Liquored in Astoria

“Well isn’t everything more fun with a crazy bitch!?” flies out of the mouth of Mark the merchant marine, as a drunk couple finally stopped quarreling and left in a cab.

“Why yes it is!” laughed Erica the bartender.

***

Earlier I had taken a nap to put a break between a long day and a social experiment.  More than the rest, I wanted to look through the lens of not really feeling like going out, but doing it anyway.  Walking in the rain, across the street to the Workers Tavern, washed my face and cleared my head.

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The creaking door and wet stained wooden floor greeted me.  I eyed and claimed a stool at the bar.  Moments later a guy (who could be Neil Diamond’s son) sat down next to me and said, “You a fisherman?”

“No”

“Oh, I’m a merchant marine.  Anything exciting going on in here?”

As a quarreling couple brought their issues back inside from an herbal smoke break, she plopped down on the vacant stool between me and Mark.

“Really…Really!  You’re really going to do this – Now?!” barked the guy. “The cab is here.”

Silently she stared forward while I ignore them.  He moved closer toward me while pounding her with various forms of “Really!”  As suddenly she pushed back from the bar and marched outside, followed by her guy.

In the following silence I sat and watched drops slide off my beer and run into carvings on the bar.  As the words ‘Toys for Tots’ filled I noticed a sign behind the bar, “Those caught carving on the bar will be fined $100 – funds to be donated to Toys for Tots.”

Three guys rushed in like waves and landed on empty stools on the other side of the bar.  The older one seemed to lead, whether by blood or air he acted like their father.  After about an hour of noisy conversation with other locals the muscular one who’d been staring at me walked over and put a heavy hand on my shoulder.

“We’ve gotta stop all of this shit…” and something about “..Paris” was all that I could understand.

Father figure grabbed him and the other guy by the shirt and ushered them toward the backdoor.  He growled at them, “If we can get out of here without a fight – I can go snuggle with my wife.”

Through the evening I made eye contact with a couple of senior locals, a smiling logger and a silent disheveled Santa.  Their eyes reflected a weathered ‘Seen it all before’ look, quietly they sat and sipped.

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Four hours, four beers and a shot of Crown later – I’d lived in another dive bar story.

***

I enjoyed the experience of another writing workshop “Dive Bars and Dark Stories” on Friday the 13th November 2015.

Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.

Out on the Edge

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over.  Out on the edge you can see all kinds of things that you can’t see from the center.” –Kurt Vonnegut

 

Sand

Aside from the Ocean, the obvious main ingredient of this long beach is sand.  Unlike the mostly barnacle covered rocky beaches of the Puget Sound, near home, this beach is sandy, miles… of fine tan-grey colored sand.  Depending on the tide there is about twenty to one hundred yards of beach from the edge of the grass-covered dunes to the changing ocean line.  Here the ocean licks the sand, packing it into a high-speed surface, making for a smooth run near the edge.  Or where as Sarrah preferred it, sand piled loosely by the wind, storms and high tides up against the dunes where the grass grows and waves like wheat fields; catching the blowing sand into thick, fluffy unstable drifts for jumping and plowing through.

Sand is magical; it brings out playfulness in a dog, youth in the old and delight in a kid.  Sand does not care how careful you are, it will get into everything.  These little bits of ancient rock ground in the waves, spread by the wind, over time will get between your toes and everywhere else.  Sarrah loved it!  She did her part to share it.  It seemed no matter how well I wiped her feet, she somehow smuggled some in.

Edges

I like the Edges, always have

They draw me right up to them

Sometimes… I stumble, and almost go over

A few times I just sat there like a kid, kicking my feet over, swinging them in a rhythm; left, right – left, right – left, right just staring… Out There.

For some reason having an edge in sight is comforting, like Walking beside the Ocean

Safe is there, Gone over there, the Attraction being Right Here.