>Awhile ago, I went to my favorite neighborhood joint, “Charlie’s” and realized that I haven’t been there since my ex girlfriend’s birthday a few years ago. I remember that this was the night the woman who was sitting at the bar near our table started vomiting on top of the bar as she was sitting, and then tried to stand up and puked on the floor and then tried to ask for another drink and instead was offered a phone to call a cab. I think she must have puked 3 or four times before she finally left, and as the smell of vomit filled the dark musty bar, I remember thinking that probably never coming here again was a good idea.
Apparently, recently, I forgot my resolution and I went to Charlie’s again today for the first time since that night. I went there to eat alone, and relax for a minute before hanging out with friends. I debated as I walked down the street about what I might like to eat. I thought about Korean BBQ, and about Papoosas, but for some reason ruled them out. Maybe, mostly because I was feeling like sneak, sitting around somewhere dark and writing tragic things, which is painfully cliché of me, but also is the truth. So I thought, Charlie’s, well Charlie’s is dark. Charlie’s is one of those places where it actually seems like really wrong that it’s not filled with cigarette smoke.
When I walked to the back (because inside Charlie’s there’s a restaurant in the front and a bar in the backwith a pool room! ahh!), there were three men yelling at the bar tender about how she had somehow lost their credit card. So, they are yelling and I’m standing awkwardly in sort of the middle of the hallway, waiting for them to settle down so I can ask to sit down somewhere. Finally another waitress came back and said I could sit wherever. This, well, was fine.
I didn’t want to take up too much space, or sit near the yelling men (who were still yelling) so I picked a table on the other side of the bar, a small two-seater. Directly to the right of it is sort of another elevated level (two steps up) where there are a few more tables. So there was a table the same size as mine two steps up with like a weird ships railing in between. Have I mentioned that Charlie’s is dark? Like REALLY DARK. So dark that I didn’t even notice that there was an older couple sitting at that very table, just an elbow in the shin bump away from me. Which made me feel a little uncomfortable, because unless I know you, and even really if I do, I don’t want to sit so close to you when you’re eating. I was closer to them than they were to each other actually. Well one of them. It was like we were all on a date together, at 5:30PM on a tuesday in a REALLY DARK bar, with badly stained carpet everywhere, and some men (STILL YELLING).
So, I’m sitting there trying to ignore the men when I hear it…the sound of LIP SMACKING, and then SLURPING, and then NOSE BLOWING and I think, oh dear god. I haven’t even ordered my food yet. And so, I look around and realize that it is not one, of but both halves of this older couple who are full on chewing with their mouths hanging open, chewing and slurping and talking to each other about things that I can’t understand because THEIR MOUTHS ARE FULL OF FOOD.
Then I hear one of the yelling dudes yell that he has found his credit card, and
“SEE IT WAS RIGHT HERE THE WHOLE TIME I TOLD YOU SO!!!” “UNBELIEVABLE” …
and on and on…then I realize that even though the dudes have the errant credit card and have obviously paid their tab, they are deciding that they will continue to stand next to the bar and YELL TALK to each other about everything. Apparently, these dudes weren’t actually upset, they just CANT CONTROL THEIR VOCAL VOLUMES or something.
But still, even though this is going on under twenty feet away and is VERY LOUD, I can hear…the lip smacking good time of the older couple sitting next to me and I think, I could just move, there is a lovely looking decrepit booth just across the aisle from where I am sitting and as long as the yelling guys are still here I for sure won’t hear lip smackers any more….RIGHT. Then I think, that the lip smackers might notice me move and think I’m really rude or ageist or something. So, I think, I’ll just continue to sit here, and be grossed out and eat my food with my mouth closed and not be as gross as them, but not feel any better for it, and not enjoy my food, because this whole thing is really pretty disgusting.
Then the yelling guys finally leave, and it is much quieter, which would be great except but for the aforementioned reasons or something. So the waitress comes and looks surprised that I order a diet coke and not a giant can of 4loko or something because how could I be here and not drunk right now and not be working here. When she brings it back I order hot wings and a salad covered in cheese and Caesar dressing because that’s the kind of healthy eater I am, and again the waitress looks surprised, and sort of maybe a little skeeved out by me. But that could be because I’ve pulled out my iPad and am typing away.
So the concerned faced waitress walked away and then I saw him; a man sitting at a table a little ways across from me eating. This is seemingly normal, right? I thought, thank God. One normal person in here, because all ive felt is disgustedness and anoyedness (neither of which are actually real words I realize). Anyway, there was something off about the man and as I openly stared at him I realized that it was that he had a sort of mangled looking kleenex hanging out of his nose. Now, this man was a lot older, so I thought, aw, maybe he just forgot it was there or something? He will surely realize in a second and take it out. I stared in awe over the table as he enthusiastically ate what looked like pot roast (they have pot roast at this place?! what!) and left the kleenex exactly as it were. Now, I looked away, embarrassed because I was clearly staring and went back to the game of scrabble I was playing on the computer. After the waitress brought my tiny salad I noticed the man again, still with Kleenex. When the waitress asked, “Sir, do you need anything? Maybe some more napkins?”
“Well, I just have this nose bleed, no big deal. Yes, some more napkins would be nice.”
LEAVE THE DAMN TABLE AND CLEAN YOURSELF UP MAN
Then I saw the blood soaking the kleenex right around his left nostril and began to feel nauseous. Not because blood makes me squeamish but because he was ….EATING POT ROAST. I really, really, really had to stop looking at him now, otherwise my salad was definitely going to start tasting like boogers. My wings arrived and I pulled up the New York Times to read while I ate. Am I really this guy? A guy who stares at his iPad reading the New York Times while he eats his dinner alone?! PLEASE TELL ME IM NOT THIS GUY.
So I’m eating and reading, and eating and reading, when I notice (which I’m not sure I hadn’t earlier) that a couple has come in and are sitting at the booth across from me. The couple, are the skinny jean, flannel wearing, hipster variety. I think the girl had a pair of sun glasses with her. SUNGLASSES, IN SEATTLE IN DECEMBER. What the fuck.
The reason I noticed them is that they immediately started to argue. The girl saying something about the boy not telling her that he used to date so and so and that all she knew is that they had gone to some wedding together, and I’m imagining that she is so upset because they were also dating at the time or something like that, but I could be projecting or whatever. Anyway, obviously this is sort of boring, except that in the span of the half an hour that I was sitting there eating and eaves dropping on everyone, I mean reading the New York Times on my giant iphone, they ordered 3 rounds of drinks; three rounds that were each, tallboys of PBR and double shots of whiskey. By the end of the half an hour and by the time I was leaving, the girl was in tears, and the boy wasn’t even looking at her, and when they did speak, it was a blubbery drunken mess.
I imagine that the boy paid. I imagine that the girl felt pretty good about making a nice hefty tab for the jerky boy. But who knows? Maybe the boy wasn’t a jerk at all. Maybe the boy was actually sweet and wondering how he got here to this place where this crazy girl that he was never even really dating and who was yell whispering at him about some wedding that he went to with his high school sweet heart and of course they were dating and how did she lure him here and oh god she knew where he lived because he had slept with her that one time after that show at his friends house. It had been a big mistake CLEARLY. Hadn’t his friends warned him? But he had tried 4 loko that night for the first time and didn’t even know he was so drunk, and it was probably okay, because he definitely wouldn’t have stayed awake at all had it not been for the caffeine, and yet, from what he does remember the sex wasn’t even very good and just sort of made him sad and miss said high school sweet heart.
But here he was with a weird bearded chicken wing eating New York Times reader, a chew with your mouth open old couple, a guy with a bloody nose and this crazy girl whose name he still had trouble remembering even though it sort of sounded like Tara…or Lara..or something. He didn’t know what to do except pay and try to get home, or maybe he should go to his buddy’s house where she had never been and ask to crash on the couch until he could figure out how to convince his housemates that this girl was trying to hurt him. Except she hadn’t and the whole time he was having these thoughts he was also thinking about what a jerk it made him and how probably this girl was just lonely, just like him and couldn’t he give her a chance. Except she had done that weird thing when they were fucking of staring intensely into his eyes and telling him she loved him….that was a little much. Also she had a rep. And he knew from his moms, that a rep was an anti feminist thing to consider about women, but it wasn’t a sexual rep really, it was more about the fact that she was crazy and attacked the girlfriend of someone he knew.
So he paid, and they left, and I shook my head back into reality, and they probably went home and had hipster make up sex or something, which is probably just like regular make up sex, but takes longer because when your jeans are that tight it must be a process to get your clothes off.
I do not finish my dinner. I do not finish my game of online scrabble. I do tip the waitress in an excessive way.
Thanks, Charlie’s for being just the way you are all the time.