Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wild Night This Morning: The Last Days of The Naughty Pine - 3

    Every other day of the week is fine, yeah

The man. The legend.

Monday, 10/30/06. After the usual crappy Monday at work, and the usual pass-out nap between 4:30 and 6:30, I get to the Pine around 7:30. It’s just me and Marita at the upstairs bar (Ketel Mike is outside smoking a cigarette) and Eric waiting tables, and Kenny tells me that the closing is even more official. The last day has been set—it’s going to be the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We immediately speculate as to why that Saturday. Why not the end of the month? Why not the end of the year? Do they need to start tearing the place apart before 12/1 for some legal reason? And on another level: why stay open past Thanksgiving at all? Why not close the day before?

KENNY: And what sucks is, the holidays are like the gravy train of the year for this place. The holidays are why you put up with the summer. It’s like your reward. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the place is packed. It’s like, what does that say about how they feel about us?

Eric mentions that there’s going to be a party Sunday afternoon for the staff and regulars. He doesn’t know when exactly, but evidently the staff will get to invite one or two people each, and regulars will get invited by the day and night managers.

As I pull out my notebook, a cute blonde in a little black dress sidles up to the bar from the center table, which has a half-dozen pretty young’ns sitting at it, asks Kenny’s name, and introduces herself as Ginger.

GINGER: You’re cute.
KENNY: Oh. Oh. Oh. I passed the last exit to cute about ten years ago. What’ll it be?
GINGER: I’ll have a gin martini. Dry. And when I say dry, I mean Sahara. Open up the vermouth, take a Polaroid of the bottle, and wave it over the vodka till it develops. How much?
KENNY: You’re from the table over there? I’ll put it on your tab.
GINGER: Can’t I just pay for it here?
KENNY: I’ll have your server bring it over.
GINGER: I’d rather buy it from you.
KENNY: If you’re sitting at a table, you have wait service.
GINGER: But I don’t like to wait.
KENNY: And I don’t like to take Polaroids.
GINGER: So you can’t make me a drink?
KENNY: Oh I can make it for you, I just have to put it on your table tab. House rules.
GINGER: And you never make exceptions?
KENNY: Haven’t made one yet.
GINGER: The night is young.

She sashays back to the table with a flirty over-the-shoulder look. Kenny waits till she turns away and then sashays over to the gin to make her drink. I start writing while Kenny and Marita chat, and the moment I put pen to paper, Ketel Mike is looking over my shoulder and asking me what I’m working on. When I tell him, he gives me about a thirty second head start before asking “So what happened to that other play you were working on?” In-between interruptions, I manage to get the basic idea down, but it’s a struggle.

                   From The Notebook
RED QUEEN’S RACE: Margaret Sanger and the birth control issue.

Epigraph: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" – The Red Queen, Through The Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll

Starts in 1915, ends in 1966. Nothing changes. The same conversations; the same slurs and slights; the same battles have to be fought and re-fought and re-fought. The same woman in all 3 or 4 time periods. In 1915, Margaret Sanger is advising woman A and gets arrested. In 1940, Sanger is advising B, the 25-year-old daughter of A. In 1966, Sanger is advising C, the 26-year-old daughter of B. (All played by the same actress.) Men go from arresting her to heckling her (played by same actor).

Opening frame scene: present day:

Margaret Sanger would be rolling over in her grave.
Margaret Sanger.
Are you on the pill?
I’m sorry?
Are you on the pill? Because if you’re on the pill, or if you use any birth control device at all, the fact that you don’t know who Margaret Sanger is would be like a baseball player not knowing who Curt Flood is.
Curt Flood. The reason why baseball players get to be free agents.
Margaret Sanger made women free agents?
In a way, yes. Except . . .
Except what?

The question is answered in the opening line of the next scene, when Sanger says: They’ll never let us BE free; we have to fight for it.

Thematic echoes: You have to keep fighting for it. If you stop, they win. They’ll take it away from you. / The world doesn’t stay changed. Unless you make it change day, by day, by day. / So we’ve done it? No—we have to KEEP doing it. / Men won’t let it stand. If you ask for equal pay, they’ll make it so you’ll have to work twice as hard for half as much. / It will never BE equal. You always have to MAKE it equal. Always. / Equal rights is like tennis. Men can afford to lose a game. Men can afford to lose a set. You can’t afford to lose a single point. Because then you lose the match.

                       It’s not who I am,
           it’s what you think of me that counts

While I’m writing, Ginger comes back two more times for another drink. The first time, I’m convinced that she’s doing this as a gag.

GINGER: Dry Martini. And when I say dry, I mean drought. I mean boil the vermouth until it turns into a gas, use the gas to fill a balloon, and tie the balloon to the stem of the glass.

The second time, I’m convinced she’s a stand-up comic or a writer. Nobody orders drinks this elaborately unless they’re trying out material.

GINGER: Dry martini. And when I say dry, I mean dust. I mean pour the vermouth over an ice cube, put the ice cube in your mouth, and give the glass an air kiss.

After my third Guinness, I stop writing and take stock. It’s a typically slow Monday night. The corral is empty, the bar has one regular at it (me), two women in skirtsuits who are talking office politics, and a sullen middle-aged guy with very little hair who is watching the Patriots game and groaning whenever they make a good play. There are three booths and one table with diners, and Eric is being good about doing whiskey shots with Kenny only after every other food order. Thirty minutes later that all changes, as a horde of loud Bowl-Morons take over the corral and the lounge, a couple of them leaning on the bar right next to me, when they have the whole rest of the bar to lean against—like people at the shore who put their towel right next to yours when they have the whole beach to choose from. Is there anything more aggravating?

The tables eventually empty. The Bowl-Morons hang around till the bitter end, as do I. In-between cursing yuppies and their drinks of choice, Kenny talks about how, when Richie got the news that the Pine was closing on the 25th, he almost started to cry.

KENNY: He was messed up, man. I really thought he was going to lose it.

And I think of Richie’s cat. It’s like a double death, except that he can see this one coming. This one, he knows exactly when the vet is going to put down the thing he loves.

And then, writer that I am, I think: wait a fucking minute. What if Richie was LYING about his cat? What if he told me that whole cat saga because he didn’t want me to think he was the kind of guy who could actually lose his shit over a bar closing? So he was saying something like, “I want you to think of me as the kind of guy who loses his shit over a CAT!”

Oh come on, I think. Why would he do something like that? But I know the answer. Simple. Because it’s a better story.

Alcohol: Guinness (4) Jameson (1)

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

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