The sun hit my eyes as it was going down. A squint. The door slammed behind leaving the dim lit hall inside. I was happy with the idea that I didn’t bring my Ray Bans, polarized. These, I did not want to lose. Plus, after this whole fiasco I will probably have to pawn them off anyway. Great. I walked maniacally wearing a smile, leering at all unfortunate enough to cross my path as I stepped. This was the most memorable, and favorable part of my night. I was not creeping, just being creepy. It felt satisfying to make others uncomfortable.
I walked further into NE Minneapolis. I walked up University Ave. until I came to The 331 Club. I would end at the 1029, the cop bar, the bra bar, whatever kind of bar you want to call it. It’s a NE bar, so you know what it’s like. I walked in.
I had a crisp $20 bill in my wallet from Water and Waste payments I received from Andyland, yet this piece of paper was useless during my experiment. My maxing out my card experiment had nothing to do with money, not paper money anyway, only credit. I had to max it out and let it go. There was nothing holding me back. Give up or give in. My thoughts were deep, do we own our debt or does our debt own us?
I walked into the dark hull that is 331 and sat at the bar. A scruffy bartender came up. At that moment I had no idea what to order, I waved him away. First he checked my identification. He walked to the basement. A minute or so later a mid-sized girl walked over-what looked to be a floozy walked over, and asked me what I wanted without the niceties of Mr. Scruff. I told her to give me something top shelf, surprise me. Her attitude was a little off. I sat back and gave a sigh breath, whatever.
I was moderately buzzed, as I quit drinking heavily since I met my girl, and I was looking at my feet dangling from the barstool. They weren’t even close to the floor, about a foot off. This is not a metaphor, but I was technically floating. I was pretty high at the time. I didn’t know if I could walk or not after the top shelf whisky-whatever she poured into my glass, a highball I believe. After the drink she seemed nicer.
I sat and watched behind myself in the mirror in front of me. Was I there? Was I gone? Had I consumed enough alcohol to kill my liver, enough to leave my cold body breathless and debtless on the floor? Poor dead drunkard they would think as they stood over me. I looked down at my drink and thought about things. The glass was nearing empty. The scruff bartender was back from the basement close after my first drink came and went. He sat listening to me talk on the other side of the rail.
I gave him some words. I am sure he hears it a lot, being that it is Minneapolis. They probably hear it more in Uptown. I am a writer this, I am broke that, do you have any job openings? He laughed and gave me the usual song and dance, default for drunks; we are out of applications right now, but we are always accepting, we don’t have any positions open, but there’s no harm in filling one out. No harm? There is harm in wasting my time though. Yeah, fuck you too… Save me the euphemisms and show me the dead body. He was decapitated brutally. This is all a word game. Tell it straight, like these drinks.
I sat and drank my 5th, at least, maybe 6th. At this time the night’s memories become hazy. Both bartenders were present when I was cut off… I think after my sixth. I had not pissed yet, so I jumped down from the barstool. As I did this I wobbled to the bathroom, both hands on the walls, almost losing my balance, about to fall forward. I ripped some posters off the wall, some local bands or something.
The piss was long. I looked in the mirror and noticed my father’s drunken smile, the lines under my mother’s eyes (when she drank), and the graffiti on the door, they all spoke to me. They said good luck. This was my face.
I walked out into the hall of the 331 and turned a right to the bar. It seemed as my hands needed to be forward to catch the barstool as I pulled myself up. I wasn’t even done with the drink in front of me and I was shouting orders for another. Elbows down improper, table manners, I remembered. They told me to get out. Now-ish. Sign this and leave. I thought that wasn’t fair-I pulled the receipt up to my eyes. Damn. I wasn’t even close to going broke. I had come so far, well not really, and I had so far to go. I signed. Ten percent tip. I should have tipped him more for the horrible story telling that he endured. Who cares though, that had nothing to do with going broke-sort of. I waved the bartenders off with the pen stuck in my fingers, awkwardly dropped it on the floor, and made my grand exit. It rolled off under some table.
The sun was down and outside people were smoking. I walked up…. Can a guy bum a smoke? They looked at me hesitantly and said no. Minnesota nice. Apparently they were all out of smokes…
The first group said no. I said fuck that, and walked away. I went up to another group as they were approaching. One of the guys in front had a cigarette in his mouth. Can I bum a cig for a dollar I said, I had no money, other than the 20 on me, so somehow I knew this would work. He said, “don’t worry about the dollar, here is the smoke.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out the white stick from an almost full pack. Can I get a light? Sure. He looked unimpressed and lit my smoke. I said thanks with an extra slur and walked on. I thought lips and a lung.
The Knight Cap? Mayslack’s? NE? Where I am? I decide on Mayslack’s because the Knight Cap is for old drunk people, and Mayslack’s has room for both. I ordered a pitcher of beer right off to avoid frequent contact with the bartender, and therefore being cut off on the immediately. Stay far away from those who are judging while drunk.
The bar was packed. I ended up in a booth with a few new friends. We all decided to buy shots, because that is what you do when you are out making new friends in NE, or with any friends, or anyone really, any time, especially when you are trying to max out your credit card.
Shots are Probably the most expensive thing on any drink menu, unless you are getting a really fancy bottle of wine or beer. Shots take the cake. Fine whatever, a Redheaded Slut, and then some Jag Bombs. A few hundred here, and I tipped well at Mayslack’s, a few new friends here and there. Fuck it! It was time for the whole bar to do a round!
I don’t’ remember staggering outside, and I usually don’t throw up, but I found myself in the alley alone with vomit at my feet. This was truly a special occasion. I wiped my mouth, regained composure, started some breathing techniques-you know, the ones that help you relieve pain in your body. I thought of my girlfriend, no missed calls on my phone. I put it back in my pocket. At this moment I felt like crud, yet I felt better than before the stomach emptying. Nothing helped. How did I get here?
A quick look down the alley told me that no one was around. I decided to piss on a telephone pole. Unzip-whip it out, and surprise. Ahhhh, great. I zipped and buttoned my pants and felt for my wallet (this is just reflex). It was there. Intact. I pulled it out to see if my card was there… Aw fuck, I had left it in the bar.
I ran up the alley to Mayslack’s. I looked inside. Still open, thank god. I walked in and asked the bartender for the card. I thought I closed out. As I looked at her she watched me with a strange look, and then she said, “You came back up to the bar and ordered more drinks for everyone, even the bartenders and servers. Thanks by the way.”
I don’t remember any of this… Oh, I thought to myself. “I’ll close out now. Thank you.” She pulled up my bill on the P.O.S. system behind the bar and printed out my receipt. She threw a pen my way. It bounced across the polished wood bar. I gave her a look that said sorry about the smell. Vomit encrusted on my wrist. A look at my watch, scratched to shit, as usual, it told me late. I spied the bill and it was less than I expected, but more than average. I gave her a decent tip and walked out. The door slammed behind me and I stood alone in the dark.
No cars on the street. I was alone, just me, myself, and my debt, and my credit card. I hardly made a dent. Now I thought, do I go into the Knight Cap, or do I just go to 1029? It was cold. Ah, fuck it, I turned and went in. I forgot my coat.
And they say credit cards are serious business. They are all fun and games at this point of the night. I can barely think straight for five seconds, but I can do a bank transaction nonetheless. How American works.