Wednesday, March 17, 2004

And This Here’s What We Call A Necktie

I had to go to Charleston, West-By-God-Virginia the other day for work. I had a couple of good meetings, and a nice dinner at Laury’s, an old train station that is now a five star restaurant. On the way home, my boss decided to stop at a little bar he likes in the hills of Ripley, West Virginia.

This place was great. It is an old barn/garage that has been converted into a bar, complete with pool-tables, a dance-floor, and flat screen television. Getting there was a bit of a trick, though. You have to drive down a back road until you come across a hole in a fence. You turn through the hole in the fence and into a field. After you go around the barn, you come over a ridge and find yourself looking at a parking lot with at least two-dozen cars in it. There is no road, no sign, no evidence at all that this place is a bar. You use the single halogen light to find your way from your car to the windowless door.

Once we were inside, everyone in the place turned to look at the two suits that just walked in. Every single eye was on us as we approached the bar and ordered a couple of scotches.

“We’re out of scotch.” Said the bartender.

“No Problem,” we said.

“Hey guys” spoke up a drunk at the bar, “I’ll buy your first round, and before you finish it I’ll be back with a bottle of Dewars, okay?”

“That’s really not necessary, we’ll drink something else.”

“No, I want to go get you a bottle of Dewars.”

“We’ll drink gin, or rum, or anything else you have.”

“Okay, let me at least buy your first drink for you.”

This is decidedly odd. Taking our cocktails that had been purchased by the man next to us, we surveyed the room.

“Hey!” said the mouth-breather to my left, “you guys lawyers or something?”

“No” I said, “We run a trucking company.”

“Yeah, right! You some kind of fucking narc or cop or something?”

“No, we run a trucking company.”

“Sure. What do you haul? Fucking cocaine or heroin?”

“No, just gravel, coal, that sort of thing.”

“Yeah right. Are you reporters doing a story on the bar? Are they in trouble?”

“No, we just wanted a drink.”

“Whatever, man” he said as he walked away.

I was beginning to feel that maybe we were not welcome in this place, being sharp-dressed city slickers from a bustling metropolis of 15,000. I guess I can understand their awe-filled terror. But, to make matters worse, we had brought our big-city gadgets. The boss pulled out his cell-phone, and the bartender suddenly said, “Hey, put that away.”


“That’s one of them camera phones! We don’t want no pictures in here. I mean, just supposin’ a feller was in here with an old lady that ain’t exactly his old lady. He ain’t gonna be wantin’ no pictures tooked of him. I’m sure you can understand. I gotta look out for my customers and I’m sure some of them don’t want what they do in a picture.”

“Right. Just another drink then.”

It became time to go. We finished our drinks and settled our tab. Before we left, the bartender spoke again. “I just want to let you know that you guy’s are alright. I mean, you’re welcome here. You don’t have to worry about nothing, you’re welcome here. Okay?”

“Sure. Thanks. We like this bar.”

“Good. I just didn’t want you thinking there was any hard feelings or nothing. Y’all are welcome here any time. We’d love it if you came back, okay? Don’t worry about anything anybody says.”

“Okay. We’ll come back. Bye.” We said through our masks of confusion. On our way to the door, every eye watched us go.

We climbed into the truck and headed back through the field towards home.

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