OK,” I said, “I’ll go the %$*#’in bar with ya’, but I don’t feel like it so we leave when I %$*#’in say so or I’ll leave you there on your own and you be %$*#’d, OK?”
“Sure!” my buddy said, considering this a victory with absolutely no thought whatsoever of my conditions. Maybe I knew that, maybe I didn’t; what’s the difference? “Let’s go,” he said. “We’ll eat at the ESPN joint on the way there, you’ll love it.”
It’s Manhattan, and the guy wants to eat at a corporate sports bar. “I hate sports, dude, you know this.” “Yeah, yeah!” he said, completely oblivious to my objection.
It’s not that I’m a pushover, mind you; quite the contrary. I’m a horrible person and moodier than a 14-year-old girl, but I was on a trip with co-workers and while I had convinced myself I just wanted this guy to shut up, I can now look back and see that I actually wanted to go—I just needed a push. And this guy? He had just chased Richard Belzer down on foot in broad daylight after spotting him on the corner of 58th and Broadway for an autograph (“Law & Order” was still at its peak; had I mentioned this was September 2002?). He was known to push.
So two subway changeovers and a cab drive later, we’re in this bar, and I don’t want to tell you the name for some reason, but I’ll give you a clue through the conversation I originally intended to relay after we arrived.
“They based ‘Coyote Ugly’ on this bar, you know,” my buddy said with a quiet, smug certainty. He was quite proud of digging up this place as if it were some kind of obscure gem in a mountain of chert rock. I liked it, too. I was in a seedy bar in the bowels of Manhattan Island with hot-chick bartenders and hardly anyone around. But remember: I was still an asshole.
“No they didn’t. They based ‘Coyote Ugly’ on the bar ‘Coyote Ugly’ in the East Village,” I countered. “This place is a lot like it, just pissed off they didn’t have a movie made about it.”
“Bullshit!” he replied. “Look at this place! It smells like stale piss and the bartender is on the bar! What makes you an expert, anyway?”
“All trendy bars have hot bartenders and smell like piss,” I said. “Plus, I’m the alcoholic genius you were talking about on the plane to the aide from Congressman Weiner’s office. This is the alcoholic part.”
I was settling in there as much as I settle in anywhere (which is to say, lightly) when something horrible happened, made worse by the fact that it happened at least two more times before we (allegedly) left. George Thorogood’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” played, and the bartender—for the first time in my life—actively forced liquor down my throat.
Ever hear of someone getting schooled over a hangover, and the phrase, “It’s not like somebody held you down and forced you to drink, did they,” or some variation? Well, next time you do, give that person some slack because it can happen, as it turns out. If the bartender is hot enough and is holding bottles of cheap bourbon, scotch and beer in one hand (I shit you not) and telling you that if you don’t touch the ankles on either side of your ears she will have you beaten, you will do so.
There were rumors of a military E.O.D. team having arrived for a celebration at some point later complicating the already awkward situation. But in the end, when the NYPD arrived, they were as professional as you’d expect them to be, so when they asked my name?
“Richard Belzer,” I said, followed with a “DONG-DONG!” as the show would have it.
And in my own hotel room I awoke. Alone, I might add—but I’d had a roommate. Ponderous.
But a story for another day. Take care, Constant Readers.
Alex Teach is a full-time police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.