Who says you have to wait until the sun goes down to have a good time?
"We can't go back in there."
"I know. It's too much, even for the two of us."
"You call it. I mean, I'll do it, but if we go back in, who knows what's going to happen."
"Run. Run to the car."
------ Stan was there from the start. The start being 9 a.m. outside the Snap Lounge, where my new Day Drinking partner, ex-guitarist of NunZilla and all-around queen of cool, Tana, and I are preparing our grand entrance (my previous D.D. partner, Ronda, had gone straight and got a job. Go Ronda!) Like Tana and me, Stan's from Michigan. With his gold-rimmed glasses, receding hairline, gin blossom nose, and psoriasis, he looks like the love child of J.T. Walsh and W.C. Fields. Within 10 minutes of meeting Stan, he lets the two of us know he'd just gotten a new car after clearing up five outstanding warrants for his arrest in California and spending thousands of dollars to get his license back.
"Why don't you let me drive your new car?"
That's J.D. -- or Jack Daniels, as he likes to be called. But more about Jack in a minute.
The morning after what must have been the smelliest Super Bowl party in Phoenix, the Snap's fluorescent lighting and the odor of disinfectant are strong enough to make our eyes water. Fans in every corner of the bar loudly blast the winds of sterilization in all directions, and a heavily tattooed dude wearing a sleeveless George Strait shirt mops his way into the women's loo.
"I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder five years ago." That's Stan again. Did we mention he's 62 years old? "It was a hell of a life for me before I found out. I take medication for it now."
We ask Stan whether he should be imbibing while on bi-polar medication.
Puzzled, he looks at us and says, "Yeah, I can drink on it."
Coasting up to the Snap Lounge on a purple bicycle, Jack Daniels is one flat tire away from living under a bridge and making cardboard signs for a living. Small and thin with a matted mop of dark gray hair, his tanned and worn face smile constantly, revealing a single, gray chomper sticking out from the bottom of his mouth. His tooth troubles make Jack difficult to understand. The way Stan and Drunk Bob (we'll get to him later) tell it, Jack Daniels is always looking for someone to play pool against, but no one ever takes up the challenge because of Jack's reputation for moving balls and taking extra green when his opponents aren't looking.
"I got pulled over the other day," Jack Daniels tells us as we take a smoke break outside. By this time, he and Stan the Man from Michigan are following us in and out of the Snap every time we take a smoke break.
"On your bike?" we ask.
"Yeah. Cops wanted to know if I'd seen some guys fighting in the alley. They know who I am. I been in jail, you know."
After asking to repeat himself a few times, we discover Jack Daniels' jail story was the result of a crime of passion: He threw his wife's lover through a living room window after catching them in the act. After a few days, his wife felt sorry for him and posted his bail. Oddly enough, they're not together anymore.
"Can I get your phone number?" Yeah, that's Stan. We're back inside the Snap. Apparently, sometime between our first and second beers, numerous smoke breaks, and his revealing his five arrest warrants and bi-polar disorder, Stan has fancied himself quite the ladies' man this morning. When I ask him why he wants the number, he looks at me scoldingly.
"You're not a spring chicken," he growls. "You know damn well why I want it."
Gulp. Thankfully, Lance breaks the tension by asking me a question about immigration. Lance is the kid at the bar. Currently going to school to further himself in the world of refrigeration, Lance has decided to skip school today to sip beer-mug margaritas from a straw. He tells us he feels for immigrants but doesn't want to hear them talk about how hard their lives are.
"No one has had life as hard as the American Indian," he says, shaking his head.
"I want to take you girls dancing!" Stan pipes up from the bar, pitcher of beer in hand. "Don't you girls like to dance?"
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"You girls ever seen a real rodeo?" Jack Daniels breaks in, mumbling. "You know, the ones without the roofs?"
We retreat for another smoke. Everyone follows us outside. Stan's cigarettes have run out, and we're his new suppliers. He tries to give us a quarter for each one, but we refuse. We believe he's taking our gesture of goodwill as a signal that we're into him. Shocking. He's now standing uncomfortably close to Tana, telling her about the time he and his cousin, who drove a whiskey truck, slaughtered a pig by hanging it upside-down inside the truck and slitting its throat until it kicked itself to death. Tana looks sick as Jack Daniels and Lance vie for position in the Snap Pack. We're starting to feel like spaceships traveling through a magnetic field of man-mines, unwillingly dragging them along with us as we pass by, fearing impending doom.
"I like your hair," Stan tells Tana as he strokes it with the back of his hand. "You smell nice, too."
Check back on Day Drinker next Wednesday for the thrilling conclusion of "Man-Mines, Trouble and Heartache at the Snap Lounge."