As the title. Keep your grain of salt handy.
Sunday, April 11th, 2010
A wet and rainy trip to Jack's bar on Sunday afternoon. I surmised as I drove to the bar that I'd soon be reading many a Facebook status update that included such from-the-heart comments as "so long rain, we're tired of you" or "goodbye rain, we've had enough thanks" or "hey rain: fucking go away already!" and so on.
I knew from earlier in the day when I'd passed by Jack's while running errands that the door to the bar would be closed and the wooden sign would not be out on the curb. But as I approached the bar I could see that the big red neon sign above the bar was still lit up and--like a lighthouse glimpsed through the wash of tumultuous waves and blinding rain--it gave me strength by its light to know I was near enough to civilization that I could entertain some small hope of accessing its many benefits (namely: beer) provided I could just make it through the final few blocks of a harrowing journey down Taylor's rain-soaked, festooned-with-idiots-who-should-not-be-driving streets.
That's not to say there are no careful drivers in San Jose. It's just that at this particular time of day all the sensible people (as opposed to those with no practical experience driving in a millimeter or more of rain) were no doubt lounging inside their homes, all warm and comfy in Cookie Monster slippers and Uggs (admit it Dear Reader: you wear your Uggs indoors), secure in the knowledge that to go outside and drive would only invite the worst kind of disaster.
Were that I were one of these smarter than average people.
Nevertheless, I dodged trucks driven by individuals perhaps suffering from a case of sudden onset in-the-rain-only colorblindness (that is, colorblind to red and yellow, such that when viewing same they see it as green in the color of "go"). How else to explain seperate instances of these people's ability to drive serenely through the intersections of 10th and 11th Streets while facing a red light?
This fear of rain might explain their deafness at my horn (for they didn't dodge at all when I nearly rammed them), as well their seeming tunnel vision, for not a one stopped to observe me sticking my hand out of my window, middle finger pointed helpfully up at the street light they'd just driven under in order to indicate that, if they'd just take a second look, perhaps they might see they'd misread the light entirely.
Unpleasant things happen in threes, or so the saying goes (or perhaps not, I'm not 100% sure on that point). So from 9th Street onward I was gifted with a recalcitrant bus driver who extended the concept of personal space to encompass the entirety of the bus he or she was driving to include a good 30 feet around, above and below said machine.
Not only did he or she proceed at a speed sure to out-slow a centenarian with a walker, but his or her ability to pull over in a line parallel with the curb was entirely missing from his or her driving vocabulary today.
He or she must have read my cursing-at-him-or-her-in-three-languages lips -- in the Bay Area while driving you should always curse in as many languages as possible in order to ensure the target of your ire understands just what you're trying to communicate to them -- or perhaps he or she witnessed my gesticulating hand, which I hadn't yet entirely returned to the interior of my truck, cold and wet though said hand might be, for as soon as I attempted to pass the bus, the driver --no doubt with pointy canines showing in a devilish Cheshire cat grin sure to terrify any passenger unfortunate enough to see such a grin in the wide, I-can-see-you-misbehaving-inside-my-bus-mirror-- sprung his or her trap and swiftly pulled out into the street without turning on his or her blinker, nearly clipping the back of my truck and sending me into a tailspin in the process.
Some blocks later and having pulled over to the curb in front of Jack's I suppose if you were me then you might imagine yourself suffering a moment of apoplectic, shaky-handed fits. But not us Dear Reader, for we are made of sturner stuff than that!
(Well, you might be, but I'm not actually. It's just that I can put aside the shakes for a later time, knowing I can save the jerky, trauma induced energy for such useful activities as chopping vegetables and scrubbing toilets [and no, before you ask, I've yet to lose a finger]).
Cowboy-ish hat on my head, I jumped out of my truck and made for the bar door with all the haste of a cat trying to escape the backyard pool it was just deliberately tossed into. Inside the bar Rina (the bartender, for those of you just joining us) had dimmed the lights and turned up the volume of the basketball game between the Lakers and Portland, if memory serves. Her boyfriend and his friend sat at Table 3, while a couple sat at the end of the bar.
I sat down a few seats up from the corner of the bar, instinctively placing myself right under the ceiling heater vent and at the nexus of the sound system. About then I noticed that for every flat screen TV in the bar, there is one table along the back wall of the bar. Thus, five tables and five TVs. If we count TVs like we have in the past counted tables (table closest to the entrance is Table 1, the table near the hallway in back is Table 5) then it was in front of TV 2 which I sat, and which the game was on.
I should like to take this opportunity to thank Rina for serving me a belated birthday beer: THANK YOU!
Andy Garcia's I'm-not-as-sexy-as-Antonio-Banderas-but-I-won't-ever-stop-trying-to-outdo-him voice was narrating some sort of LA Lakers feel good team moment during intermission. About this time Rina was busily creating two Bloody Maries. When I commented on how long they take to make, she commented that good Bloody Maries require the use of more than the simple, staid ingredients one might find on-hand for use in other drinks that must be made swiftly on very busy nights at bar.
Upon completion of the V8-colored drinks (to my eyes only, mind, for I do not whish to offend the drink maker by comparing her creations to such a base thing as V8 juice even though I just did), Rina kindly offered me two very small samples of each drink (in very small glasses I'd never even seen before at the bar -- how small, you ask? Well, each glass was about the size of glass you'd expect to serve a hobbit with in the very unlikely event such a creature walked into the even more unlikely edifice of a hobbit bar and ordered a double shot of whiskey for himself and his hobbit friends) in order to see if I could taste the difference between the two, as one was made with Hangar One Chipotle and the other with Ketel One.
As it happens my inexperienced tongue could indeed tell the difference, which is to say the Kettle One tasted better inasmuch as it didn't attempt to ignite several small fires in my mouth like the Chipotle did.
After serving said drinks to the couple at the end of the bar, Rina busied herself with a thorough cleaning out of the surf and turf containers. For my part, I attempted to emulate the spirit of the "Only You Can Prevent Forrest Fires" motto by liberally dousing my flaming tongue with beer.
Fortunately Rina already had my second beer pored and served before I'd taken the last swallow of my first.
(Serious moment: service like that is beyond awesome. Just as you are finishing, another comes your way. Simply. Fricking. Awesome.)
By 2:30 of this wet and dreary day the headcount in the bar had increased to seven + the bartender, with the arrival of Old School Doug and a compatriot of Lorenzo's (thus, three people at Table 3 and four people at the bar proper).
When asked, Rina was kind enough to fill me in on the details of the Giants vs. A's Party Bus that Jack's is hosting May 22nd next month. She also told me a story of what it was like during the first ever Jack's party bus. Both she and Jordan had to tend bar for the bus crowd at the bar before all of them left on said bus for the game, which is to say everyone had a massive head start before jumping on the bus for the pre-planned head start such busses are meant to provide.
I admit I should have liked to have been one of those lucky few who rallied around Rina's call to knock out a whole bottle of Vodka (or was it Tequila?), with open mouths and a willingness to let her poor the bottle contents into them. She indicated several people hurled friendly Fuck You!s at her after swallow-gasping their allotted portion of the bottle down their throats, but I don't think I could ever bring myself to say that, even if it was a bottle of Bloody Mary mix.
Party Bus details follow:
Cost is right around $67 dollars (cash only).
Sign up at the bar.
Cost includes beer, BBQ, ticket and of course the ride up and back.
Spaces are still open but are also going fast!
And of course I'll be on that bus. Wouldn't miss it for the world.
Let's just hope the bus driver understands the concept of parallel lines and blinkers.
See you Monday at Jack's!