Who says you have to wait until the sun goes down to have a good time?
"Linda, the ladies' bathroom is out of toilet paper."
"Well, you know where it is. Get it yourself."
That kind of no-nonsense backtalk from Linda, the night bartender, was one of the first things I'd heard on my inaugural visit to the Dilly Dally. I've been coming back for more ever since, and Linda makes sure I've got a King of Beers at the ready the minute I turn the corner of the darkened entryway.
"The Dilly's got T-shirts now?" I asked her one night, noticing a sign above the bar.
"Yeah. You want one? They're five bucks."
"Well, go pick one out," Linda no-nonsenses me, motioning for me to follow her to the storage closet across from the pool table. She opens the door and shelves of dark green, wine, and orange folded T-shirts stare me in the face.
I pick up a few and look at the tags. "Any mediums?"
"Nope, just large and extra-large men's sizes."
"The printing's a little hard to read."
"It's there. You gonna buy one or not?"
Of course, I bought one. You don't say no to Linda.
This morning was special: My new day-drinking gal pal, ex-guitarist of NunZilla and all-around queen of cool Tana, was up for another morning of liquid breakfast, and Ronda, my former day-drinking play date (who recently went straight and got herself some honest work) had the day off and wanted to join us. The Dilly Dally seemed like the obvious choice for the first Day Drinker threesome.
Facing competition from several nearby bars (as close as two doors down and across the street), the Dilly Dally's charm is in its details: murky fish tank, lavender women's water closet (literally, it's the size of a closet), cork board covered with snaps of skin pillows, and neighborhood book exchange. Throw in the low lights, old-school drinkers, a long-ass bar, and no-bullshit bartenders, and you've got yourself dive bar divinity.
The three of us enter through the haunted house hallway. Like a gushing real estate agent, I proudly show Ronda and Tana around the joint.
"You got a coffeepot back there?" Ronda asks the bartender as the three of us belly up to the wood. We're ready to start the morning with our usual: Bailey's and coffee.
"Yeah, but I'm not makin' any," he replies.
"Don't know how. Don't drink it. Don't make it."
Love that sass.
We're sharing the place with a handful of regulars - men in everything from cut-off T's to black khaki pants, drinking pitchers of beer and acknowledging each other with a nod. After our barkeep serves up the first round, he joins them on the customer side of the bar to critique costumes and shooting tactics of the Western playing on TV. One of the regulars, Jimmy, tells us he comes in every morning for the free movie.
"All it costs me is a beer," he chuckles.
It isn't long before the three of us start to gab - inside the bar and out back by the sad, stone-covered area, where a sign asks patrons to "put their butts in the butt bucket." My husband calls our gathering of women a "hen fest." I like to call it chick-chat. The regulars seem pleasantly amused by the banter and jump in if the topic suits them. Discussion topics include:
Western movies, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Maureen O'Hara. (Jimmy tells us Maureen's a religious woman and never slept with John Wayne, even though she was tempted to.)
Artwork that needs to be illuminated (no response from the regulars).
Religion and politics (no response).
Male and female body parts (no response).
Cell phones and texting ("Why do young people text instead of just calling?" the regulars want to know).
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SHOW ME HOW
As we move to the subject of birthdays, we get the first smile we've seen from the bartender all morning. He's just turned the bar over to a pony-tailed princess in a Phoenix Police T-shirt and blue ball cap who serves us up another round of cold beers with a Jack and Coke.
"Happy birthday," he says, making his exit and patting Tana on the back.
"Yeah, Tana," Ronda says returning from the book exchange with a paperback mystery, "This one's on us."
Dilly Dally Lounge 3639 East Indian School Road 602-955-0013