It was 11 p.m., and I was jonesing for some buffalo wings. So I strolled over to my favorite neighborhood bar, The Tilted Stick. Once there, I ran into an old bartender friend, Teddy Ballgame. I hadn't seen Teddy in a long time, so I delayed ordering the wings, bought a round and started chatting. At one point in the conversation, I joked about a poster that hangs on the wall titled “Tilted Stick Rules,” which I began reading out loud to Teddy and doing a little comedy shtick on the rules I thought were silly. That's when a stranger interrupted and said, “If you don't like the rules, you can get out.”
Naturally, this took me by surprise. I was just joking around with Teddy and hadn't intended to offend anyone, so I pondered his statement, then informed the guy—whose name (I later learned) rhymes with “snotty”—that we were having a private conversation, but “thanks for the advice anyway.”
“This is a locals bar,” Snotty insisted. “You need to leave,” at which point I thought I was at the Comedy Store because this guy—this apparent victim of fetal-alcohol syndrome— was delivering what I considered to be pure comedy gold.
I mean, it's hilarious that he was pulling this “locals only” nonsense at all, but what made it an absolute scream is the fact that I am an Ocean Beach local. I do live here—I live here a lot! The Tilted Stick is around the corner from my house. I'm friends with all the bartenders, the manager, the owner and the previous owner, and I even know the previousprevious owner—Henry—who owned it back when it was called The Texas Teahouse (an awesome dive punk-blues bar where Tomcat Courtney and the Jacks used to play), where I easily dropped a thousand quarters into the Missile Command game and drank a thousand Genny Screamers at a dollar per can. I've been boozing in that building since before Snotty was sucking on his mama's scotchsopped titty-milk, and the fact that he's telling me I have to go because I'm not local enough is making little droplets of beer spurt from my nose and eyeballs.
“This is a locals bar?!” I asked, trying with all my might not to burst into open laughter. “Well, dang, I guess I'll be moving along then—just as soon as you go fuh-fuh-fuck yourself.”
And so it went, back and forth, nose to nose, until bartender Jesse separated us, which didn't matter much because Snotty and his snotnose friends continued talking smack, flipping the bird and basically maddogging my ass like I was the bastard child of a Klingon crack whore trying to get a drink in the Star Wars Cantina.
“We're from here,” they kept saying.
“Where are you from?” I should have said, “I'm from Planet Earth, shit-smoker,” because, really, where the hell is “here”? Which arbitrary border defines you as an insider and somebody else as an outsider? Do they have to live on the same block as you to be local? The same borough? The same city, state, country or continent?
Which arbitrary border defines you as an insider and somebody else as an outsider?
Not to mention—and I want all you “locals only” blowhards to pay close attention—you are not doing your neighborhood bar any favors by running off tourists and other nonlocals. Newsflash: The bar wants their patronage, and you hurt the business when you roam in packs and start shit with tourists. But isn't that how it usually is with these territorial “We're From Here” queers? It's this chickenshit mob mentality that says “We're the insiders, you're an outsider and we will mess you up because we have numbers.”
Anyway, after giving them several opportunities to cut the crap, Jesse and Jimmy, another bartender, kicked them out of the bar. However, instead of going home and being, you know, normal human beings, they found a hiding place and waited— for an hour! So, Jesse snuck Teddy Ballgame and me out the back door and up the alley to another bar, Lucy's, where we stayed for quite a while, until Teddy decided to go home and I figured it was safe to return to the Stick and order those chicken wings I still craved.
But it was not safe. As I arrived at the Stick's front door, Snotty lurched from hiding and connected a punch to my forehead. I charged full steam, took him down to the pavement with me on top, and repeatedly boxed his torso and neck while his crew kicked and punched my head, stomach and back. When Jesse rushed outside to help, one of the guys pinned him against the wall so he couldn't break it up. Jesse broke the hold, and he and Jimmy pulled us apart. Jesse shoved me back inside the bar and told me to stay there, which I did. But, get this: They waited again, hiding, again, so they could bushwack me, again! At this point, I just wanted to go home, but the bartenders, wisely, blocked me from leaving. It was another hour or so later when Snotty and his ignoramonauts went around to the back door to catch me sneaking out that way, and Jimmy whisked me out the front and walked me home, where I vomited, cleaned it up, then fried some eggs, having never ordered those wings.
Epilogue: Snotty and his comedy troupe, were 86'ed from The Stick. The next day, he returned to argue that I had started everything. Good one, Dangerfield! Because everyone who was there knows you started that fight. We also know you're “from” New Mexico and have only lived “here” a couple of years. But, best of all, we know you cried when they wouldn't let you back in the bar. You actually, literally, bawled actual, literal tears, which didn't change their minds, so you said, “Fine! I didn't want to come in here anyway,” which is pure comedy gold, baby. Thanks for the laughs.
Thanks to everyone at The Tilted Stick (4970 Voltaire St.) for their support, especially Jesse, Jimmy and Teddy Ballgame, who put themselves at bodily risk to cover my back. Respect! Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.