Before I turned 21, taverns were easier places to score a night of drinking with my fake ID than an upscale establishment. But the depressing feng shui always offset the thrill of getting away with breaking the law. After I became of legal drinking age, I avoided taverns.
So it was after much persuasion that I agreed to accompany my underage son to the Tip Top Lounge on a Saturday afternoon a few years ago to buy a tee-shirt for his college girlfriend. My mother came along for the adventure.
The bartender told Harrison that he had to stand outside the door. My mother went with him. The bartender disappeared into a back room to fetch a box of shirts.
As I waited, I surveyed the patrons. Sitting about three feet to my right was a gentleman in his sixties who was dapper in the way of someone who frequents a tavern in the middle of the afternoon: Grecian formula hair slicked into a pompadour, his once handsome face creased with wrinkles that only alcohol, cigarettes, and hard living can provide.
He was staring at me, so what was I to do but smile and say, “Hey.”
He lifted his eyebrows. “Your mom and kid dropping you off?”
It had been years since I’d been hit on, but I remembered the difference between a flattering hit and a I’d-better-set-this-guy-straight-that-I’m-not-a-whore hit.
A spit of gagged air escaped my mouth followed by a loud “No!”
What type of woman do you think I am? Oh, yeah, my mom and kid frequently drive me to bars in the middle of the day and drop me off. And after I get drunk enough, I find a nice looking man like you to take me home. Don’t talk to me!
The bartender returned with the tee-shirts. I held up a few for Harrison to inspect. He chose one quickly and handed me the money. I paid the bartender and turned to leave. The pickup artist bid me farewell. I was only too happy to tell him the same.
In retrospect, I don’t know why I was so offended. The guy thought I was hot—or at least worthy of spending time sitting next to him on a bar stool on a Saturday afternoon at the Tip Top Lounge in Fort Bragg. Granted, he was drinking, but perhaps it was still early enough in the day that he only had a buzz on; he hadn’t hit blind drunk.
I should have been honored. In the past 15 years, I can count on one hand—make that one finger—the number of times a guy has made a pass at me. The only hoots I get on the street are either directed at my dog or my sporty 2010 red Honda Civic.
Maybe I would have felt differently about garnering the gentleman’s attention if it hadn’t happened in a tavern. Maybe I would have felt better about it if it had happened at The Purity.