While attending university, I spent more time in barrooms than I did in classrooms. I don’t think this was a conscious decision on my part, it’s just that classes were held on set days for predetermined periods of time and bars weren’t. Most students seemed to prefer boring places to study like the library or cafes, but I was always of the opinion that bars were the best places to get schoolwork done– even if I’d end up getting so drunk that I’d forget my completed assignments when I left.
The funny bit about all of my bargazing was that I hated all the bars in Berkeley, and yet I found myself at Kip’s and Blake’s and even the fucking Bear’s Lair nearly every day. I mean, the Bear’s Lair didn’t even serve liquor, for Christ’s sake (as in the Japanese wine, which they also did not serve).
I would usually choose Kip’s out of the bunch because it was the scummiest and I preferred dive bars over the more frat-friendly establishments. The bartender there also made an all right Irish Car Bomb and, after becoming accustomed to my drinking habits, would oblige me when I would order two or three at a time for myself. One time though I walked in there at eight AM while the dude was cleaning and tried to do the same. He looked at me funny and told me that he didn’t open for six hours or something and that I would have to come back. I was really perplexed; why would a bar not be open that early? When I moved to Oakland the next year, I found that the people there seemed to agree with me, because the bars were always open around sunrise when I needed to treat some shakes.
Circa 2006, I had a few parlor tricks in my repertoire that I would implement to attract attention to myself. You see, I liked to give the impression that I wanted to be alone and couldn’t give a fuck whether anybody talked to me or not, but really, I craved the attention. It validated me because I was incapable of validating myself. One of my favorite (and most effective) parlor tricks was composing poetry (usually on napkins) at the bar. More often than not, somebody would come up to me and ask me what I was doing, which would allow me in turn to execute the carefully scripted scenario that I had already prepared myself for extensively in my head.
Sucker: What are you doing?
Suckee: Oh, nothing…. Covers up napkin with scribbled phallic drawings on it.
Sucker: Oh, come on. Show me! I bet you’re writing poetry, aren’t you? Are you a poet?
Suckee: I’m not a poet, I’m a documentarian of heartbreak and sorrow. Oh, but you wouldn’t understand all that. Looks away wistfully, a perfect portrait of artistic intensity.
Sucker: How do you know? Why don’t you read me a poem?
Suckee: Oh no, I couldn’t do that. I haven’t had nearly enough to drink…
Sucker: I’ll buy you a drink!
Suckee: I’ll take three Irish Car Bombs and a gin and tonic. Hold the lime.
When I tell people that I’ve actually made a living as a poet, I’m not kidding– Irish Car Bombs ain’t cheap, dear reader.
One final note: Pistolwhip McGee is a moniker that I used to operate under. I’ve had a lot of aliases to be sure, but I’m still rather fond of this one for how terrible it really is. And yes, I firmly believed that I would drink myself to death before twenty-two. Maybe if my poetry was a little better then, I could have scored more Irish Car Bombs and I would have.
*Composed at Kip’s in Berkeley, CA circa late 2006/early 2007
Drank himself a grave at twenty-one.
He loved his mirth, he loved his fun.
He loved his mum and he loved his dad.
He loved the good, he loved the bad.
He loved the rich and he loved the poor.
But the sad truth is he loved liquor more.