Amtrak Trip Across the U.S. - Fall 2013
San Francisco on #LeylaExpress - Getting Lost, Specs and Drinking Tap Beer
continued from San Francisco Part 1
When I travel, I make no solid plans, l leave everything to chance. Should I happen across a rodent infested bar, and that rodent infested bar is occupied by toothless individuals, and if those toothless individuals should engage with me in delightful conversation, I might opt to remain in their company all night. I may prefer their company than.... say.... attend a Senator's dinner. Not that I am frequently having dinner with any Senators, but I wouldn't want to tie myself down to have dinner with a Senator, just in case a scenario such as the one I described should arise. I prefer to remain footloose and fancy free, in life, but especially in travel.
Ordering a Drink at Specs
I've been to a thousand dive bars around the world, and if there is one thing I know about dive bars, I know better than to order tap beer at a dive bar. Will come back to this, so hold this thought.
Inevitably, one thing happens to me when I find myself in a hole-in-the-wall, dive bar - I freak out. I get nervous and feel like everyone is judging me. I imagine they're all thinking Go back to your fancy bar you big phony girl. They're not. They're not thinking about me at all, but this is how it feels as I stand at the bar trying to order a drink. I lose myself, I could be the best drinker in the world, yet in a hole-in-the-wall, dive bar, I'm nothing but an amateur. (This is probably why I find myself in so many drinking competitions, it's like I always have something to prove).
I stood at the bar at Specs for some time contemplating my order. There was an aging Chinese bartender lady in short-shorts standing behind the bar waiting on me. I was taunted by the many bottles of fancy beer on the rail. The bar patrons were hardcore day-drinkers, they were friendly with the older Chinese bartender lady, but they looked at me with disapproving eyes. The Chinese bartender lady asked me what I wanted to drink, I fumbled. I starred off at the fancy beer bottles on the rail, I tried to say a drink, any drink, but all I could do was try to guess the Chinese bartender lady's age in my head. I looked back over at the patrons, the beer bottles on the rail, and then back at the Chinese bartender lady. She was well over 50, she was wearing short-shorts, but she looked pretty good - what was her deal? My brain continued into a 100 different directions - When did she come to the United States? How long had she worked at Specs? Why the short-shorts? What's with her accent?
It was too much, I could not figure out the Chinese bartender lady, her short-shorts, or her life story, AND could not order a proper drink. I knew I was getting weird. I panicked, so I ordered the first thing I could think of, a light beer on tap. I may as well have ordered urine straight from a homeless man's penis.
I worked in bars from my early 20s through my early 30s, and I know that hole-in-the-wall, dive bars don't clean their beer lines (trust me on this). And as my lips uttered those words, a light beer on tap, please, my brain knew I was not only going to make an asshole of myself in front of all the patrons sitting at the bar at Specs, but I was going to consume cockroach babies with each sip of that light beer.
As I suspected, my beer was disgusting, but I drank it anyway. They were playing Roy Orbison on the juke box, so I guess everything worked out OK in the end. Cockroach babies and all.
See my #LeylaExpress San Francisco Set on Flickr
Read more #LeylaExpress posts on my blog
Read San Francisco Part 1 post on my blog