Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Maria. Maria. I Just Gave a 25 Percent Tip to Maria

I don't drink as much as I used to, and that's a good thing. I don't drink as much as I want to, and that's a good thing.

I drink just about as much I need to -- and that's not a bad thing. And what I need to do on occasion in moderation and as part of a full and busy schedule devoted to helping train tomorrow's leaders today for the day after tomorrow (and try saying all that without pausing to breathe) is have a few pops with the Drunk Boyz.

Yesterday the Drunk Boyz met at Martin Mack's on Haight Street in San Francisco and ... sipped.

The name Drunk Boyz is an email convenience, since every distribution list must have a name and the more memorable the better, since who wants to go pawing through your electronic address book every time you feel like a libation? (Libation, a lovely word that speaks of sacrifice to ancient gods -- or goddesses in the case of Maria, our saucy waitperson who is very far from ancient.)

The Drunk Boyz have a roster of eight, all connected in one way another with the University of San Francisco, which has so many fabulous attributes, including a clear strong signature on my paycheck once a month.

The Drunk Boyz meet not with great regularity but with persistent regularity, by which I mean we convene once or twice a semester and even then maybe four of the eight have something better to do. We have a couple pops. We flirt with our beverage facilitator-- though I sometimes doubt our winks and twinkles register as flirting. Martin Mack's is an Irish bar, and Maria is from County Cork. She has been our server (I'm running out of respectful synonyms) the last three, maybe four, times we have visited, so we assume she has her green card, and there's a joke there somewhere because she's Irish. We drink a little. We finish up with coffee. We check our watches because, whoops, we are educators and duty calls

It's always about the children, isn't it? 

So "drunk" is not the precise word to capture the moment and "boyz" -- well, if the majority of our group were bottles of fine wine we would have long since turned to vinegar.

Still, in the great tradition of people consuming fractional distillations of our favorite carbon molecule, we do what we can. We eat corned beef and fried calamari. We raise our glass to handsome women. (Is an actual handsome woman nearby, even in the same zip code? Quick! Don't look.) If we are the shadow puppets of desire, better that than growing pencil-thin mustaches and lounging at the bar.

We sit in a booth. We take off our jackets, smooth them, and put them neatly on the adjacent seat. We fuss. 
I have drunk it up in my time. Back in the Seventies, I was a copywriter in a small advertising agency. We had a chain of restaurants as a client, and a perk, or a burden, was the weekly lunch with several of the restaurant owners at one of their restaurants. I recall how at the first of those business lunches to show I was all business I shook my head nonono when the time came to order drinks and how the first among equals of the restaurant owners glared at me and said, "I don't trust anyone who doesn't drink."

I have a vague memory of those lunches.

And then I became a journalist, and we drank at lunch and we drank after work, and some of those fine colleagues ruined lives and some woke up with a slight headache that soon went away, particularly if medicated at the next day's lunch. For some, so much damage; for others, faint memories of incidental pleasure. 

To the point and the pleasure of these lunches: Booze can lubricate the capacious mind -- and out slide the stories. Yesterday G., who teaches advertising, recalled how he hired the character actor Slim Pickens as a spokesman to promote something or other, after the client discovered they couldn't afford John Wayne. (Yah! I told you we got some old boyz at the table.) G. says Pickens came to town and did what he was paid to do and then hung around and told story after story about his career. He said that Pickens described how Stanley Kubrick recruited him for "Dr. Strangelove" and how in a key scene in the movie he was supposed to pull on his cowboy hat over his official U.S. Air Force headset after he and the crew of his nuclear bomber were ordered to attack the Soviet Union (as it then was).

But during the first take the hat did not fit over his headset!

Lose the hat, Kubrick said.

No, Pickens said. I'll just slit the headband here and give the rig a tug....

Slit. Tug. And that's why, Pickens said, that he had a cowboy hat to wave when the nuclear bomb whose explosion triggers the end of the world drops from the plane with Slim Pickens straddling it in one of the more famous moments in world movie history.


Hmmm. This is not as delightful in the telling as it was in the hearing. I have been building toward this damn anecdote. I guess you had to be there. I guess you had to have a JD over the rocks and then a glass or two of cheap Chilean merlot.

Get back to me on this sometime after lunch. I'm not going anywhere. I have work to do.


1 comment:

G Pabst said...

It works better in the telling because of the serviceable - not good, but seviceable - impersonation of a Slim Pickens dialect.
And me I impersonate perfectly.