It was the summer of 1970, we took our off day meals at the “All you can eat for $1.00, Perry Boys Buffet” on the corner of 82nd and Foster Road, while working for the “Old Man” in that gawd awful, rat hole of a country western bar he owned in S.E. Portland.
Well, he actually never “owned” anything; he just gave the Bank and the IRS sporadic enough payments so as to be able to keep the keys to the place.
Lord, how that man was always the last one aboard the trend, topless bar, cowboy bar, topless/bottomless bar, the only time he was ahead of the pack was with the accidental Gay Bar and then didn’t have the sense get out while ahead or at least even.
It struck me that he was always most comfortable with a drink in one hand and an arm around some cocktail waitress, for a long time that was Momma but the more he drank the less it mattered and over time even a country girl like her will lose sight of the dream for the sake of the lies between.
After they broke up it seemed that he spent most of his effort trying to prove some point to somebody, like yelling your name into an empty canyon just to hear the substance of your own voice in the echo.
At any rate, he had no business being in that Gay Bar for the long term, eventually the clientele gravitated toward ownership that was more in tune with the concept and he was left with the same empty bar stools as before.
But, before that unpleasant day appeared he’d leveraged himself into this country dump at the height of the mechanical bull, Urban Cowboy, western wear craze with the determined belief that people would buy long neck beer and pointed boots forever just to sit in his bar nodding to Merle Haggard music on the juke box.
Well, I’m here to testify that “Trees don’t grow to the sky” and there is no such thing as “Breaking Even.”
So, there we sat, Barb and I just out of high school, living on the fringe of the big city because we were too scared to drive in closer; Ray, our half wit of a roommate, shoveling his meal for the day down his gullet, concerned about getting his money’s worth ’cause he’s working cheap at his Uncle’s print shop and me, well I’m looking around, trying to figure out just how these guy’s are making it work at a dollar a pop.
It’s not rocket science; lots of Jell-O, watery mashed potatoes, Kool Aide, and a dozen different greasy hamburger or chicken entrees.
It’s then that Barb tells me she’s leaving, going home to Redmond, she’s done staying with us, I’m working all the time, Ray’s an idiot who drinks 151 rum then passes out on the imitation zebra skin bean bag chair; she’s nervous about the folks discovering our, oh so 60’s, living arrangement and doesn’t want to fabricate yet another elaborate fiction just to be close to me for a few moments each day.
The thing is, I have an obsession with a job; she has a life, and in reality I’m a bigger idiot than Ray.
Ah, the choices we make the time we waste.
George & Barb, together again.