When was the last time you were sitting in a restaurant — O.K., at the bar — and an intemperate guy suggests he be removed? Happened last night at a fish joint in San Clemente.
You remember San Clemente. That’s where Nixon decided to establish the Western White House during his term-and-a-half reign, and I’m here to tell you, it was one major move upward from the crummy house of his birth (Yep, birthers, he was hatched right here in the U.S.A.).
For us, San Clemente is a 40-minute drive down the U.S. 5 freeway, where there are five lanes on each side of the center divider, plus a couple of carpool lanes. For the most part, the town is on the beach side of the freeway and not for those who are house-hunting on a budget. We like it as tourists, especially because the aforementioned restaurant is on a pier that stretches maybe a hundred yards into the Pacific. And a single set of Amtrak rails has been fitted just behind the restaurant, so when the occasional passenger train roars by, you can hear it and feel it. No problem for me.
Last night I decided that Kris and I deserved a romantic dinner there, so we saddled up and made the trip, our intent being to be on hand to watch the sunset from our table. Turns out that we did — from the bar — as we kept an eye on one of those annoying buzzers that tells you when your table is ready (One time, Kris thought it would be funny to press such a device against my chest — by surprise — just as it went off. Not funny, since it nearly induced a coronary).
Well. Meanwhile, a guy who was slouching at the end of the bar was beginning to talk more freely, and at one point decided that the bartender was being protected by “Kelbar.” Six people looked up from their drinks, including us as we sipped from a single glass of Riesling. “That’s it,” said the guy. “I bet you’re wearing Kelbar.” A small chuckle from the audience. And just as Kris was leaning toward me to say the word “Kevlar,” the bartender said as much. “Oh yeah,” the guy said. “Kevlar. That’s it. Kevlar.”
Then he paused for a few moments as the general noise level around the bar picked up. Finally, “You know what?” he said to no-one in particular, “I’m really getting wasted. I think it was the Miller Lites I’ve been drinking.” No response. Then, “You guys oughta 86 me.” Another pause, as though no one had heard him. “You know what? You guys oughta 86 me.”
Not that I’m any kind of authority on intoxication, but I’ve always considered beer drunks the worst. First, they rarely exhibit any kind of class, tend to be excessively loud, and work their way into oblivion through the cheapest stuff on the shelf. And they smell bad. Breath, as the departed George Carlin used to say, that could knock birds off a shit-wagon. We weren’t quite close enough to determine that last characteristic, but loud he was. Definitely.
Did management take him up on the offer? We’re not really sure. Our buzzer rang and we headed across the pier to claim our table. By the time we called it a night my guess is that either the nameless guy or the bartender decided it was an offer no one could or should refuse.
For us, the gorgeous setting sun that sank into the smooth Pacific was sufficient entertainment.