Sitting at the bar, minding my own business as usual, trouble finds me. I don’t know if it’s the looks I give or the clothes I’m wearing, but something seems to happen. Watching a football game, cheering for one side or the other. Some goon show will come over and want to be starting something with me. Or maybe I’m dissing the great beer of America – Budweiser – with the barkeep. Without a doubt, some guy with a barbed wire tattoo or a John Deere trucker hat will plop down next to me.
Tonight, however, it was a blonde.
Now, I don’t usually go for blondes. In fact, never had a date with one yet. Kind of proud of that little factoid of my life. Lately, it seems, they’ve taken a liking to this guy.
No idea why. Maybe it’s the shaved head. Or the Jeffrey Lebowski goatee. It’s certainly not the smell of money. But whatever it is, I’d like to shake it. Take a sharp turn that sends Smokey into the creek while me and Sally Field tear off into the sunset. But who am I fooling. It kind of feels right that blondes are on the make at me now. You work so hard to avoid things, they always are the first things you encounter.
She was wearing tight blue jeans and a red and blue sweater. Almost looked like the Texas state flag if you looked at her just the right way through the bottom of an empty glass. Which, of course is what got her attention focused on me. I wasn’t looking at her, ogling her really, the way the rest of the lowlifes in this bar – The Rusty Bottom Tavern – were. Guess it pays to be different?
“You lose something in that glass?” she says almost in a scream to make sure she’s being heard over the Buckcherry song coming out of the internet jukebox on the other side of the room.
I don’t reply at once. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I say something immediately, it will just be goofy. Why? Because I’m goofy. It takes a moment for me to move into Pluto.
Taking time to motion to the barkeep to bring me another, I finally reply, as she’s tapping her foot against the bottom rail and her fingernails on the wooden top of the bar, a kind of cheap imitation of Keith Moon in drag I think to myself.
“You can’t lose anything in the glass, only out of it.”
I don’t even know what the hell that means, but I smile my crooked-tooth smile and take the new bottle of Shiner off the bar, tip it into my glass and take a look at the head. After it goes down, I take a nice, long sip. Making sure to suck the residue off of my goatee after putting the glass back down.
“You’re kind of funny,” she says right before sitting herself down on the stool next to me.
“Think so, huh?” I manage next. I’m not much for conversation with strangers. Even when they are attractive ladies in bars.
“What’s your name?” she asks. I don’t know if I should tell her the truth or lie. It’s not a question I find myself asking myself very often. The truth always is best in such situations, but it feels like I need to ask now.
“Randy,” I say, deciding that I don’t like charades very much.
“Really? That’s my ex-boyfriend’s name! Well, I’ll be.”
Now, I know there’s nothing coming after the I’ll be part of that phrase. But when I hear it, I still wait for what’s to come next. Nothing ever does.
Before I can make small talk, she’s got a hold of my arm. Being pretty shy, I don’t really like it. But, being pretty lonely, I don’t stop it either.
“What’s your favorite song?” I ask.
“Don’t you think you should ask me my name first?”
“Because that’s what a gentleman does.”
“You’re name’s well? That’s rather odd.” Boy, that one really stunk up the place. Like a fart from Del Monte ketchup the next morning. Ugh. The worst ketchup out there.
“Silly boy. My name is Linda Lou!”
“Like the Skynyrd song?”
“Yessir. My daddy loved them. So, he named me after the girl named Linda Lou.”
“I’ve always wanted to meet a gal straight out of a Skynyrd song. You got a boyfriend that’s gonna show up here with a gun in his hand, a lookin’ for you know who?”
I take a long swig of beer. “Barkeep, a whiskey. Double. Please.”
“Me too! Me too!”
This could get interesting.