So, a guy walks into a bar. Have you heard this one?

A guy walks into a bar and he sits down at his favorite stool and all seems well.  It’s a Friday night and the joint is jumping.

No kidding the place is packed. When you walk into this bar, you go past the podium, which is usually not used in the manner that it might be. No matter the size of the crowd, people file in past the podium and get to this wall. The wall creates a corridor that runs along the side of the bar. There’s usually enough room there (just barely)  to stand by the wall and wait for a place to sit either at the bar, or at one of the many tables both front and back that might open up.  So it’s a normal Friday night, or so it seems.

A woman comes in, she seems to spot me, though I’d say really no quicker than I spotted her. She seems to be alone and looks for a place at the bar. There happens to be one empty stool right by me. I kind of wave her over, and even say hello and introduce myself as she approaches and sizes up the situation. It seems she’s going to land next to me but says to me right off the bat, “I really have to use the lady’s room fast.”

I point her in the right direction. A few minutes later, she’s back and sitting next to me.  I guess it kind of figures that we would start talking and we do. She asks and assumes that I am a local, I say I am. She tells me she is from up around Farmingdale and Augusta.

She asks me what I do. I think for a moment and then tell her I am a writer. This gets her closer, but that isn’t my intention.

“Oh really, what kind of writer? What do you write?”

Again, I think for a moment, not really knowing what to say.

“I guess I’m writing my memoirs,” is my reply.  Again, she moves closer.

Oh, just a sec.  I should back off a bit here, I mean back up a bit here. I have a drink in front of me.  Grey Goose and grapefruit, “grey-grey” as I like to call it,  or a “Grey Greyhound,” or a “Goosehound.”

So Dennis is the bartender and he is a friend of mine. I am pretty well set up before my new friend arrives, as my old friend is taking good care of me. I have a nice meal in front of me, steak and potatoes to be exact, and it is good, and it goes well with my drink.

So,  Sue had also told me her name. When she sat down she asked for a class of wine,  I believe it was “good Chardonnay” that she is after, and she did ask for a good glass of wine.  When Dennis makes his first pour, she doesn’t seem to like it. She says it isn’t good enough and asks if there was anything better. Dennis says “No, not by the glass.”

So she then asks for a Serrat, or Dennis offers her one. In this process, Dennis ends up making three different pours for her in a matter of moments, prior to the last pour. Sue manages to gulp down the remainder of what is in her second glass. She calls this   “The Hallowell Gulp.”

She looks up at Dennis and smiles.  She now seems happy with her full glass of wine.   So, Sue is, at this point, in my face literally imploring me with big eyes and an even bigger mouth to tell her all about my memoir — something, more and more, even by the second, I am completely unable to do.

She is now inches away from my face and says to me, “Why can’t you just pretend that we’re best friends and tell me about your memoirs?”

I’m starting to have a bit of a knot in my stomach, and feeling that I need some space, but there’s hardly anywhere for me to go, as my back is now literally and figuratively up against the wall.  I try and say something that will have her back down a bit, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. For a fraction of a second I think she might just leave me alone but that’s not the case. She still wants me to answer this one question that I have no interest in answering. I tell her I’m getting a bit full, and I feel that my evening will be winding down soon. I don’t think she hears me. I tell her I’m going to go. She offers to buy me a drink. I ask Dennis to box up the rest of my food. I had only eaten about half my meal and hardly finished my drink but the clock was ticking, it was ringing in my ear, more like the school bell at the end of the day.

Loud and clear, it is time to make a dash for it and I know it, and so does Dennis. He boxes up my food quickly, hands it to me and tells me to have a good night. I have one more word, to try and be funny, and save face as I am leaving. I say to both Sue and Dennis, ” well, I’ve met my match,” and with a smile and a nod I am out of there or nearly so.

Sue, at this point,  stands up from her stool and leans forward against the bar and says in a loud voice, “Boy what kind of a baby and a loser do I have here next to me, what kind of a place is this?”  It seems the bar, which has been kind of loud, all of a sudden freezes in silence.

I’m still heading out the door, and stop to say hello to a friend who is sitting at the bar about five spaces down.  I try to make light of my situation and make another joke.  My friend says to me,  “you better hightail it out of here before she chases you out of this bar.”

J. K. Grodzins was born and raised in Hyde Park, the first and oldest integrated neighborhood in Chicago. He has also lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City, prior to making his home in Camden.