Now, I don't know about you, but when a guy dressed in Kris Kringle garb nowhere near Christmas tells me to do something, I usually do it. For some reason, though, I hadn't made time to follow up on his suggestion and, much like nana's fruitcake rotting in the cupboard—or, in my family's case, Uncle Sergio's fingernail-clipping-infused sugar cookies— I had damned near forgotten about it.
That is, until I randomly ran into him again last week at a sushi joint.
“You still haven't gone,” he said in a disapproving tone.
Not wanting to get on his naughty list, I ventured to 6519 Mission Gorge Road, where the haunt is located smack dab between a dry cleaners and a Taekwondo studio, and saddled up at the bar.
True to its name, mounted longhorns adorn the locale's red damask walls, along with more John Wayne memorabilia than you can shake an 82-pound colon at, including a framed cover of The National Examiner with the headline “John Wayne Was a Top FBI Spy” and the oh-so-ironic
“John Wayne toilet tissue” with a label that read: “It's rough, it's tough, and it doesn't take crap off anyone.”
Best part is, not a lot has changed in 42 years of operation, including drink prices (think $2.75 for well-poured well drinks). Still, for the small group there, the mood was far from festive.
Turns out the place had just been sold, and its future was uncertain.
“Technically, I'm officially laid off starting tonight,” bartender Janine sulked, with fry cook José sharing her sorrow.
“Nine-11 is my work anniversary,” fellow barkeep Kathy said.
“That should have been omen enough.”
“It's the end of an era,” coworker Angie sighed.
On the sound system, Beyoncé's “Irreplaceable” was followed by Metallica's “Nothing Else Matters.” My Christmas wish was for something empowering to come on, like Gloria Gaynor's “I Will Survive” or, hell, even Justin Bieber's “Never Say Never.” Summer Santa answered my prayer with Bon Jovi's “Blaze of Glory.”
The three displaced ladies, José and I sang in unison, giving the place a proper farewell. We were all on different keys and somewhat loaded, so it was a pretty low-budget blaze, but a glorious one nonetheless.