“a woman walks into a bar…” at Hal’s in Venice one afternoon

on 19/09/13 at 9:56 am

a woman walks into a bar...

Girl-barfinal2Having just finished up a wine and spirits tasting of Double Gold Winners from the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition & the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, I needed a little extra somethin’…you know how it is, to round off the tasting. So, being in the Marina (del Rey, California), I wandered into Hal’s, which is technically in Venice, in the middle of the afternoon, curious to see who’s tippling at 3. Well, pretty much no one. But that’s never stopped me from taking a seat at the bar.

It’s quiet. The seat beside me is empty. Ensconced in the seat after that sits a worried, disheveled looking guy slumped over his iPhone, then an empty seat, then an older guy in thinker-mode and another guy way at the end of the bar, intensely into his iPad, three empty wine glasses lined up and a fourth one just about to make a soft landing.

I check the Happy Hour cocktail list but nothing charms so I get a reliable Bloody Mary made with Blue Ice Vodka. It’s fine. Creepy silence. Then a phone rings. The worried guy takes the call and proceeds to spill his guts about the job interview he just had, slicing and dicing the nuances of what the interviewer meant by this or that. It was hard not to listen as he cut loose in his own little bar bubble. He hangs up. Oh dear. Sounds like he blew it. He orders another. Why not? The clock ticks on. And on. bm

I turn to the guy and try in my best commiserating voice to sound empathetic, say, “Life’s tough.” Christ, that was lame but it somehow swung the floodgates of conversation wide open about how sucky life can be, and even the other guy joins in and prattles on about how he is changing his life because the schmata business has taken a nose dive and he is so good at his consulting job that he has worked himself out of work and how he is selling his house – right this minute it’s being listed! – and moving to the south of France or the back of his car which he is converting to a rolling house by taking out the back seat and replacing it with…oh god, he won’t take a breath.

Not to be outdone, I confess my life hasn’t been a bed of roses either and I feel like someone – a frenemy? – has put a fatwah out on me. Or else I’m living in a permanent state of Mercury in Retrograde. The bartender feels sorry and gives me an extra little pick-me-up. Talkative guy finally gets up to leave, siddles over and parts with this little gem from Huey Lewis: “We’re not here for a long time. We’re  here for a good time.” Hey, we can all get behind that! And just then, the bad interviewee guy’s friend comes in to join him and they huddle immediately probably dissecting the job interview line by line. Hoping for a different outcome.

Hard luck stories. And that’s who drinks in the afternoon. I feel like I’m in a Mamet play.

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1349 ABBOT KINNEY BOULEVARD • VENICE, CA 90291 • 310.396.3105