my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

8.11.2005

Baby's Got Back ...


I was reading Katie's Seldom Nice Nowadays, she used that phrase out of a blues song (extolling the virtue of overlarge female rear ends) ... and WHAM!

Catapulted back to the days of early marriage when my now-a-jazz-musician exhusband was exploring the blues. Never mind being born in an upper middle class family on Mercer Island, he had the BLUES.

I can't tell you how many hours of arcane blues song garage band rehearsals I sat through (when I was still a good band wife and felt the need to fully participate in the life).

But the real color commentary comes when you get to the gig. Seamy smoke-filled clubs with low lit dancefloors, the stench of spilled beer, pushy barmaids who turn nice when you announce you're the wife (why was that?), the lysol waft from the usually horrible restrooms.

And the drunks.

The quiet drunks, the obnoxious drunks, the drunks on a pickup mission, the drunks who want to dance, the drunks too far gone to lift their heads.

If you want to make the true American Fellini, go to a bar an hour before closing time and you will have found your film's most viscerally surreal scene. Every human emotion -- marinated in hours of alcohol and thus stripped bare -- will be in front of you.

But the most predominant emotion will be frustration. That's what fascinated me, the high expectations these bargoers had of their evenings. The twenty-something girls dressed in high-seduction mode, with skirt slits up to there and layers of lipgloss. The thirty-something males in tight t-shirts showing off their weightwork at the gym. And it gets sadder -- and more desperate -- for both sexes as you climb the age ladder.

Then the glaring contrast when the lights come up at 2 am: the gray room and the tired faces of the band and waitstaff.

All illusion of romance gone, just wanting to tear down, pack up and get out.

Today's fragrance: oh, I'm thinking something from the Victoria's Secret line of fine scents. Must research.

15 Comments:

Blogger Kate said...

See, I love bars for all the reasons mentioned. I don't know why. I love barflys, drunks and bartenders. I used
to be a cocktail waitress. I love the regulars, the banter, the sadness underneath the bravado. The lonliness, the good times, the cameraderie, the hormonal rushes magnified by alcohol. The intrigues, the gossip, the arguments, the tearful angry partings. I love the jukebox, the old song that makes everyone reel with phony nostalgia and throw their arms around each other. I love the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke and the lines of coke done in the bathroom, the hookups and the breakups and the last call and the way people aren't as glamorous when the lights come on and the mascara is smeared and the last taxi comes to pick up the last drunken couple and takes them home, and the staff sweeps up the broken glass. :-)

11:38 AM

 
Blogger katiedid said...

I love this "All illusion of romance gone, just wanting to tear down, pack up and get out." Perfect way to end it. Sigh. You write so tidily and wonderfully.

I think the reason the waitresses get nice when they know you're with the band or a wife is because they suddenly know you're kind of a compatriot of sorts. You're not there to be a jerk to them and hassle them when they're only trying to do their job, you're there for the music and your friends (or in your case husband.)

12:12 PM

 
Blogger schnoodlepooh said...

You have it exactly right in that one. The music, the band, the bar people, the smells, the smoke - ugh. I bet you don't miss those days one bit.

1:48 PM

 
Blogger actonbell said...

Ah, closing time. Always best to leave before last call! You put that beautifully--all romance does die when the Monet-effect is ruined, and you're faced with something more like--the Picasso-look.(Nothing against Picasso, but it's just not romantic, is it?)

2:06 PM

 
Blogger actonbell said...

I meant to add, thank you for the advice about the spam, and I took it:) That was really weird.

2:09 PM

 
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Well said M. Years ago I sat in a bar with some friends and watched this very same, sad scene. Desperate men and women, frantically trying to find someone to hook up with before the night was done. Who can say that people are not driven to find intimacy?...the lengths we go to are astounding and kind of heartbreaking to watch. To use one of your favorite word... 'ick'!

2:47 PM

 
Blogger Bela said...

I've had such a sheltered life: I've never been to bars like that. I only know them from films. I know French brasseries (mostly from when I was a student in Paris, in the '60s) and English pubs (the number of hours I've spent with farmers and actors in Stratford-upon-Avon!). They also have their mythology and romance.

Me, I'd rather talk to people when they're sober.

4:18 PM

 
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Right on the button!

I closed a few bars when I was young. It's an ugly scene. You HAVE to leave before the lights are turned on. It all looks so terrible and pitiful when the lights come up.

4:20 PM

 
Blogger still life said...

yes, it is so sad when the lights come up. after baring your soul to the stranger on the neighboring stool, who only listens because you're buying the rounds.

last call for alcohol..you don't have to go home but you can't stay here...

sounds crazy but i kinda miss it once in a while

7:12 PM

 
Blogger Atreau said...

I'm so square, I've only been to a bar once in my life! I'm not much of a drinker and the entire time I was miserable, plus the drink sucked!

8:36 PM

 
Blogger ParisLondres said...

Great post M! Used to enjoy drinking and going to bars in my 20s and it was fun.
I have also witnessed some sad scenes.

xoxo

2:40 AM

 
Blogger Laura said...

I so rarely go to bars these days but I well remember the sodden scenes you describe. Those weren't the days.

3:10 AM

 
Blogger cjblue said...

You do write beautifully. When I lived in Vegas, there was the perfect club: the Las Vegas Blues and Reggae Club. You'd go sit on the Blues side, drink your beer, get smoked out and mellow and bluesy and when you felt like you couldn't breathe any more, you'd walk over to the reggae side. Rum and sunshiney music, dancing...and when all that happiness and *color* was too much, you'd go back to the Blues side.

This baby's got back, anyway. :D

7:06 AM

 
Blogger Campaspe said...

isn't there a country song called "All the Girls Get Prettier When It's Closing Time"? must look that one up again. :)

9:43 AM

 
Anonymous janey said...

Sounds like the name of a drawing. A former significant other was under the delusion that he was a reincarnated musician and I had to live through several years of air guitar concerts in and out of bars (yes, rather embarassing). I'm so glad he's a former.

7:05 PM

 

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