Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Long Island Iced Tea

I went to school in northern Ohio. The town only had one bar, and it was overpriced, so one night some friends and I decided to go out and explore. The next town to the south of us was absolutely tiny; population of only a couple thousand at the time. It had five churches (go figure.. lol), and one bar.

The bar was quiet, with no customers besides us. We took over the solitary pool table and I went up to order drinks. There was a big, old brown lab on the floor, too sleepy to lift its head, though it wagged its tail on my approach. The white-haired man behind the bar looked tired and pretty much over this pesky thing called life.

He put his meaty hands on the bar and stared at me with impatience. "Well? What do you want." The accent sounded more southern than Ohio. I later learned he and his wife had bought a camper van, and they and their dog were planning on moving down to Florida to retire in the next year or two... long overdue, by the sound of it.

"I'll have a Long Island Iced Tea, please. Sir." I added the "sir" on the end because I felt compelled to. I was only 21 at the time.

"You'll have a what?" He scowled.

"Ah.. a Long Island Iced Tea," I pronounced a bit more slowly.

He looked annoyed at this. "Son, I don't mix drinks."

"Oh, okay, ah... I'll just have a rum and coke then, please."

The bartender shook his jowls and barked, "Son, what did I say? I said I. Don't. Mix. Drinks."

("Gaines, hurry up... we're about to break," my friend Genji commented from the pool table.)

Shifting uncomfortably, I glanced at the full shelves complete with all manner of liquors and mixers on the wall behind him, and then down the bar at the little glass-doored fridge with soft drinks and water bottles in it. "Okay, um.. then may I please have a glass with ice, with a shot of Captain Morgan rum in it, and also one of those cans of coke from the refrigerator?"

"Well okay then," the old man said, and went to get what I'd ordered.

Later that night he coached me in my pool-playing. I'd complained out loud about missing a shot, and from behind the bar, where he'd been watching us play while reading a newspaper, he hollered, "That's because you Hit. Too. Fucking. Hard."

Over the next several months we learned that he was actually quite a nice guy, beneath his rather mean exterior.

Okay, there. My Long Island Iced Tea story.