Booze Pig's looking for the missing "T" at Closing Soon Saloon
Lonely days in Phoenix lead to lonely springtime in the desert. Everything is blooming and fornicating, humping, discharging, and collecting all the time, leaving you standing there waiting for that bee. The young dance in the light, on the lawns at spring training games, on small balconies, in backyards by clean pools, all in thin bikinis, oiling and lubing each other's lithe, limber bodies. All the while, the old machines hunker in the dark, drinking fluids to lubricate their minds and souls, discharging dollars for sweet nectar, that sweet love.
Two different scenarios, but we beasts are simply trying to germinate, to achieve the same fleeting moments of spring — basic pollination.
Not long ago, I saw such a Discovery Channel moment, not on TV, but behind the glass storefront of the Closing Soon Saloon in Scottsdale, just north of 68th Street and Thomas Road. I used to hit this old place years ago, when my life consisted only of a maze of places to do laundry — which brings me to how I rediscovered Closing Soon, after so many springs have passed . . .
It's a Thursday, and probably one of the most beautiful pre-spring days I can remember, 3:30 p.m. as I pull into the small parking lot and park next to the Closing Soon Saloon. I think to myself, "It's too nice to hunker down in a dive. Summer is home of the dive because it's hotter than Satan's asshole outside." But then I look at the large front window and see the big hand-painted sign that reads "Cockails." A smile cracks this cocksucker's face for the first time all day. Long live the drunk, gas-huffing painters of the world who forget there's a "t" in cocktails.
I'm shaken out of my trance by the ringing of my phone. I answer to hear Kool-Aid on the other end, and she's panicking: "Where the hell are you?"
Ha, she must be inside already. "I'm here," I reply and hang up.
Before I can get out of my car, Kool-Aid steps out of the place with a big smile and a red forehead from getting her eyebrows waxed. It must be spring: Let the primping to get laid begin! (Hell. I'm even on a diet.) We saunter into the narrow place and the bar is packed with a dozen folks, and we're lucky enough to have a guy volunteer to move over and leave us the prime end spaces at the bar. This is either a good omen, or the guy is intimidated by Kool-Aid's menacing red uni-brow.
The bartender, Patrick, is timid and people are yelling orders at him. He finally makes it over to us and I throw down a stack of bills and ask for a bourbon press (insert Rubik's Cube look here). I repeat, "Bourbon, half-Sprite, half-soda. Lime." Kool goes for the 7&7. Lime. I laugh at the guy's bandanna. WTF, is it the '70s? Kool calls me an asshole and says I'll get bad karma. Besides, "he has a good look in those jeans."
Jesus Christ, are everyone's hormones blinded by spring's blossoms? Are we really just beasts? (I sincerely hope so.) I'm horny as hell, too, but you don't see me chasing ass at a baseball game, or cheesy patio bar, or wearing a goddamn bandanna.
My drink arrives and I slam it down. It's more like an oversize shot glass, but it's strong. I efficiently order another round and wonder, what is wrong with this guy? I give a look to the older man on my right, and he reads my mind: "He's new. First day." I retort insincerely, "Thanks, hope he makes it." At least the drinks are strong and he's working his ass off.
Hell, I hope I make it. I've been feeling like shit all day, and for the first time, I feel at home. I love this place.
Let me back up a bit. The whole front wall of the place is a window. I usually hate this, but here, it works. The glass has got a good dark tint on it, and through it is a view of a sad little neighborhood and sad little people doing laundry or buying cat-meat tacos.
Once in the door, the bar is to the right. It's short with stools around it and a kickass footrest to take the load off. Behind the bar is all mirror to the ceiling, and to the left of the bar, the wall is mirror to the ceiling as well. In the infamous words of old Dr. Ruth, "If you masturbate in the mirror, it makes it look bigger." Amen, this place looks bigger than it is.
Past the bar is a little game area with a sexy red-felt pool table, a Freddy Krueger pinball machine (hell, yeah, huge points), and a Golden Tee 2005 game. The walls of the place are covered with shitty old faux wood laminate, which gives it a Midwest basement feel. The ceilings are painted black, and have year- round Christmas lights, and the stools and stuff are all red. It makes the place sexy and kind of creepy, like your friend's house with the super-hot mom. (Yummy Mummy; hey, let a pig have his fantasy). The two small, smelly bathrooms are in the back. I have to tap a kidney, so I go to have a look. Well, they look like a good place to commit suicide if you have the time for that sort of thing.
I return to the bar and Kool orders a round, but Doug, one of the drunken guys next to us, waves her off and says, "I've got it. Get them a drink," and then it happens! I sense something in my bones, like when wolves in the frozen tundra can tell minutes before an earthquake hits, and I hear him slur it, "Get them a drink, too," as he points to his right. Patrick shyly asks, "Who?" Doug responds with a wave of his arm, "Allofem. Get everyone's ah drink, alls of us."
Doug eyeballs Patrick superciliously and pushes him the money. Patrick springs to life and starts pouring and placing shot markers. I have to pinch myself. Am I in a scene from Barfly? I'm at peace with life for the moment; I lift my glass high and let out, "to Doug!" and slam my entire free drink. Yes, free drinks do taste better!
I figure he bought us drinks because Kool was young and cute, but it turns out this guy just wants everyone to have a good time. I cannot complain a bit. I feel profound contentment here, no matter how nice it is outside.
I look at Kool and then I notice a stack of orange construction cones behind her. WTF? She gives me the same quizzical look, but I say, "Why don't we stay here?" Kool chuckles, parting her lips coyly, "Like, forever?"
With little-boy excitement, I say, "Yes, we can take these cones and make a fort or boundary and we can see how long we can live here!" They have cheap corndogs and pizza and popcorn and chips and beer and booooooze. Come on, let's do it!
"What has gotten into you?" As she laughs, she leans away, just a tad scared at the thought of being near me for more than an hour.
Doug lets out another declaration, "Get another round for everyone," and he puts on some Barry White for the third time. "Can't get enough of your love, babe," and he does a little Caddyshack shuffle. Kool laughs, and I can't stop grinning ear to ear. We spend our last $6 on two more drinks, and I listen to Barry belt out that chorus, and it's clear that I'm in love — not with how I look in the mirror, not with spring, not with a woman, but with booze!
Shit, spring will be here again next year, but maybe the booze won't be? Maybe I'll have found a new love? (Ha! this is a long shot.) I better make love while I can. Well, at least 'til spring has cum and gone.
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