Something felt different as I sat down at the bar. Off.
I don’t come to this bar because it is half a block away from my loft, there are plenty of watering holes within spitting distance. I come here for Dave.
Dave is the best goddamn bartender in Seattle. Was.
The guy pulling taps is nice enough, I noticed him once or twice before but he carded me which i didn’t like. Where is Dave anyway?
I drink my beer(s) and leave only to come back to some other guy who doesn’t smile and also cards me.
“What days does Dave work? I haven’t seen him in like a week…”
“Dave no longer works here.” just like that and he turns to pour a beer. The whole week while i wondered and fretted about Dave’s absence I secretly hoped he was taking time off to battle a cancer that he would eventually get over and we could all have a beer. Something that explained the absence in heroic and comprehendible terms.
What makes a good bartender? A good bartender is welcoming, charming, crass, insightful and a gentleman ( or genteel lady ). A good bartender will audit your half drunk ramblings with no bullshit common sense. I once heard Dave tell a regular who was spouting a bigoted diatribe to Shut The Fuck Up, I Love You But Close Your Fuckin Mouth. I good bartender know when to nod in sympathetic agreement and when to tell you to shut yer trap.
Dave has been the head bartender at the saloon for almost a decade. The bar in question is a dive, the definition of a local spot. I know walking in I am going to recognize half the people. The bar shares the building with a hotel so every night there is a few guests looking for a night cap. Me at the bar, reading, I love to read at bars, and Dave slaps me on the back and tells the Out of Town Guy to watch out cause I am an assassin.
I go in last night ( no I don’t go to the bar every night ) and there Dave is. Only he is sitting on the wrong side of the oak. A small group is hemmed in close and the bartender on duty offers ” It’s Re-fucking-tarded!”
Dave sees me and does a little bow like they do in Thailand and stuff and comes over. He gets the obvious out of the way “I don’t work here anymore” The way he says it is like a man who has had a sex change and is practicing saying “I am a woman”.
The Owner lives in San Francisco. He is an Asshole. Asshole owns the bar, but he has seen it three times in the last 8 years. Some dispute on the phone and he goes and tells Dave, who loves this place, really loves it, that he don’t work here anymore.
Sure he owns the bar, but it isn’t his bar. It’s ours, it’s Dave’s. And who is this Asshole anyway? Does he have any idea what it takes to do what Dave does?
Anybody can pull the tap. Whatever. To know every person that lives and breathes downtown, what their favorite beer is and who just remolded their house or who’s daughter just had a baby…that takes years, and it takes a heart. To feel like he has a big dick the Asshole ripped the heart out of his own bar.
Watching Dave the customer kill a beer and chat with his cronies gave me a sad, queer feeling. Like watching your favorite ball player sell peanuts or seeing an aged child star beg for change on Hollywood Blvd.
I feel like getting a beer. But I don’t know where my bar is anymore…
I made this little video for the Owner of my former favorite bar…