Back In The Day...
I was just eighteen and he was a sportscaster in San Antonio who opened one of the first "sports bars." There were pool tables, juke boxes, plenty to drink, and lots of pretty girls. A young guy's heaven! I remember the owner standing in the entry way in the evenings greeting people and in general making everyone feel at home. There was even a "cocktail" organ with a lady who was well past eighty playing the pop classics of the 40's, 50's and 60's. One part of the bar was dark, plushly carpeted and more "formal." The other part housed the pool tables, TV sets, and bars with beer of tap. How I remember frosty glasses of Pabst Blue Ribbon drawn right off of the tap and delivered by waitresses who wore plaid mini-skirts and white shirts that tied in the front.
It was there I learned a whole lot about life and enjoyed a cast of characters that I could never forget:
A weatherman who, in between spouting John Birch "right-wingisms", would deftly maneuver his way into the hearts and skirts of many waitresses.
A General Practice physician who loved to make book and ran a small gambling operation on the side.
A newspaper columnist who wrote about "Texana", drove a pickup, and picked his teeth with cactus needles that he kept in a suede jacket.
A car salesman with a pocketful of "great, just absolutely great, you have to see this car" deals.
One night I remember flirting with one of the girls there, while Jefferson Starship's hauntingly beautiful "Miracles" was playing on the jukebox. We talked of life, love, work, and even sometimes those weighty existential matters that were really beyond our scope at the time. Or were they? Jenna was her name and she always gave me beers for free, for which I, in turn, made sure she was well tipped. Jenna loved her job; liked meeting new people, and was always in an "up" mood. She was two years older than I, and lived just about a mile from the bar. I lost count of how many times we would end up laughing and talking after her shift, (and many times during it as well.)
One night, we were talking as usual, and she reached across the table, placed her hand on my forehead, and ran her fingers through my hair without saying a word. The look on her face was definitely not something I had seen before. I reached across the table, took her hand, and led her to a brick partition in the back of the place which looked like something Wayne McAllister had designed in 1955. The smell of perfume, beer, and cigarettes mixed together to make an intoxicating aroma. I placed my hand around her waist, pulled her to me, in a very passionate kiss. I remember I could feel the imprint of her fishnet stockings through my chino's.
I loved the feel of her skin, her scent, and her hair brushing against my cheek. She unbuttoned my denim jacket as I watched and then took both arms and wrapped them around me and held tight. I happily reciprocated. She looked up at me and said in a faint whisper, "I am off at midnight." I nodded. She went back to work looking over her shoulder at me. Just at that moment, Al Stewart's, "Year of The Cat" came on the jukebox. I walked back over to the bar, ordered another frosty mug of brew and lingered over just-made memories.
The above-mentioned Texana author, Sam was sitting next to me, took a big sip of his bourbon and branch water, and smiled as he said, "It's great to be a guy isn't it?
I agreed wholeheartedly.