Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Formality

Crazy Angie and I went back to Jim Silo’s office and paid him for our building.  I signed the title, given that there could be no meeting of the minds with someone like Angie, since she had no mind.  It was all completely legal.  We were now the proud owners of 6710 Grand Boulevard—a bar.  
The place was a wreck.  It was pretty much just four walls and a roof (bonus!).  We got to work sprucing the place up right away.  I did most of the work.  Crazy Angie had one task, sweeping the floor.  She had quite a bit of trouble.  I now know what a mistake I made in putting that request upon her.  She couldn’t figure out which way to hold it or just how to coordinate the actual sweeping.  Then there was the dirt—what on earth to do with it?  She was absolutely pitiful.  Needless to say, I did the sweeping—and the mopping, scrubbing, cleansing, scouring, disinfecting and any other task that involves removing unwanted germs and dust particles from an old building.  But it was clean and it was ours—well, mine really.  Crazy Angie may have made most of the money, but we both agreed that it would be best if I were the official owner.  
“Well, we’ve got the building.  Now what?”  Crazy Angie asked.  
“We need liquor, furniture, a license to sell this stuff, and of course, customers.”
“Right.  How are we gonna do that?”
I thought for a moment and then realized that I had no idea.  The furniture was relatively easy.  If nothing else, our customers could stand or sit on the floor.  We could even have a promotion—bring your own chair night!  But how did one go about getting a liquor license?  That was just to sell the stuff.  How would we purchase the liquor to sell?  
“Crazy Angie, I hate to admit it, but I’m stumped.  I have no idea how we’re going to do this.  It’s getting pretty late.  Maybe we should call it a night and head home.  We can come up with a new plan tomorrow.”  As we headed home, I was beginning to think that our age might really be a problem.  To be honest, I didn’t think we would have made it this far.  I mean, we had bought a building—with cash!  Just the thought that we had come so far made me all the more determined not to quit.  We were on the verge of a breakthrough here!  A cure for boredom!  We’d be famous.  People would be lining up to come to our bar.  Any and every bored person in the country would be making pilgrimages to 6710 Grand.  No!  The dream must not die here!  I wasn’t going to let a little thing like the law get in my way.  
The next morning, I told Crazy Angie to put on another performance of the Authentic Lunatic.  We were going to need a little more money.  I went to City Hall to obtain our liquor license.  
When I got to the licensing office I asked for the judge in charge.  
“I’m sorry. You’ll have to give me the name of the person you want to speak to,” the clerk told me.  I put on my best annoyed face.  
“Well, if I knew his name I’d give it to you.  Do you mean to tell me that you work here and you don’t know who’s in charge?  What kind of an office is this?  What kind of a clerk are you?”
“Ma’am, you’re going to have to tell me who you want to speak to.”
“I’ve already told you who I want to speak to.  You’d better get him out here pretty quick or I’ll cause a scene.”  I had already been causing a scene and the clerk seemed to realize this.  Several people had gathered into the hallway to see what all the commotion was about.  
“Ok, so you want to see a judge?”
“Yes!  I believe I’ve made that plainly clear.”
“Just a moment.”
Before long, an older man came out from an inner office and said,
“What seems to be the trouble here?”
“Trouble?  Where do I start?  The lines are too long, the clerks are rude, if you step out of line and you’re number is called, you have to take another number.  There’s a funny smell in the hallways, there are too many stairs, and I can’t find a parking spot anywhere.  That enough trouble for you?”  I asked, clearly annoyed.  
“Well, then—is that why you’re here—to address issues with City Hall?”
“No, no!  I need a liquor license.”
“Oh, you do, do you?”
“Yes I do.”
“How old are you?”
“Much older than I look.”
“Just what would you possibly want with a liquor license?”
“Well, to be quite honest, my best friend, Crazy Angie and I have recently purchased a building that we would like to convert into a bar.  We can only do that with a license to sell liquor.”
“I see.  And you think I’m going to give you a liquor license?”
“Well, you’re capable.  Quite honestly, you’d be a fool not to.  We’re on the verge of a breakthrough.”
“Really?  What sort of breakthrough?”  He had a sarcastic tone in his voice, which I found to be rather discouraging.  
“Well, I’ve found the cure for boredom.”
“You have?”  He was definitely skeptical.
“Yes I have.”     “So what is it?”
I thought for a moment.  I could tell him that I thought the cure for boredom lied in the establishment of a bar owned by two sixteen year old girls and consisting of various legal entertainment, but then he might try to monopolize on my clever plan and reap the rewards himself.  
“You know,” I began, “I don’t think you’re going to help me even if I do tell you.  So I’ll just take my business elsewhere.”  With that, I stormed off, pausing to turn down the hall to look at the man and the clerk snickering and shaking their heads.  Fine.  They could just be that way.  I’d find some way to get us going.
I decided to walk over to our building on Grand for inspiration.  On the way, I came across Bill’s Bar and Grill.  ‘Hmmm,’ I thought to myself, ‘it’s a bar and grill, it’s the middle of the day, they have to let me in.’ I ventured forth in search of a Diet Pepsi, my drink of choice.  I sat down at the bar and waited.  Before long, a 40-something man came over to where I sat.  
“Can I help you?”  He asked.  There was that skeptical tone again.  What was with everybody?  
“Are you Bill?”
“Yeah.”
“Well, Bill, I wonder if you might have time to chat with me over a Diet Pepsi.”
“Well, gee, I dunno.  Are you old enough?”
“That’s cute Bill.  Really cute.  Seriously though, do you have a minute?”
“Sure.  Just a sec.”  Bill trotted off after my Diet Pepsi and got one for himself before returning to my barstool.  “So, what’s on your mind?  Boyfriend troubles?  Lost your job?  Can’t get a later curfew?”
“You know Bill, you sound a little condescending.”
“Sorry.  It’s just not every day that a kid comes in here, orders a diet soda and asks the bartender for advice.”
“Well, maybe not but is that any reason to shove your old age in her face?  Besides, who said I needed advice?  What I need is a liquor license.”
“What?”
“Oh, ya heard me.  A liquor license—you know, a piece of paper that says that I’m allowed to sell liquor to persons over twenty one as long as I’m so far away from churches and schools and all of that other stuff.  Surely you know what that is.”  I was trying my own luck at condescension.  It seemed to be working.
“Yes, of course I know what a liquor license is.  I’m just wondering what you want one for.”
“Duh!  To sell liquor.  Isn’t that what one typically uses a license for selling liquor for?  Geez Bill, I dunno what kind of bar this is, but as far as bartenders go, you’re not too bright.”
He frowned at me.  “Ok.  No more kid jokes.  So you want a liquor license.  I’m guessing the traditional way of applying at City Hall is out of the question.”
“Precisely.  Been there.  Done that.”
“Well, I’d say you’re up a creek.”
“Thanks Bill.  You’ve been a great help.”
Just then, a loud voice came booming into the bar demanding a beer.  A large, yet old body followed it.
“Bill!  Where the crap are ya?  Where’s my beer?  And don’t gimme one a them stinkin’ drafts this time.  I want the good stuff.”  The old loud man sat himself down on the bar stool next to mine.  
“Sure Judge.  It’ll be right up.”
Judge?  Did he just say judge?  I assumed my ears had not deceived me and approached said judge.
“’Scuse me, sir.  Are you a judge?”
“Darn right I am.  What of it?”
“Well, sir, I wondered if I might buy you a round.”  He peered at me curiously.  
“How old are you?”
“Well!  How rude!  Didn’t anyone ever tell you that it’s not polite to ask a lady her age?”
Suddenly, aware of his manners, the judge apologized.  “Oh, beg your pardon ma’am.  I’m afraid I’m a little intoxicated.”
“Well, we should all be so lucky.”  I remarked.  
He looked at me confused.  “Huh?”
“It’s unfortunate that those who wish to be drunk are unable.  Don’t you think?”
“I don’t follow.”
“Are you married, sir?”
“Your Honor.  And yes I am.”
“Oh, pardon me Your Honor.  Is your wife like so many other wives?”
“Ya mean does she nag me an’ hound me an’ holler at me ta ‘take the garbage out!’?”  He said the last remark with a high-pitched scraggly tone and scrunched up his face.  
“Precisely!”
“Don’ git me wrong.  I lover an’ all—she’s my wife.  I jus’ sometimes wish she’d leemee alone.  Thas why I’m ‘ere.  I needa drink.”
“I know just what you mean.  Now, think of those poor souls who are unable to find such an escape.  They may wander into an old pub or a karaoke bar but nothing quite eases their pain.”
“Oh!  It hurts jus thinkin’ ‘bout it!”
“How do you feel about this place?  Does Bill’s Bar and Grill satisfy your needs?  It seems a bit dull to me.  It’s really…what’s the word I’m looking for?”
“Boreing?”
“Yes!  That’s it.”
“I know whatcha mean.”
“Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a bar that cured that awful feeling?”
“Boredom?”
“Yes!”  Oh, this was way too easy.
“Well, I suppose that’d be real nice.”
“It would, wouldn’t it?  I just wish I was older.”
“Older?  What for?”
“Well, if I was older, I could get the license I need to build just the place.”  By now, the judge had had about four beers on top of whatever he’d had when he got in.  His words were slurring together so badly I could hardly make out what he was saying.  
“Ohyeah.  That age thing.  It’s kinda a painintheneck.  Yoo reallythink yoocud builda place likeat?”
“Absolutely.  I just need someone to give me the license.  Unfortunately, judges with your understanding are hard to come by.”  I paused.  “Hey, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to help me out?”
“I could do ‘at, couldn’t I?  I’m a judge.”
“Fabulous!  I really appreciate it Your Honor.”
“Sure.  No prollem.  I’m sure yerra gonna doo jus swell.”  With that he passed out right on the bar.  I barely noticed.  I was so excited!  I had to find Crazy Angie.  I headed off to the Central West End in search for an authentic lunatic.  
When I reached the site where Crazy Angie was performing, I found her surrounded by a crowd of people.  I could barely see her above the heads of the crowd.  As I pushed my way through, I could see that she had somehow bent herself into a pretzel shape and was lying on the sidewalk bolting out her own rendition of Old MacDonald Had a Farm.  
“Ee eye ee eye oh!  And on that farm he had a rhinoceros.  Ee eye ee eye oh!  With a—“
“Crazy Angie!”  I yelled into the crowd.  She halted, mind rhino squawk, searching the group for my familiar face.  Finding it, she ended her performance.
“All right people, show’s over.  The farmer’s packin’ it up for the day.”  As the crowd dispersed I heard several expressions of
“Brilliant!”  and “Such artistic genious.”  One even exclaimed, “I wish I were that talented.”  I merely stared in disbelief.  Perhaps this was the ultimate cure for boredom.  
“Any luck with the liquor license?” she asked.
“Unbelievable luck!  I actually found a drunken judge who fully supports our entrepreneurial spirit.  He’s going to get right on it as soon as he regains consciousness.”
“Are you serious?  That’s great!  Amen hallelujah chunky peanut butter!”
“Um, yeah.  How’s your fiasco going?”
“Fiasco?!  What do you mean?  I’m an artist.  People love me.  I’m a modern day poet.  Did you see me?  Could you hear my singing?  I’m incredible and I have the cramps in my back to prove it!”
“Oh whatever.  We have lots to do.”
“Right.  But what about my show?”
“The farmer’s retiring, Crazy Angie.  Deal with it.”
She let out a humpf.  
We headed back to her house to organize our plan.  Actually, we needed to formulate a plan.  We now had our building, a license, and at least one customer.  I was thinking of advertising that the authentic lunatic would now be seen exclusively at our bar.  That would bring in a few people, but then I remembered our purpose—to cure boredom.  We had a mission.  We would not depart from it.  We were determined to cure mankind of the plague from which it suffered endlessly.  We would stay on task and in the end, succeed!  I had so motivated myself that I needed a moment to let it all sink in.  But, there was such work to be done.  

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