and fall and leave in a matter of seconds (yes those!), this one was here to stay and baked in his blazer. In fact, if this was a cartoon or comic strip (which Bar-land often is), the artist would’ve drawn those squiggly lines above his rendering!
So as this drama continued to unfold, and despite the fact the room still smelled like “Pepe”, I actually found it funnier than I did disquieting… especially when he gave up his cherished bar spot and tried to walk away from the whole event. Because he simply couldn’t. And when a woman unwittingly approached this guy, an attractive woman as I recall, suspecting nothing or knowing nothing as to who or what was the culprit, and said in a disgusted tone, “Can you be-lieve this shit? This bar actually smells like a fucking skunk!” I completely roared out loud in full guffaw. And I wondered what was playing in his mind when the woman said this? Certainly not “Groovin” by the Young Rascals! But whatever it was he eked out a smile, shrugged his shoulders and warily kept on moving. A marked man!
So tell me, Famous Grouse, you were around in the Sixties, have you ever come across smoke that smells like skunk? I mean, exactly like a skunk?
Nah, me neither. There’s weed smell and then there’s this… ganja from hell.
What’s that? Oh, well what eventually happened was, the guy finally managed to isolate himself… he went over and sat at a corner table by himself. And to steal a word from the sixties he just looked “bummed”. It reminded me of one of those kids in grade school put in the corner with a dunce cap on his head. Or, to drag this out even further, and to paraphrase William Bendix on his ancient television series The Life of Riley, he had to be thinking as he sat there in one, “What a fuckin’ revoltin’ development this is!” And what a waste of a good toke of weed and an evening! End of story.
Another Grouse with a splash there, my friend? No? One and done? Hey, after a story like that I can’t blame you, I guess I’d go out and take in some fresh air too. Oh, not that? You’re heading home to fire up a big fat doobie??? Wow! Well then you owe me a total of eight bucks… one for the drink and seven for planting the “seed”!
Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end!
PS: I really want to thank my dear friend, Arikia, (over at The Milikan Daily) for giving my blog this brand new look. She stopped by the bar last week, snuck the above photo, and surprised me today (Monday) by asking if she could totally redo the look of this place. Well, completely incapable of doing that myself, of course I said yes, and low and behold I now have a brand new look! So Arikia (or Mighty Aphrodite as I’ve recently come to refer to you), thanks a million for the gift… you’re a doll!