The year was 2021. We were just coming out of a pandemic, the likes of which would surely make uninteresting stories in ten years time, but would be told all the same. Such was the mark it left on our lives; a time stamp , which compelled the orbit of memories from this time around its universal reach. “Where were you at 9/11?”, “or the OJ verdict?”, and “What were you doing during Covid?” would stand ready on the same shelf for innumerable conversation. One thing we were not doing, was visiting the common house, at least not in LA. But time marches on. The bar was Jackbeagles, in the queens city, Charlotte, N.C. the rodent and I were passing through on an 8 hour layover and departed the white rocking chair infested charlotte douglas international airport to catch a bite, and a breath of humid July air.
The door swung open to an L shaped bar to our left and a row of tables along the right of the long room. After heaping our bags near the wall, we bellied up and got down to business with the menu. The menu was a well used and wrinkled laminate that offered a pair of QR code’s; one for food, one for drinks. It was about the size of a preschoolers playing card. There were workers coming in every so often from the back of the dimly lit bar. They looked sweaty, with that face people make after they finish running laps in gym class, or perhaps at the end of the 3rd quarter of a basketball game. Still some grit in the eye, but not necessarily enjoying the exertion. Later, we learned the bar had an equal sized foot print outside, an outside bartender with standing room only bartop, and seats around the perimeter. With the summer sun beating down on it all, the difference between the cloud cover and direct sun was an instant 10 degrees or more. “like someone was just turning up the heat dial” my lady friend mentioned through squinting eyes.
Bug, also known as the rodent, and as of late; my fiancée, orders a vino verde, while I try the local pilsner. We cheers to ourselves and drink deep to catch up with the blood alcohol levels we were maintaining with the crew in Ithica, NY over the last few days. Later, we cheers to Sally, my splendid beagle friend who is probably reincarnated now as a seagull.
Some, 180 miles east or so, Vic is setting up his new shop on the coast. “This heat would be feel dry to him,” I muttered, “coming from Florida.” But it’s humid to us Angelinos. I’m not accustomed to the backpack hot spot of near back sweat that I had narrowly escaped by ducking in this airconditioned dive. Sheryl Crow was right, beer tastes great in the morning.
A male bird has evolved brilliant colors for attraction. Birds have a definition of beauty, and the bright markings attract mates at the price of making them much more conspicuous to predators. “if you enjoy the sight of a flower,” she says, “you share the aesthetic of a bug”
Non human nature is great, I think; what it needs it does. The plant bends and follows the light. There is no politics. The thought linking beauty with vulnerability and audience is cut short by the infiltration of light reflecting in through the windows as a shiny fire truck backs into the station across the street. The old fire house has an overhanging porch above the garage, where rocking chairs sit, a real quaint scene here in the Noda district.
The rodent gives me a kiss on the forehead and tells me to finish up. We’ve got to make tracks. The mounted television broadcasts skateboarders competing in the X games above the bar, and the mixed crowd has a pleasant age, I think, looking down the bar. The three major colleges are on break, but these look like people who have been done with college now for a decade or two, who perhaps found a good community and never left the area. Funny how an observation can conjure nostalgia from an era in ones own life, remembering the North shore occupants populating the cities around our Alma Mater. These patrons remind me of that, or perhaps they are all passing through as well, like us.