I'm driving to work. It's not my usual pound-as-much-coffee-as-you-can-while-not-hitting-anything-and-still-drunk-from-last-night commutes. It's a caffeine-free jaunt, filled with itching of uncontrollable proportions. If this itching is comparable to rehab — my skin coming off, the kind of itching you read about — then I'm never going to quit drinking.
Let me start again. I'm driving to work scratching my freaking arms off when I decide to call my buddy the Marmot Herder, up in Seattle. I figure if I have to hold the phone, then that's one less hand I can scratch with. I get his voicemail.
My message goes something like this: "I'm late to work and I've been in bed off and on itching for the last 48 hours because I have a rash on my arms and genitals from some polymer compound used in fiberglass. I'm now on steroids. Gaarrrrahhhhh! I also had a dream we were in a bar with myriad pills, all different sizes and colors, and we were splitting them up and eating them like candy (was it a dream or was that Bisbee?). And then we left the bar and were pulled over — a moment of fear — but we ended up hanging out with the cops at the station, where they unveiled their new Vidal Sassoon M-16 hairspray gun. My balls itch. Call me back."
I could get used to these steroid dreams.
The doctor prescribed me some sort of corticosteroid, which he says will make me gain weight. Awesome! He also said I'd get bursts of energy or depression; I love how precise doctors are. I couldn't care less if all my hair falls out. Just stop the goddamn itching. Take the arm if you have to. He assured me it would stop. I then asked if I could drink with the medication (I ask this about anything I'm prescribed). I said, "Can I have a glass or two of wine with the medication?" He smugly responded, "I'd never have more than one or two, anyway, but you should be all right."
Hey. Fuck you, doc. I didn't ask you to look down on me for drinking, you bastard old dried-up piece of shit. I have my own theory. I have finally broken my liver! I'm no longer able to process the toxins and poisons out of my blood, and, as a result, I'm itching little cocktail boils; the bourbon press, the gin, and the Scotch are all coming to the surface to haunt me! A genuine Dante hell personally designed just for me. I'd better put it to the test and start drinking hard.
Tallyho!!! (urbandictionary.com defines this British term as the equivalent of "charge!!!")
So I'm off to the Tallyho!, one of the few great dives in upscale Scottsdale, tucked in a small strip mall behind a Walgreens.
I pull up and see that the red "T" in Tallyho! has been knocked out. So at night, I imagine, it lights up as "allyho!" I'm sure this was done on purpose. Maybe I'll meet this "Ally" inside (hey, let a pig have his fantasy).
I walk into the place, and it's nice and dark. To the left is a huge, super-long, beautiful oval bar, and to the right are three cool, old, comfy high-back retro leather booths. Restrooms are stuffed in the back by the pool table. The walls are covered by faux wood and they have Old English coats of arms hanging over the booths, with ancient, low-light sconces and rotting chandeliers. I grab a seat at the backside of the bar, so I can see the front door and soak the place in. I notice over the front door there's a sign that says "occupancy 87." I feel it's more like 8.7, but hey, it's 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, so I don't expect much.
I'm immediately at home. There may be only eight (and change) of us up in the joint, but most everyone is hunkered over a shot and a beer or a short thick cocktail. Speaking of hard drinkers, my eyes almost deceive me as my dear friend Lace and her buddy Napes show up, totally unexpectedly. Last time I saw Lace was a year ago, and it was here at the Tallyho! If memory serves, they cut us off and kicked our drunk asses out, not easy to do in this place. Being in the presence of Lace is a spiritual event, and I'm excited and scared she is here; my liver is in my throat.
Napes takes the lead and jumps first: double Jäger with water back. Lace follows with a shot of Jameson, shot of 100-proof Rumpleminze, water back. Ah, my people. I go with a shot of Jameson and a martini and water back. Lace says I taught her about the "three drinks" — one for the mind, one for the body, and one for the soul. Because most places don't allow more than two drinks in front of a patron at any given time, the body is usually the water, the harder one for the mind, and whatever else is good for the soul.
I have totally forgotten that my arm is a raging minefield of itching bumps. Is it the booze or is it Lace and her intoxicating smile?
The giant round bar made of solid wood and classy old brass rails (for barking dogs) really makes a statement. It's, hands down, the biggest oval bar I've ever slumped over. It really makes you feel as though you're all communing together at some big feast, some medieval celebration, everyone laughing at and with and near each other. Sharon, the lone barkeep, orchestrates the show in her mandatory regal tuxedo-top uniform and red cummerbund. This place may be a dive, but it's got class and charm. The uniform really gets me in the heart. I love that they take drink-making so seriously!
The martinis come in real, honest-to-God three-ounce martini glasses, as if they were originally made back in the time of the three-martini lunch. Like everything in America, we screwed up the martini and made it bigger, just as we did giant fake tits. Sharon concocts for me a Bombay Sapphire, with a lemon twist. It's small but delicious for $6.50. She goes on to tell me that they even have real ginger ale on tap, but I'm not happy to see O.J. come out of the same gun. If you order a screwdriver, you are getting screwed.
Tallyho! is a must for any booze lover. As far as barkeeps go, it doesn't get much better than Sharon. She loves her job, and she even remembered me a year after I'd been there last: "Yes, you are the guy who asked me for mayonnaise."
That was me, and you know what? They fucking had some mayonnaise. This place rocks. Maybe I'll order some of that mayo and slather up my arm.