December 27, 2014 (Revised June 2020)
TAKE THIS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT December 27, 2014 (Revised May 2020)
It was now turning twilight and Daphne was bursting with cabin fever. So, she donned her fur hat, jumped in the car, and drove through the softly falling snow. It was dark by the time she arrived at the Best of Both Worlds Bar and Grill. The neon light sputtered on and off as she climbed out of the car and into a foot of snow. She tramped up to the door and entered. This bar was where literary devices and characters hung out like the space creatures in Star Wars. She loved this place.
A strange old coot, who was all ears, was sitting in his usual spot by the wood burning stove, rocking back and forth. In a booth in the back a prairie dog was making scribbling away like usual. He was busy working on his masterpiece *“Notes from Underground”. There was a two-headed creature sipping a drink at the end of the bar. Or was that a tow-headed woman? Daphne’s glasses had fogged over. Yes, of course, it was her friend Lara who seemed to have leapt straight out of the pages of Dr. Zhivago. She was dressed all in white fur and looked like a vanilla éclair. Daphne stomped her snow coated boots together to get the large clumps off as she walked into the room. She slid on to the bar stool next to Lara.
“What’ll it be tonight, Daphne?” asked Claudia, the bar tender who had eyes in the back of her head (which never ceased to amaze Daphne.)
“Oh, before I forget, here’s some fresh eggs. I put them all in one basket, so be careful,” she warned Claudia with a grin.
Claudia turned around and smiled as she slid a bourbon in front of Daphne, “Victoria is back in town and staying at the hotel. She’s upstairs.”
Daphne wrinkled her nose and said, “Oh, dear, she makes me crazy. She’s got that monkey on her back.”
“Oh, so what’s her issue?” Lara asked, ” She an Alcoholic? A Passive-aggressive? A Democrat?”
“No, no, no, she’s got a real monkey on her back. And he’s a pain in the ass. He’s got a big chip on his shoulder. ” replied Daphne.
“Ah, now I’m with you, exclaimed Lara, “The real monkey on her back has a real chip on his shoulder. How does he keep it from falling off?”
“No, the chip part is a figure of speech; an idiom. The chimp seems pissed off most of the time and that makes it down in the mouth which in turn makes it hard for Victoria to shake it off.”
“Maybe he was the black sheep of the family,” Claudia guffawed.
“Well, that’s probably the elephant in the room,” Daphne smiled as she meandered over to the front window.
[Sound of an elephant trumpeting and a monkey squealing.
A big blonde woman rushes in from the lobby with a monkey on her back.]
“I didn’t know the circus was in town, ” Daphne said as she looked out at the street.
“Are you talking about me or my monkey?” the blonde retorted.
“No, it looks like the circus has come to town. There’s an elephant in the street,” Daphne frowned. “Strange time of year for a circus. The dead of winter,” she muttered. “Of course, technically the dead of winter was December 21st so we are a week past that, but pretty close.”
Whenever Daphne started to meander it was time for somebody to jump in and switch gears.
“Speaking of winter, has everybody made their New Year’s resolutions?” Lara declared.
“No, I’m still working on what I am thankful for. I’m a couple holidays behind,” Daphne sighed.
Just then the door opened with a blast of cold air and Thor strode in. He dropped his hammer and cried out, ” Good evening and almost happy New Year to you all,” he cried. “What are we talking about?”
“Resolutions,” said Lara.
“Yes, I used to make the garden-variety kind of resolves such as quit drinking, exercise more…you know, the healthy deal,” Thor declared, “but now I don’t bother with it.”
“I was reading a blog on that very thing this morning,” Daphne said smiling. “One fellow said that he decided the best thing to do was bundle everything up into one command. His was “don’t be a dick”.
“Then that would be a dic…tum, wouldn’t it?” Claudia mused in order to get everybody back on track.
“Did you see the size of that elephant’s dic…tum?” Thor said with a grin.
“So it’s not my imagination. There is an elephant in the street,” Daphne declared.
“Yes, the circus is on their way south for the winter,” Thor replied.
“Maybe they could use my monkey and me,” Victoria reasoned.
Just then Curiosity came through the door.
“Well, I just killed a cat. I didn’t mean to but it was raining cats and dogs and one of those darn cats bounced off the hood of my pickup.”
With that Daphne decided to put her coat back on and downed her drink, It was time to call it quits before the Piper who had not been paid showed up and stole Thor’s thunder.
PLEASE CONTINUE WITH YOUR OWN LITERARY DEVICES. I’M ALL EARS.
* A bit of history: I stole this from Tim Monich who sent me a copy of a new translation of Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground” in 1997. The inscription read “Happy Birthday, Di! (No this is not a biological study of Prairie Dog City). Love, Tim.” There is a tourist attraction in Grey Cliff, Montana called Prairie Dog Town where Tim had visited with his family when filming “Far and Away”.
P.S. I wasted almost as much time on this little piece as I did making my cow talk using “My Talking Pet”. This is driving everybody nuts. Montana entered Covid 19-Phase 2 (like Phase 3 in other places) this week, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything much different except Daphne can sit at a high top instead of at a booth at The Grand Restaurant and Bar. She will be reporting on the evolution of seating arrangements soon. Oh and, as of Monday, everybody who comes here no longer has to self-quarantine for 14 days. But don’t tell anybody I told you.
(This is the second in “The Grand” series. The first one was “Old Blisters” that introduces the cast of characters.)
It is another cold and windy night in Little Twig, Montana. The temperature had been below zero for almost a week, but with the rise in temperature to above zero, the wind had picked up again. You could hear it howl and it made the sign outside the saloon bash against the bricks. It was the usual cast of characters at The Grand sitting at booths and at the bar. Daphne is sipping a Sauvignon Blanc. She is dressed all in black with a jaunty grey cloche on her head. Cowboy Clay with a Chardonnay in hand is next to her talking to Carl who is nursing a micro brew when Sonny breezes in and sees a spot next to Clay. Claudia pours him a glass of Merlot.
Clay: How’s it goin’?
Sonny: Not bad. Just came in from Idaho and it’s really dry.
Clay: Is it like California? I hear that’s bad.
Sonny: Well, those Californians are just going to have to decide whether they want to take a shower and flush the toilet or eat.
Daphne chimes in: Is that really the choice? Flush or starve? Can’t the Ag business use less water? I mean it’s not like they are a bunch of small family farms growing enough for themselves and the people in their towns. Don’t they export most of the lettuce, tomatoes, pomegranates, almonds?
Sonny: Well, they are family farms, just really big ones. And they have the long water rights.
Well, the discussion went on for a few minutes about who owns what and how water rights came to be through mining rights and taxpayers rights versus corporations rights and Beverly Hills farmers and manifest destiny and survival of the fittest before a truce was called and they went back to talking about the weather.
Clay: Some trucker said his temperature reading went from 20 below to 60 below for a few miles past Reed Point.
Daphne: What shall I play on the Juke? Lorde or Alan Jackson?
Clay: Whatever you want, Darlin’?
Daphne: Oh and I brought some pears if anybody wants some.
Sonny: I’ll take two. I like to drizzle a little balsamic on them and sprinkle with a little blue cheese. Thanks!
I had fun last night. Different people have different ways of having fun. And most people have various ways of having fun. But one of my favorite ways of having fun is a lively discussion of something or other. In that respect, I should have been born French where I could go out to a cafe after work and philosophize with friends over a nice bottle of wine and some oysters and good bread. We could talk about anything but the weather unless it was about how the weather might influence our moods or our art. We could talk about who could call themselves writers and who couldn’t. Or who was an artist? Or was all life and thus all art futile? Continue reading →
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Posted in Low Places, Montana Life, Social Commentary, The Grand
Tagged bars, fun, leisure, Montana, The Baffler, work