Thursday, March 08, 2007

street slang

I don’t get angry that often. Its very rare when I do. I get annoyed easily and frustrated at times, but angry is something I shy away from. I don’t feel comfortable in the emotion. It sickens me a bit. I'm actually pretty soft when I think about it. Not in a terribly feminine way, but in a large and gentle fashion. I'm a man that likes to hug as much as handshake. I like the tenderness of interaction. Sure, there is violence in me. I am human. I live and breathe. But its been retarded by humiliation, by weakness and exhaustion. And when it emerges, it is unwelcome.

The other night we had a guy come into the bar that caused a situation. By the time he left and we closed, I was sunken into a fury. An ancient side of me, young and poor and in the streets, rose up from a place I’d almost forgotten. I was back in the ghetto, running the gutters, stupid, aimless, dizzy with hatred. The only way I can break it down is how it is and was then.

This cat rolls up in the bar at about 12:30. Its Monday, so we close up at 1. I'm chopping it up with this shorty that had came in a couple hours earlier, and he sits a few seats down from her, at the end of the bar. I recognize him but don’t say anything. Dude doesn’t tip so he don’t get any love. How you gonna come up in a bar and not tip, yet spend $40-50 each time you sit down? that’s just out of order. He needs to check his etiquette.

Anyway, so kid just bust up into our conversation, talking some nonsense about what he supposedly knows about life and what not. I hang back to let them talk. I mean, we were in the middle of a conversation and all but at the end of the day I'm just a bartender with a girlfriend, I think shes cute and do my flirting, but it aint gonna get much further than that. I gotta maintain my professionalism at some point. So I go about my business and let them get to whatever theyre gonna get to.

Remember, I was talking to her first, so she keeps on trying to include me in the conversation. I'm not realy biting though, because I could tell dude had one thing on his mind and I wasn’t gonna be an obstacle. I done been there before, feel me? I know the score, so I was keeping space between us. But at one point she lays down a tip and duke starts telling her to take it off the table, that “he will take care of it.” see, now hes in MY pocket. he don’t tip, whats he gonna take care of? So I just ignore him and grab the loot, but it got to me a little, and I start keeping my eye on him.

Now dude was drunk when he got to the bar, and the first thing he ordered was a triple shot of rum, so by the middle of the conversation he was halfway down the glass and slurring and leaning like a man that needs way more than just a drink. the girl was holding conversation with him, but he wasn’t getting any rhythm. She was sort of closing him off. Not all the way, mind you, she was dangling some kind of carrot, because not once did she tell him to back off, but she wasn’t giving him all the play. she was making him work for it.

So he starts getting closer to her. Easing stool to stool in obvious, clumsy maneuvers. Then he’s real close. Up on her. Arms stretching and groping. Mad grimy. She’s standing up, not letting him get too high above her, but still, annoyingly enough, not pushing him away. I attempt to give her some outs, but she doesn’t take them. I don’t know if she didn’t catch on, or if she was baiting me to make more aggressive moves to get him off of her, but she would stop me if I came at them with any heat in my voice. Maybe it was some game she was playing, to feel wanted or protected or whatever, but she wouldn’t tell this guy to leave her alone, and she wouldn’t let me tell him myself.

So we close the bar and I tell them they have to go. I make an excuse for her to stay, saying I have a book for her that if she wants to wait, I’ll run upstairs to grab, and she says shes down, seeing that this is my final exit ramp. Then I tell duke he has to go. there are a few other people in the bar but they are considered “family,” he isn’t one of them. So even though its sort of awkward, I'm only telling him to bounce. Either way I'm not to concerned about it. he has to go. bottom line. But when I tell them whats up he just nods his head and dismisses it. Like he isn’t too worried about what I have to say at all.

At this point, I'm already heated because of the way he is grabbing all over this girl. On some serious date rape shit, some control and power shit. I just see it as foul behavior. I don’t see any place for it. And the fact that he doesn’t tip, well duke is already off my Christmas list from the get go. so I tell him again, that we are closed and he has to go, and again he ignores me. his eyes deadlocked on the girl. His hands: all over the place. My man Gavin is managing that night and he sees whats going on too, then he gets all tight, which ads even more tension to the place.

I tell him once more, this time burning my sights into him and putting an edge of force and finality to my voice. Gavin comes over and repeats it three more times. We’re closed we’re closed we’re closed. Slicing his throat with his hand, as if killing off the rest of the night. I call the girl a car, dumping the plan to have her stay after he left. Gavin beamed into him tightly, ready to pounce. I stood in front of him, impatient and waiting. Eager to react. Then the car came and she grabbed her things. he followed her out the door and we followed them out with our eyes. He knocked on the car window as she drove off, in a last act of desperation and defeat, and then limped across to the street to his studio apartment.

That night we closed up late, way late. Then we got some drinks and went back to Gavin’s place. We drank wine and beer and took large swigs of tequila; decompressing and sharing crime stories from our boyhood. Our adrenaline was coursing, all hopped up on violence. There was anger in all the streets, lurking in the corners. Anger in the bar and in our bedrooms. Anger in our lives, in our past and our future. A natural anger, filled with shame and failure. An anger born of grief. An anger in all of us that will never go away. The sun was way high in the sky by the time I got home. She had already gotten up for work. She was gone already, that’s how late it was.


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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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