This is the second in a Sunday series. The first installment was posted one week ago and is called A room with a brew #1: Here's Jojo.
Normally your seat at the bar represents a refuge from the cruel world outside, a haven from lawyers and telemarketers, a retreat from familial obligations and shoptalk. But not when there’s a guy like Jojo next to you who never learned how to sit quietly in thought.
There is nothing you can do about a talker like Jojo. You might try to change the subject with a loud and brazen rhetorical, "Guess who I saw today at the grocery store?" It doesn't stand a chance of success, since your interlocutor, your judge and jury, doesn't give one aspirate syllable about your day – he just wants to heap excitement upon it by verbalizing his own real or imagined melodrama and in the process provide you with the chance of a vicarious lifetime.
All you can do is pray for some friends to stroll in, so you can buy them drinks and remove yourself from the boor. It will cost you money, but at least the evening won't be a total hell. Even the old sympathy dodge is doomed to fail. "Gee, I'm sorry if I'm not a good listener tonight, you see I just lost my job and health benefits and my doctor says I've got Mad Cow disease." This never works because the drunken plot twister will sidestep your palavered ploy like a champion matador toying with a two-legged bull.
For example, his pary might begin: "That ain't nuthin. Why, just this morning I noticed my dog was limping and I found three deer ticks on him. Boy you shoulda seen me pluck and mash them sons of bitches..."
Now you've done it. Instead of having to listen to the interminable conclusion of a saga honed as fine as Homer's Illiad by no fewer retellings, you are subjected to a hastily constructed inanity built upon the passion of one-up-manship, and driven by the inebriated superego of a voice machine with performance anxiety. In other words, from the fried brain pan into the fire of a drunk’s delirium.
Jojo could really spin a yarn, especially if he felt it would serve the cause, which invariably was trying to bed some drunken wench. One evening at the pub I ran into MacTurk, who was well into his night and cups. He was consoling Blondiage who had been dumped by The Mustache. MacTurk more or less forced me into the chair next to the on-the-rebound Blondiage. I knew he felt he was doing us both a favor. I made a mental note to tell him I would never touch hand me downs from The Stache. Matter of personal pride. Anyway, I was sitting next to her: a diminutive blond with a pretty tight body, considering. But mentally screwed up, as I was about to begin to learn.
Blondiage had been playing NTN trivia next to Sherri and together they were being defeated by Buster, the publican himself, who was seated at the far end of the bar. I ordered my poison and the bartender brought me a trivia playmaker with my pint.
"You gotta help me beat Buster." Blondiage was pestering me nonstop like I was her husband. Meanwhile two stools to my left, Sherri sat swirling her vodka tonic with the red plastic stir, pinky raised. "They're cheating," Sherri muttered between sips.
"They're cheating," Blondiage repeated. "And I want to win," she said with pie-eyed petulance.
I had a vision of Blondiage as the Uma Thurmann character in Pulp Fiction, telling Vincent Vega she wanted to win the twist trophy at Jackrabbit Slim’s. But Blondiage’s demeanor lacked any hint of friendly conspiracy. She was acting downright crazy.
"You can't cheat in this game," I told her. "You answer what you know, you guess, you get lucky, you overhear an answer. Anything goes."
"No, I want to win. I am serious. I am going to win. I will show them, Buster and the girls he's with. He abandoned us – me and Sherri – and went down to that end of the bar because those young girls came in."
"No," I tried to tell her, "He always plays down there, right in front of the TV."
So I tried to enjoy a beer and play some trivia, but next to me drunken Blondiage was constantly asking for the answers and complaining she was cold. About halfway through the game Jojo walked in and flanked her on the right. He had latched onto her the night she had been dumped by The Mustache. Jojo was wearing a leather coat with fur around the collar. It looked like a vintage item, perhaps from Europe. Jojo was Portuguese, but told all the girls he was French, assuming I suppose, that faux Gallic charm would advance his schemes further than any genuine Iberian cachet could.
Soon Jojo was putting his coat around Blondiage's shoulders to keep her warm "You know why this fur is especially warm," he floated rhetorically. "It's fox. I shot it myself, upstate."
Now that has to be one of the most outrageous lines ever used in the art of barstool seduction. Instant classic bullshit and I was there to witness it!
It got better. Jojo claimed he used a rifle, although he had started to say shotgun, but questioned me with a glance that said he was not sure which weapon would be more plausible. Jojo said he didn't know what kind of rifle he had used. He did not know what calibre his supposed ammunition had been. When I interrogated him on the subject, Blondiage rushed to his defense, claiming to know about just such an uncalibrated fox-hunting weapon.
I dropped the subject. I was outnumbered and surrounded by idiots and prevaricators. On a subsequent occasion I tried to wise up Blondiage with regard to Jojo's tall tales, but she was already on his wavelength. For example, when I mentioned Jojo's crackpot belief in a 7:1 ratio of women to men on our planet, Blondiage said she agreed with the approximate accuracy of those numbers, incapable of realizing the consequences of such a lopsided state of affairs for society and for the species, not to mention her own personal rebound chances.
Who are these people? I dunno, but they belong together. I better tell MacTurk to let them sit together.